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On December 8, the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department’s 415 Senior Capstone Design course, taught by MIE Professors Frank Sup and Bernd Schliemann, held its fall-semester poster contest, and the three winning teams produced a trio of brilliant and practical inventions aimed at solving significant engineering problems. During the semester their engineering ideas went from the concept stage to the actual fabrication of three ingenious proof-of-concept prototypes, chosen as the top projects: a device to measure the tissue forces acting on an instrument during arthroscopic surgery; a sub-occipital release device for relieving neck tension; and a hands-free foot-pedal mechanism for operating a toilet seat.

Many important international media sources continue to pick up the story of scientists at UMass Amherst – led by biologist Duncan Irschick and including two mechanical engineering undergraduates – who created the Beastcam Array, a rapid-capture, field-portable, tabletop system for making high-resolution, full-color, 3D models of living organisms. 

Assistant Professor Juan Jiménez of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department already has several notable accomplishments to his record since coming to UMass Amherst in the fall of 2015. Earlier this year, the graduate of Michigan State (B.S.) and Princeton (M.S. and Ph.D.) Universities received a 2016 Innovation and Career Development Award from the Biomedical Engineering Society, presented to early career faculty for their accomplishments, significant contributions, and service to the biomedical engineering field.

On the weekend of October 30, an intrepid group of offshore-wind-energy experts took a blustery pilgrimage by sailboat to view the first offshore wind farm ever established in the United States. The five wind turbines, just south of Block Island, make up the 30-megawatt Block Island Wind Farm, built by Deepwater Wind of Providence. The trip – taken by several faculty and alumni of what is now called the University of Massachusetts Wind Energy Center (WEC) and their colleagues from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory – proved to be a stormy experience that embodied the very power of the term “offshore wind energy.”

In a continuing pattern of outstanding undergraduate research, two of the six students chosen as Rising Researchers at UMass for the fall of 2016 are engineers. The Rising Researcher program celebrates undergraduate students who excel in research, scholarship, or creative activity. This semester’s outstanding engineering undergrads named on the biannual list are mechanical engineering major Victor Champagne and physics and chemical engineering major Robert Johnston. Having multiple engineering representatives among the Rising Researchers has become something of a tradition over the past few years.

Last year scientists at UMass Amherst, led by biologist Duncan Irschick, created their Beastcam Array, a rapid-capture, field-portable tabletop system for making high-resolution, full-color 3D models of living organisms. Now Irschick’s team plans to use it in an ambitious effort to create 3D models of many living organisms, including those that face threat of extinction. Two undergraduates from the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department were instrumental in the creation of Beastcam, which has attracted national media attention since its inception.

Erin Baker, a professor in the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department and director of the Wind Energy IGERT at UMass Amherst, was featured as one of the 10 national experts in WalletHub’s recent study examining this year’s most and least energy-efficient states. Massachusetts was listed as the seventh most energy efficient state, ranking 14th in home energy efficiency, and fifth in automobile energy efficiency. Among other advice in the column, Baker observed that insulation and weather stripping might be the most cost-effective energy saving products for your home. Find the article and all of Baker’s comments.

Professor Jenna Marquard of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department is the director of the “Human Factors Core” of a five-year, $1.23-million, collaborative grant received by the UMass Amherst College of Nursing from the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) in the National Institutes of Health. The NINR grant was awarded to create the new UManage Center to Build the Science of Symptom Self-Management (UManage),  where scientists and engineers will develop technologies to help people with chronic illness manage fatigue and impaired sleep. See UMass News Office Story on the NINR Grant.

Industrial Engineering doctoral student Zana Cranmer, an Offshore Wind Energy IGERT Fellow at UMass Amherst, has received a National Science Foundation Supplement grant of $34,946 from the NSF Directorate for Education and Human Resources to run a series of workshops at UMass related to science and technology policy. The grant will support a series of workshops, co-organized by Cranmer, to teach science and engineering doctoral students what they need to know about policy making and help them across all fields to collaborate with one another on policy related to science and technology.

The Arbella Insurance Human Performance Laboratory received another shot of good publicity on September 29 at the 2016 Moving Together Conference, which brings together transportation leaders and individuals involved in the areas of planning, public health, bike and pedestrian safety, transit, advocacy, elected office, law enforcement, and education. At that event, Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito visited the HPL booth to try her hand at the lab’s groundbreaking driving simulator – a PC-based program that trains drivers to anticipate potential roadway hazards and to maintain their attention on the forward roadway.

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