News & Events


Professor Ames Receives Antonio Ruberti Young Researcher Prize


Aaron Ames, Bren Professor of Mechanical and Civil Engineering and Control and Dynamical Systems, has won the Antonio Ruberti Young Researcher Prize. This prize is given to recognize outstanding achievement in research in systems and control by a young researcher and to honor the memory of Dr. Antonio Ruberti. [Past recipients]

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Robots Compete Underground in DARPA Challenge


A robot named Balto designed and built by undergraduate students at Caltech working with graduate students at Caltech and JPL, which Caltech manages for NASA, took to the field in the first phase of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Subterranean (SubT) Challenge this summer, where the Caltech-JPL team took second place. The SubT Challenge is an international competition sponsored by DARPA to advance technologies to autonomously map, navigate, and search underground environments. Professor Joel Burdick, the leader of the Caltech section of the CoSTAR team says "The drones are our air-based scouts, and Balto is our eyes and ears on the ground. It's light, cheap, and fast. It can get in, find out what's going on, and help us to make decisions about how to proceed." [Caltech story]

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Students Receive KPMG Innovation Award


Amanda R. Bouman and Elena-Sorina Lupu, students in Caltech's Center on Autonomous Systems and Technology (CAST) program, receive the 2019 KMPG Innovation Award. The students are recognized for their extraordinary efforts in exploring interdisciplinary research in the field of autonomy.

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Caltech Announces the Schmidt Academy for Software Engineering


Caltech has launched the Schmidt Academy for Software Engineering to train the next generation of science-savvy software engineers and set new standards in scientific software. "This is a recognition that computing, software, and machine learning are going to play a very big role in science. Because Caltech is small and collaborative, we have the opportunity to really make a push in that direction," says Kaushik Bhattacharya, the Howell N. Tyson, Sr., Professor of Mechanics and Materials Science and vice provost. [Caltech release]

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Professor Julia R. Greer Named Director of the Kavli Nanoscience Institute


Julia R. Greer, Ruben F. and Donna Mettler Professor of Materials Science, Mechanics and Medical Engineering, has been named the Fletcher Jones Foundation Director of the Kavli Nanoscience Institute (KNI). Greer replaces professors Oskar Painter and Nai-Chang Yeh, who served together as co-directors. "I am delighted to begin spearheading the wonderful enterprise of the KNI, humbly following the footsteps of my predecessors, professors Painter and Yeh. I have been a KNI member and on the board of directors since shortly after I arrived at Caltech," Greer says. [Caltech story]

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Self-folding “Rollbot” paves the way for fully untethered soft robots


Chiara Daraio, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Physics, and colleagues have developed soft robotic systems, inspired by origami, that can move and change shape in response to external stimuli, paving the way for fully untethered soft robots. "This work demonstrates how the combination of responsive polymers in an architected composite can lead to materials with self-actuation in response to different stimuli. In the future, such materials can be programmed to perform ever more complex tasks, blurring the boundaries between materials and robots," said Professor Daraio. [Caltech story]

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A Promising Step in Returning Bipedal Mobility


Professors Aaron Ames and Joel Burdick have launched a new research initiative, RoAMS (Robotic Assisted Mobility Science), aimed at restoring natural and stable locomotion to individuals with walking deficiencies that result from spinal cord injuries and strokes. RoAMS unites robotic assistive devices—including exoskeletons and prostheses—with artificial intelligence (AI)-infused neurocontrol. "Bipedal walking is difficult to achieve in a stable fashion," says Professor Ames. "While crutches help users of the exoskeletons to stay upright, they undercut many of the health benefits that upright locomotion might otherwise provide. In addition, they do not allow users to do anything else with their hands while walking." [Caltech story]

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Professor Ortiz Receives John von Neumann Medal


Michael Ortiz, Frank and Ora Lee Marble Professor of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering, is the recipient of the 2019 U.S. Association for Computational Mechanics (USACM) John von Neumann Medal "for pioneering and sustained contributions in developing computational methods to elucidate material behavior across length and time scales (atomistic to continuum), development of the quasi-continuum method, and authorship of highly cited articles." This is highest award given by USACM. It honors individuals who have made outstanding, sustained contributions in the field of computational mechanics generally over periods representing substantial portions of their professional careers. [List of award recipients]

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Professor Ortiz Receives Doctorate Honoris Causa from Polytechnic University of Madrid


Michael Ortiz, Frank and Ora Lee Marble Professor of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering, has received the highest academic distinction from the Polytechnic University of Madrid (UPM) in a ceremony chaired by its Rector, Guillermo Cisneros, accompanied by José Manuel Torralba, general director of Universities and Superior Artistic Teachings of the Community of Madrid. Professor Ortiz was recognized as one of the leaders in theoretical and computational solid mechanics. Rector Cisneros stated that the curriculum and life path of Professor Ortiz is "an example of what a true Master - teacher with capital letters - should achieve or at least maintain as a goal. " [elEconomista Coverage]

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Timothy Chen Receives 2019 Henry Ford II Scholar Award


Mechanical engineering student Timothy Chen, advised by Professor Melany Hunt, is a recipient of the 2019 Henry Ford II Scholar Award. Timothy is drawn to mechatronics, primarily to robotics and autonomy. 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.

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