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When a pike is attacked, the fish escapes by performing a lightning-fast jackknife, which generates a remarkable 25 Gs of acceleration for a tenth of a second – more than three times the acceleration of an Apollo launch and faster than any manmade vehicle. In order to study this amazing reflex action, senior mechanical engineering student Chengcheng “Charlie” Feng used his summer research in the Research Experience for Undergraduates program to build a robotic fish, which can accurately mimic the escape mechanism of a pike.

Dr. Tilman Wolf of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department is the co-author of a new textbook, Architecture of Network Systems published by Morgan Kaufmann, which has been called “the most comprehensive book on network systems” published to date. As Wolf explains, “Basically, you would read our book in order to understand how to design the devices that make the Internet work.”

They call it the “White Coat Syndrome.” Many people get stressed out when they visit their doctors, which makes their blood pressure readings go sky-high. The White Coat Syndrome is only one factor contributing to why the care for diabetics with high blood pressure is described as “woefully inadequate” – especially since two-thirds of diabetics suffer from high blood pressure, and their medication is based on intermittent office visits. To address this dangerous problem, industrial engineer Jenna Marquard is a key researcher in an almost $2-million project.

Mechanical engineer Matthew Lackner is working on the cutting edge of floating wind turbines, a technology that, according to MIT’s prestigious Technology Review, “could hold the key to exploiting” the powerful offshore winds blowing steadily off the Northeastern coast. In order to turn that “key,” Lackner has been working on clever, innovative devices such as “smart rotors” and “tuned vibration absorbers,” which reduce the severe stress placed on working parts of floating turbines and could go a long way toward making them economically feasible.

Following a school and personal record tying performance, Sean Busch, a senior in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, was named UMass Athlete of the Week on February 8. The senior helped the UMass Track and Field Team to a solid performance at the Giegengack Invitational on February 5 in Connecticut. Busch tied his personal and school record in the indoor pole vault that Saturday, reaching a height of 15-9. The mark was good enough for third place and also qualified him for the IC4A Championships.

A crucial step for establishing a national climate change policy, one of the biggest policy decisions facing this country and the world, is deciding which developing energy technologies will best maintain that policy once it’s in place. The next step is calculating exactly how much money to invest in R&D for each of those chosen technologies. These critical steps, in fact, describe the ongoing research of Dr. Erin Baker of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department.

Marcel Vanpée, 94, died February 3rd, 2011, surrounded by his wife and daughters. Marcel Vanpée was Emeritus Professor of Chemical Engineering at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. His scientific research and teaching led him from his native Belgium to Lovanium University in the former Belgian Congo and then to the United States, first in 1948 as a research fellow at the University of Minnesota and then in 1957 to pursue research in combustion science at the Bureau of Mines in Pittsburgh.

As reported by the Westford (Massachusetts) Eagle on February 2, Civil and Environmental Engineering Department alumna and New England Patriots cheerleader Patricia Fox returned late last month from a two-week tour overseas to visit deployed U.S. troops. “With the Patriots cheerleaders, I was given the opportunity to go oversees to visit the troops, which is an experience I will never forget,” said Fox. Six Patriots cheerleaders and their coach, Tracy Sormanti, began their tour on December 20 in Kyrgyzstan and then arrived in Northern Afghanistan on Christmas Day.

Paul J. Dauenhauer of the Chemical Engineering Department has been awarded a one-year, $80,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to conduct basic research on the chemical process pyrolysis - breaking down woody biomass by heating it. Dr. Dauenhauer seeks to unlock the complex chemistry that takes place when wood is heated. He says heating woody biomass to high temperatures actually creates a brief liquid state before it turns to gas and this liquid state is of particular interest to scientists trying to produce the basic chemicals needed for biofuels.

Dr. Tilman Wolf of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department is the co-author of a new book, Architecture of Network Systems, which is part of the Morgan Kaufmann Series in Computer Architecture and Design. Dr. Wolf’s co-author is Dimitrios Serpanos, a professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Patras in Greece and the director of the Industrial Systems Institute/R.C. Athena.

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