Pileggi honored with 2023 Phil Kaufman Award
Electronic System Design Alliance and the IEEE Council on Electronic Design Automation
ECE Head Larry Pileggi will be honored for his pioneering contributions to circuit simulation and optimization that have enabled the industry to address the challenge of interconnect delay dominated designs, and for his innovations in electrical and computer engineering education. The Phil Kaufman Award is presented annually by the Electronic System Design Alliance (ESD Alliance), a SEMI technology community, and the Council on Electronic Design Automation (CEDA) of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).
MechE’s Philip LeDuc and Carmel Majidi have developed a new soft robot inspired by a prehistoric sea creature, which was featured in Popular Science. Pleurocystitids, a precursor to the present-day invertebrates, had tail-like structures that allowed them to move underwater easily.
LeDuc, Ozdoganlar, and Yang featured in Interesting Engineering
MechE’s Philip LeDuc, Burak Ozdoganlar, and Feimo Yang have developed a new tissue engineering technique that may alleviate the organ transplantation crisis. The work was featured in Interesting Engineering. “What makes our method different from other kinds of 3D printing is that instead of letting the water completely freeze while we’re printing, we let it maintain a liquid phase on top,” said Yang, who hopes that the versatility of the 3D-printed blood vessels will have further applications beyond the immediate organ transplant issue.
MechE’s Reeja Jayan shares her thoughts on how temperature affects battery-powered vehicles’ ability to change in Wards Auto. The cold can make batteries charge less effectively. “If you have limited charging stations, as we have in the U.S., you can imagine how this becomes bad quickly,” she says. Experts hope that with the growing EV industry, this solution will be solved and more charging stations will begin to appear.
Gomes’ AI tool featured in multiple outlets
Chemical & Engineering News
ChemE’s Gabe Gomes’ new AI tool with complex chemistry capabilities was featured in Chemistry & Engineering News. The program uses the internet and relevant literature to learn about a reaction and, within minutes, produces an outline for the procedure needed to complete the reaction. “We are converting bits to atoms,” Gomes says. “Taking a natural language prompt, the bits, and converting it into an actual chemical reaction.” This work was also featured in Axios, Ars Technica, Psychology Today, and Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News.
EPP/MechE’s Kate Whitefoot spoke to CNET about adding to the list of electric vehicles that qualify for a federal tax credit worth thousands of dollars. “I do expect this [list] will increase over time,” Whitefoot said, noting that improvements in battery and mineral supply chains could help.
Karplus talks West Virginia energy revolution
Times West Virginian
EPP’s Valerie Karplus spoke to the Times West Virginian about a new research project called Engines that aims to reimagine the state’s energy landscape. Researchers from CMU, West Virginia University, and the University of Pittsburgh will collaborate during an initial 18-month period after receiving $1 million from the National Science Foundation. “I think one of the most exciting prospect is thinking how we can really pull together all the necessary pieces to make the energy and innovation ecosystem work here in the region,” said Karplus.
Grossmann on Subject to podcast
ChemE’s Ignacio Grossmann appeared on the Subject to podcast to talk about his life and career. The show features leading researchers in the fields of operations research, combinatorial optimization, and logistics.
CyLab/EPP’s Kathleen Carley speaks to Computer World about AI technology’s role in the upcoming election. With the vast capabilities of AI, she advises social media companies especially to take precautions against AI-generated content while preserving the discourse surrounding the election. “AI technologies are constantly evolving, and new safeguards are needed,” Carley said. “Also, AI could be used to help by identification of those spreading hate, identification of hate-speech, and by creating content that aids with voter education and critical thinking.”
ECE’s Phil Koopman was featured on an NPR podcast to discuss how the public views autonomous vehicles and their potential, particularly in light of the safety concerns raised after self-driving cars were involved in road accidents. “The narrative started to unravel when they promised we wouldn't make the same stupid mistakes as human drivers, and then they got caught on camera making the same stupid mistakes,” said Koopman.
CyLab Director Lorrie Cranor spoke with USA Today about the spotlight cast on Roblox’s privacy settings. While it was established that the online game doesn’t collect precise location data, Cranor noted that sharing personal information in chats could leave users vulnerable. She recommended that parents check the privacy settings on the platform for younger users.
ECE’s Larry Pileggi spoke to CNET about the two different methods, AC-coupled and DC-coupled, that are used to connect batteries for solar panels to homes. Specifically, Pileggi distinguished between the two energy types. “When you use that battery energy in your home or sell it back to the grid, you’d convert it to AC because that’s what your appliances are expecting,” he told the outlet.
Whitehead organizes symposium
ChemE’s Katie Whitehead co-organized the Keystone Symposium on Delivery of Nucleic Acid Therapeutics in Banff, Alberta, Canada in late January. Ph.D. alum Khalid Hajj (2019), postdoc Sai Yerneni, and Ph.D. student Mariah Arral also attended.
2023 staff award winners
Congratulations to our 2023 staff award winners:
- Rookie Award: Nicole Rihn, Admissions and Program Coordinator, Energy Science and Technology Program, Materials Science and Engineering
- Burritt Education Award: Jenny Hurst, Career Counselor, Engineering and Public Policy
- Innovation Award: Mary Kilcoyne, Alumni Relations Manager, Integrated Innovation Institute
- DEI Award: Leia Delabahan, Senior Academic & Student Services Advisor, Integrated Innovation Institute
- Spirit Award: Melissa Ritchie, Graduate Academic Coordinator, Civil & Environmental Engineering
- Continuous Excellence: Nancy Doyle, Manager of the Director’s Office and Administration, Information Networking Institute
- Inspirational Leadership Award: Ryan Bates, Fabrication Manager, Tech Spark, Mechanical Engineering
EPP’s Granger Morgan and Valerie Karplus talk about streamlining the process of building carbon capture facilities with Earth.Org. “Right now you’re looking at 6 to 10 years and up to 12 years, potentially, to get through all of these regulatory steps,” Karplus says. Although carbon capture and storage (CCS) is not a permanent solution, it has the potential to be a powerful tool in reducing global greenhouse gas emissions.
