MechE student ties school basketball record
The Piper

MechE sophomore R.J. Holmes, a forward on the CMU men’s basketball team, tied the 64-year-old school record for most points in a game when he scored 43 in a 103-102 overtime win at La Roche University on November 10. Holmes ended the night making 19-of-24 shots, including two-of-two from behind the three-point line. He also added a career-high 11 rebounds to record his first career double-double and added a career-best five assists. He was named the University Athletic Association Athlete of the Week and CMU’s Student-Athlete of the Week for his achievement.

Viswanathan mentioned on electric aircraft

MechE’s Venkat Viswanathan’s research on electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft was featured on BigThink.com. His recent study finds that battery-powered urban aircraft are well within the bounds of technological reality and could appear in everyday life surprisingly soon.

Michalek quoted on EV policy
Spectrum Local News

EPP/MechE’s Jeremy Michalek was quoted by Spectrum Local News about the bipartisan infrastructure bill’s effect on electric vehicles. Michalek said the biggest hurdles for electric vehicles are a lack of awareness and the cost. “Adopting an electric vehicle is a tough sell unless, and until, they can reliably get access to a convenient charger,” Michalek said.

Johnson interviewed on robotics
ASME Dynamic Systems & Control Division Podcast Series

MechE’s Aaron Johnson was interviewed by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers’ Dynamic Systems & Control Division Podcast Series about his work on legged robots. “This is a very exciting time in legged robots,” Johnson said. “There’s a legged robot market that didn’t exist before.”

Ozdoganlar quoted on vaccine patches

MechE’s Burak Ozdoganlar was quoted by Yahoo about needle-free vaccine technology. One advantage he describes: “Less amount of vaccine delivered precisely to skin can activate an immune response similar to intramuscular injection,” Ozdoganlar told AFP. It’s an important factor as the developing world struggles to procure enough Covid vaccine. This research was also covered in Business Insider


Zhang named SMA Fellow
Solid Modeling Association

MechE’s Jessica Zhang was named a Solid Modeling Association Fellow for her work in areas of solid modeling, which has broad applications in computational biomedicine, materials science and engineering. The SMA Fellow was introduced to recognize individuals with a distinguished record of research, accomplishment, and publication in areas of Solid Modeling and demonstrated support of the SMA through membership and participation in the Association, its meetings and activities. It was announced during the SIAM Virtual Conference on Geometric and Physical Modeling on September 27-29, 2021.

Michalek quoted on ride-hailing trips
Bloomberg CityLab

EPP/MechE’s Jeremy Michalek was quoted in Bloomberg CityLab on his recent study that evaluated the environmental impact of ride-hailing services. “Just by avoiding starting up your personal vehicle, you’re avoiding some air pollutants when you take a TNC trip,” said Michalek. “But that’s not enough to make up for all the driving to and from passengers that vehicle is doing.”


Michalek mentioned on climate cost of ride-sharing

EPP/MechE’s Jeremy Michalek’s new study that showed taking an Uber could be worse than taking a personal car was featured in Quartz. Trips in ride-share cars are more damaging to the climate, and impose a greater cost to society in terms of traffic congestion and public safety, than journeys in private vehicles, according to a new study from engineering and public policy researchers at Carnegie Mellon University. The main reason for the difference is deadheading, said Michalek. Marketplace, Gizmodo, and Tech Crunch also covered this research. 

Michalek interviewed on electric vehicles

MechE/EPP’s Jeremy Michalek was interviewed on NECN about adopting electric vehicles in US. President Biden’s infrastructure proposal calls for half of all cars to be electric by 2030, but Michalek says there are challenges to face before such a goal can be achieved. “There’s a bunch of obstacles,” Michalek said. “The infrastructure is a big deal.”

Viswanathan quoted on Tesla and batteries
IEEE Spectrum

MechE’s Venkat Viswanathan was quoted on IEEE Spectrum about Tesla’s progress with batteries for electric vehicles. “The Lucid Air is the first car to show range that’s not just competitive (with Tesla), but better, an astonishing achievement,” said Viswanathan. “It shows it’s no longer a one-horse race.”

Viswanathan quoted on fitness tracker battery improvements
The New York Times

MechE’s Venkat Viswanathan was quoted in The New York Times on improving batteries used in fitness trackers. Created by a California-based start-up, Sila, the battery claims to be more powerful, while holding the same battery life. “If this kind of thing gets into a smartphone or some other consumer device, it is a sign of real progress,” said Viswanathan. If it proves successful, Sila’s battery has the potential to improve electric cars, store electricity in power grids, and will help reduce dependence on nonrenewable resources.

Halilaj project making waves for biomedicine
Chan Zuckerberg Initiative

MechE’s Halilaj Eni’s project DeepGaitLab, funded by CZI Science, proposes to interface computer vision tools with an open-source biomechanical modeling software, facilitating the uptake of motion tracking lacking markers. Using computer vision algorithms in conjunction with motion tracking allows for cheaper, simpler substitute for systems used in research labs and specialized clinics. While current vision algoirithms fail to meet International Society of Biomechanics (ISB) standards, DeepGaitLab will combine two softwares, vision algorithms and biomechanical modeling, making it more accessible.

CMU and collaborators awarded NIH grant

In collaboration with CMU, UPMC, and the Mount Sinai Health System, Synchron received a $10 million National Institutes of Health grant to begin a trial of their brain-computer interface, reports FierceBiotech. This was also reported by BioSpace, Medical Device Network, and Mobi Health News.


