Weekly Memo

Sept. 23, 2013

Dear members of the Hajim School community:

    Students began using MechE's newly refurbished undergraduate lab last week. If you happen to drop by 124 Hopeman while labs are in session, you'll see that this was quite a transformation (read more here). This reflects our commitment to providing our students and faculty with the best possible facilities. This will be an ongoing priority given our increased enrollment.

   Here's a sampling of the interesting research that is occurring at the Hajim School, as reflected in a couple of recent grant approvals. For example, there is an ongoing quest among plasma physicists to obtain more powerful computing capacity for their simulations in such areas as inertial confinement fusion. Chuang Ren, associate professor of mechanical engineering, and Michael Huang, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, have received a $360,000, three-year grant from the National Science Foundation to adapt existing simulation software so that it can be used with next generation graphic cards, multi-core processors and other advances in computer architecture on supercomputers and desktops alike. They hope this will not only pave the way for simulations never before possible, but also allow widespread use of sophisticated simulations by a large number of students and researchers.

   Wyatt Tenhaeff, who has just joined us as an assistant professor of chemical engineering, will be working with a former colleague at Oak Ridge National Laboratory on a promising approach to create lighter and safer lithium ion battery packs in electric and hybrid vehicles. With a $450,000 grant funded by the Department of Energy’s ARPA-E program, they'll explore replacing both the electrolyte and separator with a safe impact resist electrolyte (SAFIRE), which can form an impenetrable barrier during a vehicle collision or other applications of external force.

    Congratulations to Youssef Farhat, a graduate student in the lab of Hani Awad, professor of biomedical engineering and orthopaedics. Farhat won one of three $1,000 trainee travel awards at last week's 3rd annual Center for Musculoskeletal Research Symposium for his work on developing therapies to reduce scar tissue in tendon injuries.

    Hajim School faculty and students alike might find it worthwhile to attend tomorrow's Fall Research Conference in Room 215 of LeChase Hall. Margarita Dubocovich, chair of Pharmacology and Toxicology and Senior Associate Dean for Inclusion and Cultural Enhancement at the University at Buffalo, is the featured speaker. She also is  the Program Director of CLIMB, a group of federally funded initiatives supporting professional development for undergraduate students through junior faculty who are engaged in research. The theme is recruiting and preparing a diverse group of students for academic careers in science and healthcare. Dubovich will give two talks  -- one aimed at faculty at 11 a.m., another at students at 1 p.m. Lunch will include round table discussions for faculty, staff and students. Register here, or contact Kurt Zeller at kzeller@ur.rochester.edu or 276-5668 with any questions.

     You might also want to tune in to WXXI-TV's Need to Know program at 8 p.m. Thursday to hear M. Ehsan Hoque, our new assistant professor of computer science, talk about his MACH (My Automated Conversation coacH) computer system. It features an animated character that can see, hear and respond in real time — allowing people to practice social interactions in private.

As always, keep me updated and have a great week.


Robert L. Clark
Professor and Dean