University of Massachusetts Amherst

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A team of UMass Amherst students received the 2015 Rookie of the Year award at the NASA Student Launch Challenge, held April 11 near NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Thirty-five teams from middle schools to universities demonstrated aerospace and engineering skills at the competition. Read all about it at or Aero-News Network.

The College of Engineering Women’s Faculty Mentoring Group has just launched a new website called the “Engineering Women's Faculty Forum” (e-WFF): The group consists of Erin Baker, Caitlin Butler, Eleni Christofa, Aura Ganz, Lixin Gao, Song Gao, Chaitra Gopalappa, Friederike Jentoft, Maureen Lynch, Jenna Marquard, Ana Muriel, Mi-Hyun Park, Sarah Perry, Shelly Peyton, Sue Roberts, and Jessica Schiffman.

As part of a course taught by Andrew Danylchuk and Curtice Griffin of the Natural Resources Conservation Department, an interdisciplinary group of students from the UMass IGERT Offshore Wind Energy Program has performed a hands-on site assessment and feasibility plan for offshore wind energy production for the Center for Sustainable Development on the island of Eleuthra in the Bahamas. Watch video on YouTube:

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has issued a $250,000 grant, augmented by $62,500 from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, to a team led by researchers at UMass Amherst to develop a blade-mounted, ultrasonic whistle on wind turbines to deter and protect bat species. As air flows over the wind turbine blade, the device will produce a deterrence signal. The project will address the challenge of deterring bats across the entire wind-turbine rotor and test whether a pulsed noise, similar to a bat call, can act as an effective warning. The project, entitled “A Biomimetic Ultrasonic Whistle for Use as a Bat Deterrent on Wind Turbines,” was funded by the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy.

On Wednesday afternoon, April 29, 19 student teams from the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) Department and College of Nursing will demonstrate their brilliant, useful, and humanitarian inventions. Their fascinating innovations include a new and improved walker for a patient suffering from debilitating rheumatoid arthritis, a more efficient and economic device for farmers to remove seeds from squash, an ergonomically correct apparatus for pulling beer kegs off storage racks in a warehouse, and a dynamometer to help rehabbing patients assess the proper positioning of their damaged knees.  

Five outstanding undergraduates from the College of Engineering have won awards from the Alumni Association at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Kelly Kennedy, a senior in Electrical Engineering, won a Senior Leadership Award, recognizing graduating seniors who have demonstrated outstanding leadership and service to the UMass Amherst community. In addition, juniors Myles Baidy of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Justin Calderara of Mechanical Engineering, Jose Lasalle of Electrical Engineering and Physics, and Eric Rice of Chemical Engineering received the William F. Field Alumni Scholars Award.

Professor Jonathan Rothstein of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) Department has been selected as the recipient of the 2015 College of Engineering Outstanding Teaching Award. As MIE Department Head Don Fisher wrote, “In my appraisal, he is by far and away one of the best teachers in the department year after year after year, as evidenced by students’ comments on his courses, students’ evaluation of his role in their professional lives, his ability to communicate complex, interdisciplinary material in science and engineering in ways that are clear and compelling, and his more general contributions to the teaching mission of the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, the college, and the university.” 

The pioneering Minuteman Launch Team is the first group of UMass students to enter the NASA Student Launch competition, and the team members are extremely excited at the prospect of launching a high-powered rocket, scheduled for takeoff in April of 2015 at the Marshall Spaceflight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. You can help launch our College of Engineering team on its way to Alabama by donating used two-liter soda bottles for a college outreach event starting March 23. Please drop off bottles in Marston 126 anytime between now and March 23.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has chosen UMass Amherst as one of 12 colleges and universities to compete in the 2016 Department of Energy Collegiate Wind Competition. The interdisciplinary UMass team hails from the departments of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE), Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Landscape Architecture & Regional Planning, as well as the Isenberg School of Management. A UMass Amherst team finished third in the inaugural DOE wind competition in 2014

The 13-year-long delay in the proposed Cape Wind project in Massachusetts reveals the critical need for an integrated approach to offshore wind energy development that works mutually toward an efficient, sustainable energy source and public education, input, and acceptance.