News & Events


Making Robotic Assistive Walking More Natural


A team of graduate students in Caltech's Advanced Mechanical Bipedal Experimental Robotics Lab (AMBER), led by Professor Aaron Ames, Bren Professor of Mechanical and Civil Engineering and Control and Dynamical Systems, is developing a new method of generating gaits for robotic assistive devices, which aims to guarantee stability and achieve more natural locomotion for different users. "If you're designing a trajectory for a robotic assistive device, a satisfactory gait should not only be stable but also feel natural," says Amy Li. [Caltech story]

Tags: research highlights MCE Yisong Yue Aaron Ames Maegan Tucker Kejun Li Rachel Gehlhar

Lab Earthquakes Show How Grains at Fault Boundaries Lead to Major Quakes


By simulating earthquakes in a lab, Caltech engineers have provided strong experimental support for a form of earthquake propagation now thought responsible for the magnitude-9.0 earthquake that devastated the coast of Japan in 2011. "Our novel experimental approach has enabled us to look into the earthquake process up close, and to uncover key features of rupture propagation and friction evolution in rock gouge," says Vito Rubino, research scientist and lead author of the Nature paper. The Nature paper is titled "Intermittent lab earthquakes in dynamically weakening fault gouge." Rubino and his co-authors Nadia Lapusta, Lawrence A. Hanson, Jr., Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Geophysics, and Ares Rosakis, Theodore von Kármán Professor of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering, show that so-called "stable" or "creeping" faults are not actually immune to major ruptures after all, as previously suspected. [Caltech story]

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

Melany Hunt Awarded CCID Agent of Change Award


The Caltech Center for Inclusion and Diversity (CCID) recently honored 10 campus leaders, each nominated by members of the Institute community, at its annual Celebration of Excellence award ceremony. Melany Hunt, Dotty and Dick Hayman Professor of Mechanical Engineering, received the CCID Agent of Change Award for her service as chair of the DEI committee within the Division of Engineering and Applied Science and her creation of a new course to support Freshman Summer Research Institute (FSRI) participants. [Caltech story]

Tags: honors MCE Melany Hunt

Harsh Bhundiya Receives Tau Beta Pi Fellowship


Harsh Bhundiya has been selected to receive a 2022 Tau Beta Pi Fellowship. Tau Beta Pi Fellowships are awarded on the competitive criteria of high scholarship, campus leadership and service, and promise of future contributions to the engineering profession. 

Tags: honors MCE alumni Harsh Bhundiya

A Science Journey with Fernando Villafuerte


As part of the Science Journeys lecture series—designed to inspire scientific curiosity, especially among students in eighth grade and higher—graduate student Fernando Villafuerte discussed his path to Caltech and his research on batteries, including their role in sustainability solutions. Villafuerte works in the lab of Julia R. Greer, Ruben F. and Donna Mettler Professor of Materials Science, Mechanics and Medical Engineering; and Fletcher Jones Foundation Director of the Kavli Nanoscience Institute. His research focuses on a novel material known as a solid polymer electrolyte, which could potentially be used to create batteries that can store more energy than currently possible. [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS research highlights MedE MCE Julia Greer Fernando Villafuerte

What Is the Future of Wind Energy?


Humans have used windmills to capture the force of the wind as mechanical energy for more than 1,300 years. Unlike early windmills, however, modern wind turbines use generators and other components to convert energy from the spinning blades into a smooth flow of AC electricity. In this video, John Dabiri, Centennial Professor of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering discusses the future of wind energy technology. [Caltech story]

Tags: research highlights GALCIT MCE John Dabiri

Student Team Receives First Place in Regional Student Paper Competition


The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) announced the winners at the 2022 Region VI Student Conference at UC Merced. A Caltech team received the first place award in the team category for the region VI student conference for their paper entitled "Design of a Lunar Architecture for Tree Traversal in Service of Cabled Exploration (LATTICE)."

Tags: honors GALCIT MCE CMS Soon-Jo Chung Kaila Coimbra Malcom Tisdale Lucas Pabarcius Calle Junker Sravani Boggaram Nathan Ng Parul Singh Tomas Wexler Robert Daigle

Student-Led Lunar Architecture Team Named Finalist in NASA Competition for Second Consecutive Year


Caused by collisions from asteroids, comets, and other astronomical objects, lunar craters give our moon its characteristic pockmarked façade. These craters hold the materials necessary for building sustained human settlements on the moon. Accessing the materials inside lunar craters is no easy task. NASA seeks new ways of getting around the moon that do not rely on wheels. The agency's Breakthrough, Innovative, and Game-changing (BIG) Idea Challenge asks university teams to go beyond wheeled rovers and create new solutions to the problem of traversing lunar craters. A team of more than 30 Caltech undergraduates in the Division of Engineering and Applied Science is among seven 2022 BIG Idea finalists. [Caltech story]

Tags: GALCIT MCE Harry Atwater CMS Soon-Jo Chung Brit Wylie Luis Pabon Rithvik Musuku Kaila Coimbra Polina Verkhovodova Tyler Colenbrander Lucas Pabarcius Calle Junker Sravani Boggaram Matticus Brown Sean Chang Bobby Daigle Nico Jimenez-Lozano Alec Laprevotte Joshua Lee Moya Ly Amrita Mayavaram Robert Menezes Nathan Ng Dilichi Nwankwo Jedi Alindogan Diego Attra Sulekha Kishore Aramis Mendoza Winter Pearson Jules Penot Kemal Pulungan Purvi Sehgal Parul Singh Aiden Swann Malcolm Tisdale Tomas Wexler Brooklyn Williams Benjamin Zeng Isabella Zuniga

Professor Beck Named Distinguished Member of ASCE


James L. (Jim) Beck, George W. Housner Professor of Engineering and Applied Science, Emeritus, has been chosen as a Distinguished Member of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). Distinguished Membership is the highest honor ASCE can bestow. It is reserved for civil engineers who are either ASCE Members or Fellows. One class of recipients is formally inducted annually. [Distinguished Members]

Tags: honors MCE CMS James Beck ASCE

ME72: Live and In-Person Once More


Robots from five teams battled one another on the Ramo Auditorium stage on March 10, 2022. The all-day competition was the final exam for the ME72 Engineering Design Laboratory course, which is taught by Michael Mello, Teaching Professor of Mechanical and Civil Engineering. Each year, students in the two-term class are asked to design and build robots that meet particular criteria with the goal of having the machines square off in a design competition at the end of the second term. This was the 37th annual edition of the competition, which—in the years before the pandemic—always drew large crowds of student spectators as well as attention from media outlets. Overall, Mello says he is proud of all of the robots his students built. "I think we could enter some of these bots in an international competition and do pretty well," he says. [Caltech story]

Tags: MCE alumni ME 72 Michael Mello Allison Cheng Sofia Kwok Vy Le Martin Peticco Sydney Richardson Saskia van Nieuwstadt