The University of Massachusetts Amherst
University of Massachusetts Amherst

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A class of graduate engineering students at the University of Massachusetts Amherst is collaborating with a local inventor to reinvent the very nuts and bolts that hold together the machinery of modern life. This cooperative project is developing a brand new kind of “wave thread,” which could transform the strength, performance, and sealing ability of nuts, bolts, pipes, containers, valves, and other types of “fastener” products.

Prasad Shabadi, a graduate student in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, won the Best Student Paper Award at the IEEE/ACM International Symposium on Nanoscale Architectures 2011 in San Diego, California, with a paper entitled “Spin Wave Functions Nanofabric Update.” The article describes research on “a better, game-changing way to improve system-level performance” of computer devices “based on non-equilibrium physical phenomena and wave interactions, e.g., spin waves.”

Team ZoomMass overcame blustery winds, severe thunderstorms, and overwhelming odds to finish with a gritty, Rocky-like performance, beaten up but upbeat, at the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Supermileage Competition in Michigan. “When we got on the track the wind was howling,” says Jonathan Rothstein, the team’s faculty advisor. “It was so bad it blew the windshield off the car, which promptly got stuck in the front wheel, causing the car to spin around and the front wheel to shear off as it slid sideways. It took us half the day to put the car back together and persevere through a number of other problems, like flat tires and thunderstorms.” 

Professor Lixin Gao of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department has won the "SIGMETRICS Test of Time Award," which recognizes an influential performance evaluation paper whose impact is still felt 10-12 years after its initial publication. In 2000, Gao collaborated with Jennifer Rexford to write the winning paper: "Stable Internet Routing without Global Coordination."

Pritish Narayanan, a graduate student working with Professor Andras Moritz in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, won the Outstanding Poster Award at the FENA/MSD Annual Review at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in May. Narayanan’s poster was entitled “Integration of Cross-wire NASIC Systems – Crosscutting Issues.” The research described in Narayanan’s award-winning poster is being carried out by himself, Professor Moritz, Pavan Panchapakeshan, Santosh Khasanvis, and Mostafizur Rahman.

On June 27 through June 29, UMass Amherst hosted the 2011 National Conference on Engineering & Ecohydrology for Fish Passage, or Fish Passage 2011. Some 300 people attended the conference from all over the country, and a few from Europe. The objective of the conference was to bring together fisheries experts, biologists, ecologists, engineers, and policy makers to examine the problems, challenges, and technological solutions for managing the wildlife species in the country’s rivers.

Briana Tomboulian, a graduate student whose advisor is Professor Robert Hyers in the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department, has been awarded a highly prestigious fellowship from NASA’s Office of the Chief Technologist. The NASA 2011 Space Technology Research Fellowship is valued at as much as $66,000 per year for up to four years. The fellowship supports a stipend for the student and the student’s laboratory work, health insurance, tuition, fees, and an extended visit to a NASA center to work on the project.

During the week of June 13, two separate stories aired on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition and on public TV station WGBY Channel 57 looking at the new radar system being developed to track tornadoes and other severe weather by the $43 million, 10-year-old Engineering Research Center for Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere (CASA). Both the radio and TV interviews involved CASA’s Brenda Philips, the associate director, and Michael Zink, the deputy director for technical integration.

A feature story in the June 13 Boston Globe looks at the new radar system being developed to track tornadoes and other severe weather by the $43 million, 10-year-old Engineering Research Center for Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere (CASA). CASA involves UMass Amherst and public universities in Colorado, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, Virginia, and Delaware, along with the National Weather Service, Raytheon Co., ITT Corp. and other specialty manufacturers.

Professor Surita Bhatia of the Chemical Engineering Department was one of 24 women academics who attended a meeting on May 12 and 13 dealing with the issues of female academics in nanoscience fields. Some problems addressed at the meeting included the pressures placed on young assistant professors during the years when they are having children and trying to make tenure at the same time, the disadvantages women face by taking maternity leave, childcare issues, and the increasing underrepresentation of female undergrads in nanoscience fields.