News & Events


EAS Remembers Roddam Narasimha


Caltech Distinguished Alumnus, Roddam Narasimha, passed away on December 14, 2020, at the age of 87. Dr. Narasimha received his Ph.D. (1961) in Aeronautics from Caltech. He was a faculty member at the Indian Institute of Science, and more recently, the Year-of-Science Chair Professor at the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research. He was also a former director of the Indian National Aerospace Laboratories. Narasimha was a Clark B. Millikan Visiting Professor and a Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Scholar at Caltech. He made outstanding and wide-ranging scientific contributions in fluid mechanics and aerodynamics, and was internationally known for his research in turbulence with applications in geophysical fluid dynamics and atmospheric sciences. Narasimha was a foreign member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Sciences, and a fellow of the Royal Society. [Obituary]

Tags: EAS history alumni Roddam Narasimha

EAS Remembers Jakob van Zyl


Jakob van Zyl, Senior Faculty Associate in Electrical Engineering and Aerospace, passed away on August 26, 2020 at the age of 63. He came to Caltech in 1982 and received his M.S. and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering in 1983 and 1986, respectively. He joined JPL in 1986 and retired in 2019 as the Director of Solar System Exploration. He was world-renowned for his research in imaging radar polarimetry. He made pioneering contributions to the design and development of many synthetic aperture radar (SAR) systems, including SIR-C, SRTM, AIRSAR, TOPSAR, and GeoSAR. He held management roles at JPL including, Director for Astronomy and Physics (2006-2011), Associate Director of Project Formulation and Strategy (2011-2015), and Director of Solar System Exploration (2016-2019). He received many honors and awards, including an honorary doctorate from his alma mater, the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa in 2015 for his contributions to space missions, for being a good ambassador for Africa, and for inspiring young scientists and engineers in his home continent. Over the last two decades, he taught EE/Ae 157 Introduction to the Physics of Remote Sensing. He contributed in numerous ways to promote interactions between EAS and JPL.

Tags: EE GALCIT EAS history alumni Jakob van Zyl

Dr. Susan Wu 1932-2020: GALCIT’s First Female PhD


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.

Tags: GALCIT alumni

EAS Remembers Yuan-Cheng "Bert" Fung


Yuan-Cheng "Bert" Fung passed away on December 15th, 2019, at the age of 100. Dr. Fung received his Ph.D. (1948) in Aeronautics from Caltech and served on the GALCIT faculty until 1966. He then joined the faculty at the University of California, San Diego where he founded the Bioengineering program. He made ground-breaking contributions to our understanding of the mechanics of living tissues and is known as the father of Biomechanics. He was an elected member of all three branches of the National Academies: Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Dr. Fung received Caltech’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 1994. Among his many honors, he was awarded the National Medal of Science in 2000. [Full obituary, UCSD]

Tags: EAS history alumni Yuan-Cheng Fung

Best Student Paper Award at International Workshop


The paper "Distributed multi-target relative pose estimation for cooperative spacecraft swarm" co-authored by GALCIT students Kai Matsuka, Sorina Lupu, Yashwanth Kumar Nakka, and Rebecca Foust, as well as Professor Soon-Jo Chung and JPL Chief Technologist, Dr. Fred Hadaegh has won one of the two Best Student Paper awards at the 2019 International Workshop on Satellite Constellations and Formation Flying (IWSCFF). The paper presents a multi-agent localization algorithm architecture applied to a large-scale spacecraft swarm. The proposed algorithm is verified by simulation and robotic experiments using the air-bearing spacecraft simulators. The team also acknowledged the work of two Caltech undergraduate students Aaron Feldman and Jennifer Sun for their contribution to the robotic experiments. [Read the paper]

Tags: honors alumni Soon-Jo Chung student Fred Hadaegh Kai Matsuka Yashwanth Kumar Nakka Rebecca Foust Sorina Lupu