Litster quoted on hydrogen-powered vehicles
Multiple sources

MechE’s Shawn Litster was quoted by AP News about the feasibility of hydrogen-powered vehicles as a step toward clean transportation. Transportation emissions are a major contributor to climate change, so clean-burning hydrogen is seen as a way forward for many vehicle manufacturers. “This is about the closest I’ve seen us get so far to that real turning point,” says Litster. One roadblock, however, is that existing hydrogen production burns fossil fuels, and therefore is not fully “clean.” More research into clean production methods such as electrolysis—releasing hydrogen and oxygen gases from water—will be required before it can be considered a truly clean energy source. This story was also shared by ABC News, Chicago Sun-Times, The Globe and Mail, and Fox Business.

Michalek quoted on electric vehicle charging stations
Multiple sources

EPP/MechE’s Jeremy Michalek was quoted in WIRED and MARKETPLACE about the need for publicly accessible electric vehicle (EV) charging stations. President Biden wants to increase the number of EVs in the coming years, and a trillion dollar infrastructure bill recently passed will make that goal easier to reach. However, to encourage widespread adoption, more publicly accessible charging stations will need to be built to allow travellers and residents who rely on street parking to keep their cars running. One solution could be installing high-speed charging stations at convenience stores along highways, much like how gas stations function today. “You plug into a high-speed charger. You go inside to use the restroom and grab a drink…and pretty quickly you’re on your way,” says Michalek. Collaboration between many different groups will be required in the coming years to see EV use take off.

McComb selected as the recipient of ASME award

MechE’s Chris McComb was selected by ASME to receive the DTM (Design Theory and Methodology) Young Investigator Award. His accomplishment was recognized at the IDETC-CIE 2021 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences & Computers and Information in Engineering Conference. The conference highlighted emerging technologies impacting critical engineering issues of product design, development, and manufacturing, as well as the management and integration of information systems throughout product life-cycles.

Presto quotes on masks for wildfire smoke
USA Today

MechE’s Albert Presto explains in USA Today that for wildfire smoke protection, much like protection against COVID-19, some masks outperform others.

CMU Engineering week on The Academic Minute
The Academic Minute

August 16 marks the beginning of Carnegie Mellon Engineering week on National Public Radio’s (NPR) The Academic Minute.

This podcast showcases academic researchers to inform listeners on how the amazing work that’s underway in the world’s universities and colleges is contributing to solving our toughest problems.

Each day next week, a different professor will discuss interesting facets of their research. The faculty lineup includes:

  • EPP’s Daniel Armanios: “Is systemic racism built into our cities?”
  • MechE’s Amir Barati Farimani: “Outsmarting a virus.”
  • BME’s Bin He: “Meditation for mind control.”
  • CEE/EPP’s Destenie Nock: “Electricity for all.”
  • ECE Head Larry Pillegi: “Securing the electric power grid from natural threats and adversaries.”

The Academic Minute airs in the U.S. northeast and is syndicated throughout North America and streamed on the web, including on Inside Higher Ed.

McGaughey selected for fellowship

Congratulations to MechE’s Alan McGaughey, who has been selected to receive the 2021 Viskanta Fellowship from Purdue University. The fellowship seeks individuals with “demonstrated abilities to perform independent and innovative research in the field of thermal sciences through peer‐reviewed publications and patents.” McGaughey will have the opportunity to visit Purdue’s campus to meet with faculty and students, present a special lecture, and give a short course.

Viswanathan interviewed on the future of battery technology

MechE’s Venkat Viswanathan was interviewed by Bloomberg about his research in battery technology and the field’s potential for the future. The main components of batteries will need to see some major changes and upgrades in order to allow electrification of vehicles like long-haul trucks and aircraft. Tools such as machine learning might reduce the time to get there, however. “With good statistical practices, plus some simple machine learning, we can eliminate 90% of the experiments done today,” he says. “The cost saving is easy. The harder question is time.”

Ozdoganlar’s microneedle array research featured in webinar
National Academy of Engineering

MechE’s Burak Ozdoganlar was featured as a webinar speaker and round-table discussion panelist hosted by the National Academy of Engineering (NAE). The webinar, posted to YouTube, was titled, “Engineering Innovations Empowering Recovery from the Pandemic,” and featured speakers from the UK Royal Academy of Engineering and the Chinese Academy of Engineering. Ozdoganlar spoke on behalf of the American NAE about his hybrid microneedle array vaccine delivery system, consisting of a series of tiny needles on a plastic patch. The device has the potential to deliver a vaccine then dissolve into the skin, without the need for a hypodermic needle.

MechE researcher quoted on Tesla’s batteries
The Electric

MechE researcher Hongyi Lin was mentioned in The Electric about a recent update to Tesla’s battery technology. The company had announced a new type of cylindrical battery in September of 2020 that has been proving to be difficult to develop for a variety of reasons. Lin proposed that one of the issues might be related to the size of the new battery’s electrodes. Large and thick batteries require greater pressure during a process known as “calendering” to make the particulate coating flat and smooth. When using Tesla’s combination of metal, “the result is a battlefield of crushed and fractured particles,” he explained. Tesla has quite a bit of engineering and scientific work to do before the battery will see much use in any of its electric vehicles.

Michalek articles referenced in interview

Two studies by MechE/EPP’s Jeremy Michalek were featured in Spectrum, addressing the carbon impact of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and his calculations that plug-in hybrids with large batteries may never save consumers money. The interview referenced Michalek’s advice to consumers as being “buy small, charge often.” While the interviewee disagreed, Michalek’s study examined “variations in cell cost and state-of-charge range (the amount of a pack’s total energy capacity used, which is generally maintained within limits—30 percent to 80 percent for example—to avoid overstressing the battery), but not at the combination of those changes.”


