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By some estimates, more than 1,000 American citizens have lost their lives in Puerto Rico as one chilling aftermath of Hurricane Maria on September 17, 2017, and the whole island is still imperiled by the immediate risk of waterborne illness due to lack of purified water. In answer to this national emergency, a group of dedicated, highly-principled, and brilliant students from the University of Massachusetts Amherst raised enough money to visit Puerto Rico from January 2 to 14 and carry out an intensive campaign of water purification, water contamination education, the distribution of food and medical supplies, and other forms of physical and emotional support for the ravaged island.

Memristors are basically a fourth class of passive electrical circuit, joining the resistor, the capacitor, and the inductor, which exhibit their unique properties primarily at the nanoscale and represent one of the most promising circuit elements for information storage and processing in future computing technologies. But one major problem with current memristors is their inability to perform effectively at extremely high temperatures, such as those in aircraft engine control systems or in wearable electronics for firefighters.

The Arctic region is among the places on earth most profoundly impacted by recent climate changes. For example, according to the New York Times, each year Greenland loses 270 billion tons of ice as the planet warms, a rate that would contribute about two inches to sea level rise by the end of the century. Now Assistant Professor Colin Gleason of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst has been awarded a five-year grant of $529,000 from the prestigious National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program to make a groundbreaking study of the Arctic hydrologic cycle by using a combination of field work, remote sensing, and computer modelling.

Think about the startling international news stories surrounding the hacking of our American voting files and the Meltdown and Spectre bugs, the two recently announced security flaws that can expose personal data to hackers and could potentially affect Linux systems, along with computers and devices running Windows, Mac, and other operating-system software. These and many other news events prove the resounding importance of cybersecurity in today’s uncertain world.

Four enterprising teams of senior engineering majors have been chosen as winners during the end-of-semester Senior Design Competition for MIE 415, the capstone course for the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department. The evaluation process was carried out both by popular vote of the audience and a panel of expert judges. Accordingly, the team calling itself Instrumented Beehive won the Popular Vote. The Best Semester Project went to EZ Pack Paintbrush, and Kinex Cappers was picked as the Best Year-long Project, with Unified Health coming in an “extremely close” second. 

What will the marvelous future of “connected vehicles” mean for drivers in the real world? To answer this crucial question, Toyota Motor North America Research and Development is collaborating with the University of Massachusetts to award Associate Professor Daiheng Ni of our Civil and Environmental Engineering Department a four-year research grant so he can explore connected vehicle technology. As Professor Ni explains, “The outcome of this research can serve as the input to better powertrain management and further optimize vehicle control that can potentially transform the way that we drive in the future while helping save lives and fuel.”

Professor Lixin Gao of the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department has been selected to this year’s list of the Networking Networking Women (N2 Women) “Stars in Computer Networking and Communications,” previously known as “10 women in networking /communications that you should KNOW.” As the N2 Women co-chairs wrote to Gao, “Many people from around the world submitted one or more outstanding nominations for this list, and it was difficult to choose only 10 amazing women. You are one of these incredible women!”

A highly influential paper by Professor Chaitra Gopalappa of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department was recently cited by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Volume 66, November 28, 2017, as well as other publications. Gopalappa’s expertise is in advancing mathematical methodologies to derive information that might help in decision-making for public health strategies.

Colin Gleason, an Assistant Professor in our Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, was part of a huge, UCLA-led, 23-person team whose 2015 research on the Greenland ice sheet recently graced the front page of the December 5th New York Times and could revolutionize how scientists regard sea-level rise due to climate change.

Read New York Times article »

MIE Professors Jenna Marquard and Matthew Lackner have been chosen as two of the seven faculty members from UMass Amherst named as Public Engagement Faculty Fellows by the Public Engagement Project (PEP). PEP supports and trains faculty members to use their research for contributing to social change, informing public policy, and enriching public debate. Marquard is performing groundbreaking work on health information technology, while Lackner is doing pioneering research on floating offshore wind turbines.