University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Two of the three prize-winners in the Graduate School’s recent inaugural Three Minute Thesis (3MT) contest were from the College of Engineering, which also boasted five of the 10 finalists. The runner-up, whose prize was $500, was Seydeh Shirin Montazeri of the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department, and her 3MT dealt with “Future Telescopes Will Reveal the Hidden Universe.” The People’s Choice Award of $500 was taken by Destenie Nock of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) Department, doing a 3MT on “Where Should Our Electricity Come From?”

On March 25, our generous alumnus and donor Kenneth Lloyd visited his alma mater with his family and was hosted by Professor Sundar Krishnamurty, the head of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) Department. In 2012 Mr. Lloyd established the Kenneth A. Lloyd Fellowship, awarded annually to a qualified incoming doctoral student in the MIE department who shows exceptional potential for success in his or her field, with a preference given to female applicants. Mr. Lloyd of Duxbury, Massachusetts, graduated from the College of Engineering in 1973, having majored in mechanical engineering.

The UMass Amherst Institute for Teaching Excellence & Faculty Development, or TEFD, has informed Assistant Professor Caitlyn Butler of the Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) Department that its Selection Committee has chosen her as one of eight campus recipients of the 2017-18 Lilly Fellowship for Teaching Excellence. Among several other benefits, the fellowship involves $14,000 in funding split between Butler and the CEE department. “This is a significant achievement given the high volume and quality of nominations this year, which the committee members described as ‘truly astounding,’” said Brian Baldi of TEFD.

Richard Palmer, the head of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department and the university director of the Northeast Climate Science Center, has been elected to the grade of Distinguished Member of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). As the ASCE letter to announce the honor said in part, “You will also be interested to know that, prior to this year's election of nine new Distinguished Members, only 688 civil engineers in the 165-year history of ASCE have been similarly honored, and there are only 228 Distinguished Members among the Society’s current membership of over 150,000 people.”

Over Spring Break, from March 11 to March 18, a group of four chemical engineering sophomores painted and repaired damaged houses in New Orleans as part of the ServeUP InterVarsity Christian Fellowship program, a ministry of campuses in New England committed to exposing students to the intersection of faith and service. The four ChE students joined two teams of 14 students from UMass Amherst and about 66 students from the Five College area in the annual service program. The four ChE students were Bryan Chua, Navin Sundaramurthy, Ricardo Valdes, and Kyaw Htet Paing.

UMass Amherst alumnus Marshall Jones, who earned his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in our Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department, will be inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame on May 4 for his pioneering work on industrial lasers. At the organization’s 45th annual induction ceremony in May, Jones will join the likes of other inductees such as Tesla, Edison, and the Wright Brothers. The induction ceremony is billed by the National Inventors Hall of Fame as “The greatest celebration of American innovation…Here we honor and celebrate the world’s foremost inventors and their contributions to society.”

A team of researchers from UMass Amherst headed by Professor Dimitrios Maroudas of the Chemical Engineering (ChE) Department has found a way to reduce the surface roughness of conducting thin films used in microelectronics, potentially boosting their ability to conduct electrical and thermal energy. According to a press release by the American Institute of Physics (AIP), surface roughness reduction is “a really big deal when it comes to fundamental surface physics and while fabricating electronic and optical devices.”

As the Entrepreneur-in-Residence in the College of Engineering, Eric Crawley’s purpose is to help students and faculty members develop their creative ideas into productive new companies. But, in another sense, his job is to serve as the unofficial dream enabler in the college and beyond. “What I really get out of my position is seeing people live their dreams!” exclaims Crawley.

Professor Erin Baker of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) Department is one of 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. Baker and the other PEP fellows will each receive a $1,500 stipend and technical training in communicating with non-academic audiences. The PEP fellows will also travel to Beacon Hill to share their research with Massachusetts lawmakers.

Five of the 10 finalists in the final round of the Graduate School’s inaugural Three Minute Thesis (3MT) contest are from the College of Engineering. The event, which is free and open to the public, will be held on March 24 from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. in the Student Union Ballroom. See event flyer. 3MT finalists will highlight their research in engaging three-minute presentations, with $1,000 going to the winner, $500 to the runner-up, and $500 to the People’s Choice as voted on by the audience. Light refreshments will be provided for the audience so, for catering purposes, pre-registration is requested: pre-register here »