Whitefoot quoted on electronic vehicle demand
The Dispatch

EPP/MechE’s Kate Whitefoot was quoted in The Dispatch on electronic vehicles (EV). As technology advances and EVs become more available, supply and demand for the industry have been called into question. Whitefoot posed, “if a new technology comes along and I don’t have experience with that technology, and I don’t know other people that have an electric vehicle, I might be more hesitant to purchase an electric vehicle for all types of reasons, right?” She continued, “as others adopt them, and I see them driving them and maybe I get more experience myself driving an EV, then I can sort of understand it more and feel more comfortable with it, and that increases my chances of considering purchasing an EV the next time I go to buy a vehicle.”

2021 Engineering faculty award winners selected

Congratulations to the 2021 College of Engineering Faculty Awards winners.

  • Vincent Sokalski, MSE, >Philip L. Dowd Fellowship
  • Chrysanthos Gounaris, ChemE, Steven J. Fenves Award for Systems Research
  • Aaron Johnson, MechE and Zachary Ulissi, ChemE, George Tallman Ladd Research Award recipients
  • Shawn Blanton, ECE, Outstanding Mentoring Award recipient
  • Edward Rubin, EPP and MechE, David P. Casasent Outstanding Research Award recipient
  • Jonathan Cagan, MechE, Outstanding Service Award recipient
  • Elizabeth Holm, MSE, Benjamin Richard Teare Teaching Award recipient

Ozdoganlar novel microneedle technology featured
Medical Plastics News

A research project lead by MechE’s Burak Ozdoganlar was featured in Medical Plastics News, explaining how 3D printing microneedles could radically change world’s response to vaccine distribution for the coronavirus. It uses a low‑dose, inexpensive hybrid microneedle array technology, involving hundreds of tiny needles issued on a small patch of skin, that can quickly dissolve and deliver the vaccine. The new method stands to simplify current storage and distribution methods, decreasing both local and worldwide shortages. However, due to the needles’ microscopic size, micro 3D printing will be necessary to correctly manufacture the design of the product.

Swartz Center awards fellowship to two engineering students

The Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship has awarded 2021-2022 Innovation Commercialization Fellowships to two engineering students. The program is year-long and fellows pursue their startup idea through dedicated workshops and intensive mentoring. They are also awarded $50k for funding their research. The recipients are MSE Ph.D. candidate Megan DeBari and MechE Ph.D. candidate Matthew Guttenberg.

Viswanathan quoted on electric trucks
MIT Technology Review

MechE’s Venkat Viswanathan was quoted in the MIT Technology Review on the feasibility of electric heavy-duty trucks. Electrifying short-haul trucks is becoming more of a possibility, especially with incentives from state governments. However, long-haul electric trucks will be unable to compete with traditional diesel vehicles until their batteries become cheaper and lighter. In addition, the electric infrastructure may not be ready for fleets of trucks all charging at once. “A few of these trucks coming and charging would be like the entire power load of a small town,” he says.

Kumar and Majidi’s research on fabric-friendly sensors featured

ECE’s Swarun Kumar and MechE’s Carmel Majidi have had their research on fabric-friendly sensors featured in I-Connect007 and MirageDeveloped in the Laboratory for Emerging Wireless Technologies, TextileSense has the potential to bring near-field communication to the next level. Kumar explains, “We achieved this by using multiple flexible NFC coil antennas embedded in ordinary and irregularly shaped surfaces, like furniture and carpets, that we interact with in smart environments.” Their findings were presented at the ACM/IEEE Conference on Information Processing in Sensor Networks (IPSN).

Presto presents at forum on air quality
Pittsburgh Works Together

MechE’s Albert Presto presented with the Allegheny County Council Committee on Sustainability and Green Initiatives. Presto spoke in a forum about information on how independent, low-cost monitoring can reveal insights over more fine-grained neighborhood-level geographies about air quality.

Roldan recognized as a 2021 HSF Scholar

MechE Ph.D. student D. Sebastian Arias Roldan was recognized as a 2021 Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF) Scholar. He is developing a nano-scale DNA strain sensor capable of measuring sub-nanometer displacements as a member of the research team in Rebecca Taylor’s Microsystems and Mechanobiology Lab. HSF empowers students and parents with the knowledge and resources to successfully complete a higher education, while providing support services and scholarships to as many exceptional students, HSF Scholars, and alumni as possible.

Michalek selected to serve on NASEM committee
The National Academies of Science, Engineering, Medicine

EPP/MechE’s Jeremy Michalek has been selected by The National Academies of Sciences Engineering and Medicine to serve on the committee working on current methods for life cycle analyses of low-carbon transportation fuels in the United States. The committee is responsible for creating a methodological assessment, aiming to develop a reliable and coherent approach for applying life cycle assessment to low carbon fuel standards, such as greenhouse gases.


McComb selected to lead new research team
Construction Industry Institutue

MechE’s Chris McComb has been selected as the principal investigator for a new research team led by the Construction Industry Institute (CII). The team will find opportunities for machine learning, artificial intelligence, and data analytics in advanced work packaging: a planning and collaboration system used on large-scale capital projects.

Robinson op-ed on methane regulation published
Pennsylvania Capital-Star

MechE Head Allen Robinson published an opinion piece in the Pennsylvania Capital-Star on closing loopholes when regulating methane emissions. Methane is the primary component of natural gas, but it also contributes to climate change as a greenhouse gas. Leaks or intentional venting of methane by oil and gas operations presents a serious environmental concern. Methane regulation is coming, but a loophole may allow large oil and gas companies to exempt themselves from it. “Closing the loophole in Pennsylvania’s draft methane rule is critical to addressing the climate crisis,” Robinson writes. “The science is clear, the need to act pressing.”

