2022

May


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
TechSpark

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.


April


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
USACM

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
JeffCars

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.


March


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
WIRED

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.


February


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
VeloNews

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
Technical.ly

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
Axios

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.”


January


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
SpaceRef.com

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
NIH

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
Wevolver

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

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
Forbes

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.”


2021


December


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
Grist

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
Aionics

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
C&EN

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.


November


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
BigThink.com

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.”


Ozdoganlar quoted on vaccine patches
Yahoo

MechE’s Burak Ozdoganlar was quoted by Yahoo about needle-free vaccine technology. One advantage he describes: “Less amount of vaccine delivered precisely to skin can activate an immune response similar to intramuscular injection,” Ozdoganlar told AFP. It’s an important factor as the developing world struggles to procure enough Covid vaccine. This research was also covered in Business Insider


October


Zhang named SMA Fellow
Solid Modeling Association

MechE’s Jessica Zhang was named a Solid Modeling Association Fellow for her work in areas of solid modeling, which has broad applications in computational biomedicine, materials science and engineering. The SMA Fellow was introduced to recognize individuals with a distinguished record of research, accomplishment, and publication in areas of Solid Modeling and demonstrated support of the SMA through membership and participation in the Association, its meetings and activities. It was announced during the SIAM Virtual Conference on Geometric and Physical Modeling on September 27-29, 2021.


Michalek quoted on ride-hailing trips
Bloomberg CityLab

EPP/MechE’s Jeremy Michalek was quoted in Bloomberg CityLab on his recent study that evaluated the environmental impact of ride-hailing services. “Just by avoiding starting up your personal vehicle, you’re avoiding some air pollutants when you take a TNC trip,” said Michalek. “But that’s not enough to make up for all the driving to and from passengers that vehicle is doing.”


September


Michalek mentioned on climate cost of ride-sharing
Quartz

EPP/MechE’s Jeremy Michalek’s new study that showed taking an Uber could be worse than taking a personal car was featured in Quartz. Trips in ride-share cars are more damaging to the climate, and impose a greater cost to society in terms of traffic congestion and public safety, than journeys in private vehicles, according to a new study from engineering and public policy researchers at Carnegie Mellon University. The main reason for the difference is deadheading, said Michalek. Marketplace, Gizmodo, and Tech Crunch also covered this research. 


Michalek interviewed on electric vehicles
NECN

MechE/EPP’s Jeremy Michalek was interviewed on NECN about adopting electric vehicles in US. President Biden’s infrastructure proposal calls for half of all cars to be electric by 2030, but Michalek says there are challenges to face before such a goal can be achieved. “There’s a bunch of obstacles,” Michalek said. “The infrastructure is a big deal.”


Viswanathan quoted on Tesla and batteries
IEEE Spectrum

MechE’s Venkat Viswanathan was quoted on IEEE Spectrum about Tesla’s progress with batteries for electric vehicles. “The Lucid Air is the first car to show range that’s not just competitive (with Tesla), but better, an astonishing achievement,” said Viswanathan. “It shows it’s no longer a one-horse race.”


Viswanathan quoted on fitness tracker battery improvements
The New York Times

MechE’s Venkat Viswanathan was quoted in The New York Times on improving batteries used in fitness trackers. Created by a California-based start-up, Sila, the battery claims to be more powerful, while holding the same battery life. “If this kind of thing gets into a smartphone or some other consumer device, it is a sign of real progress,” said Viswanathan. If it proves successful, Sila’s battery has the potential to improve electric cars, store electricity in power grids, and will help reduce dependence on nonrenewable resources.


Halilaj project making waves for biomedicine
Chan Zuckerberg Initiative

MechE’s Halilaj Eni’s project DeepGaitLab, funded by CZI Science, proposes to interface computer vision tools with an open-source biomechanical modeling software, facilitating the uptake of motion tracking lacking markers. Using computer vision algorithms in conjunction with motion tracking allows for cheaper, simpler substitute for systems used in research labs and specialized clinics. While current vision algoirithms fail to meet International Society of Biomechanics (ISB) standards, DeepGaitLab will combine two softwares, vision algorithms and biomechanical modeling, making it more accessible.


