CMU Engineering staff win Andy Awards

Congratulations to the following College of Engineering staff members who have won Andy Awards:

  • Commitment to Excellence, Rookie: Keren DeCarlo (MechE)
  • Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: Eva Mergner (MechE)
  • Innovative and Creative Contributions: Athena Wintruba (III)

Zhang presents research at International Conference on Isogeometric Analysis

MechE’s Jessica Zhang was a plenary speaker of the 10th International Conference on Isogeometric Analysis in Banff, Canada on November 6-9, 2022. She presented her latest research on “Modeling Traffic Jam and Growth Process of Neurons using Isogeometric Analysis and Physics-Informed Neural Network.”

Engineering staff nominated for Andy Awards

Congratulations to the following College of Engineering staff members who have been nominated for Andy Awards:

  • Commitment to Excellence, Rookie: Brian Brown (INI), Keren DeCarlo (MechE)
  • Commitment to Excellence, Veteran: Kristen Geiger (ECE)
  • Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: Eva Mergner (MechE), Jessica Tomko (ECE)
  • Commitment to Students: Rachel Amos (INI)
  • Innovative and Creative Contributions: Brian Belowich (CEE), Elizabeth Clark (MSE), Athena Wintruba (III)
  • Spirit: Trish Hredzak-Showalter (ChemE)
  • Teamwork and Collaboration, Standing Teams: The Teck Spark Team (MechE): Ed Wojciechowski, Ryan Bates, Justin Harvilla, Jen Hitchcock, John Fulmer, Tom Rusu

Zhao quoted on reducing emissions using AI

MechE’s Ding Zhao was quoted by Lifewire on the potential impact of self-driving cars, delivery robots, and drones on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.


Michalek interviewed on The Why
The Why

EPP’s/MechE’s Jeremy Michalek spoke with The Why news program about how environmentally friendly electric vehicles are. “Electric vehicles are one of the few ways that we have to move people and goods with very low emissions. The emissions that we get depend on how we charge the vehicle, [and] what energy we use to produce the electricity to charge the vehicle, but it’s at least possible to generate electricity with very clean sources and end up with a big improvement.” 

Halilaj quoted on about humanoid robots

MechE’s Eni Halilaj was quoted by Reuters about humanoid robots. “Our body is a complex engineering system that we still do not fully understand,” Halilaj said. “We have a long way to go to reverse engineer it, making motion planning and control challenging for humanoid robotics.” Halilaj directs the Musculoskeletal Biomechanics Lab at Carnegie Mellon University.

Presto quoted on new ethane cracker

MechE’s Abert Presto was quoted about air quality in the Allegheny Front’s article about residents’ concern over the new Shell ethane cracker in Beaver County. Presto’s research group has installed monitors near the cracker.


Johnson quoted in Reuters

MechE’s Aaron Johnson talked about the challenges of autonomous robotics in an article on Tesla’s new Optimus robot. Johnson explains why handling soft, unpredictable material is harder for a robot than for a human.

Whitefoot talks future of electric vehicles after California’s ban on gasoline vehicles

EPP/MechE’s Kate Whitefoot discussed future uptake of electric vehicles in Vox after California passed a measure banning the sale of fossil fuel-powered cars by 2035. “It is expected that EVs will dominate the new vehicle market nationwide in the future,” she told the outlet. “The uncertainty is exactly when this will occur. This regulation by California would serve to accelerate that timeline.”

Viswanathan offers advice to climate tech startups

MechE’s Venkat Viswanathan shared expert advice in GreenBiz on how climate tech startup founders can approach investors as the market shifts.

Sripad’s aircraft research referenced in Fast Company
Fast Company

Research by MechE’s Shashank Sripad on battery-powered urban aircraft was referenced in a Fast Company story on building flying cars. Specifically, Sripad’s research looked at ways to improve energy efficiency. “Even though the battery safety brings in some issues, the rest of the aspects in terms of the number of critical points of failure and so on are a lot fewer,” he says.


Weber featured on first human brain implant
Psychology Today

MechE’s Doug Weber is among the team monitoring the first human implant of a brain-computer interface (BCI). The BCI was implanted at Mount Sinai Health System in New York City. The goal of the trial is to evaluate safety and efficacy in helping patients with ALS.