CACES air pollution mapping model used to study Bitcoin’s carbon footprint
Popular Science

The air pollution mapping model developed by the CMU Center for Air, Climate, and Energy Solutions was recently used in a study determining Bitcoin’s carbon footprint. It measured the air pollution generated in surrounding communities by mining camps, and found that for every dollar made, 49 cents worth of damages are caused. This is due in part to the United States’ electricity supply being made up of only 20% renewable energy, leaving little to go around, therefore leading to an increased use of fossil-fuels to fill the gaps.

Michalek interviewed on electric vehicle market

EPP/MechE’s Jeremey Michalek was interviewed in WBUR on the electric vehicle market. After President Biden went for a ride in Ford’s new electric F-150, automakers are now considering if this is the end of the line for cars that run on gasoline. When asked about the market for electric cars, Michalek told WBUR, “the growth has been exponential. I think last year was about 2% of all vehicles in the United States. But for cars specifically, it was more like 5% to 7%. And so, trucks and SUVs are playing catch up. There is enormous growth.” He attributes this growth to the dropping cost of batteries and public policies requiring some level of clean power.

Zhang delivers keynote at ICCS

MechE’s Jessica Zhang was invited to deliver a virtual keynote lecture in The International Conference on Computational Science on June 16, 2021. She presented her latest research on material transport simulation in complex neurite networks using isogeometric analysis and machine learning techniques.

Michalek op-ed on electric vehicles published

EPP/MechE’s Jeremy Michalek published an opinion piece in MarketWatch on electric vehicles (EVs). While battery prices have been driven down in recent years, that trend may not continue without a big, new breakthrough beyond existing technologies. Additionally, without large-scale infrastructure changes to allow more consumers to own electric vehicles, it will be difficult to move them into the mainstream. “We should remain skeptical about predictions of EV adoption if they are just based on past trends,” says Michalek, “We do well to remember that past performance is no guarantee of future results.”

MechE professors recognized as Impact Scholars

MechE’s Burak Kara and Conrad Tucker have been recognized as Impact Scholars and awarded $10,000 as part of Google’s AI for Social Good program. In conjunction with the Centre for Chronic Disease Control, India, their project aims to use machine learning and artificial intelligence to improve screening for oral cancers, especially in low- and middle-income countries.

Barati Farimani quoted on predictive drone swarms

MechE’s Amir Barati Farimani was quoted in WIRED about predictively-controlled drone swarms. A researcher at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne implemented a “predictive” algorithm that allowed a swarm of drones to adjust their trajectory based on how they expect neighboring drones to move, rather than merely reacting to them. The swarm successfully navigated through a fake forest without any collisions. However, the drones did need to rely on a computer to run the algorithm for them, which represents an area of improvement. “If you want to fully deploy these things, we should really cut the need for communication with a central hub or computer,” Barati Farimani says. “This is one step toward that goal.”

Viswanathan quoted on electric vehicles and batteries
TIME for Kids

MechE’s Venkat Viswanathan was quoted in TIME for Kids on the future of electric vehicles and batteries. Electric cars are a favorable advancement when it comes to reducing carbon emissions, and many countries and companies are taking note of this fact. As prices come down and the number of charging stations increase, it’s projected that the number of electric vehicles on the road will increase as well. “It is now abundantly clear that electric is the future,” says Viswananthan. “Your entire life will run on batteries. It will be a totally new world.”

Michalek quoted on EV battery swapping
IEEE Spectrum

MechE/EPP’s Jeremy Michalek was quoted in IEEE Spectrum on the swapping of electronic vehicle batteries. The concept of swapping out a drained battery for a new one rather than charging is a thing of the past: and for good reason. “Since batteries are so expensive, bulky and resource-intensive,” Michalek says, “creating vast networks of swappable packs—which must be stored, kept charged and maintained—would be a waste of money and resources, while expanding carbon footprints.”

Cagan and Taylor’s research on DNA origami featured
Florida News Times

MechE’s Jonathan Cagan and Rebecca Taylor’s research was featured in Florida News Times. It centers around DNA origami, the method of folding DNA strands into nano-sized shapes. “There are more efficient and powerful ways to design these structures,” remarks Taylor. “The lack of automated functionality to generate multi-layer DNA origami was a major kind of need in the field.” In response to this need, MechE Ph.D. student Tito Babatunde has used their combined expertise to propose a new method for the generation and optimization of origami nanostructure design. “There is a truly interdisciplinary approach here,” said Cagan, who pioneered the shape annealing used to design complex structures. “We took two separate fields and found that they overlap to provide something that is truly unique and can be enhanced.”

Viswanathan quoted on new invention
The Academic Times

MechE’s Venkat Viswanathan was quoted in The Academic Times on researcher’s new invention, INCEPTS. The model considers the effect of environmental factors on the energy levels of electronic cars and aircrafts, and would be used to enhance the charging grid by determining the best areas to place charging stations. “The way chargers are being placed right now is pretty much ad-hoc,” said Viswanathan, “there’s no grid system or formalized way to do it, for the most part.” He believes that the tool will help people developing EV infrastructure determine the best placement for chargers, improving the grid and increasing the likelihood of consumers making the switch to electronic vehicles.

Presto study on asthma exacerbation featured by UPMC

MechE’s Albert Presto co-authored a study on asthma exacerbation following a fire at the Clairton Coke Works that destroyed their pollution controls. UPMC reports that the research, published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, found that 80% of participants living within a 10-mile radius of the facility had an increased risk of worsened asthma symptoms.

