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					                                             Mechanical Engineering
                                             A Newsletter from Worcester Polytechnic Institute                                     November 2009

                                             WPI Team Wins Half a Million Dollars in
                                             NASA Robotics Regolith Challenge
                                             A WPI team led by Paul Ventimiglia, an undergraduate engineering student, won first place and a
                                             $500,000 prize in the NASA 2009 Regolith (moondust) Excavation Challenge. The competition
                                             was held Oct. 17-18 at the NASA Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif. The team, Paul’s
                                             Robotics, beat 22 other teams of professional engineers and college and high school students from
                                             across the country to earn the top honor. The second- and third-place teams also featured WPI
                                             alumni. Paul’s team, which consisted of engineers and computer scientists from several departments

Inside this issue…                           at WPI, designed, built, and programmed the robot, Moonraker 2.0,
                                             in the mechanical engineering shops.
2-3                                               “This is exactly the kind of thing I hoped to do in college,” says
Projects                                     Paul. “The WPI community has been enormously supportive and we
 Senior Project Awards                       were able to pull together a truly interdisciplinary team with a very di-
 The WPI China Program
                                             verse but complementary set of skills.” The motivation for the Regolith
 Having an Immediate Impact
 Doing Projects, Right from Day One          Excavation Challenge was NASA’s quest for new ideas for excavation
 WPI in Africa                               techniques that do not require excessively heavy machines or large
 Boldly Going Where the Wind Is Blowing      amounts of power. The competition called for teams to design and
4-5                                          build robotic machines to excavate simulated lunar soil (regolith), a
Research                                     function that, for NASA, will be an important part of any construction
 Fischer, Hussein, Lados, Van de Ven         projects or processing of natural resources on the Moon.

News                                         Apelian Elected to National Academy of Engineering
 PhDs Awarded
                                             The big news this year is the election of Diran Apelian, Howmet Professor of Engineeting and
 Student, Faculty Awards
 People on the Move                          director of WPI’s Metal Processing Institute, to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE). His
 Innovation and Entrepreneurship             citation reads, “For contributions to solidification processing and for outstanding leadership in engi-
                                             neering education and university/industry collaboration.” Election to the NAE is among the highest
                                             professional distinctions accorded to engineers. Membership honors those who have made outstand-
Education that Matters
                                             ing contributions to “engineering research, practice, or education, including, where appropriate, sig-
                                             nificant contributions to the engineering literature,” and to the “pioneering of new and developing
                                             fields of technology, making major advancements in traditional fields of engineering, or developing/
                                             implementing innovative approaches to engineering education.”

