2024 Engineer Magazine

St. Thomas Engineer ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA




elcome to the 2024 issue of St Thomas Engineer! It has been another year

marked by incredible accomplishments and commitment to the engineering educational experience at St Thomas. While our greatest assets are the incredible students, faculty and staff who enliven our

programs, we can not underestimate the added energy of the state-of-the-art facilities in which we now thrive. In January, we celebrated the opening of the $110 million Schoenecker Center supporting engineering, arts and the sciences. The building has increased classroom, lab and collaboration space in the School of Engineering by nearly 70%, while advancing innovative programming at the intersection of all the STEAM disciplines. As one of the youngest engineering programs in the nation, we are building something truly special here in Minnesota. At the heart of this effort is the evolution of a national model of our transformative engineering educational experience. We thoughtfully engage our students from their first days on campus to the completion of the Senior Design Clinic, and beyond. Excellence in design and discovery requires reliance on the questioning mindset fostered by a liberal arts education, teamwork, hands-on skills and a rigorous technical education that are brought together here at St. Thomas. As I always conclude, our St. Thomas Engineer magazine is just a snapshot of what is going on here. I encourage you to drop us a line, follow us on LinkedIn or just plan a visit. We would love to give you a sense of the energy of our students, our faculty and the business community that surround us here in Minnesota. We’d be happy to connect… and show you around.

Cheers, Don

Dr. Don Weinkauf Dean, School of Engineering


Spring 2024


Published by the University of St. Thomas School of Engineering 2115 Summit Ave., St. Paul, MN 55105 (651) 962-5750 engineering@stthomas.edu engineering.stthomas.edu The University of St. Thomas is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

New One-of-a-kind Learning Experience Opens


MS in AI: Industry Innovation


Senior Design Clinic Students Generate Industry Solutions



Marketing Director Kelli Steidle Art Director Sara Janssen Photographers Mark Brown Brandon Woller Contributors Emma Brobakke Christopher Cho Sheree Curry Doug Dunston Kelsey Irizarry Francesca Sartor Brant Skogrand Abraham Swee Don Weinkauf Student Assistants Allie Fasching Jordan Johnson Front cover

Mission of the Engineer Teaches Course in Faith, Reason 20 Centers of Excellence 22 Student & Faculty Research 24 Building Workforce to Defend Against Cyberthreats 27



The University of St. Thomas is an equal opportunity educator and employer. St. Thomas does not unlawfully discriminate, in any of its programs or activities, on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, family status, disability, age, marital status, status with regard to public assistance, membership or activity in a local commission, genetic information or any other characteristic protected by applicable law. stthomas.edu/eostatement

Turn to page 6 to learn about the new Schoenecker Center

Page 4 engineering.stthomas.edu







The University of St. Thomas School of Engineering has an extensive network of connections with local employers. These connections take many forms, from collaboration on prototyping projects to mentorships of student engineering clubs to employment of our students.

132 Industries and organizations in past 10 years

1274 Students through the program in 10 years

303 Student teams in 10 years

This illustration is representative of companies based in Minnesota, not their actual locations.

STATE-OF-THE-ART FACILITIES — Over 35 dedicated laboratories, including: Water & Resources, Structural High Bay, Rapid Prototyping, Power Systems, Advanced Materials and Manufacturing,

400k square feet dedicated to STEM

+ 35 Dedicated laboratories

Biomedical Research, Thermodynamics, Geotechnical, Fluid Systems, and more.


High Bay This is a world-class structural testing facility equipped with an L-shaped strong wall and strong floor that offers undergraduate students the opportunity to feed their curiosity in a space commonly otherwise reserved for graduate- level research. The high bay also offers space for civil engineering student competitions and a concrete batching area.

Page 6 engineering.stthomas.edu

Robotics and Automation Lab This is a space for research and teaching in today’s modern automation and control systems environment. The lab features the latest industry-standard equipment, including robots, conveyors, vision systems, and PLCs.

Collaborative Hubs The open floor design puts learning on display, which, in addition to the complex’s flexible collaboration

spaces, will help students to grow their appreciation of other disciplines.

