ChemE’s Ignacio Grossmann was recently awarded an Honorary Doctor of Engineering Sciences by RTWH. The award recognizes his outstanding achievements in process engineering and generous social commitment to education and research.
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.
Fischhoff quoted on science communication
EPP’s Baruch Fischhoff was quoted in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on science communication during the pandemic. The government has failed to inform the public since the start of the pandemic, he said—and hasn’t presented the facts and communicated them in a way that can be understood. “It’s a moral duty to make certain that people understand,” Fischhoff said. “That’s critical to their health and by failing to do that, they have confused everybody needlessly and undermined health confidence.”
Fischhoff quoted on decision making
The Washington Post
EPP’s Baruch Fischhoff was quoted in the Washington Post on making decisions while combating decision fatigue. “It helps not to be in it alone,” says Fischhoff. “Ask someone you trust who cares about you to check your thinking. It can be helpful to share your uncertainty and anxiety.”
CEE/EPP’s Destenie Nock was quoted on NPR about keeping infrastructure like power lines working in extreme weather. Many parts of New Orleans were left without power after Hurricane Ida passed through in late August.“Where you might have undergrounded the [power] lines to protect them from wind, putting them underground makes them more susceptible to flooding,” Nock said.
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.”
Tsamitis delivered keynote talk
INI Director Dena Haritos Tsamitis recently delivered the keynote talk at the POWER Female Tech Entrepreneurs Forum: Preparing for Greece’s Cloud-Based Future, hosted by the U.S. Department of State in Athens, Greece, where she addressed female startup founders, entrepreneurs, and venture capitalists on the topic of harnessing the value of a diverse and inclusive culture in tech. She was invited to present at the forum following a live TV interview on the Greek public broadcast station ERT regarding her connection to Greece and her work at Carnegie Mellon.
ECE/CyLab’s Giulia Fanti has received Intel’s 2021 Rising Star Faculty Award. The program has selected 10 promising early-career academic researchers who lead some of the most important technology research of our time.
Cranor quoted on tracking software in kids' phones
CyLab Director Lorrie Cranor was quoted in Bloomberg Opinion on using tracking software in kids’ phones. It was found that three quarters of UK parents tracked their kids movements, citing peace of mind as their reasoning. However, some experts believe this constant surveillance will begin to diminish the children’s sense of identity. Cranor posed an important question, “Does this software actually keep our kids safer?” She continued, “If it doesn’t keep them safer, then why are we doing this?” If parents plan to track their kids, she emphasizes speaking to them about it and obtaining their consent.
Three-million dollar grant to fund study of internal states in the brain
A group of researchers from Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh were recently awarded a three-million dollar grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). Over the next five years, the NSF grant will support research and trainees investigating internal states in the brain, including motivation, attention, and arousal, using brain-computer interfaces. The research will be jointly led by BME’s Steve Chase and Matt Smith, and BME/ECE’s Byron Yu, and Aaron Batista of the University of Pittsburgh.
Viswanathan quoted on Tesla and batteries
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.”
ECE’s Phil Koopman was quoted on CNBC about the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration’s request for crash data from Tesla. Koopman characterized NHTSA’s data request as “really sweeping.” He said, “This is an incredibly detailed request for huge amounts of data. But it is exactly the type of information that would be needed to dig in to whether Tesla vehicles are acceptably safe.”
EPP’s Jay Apt and Granger Morgan published an op-ed on decarbonizing electricity by 2035 in The Hill. “If the 2035 target is to be more than political rhetoric, the administration, Congress, state legislatures and a host of federal and state regulators need to start now to identify, develop and implement strategies to overcome the many impediments that this massive effort will face,” they say. Some of these strategies involve new energy generation, including zero-carbon gas turbines, high voltage wire transmission, and inverters.
Walker and Valentine mentioned on polymers
Argonne National Lab
ChemE’s Lynn Walker and Ph.D. student Connor Valentine were mentioned by Argonne National Lab on their diblock polymers research. Researchers want to form crystals using diblock polymers, but processing issues mean it could take months at room temperature. The team found a way to speed that up.
“We were able to show that this shear processing step is just a very controllable way to get the structure you want and how fast you want it,” said Valentine.
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.
President Emeritus Jared Cohon published an op-ed in The Hill on the proposed Innovation and Competition Act currently being reviewed by Congress. Passing the act will secure the United States’ place in developing science and technology, assuring prosperity in the face of other countries. The op-ed states, “congress needs to rise to the occasion—as it did after World War II and after the launch of Sputnik—and make an investment in new institutions that can ensure continued U.S. leadership.”
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.
Cohen-Karni neuron stimulation research featured
Research by BME/MSE’s Tzahi Cohen-Karni was featured in Florida News Times, as well as Knowledia, Asian Share, and Flipboard. It involves stimulating nerves with light, and stands to better our understanding of how the brain functions, as well as improving neurological disorder treatment. “The really unique thing about the materials I use in my lab is that I don’t have to use high energy pulses to get effective stimulation,” said Cohen-Karni. “By shining a short p>ulse of light, we found that the DRG-MXene interface successfully modified the cell electrophysiology.”/p>
Rajkumar quoted on Tesla robots
ECE’s Ragunathan Rajkumar was quoted in Reuters on Tesla robots. Elon Musk, CEO of the company, has recently announced that humanoid robots could be released as early as next year. Rajkumar, however, is skeptical. “I can safely say that it will be much longer than 10 years before a humanoid bot from any company on the planet can go to the store and get groceries for you.”
CMU and collaborators awarded NIH grant
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.
Chase research on “choking under pressure” featured
Research from BME’s Steven Chase has been featured in WIRED, Ars Technica, Nerdist, The Daily Mail, and Technology Networks. He and University of Pittsburgh’s Aaron Batista studied “choking under pressure” in a set of rhesus monkeys, in order to determine whether or not the phenomenon occurred in non-human primates. They trained three rhesus monkeys in a simple reaching task, where they’d move a cursor on a screen using an infrared sensor on their finger. The researchers found that when rewards were increased to a high level (referred to as “jackpot” in the study), the monkeys underperformed in their task, or, “choked.” “Seeing it in animals [means] it's just something the brain does. It’s not something we should be beating each other up over,” says Batista.
Cranor quoted about security threats posed by QR codes
In an article about the rise of the use of QR codes for “touchless interactions” over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, CyLab Director Lorrie Cranor warned that while QR codes are good for retailers, they also provide malicious hackers with new tools. “Most of the time, the QR code takes you to whatever website you thought you were going to, but sometimes you wind up going to a phishing website or a website that’s full of viruses or malware,” she said.
Cranor quoted on the importance of using password managers
New York Magazine
In an article in New York Magazine about password managers, CyLab Director Lorrie Cranor stressed that password managers are important tools people should use to create strong passwords. “There are a number of excellent password managers out there, and it is more important that people use one than which one they use,” said Cranor.
Alumni-led startup selected for NSF program
Integrated Innovation Institute
A start-up founded by a group of Carnegie Mellon Engineering alumni was selected for and completed the National Science Foundation’s prestigious National I-Corps Program this summer. The company, Refibred, was established by ECE alumni Sarika Bajaj and Tushita Gupta and CEE alumna Ida Wang—all graduates of the Integrated Innovation Institute as well. The textile recycling start-up received a $50,000 grant and conducted 100 customer interviews as part of the program to better understand the industry and how they’ll successfully enter it. They also received the Spirit of I-Corps award.
EPP’s Baruch Fischhoff has been awarded the 2021 Sigma Xi William Procter Prize for Scientific Achievement. The prize is awarded to an individual who “has made an outstanding contribution to scientific research and has demonstrated an ability to communicate the significance of this research to scientists in other disciplines.”
Litster quoted on hydrogen-powered vehicles
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.
The Data Storage Systems Center was the host of the 32nd Magnetic Recording Conference (TMRC) in August 2021. Sponsored by the IEEE Magnetics Society, the four-day virtual conference covered the following topics: solid state memory—devices and applications, advanced generation recording technologies, and recording and memory fundamentals. The Data Storage Systems Center at Carnegie Mellon University is a world-leading academic research institution in data storage technology. The research program focuses on magnetic data storage technology for hard disk drive application as well as emerging solid-state memory technologies.
Michalek quoted on electric vehicle charging stations
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.
Dzombak quoted on climate change’s effect on Pittsburgh
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
CEE Head David Dzombak was quoted in the The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about how the changing climate may affect Pittsburgh’s infrastructure. “In general, dry places are getting drier and hotter, and wetter places are getting wetter,” Dzombak explained. Increased precipitation in the region—which some experts are starting to refer to as “the waterbelt”—will likely overwhelm the existing sewer and stormwater systems, leading to widespread flooding and landslides. Upgrades such as green infrastructure will need to be made to address the issue before it’s too late.
