University of Massachusetts Amherst

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DOE Project Aims to Transform Fuel Cells

The key to sustainable alternative energy sources such as biofuels, hydrogen, synthetic hydrocarbons, and fuel cells is the catalytic processes that drive the energy conversion pathways. Now Ashwin Ramasubramaniam, a faculty member in the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, has received a five-year, $750,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to study electocatalysts in direct methanol fuels cells and proton exchange membrane hydrogen fuel cells and then suggest revolutionary ways to improve them.

Fisher Acts as Prime Source for New York Times Article

Donald Fisher, head of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department and director of the Arbella Human Performance Laboratory, was the prime source in a June 28 New York Times article about schools using driving simulators for driver’s education. In the article, Fisher championed the use of driving simulators, such as the ones developed in his lab, and explained why teenagers in particular need the software instruction. “I call it the Lake Wobegon Effect — everyone learning to drive believes they are above average,” Fisher told the Times.

UMass SMV Team Breaks the Magic 1000 MPG Barrier

The UMass Supermileage Vehicle (SMV), a streamlined, three-wheel car with a featherweight aluminum frame and a plastic shrink-wrap shell, rolled smoothly through the Society of Automotive Engineers Supermileage® competition in Marshall, Michigan, while getting a tightfisted 1,010 mpg and finishing in fourth place out of 28 colleges. “We ended up rebuilding, significantly improving, and competing in the car we drove last year,” says faculty advisor Jonathan Rothstein of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department.

New Company Perfects the Science of Inventiveness

The fact is that most great discoveries come from sideways thinking. To wit, 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. Sideways thinking is the bailiwick of Innovation Accelerator, a startup company that creates software to help companies solve their worst nightmares, design their best products, and create their brightest inventions in a scientific, systematic, effective way.

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