CMU and collaborators awarded NIH grant
FierceBiotech

In collaboration with CMU, UPMC, and the Mount Sinai Health System, Synchron received a $10 million National Institutes of Health grant to begin a trial of their brain-computer interface, reports FierceBiotech. This was also reported by BioSpace, Medical Device Network, and Mobi Health News.


August


Litster quoted on hydrogen-powered vehicles
Multiple sources

MechE’s Shawn Litster was quoted by AP News about the feasibility of hydrogen-powered vehicles as a step toward clean transportation. Transportation emissions are a major contributor to climate change, so clean-burning hydrogen is seen as a way forward for many vehicle manufacturers. “This is about the closest I’ve seen us get so far to that real turning point,” says Litster. One roadblock, however, is that existing hydrogen production burns fossil fuels, and therefore is not fully “clean.” More research into clean production methods such as electrolysis—releasing hydrogen and oxygen gases from water—will be required before it can be considered a truly clean energy source. This story was also shared by ABC News, Chicago Sun-Times, The Globe and Mail, and Fox Business.


Michalek quoted on electric vehicle charging stations
Multiple sources

EPP/MechE’s Jeremy Michalek was quoted in WIRED and MARKETPLACE about the need for publicly accessible electric vehicle (EV) charging stations. President Biden wants to increase the number of EVs in the coming years, and a trillion dollar infrastructure bill recently passed will make that goal easier to reach. However, to encourage widespread adoption, more publicly accessible charging stations will need to be built to allow travellers and residents who rely on street parking to keep their cars running. One solution could be installing high-speed charging stations at convenience stores along highways, much like how gas stations function today. “You plug into a high-speed charger. You go inside to use the restroom and grab a drink…and pretty quickly you’re on your way,” says Michalek. Collaboration between many different groups will be required in the coming years to see EV use take off.


McComb selected as the recipient of ASME award
ASME

MechE’s Chris McComb was selected by ASME to receive the DTM (Design Theory and Methodology) Young Investigator Award. His accomplishment was recognized at the IDETC-CIE 2021 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences & Computers and Information in Engineering Conference. The conference highlighted emerging technologies impacting critical engineering issues of product design, development, and manufacturing, as well as the management and integration of information systems throughout product life-cycles.


Presto quotes on masks for wildfire smoke
USA Today

MechE’s Albert Presto explains in USA Today that for wildfire smoke protection, much like protection against COVID-19, some masks outperform others.


CMU Engineering week on The Academic Minute
The Academic Minute

August 16 marks the beginning of Carnegie Mellon Engineering week on National Public Radio’s (NPR) The Academic Minute.

This podcast showcases academic researchers to inform listeners on how the amazing work that’s underway in the world’s universities and colleges is contributing to solving our toughest problems.

Each day next week, a different professor will discuss interesting facets of their research. The faculty lineup includes:

  • EPP’s Daniel Armanios: “Is systemic racism built into our cities?”
  • MechE’s Amir Barati Farimani: “Outsmarting a virus.”
  • BME’s Bin He: “Meditation for mind control.”
  • CEE/EPP’s Destenie Nock: “Electricity for all.”
  • ECE Head Larry Pillegi: “Securing the electric power grid from natural threats and adversaries.”

The Academic Minute airs in the U.S. northeast and is syndicated throughout North America and streamed on the web, including on Inside Higher Ed.


McGaughey selected for fellowship

Congratulations to MechE’s Alan McGaughey, who has been selected to receive the 2021 Viskanta Fellowship from Purdue University. The fellowship seeks individuals with “demonstrated abilities to perform independent and innovative research in the field of thermal sciences through peer‐reviewed publications and patents.” McGaughey will have the opportunity to visit Purdue’s campus to meet with faculty and students, present a special lecture, and give a short course.


Viswanathan interviewed on the future of battery technology
Bloomberg

MechE’s Venkat Viswanathan was interviewed by Bloomberg about his research in battery technology and the field’s potential for the future. The main components of batteries will need to see some major changes and upgrades in order to allow electrification of vehicles like long-haul trucks and aircraft. Tools such as machine learning might reduce the time to get there, however. “With good statistical practices, plus some simple machine learning, we can eliminate 90% of the experiments done today,” he says. “The cost saving is easy. The harder question is time.”


