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


Weber’s brain research featured

MechE’s Doug Weber’s research on using the brain to control computers was featured in Wired. In an article published in the Journal of NeuroInterventional Surgery, Australian and US researchers describe how two people with paralysis due to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease) used such a device to send texts and fool around online by brain-control alone.

Whitefoot named to World Economic Forum Global Future Councils
Carnegie Mellon University

MechE/EPP’s Kate Whitefoot has been named to the World Economic Forum’s network of Global Future Councils, where she will serve on the Clean Air council. During the 2020-21 term, which runs from October 2020 to September 2021, members will contribute insight and ideas for the World Economic Forum’s Great Reset initiative to help world leaders and the global public to better understand, address, and prepare for the post-COVID world. The World Economic Forum is providing the Councils a platform for advancing multi-stakeholder collaboration and systems thinking, which are needed more than ever to respond to rapid social and technological change.

Engineering professors named teaching fellows
Carnegie Mellon University

BME’s Rosalyn Abbott, MechE’s Mark Bedillion, and CEE’s Gerald Wang have been named Provost’s Inclusive Teaching Fellows. This is awarded to faculty who are working with the Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence and Education Innovation to develop and disseminate new approaches to inclusive and equitable teaching in their classrooms. It provides a $5,000 fellowship for an academic year.

“There are a lot of folks of every race and every gender and every background, who you might not find in the textbooks, who have made huge contributions to this field,” Wang said. “I want students to see that people in the field look every bit like the diversity that we have in this classroom.”

Viswanathan quoted on batteries
Financial Times

MechE’s Venkat Viswanathan was quoted in the Financial Times on batteries. Viswanathan is developing a battery that will be more energy-efficient and up to 30 percent lighter than standard lithium-ion batteries, as well as enable air taxis to travel longer on one charge. “Air taxis [will also be] cheaper to run because it becomes more energy-efficient if your battery is lighter,” he adds.

Agwu wins technical presentation award
The National GEM Consortium

MechE Ph.D. student Uchechukwu (Uche) Agwu won first place in the Technical Presentation Competition on September 11 at the Annual GEM Conference. Agwu’s presentation placed first in the Ph.D. category. Agwu is a first-year Ph.D. student under MechE Professor Kenji Shimada.

Robinson recognized for aerosol research
American Association for Aerosol Research

MechE Head Allen Robinson has been awarded the AAAR David Sinclair award, which recognizes sustained excellence in aerosol research and technology by an established scientist still active in his or her career. The individual’s research must have a lasting impact in aerosol science. The award memorializes David Sinclair, one of aerosol science’s great innovators, known for his knowledge, ingenuity, and energy.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion leadership opportunity

The College of Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University invites inquiries, nominations, and applications for the position of associate dean for diversity, equity, and inclusion. As the college’s senior diversity officer, the associate dean will have the opportunity to lead a significant expansion of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts at a world-renowned college at the forefront of engineering education and research.

Majidi quoted in Soft Robotics podcast
Soft Robotics Podcast

MechE’s Carmel Majidi was interviewed for Soft Robotics Podcast on science and life. He talked about equations he finds important and provided some advice.


Engineering students named ACS scholars
Carnegie Mellon University

Ten CMU College of Engineering students were selected as Andrew Carnegie Scholars by the university. They are Charlotte (Charlie) Andreasen (MechE/EPP), Seema Kamath (MechE), Stefanie McMillan (MSE/BME), Jessica Meng (ECE), Valentina Ortiz de Zárate (CEE), Ryan Rusali (CEE/EPP), Sanjana Shah (ChemE/BME), Nicole Shi (MSE/EPP), Ishita Sinha (ECE), and Saeed Syed (ChemE). 

ACS Scholars are undergraduate seniors who embody Carnegie Mellon’s high standards of academic excellence, volunteerism, leadership, and involvement in student organizations, athletics, or the arts. They are selected each year by their deans and department heads to represent their class in service and leadership. Each scholar receives a monetary award—made possible by the generosity of ACS members—to support their academic and personal growth.