Jaramillo presents to journalists on climate crisis
EPP’s Paulina Jaramillo recently gave a presentation to about 400 journalists in Colombia participating in an executive education program at Universidad EAFIT about the climate crisis. Her presentation was about the IPCC, its history, its processes, and the recent report released.
Fuchs quoted on the death of Moore’s Law
EPP’s Erica Fuchs was quoted in The Register on whether or not the famed “Moore’s Law” is achievable anymore. The law, conceived of in 1965, predicts that the number of transistors on a circuit will double every two years. Fuchs explains that “half of economic growth in the US and worldwide has also been attributed to this trend and the innovations it enabled throughout the economy.” In the years since, the law has predicted much of the technological advancement in circuit technology. However, evidence is pointing to the potential end of the law’s applicability, as manufacturing such small devices becomes more and more difficult.
He and colleagues receive NIH/NIBIB Neural Interfacing Training Grant
BME’s Bin He and his team were recently awarded an NIH/NIBIB Predoctoral Training Grant on Neural Interfacing. Over the next five years, the grant will fund the effort to establish an integrative Neural Interfacing graduate training program at Carnegie Mellon University. The new program aims to enhance both interdisciplinary education and training of the next generation of scientific and technical leaders in this important, emerging field. Outstanding Ph.D. students in biomedical engineering, electrical and computer engineering, and neural computation (via the Neuroscience Institute) may be nominated to receive traineeship for their neural interfacing-related research training as a result of the grant, beginning in fall 2021. Other investigators of the grant are Marlene Behrmann (Psychology), Steve Chase (BME and Neuroscience Institute), and Matt Smith (BME and Neuroscience Institute).
Walker and Valentine’s research featured
The Science Times
Research from ChemE’s Lynn Walker and Ph.D. student Connor Valentine was mentioned in The Science Times. The research focuses on diblock polymers, a specific type of soft material that can form crystal structures with a variety of uses. However, creating the structures have proven to be difficult, which led to a collaboration between Carnegie Mellon and the University of Minnesota. The team also investigated the effects of a manufacturing technique known as shear processing, which was able to reduce a manufacturing step’s time from five months into three minutes. “Shear processing can help with the dynamics, the speed, and the rates of structural change, not just the final result, which is something people don’t really think about,” says Valentine. “They often think when you shear these materials, it’s going to change the structure into something different, but that’s not necessarily true.”
CEE’s Costa Samaras was quoted in E&E News’ Energywire on how older power plants, despite being necessary to address power demand in some cases, can negatively contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. We’ve seen increasing temperatures and extreme weather events caused by climate change, which in turn increases the demand for power. That demand cannot always be met by the existing grid, as seen in the Pacific Northwest and Texas earlier this year. This can lead to increased use of older, fossil-fuel based power plants over cleaner, renewable energy sources, which are more expensive and produce air pollutants and greenhouse gases. Energy efficiency, demand response, more storage, and renewables are needed to flatten the peak demand on the hottest days, says Samaras.
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.
DeVincent Wolf selected for convergent manufacturing committee
The National Academies of Engineering, Science, and Mathematics
The Dean’s Office’s Sandra DeVincent Wolf has been selected to serve on the National Academies Committee on Convergent Manufacturing. The committee will put together a publicly-accessible workshop, titled “Convergent Manufacturing Platform - A Future of Additive, Subtractive, and Transformative Manufacturing: A Workshop.” It will look into issues associated with research and development leading to convergent manufacturing capability here in the United States.
Samaras’ research on electric vehicles featured
The New York Times
Research from CEE’s Costa Samaras was featured in a recent opinion piece published by The New York Times. The article discusses whether widespread use of electric vehicles (EVs) will be enough to help solve the problem of climate change. A set of tweets by Samaras help to explain that programs such as gas vehicle buy-backs are essential if we want to reach 100% EV usage by 2050, the year that the Biden administration hopes the country will reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. “Even after full depreciation, cars provide mobility services, and most families aren’t going to shell out $30k+ for a new EV because a spreadsheet says (correctly) an EV has a lower discounted cost per mile, when their existing capital asset (a gas car) is working fine,” he writes. Samaras’ research on the price of wide-scale EV use is also featured in the article.
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.
Bettinger interviewed on ingestible sensor research
Pittsburgh Health Data Alliance
BME/MSE’s Chris Bettinger was interviewed by the Pittsburgh Health Data Alliance about his continuing research in developing an ingestible sensor. The device would serve as a means of diagnosing eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE), a painful inflammatory esophageal disease. The publication first reported on the sensor in April 2020, and provided an update on their ability to create structural materials with diverse mechanical properties out of common, edible materials. They hope to move into clinical testing of the device soon, alongside a partner from the University of Pittsburgh and UPMC.
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.
ECE/CyLab’s Vyas Sekar was quoted in WESA about the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill that was recently approved by the U.S. Senate. Among improvements for roads, bridges, and internet access, the bill also includes funding to increase the country’s resilience to cyber attacks. However, cyber security is a complicated field, and requires lots of improvements in many areas. “Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet here,” he said. “We should be really investing in foundational capabilities and long-term research across these dimensions to build future resilience.”
CyLab Director Lorrie Cranor was quoted in NBC News on privacy and efficacy concerns amongs demands for mandatory virtual Covid-19 Vaccine Passport use in New York. It involves vaccinated personnel storing a photo of their vaccine card on their mobile phone, using their NYC Covid Safe App, rather than personal cameras. “People are going to do whatever is the most convenient and has the least friction,” said Cranor. “If everybody is fine with just the picture of our paper card, then why would we do anything else?”
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.”
Nock interviewed on energy poverty by multiple platforms
CEE/EPP’s Destenie Nock was interviewed on multiple platforms, including the YouTube channel Energy Nerd Show, the Apple podcast The Big Switch, and gtm. Nock shared her thoughts on energy poverty and inequity, discussing how Biden’s 2035 zero net carbon plan will affect it, as well as discussing possible future in solutions, such as communal energy grids. In her interview with The Big Switch, Nock said, “When I think of the grid of the future, I’m hopeful for one that reduces the burden on marginalized and vulnerable communities and create jobs not just for people who currently have them but for anybody that wants them.”
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
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.
Franchetti appointed Associate Dean for Research
Congratulations to the newly-appointed Associate Dean for Research for the College of Engineering, ECE’s Franz Franchetti. Franchetti’s history in leading multi-investigator research groups, involvement in multiple research-related roles around the college, and serving as the co-chair of a committee to define a possible shared high-performance computing infrastructure for research for the college all led to his nomination and selection. He succeeds CEE’s Burcu Akinci. The College is grateful for her six years of service in the role.
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.”
Armanios mentioned on equity in infrastructure
EPP’s Daniel Armanios was mentioned in ASCE Source in an article discussing how infrastructure can affect social equity. Namely, the construction of the highway system throughout the United States severed or leveled many communities of color that are still yet to recover. A recent paper by Armanios on the subject was mentioned as well, specifically investigating how low-clearance bridges—too low for many forms of public transportation to pass through—were more common in neighborhoods with racial minorities. The U.S. still has room to improve when it comes to incorporating local concerns into large-scale engineering projects.
Whitefoot quoted on electronic vehicle demand
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
Franchetti selected for DOE’s X-Stack teams
U.S. Department of Energy
ECE’s Franz Franchetti and his proposal have been selected as one of five for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science – Advanced Scientific Computing Research (ASCR) X-Stack: Programming Environments for Scientific Computing teams.
Nock interviewed on power grids and climate change
Make Me Smart
CEE/EPP’s Destenie Nock was interviewed on Marketplace’s Make Me Smart podcast about how power grids function, and how climate change is starting to affect them. She spoke about the recent, large-scale outages seen in Texas earlier this year, the steps needed to decarbonize energy sources, and the feasibility of various energy solutions, such as bidirectional power and microgrids. As it stands, the power system is rather precarious. “The one rule of the power grid is that supply always has to equal demand,” says Nock. “When you get that wrong, that’s when you get a blackout. And that’s a big problem.” Extreme temperatures due to climate change have threatened to disrupt that delicate balance even more.
CEE/EPP’s Destenie Nock was interviewed on WESA about microgrids, their growing popularity, and a recent installation at the Pittsburgh International Airport. A microgrid is a power grid separate from the main power grid, which can be used to generate more personal energy. The airport will be using a combination of natural gas and solar energy. Other uses for microgrids included a backup in case of emergencies. Though relatively new, Nock believes they will increase in popularity as time passes. “As we see more extreme weather events with climate change and more instances of deep freezes like we saw in Texas, more businesses, companies, hospitals, airports want to make sure they all reliably have power when they need it, and they’re not dependent on some power plant really far off in the distance,” she said.