Nock and her company Peoples Energy Analytics featured
Science News Explores
CEE/EPP’s Destenie Nock and her company Peoples Energy Analytics were featured in Science News Explores. Using her background in math, she created a computer algorithm that helps people manage their utilities more effectively, and subsequently, lower their energy costs. “Before I had the data, it was really hard to get people to listen. Now, I can actually show that this is a problem throughout the United States,” Nock says.
Fuchs featured in a podcast done by Issues in Science and Technology
Issues in Science and Technology
EPP’s Erica Fuchs was featured in a podcast by Issues in Science and Technology. She and Lisa Margonelli talk about Fuchs’ pilot project that she has been working on for the past year—the National Network for Critical Technology Assessment. This project will allow the federal government to predict and tackle supply chain issues effectively ahead of time.
CMU-Africa was mentioned in BNN Breaking for its involvement in a study that revealed major security risks in popular African financial apps. They found that 95% of these Android apps could potentially compromise the personal and financial information of 272 million users. This finding will hopefully steer both developers and users toward increasing security measures while continuing to use these apps.
Sullivan weighs in on water microdroplet chemistry
MechE’s Ryan Sullivan spoke with Chemistry World about the contentious topic of water microdroplet chemistry, which has inspired mixed feelings among researchers in the field. Sullivan, for his part, is more skeptical. “Many physical atmosphere chemists who I regard as very careful experimentalists…do not think that this idea that oxidants are spontaneously being produced in microdroplets is real—they are quite convinced it’s contamination or some sort of artifact,” said Sullivan.
ECE’s Raj Rajkumar was selected to serve on the new U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Transforming Transportation Advisory Committee to provide advice to DOT and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg about approaches to innovation. The committee will convene on January 18, to discuss a variety of topics, including pathways to safe, secure, equitable, environmentally-friendly, and accessible deployments of transportation technologies. The 27 committee members include experts from academia, think tanks, the public sector, labor, and industry who cover automation, cybersecurity, safety, accessibility, law, government, entrepreneurship, privacy, equity, and other areas.
EPP’s Baruch Fischhoff talks to The Washington Post about how social science intersects with climate change. As clean energy initiatives become increasingly popular, researchers have found that a good indicator of if someone will engage with these is if people in their social circle are engaging too. Scientists are now taking advantage of this knowledge after letting other governmental programs fall through, such as the efforts in 1979. “We basically were no longer at the table for the next quarter-century,” he says. “The natural scientists trusted their story would tell [itself]. … We blew it.”
Whitacre’s start-up Stratus Materials featured in The Pittsburgh Business Times
The Pittsburgh Business Times
MSE/EPP’s Jay Whitacre’s start-up company Stratus Materials was featured in The Pittsburgh Business Times for its advancement toward a Pittsburgh-based, cobalt-free cathode manufacturing plant. “This new pilot line will allow Stratus to expand the scope of its testing and sampling efforts which will include deploying its materials into large-scale battery packs and electric vehicles,” Stratus says.
EPP/MechE’s Jeremy Michalek discusses his research on EV adoption in rural communities in The Verge. “If electric vehicles are offered as ubiquitously as gasoline vehicles, and if their technology goes where we think it’s going to go, then we would expect roughly half of people to prefer an electric over a gasoline for both cars and SUVs,” he says. Michalek’s extensive work in EVs and their integration into our current society is also mentioned in MSN, The Wall Street Journal, and CNET.
Pileggi shares his opinion on U.S. computer chip manufacturing
The New York Times
ECE Head Larry Pileggi shares his opinion on U.S. computer chip manufacturing in The New York Times. While Biden believes that companies should be hiring solely American workers, Pileggi argues for the benefit of bringing in more experienced chipmakers from other countries. “Our U.S. work force is of insufficient size, but also, large populations of our technical work force are focused on learning A.I. and software development, which makes immigration of semiconductor technologists even more imperative,” he says.
ECE’s Aswin Sankaranarayanan talks to CNET about AI touchups on phone photos. While most phones have the digital processing capabilities to touch up photos, they vary in method and how much processing occurs. “There’s not one answer. It’s whatever appeals to you,” he says. “And every company obviously believes they do a better job than the others.”
MFI/NEXT Manufacturing’s Sandra DeVincent Wolf’s research was mentioned in Defense News as part of an article on manufacturing issues with 3D printing pertaining to the U.S.’s submarine fleet. In order to resolve the issue, the Navy has started to install cameras, microphones, and sensors that will monitor the manufacturing process and can catch errors in real time; this is similar to the technology in Wolf’s lab. “The machines in her labs are rigged with sensors: high- and low-speed cameras, thermal imaging, images of the melt pool, images of the metal spatter, acoustic monitoring, and more,” the article notes.
ECE’s Swarun Kumar discusses why 5G can be slower than 4G networks on WTAE. Many cell phone users have recently been reporting dropped calls, slower streaming and download times, and general bad service. “Think of this from the operators’ point of view. They are rolling out a new network. There are going to be bugs; there are going to be issues. They’re going to have to assess how many users are on the new network rather than the old network,” he reasons.
MechE’s Eni Hallilaj speaks on the benefits of using AI for biomechanical analyses in Medscape. Especially for “highly heterogeneous conditions that we have not been able to fully characterize through traditional studies with limited patients,” the app allows for the possibility of having hundreds or even thousands involved in studies. “The opportunities here are endless,” Hallilaj says.
