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Justin Calderara, an undergraduate in the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department, figured prominently in a video about Representative Joseph P. Kennedy III, chairman of Gov. Deval L. Patrick’s STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) Advisory Council, when the congressman toured the recently completed University of Massachusetts Amherst Life Science Laboratory and Integrated Sciences Building. Calderara took part in lively student discussions with Congressman Kennedy concerning the university’s STEM Diversity Institute and its Integrated Concentration in Science (ICONS) program. After trading observations with Calderara and a tableful of other UMass undergrads, Congressman Kennedy called the group “tremendously impressive.” View the video at http://www.umass.edu/newsoffice/article/congressman-joseph-p-kennedy-iii-tours.

Professor Ramakrishna Janaswamy of the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department has been named the 2013-2014 College of Engineering Outstanding Teacher. “Rama's effectiveness as a classroom instructor and dedication to the overall teaching mission of the college are truly appreciated by our students,” said Dean Tim Anderson and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Dave Ford in making the announcement. Among other accomplishments, Janaswamy was nominated for the UMass Distinguished Teaching Award in 2011, served as the ECE graduate program director for three years, developed four new graduate courses that were highly rated by students from 2003 to 2012, and has received a very high average of 4.44 out of a maximum 5 for his Student Response to Instruction rating from student evaluations over the last 10 years.

On Wednesday, March 6, the American ideal of upward mobility went on exhibit. About 80 students and faculty members from at least four of the Commonwealth’s community colleges gathered in room 163C of the Lincoln Campus Center for a day of orientation, recruitment, communication, and financial advice about attending the University of Massachusetts Amherst College of Engineering or Department of Computer Science. The event, the 39th annual Community College Day, was a showcase for young people in Massachusetts pulling themselves up by their own bootstraps.

Ryan Wade, a five-year-old from Northampton, was recently featured in a story on WGGB-TV 40 about how a team of UMass Amherst students from the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) Department and College of Nursing helped him by designing a mechanical arm to aid with routine tasks such as feeding himself. Ryan has a condition that doesn’t allow him to bend his arms, so the four engineering students and one nursing student created the mechanical arm with help from faculty members. The team is made up of MIE seniors Brian Cormier, Andrew Friedlieb, Catherine Paquin, and Kyle Morrell, and School of Nursing student Emily Gardner. Watch WGGB-TV 40 video.

The Civil and Environmental Engineering Department has embarked on a progressive $100,000 campaign to upgrade the “Strength of Materials Lab,” the key component of the CEE 241 Strength of Materials course, required for all CEE students as part of the department’s core curriculum. The course teaches students how to determine stresses and deformations of structural members subjected to axial loads, torsion, and bending of beams, behavior of columns, and transformation of stress and strain. Professor Sergio Breña, the coordinator of the Structural Engineering & Mechanics group in the CEE department, explained that the two main goals in the lab upgrade are to make the testing equipment more accessible for hands-on usage by all students in the course and to modernize the instrumentation.

Shelly Peyton, an assistant professor in the Chemical Engineering Department and the Barry and Afsaneh Siadat Career Development Faculty Fellow at UMass Amherst, gave the keynote address during the 7th Northeast Alliance Science Day on Feb. 13 at the Universidad de Puerto Rico Mayagüez. The event was organized by Sandy Petersen, executive director of the STEM Diversity Institute and professor of veterinary and animal sciences at UMass Amherst, and Antonio Estevez, professor of chemical engineering from UPR-Mayaguez. “Antonio suggested I give the keynote because of the breast cancer work that I do that is a different angle than the students typically see,” explained Peyton. “It was a general talk, and I discussed our work in making these model tissues which we use to predict where breast cancer spreads.”

Ray Sehgal, a former graduate student in the Chemical Engineering (ChE) Department co-advised by ChE Professors Dimitrios Maroudas and David Ford, won the Oral Presentation Award at the Fall 2013 meeting of the Materials Research Society. Sehgal’s presentation, entitled “Coarse-Grained Model for Phase Behavior in Thermodynamically Small Assemblies,” was given the award by the symposium on Modeling and Theory-Driven Design of Soft Materials. The award included a monetary prize and a certificate. Sehgal successfully defended his Ph.D. in October and is currently a postdoc in the Maroudas research group.

The College of Engineering, College of Natural Sciences, and Center for Teaching & Faculty Development are pleased to invite faculty members from UMass Amherst to a workshop that will provide practical tools and strategies to make science and engineering classes more effective. World-renowned education researchers Richard Felder and Rebecca Brent are coming to UMass Amherst to offer their workshop on Effective College Teaching in STEM Disciplines. The workshop will take place all day on Monday, March 24, and all morning on Tuesday, March 25, in the Campus Center Auditorium at UMass Amherst. There is no fee for participants. Seats are limited, so please reserve space now by registering at https://regstg.com/Registration/Registration.aspx?rid=aebc5bb7-ed15-4267-ab97-c73ef4fbba36.

In January of 2014, a team of six students from UMass Amherst and one from Hampshire College, who all belong to the Engineers Without Borders-USA UMass Amherst student chapter, traveled to Namawanga, Kenya, with faculty advisor Professor John Tobiason of the Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) Department and CEE graduate student mentor Joseph Gikonyo. This was the ninth trip to Kenya for the EWB-USA UMass Amherst student chapter since 2006. The project was established to prevent the spread of waterborne disease in the Namawanga rural farming community of several thousand people in Western Kenya by supplying safe drinking water. The purpose of the 2014 trip was implementing an iron-removal system for a well installed by the chapter several years ago at the Machakha Youth Polytechnic School, located within the community.

A new radar network offering higher resolution data and potentially earlier warning of severe weather goes live this month in the Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) metroplex as government, university, and industry partners, led by the University of Massachusetts Amherst, begin operating a network that could become a national model. A key radar was installed on Feb. 11 in Addison, Texas. The DFW area thus becomes the first in the nation to host this next generation of small, near-surface, fine-scale, rapidly updating weather radar developed by researchers at the Center for Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere (CASA) at UMass Amherst, Colorado State University, and the University of Oklahoma.