News & Events

Headlines

Mimicking Termites to Generate New Materials

08-26-22

Inspired by the way termites build their nests, researchers at Caltech have developed a framework to design new materials that mimic the fundamental rules hidden in nature's growth patterns. "We thought that by understanding how a termite contributes to the nest's fabrication, we could define simple rules for designing architected materials with unique mechanical properties," says Chiara Daraio, G. Bradford Jones Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Physics; Investigator, Heritage Medical Research Institute. [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS research highlights Chiara Daraio MCE

Tweaking Turbine Angles Squeezes More Power Out of Wind Farms

08-17-22

A new control algorithm for wind farms that alters how individual turbines are oriented into the wind promises to boost farms' overall efficiency and energy output by optimizing how they deal with their turbulent wake. "Individual turbines generate choppy air, or a wake, which hurts the performance of every turbine downwind of them," says John O. Dabiri, Centennial Professor of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering. "To cope with that, wind farm turbines are traditionally spaced as far apart as possible, which unfortunately takes up a lot of real estate." [Caltech story]

Tags: research highlights GALCIT MCE John Dabiri alumni Michael Howland

Nano-Architected Materials Offer New Frontier in Technology

07-27-22

For the past two decades, Julia R. Greer, Ruben F. and Donna Mettler Professor of Materials Science, Mechanics and Medical Engineering; Fletcher Jones Foundation Director of the Kavli Nanoscience Institute, has been at the forefront of creating new materials whose structures are designed and controlled at the smallest level, giving them unusual and useful properties. [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS MedE MCE Julia Greer alumni Carlos M. Portela

Michael Gonzalez Receives 2022 Henry Ford II Scholar Award

06-23-22

Michael Gonzalez, advised by Joel Burdick, Richard L. and Dorothy M. Hayman Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Bioengineering; Jet Propulsion Laboratory Research Scientist, is one of four recipients of the 2022 Henry Ford II Scholar Award. Michael is interested in the crossover between Mechanical Engineering and Computer Science, focusing specifically on the widespread applications of robotics. This summer, Michael will be working as a SURF fellow under Professor Soon-Jo Chung with a focus on revamping the ARCG’s autonomous flying ambulance. The Henry Ford II Scholar Award is funded under an endowment provided by the Ford Motor Company Fund. The award is made annually to engineering students with the best academic record at the end of the third year of undergraduate study.

Tags: honors MCE CMS Henry Ford II Scholar Award Soon-Jo Chung Michael Gonzalez

Lorenzo Shaikewitz Receives 2022 Henry Ford II Scholar Award

06-23-22

Lorenzo Shaikewitz, advised by Professor Aaron Ames, Bren Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Control and Dynamical Systems, is a recipient of the 2022 Henry Ford II award. Lorenzo is interested in all things robotics, focusing specifically on bringing robots into daily life through human-robot interaction. This summer, Lorenzo will work with Professor Dorsa Sadigh at Stanford University on robotic assistive feeding. He plans to pursue higher education and a PhD in robotics after graduation. The Henry Ford II Scholar Award is funded under an endowment provided by the Ford Motor Company Fund. The award is made annually to engineering students with the best academic record at the end of the third year of undergraduate study.

Tags: MCE Henry Ford II Scholar Award Aaron Ames Lorenzo Shaikewitz

Winners of the 2022 Demetriades - Tsafka - Kokkalis Prizes Announced

06-09-22

The student winners of the 2022 Demetriades - Tsafka - Kokkalis Prizes were announced at the end of this academic year. Ida Qin, advised by Professor Joel Burdick has received the prize in Biotechnology. Her research is in comprehensive temporal understanding and state estimation during robot-assisted surgery. Alan Gu, advised by Professor Michael R. Hoffmann has received the prize in Entrepreneurship. His research is in capturing CO2 at point emission sources to accelerate reaching a goal of carbon neutrality. Joeson Wong, advised by Professor Harry A. Atwater has received the prize in Nanotechnology. His research is focused on the optoelectronic physics and engineering of atomically thin photovoltaics. Fengyu Zhou, advised by Professor Steven Low has received the prize in Environmentally Benign Renewable Energy Sources. His research involves the global optimality and relaxation exactness of the Optimal Power Flow problem in single-phase and multi-phase networks. Stacy Larochelle, advised by Professor Jean-Philippe Avouac and Professor Nadia Lapusta has received the prize in Seismo-Engineering, Prediction, and Protection. Her research uses geodesy, data analysis and modeling to further the understanding of mechanical interactions between water and the solid Earth, from fluid-induced earthquakes to groundwater extraction.

Tags: APhMS honors MCE Harry Atwater CMS Demetriades - Tsafka - Kokkalis Prizes Nadia Lapusta Jean-Philippe Avouac Steven Low Joel Burdick Ida Qin Stacy Larochelle Fengyu Zhou

Making Robotic Assistive Walking More Natural

06-09-22

A team of graduate students in Caltech's Advanced Mechanical Bipedal Experimental Robotics Lab (AMBER), led by Professor Aaron Ames, Bren Professor of Mechanical and Civil Engineering and Control and Dynamical Systems, is developing a new method of generating gaits for robotic assistive devices, which aims to guarantee stability and achieve more natural locomotion for different users. "If you're designing a trajectory for a robotic assistive device, a satisfactory gait should not only be stable but also feel natural," says Amy Li. [Caltech story]

Tags: research highlights MCE Yisong Yue Aaron Ames Maegan Tucker Kejun Li Rachel Gehlhar

Lab Earthquakes Show How Grains at Fault Boundaries Lead to Major Quakes

06-07-22

By simulating earthquakes in a lab, Caltech engineers have provided strong experimental support for a form of earthquake propagation now thought responsible for the magnitude-9.0 earthquake that devastated the coast of Japan in 2011. "Our novel experimental approach has enabled us to look into the earthquake process up close, and to uncover key features of rupture propagation and friction evolution in rock gouge," says Vito Rubino, research scientist and lead author of the Nature paper. The Nature paper is titled "Intermittent lab earthquakes in dynamically weakening fault gouge." Rubino and his co-authors Nadia Lapusta, Lawrence A. Hanson, Jr., Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Geophysics, and Ares Rosakis, Theodore von Kármán Professor of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering, show that so-called "stable" or "creeping" faults are not actually immune to major ruptures after all, as previously suspected. [Caltech story]

Tags: research highlights GALCIT MCE Ares Rosakis Nadia Lapusta Vito Rubino

Melany Hunt Awarded CCID Agent of Change Award

05-31-22

The Caltech Center for Inclusion and Diversity (CCID) recently honored 10 campus leaders, each nominated by members of the Institute community, at its annual Celebration of Excellence award ceremony. Melany Hunt, Dotty and Dick Hayman Professor of Mechanical Engineering, received the CCID Agent of Change Award for her service as chair of the DEI committee within the Division of Engineering and Applied Science and her creation of a new course to support Freshman Summer Research Institute (FSRI) participants. [Caltech story]

Tags: honors MCE Melany Hunt