MechE’s Shawn Litster was mentioned by AP News about hydrogen generators entering the market. Multiple companies are selling or testing hydrogen generators, said Litster, who has studied hydrogen fuel cells for about two decades. There will be more demand for the generators as vehicles switch from internal combustion to electric power. Police departments and municipal governments, he said, will need backup power to charge emergency vehicles in case of a power outage. Hydrogen can be stored for long periods and used in emergency cases, he said.
Tucker named to U.S. Chamber of Commerce Commission
U.S. Chamber of Commerce
MechE’s Conrad Tucker has joined the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Commission on Artificial Intelligence Competition, Inclusion, and Innovation to advance U.S. leadership in the use and regulation of AI technology. The Commission will research and recommend artificial intelligence policies as it relates to regulation, international research and development competitiveness, and future jobs.
New grant to fund cardiac electrophysiology research
BME/MSE’s Tzahi Cohen-Karni was recently awarded a $3.1 NIH/NHLBI grant to further cardiac electrophysiology research. Over the next five years, Cohen-Karni will partner with Pitt’s Aditi Gurkar (co-PI), BME/MSE’s Adam Feinberg, MechE’s Carmel Majidi, and ECE’s Pulkit Grover to study the role of DNA damage in the cardiac unit using induced pluripotent stem cells.
CMU spinout company FluidForm, co-founded by BME’s Adam Feinberg, recently announced an investment from Hackensack Meridian Health and its Bear’s Den innovation program, which seeks to drive medical science forward by supporting strategic candidates in biotech and pharma. The investment will enable FluidForm to advance key applications in tissue for drug discovery and surgical repair, including collaboration on preclinical work in 2022.
AI research featured in podcast
Featured on the Wevolver podcast The Next Byte, “Meet the AI Replacing Your Manager,” new research by MechE’s Chris McComb and Jon Cagan shows that AI may soon be taking over managerial positions—and doing a better job at them. Their study shows that in comparison to human counterparts, AI intervened less during projects. When given a certain number of interventions, not only did human managers use more than the AI, they used all of them. On the other hand, AI managers used only a few light directions. They also found that interventions done by human managers had a negative impact on production overall, while AI managers had an overall positive effect.
Kar named 2022 IEEE Fellow
Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
ECE’s Soummya Kar has been elevated to fellow status in the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the world’s largest technical professional organization for the advancement of technology. IEEE Fellow is a distinction reserved for select IEEE members whose extraordinary accomplishments in any of the IEEE fields of interest are deemed fitting of this prestigious grade elevation. The IEEE cited Kar “for contributions to distributed signal processing.”
Humotech, originating from CMU’s Mechanical Engineering Department, develops tools for the advancement of wearable robotic control systems and other wearable devices. Using its own research community, Humotech will further build and support a development community around the open-source leg and seek to incorporate the leg into Humotech’s Caplex platform. Caplex is a hardware and software testbed that enables researchers to emulate the mechanics of wearable machines, including prostheses and exoskeletons.
Fuchs quoted on Moore’s Law
EPP’s Erica Fuchs was quoted in Telegraph on Moore’s Law and how the technological innovation crisis threatens global economy. Fuchs says, “Moore’s Law and the inventions that resulted from it have been responsible for up to half of economic growth in the US and worldwide.” That means its slowdown, or eventual end, could have drastic consequences for GDP growth.
ECE’s Philip Koopman was quoted in Reuters on the Tesla crash in Paris. The fatal accident, involving a Tesla Model 3 taxi, was said to be caused by a technical fault after the vehicle accelerated rather than breaking. Koopman noted, “The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) did not consider software defects in its investigation, and French investigators need to look at software as a potential cause.” This is not the first accident cause by technical fault, with more than 200 being reviewed in the United States alone last year.
MechE’s Venkat Viswanathan and Shashank Sripad were featured in Forbes for their research on eVTOLS. According to Viswanathan and Sripad, “A key problem for eVTOL aircraft is the weight of batteries, which contain 14 times less energy by weight than aviation fuel. To achieve their range and payload goals, Beta, Joby Aviation and Kitty Hawk appear to need battery packs with energy densities at the outer range of the newest technologies, while Lilium is way out in experimental territory.”
