Webster-Wood named Wimmer Faculty Fellow

MechE’s Vickie Webster-Wood has been named a 2020-2021 Wimmer Faculty Fellow. Supported by the Wimmer Family Foundation and in collaboration with the Eberly Center, the fellowship is designed for junior faculty members interested in enhancing their teaching through concentrated work. Webster-Wood plans to design interactive demonstrations and build virtual labs for the course “Gadgetry: Sensors, Actuators, and Processors.” These demonstrations and labs will promote active learning and improve students’ mechatronic intuition.

Majidi quoted on liquid metal lattice material
Physics World

MechE’s Carmel Majidi was quoted by Physics World about a new liquid metal lattice that can be crushed and then reheated to return to its original shape. Majidi says that a material like this, which can change shape, stiffness, and ability to bear load, has many potential capabilities, including applications in soft robotics, wearable computing systems, or wearable robotics. “[This work] nicely builds on past research in stiffness tuning and shape memory materials,” he said. “[It] is an excellent demonstration of how low melting point metals can be used for creating smart and adaptive structures.”

Nock’s research on energy policy featured
World Universities Network

CEE/EPP’s Destenie Nock’s research on energy policy was featured on WUN. Her study focused on electricity planning in developing countries.

Presto introduces new podcast
Apple Podcast

MechE’s Albert Presto has created a new podcast called Shared Air with MechE Ph.D. student Rose Eilenberg. Their podcast is about air pollution, air quality, climate, and science communication.

Rubin quoted on Pittsburgh emissions
Next Pittsburgh

EPP/MechE’s Ed Rubin was quoted in Next Pittsburgh on Pittsburgh emissions. Two of Pittsburghers’ favorite things, beef and beer, are the biggest sources of planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions in the local food system, according to a new study by a team of 19 Carnegie Mellon students. “What we tried to do for the first time is to put together an overall picture to give policymakers an idea of where the biggest impacts are, and where actions to change the system could be beneficial,” says Rubin. “We couldn’t find any other major metropolitan areas that had done something like this.” 

Samaras quoted on worldwide emissions
National Geographic

CEE’s Costa Samaras was quoted in National Geographic on worldwide emissions. During the coronavirus pandemic, there has been a drop in worldwide emissions. Still, for energy and climate expert Costa Samaras, the message is clear: Just because this devasting pandemic has only a small impact on today’s CO2 levels doesn’t mean the climate crisis is lost. “A pandemic is the worst possible way to reduce emissions. There’s nothing to celebrate here,” says Samaras. “We have to recognize that, and to recognize that technological, behavioral, and structural change is the best and only way to reduce emissions.”

Shimada quoted on robots
San Francisco Chronicle

MechE’s Kenji Shimada was quoted in the San Francisco Chronicle about robots. Amid the coronavirus pandemic, researchers are looking into ways robots could be used to lower the risk of transmission. Shimada is working on a mobile robotic arm able to disinfect high-risk areas like hospital rooms using chemicals or ultraviolet light. He envisions a technology able to map a room and track where the machine has cleaned. “Nothing is visible so you need a digital model to keep track of that,” Shimada said of finding and killing the coronavirus and other microscopic threats. He said he plans to begin testing prototypes on campus, but it could be a year or two before an operational version of the machine is ready, underscoring the need to repurpose some technologies for the time being.

Cranor on password managers

CyLab Director Lorrie Cranor discussed the importance of password managers in a WIRED article. Password managers keep track of all your passwords for different accounts and help identify weak and easily broken passwords. Cranor explains that many people don’t follow all the rules for creating strong passwords and often reuse them, putting multiple accounts at risk. Though password managers are not completely infallible, they are the best choice for security online. “The major password manager companies have a good track record of fixing problems quickly and before their users actually suffer any negative consequences,” Cranor says. “If you are currently reusing your passwords or using weak passwords, you are much better off with a password manager than without one.”

Cranor on phishing

CyLab Director Lorrie Cranor discussed increased cybercriminal activity during the COVID-19 pandemic with WBUR, specifically phishing, which occurs when a scammer sends an email that appears to come from a legitimate source. With many people on their computers during the pandemic, phishing attempts have surged, whether from a large criminal enterprise or individual scammers. Cranor advises people to check email addresses carefully and to be vigilant with giving out their personal information. “Any information like bank account information, Social Security number, passwords, anything like that, you really, really should be skeptical and not do it,” she says.

Robinson appointed university professor

MechE Department Head Allen Robinson was appointed a University Professor by Carnegie Mellon University. University Professor is the highest rank faculty can receive.

Ulissi quoted on material design

ChemE’s Zach Ulissi was quoted in Wired on material design. Researchers from the University of Toronto teamed up with Ulissi, who specializes in using algorithms to invent new materials. Conventionally, says Ulissi, “it has been really difficult to search wide swaths of materials.” These computer-based methods provide researchers with a faster and more comprehensive strategy for discovering new materials.

Shen quoted on metamaterials
Tech Explorist

MechE’s Sheng Shen’s research on metamaterials was featured on Tech Explorist. Shen and Ph.D. candidate Jiayu Li created a new scale law to describe the thermal emission properties of metamaterials. “At CMU, we are applying this new scale law to design novel metamaterial-based thermal infrared devices for a variety of applications including infrared signature control, infrared sensing, thermal management, and thermal energy conversion,” Shen said. 

Majidi quoted on soft robots
Science Blog

MechE’s Carmel Majidi’s research on soft robots was featured on Science Blog and in Unite.AI. Along with collaborators from UCLA, Majidi was able to simulate soft robots with computer models. “Robots made out of hard and inflexible materials are relatively easy to model using existing computer simulation tools,” said Majidi. “Until now, there haven’t been good software tools to simulate robots that are soft and squishy. Our work is one of the first to demonstrate how soft robots can be successfully simulated using the same computer graphics software that has been used to model hair and fabrics in blockbuster films and animated movies.”

Samaras quoted on U.S. carbon intensity

CEE’s Costa Samaras was quoted in Forbes on U.S. carbon intensity. The carbon intensity of the U.S. power sector reached a new low in 2019, more than a third below its 2005 level, according to a new analysis from Carnegie Mellon University. “Some good news,” tweeted Costa Samaras. “We ran the latest numbers and the annual CO2 intensity of the US power sector for 2019 was 33% lower than it was in 2005.”

Donahue featured on smog
Multiple Sources

ChemE/EPP’s Neil Donahue was featured on a Nature podcast and in C&EN on atmospheric smog. In densely populated cities, concentrations of relatively large airborne particles can be more than 100 times as high as those in rural locations. To sort out this atmospheric puzzle, a team including Donahue conducted a series of experiments in a controlled-atmosphere chamber. The team tested components of big-city air pollution and probed the gases’ behavior over a range of temperatures.

Cranor on increased scams during COVID-19

CyLab Director Lorrie Cranor was interviewed by TODAY about “sextortion” scams, which have increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, that contact people to tell them they have been recorded looking at pornography and demand money or cryptocurrency. Cranor said that many people are subject to scams even if they have never visited any specific sites, and that scammers often don’t have any blackmail fodder. “Scammers are playing on our fears and on our needs,” she said. “In most cases they don’t actually have any information. This is just to try to hope you fall for it.” Cranor advises people to check and change their passwords for extra security.

