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Community Seismic Network Detected Air Pulse From Refinery Explosion

06-30-16

The Community Seismic Network’s (CSN) tight network of low-cost detectors are improving the resolution of seismic data gathering and could offer city inspectors crucial information on building damage after a quake. On February 18, 2015, an explosion rattled the ExxonMobil refinery in Torrance, causing ground shaking equivalent to that of a magnitude-2.0 earthquake and blasting out an air pressure wave similar to a sonic boom. Traveling at 343 meters per second the air pressure wave reached a 52-story high-rise in downtown Los Angeles 66 seconds after the blast. The building's seismometers, which are part of the CSN, noted and recorded the motion of each individual floor. "We want first responders, structural engineers, and facilities engineers to be able to make decisions based on what the data say," explained Monica Kohler, Research Assistant Professor of Mechanical and Civil Engineering, and the lead author of a paper detailing the high-rise's response that recently appeared in the journal Earthquake Spectra. [Caltech story]

Tags: research highlights MCE Monica Kohler

122nd Commencement Ceremony

06-10-16

Caltech’s 122nd commencement ceremony was held on Friday June 10, 2016. The commencement speaker was surgeon, writer, and public health researcher Atul Gawande, MD, MPH. He reminded the graduates that, “today, you become part of the scientific community, arguably the most powerful collective enterprise in human history. In doing so, you also inherit a role in explaining it and helping it reclaim territory of trust at a time when that territory has been shrinking.” He also cautioned them and explained, “the mistake … is to believe that the educational credentials you get today give you any special authority on truth. What you have gained is far more important: an understanding of what real truth-seeking looks like. It is the effort not of a single person but of a group of people—the bigger the better—pursuing ideas with curiosity, inquisitiveness, openness, and discipline.” [The Mistrust of Science]

Tags: Commencement Atul Gawande

Microseismicity and Large Earthquakes

06-10-16

Nadia Lapusta, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Geophysics, and Caltech alumnus Dr. Junle Jiang, have linked the patterns of microseismicity to the depth extension of large earthquakes, both through modeling and observationally. They argue that fault segments which do not have concentrated microseismicity at the bottom of the seismogenic zone must have had deeper, larger earthquakes than currently believed. A number of segments on the San Andreas fault appear to fall into that category. The potential for such deeper earthquakes in the future would imply higher seismic hazard. [Science article] [KPCC coverage] [New Yorker Article]

Tags: research highlights MCE Nadia Lapusta alumni Junle Jiang

Winners of the 2016 Demetriades - Tsafka - Kokkalis Prizes Announced

06-09-16

The student winners of the 2016 Demetriades - Tsafka - Kokkalis Prizes were announced at a special dinner with the Demetriades - Tsafka – Kokkalis family. Rachel P. Galimidi received the prize in Biotechnology for her work with Professor Pamela Bjorkman aimed to further understand the mechanism of HIV evasion of the humoral immune response. Junle Jiang was the recipient of the prize in Seismo-Engineering, Prediction, and Protection for his work with Nadia Lapusta which used probabilistic inversion tools to understand the deep-ocean trench generated tsunamis that occurred during the subduction-zone earthquakes in Japan and Chile. Yinglu Tang working with Dr. Jeff Snyder received the prize in Environmentally Benign Renewable Energy Sources for her work on thermoelectric skutterudites for mid-temperature applications such as automotive waste heat recovery. The second winner in this category was Changhong Zhao who worked with Professor Steven Low to study the control and optimization of modern electric power systems. The winner of the prize in Nanotechnology was Gustavo Rios whose research involves development of a modular, scalable, nanofabricated neural probe system for dense 3-D electrophysiology to study animal brains. Rio’s graduate advisor was Professor Thanos Siapas. The prize in Entrepreneurship was given to Anton A. Toutov who was advised by Professor Robert Grubbs. His research interests lie in using fundamental chemistry to development radically new, sustainable ways to make everyday chemical products and generate clean energy.