Samaras interviewed on climate podcast
My Climate Journey
CEE’s Costa Samaras was a guest on the My Climate Journey podcast, which explores the topic of climate change and how listeners can help. In this episode, Samaras talks about his journey into studying climate change, his research at Carnegie Mellon, and various ways that we can approach a more sustainable society through procedures like vehicle electrification and decarbonization. “Climate is not an environmental problem, it’s an everything problem,” he says. “Anything that we do now, likely has a climate lens to it, if you think about it.”
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.
ECE’s Swarun Kumar and MechE’s Carmel Majidi have had their research on fabric-friendly sensors featured in I-Connect007 and Mirage. Developed 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).
MechE’s Venkat Viswanathan was quoted in Physics on using AI to discover more environmentally-friendly materials for EV batteries. In recent years, computers have enabled scientists to simulate structures and properties of molecules and materials, saving both time and money during the synthetization process. However, as Viswanathan said, “We’ve barely scratched the surface.” The possibilities are endless, going even beyond the comprehension of scientists, leaving an innumerable amount left to explore. For Viswanathan, this is where AI became important: “AI especially outperforms humans at exploring multidimensional spaces,” Viswanathan added, such as the one he created.
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.
Dean’s Office staff give presentations at engineering development forum
From June 15-16, the Dean’s Office’s Gena Henry and Tiffany Sudar presented “Connecting, Cultivating, and Celebrating: A Retrospective on Virtual Major Gifts Management.” Gena Henry and Kelly McQuoid also presented “Best Practices with Virtual Events” to advancement and development staff at universities across the U.S. at the Engineering Development Forum.
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.
Ph.D. student op-ed published
EPP Ph.D. student Barry Dewitt’s op-ed on what Canadian citizens should do, versus what they can do, in the wake of COVID-19 vaccines, was published in The Ottawa Citizen. From his piece: “we should demand policies from our governments that allow us to make informed decisions whose risks are minimized as much as possible.”
Armanios quoted on community review processes
EPP’s Daniel Armanios was quoted in ASCE Source on the community review processes that ensures minority and disadvantaged communities affected by development projects are properly compensated, one major goal of the Biden infrastructure plan. However, even with standards in place, promised benefits do not always follow through. “What I would love to see is the DOT’s Departmental Office of Civil Rights spearhead a convening of engineers, social scientists, lawyers, and local and state government officials as well as developer and community stakeholders to start building these standards,” Armanios said in regard to communities protecting themselves.
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.
Kumar interviewed about 5G
ECE’s Swarun Kumar was interviewed by Thrive Global on 5G: what it is, how it can improve lives, and what concerns need to be addressed. When asked for four examples of how 5G will improve lives, Kumar said “The speed up offered with 5G networks would improve the download speeds and streaming quality for applications such as gaming, HD video streaming, and video conferencing. It could also enable new applications that are latency-sensitive such as augmented reality and connectivity for autonomous cars. 5G could also enable smart infrastructure, smart homes, smarter factories, and workplaces by connecting ubiquitous sensors ranging from traffic lights, roadside sensors, and thermostats.”
Rajkumar quoted on autopilot in cars
The New York Times
ECE’s Raj Rajkumar was quoted by The New York Times on the effectiveness of autopilot in Tesla vehicles following multiple accidents. While Tesla claims that the autopilot system makes driving safer by eliminating human error, Rajkumar stated that the “monitoring system is fundamentally weak because it’s easy to cheat and doesn’t monitor very consistently.” In one accident that resulted in the death of a high school sophomore, Rajkumar noted the autopilot system’s lack of using its radar sensor, which could have prevented the accident.
Fischhoff interviewed on COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy
The National Academies of Science, Engineering, Medicine
EPP’s Baruch Fischhoff participated in a Q&A session with The National Academies of Science, Engineering, Medicine on inoculation hesitancy regarding the COVID-19 vaccine. The session covered reasons for doubts surrounding the vaccine, media-based reception, and what can be done to increase vaccine acceptance. When asked what should be done differently, Fischhoff said, “My greatest concern is not with the content of the communications, but with the process that produced them. Were members of diverse communities consulted before message design began, to ensure its relevance and secure their trust? Did messages undergo at least minimal testing? Did the messages respect the constraints on recipients’ lives—finances, work schedules, transportation, child and elder care responsibilities, etc.—and not ask them to do the impossible?”
Fuchs gives testimony to House Science Space and Technology Committee
House Science, Space, and Technology Committee House Science, Space, and Technology Committee
EPP’s Erica Fuchs joined the House on June 9, to give her testimony on building regional innovation economies. “Domestic economic inequality has increased, social mobility declined, and political polarization is on the rise.” She told Chairwoman Stevens, Ranking Member Waltz, and members of the subcommittee during the meeting streamed on YouTube. “Center stage to both of these trends are trade and technology: research has documented negative impacts of import competition on employment and earnings in trade-exposed local labor markets and a rise in political extremism in locations hardest hit by trade.” To combat these, Fuchs explains that the United States needs to take greater initiative in creating products exclusive to its shores and which have high demand. “In my research on advanced semiconductors for communications, we find that while offshoring reduces production costs in the short-term, it reduces incentives for and the possibility of firms undertaking innovations that may have significant implications for national security and in the longer term hold potential to enable those firms to access larger markets.”
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
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.”
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.
ECE’s Swarun Kumar spoke to Parade about 5G technology and its many potential applications. “5G is a broad term used to describe the next generation of cellular networks after 4G,” he explains. Its main purpose is to increase mobile internet speeds and connectivity, but it can do more than just that. Increased coverage would bring about new applications, including being able to expand the number of internet-connected devices. “Besides these traditional applications, 5G could enable new applications such as augmented reality and connectivity for the Internet of Things,” Kumar says. “In this sense, 5G is also about improving reliability, latency, and scale, besides just a speedup.”
Dahl and Sanches collaborate on cell research
For ChemE’s Kris Dahl the pandemic has in part created both international and interdisciplinary research opportunities. In conjunction with the CMU Portugal Program, Dahl teamed up with João Sanches, associate professor at the Institute for Systems and Robotics (ISR), to stiffen single cells within epithelial monolayers and examine the morphology and motion of surrounding cells. The results provide insight into how fibrosis can start and become so devastating in different body tissues.
Grossmann publishes textbook based on research
ChemE’s Ignacio Grossmann has published a textbook on his research in optimization and process systems engineering through Cambridge University Press. Process systems engineering considers all the factors that go into making a system work, utilizing mathematical optimization to determine the best decision during each step of a process. >Unlike other textbooks which focus on continuous optimization, Grossmann’s addresses linear and nonlinear optimization models involving discrete variables. The textbook is based Grossmann’s notes from his course “Advanced Process Systems Engineering,” a core graduate-level course for chemical engineering students; the class allows students to learn modeling skills that are highly-valued by industry in addition to basic theory and algorithms.
McQuoid and Fahey present at pre-collegiate engineering education (PCEE) conference
The Dean’s Office’s Kelly McQuoid and Megan Fahey presented “Fun-Size Engineering: Focusing on the Familiar,” explaining CMU’s College of Engineering’s K-12 outreach program and strategy to educators and K-12 program managers at the national Pre-collegiate Engineering Education (PCEE) Conference. They were joined by Carl Young, recent MechE and BME grad and Engineering Ambassador, and Maya Cook, rising sophomore at Avonworth High School and former participant in the College of Engineering Summer Engineering Experience camp.
Porter elected 2021 AVS fellow
MSE’s Lisa Porter has been elected as a 2021 AVS Fellow. The distinguished group honors her contributions to understanding the processing and properties of metal-semiconductor contacts and interfaces in wide bandgap semiconductors. The 2021 AVS Fellows will be honored at the AVS Awards Ceremony during the AVS 67th International Symposium, held October 24-29, 2021.
Salvador announced 2021 ACerS fellow
The American Ceramic Society
MSE’s Paul Salvador has been announced as one of 17 individuals joining the 2021 Class of Fellows at ACerS. It recognizes members who have distinguished themselves through their contributions to the ceramic arts or sciences, including broad and productive scholarship, conspicuous achievement in the industry, or service to the Society. The awards will be presented at the Society’s Annual Honor and Awards banquet, October 18, 2021.
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.
CEE/EPP’s Mitchell Small and EPP Ph.D. student Turner Cotterman had their research featured in WESA. President Biden has announced his goal for the United States to reduce its greenhouse gas pollution by more than 50% by 2030. However, this means a reduction of carbon emissions that Small and Cotterman say will need large quantities of support from the public. “There’s plenty of research that tells us that if we want to quickly and fully address climate change, then we really need all clean solutions on deck,” said Cotterman. While energy models consider the positives and negatives of different energy sources, such as nuclear power, they fail to consider social approval rates. This relationship, according to Cotterman, is crucial for reaching Biden's goal. “These two need to go hand in hand,” he said. “How they all fit together is really one of the critical elements we need to consider as we work towards rolling out a whole host of technologies to address climate change.”