Ozdoganlar’s microneedle array research featured in webinar
National Academy of Engineering

MechE’s Burak Ozdoganlar was featured as a webinar speaker and round-table discussion panelist hosted by the National Academy of Engineering (NAE). The webinar, posted to YouTube, was titled, “Engineering Innovations Empowering Recovery from the Pandemic,” and featured speakers from the UK Royal Academy of Engineering and the Chinese Academy of Engineering. Ozdoganlar spoke on behalf of the American NAE about his hybrid microneedle array vaccine delivery system, consisting of a series of tiny needles on a plastic patch. The device has the potential to deliver a vaccine then dissolve into the skin, without the need for a hypodermic needle.


MechE researcher quoted on Tesla’s batteries
The Electric

MechE researcher Hongyi Lin was mentioned in The Electric about a recent update to Tesla’s battery technology. The company had announced a new type of cylindrical battery in September of 2020 that has been proving to be difficult to develop for a variety of reasons. Lin proposed that one of the issues might be related to the size of the new battery’s electrodes. Large and thick batteries require greater pressure during a process known as “calendering” to make the particulate coating flat and smooth. When using Tesla’s combination of metal, “the result is a battlefield of crushed and fractured particles,” he explained. Tesla has quite a bit of engineering and scientific work to do before the battery will see much use in any of its electric vehicles.


Michalek articles referenced in interview
Spectrum

Two studies by MechE/EPP’s Jeremy Michalek were featured in Spectrum, addressing the carbon impact of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and his calculations that plug-in hybrids with large batteries may never save consumers money. The interview referenced Michalek’s advice to consumers as being “buy small, charge often.” While the interviewee disagreed, Michalek’s study examined “variations in cell cost and state-of-charge range (the amount of a pack’s total energy capacity used, which is generally maintained within limits—30 percent to 80 percent for example—to avoid overstressing the battery), but not at the combination of those changes.”


July


Whitefoot quoted on electronic vehicle demand
The Dispatch

EPP/MechE’s Kate Whitefoot was quoted in The Dispatch on electronic vehicles (EV). As technology advances and EVs become more available, supply and demand for the industry have been called into question. Whitefoot posed, “if a new technology comes along and I don’t have experience with that technology, and I don’t know other people that have an electric vehicle, I might be more hesitant to purchase an electric vehicle for all types of reasons, right?” She continued, “as others adopt them, and I see them driving them and maybe I get more experience myself driving an EV, then I can sort of understand it more and feel more comfortable with it, and that increases my chances of considering purchasing an EV the next time I go to buy a vehicle.”


2021 Engineering faculty award winners selected

Congratulations to the 2021 College of Engineering Faculty Awards winners.

  • Vincent Sokalski, MSE, >Philip L. Dowd Fellowship
  • Chrysanthos Gounaris, ChemE, Steven J. Fenves Award for Systems Research
  • Aaron Johnson, MechE and Zachary Ulissi, ChemE, George Tallman Ladd Research Award recipients
  • Shawn Blanton, ECE, Outstanding Mentoring Award recipient
  • Edward Rubin, EPP and MechE, David P. Casasent Outstanding Research Award recipient
  • Jonathan Cagan, MechE, Outstanding Service Award recipient
  • Elizabeth Holm, MSE, Benjamin Richard Teare Teaching Award recipient

Ozdoganlar novel microneedle technology featured
Medical Plastics News

A research project lead by MechE’s Burak Ozdoganlar was featured in Medical Plastics News, explaining how 3D printing microneedles could radically change world’s response to vaccine distribution for the coronavirus. It uses a low‑dose, inexpensive hybrid microneedle array technology, involving hundreds of tiny needles issued on a small patch of skin, that can quickly dissolve and deliver the vaccine. The new method stands to simplify current storage and distribution methods, decreasing both local and worldwide shortages. However, due to the needles’ microscopic size, micro 3D printing will be necessary to correctly manufacture the design of the product.


Swartz Center awards fellowship to two engineering students

The Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship has awarded 2021-2022 Innovation Commercialization Fellowships to two engineering students. The program is year-long and fellows pursue their startup idea through dedicated workshops and intensive mentoring. They are also awarded $50k for funding their research. The recipients are MSE Ph.D. candidate Megan DeBari and MechE Ph.D. candidate Matthew Guttenberg.