Whitefoot honored for work in design automation

EPP/MechE’s Kate Whitefoot has been recognized with the Young Investigator Award by the 2022 ASME Design Automation Committee for her work at the intersection of economics and market systems. She will collect the honor in St. Louis at the ASME International Design Engineering Technical Conference.

Weber’s NIH trial covered

MechE’s Douglas Weber was referenced in in Bloomberg after a trial that he leads with David Putrino of Mount Sinai placed a stentrode implant in its first patient. The trial received $10 million from the NIH to bring the device, which aims to help decision making for people with certain disabilities, to US patients.


Sullivan and Gordon receive DOE award

MechE’s Ryan Sullivan and the Accelerator’s Hamish Gordon have received funding from the Department of Energy for atmospheric research. They will use the award to continue studying how ice nucleating particles emitted by wildfires could affect cloud microphysics, precipitation, and climate.

Chen wins IMPI award for Best Oral Presentation

MechE’s Morgan Chen has won the award for Best Oral Presentation at the International Microwave Power Institute (IMPI) 56 conference in Savannah, Georgia. The IMPI connects the global microwave/RF community. Chen’s presentation was titled “The Effect of Different Microwave Powers and Frequencies in the Reduction of Magnetite to Iron.”

Majidi quoted in article on electronic skin
Scientific American

MechE’s Carmel Majidi was quoted in Scientific American about the work in his lab that specializes in developing soft materials for human-compatible electronics. “A lot of the opportunities, I think, aren’t for robots,” Majidi said. He explains that the tech innovations behind these e-skins being developed as sensors for robots are also improvements to many other technologies such as touch pads and smart clothing. “The limiting factor is actually not so much the robotic skin—those technologies exist. I think it’s more on the demand.”

Zhang delivered a virtual keynote at IWCIA 2022
International Workshop on Combinatorial Image Analysis

MechE’s Jessica Zhang delivered a virtual keynote at the International Workshop on Combinatorial Image Analysis on July 15. She presented her latest research on machine learning enhanced simulation and PDE-constrained optimization for material transport control in neurons.

Jayan contributes to book on women in mechanical engineering

MechE’s Reeja Jayan contributed a chapter to the new book Women in Mechanical Engineering: Energy and Environment, published through Springer. Jayan’s chapter discusses her nonlinear path to a career in engineering. “To my readers, I wish to share with you the joy, risks, and hardships I experienced while taking these road(s) less travelled,” she writes.

Michalek quoted on environmental impact of electric cars

EPP/MechE's Jeremy Michalek was quoted in MSN on the environmental impact of electric vehicles. As Michalek first told the New York Times, “If you’ve got electric cars in Pittsburgh that are being plugged in at night and leading nearby coal plants to burn more coal to charge them, then the climate benefits won’t be as great.”

Zhang delivers two keynotes

MechE’s Jessica Zhang recently delivered two virtual keynotes. One was at the 7th International Conference on Computational and Mathematical Biomedical Engineering (CMBE22) on June 27-29, and the other one was at CVPR 2022 Workshop and Challenges: Deep Learning for Geometric Computing on June 20.


Tucker to co-chair workshop on AI and justified confidence
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

MechE’s Conrad Tucker has been invited to serve as co-chair for “Artificial Intelligence and Justified Confidence: A Workshop” by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The planning committee will develop a workshop to explore how to improve the robustness of machine learning and other artificial intelligence (ML/AI) technologies to better enable their successful implementation in the Army’s Command and Control (C2) operations. The kickoff meeting is Wednesday, June 29.

Michalek quoted in Marketplace article about electric vehicles

EPP/MechE’s Jeremy Michalek was quoted in a recent article on Marketplace on Electric Vehicles (EVs). Michalek was interviewed about his experience and expertise on the sparse infrastructure for EVs. He explains that if people are going to adopt EVs en masse they have to be able to travel with them and own them even if they live in an apartment. “If you don’t have off-street parking, you need to know that you are going to have access to public chargers and be able to reliably charge your vehicle,” Michalek said.

Presto quoted on air pollution and heart disease

MechE’s Albert Presto was quoted in Fatherly on various air filtration systems to protect yourself from air pollution. “The better the filter, the faster it will get clogged, so it needs to get replaced more often than a filter that lets a lot of particles through,” Presto said. He explains that inside the home, a HEPA filter is the best air filtration system on the market. But it’s expensive and has to be replaced often. Presto explains that most air filters use the MERV system in which the higher the MERV number, the more efficient the device is at filtering particles out of the air, which is useful to check when buying air filters.