EPP’s Baruch Fischhoff was quoted in AARP on assessing the risk of traveling during the holidays while still in the Covid pandemic. While weighing the pros and cons of leaving the house for the holidays has been a constant, for reasons such as traffic and weather, the lingering pandemic has changed our judgement calls. “We have something poorly known and changing,” says Fischhoff about the coronavirus. “This collective experience is unusual.”
ECE’s Philip Koopman was quoted in AP News on gaming while driving in autonomous vehicles. After it was revealed that Tesla drivers are able to play video games on the dashboard touch screens while vehicles are in motion, questions were raised about whether federal auto safety standards are being applied equally by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This is because Mercedes-Benz took the opposite route, recalling their vehicles for the same reason. Koopman explained that this can lead to discrepancies in safety protocols between different automakers. “MB is following the regulatory rules as they are supposed to—in sharp contrast to what we’ve been seeing from Tesla. If NHTSA doesn’t take action against Tesla, the agency will have one standard for Tesla and another for Mercedes and other automakers,” Koopman said.
CEE/EPP undergraduate student Greta Markey was one of 11 students chosen to receive the Marshall Scholarship for her work in water systems engineering. The scholarship was created by the British government in 1953 by an Act of Parliament to honor George C. Marshall, General of the Army, Secretary of State, and architect of the post-World War II Economic Recovery Program (ERP), better known as the Marshall Plan. It will cover one to two years of postgraduate study at a British university of the student’s choosing.
Viswanathan quoted on solid state batteries
MechE’s Venkat Viswanathan was quoted in Torque News on solid-states batteries, created by QuantumScape. Using a solid electrolyte instead of a liquid solution, solid-state batteries can store considerably more energy by weight and volume than lithium-ion batteries and will be especially useful for electric vehicles. Viswanathan emphasized the importance of this discovery: “… these results blow up what was previously thought possible in a solid-state battery. Withstanding a high enough current density to allow fast charging without forming dendrites has long been an industry holy grail.”
Cohon quoted on water access in PA
CEE/EPP’s Jared Cohon was quoted in TRIB Live on the wide disparity in water prices across Western Pennsylvania. Cohon traces the drastic difference to the flaw in how water is sold in the region. “If we’re not the most fragmented, we’re certainly among the most,” Cohon commented. “It’s astounding how many water providers we have here.…It’s incredibly not efficient, to say the least.”
Whitacre quoted on lithium-ion batteries
The Daily Beast
Scott Institute Director Jay Whitacre was quoted in The Daily Beast on lithium-ion batteries and their effect on climate disaster. Whitacre expressed that the batteries have improved significantly in recent years, with most current grid-scale lithium-ion batteries holding a charge that could power a local grid for about four hours or so. However, the storage capacity depends on its size. Whitacre also explained that lithium-ion is not typically used for long duration storage simply because of the high costs involved.
Hills quoted on voice distortion on phone calls
EPP’s Alex Hills was quoted in Consumer Reports on voice distortion during phone calls, after Apple and Android users alike were disturbed to find themselves sounding like robots when using their devices. However, Hills explains that the reason is simple. Your vocal data is translated into ones and zeros that can be understood by a computer. “When information is going over a digital network, it has to be converted to bits,” Hills explained. “At the other end, the receiver converts the ones and zeros back to the original information.”
Koopman quoted on AVs and Tesla
Los Angeles Times
ECE’s Philip Koopman was quoted in the Los Angeles Times on autonomous vehicles, after an alarming public self-driving test conducted by Tesla. Drivers participating in the “beta test” posted videos of their cars making potentially disastrous mistakes, causing state legislators to grow concerned about the dangers posed to other drivers and pedestrians on the road. “The level of a driving automation system feature corresponds to the feature’s production design intent,” said Koopman. “Intent is key to categorizing the autonomy level for Tesla Full Self-Driving.” He added that legislature has an oversight responsibility, and that it may be time for a relevant committee or joint hearing to explore where we are today.
ECE’s Raj Rajkumar was quoted in Reuters on the robotaxi race, with Arizona company Waymo currently in the lead. Despite its success, the company has had its setbacks, such as blocking disabled parking spots during drop-offs. Rajkumar noted that high staffing costs also could contribute to Waymo’s slow expansion, as monitors have had to aid the vehicles in navigating around freight pallets, errant stop signs, and road-paving gear.