CEE/EPP’s Destenie Nock talks to AZ Central about why people wait too long to turn on their ACs. “I have been able to find that there are some households that wait until the average outdoor temperature is above 78 degrees Fahrenheit in Phoenix to turn on their air conditioners, which often means the maximum daily temperature is 90 degrees,” Nock says. Because of the rising energy costs, many people delay turning on their air conditioning until it’s too late, but new technology could prevent this from happening. Nock’s startup company, People’s Energy Analytics, helps locate inefficiencies in the area and get people connected to assistance programs if needed.
Cranor comments on House speakers’ porn-monitoring software
The Washington Post
CyLab Director Lorrie Cranor comments on House speaker Mike Johnson’s porn-monitoring software in The Washington Post. The software scans all activity on any device and sends a report to an “accountability partner—Johnson’s is his 17-year-old son. Cranor is “concerned about a government official using it knowingly on his own devices, as it may expose potentially sensitive information to a third-party service provider or even his 17-year-old son.”
CyLab Director Lorrie Cranor shares her thoughts on smartphones and their listening capabilities on WTAE. “Your phones are mostly not listening to you, but they could be listening to you,” she says. Her recommendation is to check which apps on your phone have access to the microphone, which is how phones could be listening to you.
Koopman shares his opinion on robo-taxis
ECE’s Phil Koopman shares his opinion on robo-taxis in MarketWatch. He states the importance of human test drivers in preventing accidents such as the one earlier this year where a Cruise vehicle sent a pedestrian to the hospital. “They weren’t as ready as they wanted people to believe. They should operate only with safety drivers, and need to have a serious investigation with independent oversight,” he says.
ChemE’s Ignacio Grossmann delivered the 2023 Distinguished Schiesser Lecture at Lehigh University on December 6th, 2023 as part of the university’s Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering’s Fall 2023 Colloquium Seminar Series. His presentation was titled “Optimal Synthesis and Planning of Sustainable Chemical Process and Energy Systems.”
MechE’s Victoria Webster-Wood talks with Nature about biohybrid robots. “A biohybrid is really any robot that combines both biological materials and synthetic materials,” she says. These machines have many potential applications including search and rescue following earthquakes.
Tsamitis named among Smart Business Pittsburgh Smart 50
INI Director Dena Haritos Tsamitis has been named one of the Smart Business Pittsburgh Smart 50. This award is given to innovative and inspiring leaders from the 50 smartest companies in the greater Pittsburgh area.
CyLab/INI’s Hanan Hibshi gives input on the Municipal Water Authority of Aliquippa cyberattack in WTAE-TV. “We’re going to see more attacks, and I think that, unfortunately, lots of parties that are not involved in the conflict can get affected,” Hibshi says with regards to the Israel-Hamas war.
CMU Engineering featured in Engineers’ Society of Western Pennsylvania education issue
Engineers’ Society of Western Pennsylvania
A CMU Engineering article was featured in the Engineers’ Society of Western Pennsylvania education issue released in Summer 2023. The piece highlights the new degrees and programs CMU has created to equip future engineers to thrive in the ever-changing industry. Some of these initiatives include an AI master’s degree, online certificate programs, and a new undergraduate major in entrepreneurship.
Carley comments on Amazon Lex
CyLab/EPP’s Kathleen Carley comments on Amazon’s chatbot, Lex, in InfoWorld. “The key is that putting a large language model into Lex means that if you build or interact with an Amazon Lex bot, it will be able to provide more helpful, more natural human-sounding, and possibly more accurate responses to standard questions,” Carley says. “Unlike the old style analytic system, these bots are not task focused and so can do things other than follow a few preprogrammed steps.”
EPP’s Ramteen Sioshansi talks to CNET about electricity rates in Texas. “I think the biggest advantage in Texas is you can find some fairly exotic price structures that you just would not have found pre-restructuring [pre-deregulation],” he says. “Different companies that own generators compete with each other, and whoever can supply electricity at the lowest cost is who is going to supply [it] to the end customer.”
Dickey at the 2023 American Ceramic Society Annual meeting
The American Ceramic Society
MSE Head Elizabeth Dickey attended the American Ceramic Society’s 125th Annual meeting at the Materials Science & Technology technical meeting and exhibition where she delivered the Robert B. Sosman lecture and was honored as this year’s Sosman awardee.
Taylor featured in PittsburghInno
MechE’s Rebecca Taylor was featured in PittsburghInno for being named the first Ansys Career Development Chair in the College of Engineering. The Ansys endowment she received will go toward educating mechanical engineering students using Ansys software. “Using Ansys software in my lab and classroom will help prepare my students to use self-assembly as a powerful tool for advanced manufacturing,” Taylor says. The announcement was also covered in the Pittsburgh Business Times.
ChemE/EPP’s Neil Donahue comments on a Kentucky train derailment fire in AP News. Sulfur dioxide was thought to be released during the crash, prompting the residents of Rockcastle County to be evacuated. “It is just nasty, caustic, and acidic stuff that hurts. It’s unpleasant to be in,” Donahue says. “Once the fire was put out, the threat from the chemicals was expected to diminish quickly.” Donahue was also featured in The Washington Post on the topic.
Kainerstorfer discusses AI in biotech
Pittsburgh Business Times
BME’s Jana Kainerstorfer talked about AI's growing place in the biotech industry during an October meeting of Pittsburgh’s chapter of Women in Bio. As reported by the Pittsburgh Business Times, Kainerstorfer discussed some of the biases of data collection. “Oftentimes, we don’t have a diverse enough dataset to even train an AI algorithm and show the efficacy of a device,” Kainerstorfer said, according to the outlet. “The fact that pulse oximeters are not as accurate for [people who have] darker skin is something that I find mindblowing in 2023.”
