News & Events


Bob McEliece Passes Away


Robert J. McEliece (BS '64, PhD '67), Caltech alumnus and Allen E. Puckett Professor and Professor of Electrical Engineering, Emeritus, passed away on May 8, 2019 at the age of 76. "Bob McEliece was renowned for his contributions to a wide range of problems in information transmission and storage," said EAS Chair Ravichandran. "His contributions are drivers for numerous applications in modern communications. He was an outstanding researcher and a beloved and inspiring teacher, mentor, and colleague." [Caltech story]

Tags: EE EAS history alumni Robert McEliece

Professor Beck Receives Masanobu Shinozuka Medal


James L. (Jim) Beck, George W. Housner Professor of Engineering and Applied Science, Emeritus, has received the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Masanobu Shinozuka Medal, "for his original contributions to subset simulation in reliability analysis of stochastic systems, a powerful technique that allows probabilistic estimation of rare events; for his pioneering work in developing technologies for machine learning in earthquake engineering applications." The medal is given in recognition of outstanding contributions to the field of stochastic mechanics, reliability and risk and simulation. [List of medal recipients]

Tags: honors MCE CMS James Beck

Robots Make a Big Splash in Annual Engineering Competition


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

Professor Hunt Named 2019 SURF Dedicatee


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

Undergraduate Student Wins Matthew Isakowitz Fellowship


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

Graduate Student Wins First Place At Ferro2019


Mechanical engineering graduate student, and Resnick fellow Ying Shi Teh, advised by Professor Kaushik Bhattacharya, has won first place for her poster presentation at the Fundamental Physics of Ferroelectrics and related materials workshop (Ferro2019). Her poster featured her work on modeling the photovoltaic effect in multi-domain ferroelectric perovskite oxides. The Ferro2019 is the 30th in the series of workshops that has gathered the world’s leading theorists and experimentalists working in the field of ferroelectrics and related materials every year since 1990. [List of award recipients]

Tags: honors MCE Kaushik Bhattacharya Ying Shi Teh

New Materials Exhibit Split Personality


Julia Greer, Professor of Materials Science, Mechanics and Medical Engineering, and colleagues have determined that the failure of architected materials—the point at which they break when compressed or stretched—can be described using classical continuum mechanics, which models the behavior of a material as a continuous mass rather than as individual (or "discrete") particles. This finding implies a duality to the nature of these materials—in that they can be thought of both as individual particles and also as a single collective. [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS research highlights MCE Julia Greer

The Moving Earth, Micro to Mega


Nadia Lapusta, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Geophysics, creates computer models of earthquakes by integrating an astonishing range of data—on scales from thousands of kilometers down to microns and from millennia down to thousandths of a second. “You have to understand the mechanics across the entire earthquake system, starting at the micrometer scale,” says Professor Lapusta. “This is the challenge.” Her numerical models rely upon field observations, seismic monitoring, lab experiments, and theoretical science, while complementing those endeavors with a new perspective. The predictions expand researchers’ view beyond the limits of direct observation—which is important for events that occur across thousands of years. [Breakthrough story] [ENGenious story]

Tags: research highlights MCE Nadia Lapusta

Meet the 2018 Amazon Fellows


The Amazon Fellows program is the result of a partnership between Caltech and Amazon AWS around Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI). The 2018 Amazon fellows are Ehsan Abbasi, Gautam Goel, Jonathan Kenny, Palma London, and Xiaobin Xiong. Abbasi is interest in contributing to a deeper understanding of convex and non-convex learning methods in AI and is an Electrical Engineering graduate student working with Professor Babak Hassibi. Goel’s research interest is at the interface of the theory and practice of machine learning and is advised by Professor Adam Wierman. London is also working with Professor Wierman. She is developing efficient algorithms for solving extremely large optimization problems. The methods are applicable to distributed and parallel optimization. For example in a distributed data center setting, the algorithms are robust to unreliable data transfer between data centers and take into account privacy concerns. Kenny is a Computation & Neural Systems graduate student working with Professor Thanos Siapas on deep neural networks to identify and classify brain states. Xiong is a mechanical engineering graduate student who enjoys working on real physical robots, to make them walk, jump, and run in real life. He is advised by Professor Aaron Ames and their research is focused on robotic bipedal locomotion

Tags: EE honors MCE CMS Adam Wierman Babak Hassibi Thanos Siapas Aaron Ames Ehsan Abbasi Gautam Goel Jonathan Kenny Palma London Xiaobin Xiong

Microscopic Devices That Control Vibrations Could Allow Smaller Mobile Devices


Chiara Daraio, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Physics, and colleagues have developed phononic devices that include parts that vibrate extremely fast, moving back and forth up to tens of millions of times per second. The devices were developed by creating silicon nitride drums that are just 90 nanometers thick. The drums are arranged into grids, with different grid patterns having different properties. Professor Daraio, along with former Caltech postdoctoral scholar Jinwoong Cha, have shown that arrays of these drums can act as tunable filters for signals of different frequencies and can act like one-way valves for high-frequency waves. [Caltech story]

Tags: research highlights Chiara Daraio MCE APh postdocs Jinwoong Cha