University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Mechanical engineering alumnus Michael McKinley, now a graduate student at the University of California Berkeley, was on a team of engineers that built a machine enabling a paraplegic senior to rise from his wheelchair and stride across the commencement stage for graduation. The story was told in a long and beautifully written feature carried by Popular Science Magazine. “Austin Whitney didn’t want to graduate from college in a wheelchair,” as the story began.

Cheryl Snead, the first African-American woman to graduate with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from UMass Amherst, will give a public lecture on April 12 on the 10th floor of the Campus Center from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Ms. Snead is the founder, president, and CEO of Banneker Industries of Smithfield, Rhode Island, and Indianapolis, Indiana.

The College of Engineering is responding to the insatiable demand for new materials in virtually all industries by proposing a Materials Science Seminar Series, which would help to integrate several different materials engineering disciplines and introduce our students to leading materials engineers throughout the country. “Materials engineering is all around us,” says Ashwin Ramasubramaniam of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department, who is organizing the effort to establish the seminar series.

The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society (TMS) has awarded Robert Hyers of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department the 2012 Brimacombe Medal, presented to only three people as chosen from the 12,000 members of TMS. This will be the inaugural presentation of the award.

Five highly accomplished engineering students will be honored on April 1 by the UMass Amherst Alumni Association at its Scholarships & Awards Reception, held at 10:00 a.m. in the Marriott Center on the 11th Floor of the Campus Center on campus. Chemical engineering major Aidan Gilchrist ’13, electrical engineering major Dustin Lagoy ’13, civil engineering major Timothy Light ’13, and mechanical engineering major Natalie Zucker ’13 will receive William F. Field Alumni Scholarships, while mechanical engineering major Andrew Erwin will receive a Senior Leadership Award.

Professor of Mechanical Engineering Kourosh Danai will give a Fellows Lecture at the United Technologies Research Center on March 22. He will discuss a novel method of Jet Engine Health Monitoring that will be published in the ASME Trans. on Engineering for Gas Turbines and Power. Professor Danai joined the faculty of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department in 1987. His research is focused on development of robust automation solutions.

Anthony McCaffrey, postdoctoral research fellow at the Center for e-Design in the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department, is getting widespread national coverage for the method he has developed to enhance anyone’s problem-solving skills, especially engineers, inventors, and other innovators. McCaffrey believes his Obscure Features Hypothesis (OFH) has led to the first systematic, step-by-step approach to innovation-enhancing techniques for overcoming a wide range of cognitive obstacles to invention.

Assistant Professor My-Hyun Park of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department and Assistant Professor Jenna Marquard of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department have both received Team-based Learning Fellowships from the Provost’s Office. On behalf of the Provost’s Office, the Center for Teaching & Faculty Development (CTFD) has developed a unique Team-based Learning Initiative to explore team teaching and learning strategies in technologically-rich classroom environments.

The MIE department is working energetically to upgrade its outdated machine shop and turn it into a highly accessible learning environment. The new high-profile Innovation Shop will be outfitted with an inventory of state-of-the-art machine tools, instruments, and computers to support inventive mechanical engineering projects, including all related design, modeling, manufacturing, and testing activities. The Innovation Shop will feature areas for classroom instruction, team meetings, computer-aided design, fabrication, and assembly.

Associate Professor James Rinderle of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department has been chosen as the 2011-2012 College of Engineering Outstanding Teacher. Professor Rinderle, who earned his B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has served as the MIE department’s Undergraduate Program Director since 2001, its Department Honors Coordinator since 2001, the Associate Department Head for the last four years, and a member of the Commonwealth College Curriculum Committee for five years.

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