Viswanathan quoted on electric trucks
MIT Technology Review

MechE’s Venkat Viswanathan was quoted in the MIT Technology Review on the feasibility of electric heavy-duty trucks. Electrifying short-haul trucks is becoming more of a possibility, especially with incentives from state governments. However, long-haul electric trucks will be unable to compete with traditional diesel vehicles until their batteries become cheaper and lighter. In addition, the electric infrastructure may not be ready for fleets of trucks all charging at once. “A few of these trucks coming and charging would be like the entire power load of a small town,” he says.


Kumar and Majidi’s research on fabric-friendly sensors featured
I-Connect007

ECE’s Swarun Kumar and MechE’s Carmel Majidi have had their research on fabric-friendly sensors featured in I-Connect007 and MirageDeveloped in the Laboratory for Emerging Wireless Technologies, TextileSense has the potential to bring near-field communication to the next level. Kumar explains, “We achieved this by using multiple flexible NFC coil antennas embedded in ordinary and irregularly shaped surfaces, like furniture and carpets, that we interact with in smart environments.” Their findings were presented at the ACM/IEEE Conference on Information Processing in Sensor Networks (IPSN).


Presto presents at forum on air quality
Pittsburgh Works Together

MechE’s Albert Presto presented with the Allegheny County Council Committee on Sustainability and Green Initiatives. Presto spoke in a forum about information on how independent, low-cost monitoring can reveal insights over more fine-grained neighborhood-level geographies about air quality.


Roldan recognized as a 2021 HSF Scholar

MechE Ph.D. student D. Sebastian Arias Roldan was recognized as a 2021 Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF) Scholar. He is developing a nano-scale DNA strain sensor capable of measuring sub-nanometer displacements as a member of the research team in Rebecca Taylor’s Microsystems and Mechanobiology Lab. HSF empowers students and parents with the knowledge and resources to successfully complete a higher education, while providing support services and scholarships to as many exceptional students, HSF Scholars, and alumni as possible.


Michalek selected to serve on NASEM committee
The National Academies of Science, Engineering, Medicine

EPP/MechE’s Jeremy Michalek has been selected by The National Academies of Sciences Engineering and Medicine to serve on the committee working on current methods for life cycle analyses of low-carbon transportation fuels in the United States. The committee is responsible for creating a methodological assessment, aiming to develop a reliable and coherent approach for applying life cycle assessment to low carbon fuel standards, such as greenhouse gases.


June


McComb selected to lead new research team
Construction Industry Institutue

MechE’s Chris McComb has been selected as the principal investigator for a new research team led by the Construction Industry Institute (CII). The team will find opportunities for machine learning, artificial intelligence, and data analytics in advanced work packaging: a planning and collaboration system used on large-scale capital projects.


Robinson op-ed on methane regulation published
Pennsylvania Capital-Star

MechE Head Allen Robinson published an opinion piece in the Pennsylvania Capital-Star on closing loopholes when regulating methane emissions. Methane is the primary component of natural gas, but it also contributes to climate change as a greenhouse gas. Leaks or intentional venting of methane by oil and gas operations presents a serious environmental concern. Methane regulation is coming, but a loophole may allow large oil and gas companies to exempt themselves from it. “Closing the loophole in Pennsylvania’s draft methane rule is critical to addressing the climate crisis,” Robinson writes. “The science is clear, the need to act pressing.”


CACES air pollution mapping model used to study Bitcoin’s carbon footprint
Popular Science

The air pollution mapping model developed by the CMU Center for Air, Climate, and Energy Solutions was recently used in a study determining Bitcoin’s carbon footprint. It measured the air pollution generated in surrounding communities by mining camps, and found that for every dollar made, 49 cents worth of damages are caused. This is due in part to the United States’ electricity supply being made up of only 20% renewable energy, leaving little to go around, therefore leading to an increased use of fossil-fuels to fill the gaps.