St. Thomas Engineer 2024 Page 7



innovation present at Minnesota’s largest private university. Based on the changing needs of the industry, the university has recruited faculty with extensive industry experience. Spread over 10 courses, the MS in AI tackles various aspects of the developing technology, delving into core AI concepts such as machine learning, neural networks, computer vision, and natural language processing, while emphasizing a hands-on learning experience. With just one course a week, completion of the program is attainable even with a full-time job. There is no need to have a prior background in any field. One could have a bachelor’s degree in journalism, English or computer science, for instance. The program can be adapted to every schedule, where one can take one, two or three classes a semester. Courses are available in-person, online and hybrid. Although versions of AI have been in existence for some time, easier access to AI presents productivity tools without ethical guardrails. As a university grounded in moral convictions, ethics is an important part of the program. “AI Ethics, by design, creates a continual question for consideration throughout the course: Does the solution (any given artificial intelligence), by design and evidence, promote and improve humanity? If this question cannot be answered, what are the next steps? More importantly, if the question can be answered in the negative, what intervention(s) need to be considered?” teachers Brandan Keaveny and Jessica Benzel said.

The rapidly emerging field of artificial intelligence is accessible to a wide variety of individuals thanks to a new Master of Science degree offered by the University of St. Thomas School of Engineering. The Master of Science in Artificial Intelligence , developed in consultation with Twin Cities software and tech leaders, will equip students with a comprehensive blend of advanced technical knowledge and practical skills, preparing them for the rapidly evolving tech landscape. “People could be working for a bank, in law enforcement or some other field, and see this emerging trend about AI. And they might wonder, should I have done computer science in undergrad? Did I miss the bus?” said Dr. Manjeet Rege, professor and chair of the St. Thomas Software and Data Science Program and director, Center for Applied Artificial Intelligence. “No, you have not missed the bus. We have an entirely new bus waiting for you. And that is this master’s degree in artificial intelligence.” St. Thomas seeks to serve a need in the marketplace by providing skills in emerging technologies. The new Master of Science in AI aims to do the same. “We have kept up with the times and our curriculum gets updated on a semester basis, not on an annual basis,” Rege said.

St. Thomas is the first university in Minnesota to launch a Master of Science degree in AI, speaking to the culture of

Page 8 engineering.stthomas.edu

The processes that students will develop as part of their own professional practice in this course and the MS in AI will create a St. Thomas AI community of practitioners ready to advance a world of AI that, by design, promotes and improves humanity. —DR. MANJEET REGE Professor and Chair | St. Thomas Software Engineering and Data Science department Director | Center for Applied Artificial Intelligence

Learn more

Alumni Profile


Dubbed the “Eco Green Queen” after a company she founded, Dr. Fuschia-Ann Hoover ‘09 obtained her bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering with a minor in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of St. Thomas when there were not many African American women majoring in engineering anywhere in the U.S.


Hoover, who received her master’s degree and doctorate in ecological sciences and engineering - both at Purdue University - shattered norms. As an interdisciplinary researcher who studies the interactions between urban green spaces, environmental justice, and planning, Hoover is now an assistant professor of environmental planning at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, currently on leave while at Harvard Radcliffe Institute as a Harvard-Salata Climate Justice Fellow. Hoover shares how St. Thomas gave her “a vast skill and set of tools that I still use today.” HOW DID THE ST. THOMAS ENGINEERING PROGRAM SHAPE YOUR CAREER? St. Thomas very much shaped my career as a foundational pillar in the direction that I have gone. It was a great foundation in building a lot of the interest I have now and answering a lot of questions I ask now, such as about environmental racism and environmental justice applications. It taught me to see the ethics in engineering and the ethos around thinking about how your work is contributing to the common good in society.

I had the great opportunity to work with Dr. John Abraham on a research project when I was a merit scholar. Through that experience, I realized I like answering questions about why we are doing things a certain way or how we can do something better. For example, how are we managing our water resources and how are we managing people and where they live and have access to those resources? WHAT ARE YOU GRATEFUL FOR REGARDING YOUR ST. THOMAS EDUCATION? I am really grateful for the small classroom sizes and the one-on-one attention from the faculty across the university and the sincere investment that I think all my professors had in my academic success and my future professional career even though we didn’t know what that was going to be. Their belief that I could be successful was really helpful when I doubted myself.