Carnegie Mellon team wins top design
America Makes

MechE’s Kenji Shimada and Erica Martelly’s face mask design, Moldable Masks, were named a top design in America Makes’ “Fit to Face Challenge.“ Fit to Face Challenge participants were tasked with optimizing a face mask’s continuous fit-to-face contact for a wide range of face types. “Judging the Fit to Face Challenge designs was difficult as the submissions were all very good,“ said America Makes Technology Director Brandon Ribic, Ph.D. “It was clear that designers spent significant time developing these masks to meet each of the challenge criteria.”

MechE’s Madelynne Long named a CMWA awardee
Carnegie Mellon Women’s Association

MechE student Madelynne Long was named the College of Engineering’s awardee of the Carnegie Mellon Women’s Association’s 2020 scholarship. The CMWA Awards began in 1964 to honor “an outstanding girl at the university.” Over the years, that tradition has grown to recognize an awardee from each of the university’s seven schools and colleges.

Jaramillo awarded Carnegie Fellowship
Carnegie Foundation

EPP’s Paulina Jaramillo has been awarded a 2020 Andrew Carnegie Fellowship to support her work on “Energy, Climate, and Perceptions of Fairness in Sub-Saharan Africa.” Jaramillo is one of 27 fellows chosen this year, with research topics spanning from online radicalization, to climate change, to civic engagement and more. The Andrew Carnegie Fellowship program, established in 2015, aims to support high-caliber scholarly research in the humanities and social sciences that addresses important and enduring issues confronting our society. This year’s class of fellows was selected by a distinguished panel of 17 jurors, comprised of academic and intellectual leaders from some of the nation’s most prominent institutions.

“I am greatly impressed by the breadth and depth of the proposals from this year’s nominees and their potential for progress. For the jury and for me, the selection process was deeply gratifying and inspiring,” said Susan Hockfield, chair of the Andrew Carnegie Fellows Program jury since 2015, president emerita of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a former member of the Carnegie Corporation of New York board of trustees. “As we respond to the many disruptions caused by COVID-19, we must not lose sight of the necessity of solving both today’s and the world’s persistent challenges. The complex solutions required for these difficult problems require more than the best of science and engineering; they must also incorporate perspectives and insights from the humanities and social sciences.”

Samaras featured on public transportation

CEE’s Costa Samaras was featured on PBS, where he talks about New York City’s subway system. The segment, titled “Transportation,” airs on May 18, 2020.

Cranor on contact tracing apps
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

CyLab Director Lorrie Cranor was quoted in a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article about the development of contact tracing apps tracking the spread of COVID-19, and the potential issue of privacy. As the country considers the challenges of reopening, Google and Apple have begun to develop software that could be used by public health authorities and help notify people who may have been exposed to COVID-19. Experts are advising governments to stay away from software that tracks location (such as GPS); Cranor argues that data may reveal perfectly legitimate activities that people may just not want to share. She also says that tech companies have the power to do what they want unless they are challenged by the government or public.

LeDuc’s research on microstructures featured
Advanced Science News

An image of MechE’s Philip LeDuc’s research on microstructures was featured in Advanced Science News' “This month in pictures” for April 2020. The image, which is likened to a garden maze, shows a microstructure made by LeDuc and his colleagues. The image was originally featured in issue 16 of Small.

Rollett and Cunningham co-author two of the most downloaded papers
Scientific Reports 2019, Journal of Synchrotron Radiation

MSE’s Anthony Rollett, as well as Ross Cunningham, who was a Ph.D. student in Rollett’s group and moved onto Messer after his graduation in 2018, are co-authors on two of the most downloaded papers in their field for 2018-2019. “Real time observation of binder jetting printing process using high-speed X-ray imaging” was in the top 100 in Materials Science in Scientific Reports 2019. Ultrafast X‐ray imaging of laser–metal additive manufacturing processes” published in the Journal of Synchrotron Radiation was among the top 10% most downloaded papers between January 2018 and December 2019.

Shen creates new law for metamaterials
CMU Mechanical Engineering

MechE’s Sheng Shen created a new law for determining the thermal emission properties of metamaterials. “At CMU, we are applying this new scale law to design novel metamaterial-based thermal infrared devices for a variety of applications including infrared signature control, infrared sensing, thermal management, and thermal energy conversion,” Shen said.

Zhang featured in Scientific American
Scientific American

ECE’s Pei Zhang was featured in Scientific American for developing sensors that analyze footsteps by measuring floor vibrations. “This is actually created because of the privacy concerns of the other type of monitoring mechanisms,” Zhang says. And in health-related scenarios, he adds, “I’m willing to trade off a little bit of my data information to prevent falls and to detect diseases.”

Cook featured about “RoboVentilator”

BME’s Keith Cook was featured in an article in VentureBeat on work to create a low-cost, modular ventilator. Lead by SCS’s Howie Choset, the “RoboVentilator” can be assembled with a high degree of automation in around an hour and uses modular parts that can be interchanged in the event of supply chain disruptions. The device will help meet the high demand for ventilators exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, in preparation for possible future respiratory disease outbreaks.

Subrahmanian publishes book
MIT Press

The Accelerator’s Eswaran Subrahmanian has published the book We are Not Users: Dialogues, Diversity and Design via the MIT Press. The book is co-authored with Yoram Reich, professor at Tel-Aviv University, Israel and Sruti Krishnan of Fields of View, India. The book is the culmination of more than 20 years of study of design processes at the Engineering Design Research Center and subsequently at the Engineering Research Accelerator at Carnegie Mellon.


LeDuc receives Lazarus Award
The Piper

MechE’s Philip LeDuc has recieved the 2020 Barbara Lazarus Award for Graduate Student and Junior Faculty Mentoring. Named after a beloved member of the Carnegie Mellon community, the Barbara Lazarus Award celebrates those who foster an inviting and nurturing environment for graduate students and young faculty at the university. It was first awarded in 2005.

Cranor on usability in security
Dark Reading

CyLab director Lorrie Cranor was interviewed by Dark Reading for an article about user experience and usability in security. In contrast to most digital initiatives and tools being developed today, many security vendors consider user experience as an after-thought, something that is nice to have but not a top priority. “Many vendors do not take usability seriously enough,” said Cranor. “Their expertise is on the back-end security components, and they either ignore the user experience or address it only after the product is mostly developed…. When secure systems are not usable, there is a huge risk that users may try to avoid using them or disable security features.”

Fischhoff featured on mental health in the time of COVID-19

EPP’s Baruch Fischhoff was featured in an article in CommercialCafe on how to manage mental health in the time of COVID-19. Fischhoff offered readers advice on adjusting biases throughout the time of social isolation.

Presto quoted on Pittsburgh air pollution
York Dispatch

MechE’s Albert Presto was quoted in the York Dispatch on the decrease in Pittsburgh air pollution after the coronavirus shutdown. Presto said he first noticed an “obvious change” to air quality levels, specifically for particulate matter, after March 13, when Gov. Tom Wolf first ordered a shutdown of all nonessential businesses and closed schools throughout Pennsylvania. With fewer vehicles on the road, scientists have taken note of the almost-overnight effects of lower air pollution. “There's a definite difference,” Presto said of the changes in air quality in March. “It was like a light switch almost.”

Carley quoted in PBS

CyLab’s Kathleen Carley was quoted in PBS on coronavirus disinformation. Lots of false information has been circling the web during the coronavirus pandemic, and the public is very susceptible to believing it. “I do think that when you have either politicians or celebrities retweeting and reposting disinformation, it’s going to last longer, and it’s going to be harder to debunk,” Carley said.

