Caltech's Hixon Writing Center team has expanded to include two STEM writing specialists, Christina Birch who has a PhD in biological engineering from MIT and Erin Burkett who has a PhD in geophysics from UC Davis. Hixon director Susanne Hall describes, “now a student in any scientific discipline can come into the writing center and get help on their academic writing from a tutor with firsthand experience of the styles and genres of scientific communication." The center has also begun a partnership with the Division of Engineering and Applied Science (EAS) to bring STEM writing instruction directly into classrooms. "Communication is of fundamental importance for students today, but it's hard to learn in isolation," Professor Adam Wierman says. "Being able to partner with Hixon to embed writing and communication into my course allowed us to teach students at the moment they needed it.” [Caltech story] [ENGenious snap shot on new EAS course E111]
Take a deep dive into a crucial moment in technological history with Carver Mead, Gordon and Betty Moore Professor of Engineering and Applied Science, Emeritus. In this first of a series of videos being produced by the Caltech Archives, titled 'My First Chip’, Professor Mead tells the story of meeting Gordon Moore, who would soon predict that every year the semiconductor industry would double the number of transistors that could be fabricated on a commercial integrated circuit. Carver Mead and his students worked on the physics of ultra-small transistors, and showed that, in addition to allowing greater density, they ran faster and used less power. This work proved that Moore’s prediction did not violate any laws of physics, and it became known as 'Moore's Law'–the term coined and made famous by Professor Mead.
Bob Cannon, Chair of the Division of Engineering and Applied Science from 1974-1979, and Charles Lee Powell Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Emeritus, at Stanford University, passed away on August 15, at 93. He led a full, fascinating life – and at Caltech is remembered as an upbeat and enthusiastic division chair who was greatly supportive of young faculty.
Mathematics and Computer Science student Ching-Yun (Chloe) Hsu, mentored by Professors Chris Umans and Rupert Frank, is a recipient of the 2017 Henry Ford II Scholar Award. She is researching generalized Fourier transform on groups, and will be working on a geometric modeling project. In the past, she has studied the prism manifold realization problem and the k-SUM problem. The Henry Ford II Scholar Award is funded under an endowment provided by the Ford Motor Company Fund. The award is made annually to engineering students with the best academic record at the end of the third year of undergraduate study.
Christopher Umans, Professor of Computer Science, is the recipient of the 2017 Northrop Grumman Prize for Excellence in Teaching. The Prize is awarded to an EAS professor who demonstrates, in the broadest sense, unusual ability, creativity, and innovation in undergraduate and graduate classroom or laboratory teaching. A nomination for Professor Umans read, “his course on computational complexity has become the de facto way that students decide if they're interested in computer science. It is an extremely challenging, mathematical course but his crisp, entertaining lectures bring everyone along.” Students in his class described it as, “my favorite class at Caltech so far", and ”I didn't think I liked theoretical CS until I took this course.”
Harold Rosen (PhD '51, Electrical Engineering), the father of geostationary satellite communications, passed away on January 30, 2017. His Caltech education, he told a Caltech publication in 2012, "gave me such a good grounding in the fundamentals" that he felt capable of attacking any technical problem in almost any field. [Caltech story] [Video of Dr. Rosen’s Presentation at EE Centennial]
Anatol Roshko (MS '47, PhD '52), Theodore von Kármán Professor of Aeronautics, Emeritus, at Caltech, passed away on January 23, 2017. Known for his research in several areas of gas dynamics and fluid mechanics, Professor Roshko made contributions to problems of separated flow, bluff-body aerodynamics, shock-wave boundary-layer interactions, shock-tube technology, and the structure of turbulent shear flows. With pioneering aerodynamics researcher Hans Liepmann, he coauthored the widely used textbook Elements of Gasdynamics, published in 1956. [Caltech story]
Methane is less prevalent in the atmosphere than fellow greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2), but it presents more difficult challenges for researchers attempting to study it. Professor Wennberg, is working with colleagues from across Caltech to study methane and its effects on the globe and to pioneer tools and techniques needed to identify, track, and characterize the gas and its sources. One such colleague is Professor Vahala who has paved the way for the miniaturization of high-resolution spectrometers. His new soliton-based system is the basis for a new collaboration with Professor Frankenberg to apply dual-comb spectrometer to methane tracking and analysis. [Caltech story]
Rolf H. Sabersky, Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Emeritus, passed away on October 24, 2016 at the age of 96. Professor Sabersky joined the faculty in 1949 having obtained his BS ’42, MS ’43, and PhD ’49 from Caltech in Mechanical Engineering. He became professor emeritus in 1988. He worked with luminaries throughout his distinguished career including Theodore von Kármán at Aerojet. James Van Allan sought his expertise for the development of the Ajax and Bumblebee rocket programs. Professor Sabersky made pioneering contributions to our understanding of boiling heat transfer, free convection, granular flows, and indoor air quality. He taught courses in thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, and heat transfer. He was renowned for his commitment to education, mentoring, and promoting diversity. He was the author of two popular textbooks, Elements of Engineering Thermodynamics, and Fluid Flow: A First course in Fluid Mechanics, which he coauthored with Professor Allan Acosta. He received the Heat Transfer Memorial Award from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers in 1977.
Thomas Vidick, Assistant Professor of Computing and Mathematical Sciences, is co-teaching a massive open online course (MOOC)—CS/Ph 120, Quantum Cryptography—focused on the ways in which quantum mechanics can be used to create secure lines of communication. "It's a hot topic, but there are very few resources for people wanting to go beyond just the basics. Very few schools will even have a quantum cryptography course," Vidick says. [Caltech story] [Vidick blog]