Contributor: Christopher Cho

Page 10 engineering.stthomas.edu

Faculty Profile

COURSES: Water Resources Engineering, Environmental Engineering, Introduction to Engineering

STUDENT-FACULTY RESEARCH: Mentoring an undergraduate civil engineering student who will study and analyze data from research done on PFAS concentrations and find links between the compound size and accumulation in the food webs in the Mississippi River to better characterize how much PFAS impacts aquatic life.

STUDENT TEACHING PHILOSOPHY: I want students to learn to figure stuff out on their own.

WHY CIVIL ENGINEERING: I feel passionate about water quality and quantity. I think it is a problem that will increase in importance in the next few decades. It is just so integral in the quality of life that we have. We need to have clean drinking water and need to get rid of our wastewater in a clean and efficient way. That is what drives my excitement for my field and my passion for both research and teaching.

DR. LING Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering University of St. Thomas School of Engineering

COURSES: Soil Mechanics and Foundations, Transportation Engineering STUDENT-FACULTY RESEARCH: Working with students on the development and application of new field sensors that accurately estimate substructures of transportation facilities. We plan to develop an improved sensor that can be applied to the broader area of structures and use such a sensor to understand the climate influence on transportation facilities. STUDENT TEACHING PHILOSOPHY: Let the students understand why they are learning, why this is important, and how this knowledge can be applied to real world situations. Creating a supportive environment providing regular and constructive feedback is critical to the role of a facilitator in creative education. WHY CIVIL ENGINEERING: I was intrigued by the fact that civil engineering is one of the oldest engineering areas that creates the space and environment in which humankind can prosper.

DR. KANG Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering University of St. Thomas School of Engineering

St. Thomas Engineer 2024 Page 11


The School of Engineering actively seeks new industry partners and projects for collaboration with our Senior Design Clinic students. If you know of a company that may be interested in learning about how it can become involved, please have representatives contact Tiffany Ling at tiffany.ling@stthomas.edu.

Page 12 engineering.stthomas.edu

Senior Design Clinic

THE SCHOOL OF ENGINEERING SENIOR DESIGN CLINIC challenges students to create novel solutions to engineering problems posed by industry and community partners. This course is a critical component of the St. Thomas engineering curriculum as it requires student teams to engage hands-on with real-world design problems and to gain skills in professionalism, communication and project management, all while applying their engineering knowledge. Projects are selected from a broad range of partners to match varying student interest, from multinational corporations looking for fresh ideas to entrepreneurial ventures hoping to take a prototype to the next level.


EMBOLIC PARTICLE TEST METHOD Atrial fibrillation is a heart condition that affects millions of adults in the U.S. and causes increased risk of blood clots and stroke. Boston Scientific’s Watchman family of devices is an implanted device that can reduce the risk of stroke for these patients. A team of St. Thomas students is designing a test method that Boston Scientific engineers will use to quantify future design changes to the Watchman device. STREAM-STAGE SENSORS FOR MONITORING As the first St. Thomas group to incorporate one student from each major discipline (civil, computer, electrical and mechanical), the task is to design a remote-operated stream-gauge sensor for the Minnesota Department of Transportation. This bridge-mounted sensor will provide more accurate and current information about flooding events across the state allowing for better allocation of resources and communication to the public on safety hazards due to flood events.

AUTOMATED SUPPORT WHEEL FOR RV Winnebago offers an array of drivable and towable RVs. A team of St. Thomas students is developing an automated support system for improving the user experience with the towable RV setup. This will consist of automated deployment, retraction and leveling systems to make the parking and positioning process simple and efficient for all users.

St. Thomas Engineer 2024 Page 13



The University of St. Thomas has been developing its campus microgrid for about a decade. Today, it consists of a 48-kilowatt rooftop solar array along with a diesel generator, a lead acid battery pack, and an inverter that converts direct current to alternating current. A campus substation connects to Xcel’s local grid. Like most microgrids, the St. Thomas system can run in “island” mode, meaning it can operate even when the power grid fails by drawing on the battery, solar panels and backup generation. The Center for Microgrid Research opened in 2020 as a way to build research and education programming around its campus microgrid. Dr. Mahmoud Kabalan, the center’s director, and Don Weinkauf, the school’s dean of engineering, said the new state and federal funding will allow the center to expand both the program and the microgrid system itself.