Morgan quoted on Trump policy
The New York Times

EPP/ECE’s M. Granger Morgan was quoted in The New York Times on the Trump administration’s relationship with science. Asked what kind of grade he’d give Trump on science, Morgan, who has advised Democratic and Republican administrations, answered with a quick “F.” Presidents of both parties often put politics before science, and Trump is not unusual there, Morgan said. But this administration has regularly contradicted science and doctors. “We’ve seen daily statements that run counter to reality, and science is about physical reality,” Morgan said. “Science matters.”

Cranor quoted on data privacy
Morning Consult

CyLab Head Lorrie Cranor was quoted on data privacy in the Morning Consult. With contract tracing rising in popularity as a way to fight COVID-19, concerns over individuals’ privacy take center stage. “The devil’s in the details,” said Cranor, who served as chief technologist for the Federal Trade Commission during the last year of the Obama administration. “There are proposals out there where basically the data stays on my phone and doesn’t get released at all, it’s only used to inform me. And there are proposals out there where the data goes to a central source. That makes a big difference.”

Samaras quoted on climate change

CEE’s Costa Samaras was quoted in Axios on climate change. Since the world shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic, worldwide emissions have dropped—but not enough to fight climate change. “If this is all we get from shutting the entire world down, it illustrates the scope and scale of the climate challenge, which is fundamentally changing the way we make and use energy and products,” Samaras said.

Carley quoted on social media bots

CyLab’s Kathleen Carley was quoted in Vice on social media bots spreading disinformation during the current coronavirus pandemic. “We do see that a lot of bots are acting in ways that are consistent with the story lines that are coming out of Russia or China,” said Carley.

CMU Engineering faculty awarded Scott Institute seed grants
Scott Institute

Eight research projects lead by CMU Engineering faculty have been awarded 2020 Seed Grants for Energy Research by the Scott Institue for Energy Innovation. The awards allow Carnegie Mellon professors to jump-start their cutting-edge work, and provide valuable funding to increase readiness for substantial external consideration and funding. 

The 2020 seed funding winners include the following engineering researchers:

EPP’s Paulina Jaramillo

MechE’s B. Reeja Jayan and Shawn Litster

ECE’s Vyas Sekar and Swarun Kumar

MechE’s Sheng Shen and ECE’s Xu Zhang

EPP’s Parth Vaishnav and EPP/MechE’s Jeremy Michalek

MechE/EPP’s Kate Whitefoot 

ECE/CyLab’s Osman Yağan and ECE’s Carlee Joe-Wong

MSE’s Mohammad Islam

Robinson on remote education

ChemE Head Anne Robinson was quoted in Fortune discussing how teachers of different age groups are adapting to teaching in during the pandemic. While many teachers of younger students expressed how the loss of physical contact, as well as the limited internet access of some students, has hindered the learning experience, Robinson also notes that graduate students require the same care as middle schoolers. “Students may be isolated from peers or in different time zones, so making sure they are doing OK mentally, physically, and intellectually is extremely vital,” said Robinson. “The regular social interaction of residential education is critical for graduate and postdoctoral students.”

Carley quoted in AP News
AP News

CyLab’s Kathleen Carley was quoted in AP News on online coronavirus misinformation. Online groups are sparking protests of public health measures, including stay-at-home orders, in order to reopen the economy. However, many groups spread misinformation regarding the pandemic. “There are some people in these groups that have legitimate concerns about the economy, but they’re being overwhelmed,” Carley said. “There’s a lot of these conspiracy theories, linked right into these reopen groups.”

Yagan quoted on coronavirus models
Defense One

ECE’s Osman Yagan was quoted in Defense One on coronavirus models. “We believe that there is some similarity between ‘a virus mutating and becoming less easy to infect individuals’ and ‘people being careful about social-distancing and thus becoming less easy to get infected.’ The analogy here is strengthened by the fact that those who do not obey social-distancing are more likely to infect each other (a la carrying a second-strain of the virus) than those who are obeying the guidelines.”

Cranor quoted on data privacy
Consumer Reports

CyLab Head Lorrie Cranor was quoted in Consumer Reports on the use of data and privacy. Cars equipped with cameras can collect information about roadways, but there are concerns over what exactly the data will be used for. “If the data is going into algorithms to figure out where we need new traffic lights, and it’s never going to be released as a dataset, and deleted after a certain amount of time, it seems like it’s relatively low risk,” she says. But, Cranor says there’s no guarantee Mobileye or others in a similar business won’t sell data to third parties that may use it for purposes other than traffic planning.

Chi wins IEEE award
Electrical and Computer Engineering Department

ECE’s Yuejie Chi is the inaugural winner of the Pierre-Simon Laplace Early Career Technical Achievement Award from IEEE’s Signal Processing Society for her data science research.

Umuhoza to be IEEE symposium committee member

CMU-Africa’s Eric Umuhoza will be a program committee member for the IEEE Software Engineering in Africa 2020: 3rd Symposium on Software Engineering. The symposium will take place in Nairobi, Kenya on June 18-19, 2020.

Vernon to be IMVIP committee member
Irish Machine Vision and Image Processing Conference

CMU-Africa/ECE’s David Vernon will be a program committee member for the Irish Machine Vision and Image Processing Conference, IMVIP 2020. The conference will take place at the Technical University Dublin from August 31st through September 2, 2020.

Ross presents at Sankalp Africa Summit
Sankalp Africa Summit

CMU Africa’s David Ross presented research on “Moving from donor-centric to entrepreneur-centric ecosystems” at the Sankalp Africa Summit, February 27th - 28 in Nairobi, Kenya.

Vernon earns ZiF Centre fellowship
ZiF Research Group

CMU-Africa/ECE’s David Vernon has earned a fellowship position at the ZiF Centre for Interdisciplinary Research at the University of Bielefeld, Germany. Vernon will work with the project “Enabling Cognitive Behavior of Humans, Animals, and Machines: Situation model perspectives” convening in June-July 2020.

Carley quoted on coronavirus disinformation

CyLab’s Kathleen Carley was quoted in WESA on coronavirus disinformation. Amid the current pandemic, more disinformation is spreading online than normally seen in disinformation events. “There’s just way more. Way, way, way, way more,” she said. “Some of it appears to be very orchestrated and coordinated.”

Kar, Nock, and Pileggi named Energy Fellows
Scott Institute

ECE’s Soummya Kar and CEE/EPP’s Destenie Nock were named Energy Fellows at the Scott Institute. ECE Head Larry Pileggi was named a Senior Energy Fellow. The highly competitive Energy Fellows Program is designed to incentivize, promote and reward CMU’s most dedicated tenure track faculty. As Fellows, they will receive funding, resources, and membership in the Scott Institute Fellow Council.

Siefken named a U.S. C3E Ambassador
U.S. Clean Energy Education and Empowerment Initiative

The Scott Institute’s Anna Siefken was named a U.S. Clean Energy Education and Empowerment Ambassador by the U.S. Department of Energy. The Ambassadors are distinguished senior executives, academics, government officials, and thought leaders that serve as role models and advocates for women in clean energy.

EPP cited on pollution
Quartz Africa

Research by EPP’s Paulina Jaramillo and colleagues was cited in Quartz Africa on pollution in Nigeria, where there is a widespread use of generators due to an unreliable energy supply. The researchers found backup power generation in Nigeria produces carbon dioxide emissions equivalent to 60% of its annual electricity sector emissions.

