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Lackner Rides Wave of the Future on Floating Wind Turbines

Mechanical engineer Matthew Lackner is working on the cutting edge of floating wind turbines, a technology that, according to MIT’s prestigious Technology Review, “could hold the key to exploiting” the powerful offshore winds blowing steadily off the Northeastern coast. In order to turn that “key,” Lackner has been working on clever, innovative devices such as “smart rotors” and “tuned vibration absorbers,” which reduce the severe stress placed on working parts of floating turbines and could go a long way toward making them economically feasible.

In Search of an Optimal Climate Change Policy

A crucial step for establishing a national climate change policy, one of the biggest policy decisions facing this country and the world, is deciding which developing energy technologies will best maintain that policy once it’s in place. The next step is calculating exactly how much money to invest in R&D for each of those chosen technologies. These critical steps, in fact, describe the ongoing research of Dr. Erin Baker of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department.

Raising Money for Nonprofits on Shoestring Budgets

UMass Amherst alums Scot Chisholm ’04 and Pat Walsh ’03 were just “a couple of average guys” when they met as undergraduates in the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department, but ever since they staged a “StayClassy Pubcrawl” in 2005 to raise money for cancer research, they’ve found themselves as revolutionaries in fundraising for nonprofit organizations. The original San Diego-based event, which attracted 200 pub crawlers and derived its name from the popular Will Ferrell movie, Anchorman, mushroomed into a free online platform and social fundraising service for nonprofits.

Trading Apples and BlackBerries for Avocados

Seven years ago, Ciriaco "Cid" da Silva, a 1982 mechanical engineering alumnus, and his wife, Corinne da Silva, left the virtual world of the computer industry for the very real and earthy world of avocado farming. The outgrowth of this major career move is Bella Vado (Avocado Oil), the first U.S. manufacturer of avocado oil. Now Bella Vado is a very real Southern California treasure. In 2003, Cid resigned from his job as a software architect, while Corinne gave up her job as managing director of an Internet marketing firm, so they could purchase a 40-acre avocado grove near Valley Center in Southern California.

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