Working at the leading edges of fundamental science to invent the technologies of the future.



Winding Back the Clock


Electrical Engineering alumnus Osman Kibar (BS ’93) wants to turn back time. His business, Samumed, makes drug therapies that may reboot the body’s capacity to renew damaged or diseased tissue. If these efforts pay off in full, society will see cures for everything from baldness to cancer. “Caltech showed me that there’s no reason to put arbitrary boundaries between different fields, whether it be science or business,” he says. “If you’re trying to solve a problem, you go at it with everything you’ve got—what you’ve learned in every other field.” [Breakthrough story]

In Grueling Combat, The Riveters Emerge Victorious


This year's ME 72 design competition consisted of fleets of robot tanks built by undergraduate students climbing hills, capturing bases, and shooting each other with foam balls in an epic series of battles on the Caltech Beckman Mall. After 20 rounds of battle, the Riveters—Mohar Chatterjee, Caroline Paules, Diandra Almasco, and Hannah Chen, who dubbed their team in honor of Rosie the Riveter—emerged victorious, having never lost a single match. They utilized a track-wheeled tank design topped by flywheel-based cannons, and relied on a consistent and effective strategy of capturing two key bases quickly and holding onto them for the remainder of the match. Though the Riveters were the only all-female team, women actually outnumbered men in this year's ME 72 course for the first time in its 33-year history. [Caltech story]

Build I.T. and They Will Come


When Adam Wierman joined Caltech’s faculty in 2007, he set out to find a new challenge. “I wanted to do something about a problem of fundamental importance,” he says. “Climate is the problem.” To help clean up computing, he decided to design new algorithms for the management of data centers, communication networks, and our power grid. He hoped to find ways to improve the energy efficiency of I.T. infrastructure. But these efforts lead to Jevons paradox—a variation of “If you build it, they will come.” Economist William Jevons wrote in 1865, “It is wholly a confusion of ideas to suppose that the economical use of fuel is equivalent to a diminished consumption.” In other words, as people like Wierman make computing and the grid more efficient, we use more, out-spending the savings. [Breakthrough story]