University of Massachusetts Amherst

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According to the Bloomberg Business Wire, the Arbella Insurance Foundation has recommitted to another five-year period of its Distractology 101 program, based on original driving simulations created by the UMass Amherst Human Performance Lab. The Bloomberg article noted that “The program, one of the first in the country to address distracted driving with young, inexperienced drivers, is relaunching this week with updated training scenarios and an eye-catching new look. To date, more than 11,000 teenagers have completed the Distractology training. Drivers who have completed Distractology are proven to be 19 percent less likely to have an accident and 25 percent less likely to get traffic violations.”

As the baseball season approaches with the speed of a 98 mph fastball, we are reminded that batting .500 would be a Hall of Fame batting average for anyone. That’s exactly what the College of Engineering will be hitting on April 7, when up to $65,000 in funding will be at stake during the annual Shark Tank-style contest taking place at the University of Massachusetts Innovation Challenge Final Competition. There, three of the six finalists will be teams featuring engineering students! You can be there to hear the final teams pitch their business ideas to a panel of judges who will award big-money prizes to various deserving winners.

During the spring semester of 2016, seven students from the Chemical, Mechanical and Industrial, and Civil and Environmental Engineering Departments are participating in the college’s study abroad program by spending five months at Heriot Watt University, located in Edinburgh, Scotland. We say “thanks” and give the tip of a hat to Professor Sarah Perry for nominating two of the students and asking one of them, Meaghan O’Brien, to write her impressions of her experiences overseas.

Professors Erin Baker and David Schmidt of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department adapted a variation on the theme of “divide and conquer” to make their introductory engineering course much more user-friendly for the 192 students taking the very large class in the fall of 2015. They used UMass Enhancement Funds to divide much of the coursework for “Engin 113 Introduction to Mechanical and Industrial Engineering” into a “team-based learning” (TBL) approach to make it much easier for their students to “conquer” their work. TBL is the use of learning teams to enhance student engagement and the quality of student learning.

Talk about a grand slam! Five College of Engineering Undergraduates from all four engineering departments have won key awards and scholarships from the UMass Amherst Alumni Association. See complete list

On February 20 UMass distance swimmer Alessandro Bomprezzi, a senior from Rome, Italy, in our Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department, led the UMass Swimming Team to an Atlantic 10 Championship, aided and abetted by two other engineering majors. Bomprezzi has a couple of pressing ambitions in his young life as a Renaissance scholar/athlete. In the short term, Bomprezzi is ending his college swimming career with a powerful finish, while, in the long term, he’s working on revolutionizing automobile engine design.

This Monday, February 29, from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 pm. the 36-foot-long newly relaunched Distractology mobile classroom will visit the UMass Amherst campus.  Look for it by the Campus Center. 

UMass alumnus Mike McKinley, a graduate of our Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) Department, was part of a research team from the University of California at Berkeley and suitX (a California-based robotics company designing and manufacturing medical and industrial exoskeletons) which won the $1-million prize at the international “Robots for Good” competition in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Aditya Nagarajan, a graduate student in our Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department, won a Second Place Oral Presentation award at the 14th Conference on Artificial and Computational Intelligence and its application to the Environmental Sciences, which was part of the American Meteorological Society's 96th Annual Meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana, in January. Nagarajan’s award-wining presentation was about his research “On Learning Patterns Between GPS Derived Precipitable Water Fields and Radar Reflectivity Fields.” Listen to the Recorded Presentation.

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