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Tweaking Turbine Angles Squeezes More Power Out of Wind Farms

08-17-22

A new control algorithm for wind farms that alters how individual turbines are oriented into the wind promises to boost farms' overall efficiency and energy output by optimizing how they deal with their turbulent wake. "Individual turbines generate choppy air, or a wake, which hurts the performance of every turbine downwind of them," says John O. Dabiri, Centennial Professor of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering. "To cope with that, wind farm turbines are traditionally spaced as far apart as possible, which unfortunately takes up a lot of real estate." [Caltech story]

Tags: research highlights GALCIT MCE John Dabiri alumni Michael Howland

Nano-Architected Materials Offer New Frontier in Technology

07-27-22

For the past two decades, 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 been at the forefront of creating new materials whose structures are designed and controlled at the smallest level, giving them unusual and useful properties. [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS MedE MCE Julia Greer alumni Carlos M. Portela

Harsh Bhundiya Receives Tau Beta Pi Fellowship

05-17-22

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

ME72: Live and In-Person Once More

03-23-22

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

EAS Remembers Wilfred D. (Bill) Iwan

11-02-20

Wilfred D. (Bill) Iwan, Professor of Civil Engineering, Emeritus, passed away on October 29, 2020. He was 85 years old. Dr. Bill Iwan received all his degrees from Caltech, B.S. in 1957, M.S. in 1958, and Ph.D. in 1961. He joined the Caltech faculty in 1964 and became Professor Emeritus in 2004. He served as the Executive Officer for Civil Engineering and Applied Mechanics, 1980-86. Dr. Iwan’s research focused on fundamental areas of mechanics, understanding and characterization of strong earthquake ground motion, analysis and monitoring of the response of structural systems subjected to extreme events, and public policy regarding disasters. His research achievements include the development of methods to represent complex nonlinear structures with simpler linear systems, the development of practical methods for earthquake-resistant design, and the development of simplified methods for the analysis of seismic isolation systems for critical equipment. In 1979, he proposed an earthquake early-warning system for urban regions. Dr. Iwan was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1999 “for research on seismic performance of structures, and for leadership in earthquake hazard mitigation and improvement of public safety.” He was a Distinguished Member and Fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), which awarded him the Nathan M. Newmark Medal (1997), William H. Wisely Award (2006), and Theodore von Karman Medal (2013). In recognition of his distinguished service, the California Earthquake Safety Foundation awarded him the 2002 Alfred E. Alquist Medal “for his lifetime of service to the profession of structural engineering and its application to the safety of the people of California and the world". [Caltech story]

Tags: MCE EAS history alumni Wilfred Iwan

Alumnus Gary Clinard Creates Innovation Fund

09-04-19

Entrepreneur and Caltech alumnus Gary Clinard (BS ’65, Engineering, MS ’66, Mechanical Engineering) has created an innovation fund to advance interdisciplinary research in engineering and applied science at Caltech. [Read full article]

Tags: alumni Gary Clinard

Robots Make a Big Splash in Annual Engineering Competition

03-15-19

On Tuesday Milikan Pond was transformed into an aquatic arena where amphibious robots duked it out in Caltech's annual ME72 design competition. The competition serves as the final exam for the ME72 Engineering Design Laboratory course, which is taught by Michael Mello (PhD '12). The event challenged four student teams to build three robots each. The robots had to be capable of traversing both land and water and collecting floating balls. [Caltech story & videos]

Tags: MCE alumni ME 72 Michael Mello

2018 Caltech Distinguished Alumni

05-24-18

Caltech has recognized three Engineering and Applied Science (EAS) graduates with the Distinguished Alumni Award, the highest honor regularly bestowed by the Institute. Gary Demos (BS '71, Engineering and Applied Science), Gary A. Flandro (MS '60, PhD '67, Aeronautics), and Ronald H. Willens (BS '53 Physics, MS '54 Mechanical Engineering, PhD '61 Engineering Science). Demos was recognized “for his pioneering achievement in the development of computer-generated images (CGI) for use in motion pictures, and in digital film scanning and recording.” Flandro was recognized for “his seminal contributions to the design and engineering of multi-outer-planet missions, including the Grand Tour, the course set for the epic explorations of the Voyager spacecraft.” Willens was honored for “his innovative and revolutionary contributions to advanced internet connectivity and telecommunications. He pioneered the Remote Authentication Dial-in User Service (RADIUS) as an access server authentication and accounting protocol, which was adapted by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) standards.” [Caltech story] [Techer article]

Tags: honors GALCIT MCE alumni Gary Demos Gary Flandro Ronald Willens

Building a Legacy in Engineering

01-24-18

Caltech alumnus Cecil “Cece” Drinkward (BS ’50, Civil Engineering) defined himself as a man who skirted life’s easy paths and forged his own, more challenging ones. Drinkward and his wife, Sally Drinkward, have made a $5 million gift to endow a leadership chair for the Department of Mechanical and Civil Engineering (MCE). “One of the things Cece was most proud of in his life was being a graduate of Caltech, because, in his mind, he never could have accomplished what he did without the education he received here,” Sally Drinkward says. “He always felt he needed to give back to Caltech. It’s an honor to have his legacy live on with this gift.” [Breakthrough story] [ENGenious alumni profile]

Tags: MCE Jose Andrade alumni Cecil Drinkward Sally Drinkward

Alumnus Tapped for Infiniti Engineering Academy

09-09-17

Mechanical Engineering alumnus Evan Sloan (BS '17) has been chosen to attend the Infiniti Engineering Academy. Sloan will spend six months at Infiniti's European Technical Center and six months with the Renault Sport Formula One Team. "Evan was always excited about race cars," says Professor Guillaume Blanquart and faculty advisor for the Caltech's Formula SAE Electric team. "As a sophomore, he converted a gas-powered go kart into an electric vehicle. Four months later, he was the mechanical lead on a 60-person team in charge of designing a Formula One-style race car from scratch. The team would never have reached the Formula SAE competition without Evan's drive, dedication, and perseverance." [Caltech story]

Tags: honors MCE alumni Guillaume Blanquart Evan Sloan