Villanova Engineering Students Win Conference Awards

Graduate student Catherine Barr, Water Resources and Environmental Engineering, took first place for her research poster at PennTec 2015.
Graduate student Catherine Barr, Water Resources and Environmental Engineering, took first place for her research poster at PennTec 2015.

Four Villanova Engineering students recently brought home conference awards for their research posters and presentations. Catherine Barr, a graduate student in the Water Resources and Environmental Engineering program, won the student research poster award at PennTec 2015, while Alexander Poultney ’14 ME, Michael Benson ’15 ME and Electrical Engineering doctoral candidate Mahmoud Kabalan were recognized at the 2015 IEEE International Humanitarian Technology Conference (IHTC).

At PennTec, the Pennsylvania Water Environment Association’s annual technical conference, Barr took first place for her poster "Nutrient Export from a Green Roof: A Comparison to Other Land Use Types.” Working with Villanova Urban Stormwater Partnership under the advisement of Professor Andrea Welker, PhD, PE, and Associate Professor Bridget Wadzuk, PhD, Barr’s poster describes ongoing research comparing outflow from a green roof to runoff from other vegetated sites and to outflow from other stormwater control measures. She says, “The green roof's performance helps us develop better strategies for green infrastructure implementation, and also consider ways in which green roof design and maintenance plans may be improved.”

Representing Villanova at IHTC 2015 were Professor Pritpal Singh, PhD, chair, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering; Michael Benson ’15 ME; Mechanical Engineering graduate student Alexander Poultney ’14 ME; Nathan Charles ’15 MSSE; Mauro Sanchirico ’15 EE and Electrical Engineering doctoral candidate Mahmoud Kabalan.
Representing Villanova at IHTC 2015 were Professor Pritpal Singh, PhD, chair, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering; Michael Benson ’15 ME; Mechanical Engineering graduate student Alexander Poultney ’14 ME; Nathan Charles ’15 MSSE; Mauro Sanchirico ’15 EE and Electrical Engineering doctoral candidate Mahmoud Kabalan.

Held in Ottawa, Canada, the theme of this year’s IHTC was “Supporting Communities toward Resilience.”  With "Low-Cost Explosive Ordnance Disposal Robot for Deployment in Southeast Asia," Benson and Poultney, a current Villanova Mechanical Engineering graduate student, delivered on that topic. Earning second place in the student paper competition, their work summarizes the explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) robot that Villanova students have been working on for the past few years in collaboration with Golden West Humanitarian Foundation. The students’ robot features 80-90% of the functionality of a commercially available EOD robot at a price that is affordable for developing nations. 

Doctoral candidate Mahmoud Kabalan attended IHTC with the help of a scholarship from IEEE SIGHT (Special Interest Group on Humanitarian Technology) and matching support from IEEE’s Philadelphia section. He took third place in the IHTC student paper competition with “Electrical Load Controller for Rural Micro-hydroelectric Systems using a Programmable Logic Controller.” Kabalan’s work addresses the need for controllers that can better match the electric energy supply and demand in rural off-grid electric systems. His research findings showed that an electrical load controller using a programmable logic controller dynamically balances the energy used, making it a viable load control system for such an application. This was one of two papers that Kabalan had accepted for IHTC; he also co-authored two others. In the past year, Kabalan has authored or co-authored nine accepted publications.

PennTec and IHTC are just two of more than a dozen industry conferences attended by Villanova Engineering students and their faculty advisors throughout the academic year. Read about other student award winners in the College’s News Archives.