Scott Institute announces 2022 seed grants for five projects
Scott Institute

The Scott Institute has announced its latest seed grant awards worth $1.42 million to five research projects led by CMU Engineering faculty. This is the 10th annual round of grants awarded by the Scott Institute. Funding recipients include CEE’s Corey Harper, ChemE’s Gabriel dos Passos Gomes and Zachary Ulissi, CMU-Africa/ECE’s Barry Rawn, MechE’s Shawn Litster, and MSE’s Chris Pistorius.

Michalek quoted on EVs

EPP/MechE’s Jeremy Michalek was quoted in Lifewire about new federal Electric Vehicle (EV) charging rules. These rules include new standards for the national EV charging network to homogenize the payment systems, pricing, charging speeds, and more. “For long-distance travel, a robust network of chargers along major routes, like highway rest stops, is needed,” Michalek said, “If the network is sized for ordinary days, there will be huge queues and massive wait times on peak travel days. If the network is sized for peak travel days, there will be a lot of investment in infrastructure that goes unused on most days.”

Zhang delivers lecture at ECCOMAS
ECCOMAS Congress 2022

MechE’s Jessica Zhang delivered a semi-plenary lecture at the 8th European Congress on Computational Methods in Applied Sciences and Engineering (ECCOMAS Congress 2022) in Oslo, Norway on June 5-9, 2022. She presented her latest research on machine learning-enhanced simulation and PDE-constrained optimization for material transport control in neurons. In addition, Zhang was also invited to be a mentor in the ECCOMAS Young Investigators Career Forum, during which young researchers have the opportunity to interact in small groups with scientists at different career stages to gain essential insights into the academic application process and receive tips for their next career steps.

Whitefoot quoted on electric vehicles

EPP/MechE’s Katie Whitefoot was quoted in a Vox article for her expertise in electric vehicles in public policy. “Efficiency regulations are still really important even as automakers are making pledges to electrify their fleets,” Whitefoot said. The article describes the various hurdles in converting our U.S. car population to electric vehicles. The car industry moves slowly and no matter how fast we convert to electric vehicles it could still take decades to get gas-powered cars off the street since the average lifespan of a car is 11 years. Car companies are also less inclined to take risks as the economy falters. “Uncertainty in and of itself has a lot of impact on the industry in terms of long R&D planning,” Whitefoot explains.

Michalek quoted on school bus environmental impact
Popular Science

EPP/MechE’s Jeremy Michalek was quoted in Popular Science article about the new federal Clean School Bus Program. The program aims to replace diesel-powered school buses with electric buses over the next five years. “When diesel is burned in a bus engine, it produces fine particulate matter—particles with a diameter much smaller than human hair—that floats in the air and lodge deep in our lungs when we breathe them in,” Michalek said. He further explained the dangers of carbon pollution in an urban environment and also that electric buses are not “pollution-free” as it still pollutes the environment to produce the batteries for vehicles like these.

Yim and Johnson quoted on small robotics
IEEE Spectrum

MechE’s Aaron Johnson and Justin Yim were quoted in an IEEE Spectrum article highlighting their work in small humanoid robots. Their work was displayed at the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation(ICRA). The presentation highlighted a 15-centimeter bipedal robot. “Our goal with this project is to make miniature walking robots, as small as a LEGO Minifigure (1-centimeter leg) or smaller.” said Yim. Johnson was quoted as saying, “Minimally actuated designs that leverage passive dynamics will be key. We aren't there yet on the LEGO scale, but with this paper, we wanted to understand the way this particular morphology walks before dealing with the smaller actuators and constraints.”


CMU team wins big at robotics conference
ICRA 2022

MechE’s Victoria Webster-Wood and her team took home top honors in the ICRA 2022 Outstanding Mechanisms and Design Paper category for their submission, “Design of a Biomimetic Tactile Sensor for Material Classification.”

Whitacre interviewed on environmentally friendly batteries
Instigators of Change

Scott Institute Director Jay Whitacre was interviewed in the podcast Instigators of Change on how batteries can still have a negative impact on the environment. He explained how, depending on where you are in the world, a hybrid vehicle might be a smarter choice than fully electric vehicles (EVs). The reason for this is a combination of factors from how the electricity for the EVs is generated to the fact that battery technology has not progressed past some major hurdles in its design since the 1990s. Whitacre points out that the batteries first used in Tesla cars were nearly identical to those developed in the late ’90s.

