Brown Bag Series Continues to Spur Collaborative Activity in the College of Engineering and Computer Science

California State University, Northridge’s College of Engineering and Computer Science is hosting its ninth biannual Brown Bag series this fall, bringing together faculty from different disciplines across the college to share their work.

The series began in the fall of 2012 and is held every semester. Open to the campus and the community, it provides an opportunity to learn more about the research projects conducted by faculty in the college. Some of the topics to be covered this semester include: The Evaluation of Seismic Performance Factors in High Rise Steel Buildings; the Mechatronics Laboratory Experience for Undergraduates; and the Corrosion Protection of the Above Ground Tanks Using Nano-Particle Size Vapor Phase Corrosion Inhibitors.

Last year, the series caught the eye of the San Fernando Valley section of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, the largest professional technical society in the world with over 400,000 members worldwide. The IEEE provides lunch for those who attend the seminars.

“The Brown Bag seminars are a great opportunity for faculty in the college to share their work with an interdisciplinary audience of students, faculty, staff and just about anyone who is interested,” said S.K. Ramesh, dean of the college. “From wireless health, renewable energy, cyber security, the smart grid, and structural engineering — we have had a wide array of interesting talks.”

Ramesh said the series has led to collaborative research projects across the college. Electrical engineering professor Ruting Jia and mechanical engineering professor Vidya Nandikolla worked with a group of undergraduate students on a research project sponsored by Northrop Grumman. Professor Jimmy Ghandi, who teaches in the manufacturing systems engineering and management department, is leading the way, with a large grant that connects high school students to careers in the field. He is working collaboratively with faculty members from the college, as well as the Michael D. Eisner College of Education and the Mike Curb College of Arts, Media, and Communication.

Nandikolla presented in the fall of 2014 on Active Footwear Designs for Diabetic Mellitus and will present this fall on The Mechatronics Laboratory Experience for Undergraduates. She said the series is often the only opportunity to identify the work of other colleagues.

“The series is a very good way to find out what everyone is doing,” Nandikolla said. “We might not know the faculty in other departments and even within our own departments, we are so busy that we sometimes don’t get a chance to talk to each other about our research.”

Professor Maryam Tabibzadeh, who teaches in the department of manufacturing systems engineering and management, gave a seminar in the fall of 2015. Her presentation, The Role of Human and Organizational Factors in the Safety and Reliability of Complex Technological Systems, gave her an opportunity to share her research into the human organizational errors that contributed to the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill. She said the series provides a unique opportunity for faculty in the college with similar and different backgrounds to connect.

“The [Brown Bag series] provides a place for people to exchange ideas and give an opportunity for people with similar backgrounds to ask each other questions,” Tabibzadeh said. “You as a presenter can encourage outside the box thinking for those who attend the session.”

The next seminar is scheduled for Oct. 24 at noon. To RSVP for the event, contact Kathleen Pohl at