The University of St. Thomas’ Center for Microgrid Research recently won a $7.5 million state legislative appropriation and $11 million in a federal defense bill to help it expand. The University of St. Thomas’ Center for Microgrid Research plans to triple its three-person staff and enroll more students thanks to money from a $7.5 million state legislative appropriation and $11 million in federal defense bills secured by U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum. State officials who championed the funding said they hope the center’s education and research efforts can help train future grid technicians and smooth the state’s path to 100% clean electricity by 2040.

Page 14 engineering.stthomas.edu

Undergraduate Profile



HOMETOWN: Originally from Colombia

MAJOR: Civil engineering

WHAT ARE SOME WORDS YOU WOULD USE TO DESCRIBE YOURSELF? Adaptable, creative, analytical and dedicated. WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT ENGINEERING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF ST. THOMAS? The small class sizes and the close relationships with faculty create a personalized learning experience. Professors not only know students by name but also actively seek our opinions, ensuring an engaged and collaborative learning environment.


My senior design project focuses on developing a wastewater treatment facility for a community in Costa Rica. They currently rely on septic tanks without proper effluent treatment, and the community faces issues like odors and land discharge. HOW HAS YOUR SENIOR DESIGN PROJECT IMPACTED YOUR LIFE? Engaging in the senior design project has been an eye-opener, highlighting the challenges faced by many global communities. It has made me appreciate the wastewater systems in the

United States that have been designed by other engineers. Personally, it has improved my engineering skills, developing a deeper understanding of the multifaceted aspects of project execution and the importance of collaboration within a diverse team.

St. Thomas Engineer 2024 Page 15



It’s a heavy, clunky and often emotional problem: how to dispose of an old piano. Once glorified as a beautifully crafted wooden frame housing musical strings and polished keys, unwanted pianos can often end up neglected and, ultimately, in the trash. To solve that issue, every fall University of St. Thomas students seek sustainable alternatives.

First-year engineering students in Dr. Tiffany Ling’s Introduction to Engineering Design received a unique assignment in fall 2023. Their task: design and build a musical instrument from discarded piano parts. But they wouldn’t have to build it alone. In a true cross-disciplinary collaboration, students enrolled in Music and the Creative Process, taught by music faculty member Dr. Sarah Schmalenberger, served as consultants and were charged with testing out the brand-new instruments. Creating instruments from found materials is something Dr. Schmalenberger had previously incorporated into her course, and this allowed that project to expand. For first-year engineering major Henry Cahoon, who also plays cello at St. Thomas, the project was an exciting chance to combine two of his passions. “I am a musician and I am an engineer, but rarely do these things connect for me as they did over the course of this project,” Cahoon said. “The fusion of those perspectives was very cool.”

Cahoon’s team designed an instrument out of piano planks, guitar strings and a pair of aluminum soup cans sourced from Dining Services. “We had a bunch of ideas by the time we got into production, but with a focus on sustainability, we also had to think about how we were going to efficiently use materials … that defined a lot of how our instrument turned out,” Cahoon said. Keys 4/4 Kids in New Brighton, Minnesota inspired the instrument design project at St. Thomas. The nonprofit works to save as many pianos as they can from area landfills and provided students with recycled piano parts to incorporate into their builds. Keys 4/4 Kids takes in nearly 1,000 pianos every year from around the Twin Cities. The organization repairs, resells and gives away as many as they can, but not every piano is destined to be played again. As the nonprofit studies new ways to recycle a piano’s many varied and complicated parts, Dawson and his

Page 16 engineering.stthomas.edu

Keys 4/4 Kids in New Brighton, Minnesota inspired the instrument design project at St. Thomas. The nonprofit works to save as many pianos as they can from area landfills and provided students with recycled piano parts to incorporate into their builds.