Majidi quoted on complex robotic hand manipulation

MechE’s Carmel Majidi was quoted in Lifewire on robotic hand manipulation about MIT’s new robotic hand that can manipulate over 2,000 different types of objects. “These hands are highly dexterous and capable of performing in-hand manipulation,” said Majidi. “That is, in addition to grasping and releasing objects, they can use their fingers to manipulate an object like a screwdriver or scissors.”

Majidi quoted on gallium in bendable electronics
Smithsonian Magazine

MechE’s Carmel Majidi was quoted in Smithsonian Magazine ongallium’s use in wearable electronics. “You can use it to track your own body’s motion, or the forces that you’re in contact with, and then impart that information into whatever the virtual world is that you’re experiencing,” Majidi said. Wearable electronics is just one of many uses of gallium the article covers. Majidi discusses how the bending, crunching, and flexing of these gallium circuits “printed” onto the hand or circuit can change the current flowing through the circuit and therefore change the input to a computer tracking movement.

Cagan delivers keynote on AI-human hybrid teaming
Design Conference 2022

MechE Interim Head Jonathan Cagan delivered a keynote speech at the Design Conference on AI-human hybrid teaming.

Majidi quoted on soft robotics
Knowable Magazine

MechE’s Carmel Majidi was interviewed for his expertise in wearable electronics in relation to the use of gallium as a flexible and stretchable circuit component. “You can use it to track your own body’s motion, or the forces that you’re in contact with, and then impart that information into whatever the virtual world is that you’re experiencing,” said Majidi.

Bergbreiter quoted on jumping robot
Scientific American

Recently, a world record has been broken in the field of autonomous jumping robots by researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara using biomimicry. MechE’s Sarah Bergbreiter wrote a commentary about this event in Nature, which has been widely quoted in articles related to this event, including in Scientific American.

Viswanathan quoted on rechargeable batteries
Washington Post

MechE’s Venkat Viswanathan was quoted in the Washington Post for his expertise on rechargeable batteries and why they sometimes expand in size. “All lithium-ion batteries will change shape in one form or another. It’s a law of nature.”

Winners announced for 2022 TechSpark Design Expo

The 2022 TechSpark Design Expo concluded last week with three senior engineering teams taking home awards.

  • Covestro’s “Most Innovative” award for being creative and novel in approach and/or execution went to a team of ECE master’s students for their project “Hardware Accelerated Monocular Depth Sensing.”
  • Wabtec’s “Best Design” award for being thorough in engineering analysis and testing through experimental prototyping or theoretical simulation went to a team of BME students for their project “Prosthetic Liner: Sweat-Wicking for Lower Limb Amputees.”
  • The “Most Engaging” award for being captivating in presentation and involving attendees in discussion went to a team of MechE students for their project “Auto Bike Transmission.”

CMU team takes home awards in Dartmouth Formula Hybrid competition
Formula Hybrid & Electric

Carnegie Mellon Racing (CMR) brought home three awards this year at the Formula Hybrid & Electric Competition at Dartmouth. The awards are: IEEE Excellence in Project Management Electric Class, IEEE Engineering the Future Award, and first place overall in the electric vehicle category.

Taylor’s research featured in Women in Polymer Science Issue
Journal of Polymer Science

MechE’s Rebecca Taylor was the corresponding author on collaborative research between the Department of Mechanical Engineering and the Department of Chemistry that was selected for the Women in Polymer Science Virtual Issue of the Journal of Polymer Science.


ANSYS Hall receives Honor Award
The Society for College and University Planning

ANSYS Hall was recognized by The Society for College and University Planning with an Honor Award for Excellence in Architecture for a New Building. Partners involved included: Bohlin Cywinski Jackson; Mosites Construction & Development Company; Eckersley O’Callaghan; Barber & Hoffman; Langan Engineering; Buro Happold Engineers; Klavon Design Associates.

Michalek quoted on electric vehicle adoption
The Daily Beast

EPP/MechE’s Jeremy Michalek was quoted by the Daily Beast about changes needed to encourage the widespread adoption of electric vehicles. “In places like Manhattan, I know what a pain it is to find a parking spot,” Michalek told The Daily Beast. “If you add the constraint that some of those spots have chargers and some of them don’t, it just makes it even more of a nightmare.”