Peha comments on routing practices
IEEE Spectrum

A battle over call routing practices heats up as demand for conferencing services stress telephone networks: “I think the FCC may need to reconsider (closing certain loopholes) in the middle of a pandemic that’s forcing people to work from home,” says ECE/EPP’s Jon Peha to IEEE Spectrum.

Presto quoted on Pittsburgh pollution
90.5 WESA

MechE’s Albert Presto was quoted by WESA about pollution since the coronavirus pandemic brought stay-at-home orders to Pittsburgh. Pollution in Pittsburgh has “flatlined” since stay-at-home orders have shut down large parts of the economy, said Presto, who’s been watching air quality monitors around Allegheny County. He said those drops are especially detectable during morning and evening rush hours. “Typically you see a big bump (in pollution) every morning from people going to work,” he said. “That’s pretty much disappeared the last couple of weeks.”

CMU using AI to fight coronavirus
The New York Times

CMU is part of the Digital Transformation Institute, a research consortium seeking to solve social problems with artificial intelligence. Their first challenge will be finding effective ways to fight COVID-19, The New York Times reports. Principle investigators, who must be from the consortium’s member universities, will submit coronavirus proposals by May. They will award the first grants in June. 

Samaras quoted on environmental policy

CEE’s Costa Samaras was quoted in Wired on environmental city policy. “Housing policy is climate policy,” he said. “City policy is climate policy.”

College of Engineering students earn NSF GRFP awards
National Science Foundation

Several students in the College of Engineering have earned National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program awards, and some have received honorable mention. Congratulations to the following students: 

Award Honorees

Susana Beltrán (MechE)
Kevin Dai (MechE)
Xining Gao (BME)
Anatoliy Kuznetsov (ChemE)
Victor Rodriguez (EPP)
Varun Shankar (MechE)
Shivani Shukla (BME)
Angela Yang (BME) 
Jessica Yin (MechE)

Honorable Mention

Alexander Bills (MechE)
Jacob Brenneman (MechE)
Emma Clement (CEE)
Nolen Keeys (MechE)
Ryan Yeh (MechE)

Ydstie named finalist in American-Made Solar Prize Round 2 Set!
Scott Institute

ChemE’s B. Erik Ydstie was named a finalist in American-Made Solar Prize Round 2 Set! for his work on continuous silicon wafer production. The Solar Prize encourages the rapid development of innovative solar energy solutions capable of addressing the tough challenges facing the solar industry. Winning teams received $100,000 in cash prizes and $75,000 in support vouchers for their technologies.


Fischhoff on public response to COVID-19
Multiple outlets

EPP’s Baruch Fischhoff was quoted by media outlets WIRED, Reuters, and The Boston Globe about COVID-19 and the U.S. public’s reaction and response to the pandemic. Speaking about social distancing and the incomplete data on the number of cases in the country, Fischhoff remains optimistic about people’s ability to make reasonable decisions if given the right information. “Precise messages could provide the public with the information needed to manage disease risks when making personal choices, evaluating public health policies, and interpreting the pronouncements of politicians and pundits,” he said to WIRED.

Beuth quoted on 3D printing

MechE’s Jack Beuth was quoted in Axios on using 3D printing to help fight coronavirus. While some suggest 3D printing can be used to quickly make equipment to fight the novel coronavirus, Beuth says 3D printing is not as fast as traditional manufacturing. Furthermore, life-saving equipment, such as ventilators, can’t be 3D printed because they’re subject to strict regulations. “You can’t just say, ‘I’m going to print it, it looks good, we’re good to go,’” Beuth said. “It’s not really a technical challenge. It’s the delay in introducing a new manufacturing process.”

Bettinger, Dahl, and Zhang named AIMBE Fellows

BME/MSE’s Christopher Bettinger, BME/ChemE’s Kris Dahl, and MechE’s Jessica Zhang have been elected to the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE)’s College of Fellows, Class of 2020. Bettinger and Zhang were nominated by BME Head Bin He; Dahl was nominated by Professor Joyce Wong at Boston University. The fellowship is an honorific designation, and fellows are expected to contribute to AIMBE’s critical mission to advance excellence and advocate for the medical and biological engineering fields. Zhang has also been elected as an American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Fellow (2019).

Panat on Finding Genius Podcast
Finding Genius Podcast

MechE’s Rahul Panat was a guest on the Finding Genius Podcast; he discussed his work in microscale additive manufacturing, microelectronics, and 3D printing. “[My] focus is on using this technology—of micro and nanoscale 3D printing—to create new types of biomedical devices, or giving additional functionality to biomedical devices, getting high capacity lithium batteries, and creating more sensitive sensors for various applications,” said Panat.

Samaras on investing in infrastructure

CEE’s Costa Samaras spoke with Earther regarding the global pandemic as an ideal time for governments to invest in infrastructure. “This is a no-brainer that we need to reinvest in infrastructure, and then it has to be low-carbon,” he said.

Fischhoff on COVID-19

EPP’s Baruch Fischhoff spoke to several media outlets, including The Atlantic, ABC News, and BBC Newshour, among others, about people’s reactions to COVID-19. Fischhoff explains that one reason people have been ignoring social distancing is because they cannot trust their intuition during the pandemic, especially a rapidly changing one. He also discusses how the unknown aspect of the pandemic has caused more concern. “Many more people die from the flu or motor vehicle accidents, but objectively and subjectively we don't know the bounds of the novel coronavirus risks, which adds to the concerns with this new virus,” Fischhoff said.

CMU Engineering participates in third annual “Rethink the Rink”

CMU Engineering teamed up with the Pittsburgh Penguins and Covestro—a materials supplier—in the third annual “Rethink the Rink” make-a-thon. This year, they were also joined by sports equipment supplier Bauer Hockey. Over spring break, teams of students created shoulder and elbow pad designs to better protect hockey players. Students maximized protection and mobility by using various materials. 

“The Make-a-thon not only gives students an opportunity to apply their problem-solving and analytic skills to a real-world challenge, but also to expand their professional networks beyond the academic setting through collaboration with industry experts,” said William Sanders, dean of the College of Engineering.

Rethink the Rink activity was covered in multiple outlets including Rubber World and Plastics News, as well as on and Covestro’s web site.

Yagan on the evolution of a pathogen
Science Daily

ECE’s Osman Yagan’s mathematical research is featured in Science Daily, discussing the evolution of a pathogen and how this affects its spread through a population.

Peha on internet reliability
The New York Times

Amid the COVID-19 global pandemic, businesses are urging employees who are able to work from home to do so. CyLab/EPP/ECE’s Jon Peha tells The New York Times that “...there is a risk that usage will surge and capacity will be inadequate and performance will suffer. This is new ground for all of us.”

Lucia receives VMWare Early Career Grant
Electrical and Computer Engineering 

ECE’s Brandon Lucia has received the VMWare Early Career Grant in support of building efficient intermittent edge computer systems. Lucia and his students are developing computer architectures, programming languages, and software for physically constrained computer systems, including intermittent and energy-harvesting computers and edge computer systems on Earth and in space.

Rollett gives plenary talk on metals additive manufacturing

MSE’s Anthony Rollett gave a plenary talk about texture and anisotropy in metals additive manufacturing at The Minerals, Metals & Material Society’s annual meeting and exhibition. This talk was part of the additive manufacturing keynote session. The meeting took place on February 24, in San Diego.

