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Lab-Grown Earthquakes Reveal the Frictional Forces Acting Beneath Our Feet

09-03-20

Simulating an earthquake on a miniature scale in a laboratory known unofficially as the "seismological wind tunnel," engineers and seismologists have produced the most comprehensive look to date at the complex physics of friction driving destructive thrust-fault earthquakes. "Simulating earthquakes in a lab lets us observe how these brief and violent events grow and evolve by ‘slowing down' their motion through high-speed photography and optics," says Ares Rosakis, the Theodore von Karman Professor of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering. [Caltech story]

Tags: research highlights GALCIT MCE Ares Rosakis

Kaushik Bhattacharya Receives Theodore von Kármán Prize

08-24-20

Kaushik Bhattacharya, Howell N. Tyson, Sr., Professor of Mechanics and Materials Science; Vice Provost, has received the 2020 Theodore von Kármán Prize. This prize is awarded for a notable application of mathematics to mechanics and/or the engineering sciences made during the five to ten years preceding the award. [SIAM story] [Caltech story]

Tags: honors MCE Kaushik Bhattacharya

A Pathway to Longer-Lasting Lithium Batteries

08-06-20

The energy density of batteries have been a major challenge for consumer electronics, electric vehicles, and renewable energy sources. Professor Julia R. Greer has made a discovery that could lead to lithium-ion batteries that are both safer and more powerful. Findings provide guidance for how lithium-ion batteries, one of the most common kinds of rechargeable batteries, can safely hold up to 50 percent more energy. "Every power-requiring application would benefit from batteries with lithium instead of graphite anodes because they can power so much more," says Greer. "Lithium is lightweight, it doesn't occupy much space, and it's tremendously energy dense." [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS research highlights MCE Julia Greer

Dabiri Receives Waterman Award from the National Science Foundation

08-05-20

The National Science Foundation (NSF) honors John O. Dabiri, Centennial Professor of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering, with the 2020 Alan T. Waterman Award. The Alan T. Waterman Award is given to an outstanding young U.S. scientist or engineer along with a medal and other recognition. "This year's scientific pioneers are innovators who are creatively addressing some of the most challenging scientific questions," said NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan. "John Dabiri has looked to the fluid mechanics of sea life for inspiration to build better wind farms that appear to boost efficiency with a much smaller footprint." [NSF story] [Caltech story

Tags: honors GALCIT MCE John Dabiri Waterman Award

Ari Rosner Develops Tool That Configures Socially-Distanced Students In Classrooms

07-31-20

Mechanical engineering student Ari Rosner, has developed an interactive Excel worksheet powered by advanced algorithms to help schools with social distancing in classrooms. Schools can plug a room’s dimensions and social distancing parameters into the worksheet, and the most efficient configuration of students for a designated classroom would automatically be mapped out. Rosner’s model situates students in rows or in a hexagonal pattern, depending on a room’s shape, in order to safely maximize space. "I cried when I saw how this worked," said Rachael Burton, the development director at a small private school in Brooklyn, New York. "I knew Ari’s mathematical chart could save our lives." [Forbes story]

Tags: research highlights MCE Ari Rosner

Winners of the 2020 Demetriades - Tsafka - Kokkalis Prizes Announced

06-24-20

The student winners of the 2020 Demetriades - Tsafka - Kokkalis Prizes were announced at the end of this academic year. Manuel Bedrossian has received the prize in Biotechnology. His research is in the development of novel optical imaging devices to investigate and characterize microbial populations in extreme environments around the world. Vinayak Narasimhan has received the prize in Biotechnology. His research is in the utilization of nanostructures inspired from nature in practical biomedical applications. Tyler Ross has received the prize in Nanotechnology. His research is in guiding biomolecular filaments and motors to form structures and flow fields with patterned light. Adam Neumann has received the prize in Nanotechnology. His research involves incorporating nanoscale sensors into a mass spectrometer and using them to weigh individual molecules and perform rudimentary imaging of them. Joaquin Garcia Suarez has received the prize in Seismo-Engineering, Prediction, and Protection. His research is in fundamental research in Continuum Mechanics to better understand the behavior of civil structures during earthquakes.

Tags: honors MedE MCE Demetriades - Tsafka - Kokkalis Prizes Vinayak Narasimhan Joaquin Garcia Suarez Adam Neumann Tyler Ross Manuel Bedrossian

ASCIT Teaching Award

06-11-20

Michael Mello, Teaching Professor of Mechanical and Civil Engineering, has been chosen by the Associated Students of the California Institute of Technology (ASCIT) to receive a 2019-2020 ASCIT Teaching Award. These awards recognize individuals who inspire and motivate students, are approachable, and present course material effectively and efficiently.

Tags: honors MCE teaching Michael Mello

IRCA Best Paper Awards

06-08-20

Two teams of Caltech researchers have won three International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) Best Paper Awards in multiple categories along with the overall best paper award. The ICRA is the largest and most prestigious robotics conference of the year. Awards are given on the basis of technical merit, originality, potential impact on the field, clarity of the written paper, and quality of the presentation. Maegan Tucker, Ellen Novoseller, Claudia Kann, Yanan Sui, Yisong YueJoel Burdick, and Aaron Ames, have won the ICRA Best Conference Paper Award and the ICRA Best Paper Award on Human-Robot Interaction (HRI) for their paper entitled "Preference-Based Learning for Exoskeleton Gait Optimization." Amanda Bouman, Paul Nadan, Matthew Anderson, Daniel Pastor, Jacob Izraelevitz, Joel Burdick, and Brett Kennedy, have won the ICRA Best Paper Award on Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for their paper entitled "Design and Autonomous Stabilization of a Ballistically Launched Multirotor." [Virtual Award Ceremony]

Tags: EE honors MCE CMS Joel Burdick Yisong Yue Aaron Ames Maegan Tucker Ellen Novoseller Claudia Kann Yanan Sui Amanda Bouman Paul Nadan Matthew Anderson Daniel Pastor Jacob Izraelevitz Brett Kennedy

Michael Mello Receives Northrop Grumman Prize for Excellence in Teaching

06-01-20

Michael Mello, Teaching Professor of Mechanical and Civil Engineering, is the recipient of the 2020 Northrop Grumman Prize for Excellence in Teaching. The Prize is awarded to an EAS professor or lecturer who demonstrates, in the broadest sense, unusual ability, creativity, and innovation in undergraduate and graduate classroom or laboratory teaching. A nomination for Professor Mello read, “Dr. Mello is one of the most outstanding and gifted instructors I have seen at Caltech in the last 30 years”.

Tags: honors MCE teaching Michael Mello

Rahul Arun Receives 2020 Henry Ford II Scholar Award

05-28-20

Mechanical Engineering student Rahul Arun, advised by Professor Aaron Ames and Beverley McKeon, is a recipient of the 2020 Henry Ford II Scholar Award. Rahul's academic interests lie at the intersection of theoretical, numerical, and experimental fluid mechanics, with an emphasis on turbulent flows. This summer, he will be working as a SURF fellow under Professor Tim Colonius to conduct fast and adaptive numerical simulations of vortex ring collisions. In the more distant future, his plan is to attend graduate school. 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 GALCIT MCE Henry Ford II Scholar Award Rahul Arun