The University of Massachusetts Amherst
University of Massachusetts Amherst

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On November 30, WWLP-TV 22 covered some more of the news-making research being done in the Human Performance Laboratory, with this spot focusing on how to retrain older drivers who have begun to lose some of their driving skills. Matthew Romoser, a senior research scientist in the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department, said that, as drivers get older, some of them have more difficulty in driving safely, but training can help them make up for lost skills and remind them what is required to prevent accidents.

The College of Engineering is currently preparing the site for a $600,000, state-of-the-art Structural Testing Facility, which will allow researchers to test full-size structural elements such as beams and girders. The testing facility will also lift the profile of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department (CEE) in terms of attracting top-flight students and sponsored research. With the help of many alumni, led by 1960 CEE alumnus Robert Brack (pictured), the college has raised more than 75 percent of the total cost for the facility, which will be built in the Tillson Farm area of the UMass Amherst campus, near the new police station now under construction.

A research team from our Chemical Engineering Department reports in the November 26 issue of Science that it has developed a way to produce high-volume chemical feedstocks, including benzene, toluene, xylenes, and olefins, from pyrolytic bio-oils, the cheapest liquid fuels available today derived from biomass. As George Huber, the Armstrong Associate Professor in the Chemical Engineering Department at UMass Amherst, explains, "Thanks to this breakthrough, we can meet the need to make commodity chemical feedstocks entirely through processing pyrolysis oils. We are making the same molecules from biomass that are currently being produced from petroleum, with no infrastructure changes required."

Professor Wayne Burleson of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department has received official word from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, or IEEE, that he will be elevated to the status of Fellow “for contributions to integrated circuit design and signal processing.” As the IEEE announcement letter said, “Recognizing the achievements of its members is an important part of the mission of the IEEE.

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the world’s largest professional organization for the advancement of technology, has elevated Professor Dennis Goeckel of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department to the honorary position of Fellow, effective on January 1, 2011. Following a rigorous evaluation procedure, the IEEE Board of Directors announced Dr. Goeckel’s recognition with the following citation: “for contributions to wireless communication systems and networks.

On November 5, the Diversity Programs Office and Engineering Students Reaching Out hosted 37 11th-graders from the Horace Mann New Leadership Charter School in Springfield. The Springfield students visited campus to learn more about the university, the College of Engineering, and the various programs in the college. Shelly Perdomo, the director of the Diversity Programs Office, gave the welcoming orientation speech, and then undergraduates from the campus chapters of the National Society of Black Engineers and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers ran interactive activities, which involved extracting DNA from strawberries and humans.

In an article posted on its website November 18, financial news powerhouse Bloomberg focused on the accomplishments of College of Engineering alumnus Mark Notkin in a long article with the headline “Fidelity's Junk-Bond King Notkin Adds Stocks as Debt Rally Dies.” The high-yield mutual fund managed by Notkin, the $12.8 billion Fidelity Capital & Income Fund, beat all rivals over the past five years, but now he says the rally in junk bonds is over and stocks are a better buy. Read the article.

At the annual student conference of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) in early November at Salt Lake City, chemical engineering major Chris Lowe was elected to serve as the Chair of the AIChE Executive Student Committee for the coming year. The committee is AIChE's national student executive board. “As Chair I'll work with the other committee members to represent the needs of student chapters around the country to the professional organization,” said Lowe about his new position.

Hopedale, Massachusetts, resident Paul C. Washburn III was honored in October at the University of Massachusetts Amherst with a College of Engineering 2010 Outstanding Senior Alumni Award for having brought recognition and honor to the college through his professional achievements, leadership, and service to his profession, university, and society. Washburn earned his B.S. degree from UMass Amherst in Industrial Engineering & Operations Research in 1981 and his M.B.A. there in 1984.

As part of a continuing series on alumni awards, a Bethesda, Maryland, couple, Stéphanie Raimondeau and Joseph Watson, was honored on October 16 at the University of Massachusetts Amherst with College of Engineering 2010 Outstanding Junior Alumni Awards for “serving as worthy ambassadors for the college and demonstrating extraordinary effort and notable success in their early careers.” Both Raimondeau and Watson were graduate students in the Chemical Engineering Department at UMass Amherst.