Michalek interviewed on electric vehicle market
WBUR

EPP/MechE’s Jeremey Michalek was interviewed in WBUR on the electric vehicle market. After President Biden went for a ride in Ford’s new electric F-150, automakers are now considering if this is the end of the line for cars that run on gasoline. When asked about the market for electric cars, Michalek told WBUR, “the growth has been exponential. I think last year was about 2% of all vehicles in the United States. But for cars specifically, it was more like 5% to 7%. And so, trucks and SUVs are playing catch up. There is enormous growth.” He attributes this growth to the dropping cost of batteries and public policies requiring some level of clean power.


Zhang delivers keynote at ICCS
ICCS

MechE’s Jessica Zhang was invited to deliver a virtual keynote lecture in The International Conference on Computational Science on June 16, 2021. She presented her latest research on material transport simulation in complex neurite networks using isogeometric analysis and machine learning techniques.


Michalek op-ed on electric vehicles published
MarketWatch

EPP/MechE’s Jeremy Michalek published an opinion piece in MarketWatch on electric vehicles (EVs). While battery prices have been driven down in recent years, that trend may not continue without a big, new breakthrough beyond existing technologies. Additionally, without large-scale infrastructure changes to allow more consumers to own electric vehicles, it will be difficult to move them into the mainstream. “We should remain skeptical about predictions of EV adoption if they are just based on past trends,” says Michalek, “We do well to remember that past performance is no guarantee of future results.”


MechE professors recognized as Impact Scholars

MechE’s Burak Kara and Conrad Tucker have been recognized as Impact Scholars and awarded $10,000 as part of Google’s AI for Social Good program. In conjunction with the Centre for Chronic Disease Control, India, their project aims to use machine learning and artificial intelligence to improve screening for oral cancers, especially in low- and middle-income countries.


Barati Farimani quoted on predictive drone swarms
WIRED

MechE’s Amir Barati Farimani was quoted in WIRED about predictively-controlled drone swarms. A researcher at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne implemented a “predictive” algorithm that allowed a swarm of drones to adjust their trajectory based on how they expect neighboring drones to move, rather than merely reacting to them. The swarm successfully navigated through a fake forest without any collisions. However, the drones did need to rely on a computer to run the algorithm for them, which represents an area of improvement. “If you want to fully deploy these things, we should really cut the need for communication with a central hub or computer,” Barati Farimani says. “This is one step toward that goal.”


Viswanathan quoted on electric vehicles and batteries
TIME for Kids

MechE’s Venkat Viswanathan was quoted in TIME for Kids on the future of electric vehicles and batteries. Electric cars are a favorable advancement when it comes to reducing carbon emissions, and many countries and companies are taking note of this fact. As prices come down and the number of charging stations increase, it’s projected that the number of electric vehicles on the road will increase as well. “It is now abundantly clear that electric is the future,” says Viswananthan. “Your entire life will run on batteries. It will be a totally new world.”


Michalek quoted on EV battery swapping
IEEE Spectrum

MechE/EPP’s Jeremy Michalek was quoted in IEEE Spectrum on the swapping of electronic vehicle batteries. The concept of swapping out a drained battery for a new one rather than charging is a thing of the past: and for good reason. “Since batteries are so expensive, bulky and resource-intensive,” Michalek says, “creating vast networks of swappable packs—which must be stored, kept charged and maintained—would be a waste of money and resources, while expanding carbon footprints.”


Cagan and Taylor’s research on DNA origami featured
Florida News Times

MechE’s Jonathan Cagan and Rebecca Taylor’s research was featured in Florida News Times. It centers around DNA origami, the method of folding DNA strands into nano-sized shapes. “There are more efficient and powerful ways to design these structures,” remarks Taylor. “The lack of automated functionality to generate multi-layer DNA origami was a major kind of need in the field.” In response to this need, MechE Ph.D. student Tito Babatunde has used their combined expertise to propose a new method for the generation and optimization of origami nanostructure design. “There is a truly interdisciplinary approach here,” said Cagan, who pioneered the shape annealing used to design complex structures. “We took two separate fields and found that they overlap to provide something that is truly unique and can be enhanced.”


Viswanathan quoted on new invention
The Academic Times

MechE’s Venkat Viswanathan was quoted in The Academic Times on researcher’s new invention, INCEPTS. The model considers the effect of environmental factors on the energy levels of electronic cars and aircrafts, and would be used to enhance the charging grid by determining the best areas to place charging stations. “The way chargers are being placed right now is pretty much ad-hoc,” said Viswanathan, “there’s no grid system or formalized way to do it, for the most part.” He believes that the tool will help people developing EV infrastructure determine the best placement for chargers, improving the grid and increasing the likelihood of consumers making the switch to electronic vehicles.