Mohammadi and Kar place in top 10 at grid optimization competition
Electrical and Computer Engineering

ECE’s Javad Mohammadi and Soummya Kar’s team placed in the top 10 in all divisions of the Department of Energy’s ARPA-E Grid Optimization (GO) Competition. Researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder comprised of the rest of their team. The GO Competition is a year-long competition aimed at overhauling and modernizing grid software and is structured as multiple challenges. The team developed a lightweight optimization algorithm that could optimize power generation settings across large power networks while adhering to physical grid constraints. ARPA-E will financially support extending the algorithms developed in this work to build a Grid Optimization platform. This platform will enable solving national scale power system security and optimization problems.

Whitefoot’s paper cited on Trump policy
The Atlantic

MechE/EPP’s Kate Whitefoot’s paper was cited in The Atlantic on the Trump administration’s Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient Vehicles Rule policy. This policy, called SAFE for short, is in response to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study—a study Whitefoot and her co-authors claim has “fundamental flaws and inconsistencies.”

Holm receives service award from TMS
The Minerals, Metals and Materials Society

MSE’s Elizabeth Holm received the 2020 Alexander Scott Distinguished Service Award from The Minerals, Metals and Materials Society (TMS), which was presented at TMS’ annual meeting in February 2020. This award recognizes a member’s outstanding contributions to TMS as exhibited by exceptional devotion of time, effort, thought, and action toward furthering the Society’s mission through administrative and functional activities. “Serving as a TMS volunteer has been an honor, an adventure, and a never-ending learning experience. I deeply appreciate the opportunity to participate in my profession beyond my workplace and across borders. It is especially meaningful to me to receive this award in honor of Alex Scott, a great friend and supporter, who himself gave so much to TMS over so many years,” Holm said.

Bossa Nova featured in New York Times on robots and retail
The New York Times

A New York Times article exploring the growing role of robots in retail discussed the work Bossa Nova and Carnegie Mellon researchers have conducted with Walmart to design a shelf-scanning robot that they hope both employees and customers will feel comfortable with. Bossa Nova originated from the Robotics Institute and has recently collaborated with CyLab to bring artificial intelligence to data and analytics.

Bauer and Sharif cited on facial recognition
The Next Web

A paper on facial recognition by ECE/CyLab’s Lujo Bauer and Mahmood Sharif was cited in an article by The Next Web about deep learning advances for computer vision. The article explores many different applications and fields of computer vision, including facial recognition. While the technology has grown in recent years, there are still limitations like the one described in the research paper: people wearing specially crafted glasses could be mistaken for celebrities.


Fischhoff discusses personal risk assessment for coronavirus
Multiple outlets

How should we react to news of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19? Should we travel? Is it worth stockpiling food? In a fast-evolving news landscape, EPP’s Baruch Fischhoff says to find a small number of highly trustworthy information outlets that clearly outline the risks. Then, evaluate that information based on your own circumstances, as there is never a one-size fits all approach to minimizing risk. “Look for outlets that treat you like an adult and tell you what the situation is and the risks are,” said Fischhoff, to USA Today. “You need information that helps you make decisions relevant to your own circumstances.” Fischhoff was also quoted by CNN, The New YorkerBusiness Insider, and Medscape.

Kainerstorfer presents at SPIE Photonics West Conference

BME’s Jana Kainerstorfer spoke at this year’s SPIE Photonics West Conference in February in San Francisco. Kainerstorfer presented her research on intracranial pressure and neurovascular coupling in the Neurotechnologies Plenary Session. The conference is attended by more than 22,000 people each year as the premier event for the photonics and laser communities.

Rowe receives Siewiorek Professorship
Electrical and Computer Engineering

ECE’s Anthony Rowe has been named the inaugural recipient of the Daniel and Karon Walker Siewiorek Endowed Distinguished Professorship in the College of Engineering, which has been inspired by Dan Siewiorek’s dedication to electrical and computer engineering and computer science. Siewiorek was hired by Carnegie Mellon University in 1971 with a joint appointment in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the School of Computer Science. “I’m very honored and deeply humbled to receive the Siewiorek Professorship,” said Rowe. “The professorship takes on extra meaning, as Dan has been a great mentor to me throughout my time at Carnegie Mellon.”

Fuchs quoted on Moore’s Law
MIT Technology Review

EPP’s Erica Fuchs was quoted in MIT Technology Review on Moore’s Law. Moore’s law is the idea that every two years the number of transistors on a microchip doubles. However, there is evidence to suggest it is ending. At some point, says Fuchs, those developing AI and other applications will miss the decreases in cost and increases in performance delivered by Moore’s Law. “Maybe in 10 years or 30 years—no one really knows when—you’re going to need a device with that additional computation power,” she says. If you’re worried about what will replace Moore’s Law, she suggests, “the moment to panic is now.” There are, she says, “really smart people in AI who aren’t aware of the hardware constraints facing long-term advances in computing.”

Samaras quoted on green infrastructure

CEE’s Costa Samaras was quoted in Wired on green infrastructure and policy. “It’s not too difficult for a city to make green infrastructure investments in neighborhoods that have been historically underinvested in, but the housing side needs to kick in. The people who live in these underinvested neighborhoods deserve a neighborhood with bike lanes and green space. It’s up to city policy to make sure they can stay,” Samaras said.

Samaras quoted in Bloomberg

CEE’s Costa Samaras was quoted in Bloomberg on the environmental effects of a trip to the store. “What they found was, appropriately, it depends. If you're going to drive to the store to get something, combine that trip with other errands. Better yet, take your bike,” he said.

Ph.D. students win cardiovascular award

BME Ph.D. students Jacqueline Scott and Wai Hoe Ng won awards for presenting research at AHA’s 28th Annual Fellows Research Day on January 17. Scott, who is advised by Keith Cook, won first in the clinical category, and Ng, who is advised by Charlie Ren, won second in basic.

Wolf elected to America Makes Executive Committee
America Makes

The Dean’s Office’s Sandra DeVincent Wolf was recently elected to the America Makes Executive Committee, the main advisory group of the institute that focuses on strategy, policy, and advocacy. Wolf is one of two representatives from academia, of eight total representatives on the committee elected from the membership community.

Cranor quoted on student data privacy

CyLab Director Lorrie Cranor was quoted in an EdScoop article about the tradeoffs between universities using student data to boost experience and students’ subsequent loss of privacy. Universities use data to learn about their students and help them through their college experience, but some students think the technology has gone too far. “I think an institution that respects their students should listen to their students,” says Cranor. “And that starts by the institution being transparent about what data they’re collecting, and making sure the students are aware of it and then have opportunities to ask that data not be collected or [have] the ability to opt out.”

Lowry joins Environmental Science & Technology journal
Environmental Science and Technology

CEE’s Greg Lowry was named executive editor for Environmental Science & Technology journal. Lowry is also an editor for two other journals, Environmental Science: Nano and Nature: Scientific Data.

Rabin recognized for cryopreservation work
National Institutes of Health

MechE’s Yoed Rabin has been recognized multiple times for his impressive work with cryopreservation. Rabin received two grants from the National Institutes of Health, and was elected as an Honorary Member of the International Society of Cryosurgery.

IEEE Spectrum features Soft Machines Lab video
IEEE Spectrum

IEEE Spectrum’s Video Friday featured a video about a new soft, multifunctional composite from MechE’s Carmel Majidi’s Soft Machines Lab. The composite remains electrically conductive when stretched and exhibits a number of other desirable properties for soft robotics and stretchable electronics.

