News & Events
A recent Economist article entitled "Lagrangian Coherent Structures: The skeleton of water" draws on the work of alumni George Haller (PhD '94 in Applied Mechanics) and Francois Lekien (PhD '03 in Control and Dynamical Systems), as well as John Dabiri, Associate Professor of Aeronautics and Bioengineering and Jerrold Marsden, Carl F Braun Professor of Engineering, Control and Dynamical Systems, and Applied and Computational Mathematics. [Economist Article]
Qian Xuesen (also known as Tsien Hsue-Shen) (Aeronautics PhD '39), passed away on October 31, 2009. He was a student of Professor Theodore von Kármán and one of the founders of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "Dr. Tsien Hsue-Shen was one of the great scientist-engineers of the past century. He played an important role in the history of Caltech and the development of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. We are also very proud of his many accomplishments in China." said President Chameau. [Caltech Archives]
Regina Dugan (PhD '93 Mechanical Engineering) has been named director of DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency of the Department of Defense. Dugan, the founder and CEO of RedXDefense, LLC, a Maryland-based firm that develops technologies to detect and counter explosives, becomes the 19th director and first woman to head DARPA, the DoD's principal research and development agency.
In a special White House ceremony, President Obama will be presenting three EAS faculty: John Dabiri, Assistant Professor of Aeronautics and Bioengineering, Beverley McKeon, Assistant Professor of Aeronautics, and Joel Tropp, Assistant Professor of Applied and Computational Mathematics, with the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). "These extraordinarily gifted young scientists and engineers represent the best in our country," President Obama said. Dabiri,describes the idea behind his PECASE-winning research as "giving underwater vehicles the enhanced performance of fish (e.g. efficiency, stealth, and maneuverablity) without mimicking the shape and swimming motions of fish. Instead, we replicate the vortex dynamics in the wakes of swimming fish." His "bio-inspired systems" were used by Lydia Ruiz (PhD '09 Mechanical Engineering), to demonstrateincreases in vehicle propulsive efficiency of over 50 percent.
McKeon is receiving the PECASE for her research on fundamental questions in complex turbulent boundary layers. McKeon states that "the ultimate goal is to incorporate recent advances in the understanding of flow physics in order to develop low order models of flow over surfaces for Air Force applications". Tropp's PECASE-winning research "focuses on developing new algorithms for solving inverse problems, a basic challenge that arises throughout the mathematical sciences. Inverse problems also appear in medical imaging, in communication systems, in statistical data analysis, and a host of other areas." He uses tools from modern applied mathematics, such as optimization techniques and randomized algorithms to collect partial information about an object of interest, and incorporate additional background knowledge to develop a complete picture of the object.
Other researchers receiving the PECASE award this year are Joshua K. Willis from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the following Caltech Alumni Elizabeth Boon, (PhD '03 CCE), Markus J. Buehler, (Post doc in CCE) Michael J. Hochberg, (Ph.D. '06 EAS - Applied Physics), Justin K. Romberg, (Post doc in EAS - Applied and Computational Mathematics), Cecilia R. Aragon, (B.S. '82 PMA), Jason Graetz, (Ph.D. '03 EAS - Materials Science), and Ioannis Chasiotis, (Ph.D. '02 EAS - Aerospace).
Four EAS alumni have garnered the highest honor the Institute bestows and been named Caltech Distinguished Alumni: David B. Kirk (MS '90 Computer Science, PhD '93 Computer Science); Robert J. Lang, (BS '82 Electrical Engineering, PhD '86 Applied Physics); François M. Morel (MS '68 Civil Engineering, PhD '72 Engineering Science) and David W. Thompson (MS '78 Aeronautics). Kudos to all! [Caltech Press Release]
Carver Mead, Gordon and Betty Moore Professor of Engineering and Applied Science, Emeritus, and Caltech alumnus Gordon Moore, are among the fifteen 2009 inductees into the National Inventor's Hall of Fame. Mead helped to develop the standards and tools that permitted tens of thousands of transistors to be packaged on a single silicon chip, what is known as very large-scale integration (VLSI). Gordon Moore credits Mead with coining the term "Moore's Law" to describe the notion that the number of transistors that can be packaged on an integrated circuit will double every two years, and Mead performed the physics calculations to prove it. As a cofounder of both Fairchild Semiconductor and Intel, Moore set the pace and standards for Silicon Valley's chip manufacturing methods. His work established the model of the computer industry researcher-entrepreneur and help make Intel a world-leading chip maker.
Popular Mechanics honored a group of Caltech alumni at its annual Breakthrough Awards ceremony on October 15. Rudy Roy ('07), Ben Sexson ('07), and Daniel Oliver ('07), along with Art Center alum Charles Pyott, received the magazine's Next Generation Award for establishing the nonprofit organization Intelligent Mobility International (IMI). IMI's mission is to empower people with disabilities in developing countries by designing and producing safe, affordable wheelchairs made for the rugged terrain of rural communities. The project originated in 2006, in a Caltech class called Product Design for the Developing World, which is taught each fall by Visiting Professor of Mechanical Engineering Ken Pickar.
After 16 days in space and 250 orbits of Earth, space shuttle Endeavour touched down at 8:39 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, March 26, at NASA's Kennedy Space Center. According to NASA managers, the crew members, including Caltech alumnus Robert Behnken (MS '93, PhD '97), "are in excellent shape after a safe and successful landing."
On March 11, two Caltech mechanical-engineering alumni, Garrett Reisman (MS '92, PhD '97) and Robert Behnken (MS '93, PhD '97) lifted off on the Endeavor Space Shuttle as part of a seven-man team enroute to the International Space Station. The mission was directed from Houston by a third alumnus, Philip Engelauf (BS '78).