News & Events


Heat Transfer Sets the Noise Floor for Ultrasensitive Electronics


Austin Minnich, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Physics, and colleagues have identified a source of electronic noise that could affect the functioning of instruments operating at very low temperatures, such as devices used in radio telescopes and advanced physics experiments. The team's findings also suggest that it may be possible to develop engineering strategies to make phonon heat transfer more efficient at low temperatures. For example, one possibility might be to change the design of transistors so that phonon generation takes place over a broader volume. "If you can make the phonon generation more spread out, then in principle you could reduce the temperature rise that occurs," Professor Minnich says. "We don't know what the precise strategy will be yet, but now we know the direction we should be going. That's an improvement." [Caltech release]

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Making Hotter Engines and Lasting Artwork


Katherine Faber, Simon Ramo Professor of Materials Science, studies the reasons why brittle ceramics fracture—and how these materials can be made stronger and tougher in the future. Her research interests have also been applied to sustainability and the arts. [Interview with Professor Faber] [ENGenious article]

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Professor Rosakis Elected to Academia Europaea


Ares J. Rosakis, Theodore von Karman Professor of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering as well as the Otis Booth Leadership Chair of the Division of Engineering and Applied Science, has been elected to the Academy of Europe (Academia Europaea) in the section of Physics and Engineering Sciences. The Academia Europaea was founded in 1988 and is an organization of eminent, individual scholars from across the continent of Europe. The 3000 members cover a wide range of academic disciplines including the humanities, social, physical and life sciences as well as mathematics, engineering and medicine. In addition to Professor Ares Rosakis, Caltech's Provost Edward Stolper, the Institute's past president David Baltimore, and Professor Alexander Varshavsky are members of the Academy.

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Professor Thompson Receives Packard Fellowship for Science and Engineering


Andrew Thompson, Assistant Professor of Environmental Science and Engineering, who uses autonomous underwater instruments and numerical models to study ocean currents and eddies.  As well as their impact on Earth's ecology and climate, has been awarded a Packard Fellowship for Science and Engineering. Packard Fellowships are awarded to the nation's "most innovative early-career scientists and engineers" to provide them with "flexible funding and the freedom to take risks and explore new frontiers in their fields," according to the foundation. [Caltech Release]

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Dr. Josette Bellan Receives JPL Magellan Award for Excellence


Josette Bellan, Caltech Visiting Associate in Mechanical and Civil Engineering as well as Senior Research Scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), has received the Magellan Award for Excellence for the development of new Large Eddy Simulation methodologies for particle laden and supercritical mixing layers. The Magellan Award is the highest JPL award presented to an individual for her scientific or technical accomplishments.

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Boeing CTO Receives the 2014 International von Kármán Wings Award


Dr. John Tracy, Chief Technology Officer and Senior Vice President of Engineering, Operations and Technology for The Boeing Company is the 2014 recipients of the prestigious International von Kármán Wings Award. Dr. Tracy was recognized for his visionary technology and leadership contributions to the aerospace industry, in particular, technical and functional excellence, and transforming structural and material technologies for commercial and defense applications. The von Kármán Wings Award acknowledges outstanding contributions by international innovators, leaders, and pioneers in aerospace and is presented by the Aerospace Historical Society, which is part of the Graduate Aerospace Laboratories at Caltech (GALCIT). [Caltech Release]

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Inside the Caltech Laboratories of Professors Atwater and Arnold


The creators of the Austrian TV documentary TM Wissen (TM Knowledge) go inside the laboratories of Professors Harry A. Atwater, Jr. and Frances H. Arnold to learn more about their research at Caltech.

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Seismology and Resilient Infrastructure


Domniki Asimaki, Professor of Mechanical and Civil Engineering, is interested in the behavior of geotechnical systems under the influence of forces such as wind, waves, and seismological activity. Using this information, she hopes to make predictive computer models that can lead to the design of an infrastructure that is resilient to natural and man-made hazards. Her work also relates to the harvesting of wind energy and she explains, “People like myself with an engineering background, but also with scientific curiosity, can work in areas like this and set the performance and design standards from scratch. But because the energy-harvesting industry is just starting out, we need to make it innovative while still financially feasible.” [Interview with Professor Asimaki] [ENGenious article]

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Sensors to Simplify Diabetes Management


As part of their Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) projects, several engineering students have contributed to the development of tiny biosensors that could one day eliminate the need for manual blood sugar tests. The students were advised by Caltech medical engineering faculty Axel Scherer, and Hyuck Choo. [Caltech Release] [ENGenious MedE Feature]

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What Is Possible in Real-World Communication Systems


Victoria Kostina, Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering, is the newest member of the EE Department.  When asked what excites her about research in information theory she states “ I love that it is very basic research, very theoretical. Once we strip away all the particularities of a given problem, we are left with a mathematical model, which is timeless. Once you solve such a problem, it stays there. But at the same time, I like that this work applies to the real world. The fact that it gives us insights into how to improve existing communication systems is a very exciting feature for me.” [Interview with Professor Kostina] [ENGenious article]

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Division of Engineering and Applied Science