News & Events


Professor Mello Receives M.M. Frocht Award


Michael Mello, Teaching Professor of Mechanical and Civil Engineering, has received the 2021 M.M. Frocht Award. The award recognizes "outstanding achievement as an educator in the field of experimental mechanics." [Past Recipients]

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Waterman Awardee Dabiri Featured in National Science Foundation Video Profile


The National Science Foundation (NSF) honored John O. Dabiri, Centennial Professor of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering, with the 2020 Alan T. Waterman Award. The NSF has released a video interview with the Waterman awardees. The Alan T. Waterman Award is given to an outstanding young U.S. scientist or engineer along with a medal and other recognition. "This year's scientific pioneers are innovators who are creatively addressing some of the most challenging scientific questions," said NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan. "John Dabiri has looked to the fluid mechanics of sea life for inspiration to build better wind farms that appear to boost efficiency with a much smaller footprint." [NSF Interview with Dabiri] [NSF story] [Caltech story]

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Nadia Lapusta Elected Fellow of AGU


Nadia Lapusta, Lawrence A. Hanson, Jr., Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Geophysics, has been elected a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union (AGU). This honor is given to individual AGU members who have made exceptional scientific contributions and gained prominence in their respective fields of Earth and space sciences. [AGU release]

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Titanium Atom That Exists in Two Places at Once in Crystal to Blame for Unusual Phenomenon


Crystals are usually good at conducting heat. By definition, their atomic structure is highly organized, which allows atomic vibrations—heat—to flow through them as a wave. Austin Minnich, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Physics, has discovered why a perfect crystal is not good at conducting heat, although it seemingly should be. "We have found that quantum mechanical effects can play a huge role in setting the thermal transport properties of materials even under familiar conditions like room temperature," says Austin Minnich. [Caltech story]

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Aaron Ames Elevated to IEEE Fellow


Aaron Ames, Bren Professor of Mechanical and Civil Engineering and Control and Dynamical Systems, has been elevated as a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) for contributions to hybrid and safety-critical nonlinear control with demonstration on robotic systems. The IEEE Fellow is one of the most prestigious honors of the IEEE, and is bestowed upon a very limited number of Senior Members who have contributed importantly to the advancement or application of engineering, science and technology.  [Elevated class of 2021]

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Robotics Engineers Take on COVID-19


Methods that were originally created to help robots to walk and autonomous cars to drive safely can also help epidemiologists predict the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Professor Aaron Ames and colleagues took these tools and applied them to the development of an epidemiological methodology that accounts for human interventions (like mask mandates and stay-at-home orders). By utilizing the U.S. COVID-19 data from March through May, they were able to predict the infection wave during the summer to high accuracy. "This is the greatest health challenge to face our society in a generation at least. We all need to pitch in and help in any way we can," Ames says. [Caltech story]

Tags: research highlights MCE CMS Aaron Ames Andrew Singletary

EAS Remembers Wilfred D. (Bill) Iwan


Wilfred D. (Bill) Iwan, Professor of Civil Engineering, Emeritus, passed away on October 29, 2020. He was 85 years old. Dr. Bill Iwan received all his degrees from Caltech, B.S. in 1957, M.S. in 1958, and Ph.D. in 1961. He joined the Caltech faculty in 1964 and became Professor Emeritus in 2004. He served as the Executive Officer for Civil Engineering and Applied Mechanics, 1980-86. Dr. Iwan’s research focused on fundamental areas of mechanics, understanding and characterization of strong earthquake ground motion, analysis and monitoring of the response of structural systems subjected to extreme events, and public policy regarding disasters. His research achievements include the development of methods to represent complex nonlinear structures with simpler linear systems, the development of practical methods for earthquake-resistant design, and the development of simplified methods for the analysis of seismic isolation systems for critical equipment. In 1979, he proposed an earthquake early-warning system for urban regions. Dr. Iwan was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1999 “for research on seismic performance of structures, and for leadership in earthquake hazard mitigation and improvement of public safety.” He was a Distinguished Member and Fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), which awarded him the Nathan M. Newmark Medal (1997), William H. Wisely Award (2006), and Theodore von Karman Medal (2013). In recognition of his distinguished service, the California Earthquake Safety Foundation awarded him the 2002 Alfred E. Alquist Medal “for his lifetime of service to the profession of structural engineering and its application to the safety of the people of California and the world". [Caltech story]

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Four EAS Students Receive Department of Energy Fellowships


Four Engineering and Applied Science graduate students are among 26 who have been named as recipients of a Department of Energy Computational Science Graduate Fellowship (DOE CSGF), which the DOE provides to future leaders in the field of high-performance computing (HPC). [Caltech story]

Tags: honors MCE CMS Alexandra Baumgart Emily de Jong Ethan Epperly Margaret Trautner

Lab-Grown Earthquakes Reveal the Frictional Forces Acting Beneath Our Feet


Simulating an earthquake on a miniature scale in a laboratory known unofficially as the "seismological wind tunnel," engineers and seismologists have produced the most comprehensive look to date at the complex physics of friction driving destructive thrust-fault earthquakes. "Simulating earthquakes in a lab lets us observe how these brief and violent events grow and evolve by ‘slowing down' their motion through high-speed photography and optics," says Ares Rosakis, the Theodore von Karman Professor of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering. [Caltech story]

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Kaushik Bhattacharya Receives Theodore von Kármán Prize


Kaushik Bhattacharya, Howell N. Tyson, Sr., Professor of Mechanics and Materials Science; Vice Provost, has received the 2020 Theodore von Kármán Prize. This prize is awarded for a notable application of mathematics to mechanics and/or the engineering sciences made during the five to ten years preceding the award. [SIAM story] [Caltech story]

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