University of Pittsburgh
November 10, 2009

Pitt in Brief: News, Awards, and Developments From the University of Pittsburgh

Building With Bamboo Nets Pitt, Indian Students International Engineering Award and 10,000-Euro Prize From United Nations-Daimler U.S. Senate Confirms Pitt Alumnus as Director of National Institute of Standards and Technology
Contact: 

Anthony Moore

412-624-8252

Cell: 412-715-3644

PITTSBURGH- Behind the larger stories about the University of Pittsburgh are other stories of faculty, staff, and student achievement as well as information on Pitt programs reaching new levels of success. The following is this week's compilation of some of those stories.

Building With Bamboo Nets Pitt, Indian Students International Engineering Award and 10,000-Euro Prize From United Nations-Daimler

An international engineering award and a 10,000-Euro prize went to a team of students from the University of Pittsburgh and the Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpur (IITK) for their ongoing project in the Indian Himalayas to popularize, design, and build bamboo structures. The team received an Engineering Silver Award presented by Mondialogo, a global initiative of German automaker Daimler and the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) that encourages intercultural collaboration. The Pitt-IITK team was among 12 Silver, 8 Gold, and 10 Bronze award winners announced during Mondialogo's Nov. 6-9 convention in Stuttgart, Germany. The recipients were among 30 teams chosen in July from 932 research proposals from 94 countries.

The Pitt group is led by Bhavna Sharma, a Pitt Swanson School of Engineering PhD candidate and recipient of an Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship from the University's Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation. Kent Harries, a structural engineering and mechanics professor in Pitt's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, serves as the project's faculty advisor and leads students to India for fieldwork.

The students work in the steep, earthquake- and flood-prone mountains of Sikkim and Darjeeling, where modern construction materials threaten the environment and human safety. The Indian group Sustainable Hill Engineering and Design (SHED)-led by one of Harries' former graduate students-seeks to repopularize the ikra, a traditional bamboo-frame structure as a sustainable and cost-effective design. Bamboo is native to the region, largely resistant to earthquakes, and gentle on the steep, loose-soil hillsides. The Pitt students develop comprehensive material standards for bamboo construction, conduct strength and design tests for bamboo structures, and, when in India, help SHED tackle issues ranging from slope stability to clean energy.

More information on the project is available on Pitt's Web site at www.chronicle.pitt.edu/?p=1613. More information on the Mondialogo Engineering Award is available on the Mondialogo's Web site at www.mondialogo.org

For more information, contact Pitt News Representative Morgan Kelly at 412-624-4356 (office); 412-897-1400 (cell); mekelly@pitt.edu.

U.S. Senate Confirms Pitt Alumnus as Director of National Institute of Standards and Technology

The U.S. Senate confirmed University of Pittsburgh alumnus Patrick Gallagher as the 14th director of the U.S. Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Nov. 5. Gallagher will direct the agency that supplies and oversees the nation's standards of measurement, including the official time; has an annual budget of approximately $800 million; and employs around 2,900 people, including scientists and engineers.

Gallagher earned his master's and PhD degrees in physics at Pitt in 1987 and 1991, respectively. He has been with NIST since 1993 and was named the agency's deputy director in 2008 before President Barack Obama nominated him as director. Prior to that, he served for four years as the director of the NIST Center for Neutron Research in Gaithersburg, Md. He also has served as a NIST agency representative at the National Science and Technology Council and chair of the Interagency Working Group on neutron and light source facilities under the Office of Science and Technology Policy. Gallagher is active in numerous professional organizations and is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In recognition of his work, Gallagher was awarded a Department of Commerce Gold Medal, the department's highest award, in 2006.

For more information, contact Pitt News Representative Morgan Kelly at 412-624-4356 (office); 412-897-1400 (cell); mekelly@pitt.edu.

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