The Supermileage Vehicle (SMV) Team from the UMass Amherst Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department placed fourth and was among five teams to achieve 1,000 miles per gallon at the annual Society of Automotive Engineers Supermileage® Competition held on June 5 and 6 at Eaton’s Proving Grounds in Marshall, Michigan. The UMass SMV team’s vehicle achieved an eye-popping 1,142 miles per gallon, 132 mpg better than the team’s impressive fourth-place finish from last year. This is the 35th year of the competition, which challenges teams to build a one-person, fuel-efficient vehicle based on a one-cylinder, four-cycle engine.

Four students from Civil and Environmental Engineering Professor Mi-Hyun Park’s course in Geographic Information Systems for Engineers won the “People’s Choice Award” at the Northeast Arc Users Group Conference (NEARC) in Amherst on May 13. The four students were Curt Harrington, David Burgess, Jonathan Freeman, and Roland Barbeito, and their faculty advisors for the project were Park and Michael Knodler. The subject of the poster was “A GIS-based Approach to Identifying Optimal Locations for Variable Speed Limit Implementation in Massachusetts.” NEARC is an annual, one-day conference held near the center of the NEARC region. The day is packed with professional development and networking opportunities for all levels of GIS users. Click here for more information about Spring NEARC 2014.

America has always been a nation of tinkerers, inventors, and entrepreneurs, as symbolized best by Ben Franklin and his amazing array of innovations, including bifocals, the Franklin Stove, the lightning rod, swim fins, a glass armonica, an odometer, and mapping the Gulf Stream. In true Franklinesque tradition, a growing number of Americans have recently gained access to technologies such as 3D printers, laser cutters, open-source, low-cost microcontrollers, easy-to-use design software, and desktop machine tools, democratizing the act of making and enabling citizens to build just about anything. In honor of this inventive tradition, the UMass Amherst College of Engineering would like to join in the national celebration of the so-called “Maker Movement” on June 18, when President Obama is hosting the first ever White House Maker Faire.

Mechanical engineering major Moijue Kaikai has been selected for a UMass Amherst award by the Provost’s Committee on Service-Learning because of his array of community service activities during his undergraduate career at the university. “I am writing to congratulate you!” said John Reiff, the director of UMass Civic Engagement and Service-Learning. “You were nominated by [Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Professor] Erin Baker for an award, the Academic Engagement for Community Transformation Award, which recognizes your leadership, academic excellence, and contribution to a community.” Kaikai has been accepted for graduate school into the UMass IGERT Offshore Wind Energy Program in the MIE department.

Research by Professor Erin Baker of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department was included as a recent NSF Highlight on the website, posted by the National Science Foundation to spotlight outstanding research that it has funded. Baker’s highlight ( was entitled "The role of uncertainty in technology selection" and was based upon the following NSF Award: Collaborative Research: Choosing a Portfolio of Technology Policies in an Uncertain World. By formally modeling the uncertainties inherent when government invests in alternate energy technology, Gregory Nemet and Baker showed that in the case of carbon capture and storage (CCS), investing in a broad portfolio of technologies is superior to concentrating resources in one or a few options. CCS is potentially one of the most important energy technologies to address climate change. 

On May 27, Shelly Peyton, chemical engineering, Caitlyn Butler, civil and environmental engineering, Paula Sturdevant Rees, director of diversity programs at the College of Engineering, recent alumna Rachel Roberts, and graduate student Paula Santiago were all interviewed for a report on the stereotypes about women in engineering and the hurdles they often need to clear in order to pursue careers in the field. During the wide-ranging discussion, Butler pointed out that women often respond differently than men to the grades they get in their courses. “I think there’s a confidence issue,” Butler said. “I think there’s kind of a gender gap there. When a male student gets his first test back, and he gets a less-than-perfect grade on it, he’s like, ‘All right! I passed. I survived. I did all right.’ And then a girl may say, ‘I didn’t do so well on this. I’m not cut out for it.’” Go to WBUR-FM Boston.

Aura Ganz of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department has been chosen as a 2014 “Spotlight Scholar” by the UMass Amherst Research Next website. Spotlight Scholars are UMass Amherst faculty members who have demonstrated excellence and leadership in research, scholarship, or creative activity. Professor Ganz was picked from an exceptional pool of nominees for this award, which honors and recognizes individual faculty members who exemplify the quality and commitment of UMass Amherst academics. Recognition comes with a $500 cash prize, commemorative poster, and publicity.

An interdisciplinary team of researchers from the College of Engineering was one of two teams from UMass Amherst to share the 2014 Armstrong Fund for Science Award. Assistant Professors Shelly Peyton and Jessica Schiffman of the Chemical Engineering Department and Stephen Nonnenmann of the Mechanical Engineering Department will receive $30,000 for their project, “Nanomechanics, biofilms and cystic fibrosis.” The purpose of the Armstrong Fund for Science Award is to encourage transformative research on campus that introduces new ways of thinking about pressing scientific or technical challenges.

All generations of alumni are invited back to Amherst to connect, learn, and celebrate during Alumni Weekend on June 6 and 7: Register today. However, alumni from the College of Engineering can have an especially festive time reuniting with old friends, visiting with former mentors, and attending programs designed especially for them. These special engineering events lead off with a day of celebration for the college’s groundbreaking Wind Energy Program, and they climax with tours of the College of Engineering labs and learning spaces and an evening reception hosted by Dean Tim Anderson.

The UMass Amherst Institute for Applied Life Sciences (IALS) might be the most important organization that few people have ever heard of. According to College of Engineering Dean Tim Anderson, the IALS is also the biggest thing to happen during his first 14 months on the job. Soon nearly 100 faculty members (accompanied by students and staff) from three colleges (College of Engineering, College of Natural Sciences, School of Public Health and Health Sciences) and 16 departments at UMass Amherst will conduct research and engage in hands-on education and training through IALS. That’s big!