The University of Massachusetts Amherst
University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Engineering students make up two of the five teams in the finals of the two-stage University of Massachusetts Amherst Innovation Challenge, to be held on Thursday, April 22, in the Campus Center. Judges will hand out up to $50,000 in prize money and other incentives to the chosen winners among the five finalists in the annual contest. The Innovation Challenge is designed to reward the most promising enterprises conceived by teams of students, faculty, and recent alumni of the university.

Alumnus Paul Palmgren, who graduated from UMass Amherst last year with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, has been using his artwork to improve the College of Engineering in both an artistic and a humanitarian sense. Earlier this year, Palmgren worked with Executive Secretary Linda Smith of the Dean’s Office to exhibit five of his striking abstract works, all dealing with the relationship between humans and the architecture they create, in the newly upgraded conference room of Dean Ted Djaferis.

According to an article in the highly respected Technology Review, published by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a special method of “gasification,” developed by researchers at the University of  Massachusetts Amherst and University of Minnesota for converting biofuel feedstock into sustainable fuel, could have a “profound” effect on the chemical industry. The process would not only greatly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but double the amount of fuel that can be made from an acre of biomass feedstock.

Electrical and computer engineers from the Microwave Remote Sensing Laboratory (MIRSL) are currently spending 15 hours per day scouring Oklahoma and the Great Plains in their two truck-mounted mobile Doppler radar systems as part of the largest, most ambitious study ever launched to figure out how tornadoes form and predict them more accurately. Overall goals of the national project, known as the Verification of the Origins of Rotation in Tornadoes Experiment 2, or VORTEX2, include giving people earlier warning of severe weather and reducing the number of false positive warnings issued.

The University of Massachusetts Amherst Student Chapter of the Institute of Transportation Engineers took home the top prize at the 2010 Northeastern District 1 Traffic Bowl. The 'Jeopardy' style competition was held on April 7 at the sixth annual Transportation Student Research Symposium on the University of Connecticut campus. UMass Amherst was represented by transportation engineering graduate students Steven Tupper, Deanna Peabody, and Samuel Gregorio, as well as alternates Katrina Hecimovic and Radha Gomez.

Electrical and Computer Engineering Professor Emeritus Dan Schaubert, director of the Center for Advanced Sensor and Communication Antennas (CASCA), has  been selected by the Alumni Board of Directors of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Alumni Association at the University of Illinois as one of six recipients for its 2010 Distinguished Alumni Awards. This selection was made in recognition of his outstanding achievements to his profession and for his long-standing loyal support of that department.

Nationally recognized “green gasoline” researcher George Huber, the John and Elizabeth Armstrong Professional Development Professor from the Chemical Engineering Department at UMass Amherst, was featured in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s prestigious magazine, Technology Review, on March 29, when writer Katherin Bourzac focused on Huber’s startup company, Anellotech. Last August, UMass Amherst granted the New York City based Anellotech exclusive global rights to the university’s catalytic fast pyrolysis technology, developed by Huber for producing clean, green “grassoline.”

An in vitro three-dimensional model of tumor tissue, or “cylindroid,” invented by Neil Forbes of the Chemical Engineering Department, was the vehicle used for research in an article published in Nature Nanotechnolgy. The journal is part of the prestigious Nature Publishing Group, a spinoff of Nature, the leading international scientific journal, founded in 1869. The paper is entitled “Tuning payload delivery in tumour cylindroids using gold nanoparticles” and appeared on Nature Nanotechnology's website April 11.

Associate Professor Sergio Breña is travelling in April with an American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) team as part of an effort to document and evaluate the performance of existing reinforced concrete buildings during the recent 8.8 magnitude Chilean earthquake. The ASCE team is made up of approximately 20 individuals participating in different aspects of the post-earthquake reconnaissance effort.

Three College of Engineering juniors – Daniel Bercht in Computer Systems Engineering, Brian Goss in Mechanical Engineering, and Saranthip Rattanaserikiat in Civil Engineering – have each received $750 scholarships from the UMass Amherst Alumni Association. The William F. Field Alumni Scholars Program was established in 1976 to recognize and honor 60 third-year students for their academic achievements at UMass Amherst.