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Watch Now: Caltech Undergraduates Present Final Concept for NASA BIG Idea Challenge

11-15-22

Caltech’s BIG Idea Challenge Team is presenting its final concept at the NASA Big Idea Challenge Forum at 11:25 PDT on November 15, 2022. [Tune in!]

Tags: GALCIT MCE CMS Soon-Jo Chung

Beaming Clean Energy From Space

10-26-22

Once considered science fiction, technology capable of collecting solar power in space and beaming it to Earth to provide a global supply of clean and affordable energy is moving closer to reality. Through the Space-based Solar Power Project (SSPP), a team of Caltech researchers is working to deploy a constellation of modular spacecraft that collect sunlight, transform it into electricity, then wirelessly transmit that electricity wherever it is needed—including to places that currently have no access to reliable power. "This is an extraordinary and unprecedented project," says Harry Atwater, Otis Booth Leadership Chair, Division of Engineering and Applied Science; Howard Hughes Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science; Director, Liquid Sunlight Alliance. "It exemplifies the boldness and ambition needed to address one of the most significant challenges of our time, providing clean and affordable energy to the world." [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS EE research highlights MedE MCE Harry Atwater Ali Hajimiri Sergio Pellegrino

Tweaking Turbine Angles Squeezes More Power Out of Wind Farms

08-17-22

A new control algorithm for wind farms that alters how individual turbines are oriented into the wind promises to boost farms' overall efficiency and energy output by optimizing how they deal with their turbulent wake. "Individual turbines generate choppy air, or a wake, which hurts the performance of every turbine downwind of them," says John O. Dabiri, Centennial Professor of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering. "To cope with that, wind farm turbines are traditionally spaced as far apart as possible, which unfortunately takes up a lot of real estate." [Caltech story]

Tags: research highlights GALCIT MCE John Dabiri alumni Michael Howland

Michael Gonzalez Receives 2022 Henry Ford II Scholar Award

06-23-22

Michael Gonzalez, advised by Joel Burdick, Richard L. and Dorothy M. Hayman Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Bioengineering; Jet Propulsion Laboratory Research Scientist, is one of four recipients of the 2022 Henry Ford II Scholar Award. Michael is interested in the crossover between Mechanical Engineering and Computer Science, focusing specifically on the widespread applications of robotics. This summer, Michael will be working as a SURF fellow under Professor Soon-Jo Chung with a focus on revamping the ARCG’s autonomous flying ambulance. 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.

Tags: honors MCE CMS Henry Ford II Scholar Award Soon-Jo Chung Michael Gonzalez

Lab Earthquakes Show How Grains at Fault Boundaries Lead to Major Quakes

06-07-22

By simulating earthquakes in a lab, Caltech engineers have provided strong experimental support for a form of earthquake propagation now thought responsible for the magnitude-9.0 earthquake that devastated the coast of Japan in 2011. "Our novel experimental approach has enabled us to look into the earthquake process up close, and to uncover key features of rupture propagation and friction evolution in rock gouge," says Vito Rubino, research scientist and lead author of the Nature paper. The Nature paper is titled "Intermittent lab earthquakes in dynamically weakening fault gouge." Rubino and his co-authors Nadia Lapusta, Lawrence A. Hanson, Jr., Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Geophysics, and Ares Rosakis, Theodore von Kármán Professor of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering, show that so-called "stable" or "creeping" faults are not actually immune to major ruptures after all, as previously suspected. [Caltech story]

Tags: research highlights GALCIT MCE Ares Rosakis Nadia Lapusta Vito Rubino

What Is the Future of Wind Energy?

04-21-22

Humans have used windmills to capture the force of the wind as mechanical energy for more than 1,300 years. Unlike early windmills, however, modern wind turbines use generators and other components to convert energy from the spinning blades into a smooth flow of AC electricity. In this video, John Dabiri, Centennial Professor of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering discusses the future of wind energy technology. [Caltech story]

Tags: research highlights GALCIT MCE John Dabiri

Student-Led Lunar Architecture Team Named Finalist in NASA Competition for Second Consecutive Year

04-12-22

Caused by collisions from asteroids, comets, and other astronomical objects, lunar craters give our moon its characteristic pockmarked façade. These craters hold the materials necessary for building sustained human settlements on the moon. Accessing the materials inside lunar craters is no easy task. NASA seeks new ways of getting around the moon that do not rely on wheels. The agency's Breakthrough, Innovative, and Game-changing (BIG) Idea Challenge asks university teams to go beyond wheeled rovers and create new solutions to the problem of traversing lunar craters. A team of more than 30 Caltech undergraduates in the Division of Engineering and Applied Science is among seven 2022 BIG Idea finalists. [Caltech story]

Tags: GALCIT MCE Harry Atwater CMS Soon-Jo Chung Brit Wylie Luis Pabon Rithvik Musuku Kaila Coimbra Polina Verkhovodova Tyler Colenbrander Lucas Pabarcius Calle Junker Sravani Boggaram Matticus Brown Sean Chang Bobby Daigle Nico Jimenez-Lozano Alec Laprevotte Joshua Lee Moya Ly Amrita Mayavaram Robert Menezes Nathan Ng Dilichi Nwankwo Jedi Alindogan Diego Attra Sulekha Kishore Aramis Mendoza Winter Pearson Jules Penot Kemal Pulungan Purvi Sehgal Parul Singh Aiden Swann Malcolm Tisdale Tomas Wexler Brooklyn Williams Benjamin Zeng Isabella Zuniga

Maximilian Adang Awarded Matthew Isakowitz Fellowship

01-27-22

Undergraduate Maximilian Adang has been awarded the 2022 Matthew Isakowitz Fellowship. The highly selective program awards exceptional college juniors, seniors, and graduate students pursuing aerospace careers with paid internships at cutting-edge commercial space companies. [Class of 2022]

Tags: honors GALCIT MCE CMS Maximilian Adang

AIAA International Student Conference Winners

01-25-22

The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) announced the undergraduate, team, and graduate winners of the 2022 International Student Conference. Luis Pabon Madrid, Polina Verkhovodova, Malcom Tisdale, Isabella Dula, Kaila Coimbra, Tanmay Gupta, Leah Soldner, Rithvik Musuku, and Soon-Jo Chung, Bren Professor of Aerospace and Control and Dynamical Systems; Jet Propulsion Laboratory Research Scientist, received 1st place in the Team Category for "Design of a Modular and Orientable Electrodynamic Shield for Lunar Dust Mitigation." The International Student Conference is an invitation-only student conference where first-place winners from each of the previous year’s AIAA Regional Student Conferences present their winning papers. [AIAA story]

Tags: honors GALCIT MCE CMS Soon-Jo Chung Luis Pabon Madrid Rithvik Musuku Leah Soldner Tanmay Gupta Kaila Coimbra Isabella Dula Malcom Tisdale Polina Verkhovodova