Tags: APhMS EE honors MedE MCE CMS Jeff Snyder Nadia Lapusta Steven Low Robert Grubbs CNS Junle Jiang Rachel P. Galimidi Pamela Bjorkman Yinglu Tang Changhong Zhao Gustavo Rios Thanos Siapas Anton Toutov

Jomela Meng Receives 2016 Richard B. Chapman Memorial Award

06-03-16

Jomela Meng, a graduate student working with Professor Tim Colonius, is a recipient of the 2016 Richard B. Chapman Memorial Award. Her research leveraged direct numerical simulations to investigate the fundamental flow physics associated with single droplet aerobreakup. The Richard B. Chapman Memorial Award is given to an EAS graduate student in hydrodynamics who has distinguished himself or herself in research.

Tags: honors MCE Richard B. Chapman Memorial Award Tim Colonius Jomela Meng

Simon Lapointe Receives 2016 Richard B. Chapman Memorial Award

06-03-16

Simon Lapointe, a graduate student working with Professor Guillaume Blanquart, is a recipient of the 2016 Richard B. Chapman Memorial Award. As part of his doctoral research, he performed numerical simulations to study premixed hydrocarbon flames at high turbulence intensities.  The Richard B. Chapman Memorial Award is given to an EAS graduate student in hydrodynamics who has distinguished himself or herself in research.

Tags: honors MCE Richard B. Chapman Memorial Award Guillaume Blanquart Simon Lapointe

Tyler Okamoto Receives 2016 Henry Ford II Scholar Award

06-01-16

Mechanical Engineering student Tyler Okamoto, mentored by Professor Sergio Pellegrino, is a recipient of the 2016 Henry Ford II Scholar Award. He is working with Professor Pellegrino’s team to build an autonomous reconfigurable space telescope using multiple nanosatellites that align in space to create a camera and mirror assembly. The Henry Ford II Scholar Award is funded under an endowment provided by the Ford Motor Company Fund. The award is made annually to engineering students with the best academic record at the end of the third year of undergraduate study.

Tags: honors GALCIT MCE Henry Ford II Scholar Award Sergio Pellegrino Tyler Okamoto

Thermo-Hydraulics of Nuclear Reactors

05-11-16

Christopher E. Brennen, Richard L. and Dorothy M. Hayman Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Emeritus, has written a new book, Thermo-Hydraulics of Nuclear Reactors, that provides a concise and up-to-date summary of the essential thermo-hydraulic analyses and design principles of nuclear reactors for electricity generation. [Learn more]

Tags: MCE Christopher Brennen research highlight

Professor Rosakis Elected to the National Academy of Sciences

05-03-16

Ares J. Rosakis, Theodore von Karman Professor of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering, has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). His research interests span a wide spectrum of length and time scales and range from the mechanics of earthquake seismology, to the physical processes involved in the catastrophic failure of aerospace materials, to the reliability of micro-electronic and opto-electronic structures and devices. The National Academy of Sciences is a private organization of scientists and engineers dedicated to the furtherance of science and its use for the general welfare.[Caltech story] [List of NAS members]

Tags: honors GALCIT MCE Ares Rosakis NAS

Caltech Three Minute Thesis Competition

04-20-16

Caltech Library hosted its first Three Minute Thesis 3MT® competition on April 15, 2016. Applied Mechanics graduate student Utkarsh Mital, advised by Professor José E. Andrade, won the People’s Choice award and placed second in the competition for his three minute presentation on, “Understanding Fundamentals of Soil Liquefaction: A necessary step to make our cities resilient to liquefaction .” Kristin Antelman, Caltech University Librarian said: “communicating research to a general audience is now a key skill for researchers at all stages in their careers … We are thoroughly impressed by the quality of the submissions received which speaks to a vibrant research community here at Caltech.” [Caltech Library story] [Springer Nature release]

Tags: honors MCE Jose Andrade Utkarsh Mital Kristin Antelman