Mendoza and Ni to participate in Berkeley workshop
U.C. Berkeley Department of Mechanical Engineering

MechE Ph.D. students Edgar Mendoza and Longchang Ni have been selected to participate in the ME Rising Stars workshop organized by UC Berkeley. The Rising Stars in Mechanical Engineering workshop supports senior graduate students and postdocs who are considering careers in academia. The purpose of the workshop is for participants to gain career skills, connect with a cohort of peers, and engage with mentors.

Robinson published on EPA
Lancaster Online

MechE Head Allen Robinson published an op-ed on Lancaster Online about the EPA’s denial of science and the effect it has on Pennsylvanian methane pollution. “This denial of science and failure of leadership at the federal level make strong, swift and decisive action on methane rules at the state level all the more imperative,” Robinson and his co-author wrote.


Norby interviewed on childhood robotics experience
Twin Cities PBS

MechE Ph.D. student Joe Norby was interviewed by Twin Cities PBS about his experience building robots as a kid. He now works in the Robomechanics Lab at CMU.

Johnson mentioned on remote robotic course

MechE’s Aaron Johnson was mentioned in VentureBeat on how his robotics course adjusted to online class during the coronavirus pandemic. Johnson’s bio-inspired robot design course had to go fully remote, he told IEEE Spectrum. But none of the teams drastically altered their projects or opted for simulated designs. To get around the logistical challenges, students dropped off and shipped parts to their collaborators, bought simple tools like soldering irons, and had Johnson 3D-print parts and mail them. Each team even managed to put together demo videos from their remote locations.

Jayan and Barati Farimani featured on norovirus project
Pittsburgh Health Data Alliance

MechE’s Reeja Jayan and Amir Barati Farimani were featured in the Pittsburgh Health Data Alliance newsletter on their Norovirus Sensor project. Their norovirus project used polymers to detect norovirus, then the data is analyzed by an algorithm. Now, they are adapting the project for the novel coronavirus.

Presto on reduced pollution

MechE’s Albert Presto was quoted by WESA in an article discussing the impact of less traffic during the COVID-19 pandemic. Presto found that less driving led to decreases in carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide emissions, as well as reduced fine particulate matter, small particles that can lead to serious health problems. While this research specifically addresses the effects of life during the pandemic, Presto also says that “this is what a potential future atmosphere could look like” in the Pittsburgh region if half of all vehicles became electric cars.

MechE alum Thomas Healy featured in Forbes

MechE alum Thomas Healy was featured in a Forbes article about his company, Hyliion, and its place in the “electric-powered big rig revolution.” Named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 list in 2017, Healy, 28, has developed an “e-axle” (electrified axle) powered by lithium batteries, his solution for electrifying long-haul trucks. While other companies are building new trucks from the ground-up, Healy decided to develop technology that could be added to old trucks or incorporated into new ones. “The goal was to be able to allow them to still buy the truck they already know and love and have it with a brand-new power train that will really revolutionize their logistics,” he said.

Presto quoted on pollution

MechE’s Albert Presto was quoted in WESA on pollution during the coronavirus pandemic. The original research was done by Presto and MechE Head Allen Robinson. In a recent paper, a Carnegie Mellon University research group documented a drop in air pollutants. Their work showed that less driving meant lower concentrations of emissions such as carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide. Presto said more surprising was the decrease in fine particulate matter, which are really small particles that can cause big health problems. “That was the same whether we were in a high-traffic place or a low-traffic place,” he said.

Viswanathan quoted on batteries
Clean Technica

MechE’s Venkat Viswanathan was quoted in Clean Technica on soft solid electrolytes in batteries. Soft solid electrolytes could protect batteries from dendrite formation, a dangerous lithium spike that can cause the battery to fail. “In 2017, when the conventional wisdom was that you need a hard electrolyte, we proposed that a new dendrite suppression mechanism is possible with a soft solid electrolyte,” Viswanathan said. “It is amazing to find a material realization of this approach with PIM composites.”

