Points of Pride

The UMass Amherst Institute for Applied Life Sciences (IALS) might be the most important organization that few people have ever heard of. The IALS is also the biggest thing to happen during my first 15 months on the job. Soon nearly 100 faculty members (accompanied by students and staff) from three colleges (College of Engineering, College of Natural Sciences, School of Public Health and Health Sciences) and 16 departments at UMass Amherst will conduct research and engage in hands-on education and training through IALS. That’s big!

Michael Zink of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst has come up with a brilliant solution for a very expensive problem: The various applications for networks of electronic sensing devices such as radars or cameras cannot be shared. For example, radar networks are applied for either weather forecasting or tracking aircraft. Camera systems might be applied for border security or Coast Guard life-saving activities.

The Civil and Environmental Engineering Department has embarked on a progressive $100,000 campaign to upgrade the “Strength of Materials Lab,” the key component of the CEE 241 Strength of Materials course, required for all CEE students as part of the department’s core curriculum. The course teaches students how to determine stresses and deformations of structural members subjected to axial loads, torsion, and bending of beams, behavior of columns, and transformation of stress and strain. Professor Sergio Breña, the coordinator of the Structural Engineering & Mechanics group in the CEE department, explained that the two main goals in the lab upgrade are to make the testing equipment more accessible for hands-on usage by all students in the course and to modernize the instrumentation.

Paul Dauenhauer of the Chemical Engineering Department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst has been approved by the university Board of Trustees to receive the Armstrong Professional Development Professorship. The Armstrong Professorship was established in 2001 with an endowment of $850,000 by John and Elizabeth Armstrong of Amherst and a $650,000 matching grant from the University of Massachusetts President’s Distinguished Professorship Initiative. It is awarded for a three-year period “to a faculty member who is at the beginning of his/her career and has demonstrated substantial achievement and great promise in his/her area of teaching and research.”

Marianne Sleiman, a junior chemical engineering major from Greenville, Rhode Island, is one of three Commonwealth Honors College students at the University of Massachusetts Amherst to receive scholarships for work in the natural sciences and engineering as part of the highly competitive Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program. Goldwater scholarships are intended to foster and encourage outstanding students to pursue careers in the fields of mathematics, the natural sciences, and engineering. Each competing university nominated its top four students, who were then evaluated by the national Goldwater Scholarship selection committee. From a field of 1,166 mathematics, science, and engineering students nominated by colleges and universities, 283 received scholarships, and 247 received honorable mentions.

On April 7, when the ninth annual University of Massachusetts Innovation Challenge final business plan competition was held, mDiagnostics, the  team from the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department, garnered $15,000 in prize money to support development and marketing of its reliable, portable, single-use, low-cost, Hepatitis C screening device. The team was led by ECE doctoral student Akshaya Shanmugam and guided by her ECE faculty advisor Christopher Salthouse. The Innovation Challenge success only adds to an impressive list of honors earned by Shanmugam over the past two years. During that time, she has been chosen for a 2014 Eugene M. Isenberg Scholarship, was selected as one of the two 2012-2013 Hluchyj Fellows, and won first place in the 2013 ECE Ph.D. Poster Session, held last October.

We’ve all seen the problem: Food service employees struggling to tug on those cumbersome, rubbery, hygienic gloves required by law. We’ve all asked ourselves the same question. How many times per day must they yank them on and off? Now a team of seniors from the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) Department has created an automatic mechanism to help them do it. The “Delicatessen Glove Donning Machine” won first place in the senior capstone design contest, held on April 30, when 23 teams from the MIE department demonstrated the prototypes of their useful, inventive, and brilliant designs for all to see. Second place went to a “Wick Centering Device Cleaning System” for the Yankee Candle Company, while third place was a tie between an “Elderly Assisted Standing Device” for someone in an independent living facility and an “Integrated Hood Cooling System” for cars.