Learn more

over their new instruments to music team members to practice on. Emily Torstenson ’27, a marketing major in the music class, was thrilled with her team’s final design, which featured strings from a piano, keys from a xylophone, and the body of an old ukulele. “It turned out really well – I love the sound it makes,” Torstenson said. “But also, it’s really cool that we were able to prevent waste with this design, and make something completely new, in a completely different way.” The project is now in its second year, and plans are already in place to present the challenge to a new group of students in fall 2024. With each iteration, organizers say, the community gains engineers and musicians better prepared to create a more sustainable world.

team turned to the Sustainable Communities Partnership (SCP) at St. Thomas to find alternative solutions. Local governments and nonprofits have relied on SCP to funnel some of its greatest sustainability minded questions right into the hands of St. Thomas students. Since its inception in 2016, SCP projects have been incorporated into more than 150 courses across a variety of disciplines, including economics, marketing and psychology. “These projects allow our students the opportunity – using the skills they’re developing in class – to solve current questions that our community partners otherwise would not have the capacity to explore on their own,” Office of Sustainability Initiatives & SCP Director Dr. Maria Dahmus said. “Connecting our students with partners expands those possibilities and enriches learning in so many collaborative ways.” After months of prototyping and testing, University of St. Thomas School of Engineering students handed



Being able to have a team from St. Thomas compete in a Baja SAE competition was a dream over two years in the making.


—DANNY FAGAN Tommie Motorsports founder and team driver

“Being able to have a team from St. Thomas compete in a Baja SAE competition was a dream over two years in the making,” said Danny Fagan, Tommie Motorsports founder and team driver. “Everyone on the team put in a lot of hard work and late nights to prepare for our first competition.” Racing against powerhouse engineering teams from Virginia Tech, University of Michigan, Ohio State, Baylor, Michigan State, University of Dayton, University of Arizona, and Michigan Tech, among others, the team competed in three dynamic events and an endurance race. The Baja SAE series is not your typical racing competition. Engineering students across the nation are tasked with designing and constructing an off-road vehicle that can navigate and survive severe and rough terrain. The teams must compete against one another to see which of their vehicle designs would be “manufactured” by a fictional firm. Students work as a team to design, build, test, promote and race their off-road vehicles. They must also engage with sponsors for financial support, all while managing their academic priorities. The University of St. Thomas Baja Racing Team, Tommie Motorsports, competed in its first Baja SAE series race Sept. 6-10 in Nashport, Ohio, with a vehicle built by the Tommie team members.

Photo: School of Engineering / University of St. Thomas

“Baja was an experience you’ll never get anywhere else. It was so much more than anything you will get from your classes because this was real,” said Cam Vidlund, Tommie Motorsports team driver. “It’s an opportunity to put your skills to the test against engineers from around the country.” “For a first-year team at Baja SAE, we far exceeded our expectations and were able to compete through the entire four-day event,” Cole said. “We were able to show up and make St. Thomas’ presence known on a national level.”

To keep up with St. Thomas’ Baja Racing Team, check out their Instagram @tommie_motorsports.

Page 18 engineering.stthomas.edu

Graduate Profile





WHAT ARE YOU GETTING YOUR GRADUATE DEGREE IN? Master’s in mechanical engineering plus entrepreneurship from a new program at the School of Engineering called New Product Tech Ventures (NPTV). WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO PURSUE A GRADUATE DEGREE? • I am driven by the desire to deepen my knowledge and expertise in engineering. • My commitment to personal growth extends beyond academics. I am a dedicated student-athlete on campus. With two more seasons of football ahead of me, this graduate program allows me to seamlessly integrate my academic pursuits with my love for football. • Having dual expertise in engineering and entrepreneurship will not only enrich my problem-solving capabilities but also position me as a versatile professional capable of navigating complex challenges in both technical and managerial contexts.

to provide a comprehensive understanding of the subject

matter. The professors are highly knowledgeable and supportive, creating an environment that fosters both academic and personal growth. Overall, this program has become a crucial steppingstone in realizing my long-standing dream of establishing my own company, providing me with the academic foundation and practical skills needed for entrepreneurial success.


DIFFERENCE IN YOUR LIFE? The University of St. Thomas has been a transformative force in my life, leaving an indelible impact that extends beyond the classroom. The outstanding education, supportive community, and enriching experience with the football team have all been instrumental in shaping not only my academic and professional journey, but also in molding my character, values and worldview.

