University of Massachusetts Amherst

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UMass Amherst alumnus Tony McCaffrey has received a $724,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support his small start-up company, Innovation Accelerator, Inc., which was founded on the hypothesis that most great discoveries come from sideways thinking. For example, a hitch with the Hubble space telescope was fixed when a NASA engineer took a shower in a German hotel and repurposed the design of the shower head. Likewise, Alexander Graham Bell borrowed his idea for the telephone from the human ear.

Sneakers for Success, which was started as a small educational organization in 2011 by alumnus Samuel del Pilar II while he was a student in the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department, is now an official 501c3 nonprofit organization holding educational and inspirational programs in Providence, the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Boston.

Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst College of Engineering have designed an invention that would make it feasible, practical, and economical to install life-saving seat belts on some 30,000 motor coaches nationwide that venture on the road without seat belts.

Two researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst are aiming to create better fitting, more functional, and comfortable robotic lower limbs for amputees, especially those over 65. Principal investigator Frank Sup of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department and Brian Umberger of the Kinesiology Department have received a $630,331 grant over three years from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to develop these revolutionary robotic prostheses for below-knee amputees.

Olivia Gilligan Corsetti, of Somerville, a member of the Class of 2019 at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, has been chosen to receive the first annual $1,000 scholarship in memory of Hannah Beth Frilot, a member of the UMass Amherst Class of 2015 who died last year.

Professor Yahya Modarres-Sadeghi of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) Department is the Principal Investigator for a team of researchers from UMass Amherst and Texas A&M University that is receiving widespread media attention for developing a blade-mounted, ultrasonic whistle for wind turbines that will protect bats by warning them to stay away. The original story was generated by the College of Engineering, adapted as a press release by the UMass News Office, and picked up by the Associated Press.

From July 12 through 24, the College of Engineering held its third annual Summer ENGineering Institute (SENGI), this year running well-planned science and engineering learning activities for 43 high school students from around New England and beyond. The director of SENGI was Paula Rees, who is also the director of the Diversity Programs Office at the college.

A group of brilliant undergraduate researchers, working on cutting-edge summer projects, will present a poster session on Friday, July 31, from 10:00 a.m. to noon in the Campus Center Auditorium at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. All the students are participating in various programs under the umbrella of the Research Experience for Undergraduates, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). The poster session is free and open to the public.

Faculty members and students from the UMass Amherst departments of chemical and mechanical and industrial engineering recently collaborated with University of Minnesota researchers to discover a new behavior of woody biomass that makes it levitate above heated surfaces in a way similar to what is called “the Leidenfrost effect” in liquids. Announced in Nature Scientific Reports, the research captures via high speed photography a particle of cellulosic biomass floating above a surface by aggressive generation of gases.

Joseph I. Goldstein, 76, of Amherst, a Distinguished Professor Emeritus in the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department (MIE) and the former dean of the College of Engineering from 1993 to 2004, died June 27.
Read UMass Amherst News Office obituary »