The University of Massachusetts Amherst
University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Last spring, undergraduate junior Aimee O’Brien of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department was the co-captain of the UMass Amherst Steel Bridge Team that managed a strong fourth-place finish out of 12 teams at the regional Student Steel Bridge Competition, run by the American Institute of Steel Construction. With O’Brien doing much of the day-to-day management and organization of the team, while also putting in many hours of hands-on cutting, welding, and grinding, the double-girder bridge took first place in the key stiffness category, boasting an aggregate deflection of only five-eighths of an inch.

Recently a team of students in the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department (MIE) designed and built an invention that would wow any dog owner. It’s a sort of dog-operated fetch-o-matic. The machine hurls a ball and is then re-triggered each time the canine retrieves it and drops it in a funnel. MIE Head Donald Fisher uses this example to demonstrate the kind of clever idea that needs a place to incubate within a warm and welcoming space, where his students can gather, connect, brainstorm, and collaborate.

The university’s first-ever Seismic Design Team, led by undergraduate Meghan Krupka of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, will be traveling to San Francisco for the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute's annual Undergraduate Seismic Design Competition on February 3 to 6. Students Marco Adorno, David Fortin, and Aimee O'Brien make up the rest of the UMass Amherst team.

On January 12, Sahil Shanghavi, a senior electrical engineering major at UMass Amherst, hosted an information seminar for 150 students at Lakshmipat Singhania Academy, his former high school in Kolkata (Calcutta), India. Two days later, on January 14, Shanghavi gave a similar seminar at the Bhawanipur Education Society College that was open to students from many high schools throughout the city.

Professor William Curtis Conner of the Chemical Engineering Department, who was chosen as the Fulbright Distinguished Chair in Alternative Energy Technology at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden, will teach and develop research collaborations there, starting in the spring of 2010 and continuing into 2011. The appointment is the most prestigious and selective of all the Fulbright Fellowships. Conner has over 150 publications, cited more than 2000 times.

A long feature article and related editorial in Business West detailed the collaboration between the new Precision Manufacturing Regional Alliance Project (PMRAP) with two departments at UMass Amherst, including Professor Sundar Krishnamurty and other faculty members in the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department. The collaboration fosters open dialogue designed to develop ways in which research at UMass Amherst can help area manufacturers create new products, develop more efficient processes, and use lighter, stronger materials.

Talk about precocious! A senior chemical engineering major at the University of Massachusetts Amherst is a vital cog on a research team working toward the successful treatment of diabetes and other killer diseases. Worcester resident Meenal Datta is performing key experiments on polymer capsules engineered to carry insulin-producing pancreas cells for implanting in type 1 diabetics.

Two leading electronics companies, Intel and Silicon Mechanics, have posted an article for their extensive customer base on the work of recent NSF CAREER award recipient Eric Polizzi of our Electrical and Computer Engineering Department and his use of an Intel® Cluster Ready HPC to speed up his research and boost performance. “Researchers in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, are exploring the computation of large-scale physics and engineering problems in nanosciences,” the article explains.

An article by lead author Daniel Schaubert, the director of the Advanced Sensor and Communications Antennas research center in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, rated third best on the top-ten list of “most read” online articles in the Microwave Journal for 2009. The article – “State-of-the-Art Antenna Technology: The 2008 Antenna Applications Symposium,” written by Schaubert, Jennifer Bernhard, University of Illinois, Robert Mailloux, US Air Force Research Laboratory, and W. Devereux Palmer, US Army Research Office – was the cover story in the January 2009 issue of the journal.

A new scholarship endowment set up by alumnus Robert Hagerty (Industrial Engineering ‘74), the president of the Polycom company of Pleasanton, California, has been set up to support undergraduate students in the College of Engineering who are veterans of Iraq or Afghanistan. The Robert C. Hagerty Scholarship will be awarded annually to students in the college who are veterans of the U.S. military and whose service includes a posting in Iraq or Afghanistan.

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