St. Thomas Engineer 2024 Page 19



‘I think it might change my life’ “The course has really been touching a lot of ideas that have been on my mind

Two University of St. Thomas leaders teaching a new interdisciplinary course hope it will become one

lately related to work and leisure, like integrating my work, creating into a vocation and using my leisure time as a way to allow me to receive the

of the university’s signature offerings. Director of the Center for Catholic Studies Michael Naughton & School of Engineering Dean Don Weinkauf are co-teaching Mission of the Engineer.

gifts and graces from the rest of my life that can inform my work,” Mechanical engineering major Aidan Willard ‘24 said. “Honestly, I think it might change my life.” William Howell ’25, who is majoring in mechanical engineering and minoring in Catholic studies, said the course brings together seemingly disconnected topics. “Engineering classes teach you a lot of valuable skills. They teach you the techniques behind learning new skills and how to pick up new skills,” Howell said. “This class is sort of a synthesis of how you become a better whole person rather than just a walking skill set.” “This class presents a way of thinking and a way of life that is not just about answering these questions and you’re set. They are lifelong questions that you’re going to have to think about and reevaluate your thoughts,” Howell said.

“In a professional career, engineers and other business people are going to be immersed in a system of systems,” Weinkauf said. “We are encouraging our students to develop a contemplative life that allows them to see the bigger picture. We want to enrich them with an understanding of why they are doing something in their work.” Naughton and Weinkauf designed the course to be an integration of faith and reason, making connections between liberal arts courses and professional courses. “One of the great strengths of a university is its specialization, yet one of its great weaknesses is specialization,” Naughton said. “The danger with specialization is that it often disconnects from other forms of knowledge.”

Page 20 engineering.stthomas.edu


Representing St. Thomas “When we started Catholic Studies 30 years ago, we began fostering the relationship between theology, philosophy and literature, and their relationships to the professions,” Naughton said. “Engineering is a technical field that has increasing significance in our culture,” Naughton said. “If engineering is going to humanize the world, it has to be guided by deeper human convictions and principles.” Naughton and Weinkauf consider the Mission of the Engineer a signature course for St. Thomas.

“There’s something special about a course that’s attempting to foster this interdisciplinary dialogue that can get so easily lost in a highly specialized university,” Naughton said. “The Mission of the Engineer course includes tools and experiences that, at most institutions, are denied in the experience,” Weinkauf said. “A course like this represents St. Thomas and our identity. These elements of our education are the yeast, not the frosting; they represent the integration of faith and reason, which is the essence of a St. Thomas education.”

St. Thomas Engineer 2024 Page 21


Our School of Engineering’s Centers of Excellence partner with industry and educators to advance skills development in technology with practical, hands-on training for today’s and tomorrow’s workforce. We collaborate and form working partnerships in education and industry to support and advance STEM technology in the Twin Cities metro area and beyond.

CENTER FOR APPLIED AI Dr. Manjeet Rege, Director The Center for Applied Artificial Intelligence CENTER FOR ADVANCED MANUFACTURING Dr. John Wentz, Director The Center for Advanced Manufacturing

CENTER FOR MICROGRID RESEARCH Dr. Mahmoud Kabalan, Director The Center for Microgrid Research CENTER FOR ENGINEERING EDUCATION Kelsey Irizarry, Director The Center for Engineering Education

School of Engineering faculty and students work on CNC equipment as part of the ACE program.



Kappes shared that he was able to connect with over 12 companies about the area of work he wants to pursue. “I had an interview lined up within 24 hours of the event,” he added. Representatives from companies like Boston Scientific were impressed by the engineering students. Myranda New, from Boston Scientific, attended the career fair for the first time. “I was absolutely amazed by the quality of students at St. Thomas! I understand now why we have a good handful of interns from St. Thomas, because your engineering school is next level.”

Over 200 undergraduate engineering students and 200 company representatives registered to attend the annual University of St. Thomas School of Engineering Reverse Career Fair. “The fair was a wonderful experience. Not only did it allow us as students to capture our qualities and share them with recruiters, but it gave us the opportunity to speak with many recruiters and companies that we might not otherwise get a chance to network with,” said Ryan Kappes, a third-year civil engineering major, who attended his first Meet the Engineers event this year.

Page 22 engineering.stthomas.edu



Master of Science in Artificial Intelligence graduate degree delivers practical in-depth knowledge and skills to prepare students to become successful AI practitioners. Students will gain expertise in machine learning, neural networks and ethical AI, all guided by leading scholars and industry experts.


Graduate micro-credentials are designed to enable students who have earned a bachelor’s degree to develop a focused set of skills and knowledge in a specialized topic or area of study. In just two classes, students will earn a micro-credential and digital badge to bolster their resume and online profile.