Student-Built Satellite Telescope Prepares for Space


After nearly a decade of work, a modular reconfigurable space telescope designed by students in the Ae 105 Aerospace Engineering class is nearly ready to launch. That telescope, which came to be known as AAReST (Autonomous Assembly of a Reconfigurable Space Telescope), was designed and built in large part by the students in the class, working in collaboration with the Surrey Space Centre in England and the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology. Professor Pellegrino says that the students working on AAReST have learned how to collaborate across continents and gained skills that will continue to serve them for years to come. In addition, he says, he's proud to have given several generations of aerospace students the opportunity to work on a real space mission. When the mission launches in 2019, dozens of past and present Caltech students—along with their collaborators nearby and abroad—will be watching and holding their breath to see whether their hard work pays off. [Caltech story]

Tags: GALCIT alumni Sergio Pellegrino AAReST

2018 Caltech Distinguished Alumni


Caltech has recognized three Engineering and Applied Science (EAS) graduates with the Distinguished Alumni Award, the highest honor regularly bestowed by the Institute. Gary Demos (BS '71, Engineering and Applied Science), Gary A. Flandro (MS '60, PhD '67, Aeronautics), and Ronald H. Willens (BS '53 Physics, MS '54 Mechanical Engineering, PhD '61 Engineering Science). Demos was recognized “for his pioneering achievement in the development of computer-generated images (CGI) for use in motion pictures, and in digital film scanning and recording.” Flandro was recognized for “his seminal contributions to the design and engineering of multi-outer-planet missions, including the Grand Tour, the course set for the epic explorations of the Voyager spacecraft.” Willens was honored for “his innovative and revolutionary contributions to advanced internet connectivity and telecommunications. He pioneered the Remote Authentication Dial-in User Service (RADIUS) as an access server authentication and accounting protocol, which was adapted by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) standards.” [Caltech story] [Techer article]

Tags: honors GALCIT MCE alumni Gary Demos Gary Flandro Ronald Willens

New App Replaces Ultrasound with Smartphone Camera to Measure Heart Health


Professor Morteza Gharib and colleagues including alumni Derek Rinderknecht (PhD '08), Niema Pahlevan (PhD '13), and Peyman Tavallali (PhD '14) and Caltech visitor in medical engineering Marianne Razavi have demonstrated that the camera on your smartphone can noninvasively provide detailed information about your heart's health. "In a surprisingly short period of time, we were able to move from invention to the collection of validating clinical data," says Professor Gharib. [Caltech story]

Tags: GALCIT MedE Morteza Gharib alumni Derek Rinderknecht Niema Pahlevan Peyman Tavallali Marianne Razavi

The Future is Autonomous


On April 19, 2017 Electrical Engineering alumnus Evangelos Simoudis (BS '83) moderated a panel titled "The Road Ahead: A Panel on the Future of Driverless Vehicles," hosted by the Caltech Associates. The panel members were Professors Mory Gharib, Richard Murray, and Pietro Perona, along with Reuters automotive industry reporter, Paul Lienert. They discuss a variety of opportunities and challenges associated with autonomous technologies and systems. Beyond the legal and ethical challenges, several technological obstacles must be overcome before driverless cars become common on the road. One key challenge is teaching driverless cars how to read the behavior of other cars and react accordingly. Professor Perona described the problem of a car attempting to merge onto a crowded freeway. A driverless car would see an impenetrable wall of vehicles, but a human driver could edge forward and wave at other drivers to work his or her way into the line of traffic. [Caltech story]

Tags: EE GALCIT CMS Morteza Gharib Pietro Perona alumni Richard Murray Evangelos Simoudis Paul Lienert

New President of the French Academy of Sciences


Alumnus Sébastien Candel (PhD '72) has been elected as president of the French Academy of Sciences (Académie des sciences, Institut de France). The Academy, which was created in 1666, is committed to the advancement of science and advises government authorities on scientific issues.  Candel obtained his PhD in mechanical engineering and applied mathematics from Caltech and is a receipient of the Caltech Distinguished Alumni Award for his contributions to aerospace. [Caltech story] [Candel's Marble Lecture]

Tags: GALCIT MCE CMS alumni Sébastien Candel