MAE News

From left: Satya Atluri, Syed Jafar and Matt Law Jun 25, 2014
Three Engineering Faculty -- Satya Atluri, Syed Jafar and Matt Law -- Among Most Highly Cited Researchers

Three Samueli School engineering professors – Satya Atluri, Syed A. Jafar and Matt Law – have been recognized as among the world’s leading scientific minds, according to the 2014 Highly Cited Researchers list published by Thomson Reuters.

From left: Professor Scott Samuelsen, Fulbright Scholar Dustin McLarty, Associate Professor Jack Brouwer May 28, 2014
UCI Engineering Postdoc Receives Prestigious Fulbright

Dustin McLarty, a postdoctoral researcher at the Advanced Power and Energy Program, will take what he’s learned working on UCI’s micro-grid power supply to Italy, on a Fulbright scholarship.

Sponsored by the U.S. government, the Fulbright Program offers highly competitive, merit-based grants for students and young professionals to study, conduct research or exercise their talents abroad. Founded by United States Senator J. William Fulbright in 1946, the Fulbright today is the largest U.S. international exchange program. It currently awards approximately 1,900 grants annually in all fields of study and operates in more than 140 countries. It is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the U.S. and people of other countries.

“UCI has one of the most cutting edge micro-grids in the world,” says McLarty. “It provides the campus electricity, cooling and heating with close to 99 percent self-generated power, almost none of the energy is coming from Southern California Edison.”

A micro-grid is a similar but smaller version of the traditional power grid and consists of power generation, distribution and controls such as voltage regulation and switch gears. Micro-grids integrate renewable sources of energy such as solar, wind power, hydrology, geothermal, waste-to-energy, and combined heat and power systems. They can operate on their own or be connected to the traditional grid, and they have a closer proximity between the power generation and the power user. UCI’s micro-grid integrates solar, fuel cell, thermal and natural gas to serve the campus’s needs.

McLarty’s research has to do with leveling out the intermittencies involved with a grid that relies on renewable sources of energy. “We put all these new energy sources on the grid and they don’t behave like our old ones, so we have to come up with a mix of new technologies that can interface, store and deploy the renewables in a way that levels out the power supply.”

Professor Derek Dunn-Rankin builds music box tower May 16, 2014
UCI Engineers Make Music with Class Project

Who knew that making music would become essential to the mechanical engineering curriculum?

For six years now, all UCI mechanical engineering seniors have taken a required course that has them designing, building and testing a music box. Not your ordinary jewelry-storing, ballerina-twirling, dresser-adorning music box, but a geometrically shaped, painted, stackable module that, with the drop of a metal ball, plays two seconds of original music. When the boxes are placed on top of one another in a tall tower, they are designed to play as a round. The first year, the assigned song was “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.”

Professor Derek Dunn-Rankin came up with the idea. Students in his class often start by deconstructing a thermo-electro-mechanical device, a hair dryer for example, to see how it works. As they move on to the musical box stack project, students are grouped into teams of four or five and assigned a number. Teams receive a set of parts that are sufficient to build a minimally functioning music box – some plywood, dowels, a microprocessor, an amplifier, wires, a switch, a servomotor and a speaker – but they are free to modify or replace any of the parts to improve the box’s performance. Although each person in the group is responsible for one element of the device, the students must all work together to create a functioning music box. Typically, there is a structures person, a programmer, one who works on lighting and servos, and someone who creates the sound and mounts components. There is overlap, but everyone has a core responsibility.

Dunn-Rankin chose this challenge for three reasons. First, it’s cooperative rather than competitive. “All of the head-to-head design competitions are great for energy and enthusiasm, but they can mistakenly encourage secretive design rather than expansive design, and it is the latter that leads to high performance,” says Dunn Rankin, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department chair. “In this class, students are free, even encouraged, to learn best practices from their colleagues and to implement them.”

Xiaoqing Pan May 15, 2014
Prominent Materials Science Physicist to Join UCI Faculty

Xiaoqing Pan will oversee new $20 million research institute

Xiaoqing Pan, an internationally recognized researcher in the physics of materials, will join the UC Irvine faculty and lead a $20 million initiative to establish a world-class electron microscopy and materials science research facility.