Morgan on futurists in science and industry

EPP’s Granger Morgan was quoted by Forbes in an article analyzing the importance of including futurists to planning the world’s energy future. With the rapid changes every year in technology and the world, it is hard for researchers and industries to keep up, and some find it useful to step back, reflect, and consider predictions of the future. “You can’t get it all,” Morgan said. “It’s really hard to imagine a priori all the things that could go wrong, but if you don’t sort of organize to get multiple perspectives to try to come up with alternatives that could happen, you’re almost certainly going to get messed up.”

Whitacre on EVs and lithion-ion batteries

Scott Institute Director Jay Whitacre was quoted by Fortune in an article discussing the race to solve lithium-ion battery recycling as electric vehicles (EVs) gradually become more common over the next decade. According to Whitacre, at the present, this isn’t a big issue because only a small percentage of cars on the road right now are EVs. However, with the industry’s expected growth, if scientists don’t start thinking about batteries now, it will be too late. “Now, in 2030, if we actually are fielding 25 million electric vehicles per year, that’s about four and a half million metric tons of battery material,” said Whitacre. “That’s about one-fifth of the global annual production of aluminum.”

EPP’s Christin quoted about illegal activity in online markets

CyLab/EPP’s Nicolas Christin was featured in a CyLab article about the online market OpenBazaar. OpenBazaar is a decentralized online market where illicit products are often sold. “We observed a reasonable number of products on the marketplace, but the economic activity was modest at best,” Christin said. “And, most of this economic activity seems to be generated by illicit product sales.”

Fischhoff appears on multiple science podcasts
Science Sessions and Speaking of Psychology

EPP’s Baruch Fischhoff recently appeared on The Proceedings of the National Academy’s Science Sessions podcast to discuss “the science of science communication,” an emerging field of research aimed at understanding which ingredients make for effective communication of scientific information, as well as the pitfalls that can result from poor science communication. “The biggest obstacle to any communication, is not understanding the audience,” Fischhoff said. “Scientists are pretty good at communicating (science) to their peers and in the classroom, but that can be quite different from communicating to general audiences.”

Fischhoff also appeared in a recent episode of the American Psychological Association’s Speaking of Psychology podcast. In a long-form interview with host Kaitlin Luna, he discussed anxiety around the novel coronavirus that currently poses a large public health threat in China and is inciting fear around the globe. According to Fischhoff, understanding what risks a threat poses, and addressing those risks if needed, is the first thing we should do in light of a new threat like the coronavirus. Such risk management, however, requires accurate information from trusted sources, he stressed, nodding again to the importance of effective science communication. “The most useful thing that people can do at this stage is to find some trusted sources of information like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the World Health Organization.”

Bauer and Sharif’s “special glasses” mentioned in The Atlantic
The Atlantic

CyLab/ECE’s Lujo Bauer and Mahmood Sharif’s “special glasses” were mentioned in The Atlantic in an article about online privacy: “Researchers at Carnegie Mellon have designed special glasses to confuse facial recognition without requiring shades.”

Cagan research on training AI in design featured
ZME Science

ZME Science featured a new study by MechE’s Jon Cagan and Ph.D. candidate Ayush Raina that shows how artificial intelligence (AI) can be trained to learn complex design problems. In their research, they had neural networks watch human designers during the design process and then emulate them. This reaped results just as good, if not better, than human designers.

Robinson named to National Academies study committee
Chemical Engineering

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s Board on Chemical Science and Technology (BCST) has announced the provisional committee of a new study, “Chemical Engineering in the 21st Century: Challenges and Opportunities,” that will analyze the status of the field. Anne Skaja Robinson, Department Head of Chemical Engineering, has been named a member of the committee.

Zhang delivers keynote on neuron material transport simulation

MechE’s Jessica Zhang recently spoke at an INdAM workshop on Geometric Challenges in Isogeometric Analysis in Rome, Italy from January 27 - 31. She presented her latest research on material transport simulation in complex neurite networks using isogeometric analysis and machine learning techniques. This project was initialized by a MechE departmental seed grant and now is being supported by NSF.

Taylor featured in interdisciplinary podcast
Office Hours

MechE’s Rebecca Taylor was featured in Office Hours, Joyce Wang’s podcast focused on interdisciplinary cooperation. In it, Taylor discusses nanotechnology, design, and more with CMU Fine Arts Professor Molly Steenson.


Muller on a “green interest rate”

EPP’s Nicholas Muller was quoted in Reuters about a “green interest rate” he proposed in a paper at a Federal Reserve conference about climate change and economics. Muller suggests that an interest rate should take into account the projected economic consequences of greenhouse gas emissions. “Rates should be lower when pollution damages are rising,” said Muller.

Kumar awarded for LP-WANs work
Electrical and Computer Engineering

ECE’s Swarun Kumar was awarded the CAREER Award by the National Science Foundation for his work on low-power wide-area networks (LP-WANs). He intends to make LP-WANs more efficient and, perhaps, no longer battery-powered.

Marom’s research about solar cells featured
Technology Networks

MSE’s Noa Marom was featured in Technology Networks about his solar cell research. Her team will be working with Aurora, a planned supercomputer. “The goal of our research is to find new materials that make photovoltaic solar cells more efficient,” she said. “We are excited that our project has been accepted as one of the projects that will run on the future Aurora supercomputer as part of the Argonne ESP program.”

CMU Engineering honors staff in 25th annual recognition awards

On January 22, CMU Engineering staff gathered for the 25th annual College of Engineering Staff Recognition Awards, honoring their work in 2019. Length-of-service awards were presented for 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, and 35 years in the college, as well as individual awards. The Innovation Award went to MechE’s Rachel Teeny. CEE’s Cathy Shaefer won the Inspirational Leadership Award. The Continuous Excellence Award went to CEE’s David Vey. EPP’s Adam Loucks received the Spirit Award. The Rookie Award went to CyLab’s Terri Deasy. MSE’s Jeanna Pekarcik won the Burritt Education Award for enthusiasm for education. View photos from the event.

Cohon, Robinson, and Muller published in Bloomberg Environment about natural gas extraction
Bloomberg Environment

CEE/EPP’s Jared Cohon, EPP’s Nicholas Muller, and MechE Head Allen Robinson published a letter about the costs of gas extraction in Bloomberg Environment. “The fact that the impacts from emissions cross county and state boundaries is a clear indication of the need for federal management of natural gas extraction and use,” they write. “Our contention is that society must determine whether these trade-offs are, in effect, worth it.”

Kumar comments on the next leap in wireless charging
Consumer Reports

ECE’s Swarun Kumar was quoted in Consumer Reports on wireless charging and what hurdles must be overcome before making this technology a reality. “Development costs money, and regulatory requirements can create bottlenecks,” Kumar says. “And success ultimately hinges on getting the big companies that manufacture smartphones, as well as smart home and other battery-operated devices, to integrate the technology into their products.”

Qian cited in Forbes on increasing ride-hailing service efficiency

CEE’s Sean Qian was cited in Forbes about how to increase ride-hailing service efficiency. He believes this can be achieved by incentivizing drivers to take specific paths and riders to avoid travel-heavy times.

Samaras quoted on climate change and infrastructure
Technology Review

CEE’s Costa Samaras was quoted in Technology Review on climate change and infrastructure. When asked what infrastructure needed repairs to prepare for climate change, Samaras said, “Water systems, power systems, stormwater systems, reservoirs, dams, pipelines, airports, train tracks. It’s everything.”