                                          3Professor Apelian is the first faculty member at WPI elected to the
                                             NAE. He is world renowned for his pioneering contributions to
                                             metal processing and materials science and his leadership in engi-
                                             neering research and education. He is the recipient of many other
                                             professional awards and recognitions.
Projects… Projects…
Senior Project Awards                 What is it that makes a WPI education so special? For most of our students it is
The Provost’s Award in Aero-
                                      likely to be WPI’s innovative projects program. It’s a program that’s both old
space Engineering was won by
                                      and new. Projects have been at the core of the WPI academic program for more
Jeremy Chapman and Nathaniel
                                      than 30 years, but as the world changes and new challenges and opportunities
Law for their Mechanical Autono-
                                      emerge, the program changes to meet those needs in new and exciting ways.
mous Jellyfish. The underwater
                                      The WPI China Program
vehicle looks like a jellyfish and
                                      As China becomes an economic superpower, newly graduated engineering students increasingly find
swims like a jellyfish, moving
                                      that their jobs take them there. The WPI China Program, now in its fifth year, offers students an
                                                                                                                      opportunity to do their
using little                                                                                                          senior project in collab-
power. The                                                                                                            oration with Chinese
team created                                                                                                          students. Most projects
the outer shell                                                                                                       are done at Huazhong
                                                                                                                      University of Science
using the de-
                                                                                                                      and Technology (HUST)
partment’s newly purchased 3D
                                                                                                                      in Wuhan and the stu-
printer and a propulsion system                                                                                       dent teams usually work
utilizing a memory shape alloy.                                                                                       on projects sponsored
The jellyfish was tested using a                                                                                      by American companies
photodiode to detect an LED                                                                                           with operations in
                                                                                                                      China. This past sum-
source, but ultimately the the
                                                                                                                      mer more than 20 WPI
goal is to use an ultrasonic sig-
                                                                                                                      students worked with
nal. Professor Michael Demetriou                                                                                      students from HUST,
advised the project.                  Southeast University, Nanjing University, and Beijing Jiaotong University on eight projects spon-
                                      sored by Caterpillar, Saint Gobain, CIS, Aucksun Metal, BYC and YPC, SCC, HUST, and BJTU.
The Provost’s Award in Mechani-       Pictured are several participants in the 2008 project presentation.
                                            The final presentations drew nearly one hundred attendees from several companies and univer-
cal Engineering was presented to
                                      sities. “The students brought different strengths to the teams,” says Professor Yiming (Kevin) Rong,
Marc Balboa, Ivo Dobrev, and
                                      who set up and runs the program. “Both the Chinese students and their professors were impressed
Ryan Fosset for their project,        by the initiative and leadership of the American students in getting the project started. The Chinese
MEMS for Real-time Imaging            students’ strong analytical skills, however, became a real asset as the designs became more specific.”
Applications. The students investi-         The WPI/HUST collaboration involves other mutual exchanges, at both the undergraduate
gated an innovative approach          and graduate levels—a group of HUST students stay at WPI during the spring term. The exchanges
                                      are designed to give the students the opportunity to gain cross-cultural experience while working on
using micro-electro-mechanical
                                      a professional project, as well as to develop an appreciation for the host country.
systems (MEMS)-based devices
and laser interferometric micros-
                                      Having an Immediate Impact
copy for real-time thermal imag-
                                      Many WPI senior projects are done in collaboration with industrial partners. One of the oldest and
                       ing. They
                                      most successful such partnership is the Gillette Project Center in Boston. Gillette (now part of Proc-
                       demon-         ter & Gamble Co.) is the world leader in grooming products. Every year several teams of mechani-
                       strated that   cal engineering seniors go to the South Boston Manufacturing Center where they work on projects
                       they could     ranging from the design of equipment for automated production systems to the analysis and model-
                       get more       ing of the kinematics, dynamics, and vibrations of existing equipment. These projects have often re-
                                      sulted in improvement of the highly automated production processes used at Gillette.
                       than 8-fold
                                            “It was extremely exciting to get to work on and solve real problems, and see our solution be-
increase in thermal resolution
                                      come part of the production line,” says mechanical engineering senior David Willens, who worked
compared to existing high-end         in a team redesigning a product insertion mechanism for the automatic assembly
thermo imaging systems. Profes-       line. The goal was to reduce both scrap rate and machine downtime for mainten-
sor Cosme Furlong-Vazquez was         ance and repair. “It is immensely gratifying to see our students contributing to
the project advisor.                  the solution of real problems,” says Professor Robert Norton, who has run the
                                      Gillette Project Center for several years. “The students really get to
                                      show how amazing they are.”

…and More Projects
Doing Projects—Right from Day One                                         Boldly Going Where the Wind Is Blowing
Tomorrow’s engineers will face unprecedented challenges in a              “Low cost renewable electricity would be the biggest game-changer
“flat, crowded, and hot” world and mechanical engineering will            that I can think of,” muses Professor David Olinger as he describes
                                                be the key to address-    the WPI Kite Power Team project, which he supervises. Wind is
                                                ing those. The WPI        already emerging as the leading renewable source of electricity, but
                                                Great Problem Semi-       wind turbines are expensive. Kites have the potential to extract
                                                nars (GPS) is designed    power from the wind much more economically. They cost less
                                                to introduce first year   than tower-mounted turbines and reach higher elevations, where
                                                students to problem       the wind blows stronger and steadier. The Kite Power Team, con-
                                                solving and project       sisting of several seniors, has already built a working one-kilowatt
                                                work in the context       prototype, shown below. In addition to serving as a prototype for
                                                of these challenges.      large-scale systems and helping the students learn about the chal-
                                                Last year ME profes-      lenges in harnessing energy from the wind, the prototype could
                                                sors Diran Apelian        serve as a power generator for remote regions. The students built
                                                and Brian Savilonis       a mathematical model to examine the dynamics of the kite
                                                taught two of the         and the base, before building the prototype. Support
                                                Great Problem Semi-       was provided by Rohm and Haas Company, in
nars, with colleagues from the Humanities and Arts Department.            Woburn, Mass.; the Heifer International Over-
      Apelian’s course focused on building sustainability and             look Farm in Rutland, Mass.; and the EPA’s
Savilonis’s addressed energy. “It was amazing to see how quickly          P3 (People, Prosperity, and the Planet)
the students got up to speed and the enthusiasm they put into             Award Program.
their projects. Many of them came up with ideas we would never
have imagined,” Apelian says of his experience teaching the course.
“This is the first time I have taught a first year course and I am
really looking forward to doing it again.” All sections of the
GPS run through the fall semester and end with a poster
presentation. Above, Savilonis and Apelian chat with their
students during the presentations.

