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Fiftieth Anniversary, College of Engineering, UMass Amherst

Did you know that…

In May of 1947, the name of Massachusetts State College was changed by legislative action to the University of Massachusetts.

In September of 1947, a School of Engineering was established. There were 16 faculty hired. To accommodate the surge of veterans at that time, classes were conducted at two locations; 120 students enrolled on the campus, but the bulk of engineering students received their first two years of instruction at Fort Devens.

Brian Post, an undergraduate student in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, was the recipient of the 2010 Steve L. and Pamela C. Massie Undergraduate Scholarship through the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC). Post, who will be a senior in the fall, was one of only two students from Massachusetts who received an award from the AGC Education and Research Foundation. Scholarships were awarded to 120 students from across the country enrolled in civil engineering or construction management programs.

Dr. Ning Li, who just finished his post-doctoral research in the lab of George Huber of the Chemical Engineering Department, has accepted a job as a research professor in Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics in China, where he also earned his Ph.D. in 2004. The hire was based partially on Dr. Li's research at UMass Amherst, where he developed a new process called hydrodeoxygenation to make green gasoline from sugars. “Dalian is a very prestigeous institution,” says Dr. Huber, the Armstrong Professional Development Professor, “and shows the quality jobs that our students are getting.”

David Reckhow of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department received the 2010 Lester Gaynor Award at the Boston Society of Civil Engineers Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers awards dinner on September 16. This award is "presented to a BSCES member or registered Professional Engineer for his or her part-time elected or appointed service as a city or town official, whose reimbursement for service has not been more than an honorarium."

This fall, the College of Engineering welcomes two new faculty members and one former faculty member. The new members are Dr. Wei Fan of the Chemical Engineering Department and Dr. Frank C. Sup of the Mechanical Engineering Department. We are also happy to welcome back a former longtime member of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department (ECE), Dr. William J. Leonard, who served variously as a research associate, senior research associate, lecturer, research assistant professor, and research associate professor in the department from 1988 to 2009.

The University of Massachusetts Amherst Wind Energy Center (WEC) recently made news when it was recognized by the Smithsonian Institution for its gift of the historic Wind Furnace #1 to the National Museum of American History. Built at UMass Amherst in the 1970s, the 25-kilowatt facility was at one time the largest electricity-producing wind turbine in the world. It featured the first design to include several technologies now standard in modern utility wind turbines.

Massimo Fischetti of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department (ECE) has won the 2011 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Cledo Brunetti Award, established in 1975 for outstanding contributions to nanotechnology and miniaturization in the electronics arts. Dr. Fischetti’s research specialties are electronic transport in semiconductors, Monte Carlo simulations, quantum transport, and the physics of semiconductor devices. Among other awards, he has received IBM Technical Innovation Awards in 1987 and 1989 and an IBM Research Division Award in 1993.

The “Distractology 101” driving simulation test created by the Human Performance  Laboratory was praised by an editorial in the Fall River Herald-News, while the lab’s Director, Don Fisher, was interviewed about distracted driving for the second time this summer by WWLP-TV Channel 22 News. “Thumbs up to the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Arbella Insurance Group’s charitable foundation,” said the Herald-News editorial, “which spent more than $500,000 and two years developing a simulated program that mimics real-life driving.”

Imagine being a middle-school kid who knows how to make his or her own “funky electronic music machine.” Heaven right? That’s the agenda for a free, two-week, summer workshop being run in downtown Springfield by our Electrical and Computer Engineering Department from August 2 to 13 every weekday afternoon in the Parish Hall of the Old First Church at Court Square. Circuits and Beats is a summer tech workshop in which 12 middle-school-aged children from Springfield will design, build, and program electronic music machines under the direction of UMass Amherst engineers.

What if we could cure diabetes, save the Great Lakes, relieve sleep deprivation in surgeons, and figure out a faster way to rescue disaster victims, all in one summer? In fact, those goals were only part of the agenda when 25 undergraduate students from the University of Massachusetts Amherst presented posters and talked about their summer research projects on July 30 in the Gunness Engineering Student Center.

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