News

On May 23, the last day to vote on the national IGERT Online Video and Poster Competition, Principal Investigator Erin Baker of the UMass IGERT Offshore Wind Energy Program issued an urgent message for the entire College of Engineering Community: “We are in the top five vote-getters [out of over 200] in the NSF video poster contest. Please watch the video, hit the public choice button, and vote for us. If you have already voted, share this with other people to show the great work happening at UMass!” This year’s IGERT Online Video and Poster Competition allowed anyone to vote on over 200 presenters and co-presenters from 124 NSF funded IGERT projects as they demonstrated their innovative, interdisciplinary, graduate work. The URL for the competition is: http://posterhall.org/igert2013.

Hari Balasubramanian of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) Department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst has been issued a $400,000 grant from the prestigious National Science Foundation (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program. The award represents the 34th NSF CAREER grant issued to faculty members from the UMass College of Engineering, and the fourth during the 2012-2013 academic year. The title of Balasubramanian’s industrial engineering NSF project is “Stochastic Models for Designing the Patient Centered Medical Home in Primary Care.” In essence, the project will streamline the delivery of primary care to patients.

The College of Engineering was well-represented on April 26 during the 19th Annual Statewide Undergraduate Research Conference at the UMass Amherst Campus Center. Some 23 students from chemical, civil, and mechanical engineering were among more than 830 students from campuses across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts giving poster and oral presentations from a wide range of academic disciplines throughout the day. The faculty sponsor for almost half of those engineering projects was Jessica Schiffman of the Chemical Engineering Department who sponsored nine chemical engineering student presentations. Each year undergraduate students of diverse backgrounds from across the Massachusetts Public System of Higher Education gather to present the results of their original work in oral and poster presentations before their peers, faculty, and the public.

Alumnus Charles F. Perrell, investor and principal in Perrell Ventures, received a Distinguished Achievement Award, recognizing high accomplishment in a given field or profession and notable contributions to society, when 5,500 graduating seniors gathered at McGuirk Alumni Stadium on May 10 for Undergraduate Commencement. Now retired, Perrell has been a prominent engineer, businessman, venture capitalist, philanthropist, and recipient of the University of Massachusetts Amherst Distinguished Alumni Award. After stepping down as a fulltime technology executive, Perrell remains energetically active as an angel investor and vineyard operator.

A press release issued by the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society spotlights a study by Research Professor Matthew Romoser of the Arbella Human Performance Laboratory in our Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) Department. His new study shows that healthy older drivers, 70 to 89 years of age, retained safe-driver training two years after taking a driver behavior-modification course at the laboratory in 2009. The 2009 training emphasized safe road-scanning conduct at intersections by retraining older drivers to take secondary looks at the cross traffic coming from both directions. As the release notes, “Two years after their training, older drivers in the trained group still took secondary looks on average 73 percent of the time, more than one and a half times as often as pre-training levels.” Read release: https://www.hfes.org/web/DetailNews.aspx?Id=303.

The Diversity Programs Office (DPO) held its annual Diversity Celebration, honoring outstanding individuals and society programs, as well as saluting various people who enriched the DPO experience this year. DPO Director Paula Rees handed out individual awards to Jason Asirifi of the Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) Department and Jenn Badylak-Reals of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) Department as the Exceptional Seniors. Then Dr. Rees gave awards to two Emerging Leaders, Xuyen Mai of the CEE department and Italo De Souza of the MIE department. The DPO also recognized the UMass chapter of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers for the Best Outreach program, the UMass Society of Women Engineers for the Best Workshop, and the UMass chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers for the Best Team Building.

On May 1, 15 student teams of seniors from the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) Department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst demonstrated the prototypes of their useful, inventive, and brilliant designs for all to see. Some of the projects included a wind turbine blade composed of environmentally friendly composite fibers; an assembly line station for a new mechanical power-transmission product; and a collapsible, multi-purpose tower for U.S. Army basecamps. The fascinating event took place in the ELab II Atrium on campus, as staged by the wunderkinds who will help design your future.

Industrial engineering major Christopher Greene and mechanical engineering major Moijue Kaikai earned a trip to St. Louis in April by qualifying as semifinalists in the Social Venture Challenge, a competition sponsored by the Clinton Global Initiative, founded by former President Bill Clinton “to create and implement innovative solutions to the world's most pressing challenges.” At the St. Louis competition, Greene and Kaikai answered questions from judges and presented a poster, which was based on their ambitious proposal to install photovoltaic solar panels at a school in Cape Verde, while also cultivating collaborative efforts between that school and local schools in Western Massachusetts. 

Last semester, mechanical engineering major Elisabeth Foster had a brainstorm about how to upgrade students from the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) Department and elsewhere in their CAD modeling and design skills. Why not take advantage of their competitive spirit? Foster’s brainchild was UDesign, a UMass registered student organization that uses design contests to drive its students. This semester, in fact, UDesign is also using a design contest to drive golf balls! “Our 40 members are divided up into groups of either four or five, and it’s a competition now,” said Foster, who is president of UDesign. “Who can propel a golf ball the farthest, using only the potential energy of a five-kilogram counterweight?” Link to UDesign Facebook page: facebook.72/

SolaBlock, the brainchild of Patrick Quinlan, a 1982 graduate of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) Department and a former associate director for the UMass Wind Energy Center, was the subject of a long feature article by Joseph Bednar in the April 9 issue of Business West. SolaBlock is a simple but brilliant concept: Photovoltaic cells are built into cinderblocks, which are then used to build vertical walls — or laid over existing walls — where they generate energy from the sun. Read Business West article: http://businesswest.com/blog/bright-ideas-2/.