The University of Massachusetts Amherst
University of Massachusetts Amherst

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This article is the first in a series showcasing the accomplished graduates recently presented with Outstanding Senior and Junior Alumni Awards. Waltham resident Alaina B. Hanlon, the President and CEO of PhenotypeIT, Inc. of Newton, was honored on October 16 with a College of Engineering 2010 Outstanding Junior Alumni Award for “serving as a worthy ambassador for the college and demonstrating extraordinary effort and notable success in her early career.”

Imagine being blindfolded and then turned loose, on your own, to navigate a large, strange building that you’ve never entered before. It would be like one of those sadistic, mean-spirited reality TV shows. Yet that’s precisely the predicament encountered by many of the 161 million people worldwide who suffer from vision impairment. Now an electronic system called PERCEPT, being developed by Professor Aura Ganz of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, will allow visually impaired individuals, each equipped only with a three-ounce electronic device and Bluetooth headphone, to navigate unfamiliar buildings with ease.

A robotic fish, built by Dr. Yahya Modarres-Sadeghi of our Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department, was featured in the New Scientist, inspired by an article in the journal Bioinspiration & Biomimetics and entitled "A fast-starting mechanical fish that accelerates at 40 m s−2." "We have built a simple mechanical system to emulate the fast-start performance of fish," as the Bioinspiration & Biomimetics article explained. "The system consists of a thin metal beam covered by a urethane rubber, the fish body, and an appropriately shaped tail."

Associate Professor Neil Forbes of the Chemical Engineering Department has published a review entitled “Engineering the perfect (bacterial) cancer therapy” in the November 2010 (Vol 10 No 11) edition of the prestigious publication, Nature Reviews (Cancer). As Dr. Forbes summarizes such a “perfect therapy” in his article: “It would be tiny programmable 'robot factories' that specifically target tumors, are selectively cytotoxic to cancer cells, are self-propelled, are responsive to external signals, can sense the local environment, and are externally detectable.”

On November 5, a shoebox-sized vehicle with the intriguing name of “Green Rock Eating Monster” will try to take Salt Lake City by storm with a hail of hydrogen electrons. The little vehicle, which runs on clean green hydrogen, is the University of Massachusetts Amherst entry in the national Chem-E-Car Competition, sponsored by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) at its Annual Student Conference in Salt Lake City.

In October, employees from the Raytheon Company met with 17 College of Engineering female and minority students to give them a first-hand crash course in the culture of industry and the value of diversity in the corporate setting. James Chang, a member of the Raytheon Asian Pacific Association, George Bamfo, who is from the Raytheon Black Employee Network, and Mary Ellen O’Donnell, vice-president of the Raytheon Women’s Network, gave our students their insiders’ perspective on their Raytheon experience and offered our students their leadership and mentoring advice.

AMHERST, Mass. – Wellesley resident Michael Hluchyj was honored on October 16 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.

A WWLP Channel 22 news team covered the Women in Engineering Career Day on Monday, October 25, when more than 250 female students, teachers, and guidance counselors from high schools representing more than 50 towns and cities throughout Massachusetts met in the Lincoln Campus Center Auditorium at UMass Amherst. "We get over 3,000 applications a year to the College of Engineering,” Assistant Dean Kathy Rubin told Channel 22. “We enroll a class of 350 students each year, but the number of females stays constant at about 20 percent to 22 percent, and that’s a national figure."

Peter Monson, who was just appointed by the University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees as a Distinguished Professor in the Chemical Engineering Department, has reached his august status by following the guiding principle of Ockham’s Razor. Ockham's Razor is attributed to a 14th-century English logician, theologian, and Franciscan friar, Father William of Ockham, who wrote that "entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity." The principle is popularly summarized as "the simplest explanation is usually the correct one."

Research by George Huber, his post-doctoral researcher Rong Xing, and their colleagues in the Chemical Engineering Department, who have developed a new four-step, practical, and economical process for producing jet and diesel fuels from waste biomass, is attracting international attention from the chemical industry. The new process uses raw materials that represent waste from power plants, wood manufacturing plants, and pulp mills and yields alkanes more suitable for transportation fuels than any previous methods.