Qian receives grant from US DOT
US Department of Transportation
CEE’s Sean Qian has received a two-year grant from the United States Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration. The project will create an AI-powered system to predict and respond to non-recurrent traffic events like accidents, severe weather, and road maintenance, among others. Qian’s system will use AI to predict traffic conditions a half hour in the future across a transportation separated in half-mile increments, updating every five minutes to respond to predicted conditions and preempt traffic congestion before it can form.
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.
Holm selected as the ASM Edward DeMille Campbell Memorial Lecturer for 2021
MSE’s Liz Holm has been selected by ASM International as the ASM Edward DeMille Campbell Memorial Lecturer for 2021. The lecture was established in 1925 in memory of distinguished Honorary member Edward DeMille Campbell. Holm was chosen for her high stature and multitude of achievements in material science engineering. The Campbell Lecture has been the centerpiece of the annual program for five decades, and Holm’s was no exception. From her lecture, Computational Materials Science: Past, Present, Future: “Materials science and engineering calculations were among the first applications of digital computing, and the field of computational materials science has grown in proportion to computational power—which is to say, exponentially. We shall review the history of computing in support of materials research and observe how increases in compute capacity enable scientific advances with examples drawn from multiscale modeling in support of microstructural science.”
Christin quoted on Bitcoin security
CyLab/EPP’s Nicolas Christin was quoted by Newsweek on the security of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. During the Colonial Pipeline hack in May, a large ransom was paid to the hackers in Bitcoin. In early June, the FBI was able to recover around $2.3 million of the ransom back from the hackers by gaining access to the Bitcoin wallet that contained them—something that shouldn’t be possible thanks to cryptocurrency security. Christin explained that the coin’s security is still sound, but that the trouble may have been in an intermediary. “It just highlights that bitcoins are traceable, which has never been in doubt,” he says. “This has nothing to do with the underlying technology.”
Michalek op-ed on electric vehicles published
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.”
The Accelerator’s Hamish Gordon and ECE’s Amritanshu Pandey were recently announced as winners of the C3.ai Digital Transformation Institute (DTI) awards. This year, the awards were focused on “digital transformation & AI for energy and climate security.” More than $4 million is to be awarded to a total of 21 DTI recipients, with individual funding amounts ranging from $100,000 to $250,000. Gordon’s proposal was selected as part of the AI for Improved Climate Change Modeling category. Pandey’s proposal was selected as part of the Cybersecurity of Power and Energy Infrastructure category.
Samaras interviewed about offshore wind
CEE’s Costas Samaras was interviewed in MARKETPLACE on offshore wind energy. Last week, the Biden administration announced that they will begin exploring offshore wind energy and plan to have 2,000 turbines in American waters by 2030. The new energy farms will be located in the Gulf of Mexico. Samaras feels optimistic about the developments, saying, “It feels like it’s starting to arrive. The Department of Energy estimated that the U.S. could install about 86,000 megawatts of offshore projects by 2050. We can go out and build the first two, three, four tranches of offshore wind, see how things are going, and come back to it and still have more to go back to.”
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.
EPP’s Jon Peha was interviewed about a recently-published study about how internet service providers (ISPs) handled increased demand caused by the pandemic. Many outlets reported that service remained consistent, but Peha found something different. “While downstream Internet performance did not suffer much, upstream did.” Downstream describes data being sent from the Internet to your computer, and is often what the ISP advertises. Upstream is the opposite, and speeds are usually much slower. “With things like videoconferencing becoming more and more important in our lives, upstream speeds are essential,” says Peha.
Akinci elected to National Academy of Construction
Civil & Environmental Engineering
CEE’s Burcu Akinci has been elected as a member of the National Academy of Construction (NAC). Members of the NAC are recognized as having made “significant contributions to the effectiveness of the engineering and construction industry over a period of multiple years.”
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
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.”
Fischhoff quoted on health officials properly communicating risk
The Scientific American
EPP’s Baruch Fischhoff was quoted in Scientific American on the responsibilities of health officials to be informative and transparent when discussing risks associated with new treatments. After rare clotting issues arose in some recipients of the Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca vaccines, distributions were halted, and people became more reluctant to get them. Research has shown that people tend to overestimate the likelihood of a rare event, especially if it has been highlighted in the media. Fischhoff explains that it is up to experts to dissuade these worries by properly educating the public. “Most people have no problem understanding risk if you, the expert, do your job right,” he insists. Fischoff goes on to say that initial explanations for the vaccine pauses were “a colossal communications failure,” and that health officials have a duty to confidently explain their findings, with data to back their claims, as to why the pauses result in more harm than good.
Carnegie Mellon awarded $150 million grant
The Wall Street Journal
Carnegie Mellon University was featured in The Wall Street Journal after being awarded a $150 million grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation. Half of the funding with be used in building the Robotics Innovation Center, with construction expected to be complete by the 2025-2026 school year, as well as making the current Manufacturing Futures Initiative a permanent institute at the university. The other half will be dedicated toward constructing a new science building, located on the Oakland campus. This story was also featured in: Forbes, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, WESA, NEXT Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Business Times, Trib Live, and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
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.
Hibshi interviewed on CMU’s picoCTF mini-competition
CyLab/INI’s Hanan Hibshi appeared on CBS Pittsburgh to speak about CMU’s picoCTF mini-competition, a cybersecurity contest designed for middle and high school students. The picoMini took place between May 7 and 10, 2021 and introduced students to cybersecurity. “This increases awareness of the field, increases interest at an early age,” says Hibshi. “There is a shortage nationwide and internationally in this field. Not a lot of people get attracted to this field. A lot of people dread it, they think it’s hard. Believe it or not, what you’ve been doing in this competition is the daily job for many people.”
Hibshi quoted on cybersecurity training
CyLab/INI’s Hanan Hibshi was quoted in Yahoo Finance about the importance of new cybersecurity experts in the midst of numerous large-scale hacks. Vulnerabilities in software are routinely discovered and exploited by hackers, leading to breaches in massive companies like SolarWinds and Microsoft. The overwhelming deficit in cybersecurity professionals means attacks like this will continue. “I’m seeing a generation of developers that really understand how to write cool apps, how to call libraries, how to make something that’s really attractive to you as a consumer,” says Hibshi. “But we do not have enough of those who understand what's going on under the hood.”
Hibshi interviewed about cybersecurity
CyLab/INI’s Hanan Hibshi was interviewed by Authority Magazine about the cybersecurity industry and its future. She explained what excited and concerned her about the industry, ways we can protect ourselves from potential hacks or breaches, and the importance of diversity in the field. With our growing reliance on technology in our daily lives, Hibshi feels that the cybersecurity industry needs to grow as well. “There is room for every skill in cybersecurity,” she says. “There is a certain stereotype about cybersecurity that is not true and I encourage everyone to educate themselves about the field.”
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
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.
McHenry, Ohodnicki, and Kernion launch CorePower Magnetics
CorePower Magnetics Inc., co-founded and led by MSE’s Michael McHenry and MSE alumni Paul Ohodnicki and Samuel Kernion, is ready to power the future. Having finalized an intellectual property licensing agreement with CMU and NETL, the company will launch with a portfolio of soft magnetic technologies that can have broad implications across grid modernization efforts and electric air, land, and sea vehicles. The combination of novel magnetic materials and advanced manufacturing capabilities enable a level of control in magnetics engineering not currently available.
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.”
CEE’s Costa Samaras was quoted in Wired on the Ford F-150 Lightning, a new electric truck with a shockingly low price. In comparison to its gasoline-fueled companions, the base model boasts a $39,974 price tag, after implementing federal and state tax credits for purchases of electric vehicles. “That sticker price is going to be the biggest pull of all,” Samaras said. “The price is the most disruptive thing about this, because it brings in people who might have otherwise overlooked [an electric truck]. Now it’s like, ‘OK, maybe this electric thing could actually work.’”
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.
ChemE professors awarded funds
Carnegie Mellon University
ChemE’s Lorenz Biegler and Chrysanthos Gounaris were awarded $400,000 from The U.S. Department of Energy. The financial support will be utilized in the creation of new gas separation processes.
Siefken interviewed on suncast
The Scott Institute’s Anna Siefken joined re² ROBOTIC’s Nico Johnson on SUNCAST for an interview. They discussed energy-related issues such as renewables, labor rates, where robotics fits in, and the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on transportation and pollution. “When we stop driving as much as we do,” Stiefken said, “we did see that sort of temporary clearing of the skies...but we’re seeing no indication, necessarily, of permanent behavioral shifts.”
Leduc elected Fellow of IAMBE
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.