The Graduate Certificate in Cybersecurity prepares technology professionals to meet this demand. The Graduate Certificate in Sustainability is an interdisciplinary program designed to give students the knowledge and skills necessary to lead and manage sustainability initiatives and foster transformational change within organizations.

I had an interview lined up within 24 hours of the event.

—RYAN KAPPES Student, School of Engineering

Photo: Bryce Werkmeister, St. Thomas

Photo: Elsa Langenwalter, St. Thomas

St. Thomas Engineer 2024 Page 23



RYAN KAPPES Civil Engineering ‘25

KORDT GAMMELGAARD Electrical Engineering ‘25

JONATHAN MILLAM Computer Engineering ‘25






My role is to analyze data from research done on PFAS concentrations and find links between the compound size and accumulation in the food web to better characterize how much PFAS impacts aquatic life.

Our role is to design infrastructure to collect and process data from the optical depth sensor at various angles and distances which can lead to safer and more capable autonomous systems.


I find research to be cool. The concept of going out to find novel information, or to gather information that already exists and apply it to new ideas, is itself a seed for passion. Over the past 100 years, we as a society have done so many things without understanding their full implications. I feel like this is just the start of a larger look into this particular realm of environmental engineering/science. One of Minnesota’s crown jewels is the natural beauty of the state, and I feel it is our duty to protect it. To look into how chemicals are affecting this environment is a personal achievement alongside a professional one. Understanding our impact here is critical to our future when we start exploring other planets.

The opportunity to do research is wonderful and a very fun experience. It has helped me further my own understanding of the discipline, flesh out my future goals as an engineer, and explore the amazing advancements in the field. — Kordt Gammelgaard


+ Ensures safer and more capable autonomous systems. + Autonomous cars differentiate between asphalt and ice. + Robots that interact independently with the environment need to know if an object is hard or soft.

Page 24 engineering.stthomas.edu


SRAJAN PILLAI Graduate Student Mechanical Engineering

HENRY FISCHER Mechanical Engineering ‘25

JIHUN MOON Graduate Student Data Science





Our role is to help design and run atomic scale simulations for two-dimensional metal dichalcogenide layers with photochromic molecules, alongside data compilation and result analysis.

My role is to help design a comprehensive system architecture for the chatbot to ensure seamless integration and efficient functionality.

I am encouraged to question and jump deeper into my research findings. The opportunity to engage in research related to the current market’s hot topics are incredibly valuable for my career and learning. The prospect of producing tangible project outcomes in this field adds significant value to my professional development.

Working with faculty and participating in research means the opportunity to engage in a hands-on, collaborative learning experience that allows us to develop critical thinking, problem-solving, and teamwork skills. It also provides the chance to explore new ideas and subjects in depth, and a chance to push ourselves intellectually. Miniaturizing electronic devices such as cell phones, smart watches, sensors, etc. is the mainstream in advancing technology. Because of their small size and unique properties, developing two-dimensional semiconducting materials is a key factor in continuing the downsizing of electronic devices.

This is the new trend with regard to how our society will use the internet in the future. Users will no longer need to do keyword searches to derive answers.

St. Thomas Engineer 2024 Page 25


FOR THE LOVE OF STEM: THE POWER OF THE GROWTH MINDSET By DOUG DUNSTON & KELSEY IRIZARRY Sometimes, educators teach their most important content indirectly. Carol Dweck’s research on growth and fixed mindsets emphasizes how critical it is for learners to commit to the idea that their skills and knowledge are not fixed and unchanging but rather can develop and grow with intentional effort. With the benefit of a growth mindset, a middle school girl who has never before imagined what engineering might look like can, via experimentation and persisting through thoughtfully structured, open- ended design challenges, discover new curiosity and self-confidence, inspiring further questioning and exploration. But what makes it possible for this student to dive into inquiries so new to her? The power a teacher’s growth mindset has on students What may be surprising is the extent to which teachers’ own mindsets can be adopted by their students. The Center for Engineering Education (CEE) recognizes that students look to their teachers holistically, as instructors but also as models of how to engage new challenges. So when PK-12 STEM educators develop their own growth mindsets, learning through experience that they can grapple with new, previously unknown or mysterious STEM areas and create coherent, relevant learning opportunities for their students, that ability to confidently try out things one isn’t good at yet becomes a key element of what they are modeling to their students.

