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Gunnarson and Dabiri Teach AI to Navigate Ocean with Minimal Energy

12-09-21

Engineers at Caltech, ETH Zurich, and Harvard are developing an artificial intelligence (AI) that will allow autonomous drones to use ocean currents to aid their navigation, rather than fighting their way through them. "When we want robots to explore the deep ocean, especially in swarms, it's almost impossible to control them with a joystick from 20,000 feet away at the surface. We also can't feed them data about the local ocean currents they need to navigate because we can't detect them from the surface. Instead, at a certain point we need ocean-borne drones to be able to make decisions about how to move for themselves," says John Dabiri, Centennial Professor of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering. [Caltech story]

Tags: research highlights GALCIT MCE John Dabiri Peter Gunnarson

Yu-Chong Tai Receives 2021 SoCalBio Innovation Award

12-06-21

Yu-Chong Tai, Anna L. Rosen Professor of Electrical Engineering and Medical Engineering; Andrew and Peggy Cherng Medical Engineering Leadership Chair; Executive Officer for Medical Engineering, has been awarded the 2021 Innovation Award for Outstanding Researcher by The Southern California Biomedical Council (SoCalBio). The Award is meant to recognize and celebrate the contributions of Greater Los Angeles Region's bioscience entrepreneurs, researchers, and educators.

Tags: EE MedE MCE KNI

Undergraduates Recognized for Inventing Product that Would Mitigate Dust in Lunar Habitats

11-29-21

A team of Caltech undergraduates participating in NASA's 2021 Breakthrough, Innovative and Game-Changing (BIG) Idea Challenge has earned the award for Best Developed Product. The Habitat Orientable & Modular Electrodynamic Shield (HOMES) team earned the Best Developed Product award, because—as noted by NASA—"it's not a concept; it's reality."  [Caltech story]

Tags: GALCIT Charles Elachi Manan Arya Soon-Jo Chung Michael Mello Jason Kastner Richard Abbott

Michael Marshall and Sergio Pellegrino win AIAA Best Paper Award

11-04-21

Graduate Student Michael Marshall, and Sergio Pellegrino, Joyce and Kent Kresa Professor of Aerospace and Civil Engineering; Jet Propulsion Laboratory Senior Research Scientist; Co-Director, Space-Based Solar Power Project, have won the 2021 AIAA Spacecraft Structures Best Paper Award from AIAA 2021 Scitech Forum. The title of the paper is “Reduced-Order Modeling for Flexible Spacecraft Deployment and Dynamics."

 

Tags: honors GALCIT MCE Sergio Pellegrino Michael Marshall

Dabiri Appointed to Secretary of Energy Advisory Board

10-15-21

The Department of Energy (DOE) has announced that John O. Dabiri, the Centennial Professor of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering, has been appointed to the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board (SEAB). The SEAB meets quarterly to advise Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm on how best to achieve the department's priorities and offer recommendations on scientific, technical, and programmatic issues relating to the DOE's mission. "I'm excited to work with the secretary to ensure strong support for fundamental science research, especially in areas where the technological application might be hard to predict today," Dabiri said. "Secretary Granholm's vision to accelerate deployment of climate solutions matches my own sense of urgency to advance sustainability. I'm honored by the opportunity provide advice where it can be helpful for achieving that goal." [Caltech story]

Tags: honors GALCIT MCE John Dabiri

MCE Remembers Mary Baker

09-30-21

Mary Baker, the Chair of our External Advisory Board, passed away on September 7, 2021 at age 77 in Del Mar, California. She was the only woman PhD student in engineering at Caltech in 1972. Mary joined Structural Dynamics Research Corporation where she adapted SDRC technology developments to the aerospace industry. Their solutions were so well received that they quickly became 90% supported by aerospace and worked on every launch vehicle in the country. A major contribution of Mary’s was to lead a NASA-funded project during the early stages of the space station design. [Obituary]

Dabiri Appointed to President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology

09-22-21

President Joe Biden has announced the appointment of John O. Dabiri, Centennial Professor of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering, to the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST). Presidents have established advisory committees of scientists, engineers, and health professionals ever since Franklin D. Roosevelt created his Science Advisory Board in 1933. "We're here to provide whatever input the president needs," Dabiri says. "My understanding is that we'll be meeting pretty frequently, as the president wants science to be a big part of his decision-making process." [Caltech story]

Tags: honors GALCIT MCE John Dabiri

The Science of Underground Kingdoms

08-24-21

A team led by the laboratory of Jose Andrade, George W. Housner Professor of Civil and Mechanical Engineering; Cecil and Sally Drinkward Leadership Chair, Department of Mechanical and Civil Engineering; Executive Officer for Mechanical and Civil Engineering, studied the digging habits of ants and uncovered the mechanisms guiding them. Before beginning this research, Andrade had a big question he wanted to answer: Do ants "know" how to dig tunnels, or are they just blindly digging? "I got inspired by these exhumed ant nests where they pour plastic or molten metal into them and you see these vast tunnel systems that are incredibly impressive," Andrade says. He enlisted the help of Joe Parker, Assistant Professor of Biology and Biological Engineering, whose research focuses on ants and their ecological relationships with other species. "What Jose and his team needed was somebody who works with ants and understands the adaptive, collective behaviors of these social insects to give them some context for what they were doing," Parker says. [Caltech story]

Tags: research highlights MCE Jose Andrade Joe Parker Robert Buarque de Macedo Edward Andò Shilpa Joy Gioacchino Viggiani Raj Kumar Pal

Tim Colonius Receives APS Stanley Corrsin Award

08-12-21

Tim Colonius, Frank and Ora Lee Marble Professor of Mechanical Engineering, has been awarded the 2021 American Physical Society (APS) Stanley Corrsin Award. This Prize is intended to honor a recent achievement of especially high impact and significance, a particular discovery, or an innovation in the field. [Past Recipients]

Tags: honors MedE MCE Timothy Colonius

Material Inspired by Chain Mail Transforms from Flexible to Rigid on Command

08-12-21

Engineers at Caltech and JPL have developed a material inspired by chain mail that can transform from a foldable, fluid-like state into specific solid shapes under pressure. "We wanted to make materials that can change stiffness on command," says Chiara Daraio, G. Bradford Jones Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Physics. "We'd like to create a fabric that goes from soft and foldable to rigid and load-bearing in a controllable way." To explore what materials would work best, Daraio, together with former Caltech postdoctoral researcher Yifan Wang and former Caltech graduate student Liuchi Li (PhD '19) as co-lead authors of the Nature paper, designed a number of configurations of linked particles, from linking rings to linking cubes to linking octahedrons (which resemble two pyramids connected at the base). The materials were 3-D printed out of polymers and even metals, with help from Douglas Hofmann, principal scientist at JPL, which Caltech manages for NASA. These configurations were then simulated in a computer with a model from the group of José E. Andrade, the George W. Housner Professor of Civil and Mechanical Engineering and Caltech's resident expert in the modeling of granular materials. [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS Chiara Daraio MCE Jose Andrade KNI Yifan Wang Liuchi Li