News & Events


Aaron Ames Elevated to IEEE Fellow


Aaron Ames, Bren Professor of Mechanical and Civil Engineering and Control and Dynamical Systems, has been elevated as a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) for contributions to hybrid and safety-critical nonlinear control with demonstration on robotic systems. The IEEE Fellow is one of the most prestigious honors of the IEEE, and is bestowed upon a very limited number of Senior Members who have contributed importantly to the advancement or application of engineering, science and technology.  [Elevated class of 2021]

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Robotics Engineers Take on COVID-19


Methods that were originally created to help robots to walk and autonomous cars to drive safely can also help epidemiologists predict the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Aaron Ames, Bren Professor of Mechanical and Civil Engineering and Control and Dynamical Systems, and colleagues took these tools and applied them to the development of an epidemiological methodology that accounts for human interventions (like mask mandates and stay-at-home orders). By utilizing the U.S. COVID-19 data from March through May, they were able to predict the infection wave during the summer to high accuracy. "This is the greatest health challenge to face our society in a generation at least. We all need to pitch in and help in any way we can," Ames says. [Caltech story]

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EAS Remembers Wilfred D. (Bill) Iwan


Wilfred D. (Bill) Iwan, Professor of Civil Engineering, Emeritus, passed away on October 29, 2020. He was 85 years old. Dr. Bill Iwan received all his degrees from Caltech, B.S. in 1957, M.S. in 1958, and Ph.D. in 1961. He joined the Caltech faculty in 1964 and became Professor Emeritus in 2004. He served as the Executive Officer for Civil Engineering and Applied Mechanics, 1980-86. Dr. Iwan’s research focused on fundamental areas of mechanics, understanding and characterization of strong earthquake ground motion, analysis and monitoring of the response of structural systems subjected to extreme events, and public policy regarding disasters. His research achievements include the development of methods to represent complex nonlinear structures with simpler linear systems, the development of practical methods for earthquake-resistant design, and the development of simplified methods for the analysis of seismic isolation systems for critical equipment. In 1979, he proposed an earthquake early-warning system for urban regions. Dr. Iwan was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1999 “for research on seismic performance of structures, and for leadership in earthquake hazard mitigation and improvement of public safety.” He was a Distinguished Member and Fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), which awarded him the Nathan M. Newmark Medal (1997), William H. Wisely Award (2006), and Theodore von Karman Medal (2013). In recognition of his distinguished service, the California Earthquake Safety Foundation awarded him the 2002 Alfred E. Alquist Medal “for his lifetime of service to the profession of structural engineering and its application to the safety of the people of California and the world". [Caltech story]

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IRCA Best Paper Awards


Two teams of Caltech researchers have won three International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) Best Paper Awards in multiple categories along with the overall best paper award. The ICRA is the largest and most prestigious robotics conference of the year. Awards are given on the basis of technical merit, originality, potential impact on the field, clarity of the written paper, and quality of the presentation. Maegan Tucker, Ellen Novoseller, Claudia Kann, Yanan Sui, Yisong YueJoel Burdick, and Aaron Ames, have won the ICRA Best Conference Paper Award and the ICRA Best Paper Award on Human-Robot Interaction (HRI) for their paper entitled "Preference-Based Learning for Exoskeleton Gait Optimization." Amanda Bouman, Paul Nadan, Matthew Anderson, Daniel Pastor, Jacob Izraelevitz, Joel Burdick, and Brett Kennedy, have won the ICRA Best Paper Award on Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for their paper entitled "Design and Autonomous Stabilization of a Ballistically Launched Multirotor." [Virtual Award Ceremony]

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EAS Remembers Allan Acosta


Allan Acosta, Richard L. and Dorothy M. Hayman Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Emeritus, who spent 50 years at Caltech and helped launch the Institute's present day Mechanical Engineering option, passed away on May 18, 2020 at the age of 95. Allan joined the faculty in 1954 after having obtained his BS '45, MS '49, and PhD '52 degrees in Mechanical Engineering from Caltech. He collaborated with Chris Brennen, Richard L. and Dorothy M. Hayman Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Emeritus, on a project for NASA to eliminate the instability caused by a phenomenon known as "pogo oscillation" from the Space Shuttle design. Allan was a much-admired teacher and mentor who influenced many generations of students. He served as the Executive Officer of Mechanical Engineering from 1988 to 1993. He was the author of a popular textbook, Fluid Flow: A First Course in Fluid Mechanics, which he co-authored with Rolf Sabersky. Allan received numerous honors and awards, including election as a member of the National Academy of Engineering and as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. [Caltech story] [Allan Acosta Blog]

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Professor Ames Receives Antonio Ruberti Young Researcher Prize


Aaron Ames, Bren Professor of Mechanical and Civil Engineering and Control and Dynamical Systems, has won the Antonio Ruberti Young Researcher Prize. This prize is given to recognize outstanding achievement in research in systems and control by a young researcher and to honor the memory of Dr. Antonio Ruberti. [Past recipients]

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Professor Rolf Sabersky Passes Away


Rolf H. Sabersky, Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Emeritus, passed away on October 24, 2016 at the age of 96.  Professor Sabersky joined the faculty in 1949 having obtained his BS ’42, MS ’43, and PhD ’49 from Caltech in Mechanical Engineering. He became professor emeritus in 1988.  He worked with luminaries throughout his distinguished career including Theodore von Kármán at Aerojet. James Van Allan sought his expertise for the development of the Ajax and Bumblebee rocket programs.  Professor Sabersky made pioneering contributions to our understanding of boiling heat transfer, free convection, granular flows, and indoor air quality. He taught courses in thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, and heat transfer.  He was renowned for his commitment to education, mentoring, and promoting diversity. He was the author of two popular textbooks, Elements of Engineering Thermodynamics, and Fluid Flow: A First course in Fluid Mechanics, which he coauthored with Professor Allan Acosta. He received the Heat Transfer Memorial Award from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers in 1977. [Caltech story]

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Thermo-Hydraulics of Nuclear Reactors


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]

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Caltech Three Minute Thesis Competition


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]

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Professor Fredric Raichlen Passes Away


Fredric Raichlen, Professor of Civil and Mechanical Engineering, Emeritus, passed away on December 13, 2014 at age 82. He was an expert on the mechanics of tsunamis, the waves created by underwater earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and other geologic events. He was also one of the founding faculty members of Caltech's doctoral program in environmental engineering science. [Caltech Obituary] [ENGenious profile of Prof. Raichlen’s student]

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