Zhang presents at ASME IMECE
MechE’s Jessica Zhang presented at the ASME IMECE: CONCAM Distinguished Lectures on Computational Mechanics, which was held in New Orleans, LA on October 29 - November 2. She talked about her research on modeling traffic jam and growth process of neurons using isogeomtric analysis and physics-informed neural network.
ECE’s David Brumley spoke to Axios about Biden’s plan for ethical hacking for AI safety. The president signed an executive order that will allow ethical hackers to find flaws in artificial intelligence tools allowing a safe way to test new AI algorithms. However, Brumley told Axios that “companies and policymakers need to shift their attention to the algorithms and data sources at the heart of the models, rather than the outputs.”
Shinn-Cunningham talks noise colors
The Washington Post
BME’s Barbara Shinn-Cunningham spoke to the Washington Post about the concept of noise colors and their respective values. “Different colors of noise emphasize different frequencies over others. They have energy in different parts of the sound spectrum,” Shinn-Cunningham said. “The main effect is to drown out unexpected or disruptive sounds that would distract you or compromise your attention.”
Donahue featured in podcast posted by the Royal Society of Chemistry
Royal Society of Chemistry
ChemE/EPP’s Neil Donahue was recently featured in a podcast posted by the Royal Society of Chemistry. In the “Intro to Air Pollution” episode on the show Brought to you by chemistry, he talks about air quality and how pollution canaffect the body. “Even in places where there have been great improvements in air quality, and I live in one, it’s still a major cause of death. And, in the developing world, it’s a really big issue,” he says.
ECE’s David Brumley gives his input on the recent executive order from the White House that addresses AI security risks in CyberScoop. He expresses concern that the EO is directing safety measures to agencies that may not have the experience or capacity to carry them out. “They’re relying on very traditional government agencies like NIST that have no expertise in this,” he says.
MechE/EPP/CEE’s Jeremy Michalek comments on Trump’s claims about the electric car industry in PolitiFact. Trump says that the car industry will be leaving the United States, but Michalek believes this assertion is “substanceless.” He goes on to say that “there are likely to be complex effects of this shift, but all automobiles are already produced with a mix of systems and components produced across a global supply chain, so this really isn’t new.”
Rajkumar shares his thoughts on the new Tesla Cybertruck
ECE’s Raj Rajkumar shares his thoughts on the new Tesla Cybertruck with Business Insider. The angular design of the Cybertruck requires extreme accuracy and precision, which will slow production. Rajkumar also adds that the material it is made of does not provide as much flexibility, which is critical for vehicle accidents and will require special welding techniques.
MechE’s Carmel Majidi talks to BuiltIn about shape-shifting robots. “This technology introduces new capabilities to achieve robotic functions at the small scale in hard-to-reach places,” he says. “Because of its shape-shifting properties and response to external stimuli, it can be operated remotely and controlled to move within otherwise hard to reach parts, such as those within the body.”
Haidar quoted in Popular Science
MechE’s Diana Haidar was quoted in Popular Science talking about 3D printing, which has been an increasingly popular method of manufacturing since the 1980s. “Mass manufacturing methods, almost all of them are quite fixed. You can only remake the exact same parts over and over again. But people also want custom parts. That’s where 3D printing has a niche,” she says.
2023 Engineering Andy Award winners
The annual Andy Awards ceremony was held on October 18, 2023 where two Engineering staff members and one committee were recognized for their outstanding contributions to the university:
- Leia Delabahan: Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
- Justin Dawber: Innovative & Creative Solutions
- Mechanical Engineering DEI Committee: Gabi Cryster, Annie Harder, Eva Mergner, and Yanika Reid: Teamwork and Collaboration - Standing Team
A huge congratulations to them and the other winners!
Campbell and Ren join American Heart Association award project team
University of Pittsburgh
The American Heart Association’s 2023 Collaborative Sciences Award will be investigated by a multi-institutional team of researchers, including BME’s Phil Campbell and Charlie Ren. The three-year project, “Clickable Extracellular Vesicles for Aneurysm Stabilization," aims to provide early, minimally invasive treatment for abnormal aortic aneurysms (AAA). It will be led by David Vorp and his team at Pitt’s Vascular Bioengineering Laboratory and also include collaborators from Vanderbilt University.
Carley discusses false information on social media platforms
CyLab/EPP’s Kathleen Carley discusses false information on social media platforms in Financial Times with regards to the Israel-Hamas conflict. The spreading of falsehood not only causes emotional turmoil in the general public, but also has political repercussions as well. “It’s disinformation on every side,” she says. “There’s third-party agendas as well. In some ways it’s being used by some countries in the Middle East to promote their country or [criticize] their adversaries.”
Christin discusses the U.S. government’s bitcoin
The Wall Street Journal
CyLab/EPP’s Nicolas Christin talks to The Wall Street Journal about the U.S. government’s bitcoin assets. Although the government is one of the largest holders of cryptocurrency, conversion from bitcoin to dollars is a lengthy process. “The government moves generally very slowly to dispose of those assets because they’ve got to do a ton of due diligence, the cases are often complicated and there’s a lot of red tape,” he says.
Carley comments on media control surrounding Hamas attacks
The New York Times
CyLab/EPP’s Kathleen Carley comments on media control surrounding the Hamas attacks in The New York Times. While the terrorist organization and associated accounts are banned from social platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok, posts containing political messages and gruesome footage continue to surface. “Unless you do content moderation consistently, for the same story across all the major platforms, you’re just playing Whac-a-Mole. It’s going to resurface,” she says.
Khair elected fellow of the American Physical Society
CMU Chemical Engineering
ChemE’s Aditya Khair has been elected a fellow of the American Physical Society for his exceptional contributions to the physics industry. He is recognized by his peers for his work in mathematical models to predict or explain non-intuitive transport or flow phenomena.
