MAE News

From left: IVC President Glenn Roquemore, UCI Provost and -Chancellor Howard Gillman, Chapman University President James Doti and Saddleback College President Tod Burnett. Oct 28, 2014
Team Orange County “Breaks” Ground for Casa del Sol

The sun smiled brightly on students, faculty, administrators, elected officials and industry supporters as they ceremoniously “broke” ground for the house named in its honor. Casa del Sol is the solar-powered house being designed by Team Orange County for entry in the 2015 U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon. The international competition will be held next October at the Orange County Great Park in Irvine.

Team OC is a collaborative venture among UC Irvine, Chapman University, Saddleback College and Irvine Valley College (IVC). The four academic institutions’ leaders were on hand as well as Irvine Mayor Steven Choi, Irvine Mayor Pro Tem Jeffrey Lalloway, CEO and President of FivePoint Communities Emile Haddad and Southern California Edison President Pedro Pizarro. Christina Shea, Irvine councilwoman and chair of the Orange County Great Park Board of Directors, served as master of ceremonies for the ground breaking event at IVC.

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Hellman Fellows Oct 22, 2014
Two UCI Engineers Named Hellman Fellows

Two Samueli School engineers – Anne Lemnitzer and Timothy Rupert -- have been selected as Hellman Fellows for 2014-15. The Hellman Fellows Program aims to support the research of promising assistant professors who show capacity for great distinction in their chosen fields of endeavor.

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From Left: Samueli School Dean Gregory Washington, Filippo Capolino, Ozdal Boyraz, Regina Ragan and Marc Madou Oct 14, 2014
UCI engineers develop prototype of low-cost, disposable lung Infection Detector

NSF grant supports their efforts to improve manufacturing process for nanodevices

 Imagine a low-cost, disposable breath analysis device that a person with cystic fibrosis could use at home along with a smartphone to immediately detect a lung infection, much like the device police use to gauge a driver’s blood alcohol level.

Timely knowledge of a lung infection would let people with CF or other inflammatory respiratory conditions seek immediate treatment and thereby prevent life-shortening permanent damage to their already vulnerable airways.

Thanks to a nearly $1.3 million grant from the National Science Foundation, UC Irvine engineers can continue developing this type of nanotechnology device – and potentially many others – using a more wide-scale manufacturing process.

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Nathan Cox, Rose Hills scholarship recipient Oct 3, 2014
Rose Hills Foundation Turns Dreams into Reality through Scholarship Support

$700,000 in scholarships to be awarded to 18 talented UCI undergraduates pursuing STEM degrees

UC Irvine has been awarded $700,000 from The Rose Hills Foundation to support students in science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) pursuits. Each year for the next four years, The Rose Hills Foundation Undergraduate Science & Engineering Scholarships will assist 18 high-achieving undergraduates. The students will meet with one another at regular intervals throughout the year to discuss their goals and share their experiences. 

“This exciting new partnership with The Rose Hills Foundation will ensure that some of our best and brightest STEM students reach their full potential,” said Chancellor Howard Gillman. “We are very grateful for this support and look forward to working with The Rose Hills Foundation to advance our shared goals.”

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St. Margaret's students with UC Irvine engineering professors Sep 17, 2014
St. Margaret’s High School Summer Internship Program Celebrates 10 Years at Samueli School

Seven high school students participated in this year’s St. Margaret’s Episcopal School Summer Internship Program at the Samueli School of Engineering. They presented their research projects to their parents, teachers and the engineering faculty and graduate students who mentored them at a recent event in the Harut Barsamian Colloquia Room, hosted by Samueli School Dean Gregory Washington.

2014 Saudia Arabia International Program Sep 11, 2014
Saudi Arabia International Program Continues to Improve in its Third Year

Saudi Arabia International Program students celebrated the conclusion of the 10-week accelerated session with a spirited Summer Symposium in the Harut Barsamian Colloquia Room. At the event, 13 international engineering students displayed their hard work with posters and oral presentations, while faculty, staff and guests toured the room and voted on their favorite project. 