Cranor quoted on talking to teens about social media and body image
CyLab Director Lorrie Cranor was quoted in the Houston Chronicle on how guardians can discuss body image issues and social media with their teenagers. After the reveal that Facebook’s failure to act on its own research showing Instagram’s harm to young people, it reopened the discussion for reforming social media and its use by teenagers and young adults. While many solutions are being discussed, Cranor is advocating for being open with your child. “I am not a big fan of tools locking down or spying on them. If you are going to use those tools, be open with the child that you’re doing it,” she said.
Michalek interviewed on transportation technology
ABC News Radio
EPP/MechE’s Jeremy Michalek was interviewed on the ABC News Radio about the electric transportation technology industry and what this means for consumers. “We look at four issues,” said Michalek, “the technology itself, where emissions are coming from, consumer behavior, and public policy.” Michalek also emphasized that policy and innovation are major drivers in the shifts being seen in the electric transport industry, and are ultimately the reasons for people making the switch from traditional fuel-based vehicles.
CMU-Africa startup admitted to Google for startups
The New Times
This year Google admitted its first Rwandan-based company, Tabiri Analytics, a cyber-security startup founded by Carnegie Mellon University Africa students, into its competitive pan-African accelerator program, commonly known as Google for Startups.
ChemE’s Katie Whitehead was quoted in BBC on the capabilities of mRNA. Despite being believed to be years down the line, in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, mRNA vaccinations were quickly brought to the forefront. However, Whiteheads remarks that this was not anticipated. “There weren’t many people in the mRNA therapeutics world who would have imagined 95% initial efficacy rates in this emergency scenario.” This success had lead people to wonder where mRNA technology will go next, with one possible use being to reduce the inflammation response in patients with autoimmune disorders who receive vaccines.
Samaras joins White House OSTP
The Washington Post
CEE/EPP’s Costas Samaras was noted in The Washington Post as joining the OSTP as the principal assistant director for energy, where he will continue his focus on developing and providing cleaner energy.
Sekar quoted on supply chain security
Pittsburgh Business Times
CyLab/ECE’s Vyas Sekar was quoted in the Pittsburgh Business Times on supply chain security. Sekar, noting the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack earlier this year that disrupted fueling across the country said, explained that cyberattacks on the supply chains are playing out in the real world all the time. Addressing the cause of this attack and the ones that may come thereafter is part of his research.
ECE’s Raj Rajkumar was quoted in Forbes on public opinion of autonomous vehicles. A survey was taken to gauge the knowledge of drivers on driver’s assistance technology in their cars, with surprising results—only 37% of people were able to correctly identify high-ranking assist technology. Rajkumar, however, wasn’t surprised, remarking “Since AVs are not being sold right now, it’s not shocking that people don’t know what the levels mean.”
Koopman quoted on AV tech errors
ECE’s Philip Koopman was quoted in The Atlantic on AV technology errors. As we move towards a future with more autonomous vehicles, Koopman emphasizes that they are not as infallible as we like to believe. He explains that the systems should be expected to have some errors of their own, and that he doesn't expect AVs to reduce crashes by any more than 50 percent.
Fischoff quoted on scientific communication
The Christian Science Monitor
EPP’s Baruch Fischhoff was quoted in The Christian Science Monitor on scientific communication with the public. According to Fischhoff, there are two types: risk communication and health promotion. Risk communication gives people information so that they can decide for themselves what they should or should not do, and helps them evaluate the choices of their government. Health promotion, however, involves government instruction based upon expert advice.
Michalek quoted on rechargeable electric vehicles
The New York Times
EPP/MechE’s Jeremy Michalek was quoted in The New York Times on charging solutions for electronic vehicles (EV). One of the biggest challenges facing the conversion of fossil fuel reliant vehicles to EVs is reliable charging. One solution could be inroad charging. Michalek explains, “To put this in context, inroad charging while driving is not likely to be a broad solution for all electric vehicles, but it could play an important role for some applications.” While this may not apply to residential vehicles, it could be promising for long-haul trucks and other commercial vehicles.
EPP/MechE’s Jeremy Michalek was quoted in Grist on travel and its effect on climate change. There are multiple variables that effect climate and travel, such as the age and model of one’s car, traffic, and distance. For Michalek, the difference lies is how you tackle these variables together. He said, “The more you accelerate really quickly and then come to a quick stop—that type of aggressive driving certainly consumes more energy,” also leading to more carbon emissions.
