The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Mahidhar Sai Lakkavaram, a freshman Chemical Engineering (ChE) major and member of the Commonwealth Honors College, is already leaving a permanent mark on UMass Amherst and the College of Engineering as what the Italian Renaissance called the “Uomo Universale,” or “a man who can do all things if he will.”

Congratulations to Dragana Perkovic-Martin '08 PhD for the successful operation of the landing radar for the Mars 2020 rover, Perseverance. She led the system engineering team for the mission's landing radar, which is now in a pile of rubble somewhere in the Jezero Crater after the descent stage safely lowered the rover.

 

Yanfei Xu, an assistant professor in the Mechanical & Industrial Engineering Department and an adjunct assistant professor in the Chemical Engineering Department, is the lead author on a collaborative paper published in Composites Communications - Elsevier.

H. Henning Winter and Wei Fan (ChE) have been issued U.S. Patent 10,793,442, which is called “Exfoliation of Zeolites in Functionalized Polymers.” Winter and Fan explain that their patented new method is a groundbreaking shortcut for synthesizing zeolites that are vital for capturing carbon-dioxide (CO2) pollutants from electric power emissions using coal and natural gas, responsible for nearly one-third of total CO2 emissions in the United States.

Kara Peterman (CEE) has received the Terry Peshia Early Career Faculty Award from the American Institute of Steel Construction in recognition of her research, teaching and other contributions to the structural steel industry.

In the fall of 2020, College of Engineering Engagement Specialist Dr. Stephen Fernandez offered a course for the first time on community engagement and engineering. In it, 10 students from all engineering disciplines came together to discuss social injustices within engineering and work with community partners to enable the work they are doing.

The Arbella Insurance Foundation has announced the end of its 11-year-old Distractology program and has donated the Distractology trailer and its simulator, developed by College of Engineering researchers, to UMass Amherst, where it will be housed on campus for further opportunities to provide research, outreach, and education. Arbella will continue to fund these efforts for the next three years.

Several undergraduates in the Chemical Engineering Department won important awards in the recent student conference of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE). Hansen Tjo and Nicholas Sbalbi both participated in the Student Poster Competition, and Sbalbi won the "Materials Science and Engineering" group. Sbalbi also won a smaller award, given out by the national AIChE organization, called the Donald F. Othmer Sophomore Academic Excellence Award.

Professor Csaba Andras Moritz and his Ph.D. student Sourabh Kulkarni received some healthy publicity on their probabilistic artificial intelligence (AI) work for COVID-19 modeling, as funded by Facebook’s AI group. A paper from the UMass researchers demonstrated how essential COVID-19 modeling and analysis can be massively accelerated with emerging hardware.

A group of brilliant and dedicated students from the College of Engineering and the Computer Science Department managed to hold a very Successful HackUMass VIII, which they ran on December 19 and 20 in a totally virtual format because of the pandemic. According to the lead for the event, undergrad Kevin Sie of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, “Overall, I believe the event went smoothly considering it was the first virtual hackathon that we hosted.”

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