ChemE’s Gabe Gomes has been selected as a fellow to attend the new Scialog: Automating Chemical Laboratories meeting. This collaboration, co-sponsored by Research Corporation for Science Advancement and the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation, is a three-year initiative that aims to promote innovation in the chemical industry. The interdisciplinary community of fellows seeks to make advances in automated instrumentation and artificial intelligence through their shared expertise in fields of synthetic chemistry including organic, inorganic, materials, and biological.
Tucker’s research mentioned at Senate hearing
MechE/CMU-Africa’s Conrad Tucker, along with other collaborators from the RAND Corporation and the Challenger Center, were cited for their work during the U.S. Senate Rules and Administration Committee hearing titled “AI and the Future of our Elections.” They were recognized for their research in nefarious uses of AI and provided a baseline for future studies and solutions.
EPP’s Erica Fuchs talks to CNN Business about the autoworkers’ roles in the electric car industry. Because there are fewer parts in making an electric car than in its gasoline counterparts, people assume that there will be fewer jobs in the electric car industry. “But making the powertrain of electric vehicles—the batteries, electric motors and power management systems—requires more total labor, not less, than that involved in making engines and transmissions,” she says.
MechE’s Reeja Jayan comments on battery technology in the crashed Venice bus in AP News. While the Italian’s transport minister is questioning the spread of electric vehicles in the midst of this catastrophe, experts say that the battery chemistry used actually makes it less prone to fires. “In batteries that use nickel or cobalt, oxygen can be released if the temperature gets too hot, fueling a fire. But in a lithium-iron-phosphate battery, there is a strong bond between oxygen and phosphorus, keeping the oxygen in place,” she says.
Kumar discusses national emergency alert
ECE’s Swarun Kumar debunks an October 4th national emergency alert myth with PolitiFact. Social media users have been claiming that the test will have adverse effects such as causing a massive electromagnetic power surge that could affect mental health or activate COVID-19 vaccine ingredients in people’s bodies. “There will be no additional power consumption or health risk that this would entail,” Kumar says.
Brumley speaks about hardware “ingredients list”
The Washington Post
CyLab/ECE’s David Brumley speaks to The Washington Post about the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency’s hardware bill of materials framework that would allow organizations to evaluate supply chain risks. “I don’t see this having much impact, and I don’t know why people would comply with it,” he says. Although it seems like a part of the technology rivalry between America and China, he does see potential use in the energy sector.
MechE/EPP’s Jeremy Michalek talks to The Atlantic about America’s shift to electric vehicles. Because electric cars are easier to assemble than their gasoline counterparts, autoworkers are worried about their jobs and wages. “Jobs at gasoline engine manufacturing plants will shift to jobs at electric motor and battery plants,” Michalek says.
2023 Engineering Faculty Awards announced
CMU College of Engineering
The 2023 Engineering Faculty Awards highlight faculty members who have shown outstanding educational, research, and service efforts. Congratulations to the awaredees.
- Benjamin Richard Teare Teaching Award: Jimmy Zhu and Greg Kesden (ECE)
- David P. Casasent Outstanding Research Award: Gianluca Piazza (ECE)
- George Tallman Ladd Research Award: Eni Halilaj (MechE), Destenie Nock (CEE/EPP)
- Outstanding Mentoring Award: Burcu Akinci (CEE)
- Outstanding Service Award: Tim Brown (CMU-Africa/EPP)
- Steven J. Fenves Award for Systems Research: Marios Savvides (ECE)
- Philip and Marsha Dowd Fellowship: Yuejie Chi (ECE), Amir Barati Farimani and Burak Kara (MechE)
As the auto industry begins making the switch over to electric vehicles (EVs), a popular contention is that it takes fewer workers to manufacture EVs. However, researchers at CMU, including EPP’s Kate Whitefoot and Erica Fuchs have found that it actually takes more labor hours as battery cell production is a complex and time-consuming process. This could impact the battery cell making process, especially with regards to union workers and their wages.
MechE/EPP’s Kate Whitefoot comments on the future of green vehicles in MSN. “Moving heavy vehicles like school buses, construction equipment, and big trucks to electrification will definitely be slower. That’s where improving the efficiency of internal combustion engines will be important,” she says.
Fuchs elected to the Board of the National Semiconductor Technology Center
National Institute of Standards and Technology
EPP’s Erica Fuchs was elected to the board of trustees that will oversee a nonprofit entity that is expected to run the National Semiconductor Technology Center (NSTC). The NSTC aims to make groundbreaking innovations in semiconductor design and manufacturing and bring these technologies to market at a lower cost in a shorter amount of time.
17 College of Engineering nominees for annual Andy Awards
Carnegie Mellon University
17 College of Engineering staff members were nominated for the annual Andy Awards, which recognize excellence in areas including Commitment to Excellence; Commitment to Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion; Commitment to Students; Innovative and Creative Contributions; Spirit; and Teamwork and Collaboration. Congratulations to the following staff members:
Commitment to Excellence
- Neil Emmett (rookie) - Mechanical Engineering
- Elizabeth Clark (veteran) - Materials Science and Engineering
- Nancy Doyle (veteran) - Information Networking Institute
- Matthew Moneck (veteran) - Electrical and Computer Engineering
Commitment to DEI
- Leia Delabahan - Integrated Innovation Institute
- Brittany Bristoll - Electrical and Computer Engineering
Commitment to Students
- Heather Costello - Chemical Engineering
- Deborah Kuntz - Engineering and Public Policy
Innovative and Creative Contributions
- Justin Dawber - Chemical Engineering
- Chris Hertz - Mechanical Engineering
- Cindy Arnett - Information Networking Institute
- Lisa Cowling - Mechanical Engineering
Teamwork and Collaboration
- Chemical Engineering Graduate Student Support Team - Heather Costello and Kristyn Williams
- Mechanical Engineering DEI Committee Staff Team - Annie Harder, Eva Mergner, Yanika Reid, Gabriele Crytser
Tkacik listed on City & State PA’s 2023 Energy and Environment Power 100
City and State PA
Scott Institute Director Daniel Tkacik is listed on City & State PA’s 2023 Energy and Environment Power 100. The list features individuals that are making a difference through their contributions in the energy sector. After becoming executive director last year, Tkacik has since made efforts to collaborate with the industry’s leaders and investors while also promoting ideas for a clean-tech ecosystem.