The Irvine Materials Research Institute will help foster discovery of new properties in potentially lifesaving and technologically important materials through characterization - probing the internal structure of a material's atoms. The institute will serve as an interdisciplinary nexus for the study and development of these materials, enabling such advances as better solar cells, sustainable batteries and semiconductors, and treatments for bacterial and viral infections.

The transmission electron microscopes to be set up at the IMRI use beams of electrons instead of light waves to image a specimen with atomic resolution. This method produces a more detailed view at substantially greater magnification than with any optical microscope. UC Irvine researchers will utilize these microscopes to examine biological materials (such as microorganisms and cells), large molecules, medical biopsy samples, metals, minerals, ceramics and the characteristics of various surfaces.

"UC Irvine is making an investment of $20 million to develop cutting-edge capabilities in transmission electron microscopy," said Howard Gillman, provost and executive vice chancellor. "Bringing Professor Pan here to lead this institute is a real triumph for us in the materials science area. The research facility will establish our national prominence in this field and broadly benefit our programs in engineering, physical sciences, biological sciences and medicine."

"The electron microscopy initiative and the IMRI at UC Irvine will provide me with new tools and great opportunities for potential collaborations with the many researchers on campus," said Pan, a physicist. "I am grateful for the chance to help shape the university's future development through a combination of assisting students, developing departments, establishing the institute and moving forward in my own research."

National Science Foundation May 2, 2014
Seven Engineering Grad Students Earn NSF Research Fellowships

The National Science Foundation has granted seven UC Irvine engineering graduate students a research fellowship. The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines. 

"The School of Engineering is thrilled that such dedicated and talented students have chosen UCI for their graduate work - these awards recognize years of consistent and exceptional effort,” says Lee Swindlehurst, associate dean for research and graduate studies. “The number of awards the school received this year is a strong indicator of both the quality of our graduate student body and the hard work of our faculty in focused recruiting of top-tier domestic students."

Across campus, 37 students won fellowships this year, putting UCI ninth in the nation and tied for second within the University of California system for the prestigious awards. Here are the Samueli School’s 2014 fellowship awardees.

UCI's DBF team takes second in annual competition Apr 29, 2014
Anteater Engineers Place Second in 2014 Design/Build/Fly Contest

UC Irvine’s engineering students placed second at the 18th annual American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Foundation Design/Build/Fly (DBF) competition in Wichita, Kansas, in April. This is UCI’s third straight top-two finish.

“We were confident that we would achieve a great overall result, and the team did not disappoint. Each member of the team put an incredible amount of time and effort into this project. It was truly an amazing experience working with everyone,” says Lawrence Ng, a senior aerospace engineering student and UCI’s DBF project manager.

A partnership between the AIAA Foundation, Cessna Aircraft Company, and Raytheon Missile Systems, the annual DBF competition provides students an opportunity to design and build a radio-controlled aircraft to perform specific missions. Participants who complete a letter of intent and submit a report on time are invited to bring their plane to a central location for a fly off. Winners are determined by a combination of their report score and their flight mission score.

This year’s assignment was a simulation of a backcountry, rough field, bush plane with three missions: ground taxi over a rough field; maximum load; and a timed emergency medical mission (carrying two pretend patients and nurses). The competition was fierce, with 80 universities participating.  

Most of UCI’s 31-member team drove to Wichita for the competition. UCI’s report scored high, and the Anteaters entered the flight portion ranked third. UCI was neck and neck with USC; they had similar flight performances. It ultimately came down to the weight of the plane, and USC’s was around 1 pound lighter, giving it the edge to take first place. The score of each mission is divided by the plane’s weight when empty.

This project is designed to help patients with Parkinson's Disease Mar 31, 2014
97 Senior Projects Displayed at Winter Design Review

Engineering students proudly showed off their senior design projects at the 2014 Winter Design Review in mid-March. More than 500 students were involved in 97 projects.

Mary Nichols, chair of the California Air Resources Board, talks about "The California Opportunity." Mar 25, 2014
Symposium Gathers Leaders in Fuel Cell Technology

The National Fuel Cell Symposium in late February offered a meeting of the minds for researchers, policymakers and industry representatives – all important stakeholders -- in fuel cell technology.

