Departmental News & Awards - Summer 2019

Departmental News

- MIT's Department of Mechanical Engineering has been named the number one mechanical engineering department in the world by both US News & World Report and QS World University Rankings.

Research News

- A team of researchers including Professor Tonio Buonassisi has developed a formula to improve the performance of perovskites in solar cells – bringing the materials closer to commercialization. Their research was published in the journal Science.

- Associate Professor Asegun Henry and colleagues designed a new system published in Energy and Environmental Science, that stores excess heat generated by solar or wind power as white-hot molten silicon, and then converts the light from the glowing metal back into electricity on demand.

- Professor George Barbastathis has trained a computer to recognize more than 10,000 transparent glass-like etchings in the dark. This method could help illuminate features of biological tissues in low-exposure. The work was published in Physical Review Letters.

- In a study published in Nature, a team of researchers including Associate Professor Mathias Kolle has found that clear water droplets can produce brilliant colors, an effect that could be harnessed for light displays, litmus tests, or makeup products.

Courtesy of the researchers

- Associate Professor Xuanhe Zhao and visiting scientist Giovanni Traverso report in Nature Communications that they have designed an ingestible, Jell-O-like pill make from hydrogels and embedded with sensors that can stay in the stomach for a month to track ulcers, cancers, and other GI conditions.

- In a Science Robotics paper, Associate Professor Alberto Rodriguez used machine-learning and sensory hardware to develop a robot that is learning how to play the game Jenga. The technology could be used in robots for manufacturing assembly lines.

Faculty Promotions

- Tonio Buonassisi was promoted to Full Professor

- Rohit Karnik was promoted to Full Professor

- Mathias Kolle was promoted to Associate Professor

- Alberto Rodriguez was promoted to Associate Professor

- Alexandra Techet was promoted to Full Professor

- Kripa Varanasi was promoted to Full Professor

- Maria Yang was promoted to Full Professor

Faculty Awards

- Gareth McKinley was elected to the National Academy of Engineering for contributions in rheology, understanding of complex fluid dynamical instabilities, and interfacial engineering of super-repellent textured surfaces.

- Professor John Lienhard was named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science for his distinguished contributions to thermal science and engineering, particularly for developing energy-efficient desalination technologies.

- Professor Linda Griffith was named a 2018 fellow of the National Academy of Inventors. Griffith co-invented a 3D printing process for the creation of complex biomaterial scaffolds.

- Two MechE projects have been given J-WAFS Solutions grants: a project led by Professor A. John Hart that uses sensors to detect soil nutrient levels and research led by Professor Kripa Varanasi to make pesticides stickier, producing less runoff.

- Professor Nicholas Makris, Director of the Center for Ocean Engineering, was a co-convener of the United Nation’s first ever Roundtable on Sustainable Floating Cities, which took place April 3, 2019 in New York and included Professor Dick Yue, Professor Alexandra Techet, Associate Professor Themis Sapsis, Assistant Professor Wim van Rees, and students.

- USAID announced the a $30 million fund for MIT to develop the Center of Excellence in Energy Research, Education and Entrepreneurship (COE) at Ain Shams University in Cairo under the leadership of Professor Ahmed Ghoniem and Professor Daniel Frey.

Student Awards

- Sarah Tress, a senior studying mechanical engineering, has been named a Rhodes Scholar. She will commence graduate studies at Oxford University in fall of 2019.

Rhodes Scholar Sarah Tress Credit: Ian MacLellan

- Senior Crystal Winston was named a Marshall Scholar. She will embark on a PhD in aerospace materials and structures to further develop her skills in redesigning transportation systems.

Marshall Scholar Crystal Winston Credit: Ian MacLellan

- Forbes Magazine named graduate student Hyunwoo Yuk one of the 2019 Forbes 30 Under 30 for Science and graduate student Kishor Nayar one of the 2019 Forbes 30 Under 30 in Energy.

Alumni News

- Alumni Elizabeth Bianchini ’18, Kyler Kocher ‘18, Ann McInroy ‘18, and Sam Resnick ’18 won gold at the Collegiate Inventors Competition for Rhino, a product they developed in class 2.009, Product Engineering Processes, that makes brick repointing faster, safer, and more accurate.

- Forbes Magazine named alumni Luke Schlueter ’16; Michael Farid ’14, SM ’16, Kale Rogers ’16, and Brady Knight ’16 to the 2019 Forbes 30 Under 30 in Food & Drink for co-founding Spyce, a restaurant featuring the world’s first automated kitchen.

The Spyce team (left to right) includes  
Luke Schlueter ’16; Michael Farid ’14, SM ’16; Kale Rogers ’16; executive chef Sam Benson;  Brady Knight ’16; and culinary director Daniel Boulud. Credit: Photo courtesy of Spyce

- Rivian Automotive, founded by alum R.J. Scaringe SM ’07 PhD ’09, unveiled its first two vehicles, an all-electric pickup truck and SUV, at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show.

In Memoriam

- Ernst G. Frankel MME ’60, SM ‘60, professor emeritus of ocean engineering who served on MIT’s faculty for 36 years, passed away on November 18, 2018 at the age of 95.

- Richard Lyon, who was a leading expert in acoustics, vibration, and machine dynamics and served on the Department of Mechanical Engineering faculty for 32 years, passed away on January 21, 2019.

- Professor Emeritus T. Francis Ogilvie, an expert in naval architecture and former department head of MIT’s Department of Ocean Engineering, passed away on March 30, 2019 at the age of 89.