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American Institute of Mathematics Moves to Caltech

03-28-22

The American Institute of Mathematics (AIM), an independent nonprofit organization funded in part by the National Science Foundation (NSF), is moving to Caltech's campus from its current home in the Bay Area. AIM organizes and funds focused collaborations among pure and applied mathematicians, theoretical biologists, computer scientists, physicists, and other scientists working on long-standing math problems. "The arrival of AIM at Caltech will build new bridges between math, applied math, and computational science, and will shine a spotlight on the role that mathematical thinking plays across all our departments and options," says Harry Atwater, Otis Booth Leadership Chair, Division of Engineering and Applied Science; Howard Hughes Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science; Director, Liquid Sunlight Alliance. [Caltech story]

Tags: Harry Atwater CMS Christopher Umans Omer Tamuz

Professor Beck Named Distinguished Member of ASCE

03-28-22

James L. (Jim) Beck, George W. Housner Professor of Engineering and Applied Science, Emeritus, has been chosen as a Distinguished Member of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). Distinguished Membership is the highest honor ASCE can bestow. It is reserved for civil engineers who are either ASCE Members or Fellows. One class of recipients is formally inducted annually. [Distinguished Members]

Tags: honors MCE CMS James Beck ASCE

ME72: Live and In-Person Once More

03-23-22

Robots from five teams battled one another on the Ramo Auditorium stage on March 10, 2022. The all-day competition was the final exam for the ME72 Engineering Design Laboratory course, which is taught by Michael Mello, Teaching Professor of Mechanical and Civil Engineering. Each year, students in the two-term class are asked to design and build robots that meet particular criteria with the goal of having the machines square off in a design competition at the end of the second term. This was the 37th annual edition of the competition, which—in the years before the pandemic—always drew large crowds of student spectators as well as attention from media outlets. Overall, Mello says he is proud of all of the robots his students built. "I think we could enter some of these bots in an international competition and do pretty well," he says. [Caltech story]

Tags: MCE alumni ME 72 Michael Mello Allison Cheng Sofia Kwok Vy Le Martin Peticco Sydney Richardson Saskia van Nieuwstadt

Professor Goddard and Team Find the Simplest Form of a Catalyst

03-11-22

William A. Goddard, Charles and Mary Ferkel Professor of Chemistry, Materials Science, and Applied Physics, is part of research team which finds that an electron is the simplest form of a catalyst. A catalyst is a substance that speeds up a chemical reaction by lowering the barriers from reactants to products. Traditionally, most catalysts contain transition metal as the source of activity. The most recent Nobel Prize in chemistry was awarded to Benjamin List and David W.C. MacMillan for the discovery of pure organic compounds as catalyst for asymmetric organic synthesis. Is there any catalyst simpler than small organic compounds? Yes, in an article published in the latest edition of Nature, a team of Northwestern University and Caltech discovered that an electron itself can play the role of catalyst for the process of molecular recognition. [Nature Article]

Tags: APhMS research highlights William Goddard

Professor Gao Receives IAMBE Early Career Award

03-08-22

Wei Gao, Assistant Professor of Medical Engineering; Investigator, Heritage Medical Research Institute; Ronald and JoAnne Willens Scholar has been selected for the International Academy of Medical and Biological Engineering (IAMBE) Early Career Award (North America). The IAMBE is made up of fellows who are recognized for their outstanding contributions to the profession of medical and biological engineering. [List of Fellows]

Tags: APhMS honors MedE Wei Gao

EAS Remembers Roy W. Gould

03-01-22

Roy W. Gould, Simon Ramo Professor of Engineering, Emeritus, passed away on February 19, 2022. He was 94 years old. Gould earned his bachelor's degree from Caltech in 1949, a master's from Stanford University in 1950, and a doctorate from Caltech in 1956. After leaving Stanford, he worked as an engineer on missile guidance and control at JPL, which Caltech manages for NASA, and then at Hughes Aircraft. He joined Caltech's faculty in 1955. Gould started as an Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering, became Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering in 1958, Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering and Physics in 1960, and Professor in 1962. He was named Professor of Applied Physics in 1974 and became Ramo Professor of Engineering in 1980. He served as Executive Officer of Applied Physics from 1973–79 and Chair of the Division of Engineering and Applied Science from 1979–85. Gould's research focused on plasma physics and thermonuclear fusion. During his long career, Gould earned numerous awards and recognitions. [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS EE EAS history alumni Roy Gould

Michael M. Watkins Elected to the National Academy of Engineering

02-17-22

Michael M. Watkins, Professor of Aerospace and Geophysics, has been elected to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE). Professor Watkins was elected for "leadership in the development of space geodesy and leading robotic missions for exploration of the Earth and planetary bodies." Election to the National Academy of Engineering is among the highest professional distinctions accorded to an engineer. Academy membership honors those who have made outstanding contributions to "engineering research, practice, or education, including, where appropriate, significant contributions to the engineering literature" and to "the pioneering of new and developing fields of technology, making major advancements in traditional fields of engineering, or developing/implementing innovative approaches to engineering education." [NAE release] [Caltech story]

Tags: honors GALCIT Michael Watkins

Chaining Atoms Together Yields Quantum Storage

02-17-22

Engineers at Caltech have developed an approach for quantum storage that could help pave the way for the development of large-scale optical quantum networks. "The ability to build a technology reproducibly and reliably is key to its success," says graduate student Andrei Ruskuc. "In the scientific context, this let us gain unprecedented insight into microscopic interactions between ytterbium qubits and the vanadium atoms in their environment." The new system relies on nuclear spins—the angular momentum of an atom's nucleus—oscillating collectively as a spin wave. This collective oscillation effectively chains up several atoms to store information. "Based on our previous work, single ytterbium ions were known to be excellent candidates for optical quantum networks, but we needed to link them with additional atoms. We demonstrate that in this work," says Andrei Faraon, Professor of Applied Physics and Electrical Engineering. [Read the paper] [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS EE research highlights MedE KNI Andrei Faraon Andrei Ruskuc

EAS Remembers Noel Corngold

02-10-22

Noel Corngold, Professor of Applied Physics, Emeritus, passed away on January 24. He was 93 years old. Corngold was born in New York City in 1929. He received his bachelor's degree from Columbia College in 1949; followed by his master's degree and doctorate from Harvard University in 1950 and 1954, respectively. He worked at Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York for 12 years before joining Caltech's faculty in 1966. Corngold was a professor of applied science studying nuclear engineering until 1974, when he joined the newly created applied physics option. As a professor of applied physics, he extended his research to include radiation transport, plasma physics, and the statistical mechanics of fluids. As a nuclear engineer, he conducted award-winning theoretical work on how neutrons behave in reactors. He was elected to the American Nuclear Society (ANS) in 1966 and awarded a certificate of merit from the society's Reactor Physics Division for his "physical insight into neutronic problems." He received the society's Eugene P. Wigner Reactor Physics Award in 2002 and its Arthur Holly Compton Award in Education in 2006. Corngold became an emeritus professor in 2002. [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS EAS history Noel Corngold

Professor Mirhosseini Receives Okawa Foundation Research Grant

02-09-22

Mohammad Mirhosseini, Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering and Applied Physics, has been selected as a recipient of 2021 Okawa Foundation Research Grant for developing optical interconnects for microwave quantum processors. [Research Grant Recipients]

Tags: APhMS EE honors KNI Mohammad Mirhosseini