Johnson’s research on aerodynamic robotic tails featured
IEEE Spectrum

MechE’s Aaron Johnson’s robotics research was featured in IEEE Spectrum. Investigating the steering quality associated with cheetah tails, he examined their aerodynamic drag and how implementing lightweight tails could help robots complete their tasks more successfully. However, instead of the fluffy tail featured on the wild cats, their robotic companions are receiving tails made of carbon fiber and polyethylene film. “We experimented with a whole array of furry tails to mimic cheetah fur, but found that the half cylinder shape had by far the most drag,” said Joe Norby, a MechE Ph.D. student working with Johnson on the project.


Viswanathan quoted on eVTOL batteries

MechE’s Venkat Viswanathan was quoted in eVTOL on the “AND” problem of Lililium’s eVTOL batteries. “The various metrics taken separately appear feasible with near-term commercially available lithium-ion batteries, but the challenge will be to deliver all of these requirements simultaneously,” said Viswanathan. In an email, he continued, “given [Lilium’s] higher specific energy requirements, going with a silicon-dominant anode certainly makes sense. However, current silicon-dominant anodes typically cannot meet the extremely large power requirements for the Lilium Jet. Thus, being able to deliver the power density at low state of charge, i.e. landing segment is likely to determine end-of-life, not fade to 80 percent capacity.”

MechE student receives 2021 Gelfand Student Service Award

MechE Ph.D. student Saul Schaffer received the 2021 Gelfand Student Service Award. He is celebrated for his outreach work, designing “It’s Alive! The Science Behind Making Living Robots,” a workshop for middle school students, as well as being on the coordinating committee for the Road to Research Meet the Researcher series, also for middle school students.

Leduc elected Fellow of IAMBE

MechE’s Philip Leduc has been nominated and elected for Fellowship by the International Academy of Medical and Biological Engineering (IAMBE). The honor recognizes Leduc’s “outstanding contributions to the field of cell and molecular biomechanics and bioengineering, to the bioengineering professional societies, and for advising underrepresented minorities” at an international level.

Sripad interviewed about electric aviation
Cell Siders

MechE Ph.D. Shashank Sripad was interviewed by the Cell Siders podcast about research on electric aviation. He discussed his work on electric aviation and lithium-ion batteries for EVTOL applications. Sripad also explained the benefits of electric propulsion for aircraft and what companies are doing to develop new battery technologies.

Viswanathan quoted on batteries

MechE’s Venkat Viswanathan was quoted by WHYY on batteries for electric vehicles. He said that new battery technology needs to meet high standards: “For any given market, there (are) a bunch of metrics that you have to satisfy, and the moment you fail on any one of them, you don’t have a product.”

Rubin co-authors paper on low-carbon tech
National Energy Technology Laboratory

EPP/MechE’s Ed Rubin and NETL researchers have co-authored a newly released white paper providing comprehensive guidelines for the costing of carbon capture and storage (CCS) and other low-carbon technologies that are crucial to combating climate change. “Better understanding of the current and future costs of these technologies is essential to guide policy choices and research activities aimed at controlling greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and industrial sources, which are major contributors to climate change,” Rubin explains.

Presto’s research on air quality featured
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center

MechE’s Albert Presto’s research on air quality and asthma was featured by UPMC. The study, in which Presto was a co-author, found that asthma exacerbations rose following a catastrophic Christmas Eve fire two years ago that destroyed pollution controls at the Clairton Coke Works. This story was published by News Wise.

Majidi’s writing on soft robotics featured
Science Daily

MechE’s Carmel Majidi was an author on a viewpoint on soft robotics reported on by Science Daily. The researchers argue, “for soft robotics to become a thriving, impactful field in the next decade, every study must make a meaningful contribution.”

Senior Alyssa Brown wins CMWA scholarship
Carnegie Mellon Women's Association

The Carnegie Mellon Women’s Association has awarded a 2021 scholarship to MechE/BME senior Alyssa Brown for her academic accomplishments and commitment to service and leadership.“My time at CMU has been a period of intense personal growth and has ignited my passion for mentoring and advocacy,” Brown said. “I want to work in the medical device industry to make a difference in the lives of patients and to break down barriers for young women to enter the world of STEM.”

Engineering faculty receives CBI funding
Carnegie Bosch Institute

Several College of Engineering faculty have received Carnegie Bosch Institute project funding. Projects were chosen for research at the intersection of modern data-driven AI and classical scientific or engineering approaches. Funded projects include: 

  • CEE’s Burcu Akinci is the Co-PI on her project, “Hybrid 2D-to-3D Localization in Changing Environments.”
  • EPP’s Alex Davis and MechE’s Satbir Singh are working on a project called “Using out-of-sample regularization of physics-informed neural networks to speed up computational fluid dynamics.”
  • ECE’s Gauri Joshi is the PI on her project, “Scheduling and Queueing Algorithms for Resource-sharing in Federated Learning.”
  • MechE’s Ding Zhao and Conrad Tucker and CyLab’s Eunsuk Kang received funding for their project titled “Safe reinforcement learning integrating physic laws, control theories, and formal methods.”
  •  Gerald Wang is the PI on his project called “Materials Innovation for Sustainably Degradable Plastic Films.”

Zhao quoted on AI

MechE’s Ding Zhao was quoted on WIRED on AI reinforcement learning, which is being used by BMW to make production more efficient. Reinforcement learning involves an algorithm experimenting and learning, from positive feedback, how to achieve a specific goal. “This is definitely the way to go,” says Zhao, who focuses on AI and digital simulations.