CyLab Director Lorrie Cranor was quoted in Yahoo! on phishing and being cautious with holiday deals. It is hard to make holiday shopping more chaotic than it already is, but scammers have managed to do so in a way that could seriously harm you. Creating fake websites, products, and promotions, they can steal your credentials and so much more. To combat this, Cranor says, “If you get an email or see an advertisement about something with a price that is less than half of what you would expect to pay, you should be suspicious, especially if it is being sold by a vendor you are not familiar with.”
Chi named 2022 SPS Distinguished Lecturer
IEEE Signal Processing Society
ECE’s Yuejie Chi has been named a 2022 IEEE Signal Processing Society (SPS) Distinguished Lecturer. The Distinguished Lecturer (DL) Program provides means for SPS Chapters and Student Branch Chapters to have access to well-known educators and authors in the fields of signal processing, to lecture at Chapter meetings. Chi will serve from January 1, 2022 through December 31, 2023.
MechE’s Venkat Viswanathan was mentioned by Aionics, where he is a chief scientist, about his new work on using robotics and machine learning for the efficient optimization of a non-aqueous battery electrolyte. This announcement came during the Advanced Automotive Battery Conference, which was held December 7-9 in San Diego. Using this workflow, Viswanathan’s lab identified six fast-charging electrolytes in an amazingly rapid 42 experiments across two workdays. Compare that to 60 days using exhaustive searches of the 1000+ possible candidates.
Junior MechE student Alex Adams was named an Academic All-American by the College Sports Information Directors of America and an All-American by the United Soccer Coaches for the second straight playing season (2019 and 2021). Adams led the Tartans in scoring this year with 12 goals, including a goal in the NCAA Division III Women’s Sectional Semifinal against eighth-ranked MIT. After two seasons, Adams, a two-time all-region and two-time All-University Athletic Association selection, is eighth on the Tartans’ all-time scoring list with 61 points and is tied for seventh in goals with 26. Her 10 career game-winning goals puts her third all-time. As a first-year, Adams set a season record for points with 34 and tied the goal scoring record and game-winning goals record with 14 and seven, respectively.
Pileggi named to the National Academy of Inventors
National Academy of Inventors
The National Academy of Inventors has elected ECE Head Larry Pileggi from Carnegie Mellon University to its 2021 cohort of fellows. The NAI Fellows Program was established to highlight academic inventors who have demonstrated a prolific spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development and the welfare of society. Election to NAI Fellow status is the highest professional distinction accorded solely to academic inventors.
Sudoc (Sustainable Ultradilute Oxidation Catalysis) was named one of “C&EN’s 2021 10 Start-Ups to Watch.” MechE’s Ryan Sullivan is a co-founder of the company, which was publicly launched in 2020 and aims to reinvent cleaning supplies, making them both more effective and less damaging to the environment. Sudoc’s inaugural product, the first in its line of Dot-branded products, is a mold-remediation treatment.
Disu quoted on diversity
In a featured article on NAFSA, CMU-Africa’s Gbemi Disu was asked about breaking down cultural and ethnic barriers in education. “There are different kinds of diversity, and it’s very different from the United States,” she says. “When you come with that lens, it doesn’t quite work as copy and paste.” She also says that CMU-Africa is searching for ways to both connect their students with each other, along with searching for other students in Francophone nations.
Multiple staff honored with Andy awards
Multiple College of Engineering staff were honored with Andy Awards for their remarkable performance and impact with the university. This year, 29 individuals and 11 teams were nominated in seven categories. The College of Engineering winners include:
- Commitment to Excellence (Rookie): Lucas Valone
- Commitment to Excellence (Veteran): Paige Houser
- Spirit: Misti West
- Innovative and Creative Contributions: Rotem Guttman
Rohrer’s microstructure research shared by DOE
US Department of Energy
MSE’s Gregory Rohrer’s research on predicting the microstructure of materials was shared by the US Department of Energy Office of Science. “Using @advancedphoton, researchers @CarnegieMellon & @argonne found the usual model that scientists use to predict materials’ structures and properties doesn’t apply to many common materials,” the DOE Office of Science wrote on Twitter.
Armanios quoted on equitable engineering
University of Maryland
EPP’s Daniel Armanios was quoted by the University of Maryland A. James Clark School of Engineering about teaching a course in engineering and social justice. “The way to address equity issues [is to be aware of] people who historically didn’t have a voice,” Armanios says. “Who’s not in the room, who’s missing, who should be there? All of that is a social structure, not a technical one. That’s why historically it’s been difficult for engineers to do this; engineers are not trained to look at social structures.”
