Most of us have heard Ralph Waldo Emerson’s famous quip: “Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door.” His quote aptly sums up one important impact of the Senior Capstone Design course required for every senior in the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) Department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. During each semester-long Senior Capstone Design course, companies and other organizations beat a path to the doors of the college, where they sponsor teams of talented MIE students to answer the worldwide call for a better mousetrap and brilliant new mechanical devices of every kind. This productive collaboration between MIE students and their sponsors has created everything from a robotic arm for a disabled child to a collapsible mobile tower for the U.S. Army.

Michael Zink and David Irwin of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department recently received a three-year, $390,000, National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to help create a new instrument for the national research community known as a “cloud laboratory.” Dubbed CloudLab, it will among other things allow scientists to run huge or very complex experiments on an enormous and flexible new shared network of reliable, secure, and fast computers. CloudLab will consist of 5,000 linked cores, or computers, that will be free for research and classroom use and should be up and running by the spring of 2015. See coverage in, Electronic Component News magazine, and the UMass Amherst News Office release. More information:

A professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst is doing something inspiring to address the ongoing problem of far too few women in engineering and science. As part of a $590,000 three-year grant co-funded from the National Science Foundation and the National Cancer Institute, Dr. Shelly Peyton of the UMass Chemical Engineering Department has been running a five-week summer educational outreach program that has transformed the future career goals of two female students from Amherst Regional High School. Peyton’s program, entitled “Engineering the Cell: A Bioengineering Experience for Young Women,” exposed incoming high school juniors Maia Hamin and Christina Manson to a pioneering new method to stop breast cancer from spreading.