Zhang elected to USACM Executive Council

MechE’s Jessica Zhang was elected to the office of Secretary-Treasurer of the U.S. Association for Computational Mechanics (USACM) Executive Council. The Secretary-Treasurer serves for two years and then rotates to the office of Vice-President for two years and then President for two years. It is a six-year commitment to be involved as an officer of USACM, the largest association in computational mechanics in the US.

Michalek on SiriusXM

Electric vehicle experts including EPP/MechE’s Jeremy Michalek discuss affordability, infrastructure, minority communities, and more in a two-part conversation on Auto Trends with JeffCars on SiriusXM 141. Part 1 runs April 9-14; part 2 runs April 16-21.

Sullivan organized workshop on chemical exposure
Collegium Helveticum

MechE’s Ryan Sullivan organized a workshop titled “Everyday-Everywhere Chemicals and the Human Exposome” at the Collegium Helveticum. This is part of his Senior Fellowship at the Collegium, which is a joint institute of ETH Zurich, the University of Zurich, and the University of the Arts in Zurich that brings together scholars from a wide range of disciplines to promote interdisciplinary exchange. A panel of experts from universities and NGOs in Europe and North America discussed the sources of toxic chemicals in modern life, the public’s perception of this often-confusing issue, and recent efforts to implement better international regulations.

Jayan’s project receives DOD funding
US Department of Defense

MechE’s Reeja Jayan is involved with a project that was chosen for funding through the US Department of Defense’s Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative. The highly-competitive MURI program has supported teams of investigators with the hope that collective insight from multiple disciplines could facilitate the growth of newly emerging technologies to address the Department’s unique problem sets.


CMU students sweep the three minute thesis championship

Students in BME, ECE, MSE, and MechE won four out of five awards at the 3MT championship.

  • First place: BME’s Piyumi Wijesekara, “Engineering ‘Rotating’ Mini-Lung Tissue for Combatting Respiratory Infection”
  • Third place: MechE’s Emma Benjaminson, “Predicting Assembly of Nanorobots Built with DNA”
  • People's Choice Award: ECE’s Mohammad Ayaz Masud, “Laterally Actuating Phase Change Nano Relay for Nonvolatile Memory Operation”
  • Alumni Choice Award (chosen by livestream audience): MSE’s Amaranth Karra,  “3D Printing of High Temperature Melting Metals: ‘Why and How?’”

Weber study on brain implant featured
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

MechE’s Doug Weber recently had his research study on a brain implant that will allow paralyzed people to use a computer with their thoughts was featured in The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The device, known as a brain-computer interface, allowed the patients to write, browse the web, and perform everyday tasks. “An easy way to think about a brain-computer interface is as a substitute for the finger keyboard interactions that we typically use when we are interacting with our computers,” said Weber. This work was also covered in Medscape.

Bergbreiter, Majidi, and Webster-Wood featured in IEEE Spectrum
IEEE Spectrum

MechE’s Carmel Majidi, Sarah Bergbreiter, and Victoria Webster-Wood were featured on IEEE Spectrum, discussing softbotics. Softbotics involves engineering machines and robots that put humans in central focus and are designed for everyday life. Majidi, Berbreiter, and Webster-Wood addressed 3D printing the materials, its link with bioengineering and creating wearable physical therapeutics, and the ethical sphere of their project.

Fifth annual “Rethink the Rink” focused on advancing hockey safety
Yahoo! Finance

The fifth annual “Rethink the Rink” Make-a-thon, a collaboration of the College of Engieering with Covestro, the Pittsburgh Penguins, PPG, and Athletica Sport Systems explored the intersection of dasher board and glass systems to advance hockey safety. The event spanned March 7 to 11 at CMU's Tech Spark, a leading workspace for innovation and collaboration.

Rethink the Rink winners named
Rethink The Rink

Engineering students made up a majority of the first, second, third, and fourth place winners of this year’s Rethink the Rink make-a-thon, which focused on the “glass” along the ice rink perimeter to improve hockey player safety. These students dedicated their spring break to tackling a real-world problem with mentorship from our industry partners at Covestro and the Pittsburgh Penguins. At this excellent event, students showed off the high-quality education at CMU.