WPI in Africa
For the junior Interactive Qualifying Project—a unique
aspect of a WPI education—students explore the effect of technol-
ogy on society in diverse settings. More than half our students do
their projects at centers around the world. Many members of the
mechanical engineering faculty have supervised projects at these
centers; this year Professor Holly Ault spent eight weeks in
Namibia with several teams of students.
     One team evaluated the livelihoods of the San people
in Schoonheid, a settlement near the Botswana border. Although
the study addressed a broad range of factors, there was a special
focus on nutrition. In Namibia’s semiarid climate, agriculture and
water resources are critical factors in ensuring food security. The
students assessed food sources, dietary habits, agricultural prac-
tices, income generation from agriculture, livestock, and other
sources, along with such resources as water and fuel. They used
community participation methods (group interviews and observa-
tion) while living in tents and cooking on open fires for three
weeks to develop recommendations for improving the livelihoods
of the residents in the settlements.
     WPI now offers several project opportunities in Africa—in
Namibia, Cape Town, and Morocco. These project centers com-
plement more than 20 already existing centers in various other
parts of the world. At right, the WPI project team “Nutrition” with
children from the Skoonheid Resettlement Farm.

    Focus on Research

    Gregory S. Fischer          joined the ME faculty in the summer of      Islam I. Hussein        claims, “I am really interested in the way the
    2008 and now heads the Automation and Interventional Medicine           world works, and that means I am interested in nonlinear
    (AIM) Robotics Research Laboratory.                                     dynamics and control theory.”
         “The opportunities for robotics in health care are simply               Professor Hussein received his PhD in aerospace engineering
    limitless,” says Professor Fischer, “and the emphasis at WPI on         from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, in 2005, and spent
    robotics and the life sciences makes it the right place to pursue       a year at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, as a post-
    medical robotics.” Fischer received his PhD in mechanical engi-         doctoral researcher before joining the WPI faculty in 2006. At
    neering from Johns Hopkins University in 2008, but has BS and           WPI he heads the Control and Navigation of Multiple Vehicles
    MS degrees in both mechanical and electrical engineering. “In           (CaN MuVe) Laboratory where he and his students are currently
    robotics you really must have an understanding of the mechanical        working on several projects in the area of complex multiagent sensor
    and electrical aspects of a system—and that is just to get started,”    network systems with application to space situational awareness,
    he says. The primary focus of Fischer’s research is the design and      underwater surveillance, and multiple spacecraft design and opti-
    development of medical robotics and systems for robot-assisted sur-     mization for high resolution interferometric imaging. Specific
    gery with a spotlight on enabling technologies for MRI-compatible       projects include an autonomous underwater multivehicle system,
    robotic systems. Current projects in the AIM Laboratory include         and a two-boat autonomous system (already tested in the WPI
    an MRI-compatible robot for precision deep-brain-stimulation            swimming pool). He also has an interest in applying his research
    probe placement for treatment of Parkinson’s Disease symptoms           on network systems to individual-based evolutionary social dy-
    based on real-time MRI image guidance; a pneumatically operated         namics. “Once you start looking at networked agents,” he says, “you
    MRI robot for image-guided transperineal prostate cancer diagnosis      find applications everywhere.”
    and therapy; development and evaluation of various types of MRI-             In 2009 Hussein was selected for the highly competitive Air
    compatible sensors, actuators, and controllers; and augmented           Force Summer Faculty Fellowship Program, where he continued to
    reality procedural guidance, training, and assessment though the        develop his research on space situational awareness. As part of this
    use of image overlay technique. Although just completing his first      fellowship, he spent two months in Albuquerque, N.M., at the Air
    year at WPI, Fischer has already secured significant external funding   Force Research Laboratory. Hussein has established a number of
    for his research, including a three-year New Investigator Award         collaborations, at WPI and at other academic institutions, at na-
    from the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program’s            tional laboratories, and with industry.
    (CDMRP) Prostate Cancer Research Program. In addition to work-
    ing with his graduate students at WPI, Fischer has established             “Once you start looking at
    collaborations with a number of institutions, including UMass
    Memorial Medical Center and Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
                                                                               networked agents, you find
                                                                               applications everywhere.”

