University of Massachusetts Amherst

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The University of Massachusetts Amherst Wind Energy Center (WEC) recently made news when it was recognized by the Smithsonian Institution for its gift of the historic Wind Furnace #1 to the National Museum of American History. Built at UMass Amherst in the 1970s, the 25-kilowatt facility was at one time the largest electricity-producing wind turbine in the world. It featured the first design to include several technologies now standard in modern utility wind turbines.

The “Distractology 101” driving simulation test created by the Human Performance  Laboratory was praised by an editorial in the Fall River Herald-News, while the lab’s Director, Don Fisher, was interviewed about distracted driving for the second time this summer by WWLP-TV Channel 22 News. “Thumbs up to the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Arbella Insurance Group’s charitable foundation,” said the Herald-News editorial, “which spent more than $500,000 and two years developing a simulated program that mimics real-life driving.”

What if we could cure diabetes, save the Great Lakes, relieve sleep deprivation in surgeons, and figure out a faster way to rescue disaster victims, all in one summer? In fact, those goals were only part of the agenda when 25 undergraduate students from the University of Massachusetts Amherst presented posters and talked about their summer research projects on July 30 in the Gunness Engineering Student Center.

Professor Don Fisher, head of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department and director of the Human Performance Laboratory, was interviewed on Sunday by Laura Hutchinson of the WWLP-TV Channel 22 “In Focus” program about the new Massachusetts state law that bans texting while driving for everyone and phoning while driving for drivers under 18. “Texting while driving is dangerous for two reasons,” Dr. Fisher said during the interview.

Mechanical engineering major Brian Goss joined ExxonMobil Development Company on June 1 as a summer engineering intern in the Subsea Riser Flowlines Group. Goss’ introduction to the energy industry has been a unique one. During the worst oil spill catastrophe in U.S. history, he has the rare opportunity to experience first-hand an inside technical perspective amidst a storm of media controversy and public outrage. Goss is supporting the Julia Project, a subsea tie-back to Chevron’s Jack St. Malo platform, located in the Gulf of Mexico.

Researchers from UMass Amherst, led by a team from our Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department (MIE), received the 2010 Liberty Mutual Award for their scientific paper, “Can Younger Drivers Be Trained to Scan for Information That Will Reduce Their Risk in Roadway Traffic Scenarios That Are Hard to Identify as Hazardous?” The paper, published in Ergonomics (Vol. 52, No. 6, p.p. 657-673, June 2009), discusses a scientific investigation aimed to reduce the risk of vehicle crashes for younger drivers (18-21 years).

Vroom Vroom Carbon Fiber 1 (VVCF-1), the 2010 entry for the UMass Amherst Supermileage Team (SMV) in the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) national supermileage competition in Marshall, Michigan, on June 10 and 11, finished a very respectable eighth in the field of 33 teams by logging an impressive 828 mpg. It was a big improvement over the performance of VVCF-1 last year, which did 536 mpg in the same competition.

An article in the May issue of Industrial Engineer Magazine, the magazine of the Institute of Industrial Engineers (IIE), covered the research of Matthew Romoser, a senior research assistant in the Human Performance Laboratory. The article was entitled “Don’t text, or drink, behind the wheel.” Romoser’s statistics indicate that texting while driving increases your chances of crashing by at least 20 times over driving without such a distraction, while driving while cell-phoning ups your chances of an accident by four to six times.

Art Teixeira (B.S. Mechanical Engineering 1966, M.S. Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering 1968, Ph.D. Food and Agricultural Engineering 1971) has been named a Fellow of the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT). He'll receive the honor at the organization's annual meeting this July in Chicago. Dr. Teixeira, now a professor with the University of Florida's (UF) Agricultural and Biological Engineering Department, was one of 18 academic, government, and industry experts elected as 2010 IFT Fellows.

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