News & Events
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]
The National Science Foundation (NSF) honors John O. Dabiri, Centennial Professor of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering, with the 2020 Alan T. Waterman Award. 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 story] [Caltech story]
Soon-Jo Chung, Bren Professor of Aerospace, Yisong Yue, Professor of Computing and Mathematical Sciences, postdoctoral scholar Wolfgang Hönig, and graduate students Benjamin Rivière and Guanya Shi, have designed a new data-driven method to control the movement of multiple robots through cluttered, unmapped spaces, so they do not run into one another. "Our work shows some promising results to overcome the safety, robustness, and scalability issues of conventional black-box artificial intelligence (AI) approaches for swarm motion planning with GLAS and close-proximity control for multiple drones using Neural-Swarm," says Chung. [Caltech story]
Daniel Neamati is a recipient of the 2020 Henry Ford II Scholar Award. Daniel’s interests sit at the cross-section of mechanical engineering, aerospace engineering, and planetary science. Daniel's research includes modern computational techniques in microfluidic analyses, and he has contributed to JPL projects such as the Europa Lander and Mars 2020. In the near future, Daniel plans to conduct a SURF at Stanford, and a senior thesis with Professor Soon-Jo Chung in the Aerospace Robotics and Control Laboratory. Thereafter, Daniel plans to pursue a Ph.D. in control systems in aerospace engineering. 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.
The GALCIT community is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Dr. Ying-Chu Lin (Y. C. L. Susan) Wu. She was the first woman to receive her PhD in Aeronautics from Caltech in 1963. She joined the faculty at the University of Tennessee Space Institute (UTSI) and her research area was in magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) Power Generation. In 1982 she became the head of the Energy Conversion Programs. She took early retirement from UTSI in 1988 and founded ERC, Inc., an engineering and scientific company. She received many awards and honors including the Faraday Medal for MHD Power Generation, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Plasma Dynamics and Laser Award, and the Achievement Award by the Society of Women Engineers (SWE). She was a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), associate fellow of AIAA, and Life member of SWE. Dr. Wu received the Caltech Distinguished Alumni Award in 2013.
Mechanical Engineering student Rahul Arun, advised by Professor Aaron Ames and Beverley McKeon, is a recipient of the 2020 Henry Ford II Scholar Award. Rahul's academic interests lie at the intersection of theoretical, numerical, and experimental fluid mechanics, with an emphasis on turbulent flows. This summer, he will be working as a SURF fellow under Professor Tim Colonius to conduct fast and adaptive numerical simulations of vortex ring collisions. In the more distant future, his plan is to attend graduate school. 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.
A new process developed at Caltech makes it possible for the first time to manufacture large quantities of materials whose structure is designed at a nanometer scale—the size of DNA's double helix. Pioneered by Professor Julia R. Greer, "nanoarchitected materials" exhibit unusual, often surprising properties—for example, exceptionally lightweight ceramics that spring back to their original shape, like a sponge, after being compressed. Now, a team of engineers at Caltech and ETH Zurich have developed a material that is designed at the nanoscale but assembles itself—with no need for the precision laser assembly. "We couldn't 3-D print this much nanoarchitected material even in a month; instead we're able to grow it in a matter of hours," says Carlos M. Portela, Postdoctoral Scholar. "It is exciting to see our computationally designed optimal nanoscale architectures being realized experimentally in the lab," says Dennis M. Kochmann, Visiting Associate. [Caltech story]
This 2020 International von Kármán Wings Award honoree is Gwynne Shotwell, President and COO, SpaceX. 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). Dr. Shotwell was honored for her contributions to commercial aerospace, and in particular, the Falcon vehicle program. The ceremony also featured the presentation of three scholarships to honor top graduate students in aerospace.
Junior undergraduate student Michael Brown, studying Mechanical Engineering and Aerospace Engineering, has been awarded a Matthew Isakowitz Fellowship. The fellowship recognizes exceptional college juniors, seniors, and graduate students pursuing aerospace careers and includes a paid internship at a commercial space company. Michael will be interning at The Spaceship Company. The Program honors the memory of an engineer, entrepreneur, and extraordinary individual whose passion for commercial space exploration led to great strides in the industry. [2020 class of fellows] [News release]