Sponge Wars: Attack of the Drones!
Robots designed and built by undergraduate students battled in head-to-head competition, in this year's ME 72 Engineering Design Contest entitled "Sponge Wars: Attack of the Drones!." Each team was tasked with designing, building, and operating a pair of vehicles that would:retrieve dry kitchen sponges from a four-foot high platform, place these sponges in goals their team controlled, navigate autonomously to place sponges in their autonomous goal, and maintain their own score while reducing the opposing team’s score. The blue team named "Blacker Air and Machinery Force" received the most points and was honored with the ME-72 trophy. [More information]
Nadia Lapusta, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Geophysics, and colleagues have created new earthquake fault models showing that “stable” zones may contribute to the generation of massive earthquakes. "Lapusta and Noda's realistic earthquake fault models are critical to our understanding of earthquakes—knowledge that is essential to reducing the potential catastrophic consequences of seismic hazards," says Chair Ares Rosakis. "This work beautifully illustrates the way that fundamental, interdisciplinary research in the mechanics of seismology at Caltech is having a positive impact on society." [Caltech Release]
First Person to Dig on the Moon
Among the souvenirs collected by astronauts Charles Conrad and Alan Bean on their trip to the moon aboard Apollo 12 Lunar Excursion Module was the metal scoop that Ronald Scott, Caltech Professor of Civil Engineering, had used to verify that a moon landing could be made in the first place. [Caltech Release]
Modeling Jet Engine Noise
Tim Colonius, Professor of Mechanical Engineering, and his group have been building models to understand how jet engines generate noise and the Office of Naval Research recently awarded him funding to develop a better way to control the din. “Now we are getting a much more detailed picture of the actual mechanism by which the turbulence makes the sound,” Colonius says. [E&S Article in pdf]