  • 1st Place - Best Overall: ECE senior Brandon Wang, ECE sophomore Luca Garlati, MechE sophomore Isaiah Lerch, and Ebrahim Karam, a master’s student in CMU’s Entertainment Technology Center. 
  • 2nd Place - Most Innovative: ECE junior Aichen Yao, ECE junior Zhichun Zhao, MechE/Physics first-year Betty Wang, and MSE first-year Tracy Wan.
  • 3rd Place - Best Prototype: CEE sophomore Alex Bram, MechE senior Andrew Spoto, MechE junior Daniel Fitzmorris, and MechE sophomore Rose McDermott.
  • 4th Place - Participation: ChemE junior Lucy Spero, III master’s student Tanya Gupta, MechE junior Jeanie Xu, and MSE first-year En Hung.

View the Penguins recap of the event.

White selected to Rising Stars event

MechE’s Lisha White has been selected to attend the Rising Stars in Computational and Data Sciences event. The event will take place April 20-21 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and will be hosted by Sandia National Laboratories. The selection rate for this event was just 26%, and White is expected prepare a research talk suitable for a broad audience of researchers working in computational and data sciences.

Viswanathan quoted on electric planes

MechE’s Venkat Viswanathan was quoted by WIRED on his battery research, which focuses on electric vehicles. After a summer road tripping cross-country in an electric car, he began to consider a different application for his work. “I was like, ‘Wait, what am I doing with all these new batteries I’m inventing?’” Viswanathan recalls. “Who is going to need them?” There was another way to travel coast-to-coast, he realized, one that batteries were far from decarbonizing: flight.


Whitefoot quoted on electric vehicle industry
Detroit Free Press

EPP/MechE’s Kate Whitefoot was quoted by the Detroit Free Press on competition in the electric vehicle industry. Whitefoot said the top-selling EVs in the future will depend on how the batteries perform. So the companies that design and make the best batteries, win. “If you want to come in, like a Tesla, you have to know both sides of the business: How to make a great battery and also how to build vehicles. It’s not enough to do just one of those sides,” Whitefoot said. “Those companies that can build on expertise in both manufacturing and batteries will have a competitive edge.”

Michalek quoted on electric vehicle chargers
Detroit Free Press

EPP/MechE’s Jeremy Michalek was quoted by the Detroit Free Press about GM’s plan to install electric vehicle chargers at their worksites for free use by employees. “But there are a lot of households that rent or have off-street parking, so adopting EVs for those households is a harder sell,” Michalek said. “So if you have a stable job such as at General Motors, that charger at work might make a difference in your willingness to adopt.”

Litster interviewed on on virtual cycling program

MechE’s Shawn Litster was interviewed in VeloNews on Zwift, the largest virtual cycling gaming program. Zwift hosts thousands of events, and its detailed customization menus, superior graphics, and in-game chatting, and in-game chatting make it a tough competitor. Litster believes that the program uses equations to calculate a user’s height, which is then applied to the virtual bicycle and used to calculate and model aerodynamic drag.

Engineering undergraduate alumni quoted on startup

MechE alumnus Alexander Baikovitz and ECE alumnus Haowen Shi were quoted by Technical.ly about their startup, Mach9 Robotics, which launched an initiative to assess Pittsburgh bridge infrastructure after the bridge collapse on January 28. The Pittsburgh Bridge Initiative, as the company is calling it, will involve a concerted program to map, monitor, and assess the approximately 450 bridges in the Pittsburgh region over the next year. “What we really want to be able to distinguish between is the difference between poor infrastructure and infrastructure that needs to be able to be shut down,” Baikovitz said.

LeDuc’s work on desalination featured in newsletter

MechE’s Phil LeDuc and alumnus Adam Wood’s work on using bread to remove salt from water was featured in Axios’ science newsletter on February 3. Under more controlled lab conditions, Wood found bread could be used to create electrodes. Whether the bread-based desalination approach could be used on a large scale is unclear.

Gomez interviewed on infrastructure
Background Briefing

MechE’s Nestor Gomez was interviewed on the podcast Background Briefing on infrastructure after the bridge collapse in Pittsburgh. “A lot of these bridges will have to be replaced, and to be fair, we almost never build a bridge to last 100 years. If it does last 100 years, then we consider that a great success,” Gomez said. “But the lifespan of a bridge is maybe 50 or 60 years. [The Fern Hollow Bridge] probably had a few more years left in it, but corrosion and other kinds of damage wore it down. It was 52 years old.”