Samaras quoted on net-zero carbon emissions by 2050
CEE’s Costa Samaras was quoted in Scientific American on the reduction of carbon emissions. According to a report by The International Energy Agency, having net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, while not easy, is still feasible. In order to achieve this, many changes will need to be made, including the cesation of gasoline-powered cars, the closure of coal plants lacking carbon capture, and the majority of domestic homes being zero carbon. “The report makes it clear that the window to get to net-zero emissions by 2050 is narrow, but—and this important—still achievable,” Samaras said. “What the IEA is telling us here: In order to achieve our climate goals we need to deploy, deploy, deploy.”
Sekar interviewed about hacking
ECE/CyLab’s Vyas Sekar was interviewed by TechRepublic about the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack by the hacker group Darkside. “This is an example of a cyber-physical attack,” Sekar said. “That’s the two main things we should worry about.”
Sripad interviewed about electric aviation
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.
Engineering faculty awarded professorships
CMU College of Engineering
CMU’s College of Engineering awarded professorship titles to five ECE faculty in February and March 2021.
- Franz Franchetti was named the Kavčić-Moura Professorship in Electrical and Computer Engineering
- Gianluca Piazza was named the STMicroelectronics Professorship in Engineering
- Shawn Blanton was named the Joseph F. and Nancy Keithley Professorship in Electrical and Computer Engineering
- Maysam Chamanzar was named the Dr. William D. and Nancy W. Strecker Career Development Professorship
- Vyas Sekar was named the Tan Family Chair in Electrical and Computer Engineering
Peha quoted on broadband internet
CyLab/EPP’s Jon Peha was quoted by Bloomberg on upload speeds and broadband internet. Peha said complaints about upload speeds soared during the pandemic. “Upstream is critical if you’re working or taking classes from home,” Peha said in an email. “We found that after the pandemic hit, downstream speed stayed about the same but upstream speed was significantly degraded, and consumer complaints about speed tripled.”
Sekar and Kumar quoted on security
CyLab/ECE’s Vyas Sekar and Swarun Kumar were quoted in Popular Mechanics on how outdated technology could pose a security risk. Trained observers can deduce what people are typing on a computer keyboard just by listening to the keystrokes—specifically, how closely the strokes follow each other, says Sekar. Keypads that still make noise are mostly around for the sake of the tradition more than anything else, says Kumar.
Cranor quoted on Rolls-Royce partnership
Air Force Magazine
CyLab Director Lorrie Cranor was quoted in Air Force Magazine on CMU’s partnership with Rolls-Royce to develop cyber tools and protection for its sophisticated aircraft engines. “We’re still going through finalizing the details of them,” said Cranor. Cranor stressed that the Rolls-Royce initiative focuses on “an issue that is near and dear to CMU, which is cybersecurity at the intersection with mechanical systems.”
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.
Sekar quoted on cyber attacks
Bank Info Security
ECE’s Vyas Sekar was quoted on Bank Info Security about the consequences of a successful cyber attack. The websites of about 200 public and private entities in Belgium were knocked fully or partially offline Tuesday. “If critical infrastructure services are down or disrupted, that can be a serious issue for citizens,” Sekar said. “Imagine some critical government service not being available to citizens for significant amounts of time. For companies also, this is a key issue, since downtime leads to loss of revenue.”
Samaras quoted on Biden’s infrastructure plan
The Washington Post
CEE’s Costa Samaras was quoted by The Washington Post in an article on the costs and challenges facing the Biden administration’s ambitious infrastructure plan. He emphasized the enormous time and resources the plan will require, as well as the need to anticipate future challenges like the effects of climate change. “All of those roads were designed for the weather of the 1950s and ’60s,” Samaras said. “We need to ensure that the vehicles on that roadway are zero-emissions, and that the infrastructure is built to last so we’re not on the hook to rebuild it before we planned.”
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
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.”
Engineering faculty named Provost’s Inclusive Teaching Fellows
Congratulations to EPP’s Daniel Armanios, CEE’s Sarah Christian and David Rounce, INI’s Hanan Hibshi,and MSE’s Vincent Sokalski on being selected as 2021-2022 Provost’s Inclusive Teaching Fellows at the Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence and Educational Innovation. It is a great honor to be selected to be among the second cohort of leaders to participate in this new program and will provide opportunities to help refine the College’s teaching practices, courses, and mind-set toward inclusion.
EPP’s Nicolas Muller was quoted by CNBC on unhealthy air quality in the United States. More than 135 million Americans live with polluted air, placing their health and lives at risk, according to an American Lung Association report published Wednesday. “Generally, there are two local air pollutants that the U.S., EPA, and other researchers tend to focus on,” explained Muller. “Those are fine particulate matter and tropospheric or ground-level ozone.”
EPP’s Granger Morgan was quoted by Forbes on creating and maintaining reliable power grids. In its 2017 report, the Academies warned that U.S. electrical grids were increasingly “complex and vulnerable,” not just to extreme weather, but also to attack. “We’re adding a lot of stuff at the grid edge,” said Morgan, the lead author of the reports. “If I start building microgrids does that increase my potential vulnerability? The answer is, ‘Yes, of course.’ The more complicated I make it, the more attack surfaces and, hence, the more possibilities of failure.”
Zhao quoted on AI
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.
BME/ECE’s Byron Yu was quoted on Axios about his brain-computer interface (BCI) research. Our understanding of what happens in the brain as one learns is super limited right now,” says Yu. But BCI “gives us an amazing window into how this happens.” This work was also featured by Yahoo! News and The Ladders.
CEE’s Costa Samaras was interviewed by NPR Radio on universal electric vehicle charging ports. Colorado Mayor P.T. Wood is calling for universal charging ports after installing one at his distillery, noting its popularity, as it was the only charging port in central Colorado that was free and public. Samaras, when asked for his input, remarked that having more accessible charging ports would make people more comfortable with taking road trips. “If you want the same functionality as today’s gas station network, we'll need something that’s more standardized.” He goes on to say that independent companies such as Rivian and Tesla, whose chargers only work on their vehicles, are complicating EV progress. “You might find yourself in a situation where you need to charge, but the only stations available are ones that don’t fit your car.”
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
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.
ChemE student Jason Folker was named University Athletic Association Men’s Golf Athlete of the Week following his performance earlier this month at the Wynlakes Intercollegiate tournament. Folker was the individual winner at Wynlakes Golf & Country Club in Montgomery, Alabama. He also helped the Tartans place second in the 15-team field tying the school record for the lowest 36-hole tournament score of 570.
Johnson’s robot research featured
MechE’s Aaron Johnson’s robotic research was featured on Inceptive Mind. Johnson and his team looked to nature to find effective ways to add tails to robots.
MechE alumnus awarded fellowship
CMU Mechanical Engineering
MechE alumnus Brian Chang (’13, ’14) earned the prestigious Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans. This program invests in the graduate education of immigrants and children of immigrants who are poised to make significant contributions to U.S. society, culture, or their academic field. As a medical student in the Harvard-MIT Program in Health Sciences and Technology, Chang will receive up to $90,000 in financial support over two years.
Soska quoted on crypto trading
ECE Ph.D. student Kyle Soska was quoted in a Crypto News article about his crypto trading research. “Our data show really small positions in these markets—likely held by people with not a ton of experience—being disproportionately liquidated” as “really sophisticated people show up and have a significant edge over amateurs,” according to Soska.
Sekar quoted on preventing hacking
ECE/CyLab’s Vyas Sekar was quoted in Business Insider about preventing your phone from being hacked. Staying safe is all about “good digital hygiene,” Sekar said. “Install apps from trustworthy sources and unless you know what you’re doing, you probably don’t want to jailbreak your phone,” he said. “Be careful. Don’t click on attachments you don’t want to open and keep your phone up to date.”
Cranor interviewed on online privacy and security
Digital Privacy News
CyLab Director Lorrie Cranor was interviewed by Digital Privacy News about online privacy and security. “We want to get companies’ privacy commitments on the record so that we can hold them to these commitments—and also so that we have the ability to call out particularly egregious practices,” Cranor said.
Cranor quoted on online privacy
CyLab Director Lorrie Cranor was quoted on GovInfoSecurity about online privacy and the Facebook account records breach. ”This breach did not leak passwords or financial account information, but it leaked information that can certainly be of use to identity thieves and make it easier for them to impersonate people and compromise their accounts,” Cranor says. “Organizations should check their password reset processes and make sure that the breached info alone is not enough to reset a password and take over someone’s account. Consumers should be using two-factor authentication whenever it is available. This is just another reason why that is a good idea.”
Weber’s research video featured
MechE’s Doug Weber’s faculty research video was featured by IEEE Spectrum’s “Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos.” In the video, Weber discusses his group’s research on harnessing the nervous system's ability to control not only our bodies, but the machines and prostheses that can enhance our bodies, especially for those with disabilities.
Cai elected to AAP board
Associated Artists of Pittsburgh
CyLab’s Yang Cai has been elected as the Board Member of Associated Artists of Pittsburgh (AAP), the 108-year-old artist professional association in the Pittsburgh area. He will help AAP to develop new creativity education programs, promote young artists, and explore innovation industries.