CyLab/EPP’s Nicolas Christin was quoted by WIRED about dark web marketplace White House Market’s unexpected and sudden closure. “Anonymity always decreases with time. Just one slip up and you’re done,” says Christin. “If your IP address is captured once, it is a disaster. And so there is a perfectly rational behavior, which is to quit while you're ahead.”
MechE sophomore R.J. Holmes, a forward on the CMU men’s basketball team, tied the 64-year-old school record for most points in a game when he scored 43 in a 103-102 overtime win at La Roche University on November 10. Holmes ended the night making 19-of-24 shots, including two-of-two from behind the three-point line. He also added a career-high 11 rebounds to record his first career double-double and added a career-best five assists. He was named the University Athletic Association Athlete of the Week and CMU’s Student-Athlete of the Week for his achievement.
Rajkumar quoted on Tesla cameras
ECE’s Raj Rajkumar was quoted by Consumer Reports about the camera-AI system used by Tesla’s autonomous vehicles. In order to sell Full Self-Driving as a mass-market option, Tesla couldn’t rely on pricey hardware like Lidar, says Rajkumar. “The only thing they could add that their customers could afford was cameras,” he said.
ECE’s Phil Koopman was quoted by AP News about a crash complaint from a Tesla autonomous vehicle. The driver said that the company’s “Full Self-Driving” software caused a crash. “Hopefully, this gives @NHTSAgov ammunition it needs to take action on FSD now rather than waiting for Tesla to take its time through partial data releases,” Koopman wrote on Twitter.
Koopman quoted on autonomous vehicles
The Washington Post
ECE’s Phil Koopman was quoted by The Washington Post on safety issues with Tesla's autonomous vehicles. Auto safety experts say Tesla’s tweaks to safety features—without any notice to owners—were an unprecedented violation of trust. “If you’re testing, you need to know if they’re changing your vehicle out from under you,” Koopman said. “Just taking that away and not making it super super obvious to drivers that that’s happened is extremely concerning.”
Viswanathan mentioned on electric aircraft
MechE’s Venkat Viswanathan’s research on electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft was featured on BigThink.com. His recent study finds that battery-powered urban aircraft are well within the bounds of technological reality and could appear in everyday life surprisingly soon.
MFI research on robotics mentioned
ATI Industrial Automation
Research by MFI’s Changliu Liu on using robots for weld-bead removal was featured on ATI Industrial Automation’s website. The team designed a fully-automated, active compliance system that was able to successfully locate, measure, and remove the weld bead from the tube’s interior and verify process completion. Material removal operations are quintessential to a variety of industries and range from very light finishing to heavy gate removal.
Armanios and Jaramillo mentioned on energy use
Network for Business Sustainability
EPP’s Daniel Armanios and Paulina Jaramillo were mentioned by the Network for Business Sustainability for their work on how gender norms shape the way energy is used. They found that in rural India, where men make 78% of household decisions, the men’s interests shaped whether new energy resources went to activities and appliances that would improve women’s lives–or to the men’s priorities. As a result, women don’t realize the expected benefits of increased energy access.
Michalek quoted on EV policy
Spectrum Local News
EPP/MechE’s Jeremy Michalek was quoted by Spectrum Local News about the bipartisan infrastructure bill’s effect on electric vehicles. Michalek said the biggest hurdles for electric vehicles are a lack of awareness and the cost. “Adopting an electric vehicle is a tough sell unless, and until, they can reliably get access to a convenient charger,” Michalek said.
Gueye mentioned on cybersecurity
The New Times
CMU-Africa’s Assane Gueye was mentioned in The New Times on cybersecurity threats in Rwanda. Tech and cyber security experts say that the most prevalent cybercrimes in the country involve online scams ranging from phishing, vishing and smishing. Speaking at a recent cyber security meetup of tech enthusiasts, Gueye said that other vulnerabilities result from compromised networks, lack of adequate information as well as installation of pirated software.
Johnson interviewed on robotics
ASME Dynamic Systems & Control Division Podcast Series
MechE’s Aaron Johnson was interviewed by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers’ Dynamic Systems & Control Division Podcast Series about his work on legged robots. “This is a very exciting time in legged robots,” Johnson said. “There’s a legged robot market that didn’t exist before.”