Five engineering students named Innovation Scholars
CMU Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship

Five engineering students were named 2023 Innovation Scholars by CMU’s Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship. The Innovation Scholars program fosters innovation and entrepreneurship and seeks to increase the number of successful startup companies initiated by or involving Carnegie Mellon University’s undergraduate students.

Avika Bansal is double majoring in Chemical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering. She is also pursuing minors in business administration and innovation and entrepreneurship. Bansal has been a nationally ranked fencer for 10 years, and is the founder of TurnPRO, a mobile app to improve analysis of performance for fencers at all levels. 

Miguel Brandao is an aspiring engineer and robotics entrepreneur graduating in 2023. He is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering paired with a minor in innovation and entrepreneurship. This upcoming summer, Brandao plans to work in Carnegie Mellon’s Interactive Structures Lab, as well as start a company related to his research.

Becky Button is a sophomore studying electrical and computer engineering. She developed an open-source myo electric prosthetic that was much cheaper than existing open source solutions at the time.

Haoyang (Tiger) He studies electrical and computer engineering, with intended minors in robotics and machine learning. His entrepreneurial journey began in high school, where he founded a project focusing on programming education.

Audrey Young is studying mechanical engineering and biomedical engineering and is passionate about sharing knowledge and finding creative solutions to problems that our society faces. Her most recent project is an international tutoring business that she started in May 2020. Through this business, she is working to provide academic support for students regardless of socioeconomic status by working with other current university and high school students.

Zhao’s AI research funded by Rolls-Royce
Purdue University

MechE’s Ding Zhao is working with researchers from Purdue University on a project focused on the integration of artificial intelligence with classical theories for intrusion detection in resource-limited embedded systems. This is funded through a new center supported by Rolls-Royce.

Presto’s research on pollution mentioned
The New York Times

MechE’s Albert Presto and former Ph.D. student Rishabh Shah’s research on pollution inequality was mentioned in The New York Times. One surprising source of pollution that disproportionately affects communities of color, though a smaller source of emissions over all, were restaurants. Presto and Shah found that emissions from commercial kitchens—mostly from their use of cooking oils—were a surprisingly large fraction of particulate air pollution in those cities. More people of color tended to live nearby, and so were more exposed.

Johnson’s robot research featured
Inceptive Mind

MechE’s Aaron Johnson’s robotic research was featured on Inceptive Mind. Johnson and his team looked to nature to find effective ways to add tails to robots.

MechE alumnus awarded fellowship
CMU Mechanical Engineering

MechE alumnus Brian Chang (’13, ’14) earned the prestigious Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans. This program invests in the graduate education of immigrants and children of immigrants who are poised to make significant contributions to U.S. society, culture, or their academic field. As a medical student in the Harvard-MIT Program in Health Sciences and Technology, Chang will receive up to $90,000 in financial support over two years.

Weber’s research video featured
IEEE Spectrum

MechE’s Doug Weber’s faculty research video was featured by IEEE Spectrum’s “Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos.” In the video, Weber discusses his group’s research on harnessing the nervous system's ability to control not only our bodies, but the machines and prostheses that can enhance our bodies, especially for those with disabilities.

Viswanathan quoted on sustainable aviation

MechE’s Venkat Viswanathan was quoted in Bloomberg on France’s push to make aviation more sustainable. A French initiative to ban commercial air travel on some domestic routes could prove to be an example for other countries seeking to make flying cleaner. “This policy really has the potential to accelerate all sustainable aviation options,” said Viswanathan. “Among them it could really push electric aviation forward.”

Zhao quoted on simulations

MechE’s Ding Zhao was quoted in WIRED about using simulations for industrial applications. There’s growing interest in using AI to control robots and other industrial machines. This often uses an AI approach called reinforcement learning, which involves an algorithm experimenting and learning, from positive feedback, how to achieve a specific goal. “This is definitely the way to go,” says Zhao. He says simulations are crucial to using AI for industrial applications. “Machine learning is data-hungry, and collecting it in the real world is expensive and risky,” he says.

Michalek quoted on electric vehicles
The New York Times

EPP/MechE’s Jeremy Michalek was quoted in The New York Times on electric vehicles and their environmental impact. “Coal tends to be the critical factor,” said Michalek. “If you’ve got electric cars in Pittsburgh that are being plugged in at night and leading nearby coal plants to burn more coal to charge them, then the climate benefits won’t be as great, and you can even get more air pollution.”

Majidi quoted on soft machines
New Atlas

MechE’s Carmel Majidi was quoted on New Atlas about a novel conductive hydrogel. The work was also featured on Tech Crunch. “With its high electrical conductivity and high compliance or ‘squishiness,’ this new composite can have many applications in bioelectronics and beyond,” says Majidi. “Examples include a sticker for the brain that has sensors for signal processing, a wearable energy generation device to power electronics, and stretchable displays.”

Sullivan’s research on wildfires featured
National Science Foundation

MechE/Chemistry’s Ryan Sullivan’s research on wildfires and cloud formation was featured on the National Science Foundation’s The Discovery Files radio feature. The team wanted to find out if the smoke particles’ chemical aging process during their lengthy travel through the earth's atmosphere would alter their effects on clouds. The Discovery Files is distributed nationally by the CBS Radio Network and runs on other radio stations across the country.

Engineering students in CMU newsletter
The Piper

MechE students Alexis Sudjianto and Summer Faille were mentioned in The Piper newsletter for their athletic achievements. Sophomore Alexis Sudjianto recorded the women’s golf program’s first hole-in-one, and junior Summer Faille was named the University Athletic Association Softball Player of the Week.


Engineering faculty awarded professorships

CMU’s College of Engineering awarded professorship titles to seven faculty in February and March 2021.