UMass Amherst and College of Engineering Alumnus Barry Bahram Siadat was the recipient of a University of Massachusetts Distinguished Achievement Award at the university’s Undergraduate Commencement Ceremony on Friday, May 9, in McGuirk Alumni Stadium. Dr. Siadat earned his M.S. in Polymer Science and Engineering in 1977 and his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering in 1979 from UMass Amherst. He is the co-founder, president and managing director of SK Capital Partners. His career as a scientist, business leader, and investor comprises senior leadership in both privately held and major public corporations. Dr. Siadat is author of over 25 scientific publications and over 20 patents.

On April 12, the Engineers Without Borders UMass Amherst Student Chapter hosted its 7th Annual EWB UMass Amherst Auction & Social. Festivities included live and silent auctions, appetizers, a cash bar, an African drumming performance, and project presentations. The event was attended by approximately 100 guests drawing from the business, academic, and philanthropic communities throughout Hampshire County. This year, the Sponsorship Appeal yielded $22,000, and the auction earned $5,600. After expenses the EWB chapter netted $25,600 to support its worthy projects in Africa! Check out the website at http://blogs.umass.edu/ewbumass/.

The all-freshman team of Justin Marple, Aaron Lucia, Rohan Kapoor, and Dylan Pare of our Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department won the Micromouse contest at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Region 1 Student Conference, held at New Jersey’s Science and Technology University (NJIT) on the weekend of March 29 and 30. The winning team, named IEEE Micromouse Venus, also won $800. Micromouse is an event in which small robot mice solve a 16 foot by 16 foot maze. See videos of the winning micromouse in action: official search run; 1st place run. Here is a link to the IEEE region 1 conference site: http://ewh.ieee.org/reg/1/sac/events.php.

Evan Gaertner, a graduate student in the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) Department, has been selected from a pool of several highly qualified applicants to receive the 2014-15 Edwin V. Sisson Doctoral Fellowship, starting this coming September (2014). Sisson is a 1968 alumnus from the Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) Department, and his fellowship fund is geared toward first-year doctoral candidates from any of the four departments in the College of Engineering who do research in sustainable energy or other environmental subjects, the main areas of the donor’s concerns. His graduate research, performed under faculty advisor Matthew Lackner of the MIE department, is focused on modeling unsteady aerodynamics of floating offshore wind turbines.

Assistant Professor Wei Fan of the Chemical Engineering Department has been selected to receive the prestigious 3M Non-Tenured Faculty Award from 3M Corporation. The Award recognizes “outstanding new faculty who were selected based on their research, experience, and academic leadership. The purpose of the award is to help the young faculty members achieve tenure, remain in their teaching position, and conduct research.” Fan is a young leader in the field of engineering porous materials as catalysts and carriers for biorefinery and drug delivery. His research group focuses on the rational synthesis and characterization of nanoporous materials based on the comprehensive understanding of their crystallization mechanism.

The Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department seeks to raise a minimum of $30,000 to fund the Stephen Malkin Annual Lecture Series in honor of the late Professor Malkin (1941-2013), a visionary, a leader, and, above all, an excellent mentor, who was the MIE department head for more than six years. The purpose of the Malkin Lecture Series will be to attract a wide variety of expert speakers, who will inspire our learning community on issues of innovation and progress in engineering fields involved with manufacturing. Several of Malkin’s academic and professional colleagues have already contributed to the endowment, with more than $10,000 raised. Now you can help us grow the fund to a sustaining level of $30,000 and thus enable this wonderful lecture series. Will you join us in making a contribution to the Stephen Malkin Lecture Series Endowed Fund?

Paul Dauenhauer, the Armstrong Professional Development Professor and DuPont Young Professor in the University of Massachusetts Amherst Chemical Engineering (ChE) Department, is one of 15 researchers in the country to be chosen for an ultracompetitive Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award. As ChE Head T.J. Lakis Mountziaris explained, Dauenhauer’s groundbreaking research is “addressing national priorities and global grand challenges in the area of energy and environmental sustainability. Paul’s transformative research will contribute to our country’s energy independence, sustainability, and economic development.”