University of Massachusetts Amherst

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In the brave new world of unsettled climate, one key danger for professionals who operate the infrastructure of major water resources such as the Connecticut River is that traditional water-management rules are becoming more obsolete than the old rules for regulating greenhouse emissions. That uncertainty makes water sources, including the Connecticut, much more at risk from floods and droughts. One answer to this dramatic problem is the research of environmental engineer Casey Brown...

Dr. Casey Brown of the Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) Department has been notified that he will receive a National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER award with an intended total amount of $419,097. His NSF project is entitled "Robust Management of Climate Uncertainty for Ecohydrological Sustainability.” As Dr. Brown’s NSF proposal notes, his research plan will produce “a robust management strategy for climate change by developing water management methods that incorporate predictive climate information and dynamic operations.”

The College of Engineering welcomes Dr. Shelly Peyton as a new faculty member to the Chemical Engineering Department. She comes to UMass Amherst after serving as a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Biological Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, beginning in 2007. Her research emphasis at MIT was “Mesenchymal Stem Cell Migration in 3-D Synthetic ECM Analogs.”

Dr. Don DeGroot of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department traveled to Oslo, Norway, in January to conduct research on characterization of offshore seabed sediments. This research was conducted at the International Centre for Geohazards of the Norwegian Geotechnical Institute as part of the UMass Amherst U.S. National Science Foundation Partnerships for International Research and Education (PIRE) project, a research and education collaboration among experts in offshore sediment geology, geotechnical engineering, and disaster mitigation. 

UMass Amherst alums Scot Chisholm ’04 and Pat Walsh ’03 were just “a couple of average guys” when they met as undergraduates in the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department, but ever since they staged a “StayClassy Pubcrawl” in 2005 to raise money for cancer research, they’ve found themselves as revolutionaries in fundraising for nonprofit organizations. The original San Diego-based event, which attracted 200 pub crawlers and derived its name from the popular Will Ferrell movie, Anchorman, mushroomed into a free online platform and social fundraising service for nonprofits.

Dr. Song Gao of the Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) Department attended the Annual Meeting of the Transportation Research Board (TRB) from January 23 to 27 and made a major contribution by presenting five different papers with various researchers, including CEE Professor John Collura and Professor Don Fisher, head of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department. The TRB’s 90th Annual Meeting was held in Washington, D.C., at the Marriott Wardman Park, Omni Shoreham, and Washington Hilton hotels.

Seven years ago, Ciriaco "Cid" da Silva, a 1982 mechanical engineering alumnus, and his wife, Corinne da Silva, left the virtual world of the computer industry for the very real and earthy world of avocado farming. The outgrowth of this major career move is Bella Vado (Avocado Oil), the first U.S. manufacturer of avocado oil. Now Bella Vado is a very real Southern California treasure. In 2003, Cid resigned from his job as a software architect, while Corinne gave up her job as managing director of an Internet marketing firm, so they could purchase a 40-acre avocado grove near Valley Center in Southern California.

Research by George Huber and his research team from the Chemical Engineering Department, which has developed an economical process for producing chemical feedstocks from waste biomass, is attracting international attention from the chemical industry after the team’s article appeared in the November 26 issue of Science. His most high-profile coverage was in the January 6 issues of the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg Businessweek.

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. In order to study this amazing reflex action, Dr. Yahya Modarres-Sadeghi of the University of Massachusetts Amherst Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department has spent the past two years working on two generations of robotic fish, which mimic the escape mechanism of a pike.

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.

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