University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Jae-Hwang Lee, the head of the Nano-Engineering Laboratory in the UMass Amherst Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) Department, is a member of a multi-institutional and multi-disciplinary team of researchers who co-authored a fundamental materials research article on cold spray additive manufacturing published in the prestigious journal Nature Scientific Report. Cold spray is a materials consolidation process that utilizes micron-sized particles and accelerates them at supersonic velocities through a de Laval rocket nozzle. The impacting particles undergo extreme plastic deformation and then consolidate, thus forming a dense coating with a near net-shaped quality.

Chemical Engineering (ChE) Professor Sarah Perry has transformed her class in microfluidics from the sort of dry theoretical course she took in graduate school into the kind of applied, do-it-yourself experience that every engineer loves. Perry designed her course in “Microfluidics and Microscale Analysis in Materials and Biology CHEM-ENG 590E” to give students industrially and scientifically relevant, hands-on, laboratory projects based on microfluidic technology.

Neural tube defects are among the most common birth defects and affect more than 500,000 infants worldwide each year, resulting in severe health problems, including paralysis of legs, brain damage, and even death. Now Professor Yubing Sun of our Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department has received a $400,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to develop a series of engineered tools to enable the investigation of the poorly understood mechanism that causes neural tube defects.

At the 38th annual Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Supermileage Competition on June 8 and 9, the UMass team scored an impressive fourth place out of 20 collegiate teams by hitting 775 miles per gallon on the 9.6-mile course at the Eaton Proving Grounds in Marshall, Michigan. See competition website. Though this fourth-place finish was equal to the best ever done by the UMass Supermileage Vehicle (SMV) in recent years, the effort was marred by a fuel leak that cost our team some crucial miles per gallon.

Professor Erin Baker of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) Department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst has been approved by the university system’s Board of Trustees to receive the Armstrong Professional Development Professorship. The Armstrong Professorship was established in 2001 with an endowment of $850,000 by John and Elizabeth Armstrong of Amherst and a $650,000 matching grant from the University of Massachusetts President’s Distinguished Professorship Initiative. It is awarded for a three-year period “to a faculty member who is at the beginning of his/her career and has demonstrated substantial achievement and great promise in his/her area of teaching and research.”

Group Supervisor Dragana Perkovic-Martin, who earned her Ph.D. from the UMass Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department in 2008, is currently leading DopplerScatt (for Doppler Scatterometer), a NASA Instrument Incubator Project in the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) at the California Institute of Technology (CalTech) in Pasadena. DopplerScatt was featured in the NASA Earth Science Technology Office's 2016 Annual Report (see Page 3). See NASA press release about DopplerScatt »

Professor Erin Baker of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department recently published an article discussing ways to focus clean energy funding that will produce the greatest energy and environmental benefits within the constraints of a tight federal budget. Baker’s article, posted May 22 on the website of The Conversation, was also picked up by the Albany Times Union, San Francisco Chronicle, Pantagraph.com, and others. The headline of Baker’s article was “With a tight federal budget, here’s where to focus clean energy research funding.” Read Baker’s entire article in The Conversation.

Professor Michael Knodler, the director of UMass Transportation Center in the UMass Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) Department, is working with a team of  investigators on a groundbreaking research program on unmanned aerial systems, which recently received one of the three Science and Technology Grants issued to campus faculty from the University of Massachusetts President’s Office. The UMass Unmanned Aerial System Research and Education Collaborative (or UMassAir) is being established to study unmanned aerial systems, also known as drones, and advance cutting-edge, interdisciplinary, collaborative research and education. UMassAir received $100,000 in Science and Technology funds. See President’s Office Awards $735,000 in Science and Technology Grants.

Professor Wei Fan of the Chemical Engineering (ChE) Department is part of a team of researchers from UMass Amherst, the University of Delaware (UD), and the University of Minnesota that has invented a process to make butadiene, a key ingredient in synthetic rubber and plastics, from renewable sources such as trees, grasses, and corn. Fan’s ChE graduate student Hong Je Cho is also part of the team. The findings are online and will be published in the American Chemical Society’s ACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering.

Jeffrey Davis, Professor of Chemical Engineering, recently received two prominent campus awards: the UMass Distinguished Teaching Award; and the Chancellor’s Leadership Fellow Award. The UMass Distinguished Teaching Award is the highest honor on campus for classroom excellence, and only four awards are made across campus each year. The Chancellor’s Leadership Fellow program is designed to prepare future campus leaders.

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