Majidi on new biopolymer for soft robots
Chemical & Engineering News

MechE’s Carmel Majidi was quoted in Chemical & Engineering News about a new protein-based biopolymer found in squid that researchers are using in soft robots. Majidi was not involved in the study. The material has impressive self-healing capabilities and can be molded into parts and films via heat or water. Another advantage is that it can be broken down and reused. “This is a very compelling example of using synthetic biology to engineer new classes of materials,” said Majidi.


Viswanathan published on electric vehicle batteries
The Conversation

MechE’s Venkat Viswanathan and Ph.D. students Alexander Bills and Shashank Sripad published an article in The Conversation on their electric vehicle battery research. “Forecasting when that price crossover will occur requires models that account for the cost variables,” they wrote. “Our group at Carnegie Mellon University has developed a model of battery costs that accounts for all aspects of EV battery manufacturing.”

Sripad quoted on self-driving cars

MechE’s Shashank Sripad was quoted in WIRED on electric self-driving cars. “A bunch of commentators used to suggest the first automatic vehicles might have to be gas hybrids,” says Sripad. “But we believe that, if we want to do electric vehicles, autonomy will be compatible with it.”

Joshi wins Crystal Award
Society of Cryobiology

MechE Ph.D. student Purva Joshi won The Peter Steponkus Crystal Award at the 2020 Annual Meeting of the Society for Cryobiology. The Crystal Award is the highest student award of the Society for Cryobiology, awarded to the winner of the student competition during its annual meeting (Cryo 2020). Joshi will receive the Peter L. Steponkus Crystal Award Plaque and an honorarium.

Jen and Sullivan quoted on coronavirus
Shared Air Podcast

ChemE’s Coty Jen and MechE’s Ryan Sullivan appeared on MechE’s Albert Presto’s podcast, Shared Air, on the role of masks in the coronavirus pandemic. They also discussed how coronavirus spreads. “We’re taking a lot of clues about how other viruses are spread,” Jen said. “There’s a lot of evidence coming out that...really strongly points to airborne transmission.”

Viswanathan on autonomous, electric cars

MechE’s Venkat Viswanathan spoke with Bloomberg about the current debate between the two most prominent technologies in the car industry: autonomous driving and electric cars. Some believe that autonomous driving technology will expend and limit an electric car’s battery life and range. Viswanathan finds that the range trade-off is likely to be below 15 percent in urban areas and as low as five percent in suburban areas, and that the lidars and computers necessary for autonomous driving are getting better while using less energy. “We’re getting to a point where we won’t need to choose between autonomous driving and electric cars,” he said.


Sullivan paper named among RSC Best of 2019
Royal Society of Chemistry

MechE’s Ryan Sullivan and collaborators at the University of Washington had a research paper named among the Best Papers 2019 - Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts by the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Johnson’s robot design course featured in IEEE Spectrum
IEEE Spectrum

MechE’s Aaron Johnson’s Robot Design and Experimentation course was featured in an IEEE Spectrum article highlighting how roboticists (and their robots) have been working from home. After the course turned remote, Johnson expected some of the course teams to drastically alter their projects, but none did. “We managed to keep all of the projects more or less as planned,” said Johnson. “We accomplished this by drop/shipping parts to students, buying some simple tools (soldering irons, etc.), and having me 3D print parts and mail them.”

Dayal, Babaei co-author paper on lipid receptor formation
Pitt Engineering

CEE/MechE’s Kaushik Dayal and MechE’s Mahnoush Babaei co-authored a new study published in the Journal of Mechanics and Physics of Solids. The paper explores how pathogens use clever methods to invade cell membranes—namely, deceiving the membrane into thinking the virus is safe, instigating the formation process of lipid rafts, which are more likely to allow the virus to enter the cell. The study analyzes the physical components of what takes places during ligand-binding; understanding how viruses use lipid rafts could lead to new approaches to treat and prevent viruses, such as SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19. This paper was a collaboration with multiple institutions worldwide, including Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering.

