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Hydrogen Properties for Energy Research (HYPER) Laboratory Cool. Fuel.

System design guidelines for user facilities

Initial floor plan sketches

We’re just over 1 month into refurbishing our new lab space in suites 108 and 113 of the Thermal Fluids Research Building (TFRB). We’re following the 5-S philosophy from Lean Manufacturing: 1) Sort, 2) Systemize, 3) Shine, 4) Standardize, and 5) Sustain. Recent posts have shown we’re nearing the end of phase 1 and are starting to look towards the design of our working systems within the space. What we decide matters. So what design rules can we follow to … » More …

Thermal Fluids Research Building (TFRB) Refurbishment

With the mass outpouring of support for the development and design of a hydrogen refueling station to submit to the DOE’s H2 refuel competition, we needed an effective design and work space large enough to support everyone. Luckily, we have around 5,000 square feet of space in the Thermal Fluids Research Building (TFRB) set aside for this project. Unfortunately, this space previously contained a wood shop and spare storage facilities, leaving much to be desired from a usability perspective. Several student volunteers have been coming in every day to help fix this project, and we have some bold plans to make the space a … » More …

My opinion on great AND informative poster design

I was a first year Ph.D. student when I created my first original research poster. In engineering we’re always surrounded by these posters attempting to communicate our research as they are akin to wallpaper in the common hallways. That’s why I spent way too much time on it. I was so frustrated with how typical and common the legalistic design meme of these posters was that I wanted to break the mold. I wanted to create a visual that would stop people in their tracks outside the lab and stand alone, i.e. would tell the story without … » More …

The TFRB renovation begins!

We kicked off the renovations of TFRB suites 113 and 108 began yesterday. The spaces previously held a wood shop and furniture studio. While it’s difficult to imagine the future from the pictures below, let me just say we’re excited! We’ll definitely give the cryogenics labs at Wisconsin and MIT a run for their money on low-stakes innovation spaces.

Remember the plan is to merge an outdoor hydrogen testing area with high bay fab area, helium liquefier, student design space, and library.

20150329_161552» More …

Why the students act like, well, students

…because you treat them like students and not professionals.

One summer I was lamenting to my friends Dan Bukvich and P.K. the finish of a high school student who worked in my lab as part of the Army’s REAP program. The summer had been fine, just fine. I knew we were capable of much more. Here’s  the dialogue:

Me: “How much can you expect from a high school student?”

Dan: “Did you treat them like a high school student?”

Me: “Damn.”

(Mental note: they are soon to be professional engineers and can begin whenever they choose to. Don’t treat them like students. Definitely don’t ever … » More …

Evolving Professionalism in Engineering Education

Last Friday in my Systems Design class something incredibly wonderful emerged from the students. It was the first time I’d observed this in an engineering course. In short, it was professionalism– an evolved form of professionalism that I will attempt to describe here. But first, some definitions for context.

For many years I taught “professionalism” in Experimental Design via the standard US-Engineering way, starting with the Attributes of a Profession:

Work that requires sophisticated skills, the use of judgement, and the exercise of discretion. Also, the work is not routine or capable of being mechanized.
Membership in the profession requires extensive formal education, not … » More …

Work flow identification

We ran an interesting experiment in the HYPER lab the other day. The following picture was handed to all of the lab members and they were asked to:

Identify which diagram best describes how work/tasks/information flows in the lab (dots are people, arrows are flows).
Identify which diagram best describes how things should ideally flow.

The exercise helped change how we communicate. We now have a weekly member lunch and activity on the blog has increased. I’ll leave you to decide on how the image relates to spiral memes.

Lab organization exercise» More …

3 Rules for Engineering Communication

What if I told you that the key to effective communication lies in following just three simple rules? I’ve found that the following three rules tend to correct the majority of engineering communication problems, and indicate when I consume information:




I haven’t seen these rules elsewhere, so let’s expand on each. I’m going to use the Spiral v-Meme value taxonomy to apply each rule on many value levels.

1) Relevancy — to the audience. Indicators of relevance depend on audience and include one or more (if not all) of the following:

Story/fable approach (“…and that’s why we no longer … » More …

Introducing HYPER Laboratory online


I initiated the HYdrogen Properties for Energy Research (HYPER) laboratory in the school of Mechanical and Materials Engineering at Washington State University. I started the HYPER lab in August of 2010 to meet a growing national need for expertise in cryogenic hydrogen in many fields; aerospace, nuclear energy, and clean energy technologies being only a few of the fields. We’ve had an award filled and exemplary start to the laboratory and my goal is to tell that story through ongoing posts and content uploads.

The final motivation for moving my lab’s story to this website was Jason Priem’s commentary in Nature, “Scholarship: Beyond … » More …