                                                                                 Emerging Leaders

Diana A. Lados completed her PhD in materials science at                  James D. Van de Ven             , assistant professor and head of the
WPI in 2004. She stayed at WPI, working in the Metal Processing           Mechanical Energy and Power Systems (MEPS) Laboratory at WPI,
Institute, and joined the faculty as an assistant professor in 2007.      says, “It is all about energy—but we treat energy very casually.
Her research interests and expertise are in materials processing and      Improving the efficiency of converting and storing the energy we
mechanical behavior of materials with a focus on failure prevention       already have has the potential to reduce greenhouse gases and our
and increased reliability and recyclability.                              dependency on foreign oil significantly.”
      Professor Lados established and directs the Integrative Materi-          Before joining the ME faculty in summer 2007, he received
als Design Center (iMdc), which is dedicated to advancing the state       his PhD in mechanical engineering from the University of
of the art and practice in sustainable materials-process-component        Minnesota in 2006 and worked for a year at the NSF-sponsored
design and manufacturing for high-performance, reliability, and           Engineering Research Center for Compact and Efficient Fluid
recyclability through knowledge creation and dissemination, and           Power. His research interests include hybrid vehicles, energy storage,
through education. “I passionately believe that current concerns          energy conversion, fluid power, a high-speed on-off valve for
about energy efficiency and sustainability call for a new design          switch-mode hydraulic circuits, a flywheel-accumulator for
philosophy based on material-process-component integration,” she          compact energy
says. “To establish that requires us to develop connective knowledge      storage, and a      “It’s all about energy.”
and find bold new ways to work with industry. And WPI, with its           switch-mode
agility and dedication to real-world problems, is the ideal place to      continuously variable transmission. Funding is provided by
do so.” Several companies have already joined the center, each pay-       industry and industry consortiums, including the California Energy
ing an annual membership fee. Lados has worked in a number of             Commission, the National Fluid Power Association, and Solid-
areas, including fatigue, fatigue crack growth, and fracture of engi-     Works Corporation.
neering materials—light metal alloys and composites and powder                 Professor Van de Ven says he decided to join the WPI faculty
metallurgy steels, solidification processing of cast alloys, green man-   not just for the academic quality but for the institutional emphasis
ufacturing, microstructure characterization and microstructure per-       on moving technology to the “real world.” His entrepreneurial side
formance relationships, residual stress, plasticity, and fracture         was rewarded this year by the 2009 Kalenian Award, which he won
mechanics. She has been recognized for her research accomplish-           with MS student Allan Katz. The Kalenian Award is given on a
ments in several ways, including the 2008 Orr Early Career Award          competitive basis and supports innovative ideas for the development
and Orr Best Paper Award given by the Materials Division of               of commercial products. Van de Ven and Katz will receive $20,000
ASME and the 2010 Robert Lansing Hardy Award given by TMS                 to help develop their invention—a high-speed hydraulic valve for
for exceptional promise of a successful career in materials science.      use in switch-mode control in hydraulic hybrid vehicles.

