Park Blocks: Spring 2019
Author: various
Posted: June 4, 2019

Building through partnership

A FORMER PARKING lot is being transformed into a multi-use, seven-story building through a unique PSU partnership with Oregon Health & Science University, Portland Community College and the city of Portland. Construction started in January at the Southwest Fourth and Montgomery site, across the street from the Academic and Student Recreation Center. The 175,000-square foot building will house the OHSU-PSU School of Public Health, PSU College of Education, PCC dental programs and clinic, and Portland’s Bureau of Planning and Sustainability. “This is unlike any other partnership that I have been engaged in,” said Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler at the groundbreaking. The $104 million project is backed by $51 million in state bonds. 

Digging the past

EVEN THE simplest artifacts from the past can speak volumes about how people lived—and may even tell us a few things about modern life. Since 2012, Portland State anthropology students, faculty and alumni have teamed up with community partners to put on the Archaeology Roadshow to excite the public about Oregon’s heritage and encourage its preservation. This year’s exhibits and activities will center around the theme of daily life. “Our task is to understand these artifacts, and have them tell stories of what people’s motives were or why they changed through time,” says Virginia Butler, anthropology professor and department chair. The Roadshow takes place on campus June 1 before heading to Bend June 8 and Harney County June 29.

New member in elite research consortium

OAK RIDGE National Laboratory in Tennessee helped usher in the nuclear age when it was founded in 1943 as part of the Manhattan Project. It now taps the expertise of more than 100 top research universities to provide solutions to national priorities in science, education, security and health. In March, Portland State was added to the list when the University was formally accepted as a member of the Oak Ridge Associated Universities. It’s a big win for PSU, opening the door to new grant possibilities, government contracts and myriad research opportunities, “all of which will enhance the professional growth and development of PSU’s faculty and students,” says Mark McLellan, PSU vice president for research.

From campus to space

AS ASTRONAUTS aboard the International Space Station perform experiments in zero-g, the Portland State students who helped design them are watching from a lab on campus through a live video feed. The NASA communications lab—one of the few in the United States—is under the direction of mechanical engineering professor Mark Weislogel, pictured here (left) with then-student Brentley Wiles. NASA has funded $4.2 million in research at PSU over the past 17 years. During that time, astronauts on the space station have conducted more than 100 PSU-designed experiments, some of which could one day unlock the secrets to long-range space travel. “Portland State is totally unique in the country in the kind of work we’re doing,” says Weislogel.

Census may undercount Oregonians

NEARLY 500,000 Oregonians are at risk of being uncounted in the 2020 Census because they live with one or more non-U.S. citizens, according to a study conducted by Jason Jurjevich, acting director of PSU’s Population Research Center. Jurjevich, who was recently appointed to the Oregon Complete Count Committee by Gov. Kate Brown, performed the study partially in response to the White House administration’s attempt to include a citizenship question on the 2020 Census. Asking respondents to report citizenship could reduce participation among already hard-to-count populations, including children, people of color, renters and immigrants, according to former U.S. Census Director John Thompson. The census is required to count everyone. 

Honoring a lifetime of achievement

OVER THE PAST 60 years, Ivan Sutherland changed the ways we interact with computers, create art and explore the virtual side of reality. In recognition of his prolific career, the visiting professor in PSU’s Maseeh College of Engineering and Computer Science, received the Frontiers of Knowledge Award in Information and Communications Technologies from the BBVA Foundation. This prestigious international award includes a €400,000 prize, which Sutherland has requested go to the PSU Foundation in support of the Asynchronous Research Center, the lab co-founded by Sutherland and his wife and research partner Marly Roncken. Sutherland’s early work helped shift computing from text-based interfaces to graphical displays; his current research focuses on the development of “self-timed” computer circuits.

Power from the sea

A NOVEL METHOD of generating electricity from ocean waves has received a $2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. Jonathan Bird, electrical and computer engineering faculty, will study the feasibility of using adjustable magnetic springs as part of prototype floating devices designed to capture wave energy. The oscillating springs would enable the devices to be smaller and less expensive than other methods that have been tried, cutting the cost. “Nobody has figured out how to generate electricity from the sea in a cost-effective way,” says Bird. “Many of the companies that have developed large ocean generator devices have gone bankrupt.”