Barati Farimani develops new water-desalination material
Popular Mechanics

MechE’s Amir Barati Farimani was featured in Popular Mechanics for developing a new material to improve the process of water desalination. The team’s metal organic framework is micro-thin and was shown in simulations to perform water desalination better than the traditional membrane method.

He’s noninvasive brain-computer interface featured in the Washington Post
The Washington Post

BME Head Bin He was mentioned in the Washington Post for working to create a mind-controlled, robotic prosthetic arm. The prosthetic works through a non-invasive brain-computer interface (BCI), which He and his team demonstrated to work similarly to a real arm and fingers. 

Majidi’s new soft materials featured in multiple outlets

MechE’s Carmel Majidi and his Soft Machines Lab were recognized by Create Digital Magazine, SiliconRepublic, and Tech Briefs for creating a new classes of materials for soft robotics, including shape-morphing, self-healing “Thubber,” which can stretch, change shape, and conduct heat and electricity with a portable electronic source of power. The team has also created a stretchable material that senses, processes, and responds to its environment. “Because it has neural-like electrical pathways, it is one step closer to artificial nervous tissue,” says Majidi.

Chen awarded NSF SpecEES grant
Electrical and Computer Engineering

ECE’s Vanessa Chen has been awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant as part of the SpecEES program to develop trusted wireless transceivers for secure and energy-efficient communication. Along with the real-time machine learning and encryption project supported by the NSF CAREER award, this new project is expected to deliver more secure spectrum access for continuous health and environmental monitoring.

DeltaFS recognized as exceptional new product by R&D World Magazine
R&D World Magazine

The Parallel Data Lab’s DeltaFS project recently received the prestigious R&D 100 Award from R&D World magazine, a leading resource for research scientists, engineers, and technical staff members at laboratories around the world. The annual R&D 100 Awards are given in recognition of exceptional new products or processes that were developed and introduced into the marketplace during the previous year.

Hendrickson receives ARTBA’s S.S. Steinberg Award

CEE’s Chris Hendrickson was selected by the American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) to receive the Research and Education Division’s (RED) prestigious S.S. Steinberg Award. This award honors educators at an institution of higher learning for contributions to research and education in transportation, development, or construction and will be presented at the ARTBA RED meeting on January 12 in Washington, DC.

Vernon organizes workshop at IEEE/RSG IROS conference

CMU Africa’s David Vernon organized a workshop on the cognitive architectures for humanoids at the 2019 IEEE/RSG International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS 2019) in November in Macau, China.

Tennakoon wins best paper at IEEE Southern Power Electronics Conference

CMU Africa’s Sarath Tennakoon won the best paper award at the 5th IEEE Southern Power Electronics Conference in Santos, Brazil in December.



Hendrickson awarded CUTC- HNTB Lifetime Achievement Award

CEE’s Chris Hendrickson was selected by the Council of University Transportation Centers (CUTC) and HNTB to receive the Council’s prestigious CUTC-HNTB Lifetime Achievement Award for Transportation Education and Research. The award honors individuals who have a long history of significant and outstanding contributions to university transportation education and research resulting in a lasting contribution to transportation. He was also recognized for his broad impact on the transportation field by nurturing and producing generations of very high-quality transportation leaders in the U.S. and around the globe. The award will be presented at the CUTC Annual Awards Banquet on Saturday January 11, 2020 in Washington, D.C.

St. Pierre named to Forbes’ 30 Under 30

Forbes has named MechE postdoctoral researcher Ryan St. Pierre to its 30 Under 30 Science 2020 list. St. Pierre develops microscale, insect-inspired robots in Meche’s Sarah Bergbreiter’s lab.

DoD awards BioHybrid Solutions $30M
PR Newswire

Protein engineering company Biohybrid Solutions, founded by ChemE’s Alan Russell and Chemistry’s Kryzsztof Mtyjaszewski, has just been awarded a $30 million contract by the U.S. Department of Defense. This award, granted through the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) and sponsored by the Medical CBRN Defense Consortium (MCDC), will support the application of BioHybrid Solutions’ “proprietary NanoArmored protein engineering technology to improve pharmacokinetics of the prophylactic while reducing the potential for immunogenic side effects.”

Samaras featured on Marketplace

The marketplace for batteries is one of the biggest stories in energy right now. Falling prices have made batteries cost-effective for applications where their use seemed like a pipe dream not too long ago. “It’s really, really important for cars to be electrified to deal with climate change, and the cheap battery is at the center of that,” said CEE’s Costa Samaras to Marketplace. Low costs are not only changing the landscape of transportation, but for the power grid as well, as batteries are beginning to be used for household energy storage, as well as replacements to traditional gas-powered “peaker” plants that supply electricity at peak demand. “The decline in battery prices keeps astounding even all the experts,” said Samaras. “Nobody thought it would drop this far this fast.”

Fischbeck quoted on Thanksgiving’s carbon footprint
Huffington Post, Marketplace Morning Report

Using data from multiple previous studies he has published in the past on food production and transportation, EPP’s Paul Fischbeck estimates the carbon emissions associated with all facets of the Thanksgiving holiday. From getting to your relative’s house and returning home having added a few pounds, to growing the food and getting it to market, and finally cooking the meal, each part of Thanksgiving contributes to carbon emissions, with transportation being the biggest contributor. “If you look at the meal itself, about half of the emissions come from the growing and the transportation of the food,” said Fischbeck on Marketplace Morning Report. “The other half comes from the cooking of the food.” Fischbeck was also quoted in the Huffington Post covers latest update to Power Sector Carbon Index

The U.S. Power Sector Carbon Index, an effort of the Scott Institute for Energy Innovation supported by Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems, has released numbers for 2019 Q2. The index tracks the “carbon intensity” of the power sector, how much carbon is emitted per unit electricity produced. According to CEE’s Costa Samaras, co-director of the Index, “We’re in the middle of an energy transition right now, and the biggest part of that story in the US is how swiftly coal has been declining over the past decade,” leading to a steady decline in carbon intensity., a trade publication for the mining industry, wrote about the latest update to the Scott Institute’s quarterly-compiled index.

Morgan pens op-ed warning against proposed EPA rule change
USA Today

Under the guise of strengthening transparency, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed a rule change that would limit what scientific studies can be used to inform environmental regulation. Only studies using data that can be made completely public would be eligible, eliminating much of the public health literature that relies on personal medical data, which cannot be made public for privacy reasons. Calling it a “bold and unconscionable political move,” EPP’s Granger Morgan argues that the rule change would “dramatically loosen a large number of standards that over the past several decades have been making America’s air and water safer for all of us.”

ETIM students place third in Space Innovation Challenge

ETIM students Kunal Ashok, Steve Lin, and Joseph Yang (dual with ECE), and Computational Design student Lydia Schweitzer placed third in the Space Innovation Challenge for their team pitch to utilize lunar surface with an in-situ resource utilization solution called “Lunargy,” a solar-powered grid on the poles of the moon. Hosted by CMU’s School of Computer Science and presented by Students At Tepper for Astronautics, Rockets & Space (STARS), the competition included student teams from across the country.


de Boer's article featured on journal cover
Journal of Applied Physics

A paper by MechE’s Maarten de Boer was featured on the cover of Journal of Applied Physics. It was also promoted as an Editor’s Pick and will be displayed on the journal’s homepage.

