Note from the Chair

David Rutledge

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In this issue of ENGenious, we offer a profile of the Mechanical Engineering Option as we celebrate the Centennial of Mechanical Engineering at Caltech this year. The Centennial is being marked by a Symposium on March 30-31, 2007 . Caltech alumnus Tom Tyson (BS '54, PhD '67) and Professor Chris Brennen are serving as co-chairs of the event, and speakers include the president of Caltech, Jean-Lou Chameau, and the former president of the University of Michigan, James Duderstadt (MS '65, PhD '68). Talks by our alumni on electric cars, oil and gas exploration, nanomechanics for biological structures, and space exploration round out the program, with presentations by faculty and students as well.

We are also very much looking forward to September, when we will hold an international conference celebrating 50 years of space technology hosted by the Graduate Aeronautical Laboratories (GALCIT), Northrop Grumman Space Technology, and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Speakers include the president of Northrop Grumman Space Technology, Alexis Livanos (BS '70, MS '73, PhD '75), who we have interviewed in these pages; Charles Elachi, Director of JPL; Michael Griffin, Administrator of NASA; astronaut and Caltech Trustee Sally Ride; former U.S. Senator and astronaut Harrison Schmitt (BS '57); and John Mather, 2006 Nobel Laureate.

The continuing generosity of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation is evident by the recent establishment of the Caltech Center for Sustainable Energy Research (CCSER). This Center has the goal of replacing fossil fuel as an energy source. In an interview, the principal faculty members, led by Professor Harry Atwater, describe the scientific goals and the challenges.

This issue of ENGenious also reports on lensless microscopes, floating DNA circuits, the evolution of the Sherman Fairchild Library in the era of digital publishing, and the expanding possibilities for collaborations between the Division and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

In many ways, we are who we hire. I am happy to introduce eight new faculty members to you in these pages—as well as announce that there are currently nine active faculty search committees operating on behalf of the Division.

As always, we welcome your feedback, and we hope you will visit us when you are in the area.