University of Massachusetts Amherst

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The University of Massachusetts Amherst has received a $3.2-million grant from the National Science Foundation Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) program to start an interdisciplinary graduate program in Offshore Wind Energy Engineering, Environmental Science, and Policy.

Doctoral candidate Thalia Taylor (left in photo) and her colleagues in the Arbella Insurance Human Performance Laboratory won the Honda Outstanding Student Paper Award at the 6th International Driving Symposium on Human Factors in Driving Assessment, Training, and Vehicle Design, held at Lake Tahoe in late June. Taylor is a doctoral student in Neuroscience and Behavior at UMass Amherst.

The University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Wind Energy Center is launching the first wind energy graduate certificate program in the U.S. This 15-credit, five-course certificate program offers a unique opportunity for students or professionals to obtain in-depth knowledge of all aspects of wind energy at the preeminent academic wind energy program in the U.S.

A feature story in the Attleboro Sun Chronicle looked at the Distractology 101 program, funded by Arbella Insurance Group Charitable Foundation. Distractology uses driving simulators loaded with a learning program designed by Donald Fisher, head of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department, and colleagues in the Arbella Insurance Human Performance Laboratory. Fisher says the program emphasizes the danger of texting while driving and other forms of distracted driving.

Stories about the safety course called Distractology 101, which uses a driving simulator to demonstrate the dangers of driving while texting or talking on cell phones, were run last week in the Boston Globe and on WSHM-TV 3. The technology for Distractology 101 was developed under the leadership of Donald Fisher, the head of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department and the director of the Arbella Insurance Human Performance Laboratory.

What if we could save lives with a more accurate early detection radar system for tornadoes such as the one that recently hit Springfield? Or what if we could help amputees walk more easily by giving them a better “feel” for their artificial limbs? Or replace our unsustainable oil supply with sustainable biofuel? Or cure a group of child-killing diseases known as lysosomal storage disorders. Are these just pipedreams? Not for 52 undergraduate engineering and science students doing summer research at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

On July 12, the Salem News published a well-written feature story on the Distractology 101 driving simulator, a program to train inexperienced drivers about the perils of distracted driving. Distractology 101, housed in a 36-foot-long trailer, is a collaboration between our recently renamed Arbella Insurance Human Performance Laboratory and the Arbella Insurance Company. Our laboratory developed the Distractology program under the leadership of Don Fisher, its director and the head of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department.

On July 11, Bloomberg Businessweek listed Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department alums Scot Chisholm ’04 and Pat Walsh ’03 on its exclusive list of America's Most Promising Social Entrepreneurs 2011. The two alumni co-founded StayClassy, a social fundraising company, in 2006. “StayClassy is a cloud-based platform for nonprofits to fundraise and manage their business online,” CMO Walsh has said about the company, which was voted one of the top three startup companies last year at the 12th annual MIT Venture Capital Company conference.

A class of graduate engineering students at the University of Massachusetts Amherst is collaborating with a local inventor to reinvent the very nuts and bolts that hold together the machinery of modern life. This cooperative project is developing a brand new kind of “wave thread,” which could transform the strength, performance, and sealing ability of nuts, bolts, pipes, containers, valves, and other types of “fastener” products.

Team ZoomMass overcame blustery winds, severe thunderstorms, and overwhelming odds to finish with a gritty, Rocky-like performance, beaten up but upbeat, at the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Supermileage Competition in Michigan. “When we got on the track the wind was howling,” says Jonathan Rothstein, the team’s faculty advisor. “It was so bad it blew the windshield off the car, which promptly got stuck in the front wheel, causing the car to spin around and the front wheel to shear off as it slid sideways. It took us half the day to put the car back together and persevere through a number of other problems, like flat tires and thunderstorms.” 

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