Look at Douglas-Prawl’s resume and it’s no surprise why America’s top technology companies are vying for him. The University of Rhode Island computer engineering student developed two apps, interned for Electric Boat, garners outstanding grades and serves as president of the National Society of Black Engineers URI chapter. He also works at the University’s computer Help Desk and plays rugby.
“I like advancing myself and moving forward,” Douglas-Prawl, 20, says. “Being involved is a way to do that.”
Arriving at URI in September 2011, Douglas-Prawl found a home in engineering. The courses focusing on the intersection between computer hardware and software appealed to the Stamford, Conn. resident. His professors challenged him and the freshman Engineering Living and Learning Community provided him a support group and circle of friends.
Douglas-Prawl soon found himself fascinated by the rise of mobile computing and wearable devices. By junior year, he was teaching himself to code mobile apps for Google’s Android platform. One app calculates restaurant tips. The other allows users to access all their cloud-stored files in one place regardless of whether they are stored on Google Drive, Dropbox or similar service.
For Douglas-Prawl, it’s only the beginning.
“Everyone uses computers so if you invent a new thing everyone is going to use it,” Douglas-Prawl says. “Just knowing that you might invent the next big thing, that’s the fun part.”
Douglas-Prawl started toying with computers around age 9. Frustrated by the slow Internet speeds of his family’s dial-up connection, Douglas-Prawl began looking under the hood. By age 13, he was building computers. By high school, he was attending the Academy of Information Technology and Engineering in Stamford.
It was at the academy that Douglas-Prawl found URI. During an engineering college fair his sophomore year, his guidance counselor introduced him to Charles Watson, the College of Engineering’s minority student recruitment and retention coordinator. After speaking with Watson, Douglas-Prawl put the school on his radar. When he saw Watson again his junior year, he liked what he heard about the engineering program and the beautiful campus. He applied, won a University Fund Grant and matriculated.
Four years later, he’s on the cusp of graduating. When he does, he’ll be the first in his family to graduate college. He’s currently waiting to hear back from Microsoft and Google.
If it doesn’t work out, Douglas-Prawl has a fallback: bootstrap a tech startup and have it acquired. If his four years at URI are any indication of his future success, that shouldn’t be hard.]]>
With funding from the URI Water Resources Center, Bradshaw and his students conducted a series of tests at the 3,000-foot-long, 109-foot-high dam, which parallels Scituate Avenue (Route 12) in Scituate and is operated and maintained by the Providence Water Supply Board. Their analysis thus far suggests that the 88-year-old dam could withstand, with minimal damage, the region’s most likely earthquake scenarios, which include a magnitude 5 earthquake nearby the dam and a magnitude 6.8 earthquake 125 kilometers away.
“Back when it was built, engineers may not have had the technology we have now, but they certainly had the knowledge and the quality of workmanship, and we’re seeing their impressive structures,” Bradshaw said.
The URI professor’s study was the first time the Gainer Dam had been evaluated for its resilience to earthquakes. When Bradshaw and graduate students Christopher Norton of West Haven, Conn., and Bivian Reyes of the Dominican Republic approached the agency about conducting the study, officials saw it as a rare opportunity.
“Looking at what’s downstream and the significance of this dam, we thought it would be prudent for Dr. Bradshaw and his students to conduct their analysis,” said Peter LePage, senior manager of engineering at the Providence Water Supply Board.
Agency officials and Bradshaw’s team were especially concerned about the potential for liquefaction in the soils comprising the dam. The shaking from an earthquake can cause loose saturated sands to lose their strength. This scenario could cause the dam to breach.
Bradshaw and his students could not easily bore into the dam to check the density of the soil. Instead, they turned to Gopu Potty, URI associate research professor of ocean engineering, who had perfected a system of using ground sensors called geophones and a heavy weight to eliminate the need for soil samples. By setting up the geophones and striking the ground with a 100-pound weight, they could monitor the vibrations traveling through the earth to analyze the soil conditions.
Bradshaw said the method holds promise for dam owners to screen for possible problems and learn if further soil testing and analyses are needed. The geophones and computer analysis are less intrusive and disruptive to the dam.
“You can think of it as a good first step,” Bradshaw said. “If the results look good, we may not need to do more.”
The research will serve as a blueprint for future studies at the Gainer Memorial Dam, as well as at least one doctoral thesis at URI.]]>
You can complete the application form by following this link:
Application form for Summer Engineering Program 2015
If you have any questions, please email the program director: email@example.com
Thank you for your interest in the program.]]>
Also participating was mechanical engineering Professor Bahram Nassersharif. He too had been challenged by the president and was happy to comply.
The professor and the deans challenged Provost Donald DeHayes and his staff to take part as well.
To learn more about ALS or donate, visit the ALS Association.
Amtrol, West Warwick, RI.
Amgen, West Greenwich, RI
Advanced Interconnections, West Greenwich, RI
A.T. Cross, Lincoln, RI
L.L. Bean distribution center, Freeport, ME
Pratt & Whitney, Hartford, CT
Rogers Corporation, Rogers, CT
Slater Mill, Pawtucket, RI
Staples fulfillment center, Putnam, CT