University of Massachusetts Amherst

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SolaBlock, the brainchild of Patrick Quinlan, a 1982 graduate of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) Department and a former associate director for the UMass Wind Energy Center, was the subject of a long feature article by Joseph Bednar in the April 9 issue of Business West. SolaBlock is a simple but brilliant concept: Photovoltaic cells are built into cinderblocks, which are then used to build vertical walls — or laid over existing walls — where they generate energy from the sun.

Senior Industrial Engineering major Jenn Badylak-Reals not only attended the Society for Health Systems (SHS) Healthcare Systems Process Improvement Conference, held from March 1 to 4 in New Orleans, but she presented a poster, and, beyond that, the conference website highlighted her astute critique of the conference on its homepage. “Fortunately for me,” Badylak-Reals posted, “my phenomenal engineering career center and father have taught me the necessity of networking and to pay forward my effort and work to set myself up for a happier and more successful situation later on.

The Newton Patch reports that Distractology 101, an interactive driving simulator program developed by the Arbella Insurance Human Performance Laboratory in the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) Department, has now trained at least 3,621 new drivers about the dangers of distracted driving since it began touring the Northeast in 2010. Distractology 101 will be visiting Newton for a week beginning on February 26.

Robert W. Hyers of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department recently ran a weeklong class that, among other things, taught students at Smith College how to create a business plan and present it to investors.

The New England Clean Energy Council Institute (NECEC Institute) has announced that Black Island Wind Turbines of Springfield, a startup company founded by alumnus Patrick Quinlan ’82 of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) Department, has been awarded $50,000 as part of the institute’s Cleantech Innovations New England 2012 Winner of Winners competition. The award is meant to help clean-technology startups move closer to commercialization.

Ian Grosse, the director of The Intelligent Modeling, Analysis, and Design Laboratory and a professor in the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, has been named a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). According to ASME, “The Fellows Grade is the highest elected grade of membership within ASME, the attainment of which recognizes exceptional engineering achievements and contributions to the engineering profession.”

In May of 2012, a team of wind-power specialists from the College of Engineering was awarded a $30,000 grant from the Armstrong Fund for Science at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, which the engineers are now using to help design, analyze, and optimize a new, multi-rotor, offshore wind turbine. For six years now, the Armstrong Fund has annually issued grants of $30,000 apiece over two years to a pair of teams to encourage transformative research that introduces new ways of thinking about pressing scientific or technical challenges.

The work of Anthony McCaffrey, postdoctoral research fellow at the Center for e-Design in the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department, was the subject of an article in The Guardian, one of the world’s most respected publications.The Guardian article is about how rethinking labels can boost creativity.

During the fall 2012 semester, six companies banded together to support the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) Senior Capstone Design Course, the penultimate classroom experience for MIE students taught by Professor Frank Sup. The sponsorships are based on a winning formula for all six companies, the students, and the whole MIE department.

In December, Erin Baker of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department appeared on New England Public Radio (NEPR) to discuss her Offshore Wind Energy Program, an interdisciplinary graduate program in offshore wind energy engineering, environmental science, and policy that is now up and running with 25 faculty members from nine departments working with 13 full-time graduate students.