Washburn to speak at Henkel
BME’s Newell Washburn was invited to speak on materials formulation AI at the annual Scientific Advisory Board meeting of Henkel, a leading manufacturer of adhesives and consumer products.
ECE/EPP’s Granger Morgan discusses Earth’s climate health with ABC News. A new study came out saying that Earth is exceeding its “safe operating space for humanity,” showing how imperative it is that we find solutions to reverse the damage being done to our planet. “Experts don’t agree on exactly where the limits are, or how much the planet’s different systems may interact, but we are getting dangerously close,” he says.
MechE/EPP’s Kate Whitefoot comments on gas-powered green vehicles in Newsweek. Researchers from the University of Minnesota and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Sandia National Laboratories collaborated to create a spark plug replacement prototype that will allow fuel to burn more cleanly and efficiently. “Moving heavy vehicles like school buses, construction equipment, and big trucks to electrification will definitely be slower. That’s where improving the efficiency of internal combustion engines will be important,” Whitefoot says.
Koopman Receives ISSS Educator of the Year Award
The International System Safety Society
ECE’s Phil Koopman is the 2023 recipient of the International System Safety Society Educator of the Year Award for his achievement in, and contribution to, system safety education and the advancement of the state of knowledge in system safety.
CEE’s David Rounce responds to a NASA study that found half of glaciers vanish with 1.5 degrees of warming. “To go to the same place and to see the lake expand and see how the glacier was thinning rapidly was quite eye-opening to say the least,” Rounce said.
Koopman responds to Cruise CEO claims
The Washington Post
ECE’s Phil Koopman responds to Cruise CEO’s claims regarding driverless cars in a recent Washington Post article. “These companies are using public roads and putting all the road users at risk with immature tech,” Koopman said. “We’ve gotten to the point where we can live with the way human drivers are, and we have no way to know whether [the driverless cars] will be safer than humans. So why wouldn’t we scrutinize?”
EPP’s Baruch Fischhoff published an op-ed in STAT News regarding prescription information and the FDA’s involvement. “This new FDA requirement is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to support patients and physicians in making better informed health decisions,” the piece reads.
Sekar on how cyberattacks could affect smart cars
CyLab/ECE’s Vyas Sekar explains how smart cars may be at risk of cyberattacks. “If the attacker finds a weakness,” Sekar said, “they can compromise a large number of connected cars simultaneously without much cost or effort.”
ECE’s Phil Koopman comments how an industry shift to driverless trucking could affect self-driving cars. “It depends who you ask,” Koopman said. “For a while, the claim was that software could be shared between the two.”
Tilton to receive American Chemical Society Award
ChemE’s Bob Tilton will receive the 2024 American Chemical Society Award in Colloid Chemistry. Tilton will receive the award to recognize outstanding scientific contributions to colloid chemistry, and, specifically, “for advancing fundamental understanding of colloidal and interfacial phenomena involving compositional and structural complexity, especially multicomponent fluids and nanoscale polymer brushes with controlled architectures.”
Majidi explains importance of soft robotics
Communications of the ACM
MechE’s Carmel Majidi explains the impact soft robotics, such as exoskeletons, artificial skins, and flexible electronics, will have on society. “By mimicking the mechanical compliance and multi-functionality of soft-bodied natural organisms, soft robots can be useful for a wide array of tasks and purposes,” Majidi said.
Zhang delivers IMACS keynote
IMACS World Congress
MechE’s Jessica Zhang delivered a virtual keynote at the 21st International Association for Mathematics and Computers in Simulation (IMACS) World Congress conference, which was held in Rome, Italy on September 11-15, 2023. She talked about using isogeometric analysis and physics-informed graph neural networks to model neuron traffic jam and growth.
ChemE/EPP’s Neil Donahue commented on a study that found Earth exceeds its “safe operating space for humanity” in six out of nine categories. However, Donahue said there are things that can be done to fix the problem.
Majidi wins 2023 Inno Fire Award from Pittsburgh Business Times
Pittsburgh Business Times
MechE’s Carmel Majidi has been awarded the 2023 Inno Fire Award for Trailblazing Innovators from the Pittsburgh Business Times. Majidi was acknowledged for his leadership in the Soft Machines Lab at Carnegie Mellon University and his product “Thubber,” which can be used in the thermal management of semiconductors.
Grossmann serves as Fulbright Specialist in Spain
ChemE’s Ignacio Grossmann is visiting the University of Cantabria in Santander, Spain until the beginning of October with support from the Fulbright Specialist program. Grossmann said he enjoys the opportunity to teach courses to students from other countries and said the Fulbright program is a very enriching experience. “I am very honored to be a Fulbright Specialist as it has allowed me to collaborate with researchers from other parts of the world, like in this case with researchers at the University of Cantabria in Spain, who are engaged in very interesting projects related to sustainability,” he said.
