Weekly Memo

Dec. 9, 2013

Dear members of the Hajim School community:

     I never cease to be amazed at the versatility of our Hajim School students, many of whom excel in music, sports, and other pursuits in addition to their engineering studies. Consider the six Hajim sophomores who received Iota Book Awards from the College and from Phi Beta Kappa last week. They include a member of the Baja SAE team, a varsity cross-country runner, a versatile tutor, a violinist and figure skater who has taken up Taekwondo, an avid actor, and a blogger/research assistant. Congratulations to William Green of MechE, Jeremy Hassett of ECE, Dan Hassin of Computer Science, Elizabeth “Claire” Hotvedt of ChemE, and Angel Morales and Pedro Vallejo Ramirez of Optics. Click here to further understand why they are worthy recipients of an award that values not only scholarly achievement, but humanistic values, co-curricular activity, and leadership potential.

     Thanks to Renato Perucchio, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and of Biomedical Engineering, and Program Director of Archeology, Technology, and Historical Structures, who not only helped organize last week's 3D Digital Archaeology symposium at the Eisenberg Rotunda, but also gave a presentation on how 3D computational modeling can be used for structural analysis of ancient concrete Roman vaults. This is yet another example of how engineering can intersect with a host of other disciplines -- in this case archaeology, architecture, art, history, geophysics, and data science, to name just a few -- in a fascinating area of research.

     Another presenter at the symposium was Benjamin Castaneda, one of Prof. Kevin Parker's former students, who earned a Ph.D. in electrical engineering here in 2009. Benjamin, now an Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering at the Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru (PUCP), is an expert in image processing and its medical applications. But he's also working on developing advanced imaging techniques to monitor and preserve ancient structures. Interesting, isn't it, how the skill sets our engineering students learn can be applied in a variety of ways? Together with Renato Perucchio and Cynthia Ebinger, Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Castaneda is part of a multi-disciplinary team directed by Rafael Aguilar, a civil engineer at PUCP, which is studying the conservation of the Huaca de la Luna (Temple of the Moon), a gigantic pyramid built by the Moche people of northern Peru. This research is sponsored by a three-year grant from PUCP.

     Benjamin, by the way, is recipient of the SINACYT AWARD 2013 as "Academic Innovator of the year" by CONCYTEC (equivalent to NSF in Peru), is one of the co-inventors of Peru's "patent of the year" (for equipment to automatically process sputum samples for baciloscopy), and will be working with Kevin and another investigator on a project funded by the Peruvian government to use crawling waves sonoelastography for breast cancer detection.

     Applications for NASA summer internships are being accepted now through March 1. Go to https://intern.nasa.gov/ for details.

     Another good source is the Institute for Broadening Participation and its Pathways to Science program, which has more than 650 opportunities for paid undergraduate research experiences this summer, including REUs (research experiences for undergraduates). Also, if you’re thinking about going to grad school but worried about having the money for it, Pathways to Science also has a database of stipends and tuition support to help you go to grad school.

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


Robert L. Clark
Professor and Dean