Contest Unleashes Aquamania in Millikan Pond
Amphibious robots took to Caltech’s Millikan Pond on Tuesday, March 10, each one hoping to come away with the title "Aquamania champion." At the event, teams of students tested their robotic athletes in the 30th annual Mechanical Engineering 72 (ME72) competition. Eight teams competed for this year's title, and team KATS—named for teammates and Caltech juniors Kristin Eliason, Auggie Nanz, Tammer Eweis-Labolle, and Sheila Lo—walked away with the trophy. [Caltech story]
SURF Honors Professor Murray
Richard M. Murray, Thomas E. and Doris Everhart Professor of Control and Dynamical Systems and Bioengineering, has been honored by Caltech's Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF) program for making an outstanding contribution to the program, students, and the Institute. Since 1992, Professor Murray has mentored 158 SURF and Minority Undergraduate Research Fellowships (MURF) students. He is known for being a hands-on mentor, as well as a strong advocate for undergraduate research. Each year the “SURF year” is dedicated to someone who has made an outstanding contribution and SURF 2015 was dedicated to Professor Murray.
Professor Ortiz Receives the Timoshenko Medal
Michael Ortiz, Frank and Ora Lee Marble Professor of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering, has been selected to receive the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Timoshenko Medal “for seminal, groundbreaking and creative contributions, particularly in the creation of the quasi continuum method, the formulation of an incremental variational principle to predict dislocation structures, the development of modeling fragmentation with cohesive models, and the formulation of integrators for elastoplastic materials and variational time integrators." [Caltech story]
Heat Transfer Sets the Noise Floor for Ultrasensitive Electronics
Austin Minnich, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Physics, and colleagues have identified a source of electronic noise that could affect the functioning of instruments operating at very low temperatures, such as devices used in radio telescopes and advanced physics experiments. The team's findings also suggest that it may be possible to develop engineering strategies to make phonon heat transfer more efficient at low temperatures. For example, one possibility might be to change the design of transistors so that phonon generation takes place over a broader volume. "If you can make the phonon generation more spread out, then in principle you could reduce the temperature rise that occurs," Professor Minnich says. "We don't know what the precise strategy will be yet, but now we know the direction we should be going. That's an improvement." [Caltech release]