Army grant to fund development of PAS system
U.S. Department of Defense
BME Interim Head Keith Cook has been awarded a $1.45 million grant from the U.S. Army Congressionally Directed Medical Research programs to develop a pulmonary assist system (PAS) to support military veterans and other patients with long-term, incurable lung disease for a period of months to years. This award funds the comparison of the performance of a proposed PAS pump, the Cardiodyme CDX, to the function of established, commercial pumps to ensure the pump can provide appropriate blood flow rates with low levels of blood damage, clot formation, and activation of the immune system.
MechE’s Burak Ozdoganlar was quoted by Yahoo about needle-free vaccine technology. One advantage he describes: “Less amount of vaccine delivered precisely to skin can activate an immune response similar to intramuscular injection,” Ozdoganlar told AFP. It’s an important factor as the developing world struggles to procure enough Covid vaccine. This research was also covered in Business Insider.
Tsamitis part of CISO conference keynote panel
The Millenium Alliance
INI Director Dena Haritos Tsamitis will be participating in a fireside chat with Twitter CISO Rinki Sethi. Their presentation is the opening keynote for The Millenium Alliance’s Transformational CISO conference. Transformational CISO is a two-day think tank on cybersecurity transformation.
CyLab/EPP’s Nicolas Christin was quoted by WIRED about dark web marketplaces. A joint operation of the US Justice Department, Europol, and a host of other agencies recently made 150 arrests spread across eight countries and seized over 230 kilograms of drugs and $31.6 million in cash and cryptocurrency.
“Markets are easily replaceable because all it takes is a different website to move to,” says Christin. “Time and again, the ecosystem as a whole has shown to be resilient to police intervention.”
BME’s Jana Kainerstorfer and Sossena Wood and ECE’s Pulkit Grover have received a research ground from Facebook’s Engineering Approaches to Responsible Neural Interface Design program. Their research is focused on racially inclusive optical technology.
Biegler receives Long Term Achievements Award
ChemE’s Lorenz Biegler received the Long Term Achievements Award in Computer Aided Process Engineering at this year’s European Congress of Chemical Engineering (ECCE) and European Congress of Applied Biotechnology (ECAB) Conference. Awarded by the European Federation of Chemical Engineering, the Long Term Achievements Award recognizes life-long excellence and contributions to process systems engineering. During the conference, Biegler also presented a keynote lecture titled “Optimization-driven Modeling for Industry 4.0.”
Engineering staff nominated for Andy Awards
Carnegie Mellon University
Nine Engineering staff members and two teams were nominated for Andy Awards for their outstanding performance and commitment to service at CMU.
The Commitment to Excellence award honors staff members who take great pride in producing excellent work. INI’s Deana Lorenzo, CEE’s Melissa Ritchie, and EPP’s Lucas Valone were nominated in the rookie category, which recognizes staff who have been at CMU for fewer than three years. EPP’s Vicky Finney, CyLab’s Brittany Frost, and MSE’s Paige Houser were nominated in the veteran category, which honors staff who have been at CMU for more than three years.
The Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion award honors a staff member who demonstrates dedication and continuing commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and cultural competency in the workplace. ECE’s Jessica Tomko was nominated for this award.
The Commitment to Students award honors staff members who are dedicated to guiding and assisting university students. INI’s Asia Donegan was nominated for this award.
The Spirit award honors staff members who enhance campus life with their enthusiasm, dedication to the university community and commitment to exceptional service. BME’s Misti West was nominated for this award.
The Teamwork and Collaboration award honors staff teams who exemplify collaboration and cooperation with colleagues, students and the university community and recognizes its transformative impact. The College of Engineering CEE Team and the INI Finance Team were nominated for this award.
Christin quoted on cryptocurrency
CyLab’s Nicolas Christin was quoted in Bloomberg about China’s plans to get involved with cryptocurrency. “For China, I think it’s pretty clear they want to promote the digital yuan, and that they are simply taking care of the competition,” said Christin.
Cranor quoted on secure storage
The Next Web
CyLab Director Lorrie Cranor was quoted by The Next Web about how to keep vaccination information secure on your phone. Cranor is particularly worried about date of birth. “The main issue with date of birth is that it could be a link to other records,” she said. “If someone’s trying to steal your identity, the more non-public information they have available, the more likely they’re going to answer [challenge questions correctly].”