Samaras’ research on environmental impacts of drove-delivery featured in LA Times
Los Angeles Times

“It’s much greener to have a drone flying through the air to deliver you a set of headphones than for you to get in your gasoline-powered car or even your electric car and drive to the store and get it,” said CEE’s Costa Samaras in the Los Angeles Times. He was quoted about his research by the news outlet who explored the environmental impact of drone-delivery in a recent piece. Drone-delivery has already begun in a few pilot(less) programs in the U.S. Samaras’ research shows that drones use less energy per package-km compared to the status quo of ground-based delivery. The method can be electrified with clean power sources to further reduce carbon emissions. Realizing these potential environmental benefits, however, requires careful planning and minimizing the size of drones used for delivery.

De Graef to deliver keynote at Microscopy Society of South Africa conference

MSE’s Marc De Graef has been invited by the Microscopy Society of South Africa to present the 2019 John Matthews Materials Sciences Keynote Lecture at the Society’s 56th Annual Conference in Langebaan, South Africa, on December 3rd, 2019. This will be followed by an invited talk at a two-day workshop immediately after the conference.

Apt pens The Current War review for The Conversation
The Conversation

The Current War: Director’s Cut, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Michael Shannon, tells the story of the fight between Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse for control over the future of electric power delivery in the U.S. The story hinges on whether alternating or direct current would be the prime delivery method for electricity in the U.S. The movie, adapted from the book of the same name, does not get every detail right, explains EPP/Tepper’s Jay Apt in a review that both critiques the movie and explains the differences between AC and DC power. However, the movie does succeed at delivering two important broad strokes: “First, creating technology has been a driver of national greatness for much of America’s history,” he writes. “Second, inventions that can make it in the marketplace are the ones that really can change the world.”

Cranor offers insight on smart devices spying on you
CBS Pittsburgh

Smart devices such as the Amazon Echo typically retain recordings of you making commands, and often erroneously record you even when you haven’t commanded them to do so. CyLab Director Lorrie Cranor says that some of these recordings have wound up in court. “There have been murder cases and other types of court cases, where those recordings have been subpoenaed,” said Cranor. “So they could come back to haunt you or to save you, depending on which side you’re on!”

CyLab’s Sekar warns about “juice jacking”
The New York Times

As a busy holiday travel season approaches, law enforcement agencies are warning about “juice jacking,” the latest way criminals can hack your accounts. Juice jacking occurs when unsuspecting users plug their devices into USB ports or use USB cables that contain malware. ECE/CyLab’s Vyas Sekar told the The New York Times that “there is a risk” in charging your devices at public charging stations.

Privacy policy guide references Cranor-McDonald study

A recent Lifehacker article references a study by CyLab’s Lorrie Cranor and Aleecia McDonald, published in 2008, which estimates that, at the time, it would take 76 work days to read through all the privacy policies encountered in a year. Because this is a lot of time people do not have to read policies, the article explains methods users can try to skim policies effectively without missing important information about what is being done with user data.

Muller on increase in air pollution
The New York Times

EPP’s Nick Muller was quoted by The New York Times in an article about new data showing increases in air pollution since 2016, reversing a long trend of reduced air pollution. The study found that fine particulate pollution increased 5.5 percent from 2016 to 2018, after a decrease in nearly 25 percent in the previous seven years. The study points to increased driving, burning of natural gas, less enforcement of the Clean Air Act, and wildfires in the West as factors contributing to the increase. “After a decade or so of reductions, this increase is a real about-face,” said Muller.

Jaramillo interviewed for My Climate Journey podcast
My Climate Journey

The installed capacity of power generation in the country of Rwanda (pop. ~12 million) is 250 megawatts, said EPPs Paulina Jaramillo in a wide-ranging conversation about energy for the podcast My Climate Journey. For comparison, the installed capacity of nuclear power generation alone in Pennsylvania (pop. 12.8 million) is almost 10,000 MW. The lack of energy access and the role that energy generation plays in climate change are part of what has compelled Jaramillo to shift some of her research focus towards studying these issues in Africa and other parts of the developing world. In the episode, she discusses her research in Africa, as well as her role in mentoring junior scientists, and the challenges that scientists face in communicating the topic of climate change beyond academia.

Pileggi on Tesla’s legacy

ECE Head Larry Pileggi commented on Nikola Tesla inventions that should have made the inventor famous, including the Tesla coils. ”His work on Tesla coils, which use inductance to generate large voltages (e.g. lightning in the air) are the basis of the circuits used for the first radios ... cathode ray tubes, and more. But the transmission of those large voltages over long distances that could be captured to provide power remotely was never successful.”

Muller’s research shines light on air pollution problem

After a dropping nearly 25% between 2009 and 2016, air pollution is on the rise again. EPP’s Nick Muller co-published a paper that found that particulate matter pollution increased 5.5% in 2017 and 2018. This increase was associated with 9,700 additional premature deaths. Muller and his co-author credit economic activity, wildfires, and declining EPA enforcement for the rebound.

Adams attends air quality panel in protest of EPA decision
Pittsburgh Post Gazette

The EPA recently disbanded a review panel that was meant to generate health recommendations for air pollution. The air quality experts, including CEE/EPP’s Peter Adams, decided to meet anyway. They believe that fine particulate pollution is a serious health risk to millions of Americans and needs to be discussed. “Even at concentrations below the 12 micrograms per cubic meter that is the current standard, there’s still significant public health risk,” Adams says. “That’s the type of thing that’s normally discussed during the review.”

LeDuc joins Beckman Foundation’s Scientific Advisory Council
Beckman Foundation

MechE’s Philip LeDuc has joined the Beckman Foundation’s Scientific Advisory Council. LeDuc received the Beckman young Investigator Award in 2005 and has since served the foundation in many roles, including as a member of the Executive Committee of the Arnold O. Beckman Postdoctoral Fellows Program. In his new role, he will advise and review the Foundation’s program and award winners for the Board of Directors, as well as suggest changes or new avenues for funding.

Matthews’ research adds to conversation on green online shopping

Amazon is facing increasing pressure to make their online shopping more environmentally friendly. This goal should be possible, since a study by CEE/EPP’s H. Scott Matthews found that delivering an online purchase usually has about half the carbon impact of traditional shopping. However, the advantage disappears when customers choose faster shipping, one of the main appeals of Amazon’s Prime program.

Berges leads research team for NASA habitat project
International Business Times

In preparation for Mars and Moon missions, NASA is working on a project called Habitats Optimized for Missions of Exploration (HOME). CEE’s Mario Berges, head the research team, plans to combine artificial intelligence and robotic systems to create habitats that can maintenance themselves, allowing them to be left in space for long periods of time. “Space is harsh and errors can be catastrophic,” Berges says. “So we need autonomous systems that are very good.”

Robinson published op-ed in Scientific American
Scientific American

MechE Head Allen Robinson published an opinion piece in Scientific American about air quality in the United States and the work that still needs to be done to improve it. ”There is emerging evidence of significant public health impacts of fine-particle pollution,” he noted. “More than 30,000 premature deaths could be avoided by tightening the standard—with greater impacts, on average, in counties that have lower incomes and higher poverty rates.”

Engineering students win MedHacks post-op track

BME/ETIM students Deja Robinson and Melanie Loppnow and their team won the Post-Operative Track at Johns Hopkins’ MedHacks with their pitch for the Early Morning Prioritization (EMP) System. “The EMP System couples an inexpensive wearable wristband with a prioritization algorithm to alert healthcare personnel to patients most in need of medical attention.” Learn more about Robinson and Loppnow’s EMP System on DevPost.