Now in its third year, the Saudi Arabia International Program is a collaboration between Salman bin Abdulaziz University and the Samueli School of Engineering. Students are matched with engineering faculty whose special expertise aligns with their own interests and career goals. The curriculum encompasses fundamental knowledge and introduces tools and programs required to pursue an advanced career in technical areas related to their specialization.

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Douglas Thorpe ’82, Photo by Steve Zylius Sep 10, 2014
The king of drones
Douglas Thorpe ’82 has spent decades developing unmanned aerial vehicles for all kinds of uses

On an overcast morning in late May 1976, Douglas Thorpe ’82, then a UC Irvine freshman, was on his way to school when a small plane fell out of the sky. The single-engine Beechcraft Bonanza crashed in an empty field near campus, killing everyone on board. Thorpe was first on the scene, and what he saw changed his life.

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UCI Distinguished Professor Satya Atluri. Photo by Steve Zylius Sep 10, 2014
UCI Distinguished Professor Satya Atluri Recognized with AIAA Crichlow Trust Prize

The American Institute of Aeronautics & Astronautics (AIAA) announced in August that UCI Distinguished Professor Satya Atluri has been selected to receive the Walter J. and Angeline H. Crichlow Trust Prize, one of the AIAA’s most prestigious awards. Presented every four years, the prize recognizes an individual for a specific achievement or body of work that has become significant during the immediate past 15 years.

Peter J. Burke Sep 9, 2014
Awards Recognize Excellence in Teaching, Research and Innovation

Seven Samueli School faculty members earned 2014 recognition awards at last spring’s faculty meeting. Dean Gregory Washington initiated the annual awards to acknowledge the valued contributions of faculty.

The awards were given to one junior, mid-career and senior faculty member in each category of research excellence and teaching innovation, and one professor was selected as the Innovator of the Year. Here are the honorees, excerpted from the nomination forms.

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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. The list of highly cited scholars includes preeminent researchers in 21 fields of the sciences and social sciences who have demonstrated great influence in their field as measured by citations to their work. This list is based on papers published during the 11-year period 2002-2012. Researchers are selected not only for total citations but also for the number of highly cited papers contributed. When one researcher cites another’s work, he/she is acknowledging the relevance of that work to the current study. Fewer than one-half of one percent of all published researchers are included in the listing.

Satya Atluri, a Distinguished Professor in mechanical and aerospace engineering and director of the Center for Aerospace Research and Education, conducts groundbreaking mathematical work, including inventing the so-called “meshless method” that has aided the design of safer materials for aircraft. Throughout his career, his work has encompassed theoretical, applied and computational mechanics of solids and fluids; and structural longevity, failure prevention and health management. Atluri most recently received India’s Padma Bhushan award “for distinguished service of high order in the field of engineering and science.”

Syed Jafar, an associate professor in electrical engineering and computer science, analyzes the capacity of wireless communication networks. In addition to his earlier work on multiple antenna (MIMO) technology and cognitive radio, Jafar is best known for his seminal work on the idea known as interference alignment, in which he shows how a resource such as bandwidth in a network can be shared among competing users in such a manner that each user gets half of the total bandwidth free from interference from others. Jafar and his first year Ph.D. student Viveck Cadambe were among the youngest researchers ever to win the prestigious IEEE Information Theory Society Paper Award, and interference alignment has since been recognized as one of the "Top Topics" and as a "Fast Moving Research Front" by Sciencewatch in 2011.

Matt Law, an assistant professor of chemistry who holds a joint appointment in chemical engineering and materials science, develops new nanoscale and Earth-abundant materials for producing electricity and chemical fuels from sunlight. Law’s current research interests include quantum dot solar cells, the physics of metal sulfide semiconductors, and devices that split water into hydrogen and oxygen.

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.

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