“Finding cleaner, better, more effective ways to power ourselves around, and power the things we use every day is one of the most important challenges we face in the world today,” said UC Irvine Chancellor Michael V. Drake.

Hosted by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Fuel Cell Research Center (NFCRC) at UCI’s Samueli School, the symposium at the Beckman Center was attended by nearly 300 people. The day’s speakers expressed their excitement that the future had arrived for fuel cells.  

“Fuel cells are beginning to play a major role in the provision and generation of electrical power and in the next generation of automobiles,” said Scott Samuelsen, director, NFCRC, and Samueli School HORIBA professor emeritus.

“This symposium brings together leaders from academia, government and industry; it’s an unprecedented opportunity to not only share knowledge and network, but to organize around how to move forward,” said Gregory Washington, dean of the Samueli School.

Assistant Professor Kristen Davis judges the water filtration competition Mar 14, 2014
Samueli School Celebrates E-Week

Nearly 900 engineering students participated in E-Week 2014, organized by the Samueli School’s Engineering Student Council (ESC).  This year’s theme was “The Art of Engineering,” and all students who checked in received a Samueli School t-shirt. The celebration featured the Dean’s Pancake Breakfast, an Awards Banquet, 10 competitions, a BBQ and the annual softball game, pitting students against faculty. Students broke the professors’ long-running winning streak with a tie game. 

E-Week is an annual event aimed at increasing public awareness and appreciation for the engineering profession. Established in 1951 by the National Society of Professional Engineers, the weeklong celebration provides an avenue for students to demonstrate inventiveness and imagination through a variety of events.

“This week is intended to benefit the engineering students, and if they take advantage of the opportunity, they can get a lot out of it,” says Liz Brooks, ESC president. “The week is put on to celebrate engineering and acknowledge all of the hard work engineers do every single day. After participating in UCI’s E-Week since I was a freshman, I can say it is continuously improving every year.”

From left: Gregory Washington, Said Elghobashi, Derek Dunn-Rankin Feb 6, 2014
Said Elghobashi Elected to National Academy of Engineering

The celebratory events started early as colleagues gathered to congratulate Said Elghobashi on his election to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE). Election to the NAE is among the highest professional distinctions accorded to an engineer. Elghobashi is one of 67 new U.S. members and 11 new foreign associates announced today by the academy.

A professor in the Samueli School’s Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (MAE), Elghobashi has spent his career at UC Irvine. His research over the decades has involved challenging and important areas of fluid dynamics: turbulent flows, multiphase flows, and computational fluid dynamics (CFD). His leadership in each of these areas has been well recognized, and his early works have impacted the standard commercial CFD computer codes in the field. His more recent works are setting future trends.

“It’s a good feeling to know that your peers have read your work and then voted to bestow this honor,” says Elghobashi.  “I woke up this morning to about 50 emails from around the world.”

UCI Chancellor Michael Drake, Provost Howard Gillman and Samueli School Dean Gregory Washington were on hand at a morning event to recognize Elghobashi. The chancellor noted that this was a great and much deserved honor. “Very few people rise to the top of this list. The nomination is extraordinarily competitive,” he said. “Then to get through the ballot takes the acknowledgement from peers that your work is truly invaluable.”

“What I’m most proud of with this recognition is that Said is organic to UCI,” said Washington. “He exemplifies what this university is all about. He took a chance when coming here 35 years ago, and he is as much responsible for its success as any senior administrator.”

water jet cart testing Dec 20, 2013
Fall Design Review Showcases Senior Design Projects

Around 860 people attended the 2013 Fall Design Review, including students, faculty, staff, alumni and industry representatives.

clockwise from top left: Andrei Shkel, Syed Jafar, Nader Bagherzadeh, Franco De Flaviis Dec 17, 2013
Four Engineers Named IEEE Fellows

Four Samueli School of Engineering faculty members have been designated Fellows of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the world’s largest engineering society. Selected by the IEEE Board of Directors, Fellows are named in honor of a member’s outstanding record of accomplishments.

From the Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences Department, Professor Nader Bagherzadeh was recognized for his contributions to the design and analysis of coarse-grained reconfigurable processor architectures, Professor Franco De Flaviis for his contributions to reconfigurable antennas and tunable dielectrics for wireless communication systems, and Associate Professor Syed Jafar for his contributions to analyzing the capacity of wireless communication networks. From the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department, Professor Andrei Shkel was noted for his contributions to micro-machined gyroscopes.