PhDs Awarded 2008–09                      News…
Brian Albert Dewhirst
Castability Control in Metal Casting
via Fluidity Measures: Application of
                                          Student and Faculty Awards, 2008–09
Error Analysis to Variations in           Indraneel Sircar ’09, at right, was named to the Second Team in USA
Fluidity Testing                          Today’s 2009 All-USA College Academic Team program. Students
Advisor: Diran Apelian                    awarded this recognition excel in scholarship and extend their intellec-
                                          tual abilities beyond the classroom to benefit society. Sircar’s achieve-
Hamid R. Ghadyani
                                          ment was nationally noted in April 29, 2009, when the publication
Tetrahedral Meshes in Biomedical
Applications: Generation, Boundary        announced the winners. Indraneel also received WPI’s 2009 Salisbury
Recovery, and Quality                     Prize, awarded to the most meritorious seniors.
                                          Eta Kappa Nu, the electrical and computer engineering honor society,
Advisor: John Sullivan
                                          recognized Charles “Chuck” Gammal ’09, an ME/ECE double major, with the outstanding ECE
Ryan Thomas Marinis                       student achievements award in 2008.
Development and Implementation
                                          The Heald Brothers Scholarship, created through the generosity of the Heald Foundation, provides
of Automated Interferometric
Microscope for Study of MEMS              tuition grants to junior mechanical engineering majors. The scholarship identifies and supports
Inertial Sensors                          outstanding young men and women who represent the spirit of “Yankee Ingenuity.” For the first
Advisor: Ryszard Pryputniewicz            time ever, all of the 2008–09 nominees and awardees were women! The newest Heald Scholars are
                                          Morgan Guardino, Kelly Johnson, Sabrina Varanelli, and Rachel Salvatori.
James Michael Partridge
Development and Implementation            Professor Diran Apelian received the 2009 Chairman's Exemplary Faculty Prize “for his
of Diagnostics for Unsteady Small-scale   extraordinary achievements as a researcher and educator, his national leadership in metals process-
Plasma Plumes                             ing, and his tireless devotion to the cause of innovation in engineering education.” Apelian also
Advisor: Nikolaos Gatsonis                served as the 2008 president of TMS, The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society.
Radhakrishnan Purushothaman               Professor Mark Richman received the 2009 Russell M. Searle Instructorship (Teacher) award and
Evaluation and Implementation of          Professor Nikos Gatsonis received the Morgan Distinguished Instructorship (Advisor) award.
Heat Treat Furnace Model
Advisor: Yiming Rong                      Assistant Professor Diana Lados received the Orr Early Career Award at the ASME congress in
                                          Boston on November 4, 2008.
Murali Murugavel
Magnetic Resonance Image                  Assistant Professor Islam Hussein was selected as a Faculty Fellow for the 2009 Air Force Summer
Segmentation Using Pulse Coupled          Faculty Fellowship Program (SFFP) at AFRL.
Neural Networks
                                          Professor Emeritus Raymond Hagglund ’56 received the
Advisor: John Sullivan
                                          2009 William R. Grogan Award in recognition of his
Kimon Symeoidis                           tireless efforts in support of the mission of WPI.
The Controlled Diffusion
Solidification Process:
Fundamentals and Principles               David Willens ’09 won the ASME
Advisor: Diran Apelian
                                          Student Manufacturing Design Award
Siju Thomas                               at the 2008 ASME International Con-
Multiscale Modeling of Thin Films in
Direct Numerical Simulations of           ference on Manufacturing Science and
Multiphase Flows                          Engineering held at Northwestern Uni-
Advisor: Gretar Tryggvason
                                          versity in Chicago. The double major
Virendra Sitaram Warke                    (mechanical and manufacturing engi-
Predicting the Response of Powder         neering) took the top prize based on
Metallurgy Steel Components to
Heat Treatment                            his project, “Three Cylindrical Die Forced Thru-Feed Spline Rolling
Advisor: Makhlouf Makhlouf                Adaptation.” Dave is shown receiving his award from Howard
                                          Greis, president of Kinefac Corporation and a member of the WPI
                                          Department of Mechanical Engineering External Advisory Board.
More News…
People on the Move
Professor Richard D. Sisson was appointed dean of graduate studies for a three-year period, effec-
tive July 1, 2009. In his new position he oversees all aspects of graduate education at WPI. Sisson
brings a wealth of experience to the post. He serves as director of the Materials Science and the
Manufacturing Engineering programs within the ME Department and as president of the ASM
Heat Treating Society. He has supervised a large number of both master’s and doctoral projects and
in 2007 received the WPI Chairman’s Exemplary Faculty Prize. His duties are split evenly between
the ME Department and the Dean of Graduate Studies.
     This summer, the Mechanical Engineering Department welcomed two new faculty members:
Simon W. Evans obtained his PhD from Cambridge University in the UK in 2009. He received
his BSc from the University of Witwatersrand, South Africa, and his MS from MIT. Before moving
to the UK for his doctoral work, Professor Evans worked in the aerospace industry. His research at
Cambridge University involved the use of advanced actuation concepts for control of the boundary
layer on the suction surface of compressor blades, with applications in aircraft engines.
     Stephen S. Nestinger received his PhD from the University of California, Davis, where he
also obtained his BS and MS. His doctoral research focused on the design and control of intelligent
mechatronic systems, including the development of an autonomous pseudooptimum behavior
aggregation method for goal-oriented control of autonomous systems, a retrofitted agile manufac-
turing workcell, and a highway-based vehicle detection system.

