Chemical Engineering (ChE) doctoral student Brandon Dunham has received a highly competitive $1,000 Graduate School Predissertation Research Grant from UMass Amherst to support one phase of his dissertation in progress, tentatively titled "Strategies to Improve the Performance and Stability of Planar, p-i-n Hybrid Organic-Inorganic Perovskite Solar Cells." Dunham’s dissertation research will investigate if he can inexpensively improve the efficiency and stability of perovskite solar cells, a next-generation solar material. If successful, says Dunham, his research “could change the way the world sees solar power forever.”
Shannon Roberts of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department and Eric Gonzales of the Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) Department were two of the campus experts who spoke about autonomous vehicles at a May 29 “listening session” convened by the Governor’s Commission on the Future of Transportation and held in the UMass Amherst Cape Cod Lounge at the Student Union. Roberts spoke about “Human Factor Needs in an Autonomous Vehicle World,” while Gonzales focused on “Autonomous Vehicles for Ride Sharing.”
Professors Matthew Lackner and Erin Baker of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) Department published a very illuminating essay in The Conversation on May 15 about why the offshore wind energy industry will soon vastly expand and why Massachusetts is one of the states that is leading the way. Lackner and Baker said that market forces are helping the development of offshore wind energy, while states on the East Coast are preparing long-range plans to develop wind energy to replace fossil-fuel and nuclear-power generation.
Michael C. Rossi, a doctoral industrial engineering student working in the lab of Professor Hari Balasubramanian of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) Department, has received a $50,000 award to work at a private company for six months as part of the National Science Foundation (NSF) INTERN program. Rossi’s internship is designed to supplement his current research assistantship in Balasubramanian’s lab with six months of non-academic research internship activities and training.
Senior Abdul Mughis, a chemical engineering major working in Professor Wei Fan’s porous materials research group, was one of six outstanding undergraduate researchers honored by Research Next as the spring 2018 Rising Researchers on the UMass Amherst campus. As the Research Next website notes, “We honor six undergraduates this semester with the Rising Researcher award for their impressive achievements in key areas of science and art that are making a difference in our world.”
In early May the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) Department held its annual Senior Design Project competition, the climax and showcase event for the MIE capstone course, “MIE 415: Design of Mechanical Systems.” The Best Industry Sponsored category resulted in a three-way tie among Teams 3 and 4 (Pratt & Whitney) and Team 8 (Kinex Cappers). Team 22 (Electromagnetic Brake) was chosen as the Best Semester-long Project. The Best Student Concept went to Team 21 (Sand Mask). And, finally, the Most Popular category ended in a two-way tie between Team 15 (Self-Massage) and Team 28 (Dock Ladder), which was determined by public voting.
The project of Associate Professor Chul Park of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department was one of four UMass Amherst projects to receive $25,000 Technology Development Grants from UMass President Marty Meehan’s office. The name of Park’s project is “Promoting the co-op anaerobic digestion for communities in New England using the UMass Anaerobic Side-stream Reactor Process.” His project aims to implement a system to minimize the production of sludge—a byproduct generated from wastewater treatment—using anaerobic side-stream reactor treatment and anaerobic digestion.
On May 3, when the The Stonewall Center held its 20th Annual Rainbow Graduation Dinner and LGBTQIA+ & Ally Recognition Ceremony in the Amherst Room on the 10th Floor of UMass Campus Center, undergraduate Phoebe Bisnoff of our Chemical Engineering Department received an LGBTQIA+ Student Leadership Award. Bisnoff, who will be back at UMass Amherst next year, was recognized for being the founder and president of our student chapter of oSTEM.
Aiste Balciunaite, a senior in our Chemical Engineering Department and an outstanding rower on the UMass Amherst Women’s Rowing Team, has been chosen as the university’s 2018 Female Spring Scholar-Athlete Award winner. In the Spring of 2017, Balciunaite, whose hometown is Rosemont, Pennsylvania, helped lead UMass to its third Atlantic-10 Championship in four years as the Minutewomen received the A-10’s automatic berth to the NCAA Championships. Balciunaite was born in Uppsala, Sweden, to Darius Balciunas and Jorune Balciuniene.
John Chuma, a senior in the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department and an outstanding pole-vaulter on the UMass Amherst Men’s Track and Field Team, has been selected as the university’s 2018 Male Spring Scholar-Athlete Award winner. During a remarkably consistent career, Chuma has pole-vaulted between 15 feet and 16 feet at least 26 times and holds the UMass outdoor record in that event.