Carnegie Mellon University

CEE Graduate Seminar Series

Spring 2019

All seminars will be held at 10:30-11:50 am in the Giant Eagle Auditorium (Baker Hall A51).

All seminars are open to the campus community. The use of electronic devices is prohibited during seminar. 

Don Nusser, PE, PP, ENV SP
Senior Vice President 
Mott McDonald

Serendipity by Design

Don Nusser will discuss his 40+ year career in the civil and environmental consulting business showing his progression from an entry-level engineer to his current role at Mott MacDonald North America. He will detail projects in diverse places as Seoul, South Korea, and Labrador, sharing experiences which revealed themselves to be milestones and turning points.

In addition, Nusser will give an overview of Mott MacDonald and describe some of the opportunities available there.


Don Nusser is a civil and environmental engineer with over 40 years of experience in project management, business development, office and staff management, facilitation, training, and mentoring.

For the greater part of his career, Nusser provided technical and financial management on hundreds of environmental projects including soil and groundwater investigations and remediation design and implementation; solid waste management and recycling planning, facilities design and permitting, and FSO procurement; environmental monitoring and permitting; NEPA studies; municipal sludge treatment and disposal facilities; and utility planning and improvement projects. Most recently, Don has been involved in directing the Learning & Development (L&D) for the North America region of Mott MacDonald.

Nusser was born in Irvington, NJ and he received his Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Civil Engineering with a Water Resources emphasis from the New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark, NJ. His master’s program thesis investigated the impacts of ocean pressures on the biodegradability of sludge from municipal treatment plants. Nusser began his career at Killam Associates, a small municipal engineering consulting firm which occupied storefront properties on Essex Street in Millburn, NJ. His work there included streamflow computer programming and infiltration/ inflow studies on the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission collection system.

He subsequently worked for several environmental consulting firms including M. Disko Associates and Metcalf & Eddy, Inc. (now AECOM) in Somerville, NJ before returning to Killam in 1986 to head the solid waste management department within the waste management division. Don transferred to the Pittsburgh, PA office of Killam in 1992 where he headed up the industrial group which included an office in Dublin, OH; the group focused on industrial/private clients and their wastewater treatment and environmental permitting needs. His career path then took him to various consultants in the Pittsburgh area including Tetra Tech, Fluor Daniel GTI/IT Corp, Earth Tech, and ENSR Corporation (the latter two now being AECOM) where he gained valuable experience in managing technical and support staff and providing technical oversight on-site assessment and remediation projects and Phase I ESA portfolio projects.

Nusser returned to Mott MacDonald in November 2006 and is currently located in the Pittsburgh office. Over the past 12 years, Don has contributed in a wide variety of ways to the success of Mott MacDonald through managing both large and small projects, managing and writing proposals, formulating presentations, starting up a new office in Canonsburg, PA, and providing training and mentoring on subjects including project management, sustainability, commercial awareness, and technical and proposal writing.

Nusser currently manages the L&D Group in North America and chairs the Mott MacDonald North America Sustainability Steering Committee in addition to staying involved in providing technical and management services on client projects. He is the global training lead for a new ERP system for Mott MacDonald world-wide.

Nusser and his wife of 44 years, Karen, live in Cranberry Township, PA.








Micro-architected Macrostructures: Bridging the Length Scale Gap via Nanoparticle 3D Printing

Rahul Panat
Associate Professor
Department of Mechanical Engineering
Carnegie Mellon University


In this work, we present a novel additive manufacturing method that uses printing of nanoparticles to fabricate a new class of three-dimensional (3D) micro-architected materials. Using controlled condensation and solvent evaporation in an aerosol jet-based printing process, we have been able to achieve a precise arrangement of nanoparticles in 3-D space to give rise to hierarchical structures. These structures cover a length scale of hundreds of nanometers to several centimeters spanning a critical gap left by the other manufacturing processes. Theories of dropwise hardening and evaporation are developed and validated through experiments to precisely control this process. Highly intricate 3-D micro-lattices, pillars, and spirals are demonstrated with a potential use in applications such as structural materials with high strength to weight ratio.

We have also developed methods to modulate the properties of such structures using different thermal treatments to allow grain growth and changes to porosity and hence changes in the mechanical properties. Hybrid manufacturing methods are explored that increase the strength of the structures without significantly increasing the density, an important step in realizing materials in the empty spaces of the Ashby chart. Lastly, we discuss the scalability of the process and its use in other applications such as structural batteries, ultra-high-density brain-machine interfaces, and high-performance sensors. 


Dr. Rahul Panat received his MS in mechanical engineering from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and PhD in Theoretical and Applied Mechanics from the University of Illinois, Urbana. He worked at Intel Corporation in the area of microprocessor manufacturing R&D from 2004-2014. At Intel, Dr. Panat led a team of manufacturing engineers that developed the process for industry’s first halogen-free IC chip.

He joined Washington State University (WSU) in fall 2014 and then moved to CMU in fall 2017 and works in the areas of additive manufacturing, stretchable electronics, and Li-ion batteries.  His research is funded by the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, and the US Department of Energy.

Dr. Panat is a recipient of several awards, including one at Intel for his work on the halogen-free chip. 

Zoltan Nagy, PhD
Assistant Professor
Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering
The University of Texas at Austin


Buildings are responsible for 30-40% of greenhouse gas emissions, but at the same time have a 50-90% reduction potential with current technologies and their widespread implementation.

In this talk, we will examine how intelligent energy management systems can contribute to an energy efficient building stock of the future, and can support integration of distributed renewable energy generation, such as photovoltaics, combined with electrical storage.

In particular, we will focus on reinforcement learning, an agent-based machine learning technique in which the agent learns the optimal set of actions through interaction with its environment. We present examples of our current research from the building and the urban scale.


Dr. Nagy is a roboticist turned building engineer. His research interests are in smart buildings and cities, renewable energy systems, control systems for zero emission building operation, machine learning and artificial intelligence for the built environment, and the influence of building occupants on energy performance.

Prior to joining UT, Austin, Dr. Nagy was a senior scientist at the Swiss Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich, in the Department of Architecture. Dr. Nagy has co-founded the award-winning high-tech spin-off Femtotools in 2007, and was member of its board of directors until 2011.

Dr. Nagy received a PhD in robotics in 2011, and an MSc in Mechanical Engineering (2006) with a focus on micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) and robotics, both from ETH Zurich, Switzerland. He spent an academic exchange semester at the Danish Technical University in 2005, and was a visiting researcher at MIT in 2009.