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Professor Emeritus James Donovan of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) Department passed away on Friday, November 3. As MIE Department Head Sundar Krishnamurty said, “It is with great sadness that I share with you the news that Professor Emeritus Jim Donovan passed away Friday night. Jim taught in our department for many years before retiring in early 2000. As many of you may recall, Jim was an extraordinary faculty mentor to students and younger faculty. He was there for us whenever we needed him, always helpful and supportive. He was energetic and enthusiastic about new ideas and initiatives—and he loved international travel. I will miss him greatly.”

Professor Stephen Nonnenmann of our Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) Department has received a $265,757 grant from the National Science Foundation to investigate a high-temperature electrochemical approach for converting the carbon in carbon dioxide gas to higher value carbon-containing products such as green hydrocarbon fuels. Nonnenmann’s research could form a critical component in eventual closed carbon-cycle processes for renewable energy generation.

On Friday, October 20, the College of Engineering at the University of Massachusetts Amherst will hold its eighth annual Outstanding Alumni Awards Celebration during Homecoming Weekend. The college’s celebration will be held in the Marriott Room on the 11th floor of the Campus Center at UMass Amherst. The Homecoming Reception & Awards Celebration will begin at 4:30 p.m. During the reception, the College of Engineering will present its Outstanding Senior and Junior Alumni Awards to eight individuals who, through exemplary accomplishments, epitomize the potential of an education at the UMass Amherst College of Engineering.

Happy fall! We are delighted to share with you the extraordinary achievements of the MIE students and faculty for the 2016-2017 calendar year, as well as the fantastic growth of the department, both in faculty hiring and enrollment. 

In 2011 the department graduated 83 undergraduate students. In 2016, we graduated 192 students. This represents 131 percent growth over five years, an astonishing statistic by any measure. Mechanical Engineering is the largest major in the College of Engineering, and we are proud of our students’ success: for the class of 2016, 92 percent of our graduates reported having either a job or going to graduate school within six months of graduation, with an average starting salary of $63,000.

Professor Erin Baker of our Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department and her doctoral student Moijue Kaikai have secured a $160,000 grant from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center to fund a sustainable-energy project carried out collaboratively by UMass Amherst and the Springfield High School of Science and Technology (HSST). The grant will support the establishment of a so-called Learn and Earn Program while generating interest in the renewable energy field. The funded program will not only install a solar panel and wind turbine on the HSST campus but will also create an engineering and sustainability class for 25 high-school students and an eight-week, summertime, paid internship in hands-on clean energy for those students.

The number of persons newly infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in the U.S. is about 50,000 each year and has not decreased since the late 1990s. To address this critical problem, the first National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS) was developed in 2010, with a goal to reduce incidence by 25 percent by 2015; but, since that goal was never met, it was delayed until 2020. Now Professor Chaitra Gopalappa of our Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) Department is receiving a grant of $1,567,348 from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to answer several critical questions posed by the NHAS and to develop a new model and methods necessary for analyses of these crucial problems.

Jae-Hwang Lee, the head of the Nano-Engineering Laboratory in the UMass Amherst Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) Department, is a member of a multi-institutional and multi-disciplinary team of researchers who co-authored a fundamental materials research article on cold spray additive manufacturing published in the prestigious journal Nature Scientific Report. Cold spray is a materials consolidation process that utilizes micron-sized particles and accelerates them at supersonic velocities through a de Laval rocket nozzle. The impacting particles undergo extreme plastic deformation and then consolidate, thus forming a dense coating with a near net-shaped quality.

Neural tube defects are among the most common birth defects and affect more than 500,000 infants worldwide each year, resulting in severe health problems, including paralysis of legs, brain damage, and even death. Now Professor Yubing Sun of our Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department has received a $400,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to develop a series of engineered tools to enable the investigation of the poorly understood mechanism that causes neural tube defects.

At the 38th annual Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Supermileage Competition on June 8 and 9, the UMass team scored an impressive fourth place out of 20 collegiate teams by hitting 775 miles per gallon on the 9.6-mile course at the Eaton Proving Grounds in Marshall, Michigan. See competition website. Though this fourth-place finish was equal to the best ever done by the UMass Supermileage Vehicle (SMV) in recent years, the effort was marred by a fuel leak that cost our team some crucial miles per gallon.

Professor Erin Baker of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) Department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst has been approved by the university system’s Board of Trustees to receive the Armstrong Professional Development Professorship. The Armstrong Professorship was established in 2001 with an endowment of $850,000 by John and Elizabeth Armstrong of Amherst and a $650,000 matching grant from the University of Massachusetts President’s Distinguished Professorship Initiative. It is awarded for a three-year period “to a faculty member who is at the beginning of his/her career and has demonstrated substantial achievement and great promise in his/her area of teaching and research.”

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