Ida and William Melucci Nov 26, 2013
McDonnell Douglas Seamstress Funds UCI Graduate Fellowships in Engineering

Bequest Creates the Melucci Space Exploration & Technology Fellowship

Ida Melucci, a seamstress who worked for McDonnell Douglas and then Boeing, has left a bequest of $1.5 million to UC Irvine’s Samueli School of Engineering to create graduate fellowships.

“We are honored that Ida Melucci entrusted us with her gift to continue to support and enhance the education of graduate students working in space exploration and space technology,” says Gregory Washington, engineering school dean. “We have researchers working on the Rover guidance system for landing on Mars, on electric propulsion for space craft, as well as people looking at combustion and structures. This gift will be put to good use.”

The Meluccis were both long-standing and dedicated employees of the Huntington Beach aerospace company. The late William Melucci worked in sealing and bonding. Ida Melucci worked on space blankets for the Delta rocket, missile bags and insulation blankets for the Space Station, and slip covers for cargo boxes carrying high-tech space tools on the Endeavor space shuttle.

from left, Noe Rodriguez, Lineker Phuong, Loong Sang Yong, and Greg Tamashiro Nov 20, 2013
UCI engineering school gets grant from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Funding will support continued development of student-designed solar stove

The Samueli School of Engineering at UC Irvine will receive a $100,000 Grand Challenges Explorations grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for developing a solar stove that enables carbon emissions-free cooking.

The Grand Challenges Explorations initiative is intended to foster outside-the-box solutions to persistent global health and development issues. More than 80 grants were announced today by the Gates Foundation in the 11th round of funding.

The stored energy solar stove was initially designed by a group of senior mechanical engineering students at UC Irvine under the guidance of former research adviser John Garman. It permits carbon emissions-free cooking indoors and at night, which not only reduces deforestation, labor time and safety concerns for women who leave their villages to gather firewood, but also pollutes indoor air far less than the traditional in-home cooking methods currently employed in developing countries.

The students developed a working model that uses a solar collector to concentrate sunlight on an energy storage device, which consists of an insulated box filled with potassium nitrate and sodium nitrate. The salts are heated to their melting point by the solar radiation. Within three hours in the sun, the stove stores 0.5 kilowatt-hours of energy, which is released as the molten salt slowly resolidifies. This provides a stable heat source indoors or after sunset with a surface temperature well-suited to making foods such as bread and rice. The technology has gone through two design iterations and, with this grant, will be further refined by a new group of senior engineering students.

 

Adrian Ortega Nov 19, 2013
Balsells Fellowship Program Reaches Milestone: 100th Fellow

Like the 99 Catalans before him, Adrián Ortega Novillo left the northeast region of Spain behind to study engineering at UC Irvine. He is the 100th Balsells Fellow.

Jack Brouwer Oct 29, 2013
Austrian Delegation Visits UC Irvine’s NFCRC, Smart Grid Demonstration

The Austrian Ambassador to the U.S. visited UC Irvine during the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon in October.

An array of glassblown micro-cells used to derive the magnetic field gradient. Oct 10, 2013
NSF Recognizes Andrei Shkel with EAGER Award

Professor Andrei Shkel has received a $300,000 National Science Foundation EAGER (Early-concept Grants for Exploratory Research) Award.

Farghalli Mohamed with UCI Chancellor Michael Drake Oct 7, 2013
Well-Loved Professor Retires, Goes out with a Rhyme

Beloved engineering professor Farghalli A. Mohamed celebrated his retirement and 70th birthday in late September surrounded by colleagues, faculty, staff and friends.

Jairus Racelis Oct 1, 2013
On track for clean energy

UCI will host – and compete in – the California Challenge, which pits alternative-fuel race cars against each other

St. Margaret's High School Summer Internship Sep 20, 2013
St. Margaret’s High School Students Gain University-level Research Experience during Summer Internships at Samueli School

Six students participated in this year’s St. Margaret’s Episcopal High School Summer Internship Program at the Samueli School of Engineering,

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