Brumley quoted by Dark Reading
ECE/CyLab’s David Brumley explains why he feels new cybersecurity mandates for medical devices fall short and shares suggestions for the path forward. “We’re building a muscle at this point, and that muscle isn’t gonna allow us to lift this open-source [security] weight yet. But if we don’t start building this muscle we won’t be able to in 20 years. I just wish that they took it a step further, to say how they’re going to hold people responsible, and what powers they have to hold people responsible.”
ECE/CyLab’s David Brumley shares his thoughts on CISA’s outline to tackle open source software security. “Where they lack is when they switch to, ‘we’re now going to help the OSS community,’ as opposed to, ‘we’re going to seek changes in Congress to how we incorporate this in our critical [entities], and act as advisors,’ ‘we’re going to work with the FDA to make sure that we have consistency across guidelines in agencies, so that a vendor developing open source doesn’t have to deal with seven different agency requirements.’ Those are the sorts of things that they could do.”
Sekar quoted on EV cyberattacks
ECE’s Vyas Sekar discussed the potential cyber threats associated with connected electric vehicles. “If the attacker finds a weakness they can compromise a large number of connected cars simultaneously without much cost or effort.”
CEE’s Jerry Wang received the ASCE Civil Engineering Education New Faculty Excellence in Teaching Award for his dedication to his students and their education. Wang creates a stimulating and inclusive learning environment for the next generation of civil engineers and inspires them to be active members in their respective fields.
Donahue comments on “climate havens”
ChemE/EPP’s Neil Donahue comments on “climate havens” with The Hill. Cities around the U.S. are marketing themselves as safe places from extreme climate changes; however, experts believe that no place will be immune. “It’s an absurd concept with a grain of truth,” Donahue says.
Pistorius comments on U.S. Steel sale
MSE’s Chris Pistorius told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that he hopes the new owners of U.S. Steel will continue to support the region’s universities. “If a takeover were to change the relationship with the university, that would not be something we’d be keen on,” Pistorius said.
Pileggi honored with 2023 Phil Kaufman Award
Electronic Engineering Journal
ECE Head Larry Pileggi will be honored with the 2023 Phil Kaufman Award for his pioneering contributions to circuit simulation and optimization that have enabled the industry to address the challenge of interconnect delay dominated designs, and for his innovations in electrical and computer engineering education. The Phil Kaufman Award is presented annually by the Electronic System Design Alliance (ESD Alliance), a SEMI technology community, and the Council on Electronic Design Automation (CEDA) of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).
Zhang speaks at biometrics workshop
Biomechanics Workshop of Program Uncertainty Quantification and Stochastic Modeling of Materials on Mathematical Mechanical Biology
MechE’s Jessica Zhang was invited to speak at Biomechanics Workshop of Program Uncertainty Quantification and Stochastic Modeling of Materials on Mathematical Mechanical Biology: Old School and New School, Methods and Applications, which was held in Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences, Cambridge, UK on July 31 - August 4. She talked about her latest research on modeling traffic jam and growth process of neurons using isogeometric analysis and physics-informed neural network.
Koopman talks safety vs. profit for self-driving cars
The Washington Post
ECE’s Phil Koopman talks safety vs. profit for self-driving cars with The Washington Post. In California, self-driving car companies are testing products on the road with high pressure from shareholders to make a profit, but Koopman is concerned this will sacrifice consumer safety. “Ultimately this industry is going to be about trust,” he says. “These car companies are using public resources to get free testing platforms.”
ECE’s Swarun Kumar shares his thoughts on phone calls on planes with USA Today. While many people are against voice calling because of disturbances to the surrounding passengers, Kumar says, “Using data when airborne is technically not a violation, and, of course, plenty of travelers use in-flight Wi-Fi.”
CyLab/ECE’s David Brumley discusses the CMU hacking team’s victory in the DEF CON Capture-the-Flag competition with AP News. This three-day event brings together professionals, researchers, and students from around the world to show off their skills in cybersecurity and hacking. “It’s hard to understate the impact our students have in cybersecurity,” he says. “Aside from DEF CON, CMU students were the first to hack a Tesla and the iPhone, have founded multiple successful companies like Theori, ForAllSecure, and Comma, and have become professors at top universities. Graduates of CMU’s cybersecurity programs are simply among the best in the field, and DEF CON is just one very specific way that proves it.”
Kitchin to receive the Award for Innovation in Chemical Engineering Education
ChemE’s John Kitchin will receive the Award for Innovation in Chemical Engineering Education from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers for his contributions of open-source Python libraries, social media, and scientific publishing tools.
Grossmann ranked on ScholarGPS
ChemE’s Ignacio Grossmann ranked #10 in Chemical Engineering on ScholarGPS. Highly Ranked Scholars™ are identified by productivity levels (number of publications), as well as the quality and impact of their work.
Brumley discusses cyber policy
The Washington Post
CyLab/ECE’s David Brumley talks cyber policy with The Washington Post. Cybersecurity experts claim that U.S. cyber regulators are not doing enough as far as regulations go. “I can’t think of a cyber policy that encourages proactively improving security. Everything is focused around disclosure and knowing the ingredients, not if the ingredients are spoiled,” Brumley says.
Fischhoff comments on nuclear scenarios and decision making
The New York Times
EPP’s Baruch Fischhoff comments on nuclear scenarios and decision making in The New York Times. A study done by neuroscientist Moran Cerf found that when people were asked to stake money on climate issues, they became more supportive of action. While Cerf believes this thought process can be applied to nuclear risks, Fischhoff disagrees. “To go from there to giving advice on the fate of the world—I don’t think so,” he says.
EPP’s Baruch Fischhoff says the Maui fires have revealed the country’s ability to handle extreme weather events. “We’ve been moored in resilience systems that just aren’t working anymore,” Fischhoff said. “Systems that sort of worked in the past are just stretched beyond their limits.”
