News & Events


Dabiri Receives Waterman Award from the National Science Foundation


The National Science Foundation (NSF) honors John O. Dabiri, Centennial Professor of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering, with the 2020 Alan T. Waterman Award. The Alan T. Waterman Award is given to an outstanding young U.S. scientist or engineer along with a medal and other recognition. "This year's scientific pioneers are innovators who are creatively addressing some of the most challenging scientific questions," said NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan. "John Dabiri has looked to the fluid mechanics of sea life for inspiration to build better wind farms that appear to boost efficiency with a much smaller footprint." [NSF story] [Caltech story

Tags: honors GALCIT MCE John Dabiri Waterman Award

Ari Rosner Develops Tool That Configures Socially-Distanced Students In Classrooms


Mechanical engineering student Ari Rosner, has developed an interactive Excel worksheet powered by advanced algorithms to help schools with social distancing in classrooms. Schools can plug a room’s dimensions and social distancing parameters into the worksheet, and the most efficient configuration of students for a designated classroom would automatically be mapped out. Rosner’s model situates students in rows or in a hexagonal pattern, depending on a room’s shape, in order to safely maximize space. "I cried when I saw how this worked," said Rachael Burton, the development director at a small private school in Brooklyn, New York. "I knew Ari’s mathematical chart could save our lives." [Forbes story]

Tags: research highlights MCE Ari Rosner

Winners of the 2020 Demetriades - Tsafka - Kokkalis Prizes Announced


The student winners of the 2020 Demetriades - Tsafka - Kokkalis Prizes were announced at the end of this academic year. Manuel Bedrossian has received the prize in Biotechnology. His research is in the development of novel optical imaging devices to investigate and characterize microbial populations in extreme environments around the world. Vinayak Narasimhan has received the prize in Biotechnology. His research is in the utilization of nanostructures inspired from nature in practical biomedical applications. Tyler Ross has received the prize in Nanotechnology. His research is in guiding biomolecular filaments and motors to form structures and flow fields with patterned light. Adam Neumann has received the prize in Nanotechnology. His research involves incorporating nanoscale sensors into a mass spectrometer and using them to weigh individual molecules and perform rudimentary imaging of them. Joaquin Garcia Suarez has received the prize in Seismo-Engineering, Prediction, and Protection. His research is in fundamental research in Continuum Mechanics to better understand the behavior of civil structures during earthquakes.

Tags: honors MedE MCE Demetriades - Tsafka - Kokkalis Prizes Vinayak Narasimhan Joaquin Garcia Suarez Adam Neumann Tyler Ross Manuel Bedrossian

ASCIT Teaching Award


Michael Mello, Teaching Professor of Mechanical and Civil Engineering, has been chosen by the Associated Students of the California Institute of Technology (ASCIT) to receive a 2019-2020 ASCIT Teaching Award. These awards recognize individuals who inspire and motivate students, are approachable, and present course material effectively and efficiently.

Tags: honors MCE teaching Michael Mello

IRCA Best Paper Awards


Two teams of Caltech researchers have won three International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) Best Paper Awards in multiple categories along with the overall best paper award. The ICRA is the largest and most prestigious robotics conference of the year. Awards are given on the basis of technical merit, originality, potential impact on the field, clarity of the written paper, and quality of the presentation. Maegan Tucker, Ellen Novoseller, Claudia Kann, Yanan Sui, Yisong YueJoel Burdick, and Aaron Ames, have won the ICRA Best Conference Paper Award and the ICRA Best Paper Award on Human-Robot Interaction (HRI) for their paper entitled "Preference-Based Learning for Exoskeleton Gait Optimization." Amanda Bouman, Paul Nadan, Matthew Anderson, Daniel Pastor, Jacob Izraelevitz, Joel Burdick, and Brett Kennedy, have won the ICRA Best Paper Award on Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for their paper entitled "Design and Autonomous Stabilization of a Ballistically Launched Multirotor." [Virtual Award Ceremony]

Tags: EE honors MCE CMS Joel Burdick Yisong Yue Aaron Ames Maegan Tucker Ellen Novoseller Claudia Kann Yanan Sui Amanda Bouman Paul Nadan Matthew Anderson Daniel Pastor Jacob Izraelevitz Brett Kennedy

Michael Mello Receives Northrop Grumman Prize for Excellence in Teaching


Michael Mello, Teaching Professor of Mechanical and Civil Engineering, is the recipient of the 2020 Northrop Grumman Prize for Excellence in Teaching. The Prize is awarded to an EAS professor or lecturer who demonstrates, in the broadest sense, unusual ability, creativity, and innovation in undergraduate and graduate classroom or laboratory teaching. A nomination for Professor Mello read, “Dr. Mello is one of the most outstanding and gifted instructors I have seen at Caltech in the last 30 years”.

Tags: honors MCE teaching Michael Mello

Rahul Arun Receives 2020 Henry Ford II Scholar Award


Mechanical Engineering student Rahul Arun, advised by Professor Aaron Ames and Beverley McKeon, is a recipient of the 2020 Henry Ford II Scholar Award. Rahul's academic interests lie at the intersection of theoretical, numerical, and experimental fluid mechanics, with an emphasis on turbulent flows. This summer, he will be working as a SURF fellow under Professor Tim Colonius to conduct fast and adaptive numerical simulations of vortex ring collisions. In the more distant future, his plan is to attend graduate school. The Henry Ford II Scholar Award is funded under an endowment provided by the Ford Motor Company Fund. The award is made annually to engineering students with the best academic record at the end of the third year of undergraduate study.

Tags: honors GALCIT MCE Henry Ford II Scholar Award Rahul Arun

EAS Remembers Allan Acosta


Allan Acosta, Richard L. and Dorothy M. Hayman Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Emeritus, who spent 50 years at Caltech and helped launch the Institute's present day Mechanical Engineering option, passed away on May 18, 2020 at the age of 95. Allan joined the faculty in 1954 after having obtained his BS '45, MS '49, and PhD '52 degrees in Mechanical Engineering from Caltech. He collaborated with Chris Brennen on a project for NASA to eliminate the instability caused by a phenomenon known as "pogo oscillation" from the Space Shuttle design. Allan was a much-admired teacher and mentor who influenced many generations of students. He served as the Executive Officer of Mechanical Engineering from 1988 to 1993. He was the author of a popular textbook, Fluid Flow: A First Course in Fluid Mechanics, which he co-authored with Rolf Sabersky. Allan received numerous honors and awards, including election as a member of the National Academy of Engineering and as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. [Caltech story] [Allan Acosta Blog]

Tags: MCE EAS history Allan Acosta

Professor John Brady Elected to the National Academy of Sciences


Professor John F. Brady, Chevron Professor of Chemical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering, has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences in recognition of his distinguished and continuing achievements in original research. Election to the National Academy of Sciences is among the highest professional distinctions accorded to scientists and engineers. [Caltech story]

Tags: honors MCE John Brady

Amphibious Robots Storm Millikan Pond for ME 72


Caltech's annual engineering design competition returned for its 35th installment. Five teams of Caltech undergraduates spent months building three amphibious remote-controlled robots per team that could drive into Millikan Pond and speed across the water to drop, shoot, or push balls into targets and outscore the opposing team. It was a high-stakes afternoon of capsizing, cheering, and triumph. [Caltech story]

Tags: MCE ME 72 Michael Mello