Presto study on asthma exacerbation featured by UPMC
UPMC

MechE’s Albert Presto co-authored a study on asthma exacerbation following a fire at the Clairton Coke Works that destroyed their pollution controls. UPMC reports that the research, published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, found that 80% of participants living within a 10-mile radius of the facility had an increased risk of worsened asthma symptoms.


Johnson’s research on aerodynamic robotic tails featured
IEEE Spectrum

MechE’s Aaron Johnson’s robotics research was featured in IEEE Spectrum. Investigating the steering quality associated with cheetah tails, he examined their aerodynamic drag and how implementing lightweight tails could help robots complete their tasks more successfully. However, instead of the fluffy tail featured on the wild cats, their robotic companions are receiving tails made of carbon fiber and polyethylene film. “We experimented with a whole array of furry tails to mimic cheetah fur, but found that the half cylinder shape had by far the most drag,” said Joe Norby, a MechE Ph.D. student working with Johnson on the project.


May


Viswanathan quoted on eVTOL batteries
eVTOL

MechE’s Venkat Viswanathan was quoted in eVTOL on the “AND” problem of Lililium’s eVTOL batteries. “The various metrics taken separately appear feasible with near-term commercially available lithium-ion batteries, but the challenge will be to deliver all of these requirements simultaneously,” said Viswanathan. In an email, he continued, “given [Lilium’s] higher specific energy requirements, going with a silicon-dominant anode certainly makes sense. However, current silicon-dominant anodes typically cannot meet the extremely large power requirements for the Lilium Jet. Thus, being able to deliver the power density at low state of charge, i.e. landing segment is likely to determine end-of-life, not fade to 80 percent capacity.”


MechE student receives 2021 Gelfand Student Service Award

MechE Ph.D. student Saul Schaffer received the 2021 Gelfand Student Service Award. He is celebrated for his outreach work, designing “It’s Alive! The Science Behind Making Living Robots,” a workshop for middle school students, as well as being on the coordinating committee for the Road to Research Meet the Researcher series, also for middle school students.


Leduc elected Fellow of IAMBE
IAMBE News

MechE’s Philip Leduc has been nominated and elected for Fellowship by the International Academy of Medical and Biological Engineering (IAMBE). The honor recognizes Leduc’s “outstanding contributions to the field of cell and molecular biomechanics and bioengineering, to the bioengineering professional societies, and for advising underrepresented minorities” at an international level.


Sripad interviewed about electric aviation
Cell Siders

MechE Ph.D. Shashank Sripad was interviewed by the Cell Siders podcast about research on electric aviation. He discussed his work on electric aviation and lithium-ion batteries for EVTOL applications. Sripad also explained the benefits of electric propulsion for aircraft and what companies are doing to develop new battery technologies.


Viswanathan quoted on batteries
WHYY

MechE’s Venkat Viswanathan was quoted by WHYY on batteries for electric vehicles. He said that new battery technology needs to meet high standards: “For any given market, there (are) a bunch of metrics that you have to satisfy, and the moment you fail on any one of them, you don’t have a product.”


Rubin co-authors paper on low-carbon tech
National Energy Technology Laboratory

EPP/MechE’s Ed Rubin and NETL researchers have co-authored a newly released white paper providing comprehensive guidelines for the costing of carbon capture and storage (CCS) and other low-carbon technologies that are crucial to combating climate change. “Better understanding of the current and future costs of these technologies is essential to guide policy choices and research activities aimed at controlling greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and industrial sources, which are major contributors to climate change,” Rubin explains.


Presto’s research on air quality featured
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center

MechE’s Albert Presto’s research on air quality and asthma was featured by UPMC. The study, in which Presto was a co-author, found that asthma exacerbations rose following a catastrophic Christmas Eve fire two years ago that destroyed pollution controls at the Clairton Coke Works. This story was published by News Wise.


