Weekly Memo

Dear members of the Hajim School community:

Happily, two Hajim School teams earned us some organic, out-of-state recognition recently. The University’s Baja SAE Team competed in Wisconsin the weekend of June 9, while UR’s Solar Splash Club competed this past weekend in Iowa. SAE is the international Society of Automotive Engineers. And “Baja SAE” – formerly known as “Mini Baja” – tasks teams of students from universities around the world with designing, building, and racing off-road vehicles. Nine of our students competed in the latest Baja showdown – the second of the year. (Ten participated in the year’s first, held in April.) The teams in Wisconsin tested their cars in acceleration, load-pull, suspension and traction, and maneuverability events, which culminated in a 4-hour endurance race. Students also submitted cost analyses of their projects, along with in-depth design reports. Students with connections to the Laboratory for Laser Energetics, The Institute of Optics, and the departments of Mechanical Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Electrical & Computer Engineering, and Biomedical Engineering participated. For more of the story, plus pictures, check out the link provided by the team’s president, Phil Katz ’12, and vice president and project manager, Wes Clawson ’13: http://www.me.rochester.edu/~baja/.

Members of the Solar Splash Club cross the disciplines, as well. Through the design and construction of a solar-powered boat, students gain hands-on experience with hydrodynamics, materials, mechanics, and electronics. The team enjoyed a fine showing in Iowa, and I encourage you to review the final results at http://www.solarsplash.com/results/event12.php. Congratulations to both groups for their accomplishments, and to John Miller, their advisor (and means of transportation!). For years, the machinist in our Taylor Hall shop has embodied the Hajim School mission with an admirable work ethic and outstanding fabrication skills. Wanting to witness – and cheer on – students’ creations in action, he accompanied both teams on the road, enduring more than a week of non-stop travel. Thank you, John, for your winning example.

Attention students looking to practice public speaking or share their projects: I have just the outlet for you. The 2012 SPIE Summer Student Colloquium Series is an opportunity for students across campus to come together and discuss their academic work, so long as it’s related to light or imaging. Eligible topics include: optical design, lasers, nano-optics, communications, ultrasound, medical imaging, and spectroscopy. This weekly series is tentatively scheduled to take place from noon-1 p.m. on Tuesdays, beginning tomorrow, June 19, and running until August 21. Attendees are encouraged to bring their lunches. A variety of desserts will be provided, and presenters will receive $25 gift vouchers. The talks will be casual, and students can choose to present for either 15 or 45 minutes. To learn what others have done in previous years, visit http://blogs.rochester.edu/spie/?cat=3. To submit an idea, email your name and contact information to urspie@gmail.com, or complete the form found here.

Mechanical Engineering Professor Chuang Ren will host the 42nd annual Anomalous Absorption Conference next week, June 24-29 in Key West, Fla. Students from the Hajim School will be there, along with scholars from across the globe. They’ll cover a range of topics, including the effects of high-intensity lasers, advanced plasma diagnostics, alternate ignition schemes, and astrophysical phenomena. We’re grateful to ME’s administrator, Jill Morris, who handled registration and other details. Indeed, I applaud everyone who ensured the Hajim School’s prominence at this well-known, well-established event.

Finally, I’d like to amend one of last week’s memo items. As you’ll recall, the U.S. Small Business Administration’s 2012 New York State Small Business Person of the Year Award went last month to our friends Mike Mandina and Rick Plympton of Optimax Systems, Inc. The president (Mike) and CEO (Rick) of this Ontario, N.Y.-based company have contributed immeasurably not only to the field of optics, but also to the careers of the many UR students and alumni they’ve hired over their 20-plus years in business. Well, in my rush to make this happy announcement, I left out some very important background information: Rick is a graduate of the Hajim School – The Institute of Optics, to be specific – and has an MBA from the Simon School. Of course, given Optimax’s history of success and reputation for innovation, I’d argue that his alma mater was a forgone conclusion!

Rob Clark
Professor and Dean