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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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