Using engineering methods supplied by Professor Ian Grosse of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department, a team of researchers report in an issue of Evolution that they have introduced a new approach that combines evolutionary and engineering analyses to identify the targets of natural selection. Evolutionary biologists Elizabeth Dumont of UMass Amherst and Liliana Dávalos of Stony Brook University collaborated with Grosse to develop a new tool for discovering evidence of selection for biomechanical function in very diverse organisms and reconstructing skull shapes in long-extinct ancestral species. The news produced widespread media coverage in Science Codex,, Science Newsline, Bio-Medicine, Production Design & Development, Medical Design Technology, and Science Daily.

On Thursday, January 30, the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) Department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst hosted the ribbon-cutting ceremony for its Altra Industrial Motion Innovation Shop, which provides space outfitted with the latest industry tools, instruments, and computers to support MIE projects, including all their design, modeling, manufacturing, and testing activities. The groundbreaking shop was named in honor of Altra Industrial Motion for its lead gift to support a fundraising effort to modernize the space.

A long feature story in the Daily Hampshire Gazette looked at Ryan Wade, a five-year-old Northampton boy who has a new mechanical arm he uses to feed himself because a genetic abnormality prevents him from full use of his arms and elbows. Students from Professor Frank Sup’s MIE 415 Senior Capstone Design course in the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department invented the device. The students are Brian Cormier, Andrew Friedlieb, Catherine Paquin, and Kyle Morrell. Nursing student Emily Gardner was also involved in the project. The team of students also recently won the capstone course’s end-of-semester poster contest, describing their invention to improve the quality of life for children with Pediatric Multiple Synostosis Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder characterized by multiple bone fusions involving the face, limbs, and middle ear.  

Dr. Marshall Jones, an alumnus of the UMass Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department and an engineer at GE Global Research, was a recipient of the 2013 UMass Amherst “Salute to Service” award in Boston (read articles in Digital Journal and Since joining General Electric Global Research Center in 1974, Jones has received 54 U.S. patents and 32 foreign patents; authored or co­authored over 45 publications; and presented numerous talks at national and international technical conferences. He received a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Michigan in 1965 and his M.S. and Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from UMass Amherst in 1972 and 1974, respectively. See UMass Salute to Service Awards:

On Oct 18th at TedxSpringfield, alumnus Brian Mullen (B.S.M.E ’04, M.S.M.E. ’07, Ph.D. ’09) delivered a TEDx talk in which he shared his journey as an engineer entering the field of mental health and brain disorders to develop products to improve quality of life and enhance the quality of care for a variety of sufferers. Mullen’s TEDx talk has now been posted on You Tube: TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) is a set of conferences owned by the private non-profit Sapling Foundation under the slogan "ideas worth spreading." TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that brings people together to share a TED-like experience. Mullen earned his B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in our Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) Department.

On December 6 in the Campus Center Auditorium, 170 junior and senior students in the ECE 361 Fundamentals of Electrical Engineering course showed off some 40 model “smart cars” they had designed during the course as collision-avoiding vehicles. This course is intended to provide non-electrical engineering majors, in this case students from the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) Department, with the relevant electrical and electronic engineering concepts and device knowledge to work effectively in multi-disciplined design, development, and manufacturing teams. View You Tube video:

To date donations of just over $26,000 have been raised toward our $50k challenge from Altra Industrial Motion. Altra Industrial, led by President and CEO Carl Christenson ('82 B.S., '84 M.S., Mechanical Engineering), has made a substantial challenge grant that will double every gift to the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) Department’s Innovation Shop up to $50,000. Mr. Christenson has been a longtime supporter of the College of Engineering and a personal annual donor to the undergraduate scholarship program within the college. What his challenge means is that your gift today will have twice the impact on future engineers and the practical experience they get in the Innovation Shop. For every dollar you give, Altra Industrial will contribute a dollar – doubling the funds that will help expand opportunities for students, and keeping the shop state-of-the-art. Step up and take the Altra Ultra Challenge!

On December 5, the MIE 415 Senior Capstone Design course held its end-of-semester poster contest, and the winning team of students is creating an invention to improve the quality of life for children with Pediatric Multiple Synostosis Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder characterized by multiple bone fusions involving the face, limbs, and middle ear. The winning team was assisted by a portion of the recent $125,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to enable “Integrative Capstone Design Experiences for Engineering and Nursing Students,” awarded earlier this year to Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) Professors Frank Sup and Sundar Krishnamurty, who teach the MIE 415 course. Professor Cynthia Jacelon of the UMass College of Nursing also collaborated on the grant proposal. The second- and third-place teams also featured posters explaining two new inventions: a Hardwood Floor Nail Gun Stand; and a Yankee Candle Wax Floor Tank Redesign.

The research of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Professor Yossi Chait and his colleagues was recently featured on the UMass Research Next website in an article entitled “Patient Protocol: Improving treatment outcomes for dialysis patients.” Chait, a feedback systems engineer, is part of a multidisciplinary team that has been approved by an institutional review board to begin clinical testing of a groundbreaking new protocol for administering a key drug for managing patients in the final stage of kidney disease. “We are developing protocols for patients who have kidney disease and are undergoing dialysis and need precise, effective doses of recombinant human erythropoietin hormone,” says Chait. The hormone, also known as EPO, manages the production of red blood cells, which, among other things, controls anemia. Read the article:

Brian is an ME alum (BS’04, PhD’09) and Founder of Therapeutic Systems LLC.