University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Professor Erin Baker of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) Department is one of seven faculty members from UMass Amherst named as Public Engagement Faculty Fellows by the Public Engagement Project (PEP). PEP supports and trains faculty members to use their research for contributing to social change, informing public policy, and enriching public debate. Baker and the other PEP fellows will each receive a $1,500 stipend and technical training in communicating with non-academic audiences. The PEP fellows will also travel to Beacon Hill to share their research with Massachusetts lawmakers.

Five of the 10 finalists in the final round of the Graduate School’s inaugural Three Minute Thesis (3MT) contest are from the College of Engineering. The event, which is free and open to the public, will be held on March 24 from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. in the Student Union Ballroom. See event flyer. 3MT finalists will highlight their research in engaging three-minute presentations, with $1,000 going to the winner, $500 to the runner-up, and $500 to the People’s Choice as voted on by the audience. Light refreshments will be provided for the audience so, for catering purposes, pre-registration is requested: pre-register here »

Senior electrical engineering major Minwo Wang has received a Microwave Theory and Techniques Society (MTT-S) Undergraduate/Pre-graduate Scholarship for Spring of 2017 from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. Wang’s research, as supported by this $1,500 scholarship, will help improve calibration inside cryostat and cryogenic noise measurement, a specialty of Associate Professor Joseph Bardin, Wang’s research advisor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department.

Two of the seven teams competing in April for the finals of the University of Massachusetts Innovation Challenge are from the College of Engineering. This year-long series of entrepreneurial competitions will climax on April 6 at 5:00 p.m. in the Campus Center Amherst Room, when the seven teams of finalists will be competing for $65,000 in funding to support their ventures. Thus far, during the 12th year of the annual Innovation Challenge, 61 pitches have been heard, and a total of $17,000 has been awarded to promising and enterprising ventures. The two engineering teams will be pitching an economical water-treatment device for community water systems and an inexpensive blood-analysis tool for dialysis patients.

Assistant Professor Jessica Schiffman, a faculty member in the Chemical Engineering Department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, is the sole Principal Investigator for a $100,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to test a “potentially transformative concept,” as NSF reviewers have stated, that “if successful, would provide a new approach for limiting biofouling of water-treatment membrane materials, which is a significant and ubiquitous problem.”

Assistant Professor Shannon Roberts arrived in the UMass Amherst Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department on September 1, 2016, bringing a wealth of experience, research, and expertise, all generated during a relatively short career as an industrial engineering specialist. The Roberts Research Group is focused on studying human factors in transportation safety by: designing and implementing driving feedback systems; analyzing human factors issues of vehicle cybersecurity; studying impaired driving (e.g., drugged driving and distracted driving); using advanced computational models for data analysis; and promoting behavior change using social influence.

Emeritus Professor James Douglas, 83, of our Chemical Engineering (ChE) Department passed away at his home on February 15, 2017. Douglas was a full professor at UMass Amherst for nearly 30 years, was elected to the National Academy of Engineering, and was a recipient of the UMass Amherst Chancellor’s Medal. So great was his influence that a former student established the Professor James Douglas Early Career Faculty Development Award in the College of Engineering in his honor. Read entire obituary.

Professor Michael Henson of the Chemical Engineering Department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst is one of the researchers for a three-year, $650,000 grant to support his research into the roles that various bacteria play in microbial communities. The research project is entitled “Development of Robust Microbial Communities through Engineered Biofilms.” The grant from the U.S. Army Research Office, or ARO, will support research into defining the functions of bacteria in various biofilm (or any group of microorganisms in which cells stick to each other) communities, thereby creating such beneficial applications as modeling new strategies for liquid biofuel production.

Professor Wei Fan and his graduate student Hong Je Cho, both of the UMass Amherst Chemical Engineering Department, are part of a multi-institutional research team that has invented a new technology to produce automobile tires from trees and grasses. The new process could potentially shift the tire industry toward using renewable resources found right in people’s backyards. The research has attracted plenty of media coverage in scientific media, including Phys.org, R&D magazine, Biomass magazine, Science Daily, Minnesota Ag Connection, Ohio Ag Connection, Lab Manager, Rubber World, and SpecialChem4bio.com. The research is led by former UMass Chemical Engineering Professor Paul Dauenhauer, now at the University of Minnesota.

The Senior Design Capstone course in the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) Department – called MIE 415 or “The Design of Mechanical Systems” – has made a quantum leap in the number of sponsored projects its students are working on this semester. This required course for every MIE senior, which is designed as the zenith of the entire undergraduate engineering education for every student in the department, currently features 13 industry-sponsored projects introduced by 10 sponsoring companies in need of creative, practical, and economical mechanical designs from our budding engineers.

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