News & Events


In Grueling Combat, The Riveters Emerge Victorious


This year's ME 72 design competition consisted of fleets of robot tanks built by undergraduate students climbing hills, capturing bases, and shooting each other with foam balls in an epic series of battles on the Caltech Beckman Mall. After 20 rounds of battle, the Riveters—Mohar Chatterjee, Caroline Paules, Diandra Almasco, and Hannah Chen, who dubbed their team in honor of Rosie the Riveter—emerged victorious, having never lost a single match. They utilized a track-wheeled tank design topped by flywheel-based cannons, and relied on a consistent and effective strategy of capturing two key bases quickly and holding onto them for the remainder of the match. Though the Riveters were the only all-female team, women actually outnumbered men in this year's ME 72 course for the first time in its 33-year history. [Caltech story]

Tags: MCE ME72 Mohar Chatterjee Caroline Paules Diandra Almasco Hannah Chen

Building a Legacy in Engineering


Caltech alumnus Cecil “Cece” Drinkward (BS ’50, Civil Engineering) defined himself as a man who skirted life’s easy paths and forged his own, more challenging ones. Drinkward and his wife, Sally Drinkward, have made a $5 million gift to endow a leadership chair for the Department of Mechanical and Civil Engineering (MCE). “One of the things Cece was most proud of in his life was being a graduate of Caltech, because, in his mind, he never could have accomplished what he did without the education he received here,” Sally Drinkward says. “He always felt he needed to give back to Caltech. It’s an honor to have his legacy live on with this gift.” [Breakthrough story] [ENGenious alumni profile]

Tags: MCE Jose Andrade alumni Cecil Drinkward Sally Drinkward

Caltech and Disney Engineers Collaborate on Robotics


Caltech and Disney Research have entered into a joint research agreement to pioneer robotic control systems and further explore artificial intelligence technologies. Pietro Perona will work with Disney roboticist Martin Buehler to create navigation and perception software that could allow robotic characters to safely move through dense crowds and interact with people. Aaron Ames will work with Disney Research's Lanny Smoot to further explore robot autonomy and machine learning by creating objects that can self-navigate and perform stunts. Yisong Yue has been working with engineers from Disney Research on the use of machine learning to analyze the behavior of soccer players and to measure audience engagement. [Caltech story]

Tags: EE research highlights MCE CMS Pietro Perona Yisong Yue Aaron Ames

Building Blocks to Create Metamaterials


Chiara Daraio, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Physics, and colleagues have created a method to systematically design metamaterials using principles of quantum mechanics. "Before our work, there was no single, systematic way to design metamaterials that control mechanical waves for different applications," Professor Daraio says. "Instead, people often optimized a design to fulfill a specific purpose, or tried out new designs based on something they saw in nature, and then studied what properties would arise from repeated patterns." [Caltech story]

Tags: research highlights Chiara Daraio MCE APh

Professor Rosakis Named AAAS Fellow


Ares J. Rosakis, Theodore von Karman Professor of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering, has been named fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). This year's 396 AAAS fellows have been recognized for their "scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications," according to the AAAS. Professor Rosakis was specifically recognized for his “distinguished contributions in the field of aeronautics and mechanical engineering, particularly for fracture mechanics of materials ranging from thin films to earthquakes.” [Caltech story]

Tags: honors GALCIT MCE Ares Rosakis AAAS

Dr. Josette Bellan Receives Pendray Aerospace Literature Award


Josette Bellan, Visiting Associate in Mechanical and Civil Engineering, is the recipient of the 2018 The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Pendray Aerospace Literature Award. The award recognizes outstanding contributions to literature with the emphasis placed on the high quality or major influence of the piece. The award was also established as an incentive for professionals to write eloquently and persuasively about their field. Dr. Bellan is recognized “for widely reaching, seminal and outstanding publications on bio-fuels, sprays and high pressure flows to meet future challenges of Aeronautics and Astronautics combustion systems.” [Publication list]

Tags: honors MCE Josette Bellan

Post Doctoral Scholar Receives Prize for Best Thesis in Mechanics in France


Stella Brach, Postdoctoral Scholar in Mechanical and Civil Engineering, has won the 2017 Paul Germain Prize.The prize is awarded once every two years during the French National Congress on Mechanics for the best PhD thesis in Mechanics. [Read her thesis]

Tags: honors MCE Stella Brach postdocs

Professor Ravichandran Elected to Academia Europaea


G. Ravichandran, John E. Goode, Jr., Professor of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering; Otis Booth Leadership Chair, Division of Engineering and Applied Science, has been elected to the Academy of Europe (Academia Europaea). The Academia Europaea was founded in 1988 and is an organization of eminent, individual scholars from across the continent of Europe. The 3000 members cover a wide range of academic disciplines including the humanities, social, physical and life sciences as well as mathematics, engineering and medicine. In addition to Professor Ravichandran, EAS Past Chair Ares Rosakis, Caltech's Provost Edward Stolper, the Institute's Past President David Baltimore, and Professor Alexander Varshavsky are members of the Academy.

Tags: honors GALCIT MCE Guruswami Ravichandran

Alumnus Tapped for Infiniti Engineering Academy


Mechanical Engineering alumnus Evan Sloan (BS '17) has been chosen to attend the Infiniti Engineering Academy. Sloan will spend six months at Infiniti's European Technical Center and six months with the Renault Sport Formula One Team. "Evan was always excited about race cars," says Professor Guillaume Blanquart and faculty advisor for the Caltech's Formula SAE Electric team. "As a sophomore, he converted a gas-powered go kart into an electric vehicle. Four months later, he was the mechanical lead on a 60-person team in charge of designing a Formula One-style race car from scratch. The team would never have reached the Formula SAE competition without Evan's drive, dedication, and perseverance." [Caltech story]

Tags: honors MCE alumni Guillaume Blanquart Evan Sloan

How Friction Evolves During an Earthquake


Professor Ares Rosakis, and colleagues including Professor Nadia Lapusta and Research Scientist Vito Rubino, are studying the way friction changes along a fault during a seismic event by simulating quakes in a lab. "Our unique facility … allows us for the first time to study friction point-wise and without having to assume that sliding occurs uniformly, as is done in classical friction studies," Rosakis explains. Professor Lapusta adds, “some numerical models of earthquake rupture … have used friction laws with slip-velocity dependence… It is gratifying to see those formulations validated by the spontaneous mini-earthquake ruptures in our study. " [Caltech story]

Tags: research highlights GALCIT MCE Ares Rosakis Nadia Lapusta Vito Rubino