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Electrical and computer engineers from the Microwave Remote Sensing Laboratory (MIRSL) are currently spending 15 hours per day scouring Oklahoma and the Great Plains in their two truck-mounted mobile Doppler radar systems as part of the largest, most ambitious study ever launched to figure out how tornadoes form and predict them more accurately. Overall goals of the national project, known as the Verification of the Origins of Rotation in Tornadoes Experiment 2, or VORTEX2, include giving people earlier warning of severe weather and reducing the number of false positive warnings issued.

Professor Emeritus Klaus E. Kroner of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department died on May 13 in Northampton surrounded by his family. Professor Kroner started his teaching career at NYU, followed by two years at the University of Maine Orono, before coming to the UMass Amherst College of Engineering in 1957. He also taught occasionally at Holyoke and Greenfield Community Colleges.

The UMass Amherst chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB) annual auction, held on May 1 to raise money for its projects in Kenya and the Amazon, netted $11,000 this year, $3,000 more than last year’s event. The EWB chapter is a student organization dedicated to helping local and international communities create sustainable engineering projects to improve their quality of life. This year’s fund-raising was aided by gold-level sponsorship contributions of $2,500 from Robert Brack ’60, chairman of the Barker Steel Company of Milford, Massachusetts, and the Tighe & Bond company, with offices in Massachusetts and Connecticut.

Westford, Mass., resident Patricia Fox, a graduating senior in civil engineering at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, was one of 25 women who recently qualified for the New England Patriots Cheerleaders. Fox, who was a member of the UMass Amherst Dance Team for four years, is a Renaissance woman whose passions range from historic preservation – the field she desires to work in as a professional engineer – to the UMass Amherst chapter of Engineers Without Borders, an idealistic organization that works in Third World countries to create engineering projects such as clean water systems.

In the summer of 2009, Cisco Systems, Inc. hired more graduates from our Electrical & Computer Engineering Department (ECE) than from any other university, school, college, or department in the nation. Department Head Kris Hollot affectionately refers to the new hires as the "Cisco Kids." One of the Cisco Kids, Austin Cormier '09, wanted to give something back to the department right away. So he and three of his '09 classmates (Doug Frazer, Scott Richard, and Ivan Bercovich) pooled their resources and, with the generous support of Cisco, created "The Cisco Young Alumni Senior Design Project Award." 

Graduate programs in engineering at the University of Massachusetts Amherst are among the best in the Northeast and elsewhere, according to a recently released ranking by U.S. News & World Report. Of the 198 engineering schools surveyed, UMass Amherst is ranked 51st. UMass Amherst ranked ahead of six public and private institutions in the Northeast, including Brown, Northeastern, Stony Brook, Connecticut, Tufts, and Syracuse. The top-ranked school in the survey was MIT.

Chemical engineering major Eydis Lima was the student speaker at the Women for UMass Amherst Breakfast on May 12 in the Marriott Hotel, Newton, Massachusetts. Lima joined two special guest speakers, Chancellor Robert C. Holub and Cheryl A. Dubin '90 (senior vice president of relationship management and marketing for Fidelity Investments), at the event.

The National Geographic News interviewed Professor David Reckhow of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department for an article that appeared on its web site April 29. Though shampoo may seem harmless, according to the article, it could be contributing to the formation of a mysterious, cancer-causing substance studied by new Yale University research. The substance, called nitrosamine, forms when shampoo or other household products interact with the disinfectant called chloramine, used in many wastewater treatment plants.

The UMass News & Media Relations Office has produced two very informative and complimentary videos about The Center for Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere (CASA) and our campus chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB). The videos demonstrate quite graphically how CASA and EWB are both making big waves reaching far beyond campus. The CASA video describes the organization’s revolutionary new weather-sensing radar networks, while the EWB video (UMass Engineers Without Borders Head to Kenya) covers the group’s new well, installed this fall in Western Kenya.

On April 23, the 20th annual Senior Design Project Day unveiled 13 clever, creative, and useful electronic inventions produced by seniors from the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department (ECE). According to voting by faculty, Team Ganz (Blind Assistive Technology Bill Reading Device) and Team Wolf (Stuff Tracker) finished in a first-place tie for the best projects, while Team Tessier (Blue Tag) finished third. The student-sponsored People’s Choice Award, as voted on by students, staff, and visitors, also went to Team Ganz.

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