University of Massachusetts Amherst

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VISTAGY, Inc., a leading global provider of industry-specific engineering software and services, has partnered with the UMass College of Engineering through the donation of 10 software licenses for the company’s FiberSIM® software. The licenses represent very sophisticated and specific software for computer aided design used to model carbon-fiber analysis. VISTAGY also donated one license of its FiberSIM® software to the college last year.

In 1987, after Randy Pritzker had earned his B.S. degree from the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, he took a radical sidestep in his career by deciding to go to the Boston College Law School. That juke in his education proved to be a game breaker and led to his remarkable 21-year career as one of Massachusetts’ “Super Lawyers” at the Wolf Greenfield law firm, one of the world’s leading legal specialists in intellectual property, or IP.

Among the media that covered the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the newly named Arbella Insurance Group Human Performance Laboratory on December 10 were the Springfield Republican, TV stations WSHM-TV 3 and WWLP-TV 22, and radio stations WFCR and WAMC. The laboratory’s new name celebrates a recent $150,000 gift from the Arbella Insurance Foundation, the philanthropic branch of the Arbella Insurance Group (CEO John Donohue pictured).

Anyone on dialysis knows the ravages of uncontrolled anemia: severe fatigue, hospitalization, and, in extreme cases, death. Now a team from the University of Massachusetts Amherst is collaborating with a leading kidney specialist at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Mass., to design more effective protocols for dosing a key drug used for controlling anemia in dialysis patients. In dialysis patients the amount of the hormone erythropoietin, or EPO, produced by kidneys to manage the production of red blood cells and control anemia is significantly lower than in healthy persons, resulting in the diminished red blood cell production that characterizes anemia.

Chemical engineering major Annuli Okoye has been awarded a very selective scholarship from the American Chemical Society’s Scholars Program for African American, Hispanic, and American Indian Chemical Science Students. Each year the ACS awards renewable scholarships to underrepresented minority students who want to enter the fields of chemistry or chemistry-related fields, such as environmental science, toxicology, and chemical technology. Awards of up to $5,000 are given to qualified students.

On Friday, December 10, the College of Engineering hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the newly named Arbella Insurance Group Charitable Foundation Human Performance Laboratory, a driving research facility. The human performance laboratory’s new name celebrates a recent $150,000 gift from the Arbella Insurance Group Charitable Foundation, the philanthropic branch of the Arbella Insurance Group.

On November 30, WWLP-TV 22 covered some more of the news-making research being done in the Human Performance Laboratory, with this spot focusing on how to retrain older drivers who have begun to lose some of their driving skills. Matthew Romoser, a senior research scientist in the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department, said that, as drivers get older, some of them have more difficulty in driving safely, but training can help them make up for lost skills and remind them what is required to prevent accidents.

The College of Engineering is currently preparing the site for a $600,000, state-of-the-art Structural Testing Facility, which will allow researchers to test full-size structural elements such as beams and girders. The testing facility will also lift the profile of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department (CEE) in terms of attracting top-flight students and sponsored research. With the help of many alumni, led by 1960 CEE alumnus Robert Brack (pictured), the college has raised more than 75 percent of the total cost for the facility, which will be built in the Tillson Farm area of the UMass Amherst campus, near the new police station now under construction.

A research team from our Chemical Engineering Department reports in the November 26 issue of Science that it has developed a way to produce high-volume chemical feedstocks, including benzene, toluene, xylenes, and olefins, from pyrolytic bio-oils, the cheapest liquid fuels available today derived from biomass. As George Huber, the Armstrong Associate Professor in the Chemical Engineering Department at UMass Amherst, explains, "Thanks to this breakthrough, we can meet the need to make commodity chemical feedstocks entirely through processing pyrolysis oils. We are making the same molecules from biomass that are currently being produced from petroleum, with no infrastructure changes required."

Professor Wayne Burleson of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department has received official word from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, or IEEE, that he will be elevated to the status of Fellow “for contributions to integrated circuit design and signal processing.” As the IEEE announcement letter said, “Recognizing the achievements of its members is an important part of the mission of the IEEE.

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