  • EPP Department Head Peter Adams was named the Thomas Lord Professorship in Engineering
  • MSE Department Head Elizabeth Dickey was named the Wilton and Teddy Hawkins Distinguished Professorship
  • ECE’s Carlee Joe-Wong was named the Robert E. Doherty Career Development Professor in Engineering
  • ECE’s Pulkit Grover was named the Angel Jordan Career Development Professorship in Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • MechE’s Alan McGaughey was named Trustee Professorship in Engineering
  • MechE’s Rahul Panat was named the Russell V. Trader Career Development Professorship in Mechanical Engineering
  • MechE’s Douglas Weber was named the Akhtar and Bhutta Professorship in Mechanical Engineering

Whitefoot reports on fuel economy
National Academies

MechE/EPP’s Katie Whitefoot will be speaking about improving the fuel economy of light-duty vehicles for the National Academies committee she serves on. Their report, on which Whitefoot is an author, will be released on March 31. At the request of Congress and the Department of Transportation, the report provides cost and effectiveness estimates for future fuel efficiency technologies and discusses how the current Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards should be updated to reflect new technical, economic, and policy developments.


MechE alumni and current students earned accolades through the National Science Foundation (NSF)'s Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP). The NSF GRFP recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported STEM disciplines who are pursuing research-based master's and doctoral degrees at accredited US institutions. Those recognized include: Charlotte Andreasen, Bolutito Babatunde, Morgan Chen, Matthew Kubala, Regan Kubicek, Saul Schaffer, Guadalupe Quirarte, James Zhang, and James Zhu

Ph.D. students featured in newsletter
The National GEM Consortium

MechE Ph.D. students Wendy Flores-Brito and Frank Andújar Lugo were featured in the National GEM Consortium’s newsletter. Flores-Brito is a first year Ph.D. student in Ryan Sullivan’s lab investigating laser homogenization for signal improvement of laser desorption/ionization single particle mass spectrometry. Lugo, a 2020 MechE/EPP alumnus, is a first year Ph.D. student at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign where he is exploring how smart control strategies can help inform the installation and operation of thermal storage in district and distributed heating and cooling networks.

Zhang named editor-in-chief of Engineering with Computers
Engineering with Computers

MechE’s Jessica Zhang was named editor-in-chief of Engineering with Computers, an international journal for simulation-based engineering. As the new editor-in-chief, Zhang will emphasize and promote novel cutting-edge research and algorithm-based software development.


Robinson interviewed on Shared Air
Shared Air

MechE Head Allen Robinson was a guest on Shared Air, a podcast created by MechE’s Albert Presto and Rose Eilenberg. The episode, named “Shale gas, revisited,” explores hydraulic fracking, methane leakage, aging infrastructure, air quality, and more.

Engineering faculty quoted on climate policy
Carnegie Mellon University

President Joe Biden signaled that climate change is a national priority. Faculty were asked: what are the most critical issues that need to be addressed in the next four years?

  • ChemE/EPP’s Neil Donahue talked about carbon dioxide and particle pollution.
  • EPP’s Valerie Karplus talked about moving away from fossil fuels.
  • CEE/EPP’s Destenie Nock talked about the coronavirus pandemic and climate change.
  • CEE/EPP’s Costa Samaras talked about bold changes to tackle climate change.
  • MechE’s Ryan Sullivan talked about climate change and fossil fuels.
  • Scott Institute’s Anna Siefken talked about the advancement of new technologies.

Viswanathan mentioned on EV prices

MechE’s Venkat Viswanathan was mentioned on Enrg.io about the prices of electric vehicles. A Carnegie Mellon University team, led by Viswanathan, first developed a model used to calculate EV battery costs. The model breaks down the individual component costs and subsequently predicts the changes over time.

Majidi lab selected for Soft Matter Most Popular 2020
Soft Matter Most Popular 2020

Research from MechE’s Carmel Majidi’s Soft Machines Lab was selected for inclusion in Soft Matter Most Popular 2020, a themed collection of the Royal Society of Chemistry. The title of the paper is “Network topologies dictate electromechanical coupling in liquid metal–elastomer composites.”


Michalek quoted on effects of ride-sharing apps

MechE/EPP’s Jeremy Michalek was quoted on Ladders about his research on how ride-sharing apps affect car ownership in cities. “What this suggests to me is that in a city where people have disposable income and fewer children, they don’t mind paying more for a more convenient mode of transportation, and they don’t have to worry about logistics like bringing a car seat,” Michalek hypothesizes.

Jen and Sullivan quoted on wildfires

ChemE’s Coty Jen and MechE’s Ryan Sullivan were quoted in Salon about their experiences with wildfires in California. “I remember waking up to a smoke-filled apartment as I had left the window open in my bedroom at night,” Sullivan wrote to Salon about his first month of his Ph.D. program at the University of California - San Diego. A large wildfire had broken out in the San Diego area. Jen told Salon that she remembered the northern California wildfires of October/November 2017 while she lived in Berkeley, California, which she described as “a pretty surreal experience. Everywhere smelled like smoke and it continued for days,” she recalled. “Since I was researching wildfire smoke and how it impacts air pollution, I started collecting measurements of the smoke from our lab.”

Rapid COVID-19 detection with nanoparticle 3D printing
Materials Today

MechE’s Rahul Panat’s biosensing platform for rapid COVID-19 detection was featured in an article in Materials Today. The platform uses the latest advances in materials and manufacturing such as nanoparticle 3D printing to create a device that detects COVID-19 antibodies in seconds. Panat is collaborating with the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine on the project.

