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:

Senior Industrial Engineering major Jenn Badylak-Reals not only attended the Society for Health Systems (SHS) Healthcare Systems Process Improvement Conference, held from March 1 to 4 in New Orleans, but she presented a poster, and, beyond that, the conference website highlighted her astute critique of the conference on its homepage. “Fortunately for me,” Badylak-Reals posted, “my phenomenal engineering career center and father have taught me the necessity of networking and to pay forward my effort and work to set myself up for a happier and more successful situation later on. Thus it was a no-brainer for me, an industrial engineering student interested in the healthcare industry, to attend this year’s conference.” Read her entire critique: healthcare-systems-process-improvement-conference-2013/.

The Newton Patch reports that Distractology 101, an interactive driving simulator program developed by the Arbella Insurance Human Performance Laboratory in the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) Department, has now trained at least 3,621 new drivers about the dangers of distracted driving since it began touring the Northeast in 2010. Distractology 101 will be visiting Newton for a week beginning on February 26. The technology for Distractology 101 was developed under the leadership of Professor Donald Fisher, head of the MIE department and director of the Arbella Insurance Human Performance Laboratory, for the Arbella Insurance Group. 

Robert W. Hyers of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department recently ran a weeklong class that, among other things, taught students at Smith College how to create a business plan and present it to investors. ” As Hyers said about his Smith course, “The class was about intellectual frameworks for evaluating business ideas. Ideas are like photographs; the best way to get a good one is to take a lot of them. Then the faster you can pick out the promising ones, the less time you'll invest in ideas that won't work.”  The class was also covered by a feature article in the Hampshire Gazette.

The New England Clean Energy Council Institute (NECEC Institute) has announced that Black Island Wind Turbines of Springfield, a startup company founded by alumnus Patrick Quinlan ’82 of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) Department, has been awarded $50,000 as part of the institute’s Cleantech Innovations New England 2012 Winner of Winners competition. The award is meant to help clean-technology startups move closer to commercialization. Black Island is one of Quinlan’s two recently established companies that have been doing very well in business plan and accelerator competitions lately. Both of Quinlan’s startups are spinoffs of Celadon Innovation, founded by Quinlan to provide consulting services and renewable energy technology development.

Ian Grosse, the director of The Intelligent Modeling, Analysis, and Design Laboratory and a professor in the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, has been named a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). According to ASME, “The Fellows Grade is the highest elected grade of membership within ASME, the attainment of which recognizes exceptional engineering achievements and contributions to the engineering profession.”