Modeling Jet Engine Noise
Tim Colonius, Professor of Mechanical Engineering, and his group have been building models to understand how jet engines generate noise and the Office of Naval Research recently awarded him funding to develop a better way to control the din. “Now we are getting a much more detailed picture of the actual mechanism by which the turbulence makes the sound,” Colonius says.
Progress for Paraplegics
Joel W. Burdick, Richard L. and Dorothy M. Hayman Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Bioengineering, and Yu-Chong Tai, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering, are developing new technologies to expand their research which has enabled a paraplegic man to stand and move his legs voluntarily. The team has until now used intelligent guesswork to determine which stimuli might work best. But soon, using a new algorithm developed by Professor Burdick, they will be able to rely on a computer to determine the optimum stimulation levels, based on the patient's response to previous stimuli. This would allow patients to go home after the extensive rehab process with a system that could be continually adjusted by computer. [Caltech Release] [ENGenious Progress Report]
Greater Insight into Earthquake Cycles
Nadia Lapusta, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Geophysics, and colleagues have developed the first computer model of an earthquake-producing fault segment that reproduces, in a single physical framework, the available observations of both the fault's seismic (fast) and aseismic (slow) behavior. "Earthquake science is on the verge of building models that are based on the actual response of the rock materials as measured in the lab—models that can be tailored to reproduce a broad range of available observations for a given region," says Lapusta. "This implies we are getting closer to understanding the physical laws that govern how earthquakes nucleate, propagate, and arrest." [Caltech Press Release]
Building Infrastructure to Handle Growing Populations
Mechanical Engineering undergraduate student, Eric Chang, has been named a Watson Fellow. The fellowship enables graduating seniors to spend a year traveling around the world, exploring and learning about topics of their choice. Chang will spend about three months each in Taiwan, Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Hyderabad, India. In Asia, more and more people are moving from rural areas to the cities, and these cities must be able to build the infrastructure to handle the new population. "I wanted to see how these problems are being approached in these countries," he says. "These issues are going to have a large impact on the world." [Caltech Feature]