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Student Leads New Keck Institute for Space Studies Program

02-10-12

Melissa M. Tanner, a Mechanical Engineering graduate student, is the student lead for a new Keck Institute for Space Studies (KISS) mini-program called, Tools and Algorithms for Sampling in Extreme Terrain. This program will give a handful of undergraduate students the opportunity to help develop instruments for an extreme-terrain rover called Axel, which could one day be used to explore the moon, Mars, or an asteroid. The Caltech faculty mentor to the mini-program is Joel W. Burdick, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Bioengineering, who is part of the Caltech and JPL team developing Axel. [Caltech Feature]

Tags: research highlights MCE Joel Burdick Melissa Tanner

Four EAS Faculty Receive Named Chairs

12-14-11

Professors James (Jim) L. Beck, Sossina M. Haile, Melany L. Hunt, and Rob Phillips have received named chairs.  Jim Beck has been named the George W. Housner Professor of Engineering and Applied Science.  Sossina Haile has been named the Carl F Braun Professor of Materials Science and Chemical Engineering. Melany Hunt has been named the William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Mechanical Engineering. Rob Phillips has been named the Fred and Nancy Morris Professor of Biophysics and Biology.

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Tags: APhMS honors research highlights MCE Sossina Haile James Beck Rob Phillips Melany Hunt

Light as a Feather, Stiffer Than a Board

11-18-11

Julia R. Greer, Assistant Professor of Materials Science and Mechanics, and colleagues have developed the world’s lightest solid material, with a density of 0.9 milligrams per cubic centimeter. The new material, called a micro-lattice, relies, on a lattice architecture: tiny hollow tubes made of nickel-phosphorous are angled to connect at nodes, forming repeating, asterisklike unit cells in three dimensions. "We're entering a new era of materials science where material properties are determined not only by the microscopic makeup of the material but also by the architecture of the constituents," Greer says. [Caltech Feature]

Tags: APhMS research highlights Julia Greer

Cell-phone Medical Devices

08-08-11

Mani Chandy, Simon Ramo Professor and Professor of Computer Science; Deputy Chair for Education, and Julian J. Bunn, Principal Computational Scientist at CACR, are working with a group of Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF) in CMS, EE, and MCE to building a collection of medical devices that can be connected to a cell phone. "We want to exploit cell-phone technology and the Internet to provide inexpensive health-care tests for the poor in remote rural villages," says Chandy. [Caltech Feature]

Tags: EE research highlights health MCE CMS Kanianthra Chandy Julian Bunn SURF

Compaction Bands in Sandstone are Permeable

06-06-11

José E. Andrade, Associate Professor of Civil and Mechanical Engineering, and colleagues have analyzed X-ray images of Aztec sandstone and revealed that compaction bands are actually more permeable than earlier models indicated. Their paper provides the first permeability calculations based on actual rock samples taken directly from the field in the Valley of Fire, Nevada. They conclude that these formations are not as impermeable as previously believed, and that therefore their ability to trap fluids—like oil, gas, and CO2—should be measured based on 3D images taken from the field. [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: energy research highlights MCE Jose Andrade

Stimulating Electrode Array Assists Paraplegic Man to Stand and Move Legs Voluntarily

05-20-11

Joel W. Burdick, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Bioengineering, and colleagues including Yu-Chong Tai, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering, have used a stimulating electrode array to assist a paralyzed man to stand, step on a treadmill with assistance, and, over time, to regain voluntary movements of his limbs. Using a combination of experimentation, computational models of the array and spinal cord, and machine-learning algorithms, Professor Burdick and his colleagues are now trying to optimize the stimulation pattern to achieve the best effects, and to improve the design of the electrode array. Further advances in the technology should lead to better control of the stepping and standing processes. [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: EE research highlights MedE health Yu-Chong Tai MCE Joel Burdick

Experiments Settle Long-Standing Debate about Mysterious Array Formations in Nanofilms

05-19-11

Sandra M. Troian, Professor of Applied Physics, Aeronautics, and Mechanical Engineering, and colleagues' experiments have confirmed which of three possible mechanisms is responsible for the spontaneous formation of three-dimensional (3-D) pillar arrays in nanofilms (polymer films that are billionths of a meter thick). "My ultimate goal is to develop a suite of 3-D lithographic techniques based on remote, digital modulation of thermal, electrical, and magnetic surface forces," Troian says. Confirmation of the correct mechanism has allowed her to deduce the maximum resolution or minimum feature size ultimately possible with these patterning techniques. [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: APhMS research highlights GALCIT MCE Sandra Troian

Professor Blanquart Receives NSF CAREER Award

02-25-11

Guillaume Blanquart, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering, has been awarded the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award for his proposal entitled "Towards understanding and modeling turbulent buoyant flows". The aim of the project is to understand the complex interactions between turbulent fluid mechanics and Rayleigh-Taylor instabilities. These phenomena commonly occur in nature such as in supernova explosions, under water hot-vents, and fires. They are also encountered in many engineering applications such as in Inertial Confinement Fusion.

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Tags: honors research highlights MCE NSF CAREER Guillaume Blanquart NSF

Product Design for the Developing World

12-10-10

The only way to pass Visiting Professor of Mechanical Engineering Ken Pickar's E/ME 105 class, Product Design for the Developing World, is by designing something—a machine, a tool, a gadget, a process—to help improve the lives of the billions of people in the world who live on two or three dollars a day. [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: research highlights MedE MCE Ken Pickar

Yu-Chong Tai Receives 2010 Breakthrough Award

10-04-10

Yu-Chong Tai, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering, is a recipient of a 2010 Breakthrough Award by Popular Mechanics for his work on an artificial retina. [Popular Mechanics Article]

Tags: EE honors research highlights health Yu-Chong Tai MCE Popular Mechanics