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.
Visualization Brings Data to Life
Students participating in Caltech's Data Visualization program aim to tackle cumbersome data-manipulation problem such as how to drive a rover on Mars from a command room on Earth. One of the goals of the program is to develop innovative software to streamline the ways in which scientists and engineers visually manipulate their data. "We use a human-centered design methodology," Professor Mushkin says. "Design students create sketches and ask the researchers to 'interact' with them by pointing, talking, shuffling, and annotating the paper, while computer science students create rough drafts of a variety of possible approaches to coding the visualization." [Caltech story]
Counting on Grains of Sand
José E. Andrade, Professor of Civil and Mechanical Engineering; Executive Officer for Mechanical and Civil Engineering, and colleagues have developed a new method that measures the way forces move through granular materials—one that could improve our understanding of everything from how soils bear the weight of buildings to what stresses are at work deep below the surface of the earth. [Caltech story]
The Utility of Instability
Professors Dennis M. Kochmann and Chiara Daraio along with colleagues from Harvard have designed and created mechanical chains made of soft matter that can transmit signals across long distances. Because they are flexible, the circuits could be used in machines such as soft robots or lightweight aircraft constructed from pliable, nonmetallic materials. "Engineers tend to shy away from instability. "Though there are many applications, the fundamental principles that we explore are most exciting to me," Kochmann says. "These nonlinear systems show very similar behavior to materials at the atomic scale but these are difficult to access experimentally or computationally. Now we have built a simple macroscale analogue that mimics how they behave." [Caltech story]