Lab-Grown Earthquakes Reveal the Frictional Forces Acting Beneath Our Feet
Simulating an earthquake on a miniature scale in a laboratory known unofficially as the "seismological wind tunnel," engineers and seismologists have produced the most comprehensive look to date at the complex physics of friction driving destructive thrust-fault earthquakes. "Simulating earthquakes in a lab lets us observe how these brief and violent events grow and evolve by ‘slowing down' their motion through high-speed photography and optics," says Ares Rosakis, the Theodore von Karman Professor of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering. [Caltech story]
A Pathway to Longer-Lasting Lithium Batteries
The energy density of batteries have been a major challenge for consumer electronics, electric vehicles, and renewable energy sources. Julia R. Greer, Ruben F. and Donna Mettler Professor of Materials Science, Mechanics and Medical Engineering; Fletcher Jones Foundation Director of the Kavli Nanoscience Institute, has made a discovery that could lead to lithium-ion batteries that are both safer and more powerful. Findings provide guidance for how lithium-ion batteries, one of the most common kinds of rechargeable batteries, can safely hold up to 50 percent more energy. "Every power-requiring application would benefit from batteries with lithium instead of graphite anodes because they can power so much more," says Greer. "Lithium is lightweight, it doesn't occupy much space, and it's tremendously energy dense." [Caltech story]
Ari Rosner Develops Tool That Configures Socially-Distanced Students In Classrooms
Mechanical engineering student Ari Rosner, has developed an interactive Excel worksheet powered by advanced algorithms to help schools with social distancing in classrooms. Schools can plug a room’s dimensions and social distancing parameters into the worksheet, and the most efficient configuration of students for a designated classroom would automatically be mapped out. Rosner’s model situates students in rows or in a hexagonal pattern, depending on a room’s shape, in order to safely maximize space. "I cried when I saw how this worked," said Rachael Burton, the development director at a small private school in Brooklyn, New York. "I knew Ari’s mathematical chart could save our lives." [Forbes story]
Ishani A. Karmarkar Receives 2020 Henry Ford II Scholar Award
Applied and computational mathematics student Ishani A. Karmarkar is a recipient of the 2020 Henry Ford II Scholar Award. Ishani is interested in data science and numerical algorithms, as well as applications to physical problems. This summer, she will be working on a SURF project on graph-based semi-supervised learning algorithms with Bamdad Hosseini, Senior Postdoctoral Scholar Research Associate, and Andrew Stuart, Bren Professor of Computing and Mathematical Sciences. In the past, she has also worked on a fluid modelling project with Sandra Troian, Professor of Applied Physics, Aeronautics, and Mechanical Engineering, and completed a summer internship at Facebook. The Henry Ford II Scholar Award is funded under an endowment provided by the Ford Motor Company Fund. The award is made annually to engineering students with the best academic record at the end of the third year of undergraduate study.
Henry Ford II Scholar Award
ASCIT Teaching Award
Michael Mello, Teaching Professor of Mechanical and Civil Engineering, has been chosen by the Associated Students of the California Institute of Technology (ASCIT) to receive a 2019-2020 ASCIT Teaching Award. These awards recognize individuals who inspire and motivate students, are approachable, and present course material effectively and efficiently.
IRCA Best Paper Awards
Two teams of Caltech researchers have won three International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) Best Paper Awards in multiple categories along with the overall best paper award. The ICRA is the largest and most prestigious robotics conference of the year. Awards are given on the basis of technical merit, originality, potential impact on the field, clarity of the written paper, and quality of the presentation. Maegan Tucker, Ellen Novoseller, Claudia Kann, Yanan Sui, Yisong Yue, Joel Burdick, and Aaron Ames, have won the ICRA Best Conference Paper Award and the ICRA Best Paper Award on Human-Robot Interaction (HRI) for their paper entitled "Preference-Based Learning for Exoskeleton Gait Optimization." Amanda Bouman, Paul Nadan, Matthew Anderson, Daniel Pastor, Jacob Izraelevitz, Joel Burdick, and Brett Kennedy, have won the ICRA Best Paper Award on Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for their paper entitled "Design and Autonomous Stabilization of a Ballistically Launched Multirotor." [Virtual Award Ceremony]