CEE’s Costa Samaras was quoted in Grist on increasing the amount electric vehicle charging stations in the United States. With Biden proposing to implement 500,000 new stations in an effort to make Amercians more comfortable with long-distance EV travel, citizens and engineers alike are left asking, why, where, and what next. For one, Samaras remarks, the supply must out-number the demand. “The big challenge with this is that ideally you build these stations and then they’re empty half the time,” he said. “The amount of stations has to outpace the number of cars, so the next person can feel confident that they can buy an EV.”
Siefken appointed to pollution committee
Air Pollution Control Advisory Committee
Scott Institute’s Anna Siefken was appointed to Allegheny County’s Air Pollution Control Advisory Committee. The committee makes recommendations to the Board of Health on air quality management and regarding additions and/or changes to the air quality rules and regulations for Allegheny County.
ANSYS Hall awarded for sustainability
Carnegie Mellon University
CMU's Ansys Hall was awarded the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council for its energy efficiency and sustainability.
Armanios and Samaras quoted on infrastructure
EPP’s Daniel Armanios and CEE/EPP’s Costa Samaras diagnosed regional infrastructure needs in Public Source. Armanios talked about the lack of equity in infrastructure, while Samaras talked about green infrastructure. “One thing I’m worried about is access to new infrastructure projects, thinking of the most vulnerable communities,” Armanios said.
Tennakoon serves as panel member of NCAAA Accreditation Review
CMU-Africa’s Sarath Tennakoon was a panel member of the NCAAA Accreditation Review, Electrical Engineering-Ph.D. program at King Saud University (KSU), Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
MechE’s Venkat Viswanathan was quoted in Bloomberg on France’s push to make aviation more sustainable. A French initiative to ban commercial air travel on some domestic routes could prove to be an example for other countries seeking to make flying cleaner. “This policy really has the potential to accelerate all sustainable aviation options,” said Viswanathan. “Among them it could really push electric aviation forward.”
MechE’s Ding Zhao was quoted in WIRED about using simulations for industrial applications. There’s growing interest in using AI to control robots and other industrial machines. This often uses an AI approach called reinforcement learning, which involves an algorithm experimenting and learning, from positive feedback, how to achieve a specific goal. “This is definitely the way to go,” says Zhao. He says simulations are crucial to using AI for industrial applications. “Machine learning is data-hungry, and collecting it in the real world is expensive and risky,” he says.
Kumar awarded 2021 SIGBED Early Career Researcher Award
Association for Computing Machinery
ECE’s Swarun Kumar was selected as the winner for the 2021 SIGBED Early Career Researcher Award. This award recognizes outstanding contributions by early career investigators in the area of embedded, real-time, and cyber-physical systems.
CEE’s Sarah Christian has been named the ASCE Pittsburgh Section 2020 Professor of the Year. An expert in structural engineering and sustainable materials, Christian has a deep commitment to her students and to education. During her five years at CEE, she’s developed many innovative courses that have enhanced the department’s undergraduate curriculum, and had a key role in formulating a distinctive project-course sequence.
CEE’s Burcu Akinci was recently named to the NASEM Board on Infrastructure and the Constructed Environment. This group advises government legislators and private sector organizations about the design, construction, security, impacts, maintenance, and evaluation of buildings and infrastructure systems.
Michalek quoted on electric vehicles
The New York Times
EPP/MechE’s Jeremy Michalek was quoted in The New York Times on electric vehicles and their environmental impact. “Coal tends to be the critical factor,” said Michalek. “If you’ve got electric cars in Pittsburgh that are being plugged in at night and leading nearby coal plants to burn more coal to charge them, then the climate benefits won’t be as great, and you can even get more air pollution.”
Samaras quoted on rainfall estimates and design
The Washington Post
CEE’s Costa Samaras was quoted in The Washington Post on outdated rainfall estimates and their negative impacts on long-lasting designs for roadways, bridges, and dams. Lacking a national precipitation database, as well as outdated rain studies, has led to unexpected, expensive damages in the wake of rising climate change. With an increase in heavy downpours, Samaras suggests a more proactive approach. “It may cost more initially to build for bigger storms, but it’s less expensive than making fixes later. The place that we want to get to is designing for the future rather than designing for the past.”
Majidi quoted on soft machines
MechE’s Carmel Majidi was quoted on New Atlas about a novel conductive hydrogel. The work was also featured on Tech Crunch. “With its high electrical conductivity and high compliance or ‘squishiness,’ this new composite can have many applications in bioelectronics and beyond,” says Majidi. “Examples include a sticker for the brain that has sensors for signal processing, a wearable energy generation device to power electronics, and stretchable displays.”
Sullivan’s research on wildfires featured
National Science Foundation
MechE/Chemistry’s Ryan Sullivan’s research on wildfires and cloud formation was featured on the National Science Foundation’s The Discovery Files radio feature. The team wanted to find out if the smoke particles’ chemical aging process during their lengthy travel through the earth's atmosphere would alter their effects on clouds. The Discovery Files is distributed nationally by the CBS Radio Network and runs on other radio stations across the country.
CAPD holds annual review meeting
Center of Advanced Process Decision-making
CEE’s Costa Samaras op-ed with Mikhail Chester on loose-fit infrastructure was published in The Hill. With the Biden infrastructure plan now out, meticulous consideration and dialogue have been devoted to figuring out how the funding should be used. Instead of creating the same fully long-term structures that have been implemented for decades, Samaras suggests a more flexible approach. “The infrastructure community has been developing loose-fit strategies for climate change for some time but haven’t yet had an opportunity to unleash these insights. Assets instantiated for decades with limited capacity to change as climate changes are problematic. Instead we could invest in agility and flexibility, assets that are modular, multi-functional, and scalable (up and down).”
Engineering students in CMU newsletter
MechE students Alexis Sudjianto and Summer Faille were mentioned in The Piper newsletter for their athletic achievements. Sophomore Alexis Sudjianto recorded the women’s golf program’s first hole-in-one, and junior Summer Faille was named the University Athletic Association Softball Player of the Week.
Alumna featured on SWE website
Society of Women Engineers
ChemE alumna Libby Williams Taylor was featured in a Society of Women Engineers article for Women’s History Month. Taylor participated in a yearlong German-American exchange program that included an internship at a German brewery, where she researched yeast. Several years later, she went back to Germany for a six-month master brewery program. She returned to the United States and took a position with Dogfish Head Brewery. She reports that women brewers are a minority, much like women in engineering, though there are four women brewers in her company. While different from her work as a chemical engineer, the background in chemicals has proven most helpful.
Engineering student awarded in mock trial competition
Carnegie Mellon University
CEE/EPP student Brett Gold and his team placed third at this year’s American Mock Trial Association’s (AMTA) Regional Tournament. Gold also won an individual award as an All-Regional Attorney and his team won the Spirit of AMTA award at regionals.
CEE’s Costa Samaras published an opinion piece with Mikhail Chester in ASCE Source and The RAND Blog. The Texas deep freeze has left many wondering if now is finally the time to future-proof America's infrastructure. “Roads, water systems, dams, airports, and other infrastructure were mostly built decades ago for the temperatures and extreme storms of the past,” Samaras writes. “Last year, there were 22 weather and climate disasters in the United States that each caused losses of more than a billion dollars. But instead of the government carrying insurance against these disasters, the public is the insurance.”
Engineering faculty awarded professorships
CMU’s College of Engineering awarded professorship titles to seven faculty in February and March 2021.
- EPP Department Head Peter Adams was named the Thomas Lord Professorship in Engineering
- MSE Department Head Elizabeth Dickey was named the Wilton and Teddy Hawkins Distinguished Professorship
- ECE’s Carlee Joe-Wong was named the Robert E. Doherty Career Development Professor in Engineering
- ECE’s Pulkit Grover was named the Angel Jordan Career Development Professorship in Electrical and Computer Engineering
- MechE’s Alan McGaughey was named Trustee Professorship in Engineering
- MechE’s Rahul Panat was named the Russell V. Trader Career Development Professorship in Mechanical Engineering
- MechE’s Douglas Weber was named the Akhtar and Bhutta Professorship in Mechanical Engineering
Whitefoot reports on fuel economy
MechE/EPP’s Katie Whitefoot will be speaking about improving the fuel economy of light-duty vehicles for the National Academies committee she serves on. Their report, on which Whitefoot is an author, will be released on March 31. At the request of Congress and the Department of Transportation, the report provides cost and effectiveness estimates for future fuel efficiency technologies and discusses how the current Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards should be updated to reflect new technical, economic, and policy developments.
