Caltech and Northrop Grumman Corporation have signed a $17.5 million sponsored research agreement for the development of the Space Solar Power Initiative (SSPI). The initiative will develop technologies in three areas: high-efficiency ultralight photovoltaics; ultralight deployable space structures; and phased array and power transmission. "The Space Solar Power Initiative brings together electrical engineers, applied physicists, and aerospace engineers in the type of profound interdisciplinary collaboration that is seamlessly enhanced at a small place like Caltech... We are working on extremely difficult problems that could eventually provide the world with new, and very cost-competitive technology for sustainable energy,” said EAS Chair Ares Rosakis. [Caltech story] [Northrop Grumman Release]
For one week at the end of March, 32 students from 20 universities and 14 countries came to Caltech for an intensive training experience in space mission design: the Caltech Space Challenge. The teams—Team Explorer and Team Voyager—were tasked with designing a manned mission to an asteroid placed in orbit around the moon. Aside from determining details such as the best type of vehicle to use, the optimal launch date, and how to keep the astronauts safe, each team was asked to explain how its mission would explore and make use of the asteroid to enable future missions to more distant locales, such as Mars. In the end, Team Voyager came out slightly ahead of Team Explorer. According to the jury, the deciding factor was Team Voyager's presentation and success in turning their technically detailed report into a compelling story for the audience. [Caltech Story] [Voyager's presentation] [Explorer's presentation]
John O. Dabiri, Professor of Aeronautics and Bioengineering as well as the Caltech Dean of Undergraduate Students, has been named fellow of the American Physical Society (APS) for his exceptional contributions to physics. The APS Division of Fluid Dynamics nominated Professor Dabiri for his contributions to "vortex dynamics and biological propulsion, and for pioneering new concepts in wind energy." [Caltech story]
Joanna Austin, Professor of Aerospace, researches fundamental problems in reactive, compressible flows with applications in hypervelocity flight and planetary entry, supersonic combustion and detonation, bubble dynamics, and explosive geological events. She remarks, “gas dynamics, and particularly looking at gas dynamics in reacting flows… [is] the thing I really love. It's a very challenging, coupled, problem. As the fluid is going through the model that you're studying, you also have to account for the fact that the state of the fluid is changing—the gas is chemically reacting, so it's changing from reactants to products, or it's redistributing its energy states, or both. Understanding how best to model these processes, that's what excites me.” [Interview with Professor Austin]
Professors Harry Atwater, Morteza Gharib, Guruswami Ravichandran, and Robert Grubbs have been elected to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE). Professor Atwater was elected for contributions to plasmonics. Professor Gharib was elected for contributions to fluid flow diagnostics and imagery, and engineering of bioinspired devices and phenomena. Professor Ravichandran was elected for contributions to mechanics of dynamic deformation, damage, and failure of engineering materials. Professor Grubbs was elected for developments in catalysts that have enabled commercial products. [Caltech story]
Michael Ortiz, Frank and Ora Lee Marble Professor of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering, has been selected to receive the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Timoshenko Medal “for seminal, groundbreaking and creative contributions, particularly in the creation of the quasi continuum method, the formulation of an incremental variational principle to predict dislocation structures, the development of modeling fragmentation with cohesive models, and the formulation of integrators for elastoplastic materials and variational time integrators."
Through three gifts to the EAS Division, investor and philanthropist Foster Stanback and his wife, Coco, aim to help Caltech advance innovation in space exploration, with the attendant benefits of an educated workforce, skilled jobs, and spinoff technologies. "The Stanback gifts contribute vitally to the EAS strategy of attracting the best faculty and students, then giving them the resources, acknowledgement, and support to shine. For space engineering, these gifts will allow us to perpetually fund bold seed projects—many of which will lead to spectacular inventions and technologies,” explains EAS Chair Ares Rosakis. [Caltech story]
Guruswami (Ravi) Ravichandran, John E. Goode, Jr. Professor of Aerospace and Professor of Mechanical Engineering, as well as Director of GALCIT, has been awarded the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Warner T. Koiter Medal. He received the medal, “for outstanding scientific, engineering, and mentoring contributions in the areas of ultra-high strain rate mechanics of ceramics and metals, and pioneering and innovative experiments to advance our understanding of coupled phenomena in the fields of smart materials and cellular mechanics.”
Ares J. Rosakis, Theodore von Karman Professor of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering as well as the Otis Booth Leadership Chair of the Division of Engineering and Applied Science, has been elected to the Academy of Europe (Academia Europaea) in the section of Physics and Engineering Sciences. The Academia Europaea was founded in 1988 and is an organization of eminent, individual scholars from across the continent of Europe. The 3000 members cover a wide range of academic disciplines including the humanities, social, physical and life sciences as well as mathematics, engineering and medicine. In addition to Professor Ares Rosakis, Caltech's Provost Edward Stolper, the Institute's past president David Baltimore, and Professor Alexander Varshavsky are members of the Academy.