Litster quoted on hydrogen fuel cell market
Associated Press

MechE’s Shawn Litster was quoted in the Associated Press on the expansion of the hydrogen fuel cell market. General Motors recently announced that they will work with another company to use these fuel cells to build mobile electricity generators, electric vehicle charging stations, and power generators for military camps. However, GM is not the only company expanding this market. Litster explains that multiple companies, including AFC Energy in the United Kingdom, are selling or testing the products, opening up competition for the products.

Majidi mentioned on satellite robots

MechE’s Carmel Majidi was mentioned by SpaceRef.com about a CMU-headed consortium selected by the Air Force Research Laboratory and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research to pioneer research into robotic inspection, maintenance, and manufacturing of satellites and other structures while in orbit. CMU’s efforts will be led by Choset and Matt Travers, co-directors of the Robotics Institute’s Biorobotics Lab; and Majidi, who specializes in soft robotics. CMU will collaborate with researchers at the University of New Mexico, Texas A&M, and Northrop Grumman Corporation.

Zhao quoted on digital twins
Time Magazine

MechE’s Ding Zhao was quoted by Time Magazine on digital twins, an exact digital re-creation of an object or environment. Zhao has been working with carmakers to use digital twins to improve the safety of self-driving vehicles. “Real-world testing is too expensive and sometimes not even effective,” Zhao says.

Litster mentioned on hydrogen fuel
AP News

MechE’s Shawn Litster was mentioned by AP News about hydrogen generators entering the market. Multiple companies are selling or testing hydrogen generators, said Litster, who has studied hydrogen fuel cells for about two decades. There will be more demand for the generators as vehicles switch from internal combustion to electric power. Police departments and municipal governments, he said, will need backup power to charge emergency vehicles in case of a power outage. Hydrogen can be stored for long periods and used in emergency cases, he said.

Tucker named to U.S. Chamber of Commerce Commission
U.S. Chamber of Commerce

MechE’s Conrad Tucker has joined the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Commission on Artificial Intelligence Competition, Inclusion, and Innovation to advance U.S. leadership in the use and regulation of AI technology. The Commission will research and recommend artificial intelligence policies as it relates to regulation, international research and development competitiveness, and future jobs.

New grant to fund cardiac electrophysiology research

BME/MSE’s Tzahi Cohen-Karni was recently awarded a $3.1 NIH/NHLBI grant to further cardiac electrophysiology research. Over the next five years, Cohen-Karni will partner with Pitt’s Aditi Gurkar (co-PI), BME/MSE’s Adam Feinberg, MechE’s Carmel Majidi, and ECE’s Pulkit Grover to study the role of DNA damage in the cardiac unit using induced pluripotent stem cells.

AI research featured in podcast

Featured on the Wevolver podcast The Next Byte, “Meet the AI Replacing Your Manager,” new research by MechE’s Chris McComb and Jon Cagan shows that AI may soon be taking over managerial positions—and doing a better job at them. Their study shows that in comparison to human counterparts, AI intervened less during projects. When given a certain number of interventions, not only did human managers use more than the AI, they used all of them. On the other hand, AI managers used only a few light directions. They also found that interventions done by human managers had a negative impact on production overall, while AI managers had an overall positive effect.

Humotech partner to bring open source bionic leg to research labs

Humotech, originating from CMU’s Mechanical Engineering Department, develops tools for the advancement of wearable robotic control systems and other wearable devices. Using its own research community, Humotech will further build and support a development community around the open-source leg and seek to incorporate the leg into Humotech’s Caplex platform. Caplex is a hardware and software testbed that enables researchers to emulate the mechanics of wearable machines, including prostheses and exoskeletons.

Viswanathan and Sripad eVTOL research featured

MechE’s Venkat Viswanathan and Shashank Sripad were featured in Forbes for their research on eVTOLS. According to Viswanathan and Sripad, “A key problem for eVTOL aircraft is the weight of batteries, which contain 14 times less energy by weight than aviation fuel. To achieve their range and payload goals, Beta, Joby Aviation and Kitty Hawk appear to need battery packs with energy densities at the outer range of the newest technologies, while Lilium is way out in experimental territory.”

Viswanathan quoted on solid state batteries
Torque News

MechE’s Venkat Viswanathan was quoted in Torque News on solid-states batteries, created by QuantumScape. Using a solid electrolyte instead of a liquid solution, solid-state batteries can store considerably more energy by weight and volume than lithium-ion batteries and will be especially useful for electric vehicles. Viswanathan emphasized the importance of this discovery: “… these results blow up what was previously thought possible in a solid-state battery. Withstanding a high enough current density to allow fast charging without forming dendrites has long been an industry holy grail.”