CEE’s Costa Samaras was quoted in Vice on the issue of electric vehicle (EV) companies excludng others from using their charging ports. Moving towards a more EV dominated future, companies such as Tesla and Rivian creating networks specifically for their vehicles could be an unexpected hurdle in the process. “I think the proprietary network makes sense from an individual company perspective—providing exclusive amenity access to their customers is part of the value proposition,” said Samaras, “but I don’t think it’s great from a societal perspective or an EV-adoption perspective, this is like having separate unleaded 87 octane gasoline pumps for Fords and Hondas.”
MechE alumni and current students earned accolades through the National Science Foundation (NSF)’s Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP). The NSF GRFP recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported STEM disciplines who are pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees at accredited US institutions. Those recognized include: Charlotte Andreasen, Bolutito Babatunde, Morgan Chen, Matthew Kubala, Regan Kubicek, Saul Schaffer, Guadalupe Quirarte, James Zhang, and James Zhu.
CyLab Director Lorrie Cranor was quoted on Yahoo about fighting extremist hate. Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pittsburgh are joining forces in a new research center designed to study and seek ways to halt the proliferation of extremist hate. Cranor said they will seek a deeper understanding of the ways in which extremist hate spreads through various digital vectors and want to develop tools to identify and combat it.
Spirer talks about English language learning
On March 25, INI’s Jennifer Spirer joined Duolingo for a discussion about how accessible, reliable, and secure English language assessment can help graduate programs adapt to trends in international admissions as part of a Council of Graduate Schools webinar.
Ph.D. students featured in newsletter
The National GEM Consortium
MechE Ph.D. students Wendy Flores-Brito and Frank Andújar Lugo were featured in the National GEM Consortium’s newsletter. Flores-Brito is a first year Ph.D. student in Ryan Sullivan’s lab investigating laser homogenization for signal improvement of laser desorption/ionization single particle mass spectrometry. Lugo, a 2020 MechE/EPP alumnus, is a first year Ph.D. student at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign where he is exploring how smart control strategies can help inform the installation and operation of thermal storage in district and distributed heating and cooling networks.
Hibshi quoted on CMU’s picoCTF competition
CyLab/INI’s Hanan Hibshi was quoted on The CyberWire podcast, Security Magazine, and ELearning Inside on CMU’s cybersecurity competition, picoCTF. This year’s picoCTF started on March 16. “This competition is a great introduction to the world of cybersecurity that young students may not receive otherwise,” says Hibshi, faculty advisor to picoCTF. “And while it serves as an intro for many, even highly-skilled cybersecurity enthusiasts have gained a lot from participating.”
MoonArk, a time capsule on the moon for future explorers to find, was featured in CNN. Tech Spark was involved with fabricating some of the components for this project School of Design’s Mark Baskinger. The project also appeared in Popular Science.
CyLab Director Lorrie Cranor was quoted on WESA about fighting extremist hate. CMU is collaborating with Pitt to create a center to combat extremist hate. “We have technologists at Carnegie Mellon already who are working on using technology to track the spread of extremism online,” says Cranor. “They’re using machine learning to analyze messages, to try to find evidence of extremist ideas and hate speech in these messages, so there’s a lot that we can do with technology to help us automate detection and then hopefully, eventually, actually curtailing the spread of these extremist ideas.”
Zhang named editor-in-chief of Engineering with Computers
Engineering with Computers
MechE’s Jessica Zhang was named editor-in-chief of Engineering with Computers, an international journal for simulation-based engineering. As the new editor-in-chief, Zhang will emphasize and promote novel cutting-edge research and algorithm-based software development.
CEE’s Costas Samaras was quoted by Vox on managed failure. In the wake of the deep freeze that left millions without power in Texas, Samaras emphasized the importance of not only proper preventative measures, but also managing failures when they inevitibly occur. “We’re not going to be able to concrete our way out of climate disruption,” Samaras said. “Managed failure sounds bad—nobody wants managed—but you want to have a system that’s flexible enough that the rest of the system can respond.”
Ph.D. student quoted and research featured
The New York Times
CEE Ph.D. student Abdullah Alarfaj was quoted in The New York Times on vehicle turnover from gasoline to electric. He is noted for leading a recent study showing that a slow turnover could become an obstacle for the quick cessation of carbon emissions. “There’s an enormous amount of inertia in the system to overcome,” he stated, but the study goes on to list numerous ways that the challenge could be tackled.
Samaras quoted on decarbonization
CEE’s Costas Samaras was quoted in The Atlantic on decarbonization. The use of public transit stands to drastically lessen a reliance on cars and the high carbon-emissions that come with them. However, it is not so simple as a few people making the switch: Samaras estimated that, along with other changes, transit use must be increased by at least fivefold to fully decarbonize the U.S. transportation system.
Marom receives OpenEye Outstanding Junior Faculty Award
American Chemical Society
MSE’s Noa Marom has been named a recipient of the American Chemical Society’s OpenEye Outstanding Junior Faculty Award. The competitive award is designed to recognize the work of rising faculty members and assist them in gaining visibility within the computational chemistry and modeling community.
CEE’s Costas Samaras was quoted in MARKETPLACE after Brazo’s Electric, Texas’ largest power cooperative, filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy following February’s deep freeze. The deep freeze caused Brazo’s Electric to rack up higher bills than usual, Costas saying, “the prices are allowed, through the Texas electricity system, to rise when demand is really high and supply is low.”
Sekar quoted on online hacking
ECE/CyLab’s Vyas Sekar was quoted on Lifewire about possible computer hacking of self-driving cars. “The good news is most of the attacks we have seen are in a lab or controlled conditions,” Sekar said in an email interview. “We haven’t seen large-scale exploits or breaches in the wild just yet.”
Samaras interviewed on climate change and infrastructure
CEE’s Costa Samaras was interviewed in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on climate change and its affect on infrastructure. He discussed the deep freeze in Texas, which left a large portion of the state without power, heat, and water, and how engineers must be proactive and consider local weather when building any infrastructure. “In almost all cases,” he said, “that information comes from looking backward rather than looking forward. It requires something extra—either a push from politicians or hopefully their own design shops—to say, ‘This is going to be around for a long time. We should design this for the future.’”
Datta to Chair National Academies Workshop on Trustworthy AI
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
ECE’s Anupam Datta will chair a workshop on trustworthy AI organized by The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM). On March 3 - 4 from 12 - 5 p.m. ET, the National Academies will convene “Assessing and Improving AI Trustworthiness: Current Contexts, Potential Paths,” a public workshop sponsored by the National Institute of Standards and Technology and chaired by Datta, to help think through the challenges associated with building trustworthy AI.
Cranor quoted on password security
CyLab Director Lorrie Cranor was quoted on USA Today on strategies the public can use to keep their passwords secure. “I don’t know anyone who thinks they can keep complex and different passwords memorized,” Cranor said. “If you adopt a password manager, you don’t have to think about coming up with unique and strong passwords anymore and you don’t have to figure out how you are going to remember them.”
Armanios profiled on his life
EPP’s Daniel Armanios was profiled in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. A first-generation American, Armanios is the son of African immigrants. Armanios evolved into the highest academically honored undergraduate student in American college and university history. In astonishing succession, Armanios earned four of the major federal and international academic honors: the Goldwater Scholarship in 2004, the Truman Scholarship in 2005, and both the Marshall and Rhodes scholarships in 2007.
Robinson interviewed on Shared Air
MechE Head Allen Robinson was a guest on Shared Air, a podcast created by MechE’s Albert Presto and Rose Eilenberg. The episode, named “Shale gas, revisited,” explores hydraulic fracking, methane leakage, aging infrastructure, air quality, and more.
Fanti and Lucia Receive 2021 Sloan Research Fellowship
Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
ECE’s Giulia Fanti and Brandon Lucia are recipients of the 2021 Sloan Research Fellowship. They are among the 128 North American researchers honored by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The fellowships, awarded annually since 1955, honor early career scholars whose achievements put them among the very best scientific minds working today. Winners receive a two-year, $75,000 fellowship to further their research.
Engineering faculty named AIMBE Fellows
American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering
BME/MSE’s Adam Feinberg, ChemE’s Kathryn Whitehead, BME/ECE’s Byron Yu, and BME’s Conrad Zapanta have been elected to the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) College of Fellows. The College of Fellows is comprised of the top two percent of medical and biological engineers in the country. Feinberg, Whitehead, Yu, and Zapanta join 13 existing AIMBE members from CMU.
Engineering faculty quoted on climate policy
Carnegie Mellon University
President Joe Biden signaled that climate change is a national priority. Faculty were asked: what are the most critical issues that need to be addressed in the next four years?
- ChemE/EPP’s Neil Donahue talked about carbon dioxide and particle pollution.
- EPP’s Valerie Karplus talked about moving away from fossil fuels.
- CEE/EPP’s Destenie Nock talked about the coronavirus pandemic and climate change.
- CEE/EPP’s Costa Samaras talked about bold changes to tackle climate change.