ECE’s Raj Rajkumar was quoted in Vox on autonomous vehicle data collection. By selling its vehicles to the general public, Tesla is able to collect lots of real-world driving data that will be useful in helping solve autonomous driving challenges. “We should be driving them whenever they can drive themselves and, when they do not, humans drive themselves,” Rajkumar said. “And for a time we collect experience. We understand what works, what does not work, and we refine.”
ECE’s Raj Rajkumar was quoted in Reuters about safety concerns regarding automatic vehicles that use cameras. “Today’s computer vision is far from perfect and will be for the foreseeable future,” said Rajkumar.
O’Connor receives IoP award
CMU Materials Science and Engineering
MSE’s Thomas O’Connor received the Institute of Physics Early Career Lecturer Award at the 5th Edwards Symposium. O’Connor was recognized as an outstanding early career speaker for his talk on modelling polymer dynamics at the non-equilibrium frontier.
Zhang named SMA Fellow
Solid Modeling Association
MechE’s Jessica Zhang was named a Solid Modeling Association Fellow for her work in areas of solid modeling, which has broad applications in computational biomedicine, materials science and engineering. The SMA Fellow was introduced to recognize individuals with a distinguished record of research, accomplishment, and publication in areas of Solid Modeling and demonstrated support of the SMA through membership and participation in the Association, its meetings and activities. It was announced during the SIAM Virtual Conference on Geometric and Physical Modeling on September 27-29, 2021.
Michalek quoted on ride-hailing trips
EPP/MechE’s Jeremy Michalek was quoted in Bloomberg CityLab on his recent study that evaluated the environmental impact of ride-hailing services. “Just by avoiding starting up your personal vehicle, you’re avoiding some air pollutants when you take a TNC trip,” said Michalek. “But that’s not enough to make up for all the driving to and from passengers that vehicle is doing.”
BRAIN Initiative awards multi-million dollar grant to CMU
The National Institute of Health’s BRAIN Initiative has awarded BME’s Bin He a three-year, ~$2 million grant to investigate the neuroscience mechanisms of novel transcranial focused ultrasound neuromodulation at cellular and neural circuit levels. He’s research aims to gain a better understanding of the effects of stimulation technology in order to non-invasively manipulate and control neural circuits. The grant will characterize neural and inter-neural interactions using the noninvasive stimulation technology, which could benefit patients suffering from various brain disorders. Kai Yu, research scientist at He’s Lab, is a co-investigator.
CEE/EPP’s Costas Samaras was quoted in Forbes on infrastructure and climate change. Part of the Biden Administration’s plan to recuperate abandoned areas, the Justice40 Initiative aims to increase jobs, lower environmental impact, and reduce bills. One lower-income community is partnering with leaders to install solar panels in public and industrial sites. While the United States spends only 3% of gross domestic product on improving infrastructure, Costas believes that we are able to do more, “infrastructure is a natural way to get the economy moving and we can borrow cheaply right now.”
Ren receives Healthy Longevity Catalyst Award
National Academy of Medicine
BME’s Charlie Ren was named an awardee of the National Academy of Medicine’s 2021 Healthy Longevity Catalyst Awards. The Catalyst Awards reward bold, new ideas that improve the physical, mental, or social well-being of people as they age, in a measurable and equitable way. The top 25 submissions, including Ren’s, which focuses on the common extracellular mechanisms of aging across different organs, received $50,000 from NAM.
The CMU team behind picoCTF, an educational platform aiming to bring more people into the field of cybersecurity, hosted a workshop and mini competition at this year’s Women in Cybersecurity conference (WiCyS). More than 150 people participated in the workshop, and more than 200 participated in the competition. “Our goal is to increase female participation in Capture-the-Flag (CTF) events because we understand the educational value that these events offer to enhance and polish cybersecurity skills,” said CyLab/INI’s Hanan Hibshi, faculty advisor to picoCTF. “We had an amazing presence from WiCyS participants who were gathering to chat, work on their challenges, and have fun networking with cybersecurity colleagues.”
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. Marketplace, Gizmodo, and Tech Crunch also covered this research.
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.
Wolf selected for convergent manufacturing committee
The National Academies of Engineering, Science, and Mathematics
MFI/Next Manufacturing 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.