Igniting Passion with the Engineering Education Graduate Certificate The CEE takes advantage of a particular intrinsic joy that PK-12 educators share: the joy of learning new things in a supportive, curiosity-rewarding context. Teachers who become students once again in the CEE’s Engineering Education graduate certificate courses experience the transformative potential of prototyping, the interconnections new STEM topics have to areas they have already mastered, and a community of encouraging fellow educators. They discover that a growth mindset can be practiced, modeled and shared.

As educators, we know that the journey is just as important as the destination; the knowledge you gain during the CEE program will last well beyond the terminus of the certificate.


Former CEE student Caroline Little says, “The CEE program completely rekindled my love of STEM! I started the program as a French teacher who ran an engineering cocurricular and ended the program as a middle-school science teacher. Talk about transformational! The classes were challenging and engaging, and the professors ensured that I understood the material thoroughly before moving on. Five years out and I am still sharing what I learned with colleagues and students.

Learn more about the Engineering Graduate Certificate

Page 26 engineering.stthomas.edu



With the increasing frequency of ransomware attacks and data breaches alongside advances in artificial intelligence, the field of cybersecurity is rapidly evolving. Dr. Manjeet Rege, Professor and Chair of the Department of Sofware Engineering and Data Science, discusses what today’s graduates heading into the cybersecurity field need in order to be ready to protect businesses and society.

What types of cybersecurity issues could we see in the next five years?

What do businesses need to be ready for cybersecurity threats?

• Proficiency in security tools like intrusion detection and prevention systems, firewalls and endpoint protection platforms. Must be able to monitor networks, detect anomalies, analyze threats and respond quickly. • Governance and risk management expertise. Developing comprehensive policies, compliance frameworks and risk mitigation strategies tailored to the organization’s needs and aligned to industry best practices. • Cybersecurity experts must continuously expand their knowledge and skills through training, certifications and hands-on experience.

Ransomware attacks and data breaches Health care, financial services and critical infrastructure will continue to be prime targets for cybercriminals seeking

Organizations will need to prepare for these emerging threats through security awareness training, robust technical controls, monitoring for new attack patterns, and fostering a resilient cyber posture across business units. What high-level skills are needed beyond basic tech support knowledge to prevent the rise of cybersecurity crimes? • Advanced understanding of network architectures, operating systems and application vulnerabilities. Security experts need to know where the weaknesses lie in an organization’s IT infrastructure and how adversaries can exploit them.


financial gain. Nation-states


May ramp up state-sponsored attacks for espionage or to disrupt adversaries’ critical systems. Devices that are internet-connected Appliances, vehicles and medical devices that are internet-connected expand the attack surface vulnerable to exploitation. Cloud services Growing security concern as organizations rely more on cloud storage and computing.



NEW GRADUATE CERTIFICATE IN CYBERSECURITY Our new graduate certificate in cybersecurity provides comprehensive training for the next generation of cybersecurity professionals through a curriculum designed to develop real-world skills. Students are immersed in hands-on labs and exercises that ground them in the latest techniques for ethical hacking, threat detection, incident response, risk management and security operations.

St. Thomas Engineer 2024 Page 27

School of Engineering, OSS 100 2115 Summit Avenue St. Paul, Minnesota 55105-1096

Malcolm Chisholm Hermans, a junior majoring in electrical engineering, served in the Navy aboard CVN76 USS Ronald Reagan out of Yokosuka Japan. He is active on campus, participating in both the Veteran’s Association meetings and IEEE Club meetings. “After leaving the Navy, I knew I wanted a degree in electrical engineering and to be in Minnesota to be near friends and family. It was only natural that I chose St. Thomas as they offered both smaller class sizes than other universities; along with the ease of interacting with professors who are predominantly former industry leaders in their given fields.” Malcolm plans to work towards obtaining his Professional Engineering license and working in the architecture and engineering field, with a focus on federal and aviation clients.

Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7 Page 8 Page 9 Page 10 Page 11 Page 12 Page 13 Page 14 Page 15 Page 16 Page 17 Page 18 Page 19 Page 20 Page 21 Page 22 Page 23 Page 24 Page 25 Page 26 Page 27 Page 28

Powered by