Michalek interviewed on electric vehicles
Shift Magazine

MechE/EPP’s Jeremy Michalek was interviewed by Shift Magazine on electric vehicles and public policy during the Biden Administration. “The president-elect has announced actions that include the federal government increasing procurement of EVs, tightening fuel-economy standards that were weakened under the Trump administration and trying to get increased tax credits for EV purchases and funds for increasing public charging infrastructure,” Michalek said.



Robinson quoted on engineering degrees
U.S. News & World Report

MechE Head Allen Robinson was quoted in U.S. News & World Report on what a student can do with a mechanical engineering degree. Robinson notes that “the emergence of data science” has increased the number and variety of job options for mechanical engineers. They can now combine “machine learning” with engineering to address a wide range of formidable technical problems, “from water desalination to gene expression,” says Robinson.

Viswanathan quoted on battery breakthrough
Multiple outlets

MechE’s Venkat Viswanathan was quoted in multiple outlets on a new breakthrough in battery technology. QuantumSpace, a company that Viswanathan has done consulting work for, has announced a major breakthrough in solid-state lithium-ion batteries. “It used to be whether we’ll have lithium-metal batteries; now it’s a question of when we’ll have them,” says Viswanathan. “If lithium metal batteries are successful, this would mean that for mass-market [electric vehicles], for the same weight of the battery pack, you can get about 50 percent additional range for EV or additional battery time in the context of consumer electronics.” Viswanathan was quoted in Fortune, Wired, MIT Technology Review, The Verge, and The Mobilist.

Zhang named GirlUp competition judge

MechE’s Jessica Zhang was invited to be a judge for Girls International Three Minute Science Competition. This competition is supported by GirlUp, an initiative of the United Nations Foundation. The mission of this competition is to empower girls to become more involved in science and to encourage aspiring scientists to see the value in working on their public speaking skills.

Viswanathan interviewed about batteries
Bloomberg Green

MechE’s Venkat Viswanathan was interviewed by Bloomberg Green on batteries for electric cars and airplanes. “A lot of my work has been focused on making new batteries with materials that would be very similar to the materials that are used in current lithium-ion batteries,” Viswanathan said. “But then, they would produce more energy for the same cost.”


Engineering faculty awarded professorships

The College of Engineering recently awarded and virtually celebrated several professorships:

  • MechE’s Conrad Tucker was awarded the Arthur Hamerschlag Career Development Professorship in Mechanical Engineering. This career development professorship is awarded to support a non-tenured faculty member in MechE. 
  • MechE’s Jessica Zhang was awarded the George Tallman Ladd and Florence Barrett Ladd Research Professorship in Mechanical Engineering which is awarded to support a senior faculty member in MechE.
  • ECE’s Brandon Lucia was awarded the Sathaye Family Foundation Career Development Professorship. Through the Sathaye Family Foundation, ECE alumni Shirish and Archana Sathaye established this professorship in 1993 to support a non-tenured faculty member in ECE.
  • ECE’s Anthony Rowe was awarded the Siewiorek and Walker Family Professorship. Daniel Siewiorek and Karon Walker established this professorship in 2014 to support a senior faculty member whose work lies at the intersection of electrical and computer engineering and computer science. Dan Siewiorek has spent nearly five decades as a member of Carnegie Mellon’s faculty and has made outstanding contributions to computer systems design, dependable computing, and the field of human-computer interaction.

Zhang gives talk at ASME convention
American Society of Mechanical Engineers

MechE’s Jessica Zhang delivered an invited talk as part of the ASME Committee on Computing and Applied Mechanics (CONCAM) Distinguished Lectures on Computational Mechanics at the ASME IMECE 2020 conference in November. In this talk, she presented her latest research on neuron material transport simulation in complex neurite networks using isogeometric analysis and machine learning techniques.

Zhang named Japan Prize nominator
The Japan Prize Foundation

MechE’s Jessica Zhang was recently invited by the Japan Prize Foundation to become the Official Nominator for the prestigious “Japan Prize,” which is awarded to scientists and researchers worldwide whose original and outstanding achievements in science and technology are recognized as having advanced the frontiers of knowledge and served the cause of peace and prosperity for mankind. At present this international prize is often considered one of the most prestigious awards in science and technology fields after the Nobel Prize. The Japan Prize Foundation invites prominent scientists and researchers from around the world who lead their respective fields of science to become the Official Nominators for the “Japan Prize.”

Panat quoted on rapid COVID test

MechE’s Rahul Panat was quoted in MedicalExpo on a rapid COVID test that he and his team developed. The test enables Covid antibodies, the blood-borne protein that attacks the coronavirus, to be detected in 10 seconds. “Micro 3D printing allows you to produce new shapes in devices and new combinations of materials,” Panat said. “The progress we are making today in biomedical devices is inherently tied to the progress in microfabrication.”

Engineering staff nominated for Andy Awards
Carnegie Mellon University

Multiple College of Engineering staff have been nominated for CMU’s Andy Awards. Andy awards are given to those whose work has had a significant impact on the university. Nominations include:

  • Commitment to Excellence (Rookie): ECE’s Quinn Hagerty and Nik Nemec, INI’s Jennifer Spirer, MechE’s Amy Carroll
  • Commitment to Excellence (Veteran): CEE’s David Vey, Deans Offices Samuel Boyer and Dan Giammetteo, ECE’s Claire Bauerle and Kristen Geiger
  • Commitment to Students: Deans Offices: Kurt Larsen, ECE’s Megan Oliver, MechE’s Melissa Brown,
  • Spirit: Deans Offices Krista Burns, III’s Leia Delabahan, INIs Sari Smith