The University of Massachusetts Amherst
University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Fourth year industrial engineering major Alex Barth had a memorable research internship “across the pond” last summer; an experience that goes far beyond his accomplishment of writing a paper that he’ll present at the International Conference of Engineering Design 2011 in Copenhagen, Denmark, next August. He also learned the lesson of a lifetime. “What made the biggest impact on my life?” Alex comments about his time in Europe.

Hot on the heels of its annual Senior Design Project Day on April 29, the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst held its second annual Circuits and Codes event on April 30. Circuits and Codes is described as “a celebration of technology, engineering, science, mathematics, creativity, and the students who are designing and building the products and systems of the future.”

Up to $50,000 in prize money supplied by private donors was available to award in the seventh annual University of Massachusetts Amherst Innovation Challenge, held on Thursday, April 28. Student innovators and entrepreneurs made investor presentations from 3:30 to approximately 5:30 p.m. that day. Judges then decided which team has the best entrepreneurial plan for taking a new idea to market. Since 2005, the UMass Amherst Innovation Challenge has provided more than $280,000 in awards to 32 different student-led teams.

On Wednesday, April 27, supporters of the University of Massachusetts Amherst Supermileage Team – Team ZoomMass for short – gathered at Western New England College (WNEC) in Springfield for a demonstration, rally, presentation, and celebration. The star attraction was an eight-and-a-half-foot-long, 100-pound, teardrop-shaped, neon-green vehicle designed to get as much as 1,500 miles per gallon of gas at the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) national supermileage competition in Marshall, Michigan, in early June.

Peter Monson, Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering and currently on sabbatical leave, has been awarded a Piercy Visiting Professorship from the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science at the University of Minnesota. He will visit Minnesota during April and May, working with colleagues on the synthesis and characterization of new catalysts for energy efficient chemical transformations.

On Friday, April 29, the 21st annual Senior Design Project Day at the University of Massachusetts Amherst unveiled 13 clever, creative, and useful electronic inventions produced by seniors from the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department (ECE). The event is a high-tech floor show for the electronics of the future. Past projects have included everything from home automation systems and wireless drumsticks to assistive robots. This year’s inventions go by such intriguing names as the Wait Watcher, the Weed Warrior, and the Mechanical Autonomous Robot Companion (pictured).

The College of Engineering has earned the award for the Highest Average Gift for an Academic Area during the University of Massachusetts 2010-2011 Faculty and Staff Campaign. The college will be recognized for its achievement at the Founders Day Luncheon on Friday, April 29. The luncheon is scheduled from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on that day. Sarah Sligo, the interim director of Annual Giving, called the accomplishment a “presitigious honor,” and said, “Congratulations on your high average gift.”

Senior chemical engineering student Niva Ran is the lead author of a cover story entitled “Organic single-crystal lawns” for an upcoming issue of Materials Today, the international review magazine for all researchers with an interest in materials science and technology. Her co-authors are postdoctoral scholar Qingshuo Wei and Assistant Professor Alejandro L. Briseño from the Department of Polymer Science and Engineering. 

Chemical Engineering Professor William C. Conner, Jr. has won the 2011 Senior Faculty Award, and Electrical and Computer Engineering Assistant Professor Eric Polizzi has won the 2011 Barbara H. and Joseph I. Goldstein Outstanding Junior Faculty Award. They will both receive their awards at the Senior Recognition Ceremony on May 14, starting at 9:00 a.m. in the Recreation Center. Assistant Professor Marinos Vouvakis of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department was previously announced as the winner of the 2011 College Outstanding Teaching Award, and he will also receive his award at the ceremony on May 14.

T.J. (Lakis) Mountziaris, professor and head of the Chemical Engineering Department at the University of Massachusetts and director of the UMass NanoMedicine Institute, has received $25,000 from the university’s Commercial Ventures and Intellectual Property (CVIP) office to conduct experiments aimed at commercializing a new class of biological sensors that enable rapid testing of clinical samples for disease markers and environmental samples for biological contaminants.