Alexana Cranmer of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department is the 2013-14 recipient of the Kenneth A. Lloyd Fellowship, awarded annually to a qualified incoming doctoral student in the MIE department who shows exceptional potential for success in his or her field, with a preference given to female applicants. Mr. Lloyd of Duxbury, Massachusetts, graduated from the College of Engineering in 1973, having majored in mechanical engineering. He is currently the vice president and general manager of Electro Switch Corporation in Weymouth, Massachusetts. A longtime supporter of the College of Engineering, Mr. Lloyd has a history of generosity to UMass Amherst, having made previous gifts to create the Kenneth A. Lloyd Scholarship Endowmentand the Kenneth A. Lloyd Engineering Scholarship Endowment. Lloyd also received the Distinguished Alumni Award from the MIE department.

On December 3 teams of brilliant young innovators pitched their business ideas and competed for more than $10,000 in prizes during the UMass Innovation Challenge Executive Summary & Elevator Pitch Competition. The exciting event took place in the Cape Cod Lounge at the Student Union Building. During the actual competition, each team leader presented a well-thought-out, carefully orchestrated pitch to a panel of judges. After hearing from all the teams, the judges deliberated and announced the awardees, followed by a networking reception. Innovation Challenge competitors are interdisciplinary student/alumni teams working in consultation with faculty members and external advisors with appropriate expertise. Since 2005, the UMass Innovation Challenge has provided over $500,000 in awards to 69 different student-led teams.

In M5 (short for Marcus Hall, room 5), the student hub for hands-on inventiveness in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, innovation is happening faster than an electrical signal jumping a human synapse gap. In M5, change is standard operating procedure. One symbol of the innovation in progress is the antique pump organ centrally located in M5 as it waits to be mechanically restored and electronically synthesized by a team of faculty and students. Another change is the installation of the campus chapter of IEEE, which has been relocated in a high-profile, windowed office where students can find it easily. And a third alteration is the permanent configuration of electronic test equipment in a room that supports the freshman Introduction to Electrical and Computer Engineering course and also all the individual projects being worked on throughout the department.

With the end of the year approaching we are asking you to consider a noble way to give yourself a tax break in 2013: Make a holiday gift to your favorite program in the UMass College of Engineering. "Private support for the college is vital throughout every season," advises the college's Director of Development Paula Sakey, "but your giving can mean even more if you make your gift to the college before this year winds down. A year-end contribution for the college can enhance education, research, and service, while also increasing your tax savings in 2013." Maximizing your charitable giving before December 31, 2013, can help you claim as many tax deductions as possible. Here are a few suggestions to make your year-end giving faster, easier, and more tax forgiving.

Graduate student Varun Srinivasan of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department is the 2013-14 recipient of a fellowship established by Edwin V. Sisson, a 1968 alumnus from the Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) Department. The Edwin V. Sisson Doctoral Fellowship Fund is geared toward first-year doctoral candidates from any of the four departments in the College of Engineering who do research in sustainable energy or other environmental subjects, the main areas of the donor’s concerns. Srinivasan works with his faculty advisor Caitlyn Butler of the CEE department on her innovative Microbial Fuel Cell (MFC) Latrine. Dubbed the “Green Latrine,” the MFC is a sanitation technology for the developing world that treats waste, produces usable compost, and generates electricity.

An editorial in the November 14 Springfield Republican entitled “Western Massachusetts' future belongs to women in technology” highlighted alumna Shelby Beauchemin and the UMass Women in Engineering and Computing Career Day Conference, organized by Paula Rees, the director of the College of Engineering Diversity Programs Office. The editorial notes that “Programs like UMass Amherst's engineering and computer career day aim to shake up once all-male, all-white professions.” Some 300 female students, teachers, and guidance counselors from more than 33 high schools from Massachusetts and beyond gathered in the Lincoln Campus Center Auditorium at UMass for the annual Women in Engineering and Computing Career Day Conference. The aim of this program is to excite, inspire, and encourage young women to pursue engineering as an academic track and career path.

On October 30, RailPod, a startup company founded by College of Engineering alumni Brendan English (B.S. 1999 in Computer Systems Engineering) and Blair Morad (B.S. 1998 in Mechanical Engineering), won $100,000 in the 2013 MassChallenge (, the world’s largest startup accelerator. RailPod was one of five $100,000 first-prize winners out of 128 companies competing in the MassChallenge. RailPod is a railroad track inspection robot that provides a visual depiction of the track environment, supported by quantifiable measurements that quickly and accurately identify track problems.

On November 15, the College of Engineering and Dean Tim Anderson hosted the annual Retired Faculty Luncheon, honoring approximately 14 attending emeritus faculty members and their relatives and updating them on the college which they have done so much to nurture. After a tasty meal served by UMass Amherst catering services, Dean Anderson took this occasion to provide a brief “state of the union” message about the college, including many statistics to demonstrate the growth of the institution, both in size and quality, as the highest ranked public engineering school in New England. He began with a well-deserved compliment for our retired faculty: “The extraordinary productivity of our current faculty proves they were very well-mentored, and I’m sure you had a lot to do with that.”

In late October and early November, 14 students from the UMass Amherst chapters of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) attended the national conferences of those two organizations. The costs were covered mainly by the College of Engineering Diversity Programs Office (DPO), thanks largely to financial support from Karen and Chuck Peters. “Attending the national SWE or SHPE conference provides our students access to companies that don't come to UMass, and almost all of our students receive multiple opportunities to interview at the conference for internship or full time positions,” explained DPO Director Paula Rees. 

On November 8 and 9, Marco Chiang, a senior BSCSE major, and his team from the Computer Science Department finished in the top six out of more than 500 “amazing hackers” and 200 teams that competed in the Yale Hackathon in New Haven, Connecticut. According to Chiang, the Hackathon is an event in which students compete to create the most innovative and complex computer software and hardware hacks to win a variety of cash and prizes. As Chiang explained, “Leaf, the name of our product and vision, is working hard to bring a piece of technology into our lives to revolutionize social and professional interactions.”