News & Events


Caltech Named World's Top University


Caltech has been rated the world's number one university in the 2011–2012 Times Higher Education global ranking of the top 200 universities, knocking Harvard University out of the top spot for the first time in the survey's eight-year history. In last year's survey the EAS Division was ranked as the number one engineering and technology university in the world, the 2011-2012 results for this category have not yet been released. [Caltech Press Release]

Using Laser Light to Cool Object to Quantum Ground State


Oskar J. Painter, Professor of Applied Physics and Executive Officer for Applied Physics and Materials Science, and colleagues including graduate student Jasper Chan have cooled a miniature mechanical object—a tiny mechanical silicon beam— to its lowest possible energy state using laser light. The achievement paves the way for the development of exquisitely sensitive detectors. "In many ways, the experiment we've done provides a starting point for the really interesting quantum-mechanical experiments one wants to do," Painter says. [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: APhMS energy research highlights Oskar Painter Jasper Chan

David Thompson Receives International von Kármán Wings Award


Alumnus David W. Thompson (M.S. '78) who is also the co-founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Orbital Sciences Corporation is the 2011 recipient of the prestigious International von Kármán Wings Award. He was honored for his leadership of Orbital over the past three decades, which has pioneered new classes of rockets and satellites that have helped to make space applications more affordable and accessible to people and enterprises around the world. The von Kármán Wings Award acknowledges outstanding contributions by international innovators, leaders, and pioneers in aerospace and is presented by the Aerospace Historical Society, which is part of the Graduate Aerospace Laboratories at Caltech (GALCIT). [Orbital Press Release]

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Caltech Engineers Build Smart Petri Dish


Electrical engineering graduate student Guoan Zheng, working with Professor Changhuei Yang and Professor Michael Elowitz, has built a platform for a "smart" petri dish, dubbed ePetri. "Our ePetri dish is a compact, small, lens-free microscopy imaging platform. We can directly track the cell culture or bacteria culture within the incubator," explains Zheng, "the data from the ePetri dish automatically transfers to a computer outside the incubator by a cable connection... this technology can significantly streamline and improve cell culture experiments by cutting down on human labor and contamination risks." [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: EE research highlights Changhuei Yang health Michael Elowitz Guoan Zheng

Solar Decathlon Team


The high-tech house built by a joint team of students from Caltech and the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc), known as Compact Hyper-Insulated Prototype (CHIP), placed 6th at the 2011 U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon. In the category of Energy Balance we tied for first place; in the categories of engineering and home entertainment, we placed 2nd, and in affordability we placed third. [Final scores and photos

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Tags: APhMS energy Harry Atwater CMS Richard Murray Solar Decathlon

Professor Low Receives 2011 Okawa Foundation Research Grant


Steven Low, Professor of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering, is a recipient of a 2011 Okawa Foundation Research Grant for his research project entitled "Uncertainty Mitigation for Renewable Energy Integration".  This prize honors top young researchers working in the fields of information and telecommunications. 

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Professor Siapas Receives NIH Pioneer Award


Thanos Siapas, Professor of Computation and Neural Systems, has received a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Pioneer Award.  He plans to use the award to develop neural probes for large-scale recordings of brain activity. "Brain functions such as perception, learning, and memory arise from the coordinated activation of billions of neurons distributed throughout the brain," Siapas says. "While we know a lot about the properties of individual neurons, much less is known about how assemblies of neurons interact to perform computations. Our goal is to develop large-scale, multielectrode arrays that will enable the monitoring of many neurons simultaneously across different brain areas. We hope that such arrays will expose new fundamental insights into brain activity, and will find application in the study of animal models of brain disorders." [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: EE honors research highlights health NIH Thanos Siapas

Visualizing Flow Fields


The research of John O. Dabiri, Professor of Aeronautics and Bioengineering, on visualizing flow fields around jelly fish and ocean circulation is featured in the recent issue of the National Geographic Magazine. [Excerpt from magazine]

Tags: energy research highlights GALCIT John Dabiri

2011 Caltech Space Challenge


The Caltech Space Challenge was a Keck Institute for Space Studies workshop led by Aerospace graduate students Prakhar Mehrotra and Jon Mihaly. It brought together two teams of students from around the world to develop plans for deep-space missions that could carry humans to an asteroid and back. Both teams planned missions to an asteroid known as 1999 AO10, which is between 45 and 100 meters in length and is thought to have a relatively slow spin rate. Since relatively little is known about this asteroid, both teams called for robotic precursor missions that could gather information needed to help plan the later human mission. The competing mission descriptions, from Team Explorer and Team Voyager, were so evenly matched that the jurors had to use three different judging methods to finally settle on a winner. In the end, the victory and shiny new iPads went to Team Voyager. [Caltech Feature] [NPR Broadcast]

Tags: GALCIT KISS Prakhar Mehrotra Jon Mihaly Space Challenge

CHIP Goes to Washington


The high-tech house built by a joint team of students from Caltech and the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc), known as Compact Hyper-Insulated Prototype (CHIP), is heading to Washington D.C. for the 2011 Solar Decathlon competition. The SCI-Arc / Caltech team has been supported by a variety of people including Richard Murray, Thomas E. and Doris Everhart Professor of Control and Dynamical Systems and Bioengineering, and Harry Atwater, Howard Hughes Professor and Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science; Director, Resnick Sustainability Institute. CHIP will be competing with 18 other teams for the title of the most energy-efficient, affordable, and attractive house. [Caltech Feature] [Walkthrough video of CHIP]

Tags: APhMS energy Harry Atwater CMS Richard Murray Solar Decathlon