University of Massachusetts Amherst

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On Friday, December 11, Professor David McLaughlin of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department and his students from the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) will hold their third annual “smart-car demo.” Visitors are invited to attend, watch, and enjoy this whirling-dervish demonstration of scale-model, collision-avoiding, smart cars, as built by the students in McLaughlin’s Fundamentals of Electrical Engineering course, ECE 361.

On November 2, Michael Prokle, a doctoral candidate in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research, was honored with the 2015 Judith Liebman Award at the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS) Annual Meeting in Philadelphia. Prokle was the president of last year's interdisciplinary UMass Amherst INFORMS Student Chapter and is being honored with the national Liebman Award for his work in that capacity.

The purpose of the Liebman Award is to recognize volunteers who have made outstanding and sustained contributions to their student chapters.

Byung H. Kim, a professor of mechanical and industrial engineering at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, is using a three-year, $272,719 grant from the National Science Foundation to develop a manufacturing process that imprints nano- and micro-scale features into a roll of continuously extruded material. Kim received the grant along with his research partner Donggang Yao, a professor at Georgia Tech and former UMass Amherst graduate student whom Kim supervised for master’s and doctoral degrees.

Researchers at the College of Engineering, led by principal investigator Yahya Modarres-Sadeghi of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department (MIE), together with their collaborator at Northeastern University have received a $440,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to conduct intensive research on controlling wind turbine blade instabilities.

An interdisciplinary group of undergraduate students from various departments on campus is currently taking a comprehensive, two-semester course as part of the 2016 Department of Energy Collegiate Wind Competition. In order for the UMass students to compete in the national contest, the course will prepare them to develop a business plan for a novel wind turbine used in off-grid applications, and then it will train them to design, build, and test that turbine.

UMass Amherst alumnus Tony McCaffrey has received a $724,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support his small start-up company, Innovation Accelerator, Inc., which was founded on the hypothesis that most great discoveries come from sideways thinking. For example, a hitch with the Hubble space telescope was fixed when a NASA engineer took a shower in a German hotel and repurposed the design of the shower head. Likewise, Alexander Graham Bell borrowed his idea for the telephone from the human ear.

Sneakers for Success, which was started as a small educational organization in 2011 by alumnus Samuel del Pilar II while he was a student in the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department, is now an official 501c3 nonprofit organization holding educational and inspirational programs in Providence, the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Boston.

Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst College of Engineering have designed an invention that would make it feasible, practical, and economical to install life-saving seat belts on some 30,000 motor coaches nationwide that venture on the road without seat belts.

Two researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst are aiming to create better fitting, more functional, and comfortable robotic lower limbs for amputees, especially those over 65. Principal investigator Frank Sup of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department and Brian Umberger of the Kinesiology Department have received a $630,331 grant over three years from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to develop these revolutionary robotic prostheses for below-knee amputees.

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