Taylor featured on nanostructures
Multiple sources

MechE’s Rebecca Taylor was featured in multiple sources, including ScienceDaily, Nanowerk, Science Codex, and Azonano, on her research on nanostructures. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have developed a method for self-assembling nanostructures with gamma-modified peptide nucleic acid (γPNA), a synthetic mimic of DNA. The process has the potential to impact nanomanufacturing as well as future biomedical technologies like targeted diagnostics and drug delivery. “As mechanical engineers, we were prepared for the challenge of solving a structural design problem,” Taylor said. “Due to the unusual helical twist, we had to come up with a new approach for weaving these pieces together.”

Halilaj receives ASB Young Scientist Award

MechE’s Eni Halilaj has won the American Society of Biomechanics Young Scientist Award. The award will be presented at this year’s ASB meeting in August.

Jayan gives IMPI keynote
International Microwave Power Institute

MechE’s B. Reeja Jayan will give the keynote address at the 54th Annual Microwave Power Symposium on June 15. Her talk, “Why Microwave-heating is More Than Just Heating,” examines her exploratory research that lays the groundwork for using microwave fields to engineer new materials

Cagan receives ASME award
CMU Mechanical Engineering

MechE’s Jonathan Cagan has been named the 2020 recipient of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers’ Ruth and Joel Spira Outstanding Design Educator Award. This award recognizes a person who exemplifies the best in furthering engineering design education through vision, interactions with students and industry, scholarship and impact on the next generation of engineers, and a person whose action serves as a role model for other educators to emulate.


Webster-Wood named Wimmer Faculty Fellow

MechE’s Vickie Webster-Wood has been named a 2020-2021 Wimmer Faculty Fellow. Supported by the Wimmer Family Foundation and in collaboration with the Eberly Center, the fellowship is designed for junior faculty members interested in enhancing their teaching through concentrated work. Webster-Wood plans to design interactive demonstrations and build virtual labs for the course “Gadgetry: Sensors, Actuators, and Processors.” These demonstrations and labs will promote active learning and improve students’ mechatronic intuition.

Majidi quoted on liquid metal lattice material
Physics World

MechE’s Carmel Majidi was quoted by Physics World about a new liquid metal lattice that can be crushed and then reheated to return to its original shape. Majidi says that a material like this, which can change shape, stiffness, and ability to bear load, has many potential capabilities, including applications in soft robotics, wearable computing systems, or wearable robotics. “[This work] nicely builds on past research in stiffness tuning and shape memory materials,” he said. “[It] is an excellent demonstration of how low melting point metals can be used for creating smart and adaptive structures.”

Presto introduces new podcast
Apple Podcast

MechE’s Albert Presto has created a new podcast called Shared Air with MechE Ph.D. student Rose Eilenberg. Their podcast is about air pollution, air quality, climate, and science communication.

Rubin quoted on Pittsburgh emissions
Next Pittsburgh

EPP/MechE’s Ed Rubin was quoted in Next Pittsburgh on Pittsburgh emissions. Two of Pittsburghers’ favorite things, beef and beer, are the biggest sources of planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions in the local food system, according to a new study by a team of 19 Carnegie Mellon students. “What we tried to do for the first time is to put together an overall picture to give policymakers an idea of where the biggest impacts are, and where actions to change the system could be beneficial,” says Rubin. “We couldn’t find any other major metropolitan areas that had done something like this.” 

Shimada quoted on robots
San Francisco Chronicle

MechE’s Kenji Shimada was quoted in the San Francisco Chronicle about robots. Amid the coronavirus pandemic, researchers are looking into ways robots could be used to lower the risk of transmission. Shimada is working on a mobile robotic arm able to disinfect high-risk areas like hospital rooms using chemicals or ultraviolet light. He envisions a technology able to map a room and track where the machine has cleaned. “Nothing is visible so you need a digital model to keep track of that,” Shimada said of finding and killing the coronavirus and other microscopic threats. He said he plans to begin testing prototypes on campus, but it could be a year or two before an operational version of the machine is ready, underscoring the need to repurpose some technologies for the time being.