- MechE’s Ryan Sullivan talked about climate change and fossil fuels.
- Scott Institute’s Anna Siefken talked about the advancement of new technologies.
Engineering faculty and alumni elected to NAE
Carnegie Mellon University
ECE’s Zoltan Cendes and Marija Ilic and alumni Erroll Brown Davis Jr. (ECE ’65) and Kathryn Jackson (EPP ’87, ’90) were elected to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE).
- Cendes’ citation is “for contributions to theory, development and commercialization of electromagnetics simulation software.”
- Ilic’s citation is “for contributions to electric power systems analysis and control.”
- Davis’ citation is “for leadership in research and development of renewable resources integration with the grid, and public education.”
- Jackson’s citation is “for contributions to management of large-scale power system technology, and harmonization of engineering solutions with public policy.”
Samaras quoted on electric vehicles
CEE’s Costa Samaras was quoted in The New York Times and WIRED on electric vehicles for the US government. “The grid is getting cleaner over time, but it’s still not at zero emissions,” said Samaras. “If we want to fully decarbonize transportation, we need to do everything, and do it at full speed: fewer vehicle miles traveled, electrify nearly the entire passenger fleet, and clean up power plants.”
Cranor quoted on passwords
CyLab Director Lorrie Cranor was quoted in The Guardian on passwords. “The best password is a random password,” says Cranor. “But people aren’t good at generating random passwords or remembering them.” Almost everything you intuitively believe about passwords is not correct. “If you struggle to remember your passwords,” Cranor says, “write them in a notebook and hide it at home. It’s highly unlikely that a hacker is going to get access to your house.”
CEE’s Costa Samaras was quoted in Vice on electric vehicles for USPS. President Joe Biden announced he wants the U.S. government to electrify its vehicle fleet as part of his climate and jobs initiatives. “I think locking in another vehicle cycle of mostly gas-powered USPS vehicles would be a huge mistake,” Samaras said.
Carley quoted on online radicalization
CyLab’s Kathleen Carley was quoted on Public Source about online radicalization. Getting sucked into conspiracy theories is a red flag. People who already believe in one conspiracy are more likely to believe in a second, and so on, Carley said. “It’s harder and harder to get you out of the conspiracy mindset, the more conspiracies you believe in.”
MechE’s Venkat Viswanathan was mentioned on Enrg.io about the prices of electric vehicles. A Carnegie Mellon University team, led by Viswanathan, first developed a model used to calculate EV battery costs. The model breaks down the individual component costs and subsequently predicts the changes over time.
Majidi lab selected for Soft Matter Most Popular 2020
Soft Matter Most Popular 2020
Research from MechE’s Carmel Majidi’s Soft Machines Lab was selected for inclusion in Soft Matter Most Popular 2020, a themed collection of the Royal Society of Chemistry. The title of the paper is “Network topologies dictate electromechanical coupling in liquid metal–elastomer composites.”
Cranor quoted on online privacy
CyLab Director Lorrie Cranor was quoted on Dark Reading about maintaining online privacy. It’s no small feat and not very effective to start using a bunch of apps simply because they’re supposed to be good at protecting privacy, says Cranor. “Some of the big-bang-for-the-buck things are using a password manager, using good password habits,” she says. “If they don’t want to be tracked in their browsing plug-in, use an ad blocker—with the caveat that some things on websites break because of it. So if you turn it off, you have to remember to turn it back on.”
CyLab’s Kathleen Carley was quoted on Yahoo about online disinformation and misinformation. Carley said trusted sources and authorities also need to take a page from the trolls and adversaries spreading disinformation and misinformation to better combat them. “One of the reasons some of the disinformation stories’ spread is so big is that there were communities around the disinformation source that were willing to repeat it, and act like megaphones. We need those same kinds of communities that are trusted but around credible sources of information,” Carley said.
Brumley quoted on cybersecurity
ECE/CyLab’s David Brumley was quoted in Dark Reading on getting started in cybersecurity. A perpetually controversial topic, certifications are an element of the professional that are endlessly debated. “When you’re just getting started out with no prior experience, a certification can get you in the door,” says Brumley.
MechE/EPP’s Jeremy Michalek was quoted on Ladders about his research on how ride-sharing apps affect car ownership in cities. “What this suggests to me is that in a city where people have disposable income and fewer children, they don’t mind paying more for a more convenient mode of transportation, and they don’t have to worry about logistics like bringing a car seat,” Michalek hypothesizes.
Whitehead quoted on COVID vaccine
ChemE’s Katie Whitehead was quoted on Healthline about a cluster of allergic reactions tied to one lot of the Moderna COVID vaccine in California. It’s possible nothing is wrong with the Moderna lot. Whitehead said if given the offer of a dose from the lot, she would gladly take it. “Clustering of allergic reactions at a single vaccination site could be caused by other phenomena—for example, the healthcare workers may have all been preexposed to something in their community or work environment that made them more susceptible to an allergic reaction,” said Whitehead. “The difference here is that allergic reactions to the SARS-CoV-2 vaccines constantly make the news, while allergic reactions to influenza, chickenpox, and hepatitis vaccines do not.”
Pileggi’s Pearl Street Technologies featured in Green Tech Media
Greet Tech Media
ECE Head Larry Pileggi’s Pittsburgh-based startup Pearl Street Technologies has raised pre-seed investment for its integrated-circuit modeling technology SUGAR, an advanced software proven to be 200x faster at engineering analysis compared to industry-standard modeling, enabling a more reliable, resilient, and sustainable power grid.
CyLab’s Kathleen Carley was quoted on Yahoo about the social media platform Parler. Parler has faced backlash after it was tied to the insurrection at the US Capitol. Amazon will kick Parler off its web servers, leaving the controversial social network to scramble for a new web host. Carley agreed it likely won’t be the end of the network, but the decision will likely drive apps like Parler to the dark web and encrypted systems. “Probably not the end to Parler,” Carley wrote in an email to Insider. “They just have to find another server space.”
ChemE’s Coty Jen and MechE’s Ryan Sullivan were quoted in Salon about their experiences with wildfires in California. “I remember waking up to a smoke-filled apartment as I had left the window open in my bedroom at night,” Sullivan wrote to Salon about his first month of his Ph.D. program at the University of California - San Diego. A large wildfire had broken out in the San Diego area. Jen told Salon that she remembered the northern California wildfires of October/November 2017 while she lived in Berkeley, California, which she described as “a pretty surreal experience. Everywhere smelled like smoke and it continued for days,” she recalled. “Since I was researching wildfire smoke and how it impacts air pollution, I started collecting measurements of the smoke from our lab.”
Rapid COVID-19 detection with nanoparticle 3D printing
MechE’s Rahul Panat’s biosensing platform for rapid COVID-19 detection was featured in an article in Materials Today. The platform uses the latest advances in materials and manufacturing such as nanoparticle 3D printing to create a device that detects COVID-19 antibodies in seconds. Panat is collaborating with the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine on the project.
Michalek interviewed on electric vehicles
MechE/EPP’s Jeremy Michalek was interviewed by Shift Magazine on electric vehicles and public policy during the Biden Administration. “The president-elect has announced actions that include the federal government increasing procurement of EVs, tightening fuel-economy standards that were weakened under the Trump administration and trying to get increased tax credits for EV purchases and funds for increasing public charging infrastructure,” Michalek said.
Gbemi Disu will join Carnegie Mellon University Africa as Executive Director, effective February 1, 2021. She will provide administrative, strategic, and operational leadership and develop and implement strategies to grow CMU-Africa’s global reputation and impact.
Kumar quoted on affordable 5G
ECE’s Swarun Kumar was quoted in Lifewire on why affordable 5G is so important. “You want more people to have access to it [5G], you want people to have better speeds, better connectivity for whatever they are doing. These consumers, once they make that investment, are not going to make another investment for a substantial period of time as well. If networks are being upgraded then older bands need to be retired to make way and make room. It leads to much more exclusion of the consumer base if the products aren’t available in time or at a price where consumers can actually afford it.”
Savvides quoted on facial recognition
CyLab/ECE’s Marios Savvides was quoted in Popular Science on the caveats of facial recognition technology. “The main thing to realize is that facial recognition is not perfect,” says Savvides. “It comes up with a ranked order list of individuals.”
CyLab Director Lorrie Cranor was quoted on CNET on CyLab’s password strength meter that gives suggestions to help users create more secure passwords. “It’s relevant to what you’re doing, rather than some random tip,” Cranor said.
CyLab Director Lorrie Cranor was quoted on Yahoo on keeping online accounts secure with passwords. “When you create accounts online, use a different password for every account. That way if your password gets compromised on one account, the attacker will not be able to break into all your other accounts,” Cranor tells Yahoo Life. “Completely random passwords are safest, but they tend to be harder to remember. Write them down in a safe place or use a password manager program.”