News & Events


Professor Ortiz Receives John von Neumann Medal


Michael Ortiz, Frank and Ora Lee Marble Professor of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering, is the recipient of the 2019 U.S. Association for Computational Mechanics (USACM) John von Neumann Medal "for pioneering and sustained contributions in developing computational methods to elucidate material behavior across length and time scales (atomistic to continuum), development of the quasi-continuum method, and authorship of highly cited articles." This is highest award given by USACM. It honors individuals who have made outstanding, sustained contributions in the field of computational mechanics generally over periods representing substantial portions of their professional careers. [List of award recipients]

Tags: honors GALCIT MCE Michael Ortiz

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

Professor Ortiz Receives Doctorate Honoris Causa from Polytechnic University of Madrid


Michael Ortiz, Frank and Ora Lee Marble Professor of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering, has received the highest academic distinction from the Polytechnic University of Madrid (UPM) in a ceremony chaired by its Rector, Guillermo Cisneros, accompanied by José Manuel Torralba, general director of Universities and Superior Artistic Teachings of the Community of Madrid. Professor Ortiz was recognized as one of the leaders in theoretical and computational solid mechanics. Rector Cisneros stated that the curriculum and life path of Professor Ortiz is "an example of what a true Master - teacher with capital letters - should achieve or at least maintain as a goal. " [elEconomista Coverage]

Tags: honors GALCIT MCE Michael Ortiz

Professor Gharib Constructs Leonardo da Vinci's Model of Flow


Leonardo da Vinci studied the motion of blood in the human body. He was interested in the heart’s passive, three-cusp aortic valve, which he realized must be operated by the motion of blood. He theorized that vortices curl back to fill the cusps in the flask-shaped constriction at the aorta’s neck. Morteza Gharib, Hans W. Liepmann Professor of Aeronautics and Bioinspired Engineering; Booth-Kresa Leadership Chair, Center for Autonomous Systems and Technologies; Director, Graduate Aerospace Laboratories; Director, Center for Autonomous Systems and Technologies, has used modern imaging techniques to demonstrate the existence of the revolving vortices that Leonardo interpreted as closing the valve. [Nature Article]

Tags: research highlights GALCIT MedE Morteza Gharib

David Huynh Receives 2019 Richard B. Chapman Memorial Award


David Huynh, a graduate student working with Professor Beverley McKeon, is a recipient of the 2019 Richard B. Chapman Memorial Award. His doctoral research investigates the interaction between a turbulent boundary layer and a compliant surface through experiments that employed a unique dynamic roughness forcing. The Richard B. Chapman Memorial Award is given to an EAS graduate student in hydrodynamics who has distinguished himself or herself in research.

Tags: honors GALCIT Beverley McKeon Richard B. Chapman Memorial Award David Huynh

"Neural Lander" Uses AI to Land Drones Smoothly


Professors Chung, Anandkumar, and Yue have teamed up to develop a system that uses a deep neural network to help autonomous drones "learn" how to land more safely and quickly, while gobbling up less power. The system they have created, dubbed the "Neural Lander," is a learning-based controller that tracks the position and speed of the drone, and modifies its landing trajectory and rotor speed accordingly to achieve the smoothest possible landing. The new system could prove crucial to projects currently under development at CAST, including an autonomous medical transport that could land in difficult-to-reach locations (such as a gridlocked traffic). "The importance of being able to land swiftly and smoothly when transporting an injured individual cannot be overstated," says Professor Gharib who is the director of CAST; and one of the lead researchers of the air ambulance project. [Caltech story]

Tags: research highlights Morteza Gharib Yisong Yue Soon-Jo Chung Animashree Anandkumar

Students Chart a Course to Enceladus


Where there is water, there may be life, which is why students participating in the 2019 Caltech Space Challenge were tasked with finding a way to probe Saturn's moon Enceladus. In March 2019, 32 graduate and undergraduate students from around the world met at Caltech, divided into two teams, and designed their best proposals to meet this year’s challenge, with a theoretical budget of $1 billion. "It was important to dream big for this project, but equally important to be practical," explained Caltech aerospace graduate student Fabien Royer who co-organized the event with graduate student Simon Toedtli. [Caltech story]

Tags: GALCIT Space Challenge Fabien Royer Simon Toedtli

Undergraduate Student Wins Matthew Isakowitz Fellowship


Junior undergraduate student Lewis Jones, 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 based in the United States. Lewis will be interning at Millennium Space Systems. At Caltech Lewis founded and is the current president of the rocketry club (Parsec) which is developing a methane-oxygen rocket. [2019 class of fellows]

Tags: honors GALCIT MCE Lewis Jones Matthew Isakowitz Fellowship

Professor Pellegrino Named Distinguished Visiting Professor At University of Colorado Boulder


Sergio Pellegrino, Joyce and Kent Kresa Professor of Aerospace and Civil Engineering; Jet Propulsion Laboratory Senior Research Scientist; Co-Director, Space-Based Solar Power Project, has been named the inaugural Michael M. Byram Distinguished Visiting Professor at University of Colorado (CU) Boulder’s Ann and H.J. Smead Aerospace Engineering Sciences Department. The professorship brings internationally-renowned external researchers for one or two semesters each year to CU to teach classes, host seminars, and collaborate with the faculty, further amplifying the research impact of the department. [CU Researchpalooza]

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Community College Students Thrive at Caltech


This summer, Maria Hernandez—a student at Santa Monica Community College—lived in Caltech student housing and spent her days in Professor Beverley McKeon's lab, building an autonomous submersible robot from scratch. This was the second summer in a row that Hernandez participated in a program through the nonprofit organization Base 11, which connects high-achieving, underrepresented students from community colleges throughout the country with top research institutions like Caltech. "This program gave me the inspiration to become an engineer," says Hernandez, now in her fourth year of college. "Throughout high school, I was always good at math, but I never really knew what engineering was. The closest thing to an engineer in the community I grew up in was a mechanic." [Caltech story] [ENGenious snap shot]

Tags: GALCIT Beverley McKeon teaching Maria Hernandez