Michalek quoted on rechargeable electric vehicles
The New York Times

EPP/MechE’s Jeremy Michalek was quoted in The New York Times on charging solutions for electronic vehicles (EV). One of the biggest challenges facing the conversion of fossil fuel reliant vehicles to EVs is reliable charging. One solution could be inroad charging. Michalek explains, “To put this in context, inroad charging while driving is not likely to be a broad solution for all electric vehicles, but it could play an important role for some applications.” While this may not apply to residential vehicles, it could be promising for long-haul trucks and other commercial vehicles.

Michalek quoted on climate and travel

EPP/MechE’s Jeremy Michalek was quoted in Grist on travel and its effect on climate change. There are multiple variables that effect climate and travel, such as the age and model of one’s car, traffic, and distance. For Michalek, the difference lies is how you tackle these variables together. He said, “The more you accelerate really quickly and then come to a quick stop—that type of aggressive driving certainly consumes more energy,” also leading to more carbon emissions.

Viswanathan announces work on optimization

MechE’s Venkat Viswanathan was mentioned by Aionics, where he is a chief scientist, about his new work on using robotics and machine learning for the efficient optimization of a non-aqueous battery electrolyte. This announcement came during the Advanced Automotive Battery Conference, which was held December 7-9 in San Diego. Using this workflow, Viswanathan’s lab identified six fast-charging electrolytes in an amazingly rapid 42 experiments across two workdays. Compare that to 60 days using exhaustive searches of the 1000+ possible candidates.

MechE student named women’s soccer All-American
The Piper

Junior MechE student Alex Adams was named an Academic All-American by the College Sports Information Directors of America and an All-American by the United Soccer Coaches for the second straight playing season (2019 and 2021). Adams led the Tartans in scoring this year with 12 goals, including a goal in the NCAA Division III Women’s Sectional Semifinal against eighth-ranked MIT. After two seasons, Adams, a two-time all-region and two-time All-University Athletic Association selection, is eighth on the Tartans’ all-time scoring list with 61 points and is tied for seventh in goals with 26. Her 10 career game-winning goals puts her third all-time. As a first-year, Adams set a season record for points with 34 and tied the goal scoring record and game-winning goals record with 14 and seven, respectively.

Sudoc named in 10 start-ups to watch

Sudoc (Sustainable Ultradilute Oxidation Catalysis) was named one of “C&EN’s 2021 10 Start-Ups to Watch.” MechE’s Ryan Sullivan is a co-founder of the company, which was publicly launched in 2020 and aims to reinvent cleaning supplies, making them both more effective and less damaging to the environment. Sudoc’s inaugural product, the first in its line of Dot-branded products, is a mold-remediation treatment.


MechE student ties school basketball record
The Piper

MechE sophomore R.J. Holmes, a forward on the CMU men’s basketball team, tied the 64-year-old school record for most points in a game when he scored 43 in a 103-102 overtime win at La Roche University on November 10. Holmes ended the night making 19-of-24 shots, including two-of-two from behind the three-point line. He also added a career-high 11 rebounds to record his first career double-double and added a career-best five assists. He was named the University Athletic Association Athlete of the Week and CMU’s Student-Athlete of the Week for his achievement.

Viswanathan mentioned on electric aircraft

MechE’s Venkat Viswanathan’s research on electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft was featured on BigThink.com. His recent study finds that battery-powered urban aircraft are well within the bounds of technological reality and could appear in everyday life surprisingly soon.

Michalek quoted on EV policy
Spectrum Local News

EPP/MechE’s Jeremy Michalek was quoted by Spectrum Local News about the bipartisan infrastructure bill’s effect on electric vehicles. Michalek said the biggest hurdles for electric vehicles are a lack of awareness and the cost. “Adopting an electric vehicle is a tough sell unless, and until, they can reliably get access to a convenient charger,” Michalek said.

Johnson interviewed on robotics
ASME Dynamic Systems & Control Division Podcast Series

MechE’s Aaron Johnson was interviewed by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers’ Dynamic Systems & Control Division Podcast Series about his work on legged robots. “This is a very exciting time in legged robots,” Johnson said. “There’s a legged robot market that didn’t exist before.”