Michalek provides insight on nuances of fast-charging EV batteries
The Sacramento Bee
EPP/MechE’s Jeremy Michalek explains how feasible fast-charging batteries for electric vehicles (EVs) are. “Some battery chemistries are very robust to fast charging while others degrade very quickly,” Michalek said. “So it does depend what kind of battery the electric vehicle has in it, how sensitive it will be to fast charging.”
ECE’s Phil Koopman calls for more transparency and improvement on issues the public cares about in the wake of robotaxi backlash. “This technology will not succeed without trust, and it is much easier to lose trust with a single bad event than it is to regain it afterwards,” Koopman said.
The 2023 Energy & Environment Power 100
City & State Pennsylvania
Scott Institute Executive Director Daniel Tkacik was listed in The 2023 Energy & Environment Power 100, recognizing him as one of the top people "making a different in the sector–and our future" in Pennsylvania.
BME’s Barbara Shinn-Cunningham adds her expert point of view to findings from a University of California, Berkeley, study where researchers reconstructed snippets of a Pink Floyd song from a person’s thoughts using brain-controlled interface (BCI) technology. “It’s a beautiful case study of how to reveal these [neural] building blocks, look at how the different pieces of music are encoded in the brain, and show that there really are specializations for music,” says Shinn-Cunningham. She projects these findings will lend to a more productive back-and-forth interaction between the brain and the software tasked with interpreting its electrical signals; for example, enabling a better understanding of how music influences speech.
ChemE/EPP’s Neil Donahue discusses the effects of vinyl chloride and dioxins from the East Palestine train derailment with AP News. “Vinyl chloride is bad, dioxins are worse as carcinogens and that comes from burning,” he says. Recent testing indicates a low chance of dioxins being released, but environmentalists and Ohio residents are still pushing for the banning of vinyl chloride.
Three faculty to work on AFRL projects
The Data-driven Discovery of Optimized Multifunctional Material Systems has announced two new projects made possible with support from the Air Force Research Laboratory. Both will focus on how machine learning can contribute to the development of functional soft materials. CEE’s Kaushik Dayal and MechE’s Carmel Majidi will collaborate on one of the projects, while ChemE’s Gabe Gomes will work on the other.
MechE/EPP’s Kate Whitefoot spoke to Nautilus about what’s behind the latest uptick in consumer interest in electric vehicles. Breaking down several factors, including environmental impact and the influence of Tesla, Whitefoot said, “It’s really about the performance characteristics of electric vehicles–how much they’ve improved in the recent past and how much they’re expected to improve in the future.” Whitefoot also shared her thoughts on a timeline for electric vehicles to become the standard mode of transportation. “We would expect to see around 50 percent of new vehicles be all electric by 2030, assuming some trends hold.”
Whitefoot talks cost of EVs, policy incentives
GO Banking Rates
MechE/EPP’s Kate Whitefoot said there are many policy incentives available to lower the cost of purchasing electric vehicles (EVs). “Not everyone is aware that many of these are available for used EVs as well, which may be attractive to Gen Z and millennials. The federal government offers a tax credit and many states offer additional rebates for purchasing used EVs as well as new EVs,” she said.
MechE’s Doug Weber discusses the future of bionic limbs and their ability to receive sensory feedback in a story with Wired. “It’s not only important to be able to make things move but to feel the consequences of those actions as well,” Weber said.
EPP/MechE’s Jeremy Michalek commented on plans to increase the availability of electric vehicle (EV) chargers next year. “It’s going to be a challenge to deploy enough public charging infrastructure to avoid long queues on peak travel days, and if we do build enough for peak travel days a lot of it will sit unused much of the rest of the year,” Michalek said.
Smith named co-director of CMU-Pitt neuroscience partnership
Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition
BME’s Matt Smith has been named co-director of the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition (CNBC), a long-standing research and education partnership between CMU and the University of Pittsburgh. The center links faculty and students from the two universities through graduate training, undergraduate research opportunities, and joint publications and grant submissions. Smith’s 20-year involvement as a postdoc and faculty member at both Pitt and CMU positions him well for this new assignment.
CEE’s Costa Samaras was hired by the White House to serve as principal assistant director for energy and chief adviser for energy policy. Samaras has directed CMU’s Power Sector Carbon Index and led a report highlighting cryptocurrency mining's effect on power grid emissions. “Nearly every agency is, to some degree, an energy and climate agency,” said Samaras.
Jayan elected to IMPI Board
International Microwave Power Institute
MechE’s Reeja Jayan has been elected to the Board of International Microwave Power Institute, the leading scientific organization dedicated to the international microwave energy community. Jayan will chair their 58th Annual Microwave Power Symposium in the spring.
Bergés named Amazon Scholar
Civil and Environmental Engineering
CEE’s Mario Bergés joins Amazon Scholars, a program that allows Amazon to collaborate with a “world-class group of academics from various disciplines who hold positions at leading research institutions.” Bergés will be working part-time with Amazon’s Devices and Services Organization.
MechE’s Albert Presto collaborated on new research regarding chemicals released during the Ohio train derailment, finding high levels of acrolein, a chemical known to cause lung damnage and abnormal lesions after long-term exposure. Presto calls this find “a little bit surprising” and noted the difficulty to link any one chemical to specifical health concerns.
Engineering faculty engage in industrial decarbonization research partnership
Wilton E. Scott Institute for Energy Innovation News
MSE’s Chris Pistorius and EPP’s Valerie Karplus and Paulina Jaramillo, along with Heinz College’s Edson Severnini, joined collaborators in Germany to begin an international research partnership. “Prior to the start of the partnership, the academic collaborators and industry partners had been working in parallel towards the shared goal of finding viable decarbonization pathways,” said Karplus. “The meeting was filled with ‘aha!’ moments as we explored common interests and new research opportunities.”