Several deeply committed UMass Students didn’t want to let the water crisis in Puerto Rico go unchecked! A brilliant and idealistic five-person interdisciplinary team, which included three engineering majors, won four prizes at the HackUMass hackathon on November 3 through 5 by creating LiveWaterMap, invented to counteract the devastation and resultant water shortage and contamination caused by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. As the team explains its product, “LiveWaterMap is an online web service that collects and maps water quality data using GPS and time data - information that can be easily understood and made available for anyone, anytime, anywhere.”
The first phase of the UMass Amherst 2017–18 Innovation Challenge, called the MinutePitch, kicked off its 13th year of competition on October 25 with a team from the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department winning the $750 second prize for its new approach to catching deadly pancreatic cancer in its crucial early stages.
Professor Emeritus James Donovan of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) Department passed away on Friday, November 3. As MIE Department Head Sundar Krishnamurty said, “It is with great sadness that I share with you the news that Professor Emeritus Jim Donovan passed away Friday night. Jim taught in our department for many years before retiring in early 2000. As many of you may recall, Jim was an extraordinary faculty mentor to students and younger faculty. He was there for us whenever we needed him, always helpful and supportive. He was energetic and enthusiastic about new ideas and initiatives—and he loved international travel. I will miss him greatly.”
The Center for Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere (CASA) in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department is in the process of adapting its weather radar networks so they can also detect small drones. In part, CASA’s new initiative is designed to address industry estimates that there could be as many as 3-million drones in skies worldwide by the end of 2017. As the UMass News Office reports, “The [CASA] system is designed to scan the airspace closest to the ground where drones and severe weather are not currently visible to existing weather radar and aircraft surveillance systems. The project is funded with an 18-month, $200,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF).”
Professor Stephen Nonnenmann of our Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) Department has received a $265,757 grant from the National Science Foundation to investigate a high-temperature electrochemical approach for converting the carbon in carbon dioxide gas to higher value carbon-containing products such as green hydrocarbon fuels. Nonnenmann’s research could form a critical component in eventual closed carbon-cycle processes for renewable energy generation.
Last week, the bulletin board for one of our student organizations was vandalized when the pictures of e-board members who are students of color were removed, while those of white students were left untouched. This incident has been reported to both the Dean of Students and the UMass Police Department. We do not know if the individual or individuals responsible are members of the Engineering community. Such acts of bigotry are not acceptable within our community and will not be tolerated. Individuals committing such acts are not welcome within our spaces....
By exploiting a wealth of user-specific data to improve user experiences, the Internet of Things (IoT) will revolutionize people’s lives in the decades ahead through such phenomena as smart cities, connected vehicles, smart homes, and connected healthcare devices. However, as we’ve witnessed with recent much-publicized data hacks, the sharing of such info can compromise users’ privacy. Now Professor Hossein Pishro-Nik of our Electrical and Computer Engineering Department (ECE) is the principal investigator (PI) on a $1-million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to study this issue so critical to the adoption of the IoT. The new proposal is entitled “A Unified Framework for IoT Privacy.”
Just before this semester began, our Career Development and Experiential Learning Center hosted its second-annual Career Boot Camp, a two-part, hands-on, career workshop conducted for about 40 masters and doctoral students in the College of Engineering. According to Graduate Career Coordinator Christina Mata, who ran the program, “The purpose of the Career Boot Camp is to give grad students an overview of the career development process here at the College of Engineering and provide them with the tools to start that process.”
Professor Richard M. Palmer, the head of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department and the university director of the Northeast Climate Science Center, was formally inducted as a Distinguished Member of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) at its Celebration of Leaders Luncheon during the ASCE 2017 Convention, October 8-11, in New Orleans. Palmer was inducted “for his conceptual and practical contributions to applying structured decision analysis and participatory methods in managing conflict in water resources, including shared vision planning, and for methods addressing potential impacts of climate change in natural resource management.” See ASCE video in honor of Palmer’s induction »
Professors Jessica Schiffman and Sarah Perry of our Chemical Engineering Department have developed nanofiber fabrics that are green and non-toxic and can be used in medical, environmental, personal care, and food packaging applications, according to an article from the UMass News Office that recaps a story posted in July by the College of Engineering. The research is supported by a three-year, $338,180 grant from the National Science Foundation. See entire News Office Story: Chemical Engineers Develop Green, Non-Toxic Nanofiber Fabrics for a Wide Range of Uses.