Majidi’s writing on soft robotics featured
Science Daily

MechE’s Carmel Majidi was an author on a viewpoint on soft robotics reported on by Science Daily. The researchers argue, “for soft robotics to become a thriving, impactful field in the next decade, every study must make a meaningful contribution.”


Senior Alyssa Brown wins CMWA scholarship
Carnegie Mellon Women's Association

The Carnegie Mellon Women’s Association has awarded a 2021 scholarship to MechE/BME senior Alyssa Brown for her academic accomplishments and commitment to service and leadership.“My time at CMU has been a period of intense personal growth and has ignited my passion for mentoring and advocacy,” Brown said. “I want to work in the medical device industry to make a difference in the lives of patients and to break down barriers for young women to enter the world of STEM.”


Engineering faculty receives CBI funding
Carnegie Bosch Institute

Several College of Engineering faculty have received Carnegie Bosch Institute project funding. Projects were chosen for research at the intersection of modern data-driven AI and classical scientific or engineering approaches. Funded projects include: 

  • CEE’s Burcu Akinci is the Co-PI on her project, “Hybrid 2D-to-3D Localization in Changing Environments.”
  • EPP’s Alex Davis and MechE’s Satbir Singh are working on a project called “Using out-of-sample regularization of physics-informed neural networks to speed up computational fluid dynamics.”
  • ECE’s Gauri Joshi is the PI on her project, “Scheduling and Queueing Algorithms for Resource-sharing in Federated Learning.”
  • MechE’s Ding Zhao and Conrad Tucker and CyLab’s Eunsuk Kang received funding for their project titled “Safe reinforcement learning integrating physic laws, control theories, and formal methods.”
  •  Gerald Wang is the PI on his project called “Materials Innovation for Sustainably Degradable Plastic Films.”

Zhao quoted on AI
WIRED

MechE’s Ding Zhao was quoted on WIRED on AI reinforcement learning, which is being used by BMW to make production more efficient. Reinforcement learning involves an algorithm experimenting and learning, from positive feedback, how to achieve a specific goal. “This is definitely the way to go,” says Zhao, who focuses on AI and digital simulations.


April


Five engineering students named Innovation Scholars
CMU Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship

Five engineering students were named 2023 Innovation Scholars by CMU’s Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship. The Innovation Scholars program fosters innovation and entrepreneurship and seeks to increase the number of successful startup companies initiated by or involving Carnegie Mellon University’s undergraduate students.

Avika Bansal is double majoring in Chemical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering. She is also pursuing minors in business administration and innovation and entrepreneurship. Bansal has been a nationally ranked fencer for 10 years, and is the founder of TurnPRO, a mobile app to improve analysis of performance for fencers at all levels. 

Miguel Brandao is an aspiring engineer and robotics entrepreneur graduating in 2023. He is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering paired with a minor in innovation and entrepreneurship. This upcoming summer, Brandao plans to work in Carnegie Mellon’s Interactive Structures Lab, as well as start a company related to his research.

Becky Button is a sophomore studying electrical and computer engineering. She developed an open-source myo electric prosthetic that was much cheaper than existing open source solutions at the time.

Haoyang (Tiger) He studies electrical and computer engineering, with intended minors in robotics and machine learning. His entrepreneurial journey began in high school, where he founded a project focusing on programming education.

Audrey Young is studying mechanical engineering and biomedical engineering and is passionate about sharing knowledge and finding creative solutions to problems that our society faces. Her most recent project is an international tutoring business that she started in May 2020. Through this business, she is working to provide academic support for students regardless of socioeconomic status by working with other current university and high school students.


Zhao’s AI research funded by Rolls-Royce
Purdue University

MechE’s Ding Zhao is working with researchers from Purdue University on a project focused on the integration of artificial intelligence with classical theories for intrusion detection in resource-limited embedded systems. This is funded through a new center supported by Rolls-Royce.


Presto’s research on pollution mentioned
The New York Times

MechE’s Albert Presto and former Ph.D. student Rishabh Shah’s research on pollution inequality was mentioned in The New York Times. One surprising source of pollution that disproportionately affects communities of color, though a smaller source of emissions over all, were restaurants. Presto and Shah found that emissions from commercial kitchens—mostly from their use of cooking oils—were a surprisingly large fraction of particulate air pollution in those cities. More people of color tended to live nearby, and so were more exposed.