University of Massachusetts Amherst

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As part of a long feature article in the Metro West Daily News, Michael Knodler of our Civil and Environmental Engineering Department says Massachusetts is behind many other states in seat belt use, but the number of drivers who use them is still increasing each year. Dr. Knodler is the director of the UMass Traffic Safety Research Program, or UMassSafe, which has performed seat belt studies for the state for most of the past nine years.

The Diversity Programs Office (DPO), under its able Director Shelly Perdomo, had yet another very productive year during Fiscal Year 2010. The DPO staged its annual Career Day for more than 300 female high school students and their counselors from 50 towns and cities throughout Massachusetts and the Northeast. The office also hosted 25 Girl Scouts during its annual Girl Scouts Engineering Exploration Day: Engaging, Educating, and Embracing the Creative Engineer.

A web-based teaching game developed by two Northeastern University faculty members in collaboration with Assistant Professor of Transportation Engineering Song Gao, from our Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, has won a 21st Century Learning Lab Award of $150,000 from the MacArthur Foundation. The game, NOx NO MORE, uses GPS data to teach students about the environmental impact of their family’s transportation choices.

Professional baseball scouts use the ungrammatical but colorful adjective “toolsy” to describe players who have all the “tools,” or abilities, to play the game at its highest level. “Toolsy” also serves as an accurate modifier to describe all the industrial engineering seniors who recently completed Dr. Jenna Marquard’s MIE 478 capstone course. It makes them toolsy enough to ply their trade at the highest professional level. According to the official course description, MIE 478 acts as “an integration of industrial engineering/operations research principles and procedures into the design of an operating system.”

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.

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