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Computer Scientists Create Reprogrammable Molecular Computing System

03-20-19

Erik Winfree, Professor of Computer Science, Computation and Neural Systems, and Bioengineering, and colleagues have designed DNA molecules that can carry out reprogrammable computations, for the first time creating so-called algorithmic self-assembly in which the same "hardware" can be configured to run different "software." Although DNA computers have the potential to perform more complex computations than the ones featured in the Nature paper, Professor Winfree cautions that one should not expect them to start replacing the standard silicon microchip computers. That is not the point of this research. "These are rudimentary computations, but they have the power to teach us more about how simple molecular processes like self-assembly can encode information and carry out algorithms. Biology is proof that chemistry is inherently information-based and can store information that can direct algorithmic behavior at the molecular level," he says. [Caltech story]

Tags: research highlights CMS Erik Winfree

Levitating Objects with Light

03-18-19

Ognjen Ilic, postdoctoral scholar in Professor Harry Atwater’s laboratory, and colleagues have designed a way to levitate and propel objects using only light, by creating specific nanoscale patterning on the objects' surfaces. "We have come up with a method that could levitate macroscopic objects," says Professor Atwater, who is also the director of the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis. "There is an audaciously interesting application to use this technique as a means for propulsion of a new generation of spacecraft. We're a long way from actually doing that, but we are in the process of testing out the principles." [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS research highlights Harry Atwater postdocs Ognjen Ilic

Teaching Coding in Elementary Schools

03-15-19

On Friday afternoons, Caltech computer science students visit public schools in Pasadena to help third-, fourth-, and fifth-graders learn to code. Their work is part of a recently introduced course in which Caltech undergrads study and practice strategies for teaching programming to children. “We start with basic concepts and, by the end, students have coded their own games in Scratch [a visual programming language developed for children],” says Caltech senior Anna Resnick, who helps lead the class as a teaching assistant. “A few have even told us they want to be programmers someday.” [Caltech story]

Tags: CMS teaching Anna Resnick Claire Ralph

Robots Make a Big Splash in Annual Engineering Competition

03-15-19

On Tuesday Milikan Pond was transformed into an aquatic arena where amphibious robots duked it out in Caltech's annual ME72 design competition. The competition serves as the final exam for the ME72 Engineering Design Laboratory course, which is taught by Michael Mello (PhD '12). The event challenged four student teams to build three robots each. The robots had to be capable of traversing both land and water and collecting floating balls. [Caltech story & videos]

Tags: MCE alumni ME 72 Michael Mello

Best Paper Award

03-13-19

Professor Pietro Perona along with Caltech alumni David Hall and Steve Branson have won the 2018 U. V. Helava Best Paper Award from the ISPRS Journal of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing. Their paper “From Google Maps to a fine-grained catalog of street trees” was selected for the award. The jury described the work in the paper as “innovative, and applicable for large areas of tree classification and inventories. The developed methodology would affect practices of urban tree management globally.” [Read the paper]

Tags: EE honors Pietro Perona alumni postdocs David Hall Steve Branson

Professor Hunt Named 2019 SURF Dedicatee

03-11-19

Melany Hunt, Dotty and Dick Hayman Professor of Mechanical Engineering, has been honored as the 2019 Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF) program dedicatee. The SURF Administrative Committee selects the dedicatee based on their record of extraordinary impact to the program, Caltech students, and the Institute. In the words of Professor Katherine Faber, SURF Board Member who introduced this year’s dedicatee, “Professor Melany Hunt fits the bill in all three of these categories. She has mentored over 50 SURF students since 1991. In the classroom, she has twice received the Associated Students of the California Institute of Technology (ASCIT) award for excellence in teaching. She has inspired students in courses on Thermal Science, Thermodynamics, Heat and Mass Transport and Multidisciplinary Systems Engineering.” In regard to Professor Hunt’s extraordinary impact on Caltech Professor Faber mentioned the Giving Voice program which uses recorded vignettes to “guide discussions on unconscious bias and provides concrete suggestions on how to start workplace climate conversations.” [Giving Voice] [SURF Program]

Tags: honors MCE SURF Melany Hunt Katherine Faber

Electrical Engineering Student Selected for 2019 Knight-Hennessy Scholars Class

03-06-19

Kavya Sreedhar, a senior double majoring in electrical engineering and business, economics, and management, has been named to this year's class of Knight-Hennessy Scholars, a graduate-level scholarship program founded by Stanford University. The program aims to develop a community of future global leaders to address complex challenges through collaboration and innovation. Sreedhar will receive a scholarship providing full tuition, room and board, and a living stipend while she pursues a PhD in electrical engineering. Her graduate work will be focused on circuits and hardware research for machine learning and artificial intelligence applications. She is joined by 67 other students chosen from a pool of 4,424 applicants for the program's 2019 cohort. [Caltech story]

Tags: EE honors alumni Kavya Sreedhar

2019 Caltech Distinguished Alumni

03-01-19

Caltech has recognized alumnus William Dally (PhD ’86, Computer Science) with the Distinguished Alumni Award, the highest honor regularly bestowed by the Institute. Dally was recognized “for his significant contributions to the architecture of interconnection networks. He developed much of the technology found in modern interconnection networks including wormhole routing, virtual-channel flow control, global adaptive routing, modern network topology, deadlock analysis, performance analysis, fault-tolerance methods, and equalized high-speed signaling.” [Caltech story] [Distinguished Lecture at Caltech]

Tags: EE honors CMS alumni William Dally

Undergraduate Student Wins Matthew Isakowitz Fellowship

02-20-19

Junior undergraduate student Lewis Jones, studying mechanical engineering and aerospace engineering, has been awarded a Matthew Isakowitz Fellowship. The fellowship recognizes exceptional college juniors, seniors, and graduate students pursuing aerospace careers and includes a paid internship at a commercial space company based in the United States. Lewis will be interning at Millennium Space Systems. At Caltech Lewis founded and is the current president of the rocketry club (Parsec) which is developing a methane-oxygen rocket. [2019 class of fellows]

Tags: honors GALCIT MCE Lewis Jones

Professor Marandi Receives NSF CAREER Award

02-19-19

Alireza Marandi, Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering and Applied Physics, has been awarded the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award for his project, "Quadratically Nonlinear Micro-Resonators: Enabling Next Generation Photonic Devices and Systems". The CAREER program is NSF's most prestigious awards for junior faculty members. The level and 5-year duration of the awards are designed to enable awardees to develop careers as outstanding teacher-scholars. Awardees are chosen because they exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations.

Tags: APhMS EE honors NSF CAREER NSF Alireza Marandi