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Learning Directly From Data Rather Than Human-Provided Expertise

11-19-18

Alumnus Yong Sheng Soh (PhD ’18, ACM), advised by Professor Venkat Chandrasekaran, has won the 2018 INFORMS Optimization Society Student Prize for his paper entitled Learning Semidefinite-Representable Regularizers. Regularization-based algorithms are widely used in the solution of data-driven inverse problems arising in statistics, operations research, signal processing, and machine learning. These approaches typically require a great deal of prior domain-specific expertise about the structure of the underlying problem. Such expertise is especially challenging to obtain in the modern era of 'Big Data' in which our ability to sense all manner of phenomena and produce massive datasets far exceeds our ability to understand the underlying mechanisms governing the phenomena. In his award-winning work, which has been accepted for publication at the Journal of the Foundations of Computational Mathematics, Yong Sheng has developed a new framework for learning suitable regularization methods directly from data rather from human-provided expertise. [INFORMS Optimization Society Award] [Read the paper]

Tags: honors CMS alumni Venkat Chandrasekaran Yong Sheng Soh

Caltech Startup Aims to Make Solar Panels More Efficient

10-18-18

Translational technology developed in Professor Harry A. Atwater’s laboratory seeks to improve the efficiency of solar panels by tweaking the architecture of the metal-grid layout of individual cells. The new startup company—ETC Solar, LLC—which is marketing the technology, took first place at the DOE's 2018 Cleantech University Prize national collegiate business plan competition in Houston. "To have been selected as a winner is a huge point of validation for the concept, both the innovation and also the impact," says Professor Atwater, who is also a co-founder of ETC Solar along with Thomas Russell, and Rebecca Saive. "It has helped us to make contacts with potential industrial partners and private equity investors," [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS honors research highlights Harry Atwater alumni Thomas Russell Rebecca Saive

Alumna Wins Woman of the Year Award

08-27-18

CMS alumna, Ashley Williams, was named 2018 Woman of the Year by the Aerospace Corporation. Dr. Williams received her Caltech PhD in 2011 and was advised by Professors Jerry Marsden, Richard Murray, and Mathieu Desbrun. Currently she is the director of the Studies and Analyses Office at the Aerospace Corporation. [Dr. Williams’ Caltech thesis]

Tags: honors CMS Jerrold Marsden Mathieu Desbrun alumni Richard Murray Ashley Williams

Student-Built Satellite Telescope Prepares for Space

08-16-18

After nearly a decade of work, a modular reconfigurable space telescope designed by students in the Ae 105 Aerospace Engineering class is nearly ready to launch. That telescope, which came to be known as AAReST (Autonomous Assembly of a Reconfigurable Space Telescope), was designed and built in large part by the students in the class, working in collaboration with the Surrey Space Centre in England and the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology. Professor Pellegrino says that the students working on AAReST have learned how to collaborate across continents and gained skills that will continue to serve them for years to come. In addition, he says, he's proud to have given several generations of aerospace students the opportunity to work on a real space mission. When the mission launches in 2019, dozens of past and present Caltech students—along with their collaborators nearby and abroad—will be watching and holding their breath to see whether their hard work pays off. [Caltech story]

Tags: GALCIT alumni Sergio Pellegrino AAReST

A Network of Support

06-20-18

Early in his freshman year CMS and BEM alumnus Ramsathwick “Sathwick” Pathireddy (BS ’17) realized just how challenging a Caltech workload could be and turned to his housemates and friends for help. “When I had questions about time management, what classes to take, or what internships to go for, I always had someone to talk to,” Sathwick says. [Breakthrough story]

Tags: CMS alumni Ramsathwick Pathireddy

For the Record

06-05-18

CMS alumnus Ramruthwick “Ruthwick” Pathireddy (BS ’17) is described as curious, ambitious, and rigorous. “When people talk about Caltech, they think of students studying really hard,” Ruthwick says. “While we do study hard, there’s more to it than that. I don’t think people realize the social opportunities that are available here, how enriching the activities are, and how close the entire undergraduate community is. It’s really like a family.” [Breakthrough story]

Tags: CMS alumni Ramruthwick Pathireddy

2018 Caltech Distinguished Alumni

05-24-18

Caltech has recognized three Engineering and Applied Science (EAS) graduates with the Distinguished Alumni Award, the highest honor regularly bestowed by the Institute. Gary Demos (BS '71, Engineering and Applied Science), Gary A. Flandro (MS '60, PhD '67, Aeronautics), and Ronald H. Willens (BS '53 Physics, MS '54 Mechanical Engineering, PhD '61 Engineering Science). Demos was recognized “for his pioneering achievement in the development of computer-generated images (CGI) for use in motion pictures, and in digital film scanning and recording.” Flandro was recognized for “his seminal contributions to the design and engineering of multi-outer-planet missions, including the Grand Tour, the course set for the epic explorations of the Voyager spacecraft.” Willens was honored for “his innovative and revolutionary contributions to advanced internet connectivity and telecommunications. He pioneered the Remote Authentication Dial-in User Service (RADIUS) as an access server authentication and accounting protocol, which was adapted by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) standards.” [Caltech story]

Tags: honors GALCIT MCE alumni Gary Demos Gary Flandro Ronald Willens

2018 Watson Fellow

03-23-18

Electrical engineering senior Michelle Wang, working with Professor Ali Hajimiri and Postdoctoral Scholar Alex Pai, has been selected to receive the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship. She will spend a year abroad working on a series of projects related to the augmentation of humanity through machines. "Prosthetics for children need to be flexible, durable, and need to be able to grow with the child so that they don't have to be replaced constantly," she says. "But beyond that, we want to find ways to make them proud of their prosthetics. We don't just want to give them mobility but dignity." [Caltech story]

Tags: EE honors Ali Hajimiri alumni Michelle Wang Alex Pai

Inventor of Smart Concrete

03-21-18

EAS alumna Deborah Chung transferred to Caltech from Wellesley College seeking richer opportunities to study math and science. In June 1973, she became one of the first women to earn undergraduate degrees at Caltech.  She is the inventor of smart concrete, a material in which short carbon fibers are added to concrete so that stress and deformation can be easily detected even before cracks appear. "A broad-based education, that's what Caltech gave me—basic science and engineering," Chung recalls. "With that under my belt, I was able to learn things on my own. I never took any concrete or cement course in my life, never mixed cement in my life. In fact, in my studies, I was more toward the electrical side. Concrete was something totally out of my realm. But, somehow, I married the electrical side with the concrete, and that led to smart concrete. The broadness of the education laid the foundation so that I could really jump across disciplinary boundaries. Most innovations nowadays are really the marriage of two different things that reside in two different disciplines." [Caltech story]

Tags: alumni Deborah Chung

Winding Back the Clock

03-12-18

Electrical Engineering alumnus Osman Kibar (BS ’93) wants to turn back time. His business, Samumed, makes drug therapies that may reboot the body’s capacity to renew damaged or diseased tissue. If these efforts pay off in full, society will see cures for everything from baldness to cancer. “Caltech showed me that there’s no reason to put arbitrary boundaries between different fields, whether it be science or business,” he says. “If you’re trying to solve a problem, you go at it with everything you’ve got—what you’ve learned in every other field.” [Breakthrough story]

Tags: EE alumni Osman Kibar