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The Science of Underground Kingdoms

08-24-21

A team led by the laboratory of Jose Andrade, George W. Housner Professor of Civil and Mechanical Engineering; Cecil and Sally Drinkward Leadership Chair, Department of Mechanical and Civil Engineering; Executive Officer for Mechanical and Civil Engineering, studied the digging habits of ants and uncovered the mechanisms guiding them. Before beginning this research, Andrade had a big question he wanted to answer: Do ants "know" how to dig tunnels, or are they just blindly digging? "I got inspired by these exhumed ant nests where they pour plastic or molten metal into them and you see these vast tunnel systems that are incredibly impressive," Andrade says. He enlisted the help of Joe Parker, Assistant Professor of Biology and Biological Engineering, whose research focuses on ants and their ecological relationships with other species. "What Jose and his team needed was somebody who works with ants and understands the adaptive, collective behaviors of these social insects to give them some context for what they were doing," Parker says. [Caltech story]

Tags: research highlights MCE Jose Andrade Joe Parker Robert Buarque de Macedo Edward Andò Shilpa Joy Gioacchino Viggiani Raj Kumar Pal

Material Inspired by Chain Mail Transforms from Flexible to Rigid on Command

08-12-21

Engineers at Caltech and JPL have developed a material inspired by chain mail that can transform from a foldable, fluid-like state into specific solid shapes under pressure. "We wanted to make materials that can change stiffness on command," says Chiara Daraio, G. Bradford Jones Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Physics. "We'd like to create a fabric that goes from soft and foldable to rigid and load-bearing in a controllable way." To explore what materials would work best, Daraio, together with former Caltech postdoctoral researcher Yifan Wang and former Caltech graduate student Liuchi Li (PhD '19) as co-lead authors of the Nature paper, designed a number of configurations of linked particles, from linking rings to linking cubes to linking octahedrons (which resemble two pyramids connected at the base). The materials were 3-D printed out of polymers and even metals, with help from Douglas Hofmann, principal scientist at JPL, which Caltech manages for NASA. These configurations were then simulated in a computer with a model from the group of José E. Andrade, the George W. Housner Professor of Civil and Mechanical Engineering and Caltech's resident expert in the modeling of granular materials. [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS Chiara Daraio MCE Jose Andrade KNI Yifan Wang Liuchi Li

Nailing It: Caltech Engineers Help Show That InSight Lander Probe Can Hammer Itself Into Martian Soil

11-26-18

Professor José Andrade’s research team including Postdoctoral researchers Ivan Vlahinic and Jason Marshall have helped the InSight Mars lander boldly go where no one has gone before: beneath the surface of Mars. InSight is equipped with two main instrument packages: a seismometer for studying how seismic waves (for example, from marsquakes and meteorite impacts) travel through the planet and a "mole" that will burrow into the ground, dragging a tether with temperature sensors behind it to measure how temperatures change with depth on the planet. These instruments will tell scientists about Mars's interior structure (similar to the way an ultrasound lets doctors "see" inside a human body) and also about the heat flow from the planet's interior. When designing the mole the engineers at JPL wanted to be certain that it would be capable of reaching the necessary depth, and so they called on Professor Andrade, an expert on the physics of granular materials. He was able to develop new computer models that helped the JPL team predict the mole's effectiveness in Martian soil. Unless the mole encounters an obstacle, Andrade is confident that it will be successful. [Caltech story]

Tags: research highlights MCE Jose Andrade postdocs Ivan Vlahinic Jason Marshall

Professor Andrade Receives Huber Civil Engineering Research Prize

03-29-18

José Andrade, George W. Housner Professor of Civil and Mechanical Engineering; Cecil and Sally Drinkward Leadership Chair, Department of Mechanical and Civil Engineering; Executive Officer for Mechanical and Civil Engineering, has been awarded the Walter L. Huber Civil Engineering Research Prize, the highest civil engineering research award aimed at mid-career researchers who have made notable contributions to their discipline. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) has recognized him, "for revolutionizing the field of granular geo-materials" by creating "rigorous multiscale modeling approaches based on scientific understanding of the mechanics and physics across scales and for defining new frontiers for the civil engineering profession including planetary exploration.” [Caltech story]

Tags: honors MCE Jose Andrade

Building a Legacy in Engineering

01-24-18

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

Tags: MCE Jose Andrade alumni Cecil Drinkward Sally Drinkward

Professor Andrade Receives Thomas J.R. Hughes Young Investigator Award

12-05-16

José E. Andrade, Professor of Civil and Mechanical Engineering; Executive Officer for Mechanical and Civil Engineering, has been selected by the ASME Applied Mechanics Division to receive the 2017 Thomas J.R. Hughes Young Investigator Award. The award recognizes special achievements in Applied Mechanics for researchers under the age of 40.

Tags: honors MCE Jose Andrade

Counting on Grains of Sand

08-24-16

José E. Andrade, Professor of Civil and Mechanical Engineering; Executive Officer for Mechanical and Civil Engineering, and colleagues have developed a new method that measures the way forces move through granular materials—one that could improve our understanding of everything from how soils bear the weight of buildings to what stresses are at work deep below the surface of the earth. [Caltech story]

Tags: research highlights MCE Jose Andrade

Caltech Three Minute Thesis Competition

04-20-16

Caltech Library hosted its first Three Minute Thesis 3MT® competition on April 15, 2016. Applied Mechanics graduate student Utkarsh Mital, advised by Professor José E. Andrade, won the People’s Choice award and placed second in the competition for his three minute presentation on, “Understanding Fundamentals of Soil Liquefaction: A necessary step to make our cities resilient to liquefaction .” Kristin Antelman, Caltech University Librarian said: “communicating research to a general audience is now a key skill for researchers at all stages in their careers … We are thoroughly impressed by the quality of the submissions received which speaks to a vibrant research community here at Caltech.” [Caltech Library story] [Springer Nature release]

Tags: honors MCE Jose Andrade Utkarsh Mital Kristin Antelman

Professor Andrade Elected to Engineering Mechanics’ Board of Governors

09-25-14

José E. Andrade, Professor of Civil and Mechanical Engineering, has been elected as a member of the Board of Governors for the Engineering Mechanics Institute (EMI) of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) . The goal of the EMI is to stimulate and support mechanics-related activities by enabling new technologies, developing rational and quantitative decision-making paradigms, advancing mechanics as a science, and playing key roles in the education of university students and practicing engineers.

Tags: honors MCE Jose Andrade

Graduate Student Wins Young Stress Analyst Competition

07-17-14

Mechanical and civil engineering graduate student Ryan Hurley who works with Professor José Andrade has won the BSSM (British Society for Strain Measurement) Young Stress Analyst Competition at the 16th International Conference on Experimental Mechanics (ICEM.16). The competition is an annual competition that is intended to encourage and reward young practitioners in the field of experimental mechanics. Ryan was among six finalists representing universities in Belgium, Poland, France, and the USA, who were selected from 34 applications by a panel of experts. The finalists presented their work during the ICEM.16 conference and were judged by a panel of leading researchers. [YSA Competition Information]

Tags: honors MCE Jose Andrade Ryan Hurley