Innovation and Entrepreneurship
WPI has always been about making new ideas work in the real world. However, new times bring
new challenges and require new approaches. More than ever before, engineers today must be
creative and understand the context of their creations.
     The mechanical engineering faculty have been involved in two initiatives this year. Professor
Richard Sisson has been working with WPI Trustee Curt Carlson, CEO of SRI, on reinforcing our
emphasis on innovation. Carlson, along with collaborator Bill Wilmot, conducted a two-day work-
shop last summer, and a one-day follow-up during the spring. Sisson also led a faculty working
group integrating innovation into the curriculum.
     Under funding from the Kern Family Foundation, ME department head Grétar Tryggvason
and Jerry Schaufeld (professor of practice in the Department of Management) taught a course on
entrepreneurship aimed at first year students. The course was overbooked the first time it was taught
and the next offering is already oversubscribed.
     “The engineer of the 21st century must appreciate that the commercialization of technology
is part of the engineers job,” says Schaufeld, who put his engineering degree to use founding and
running several companies. “Even if they don’t establish their own companies, they must under-
stand the context in which they work.”

                                                                                                                                      Nonprofit Org.

                                                                                                                                       U.S. Postage
                                                                                                                                      Worcester, MA

                                                                                                                                     Permit No. 1654

           Worcester Polytechnic Institute
           Department of Mechanical Engineering
           100 Institute Road
           Worcester, MA 01609-2280

ME Facts & Figures                                                Education that Matters
Established: 1868                                                   University faculty, like most people, have a love-hate relationship with
                                                                    rankings. It all depends on how well we are ranked. At small, specialized
Tenure/tenure-track faculty: 31                                     schools like WPI we usually feel that we are treated unfairly by rankings
Undergraduate Degrees                                               such as those done by the US World News and Report, where a significant
  • Mechanical Engineering                                          fraction of the score depends on opinion surveys. I have filled out several
  • Aerospace Engineering                                           of those and there is no question that you cannot help favoring large and
  • Robotics Engineering               well-known schools. You simply do not have the time to dig into the details, examine the quality of
Graduate Degrees                       the programs and the faculty, or assess the success of the graduates. Thus, our outcomes-based,
  • Mechanical Engineering             project-centric curriculum, that does so much for our students,
  • Manufacturing                      often counts for little. Recently, however, a ranking that we love     WPI ranked
  • Materials Science                  has made the news. Last summer conducted a sur-
                                       vey of how much money university graduates make. WPI ranked            number nine!
Degrees Granted                        number nine! Of all universities! Nationally!
                                             This was not exactly a surprise to us. We constantly hear from our alumni and their employers
Year ’04 ’05 ’06 ’07 ’08 ’09
                                       how well our students are prepared to deal with real problems in the real world. The survey is not
BS    130 132 174 144 178 157          perfect; it excludes, for example, all alumni who have gone on to earn graduate degrees. Neverthe-
MS    45 32 44 50 67 57                less, it seems that the idea that institutions should be ranked based on the success of their graduates
PhD   7    4    7    7   2    9        is not a bad one. At least it is more rational than a popularity contest.
                                                                                                       Grétar Tryggvason                                                                                         Professor and Head, ME Deparment

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