ENGINEERING

robopgh

fall2016

Carnegie Mellon University | Fall 2016

MECHANICAL

ENGINEERING

MECHANICAL ENGINEERING

1

THE STUDENT EXPERIENCE

REAL WORLD PROBLEM SOLVING

JIM DILLINGER: 35 YEARS OF HEARTFELT WORK

BEST FOOT FORWARD & LIGHTWEIGHT FLIGHT: ALUMNI

STARTUPS TAKE INNOVATION TO THE NEXT LEVEL


Inside

2 8

The Student

Experience

Problem solving

for the real world

Expanding

the Maker

Ecosystem

12 16

Faculty News

Profiles on two

new members

Alumni

Startups take

innovation to the

next level

On the Cov

over

FRO

M CANCER CELLS TO FUEL CELLS,

PUBLISHER

Department of Mechani

cal

Engineere ing

FRO

OM HUMAN HEALTH TO HUMAN-

E DITOR

Lisa Kulick,

Commu

nic

ati

ions Manager

ROBOT

O

INTERFACE

S, OUR MECHA

NICAL

ENG

INEERI

NG STUDENTS

INVESTIGATE

THE WORLD

BEYOND THE CLASSROOM.

WRITERS

DESIGN

Adam Dove, Alexandra

Geo

rge,

Lisa Kulick

Mar

keting and Communi

cations

SEE

PAGES

2-6.

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MEC HANIC AL

ENGINEERING

Dear Alumni and Friends,

Becoming a mechanical engineer extends beyond the classrooms, labs and

machine shop. Experiences across campus, the country and the world shape the

perspectives of our students to help them become better engineers.

This issue of our magazine features some of the remarkable work of our students

and young alumni who are tackling the challenges they see around them, using

what they’ve learned at Carnegie Mellon University to make a difference in

the world.

Also in this issue, we announce the exciting partnership with ANSYS to

revolutionize the future engineering workforce. A new building will provide

simulation labs, a large-scale building area for student projects, and space to

promote education and research collaborations. Nestled beside Hamerschlag’s

MakerWing, this facility will extend our “maker ecosystem.” (Don’t miss the

MakerWing construction update on page 8 and the new dual degree program in

technology ventures on page 11.)

MECHANICAL ENGINEERING

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In these pages, we also celebrate Machine Shop Foreman Jim Dillinger’s 35 years

of service, welcome two of our new faculty members, wish good luck to Professor

Fred Higgs as he joins Rice University, and remember the inspirational alumni

who have passed during the year.

As we approach the end of the fall 2016 semester, we reflect with pride on the

department’s collective accomplishments and look ahead to the new challenges,

ideas and opportunities.

Sincerely,

Allen Robinson, Department Head, Mechanical Engineering


PROBLEM SOLVING

FOR THE REAL WORLD

MECHANICAL ENGINEERING

NEE

N G

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MECH E featuring:

THE STUDENT EXPERIENCE

ERIC PARIGORIS HEADS TO

SWITZERLAND ON WHITAKER

FELLOWSHIP

After graduating in May 2016, Eric Parigoris

boarded a plane to Switzerland to spend a year

applying his mechanical engineering chops to a

serious biological problem — early detection

of cancer.

The trip was made possible thanks to his winning

of the Whitaker Fellowship. The Whitaker

International Program aims to send emerging

leaders in U.S. biomedical engineering abroad,

and help them not only become top-quality

scientists, but also to advance the profession

through global perspective.

Parigoris will spend his year abroad in the lab of

Professor Jess Snedeker, who works on cancer

biomechanics at ETH Zurich. From the start of his

application process in the fall of 2015, Parigoris

was drawn to Snedeker’s research.

“Professor Snedeker’s work focuses on both

orthopedic biomechanics and cancer cell

mechanics, the two fields I am most interested

in,” says Parigoris. “His research focuses on

engineering-based solutions that have direct

clinical applications.”

social impact. He has worked alongside MechE

Professor Phil LeDuc for the past three years on

two projects in the field of cellular biomechanics.

The first looked to model a malnourished intestine,

then built that model into existing “gut-on-chip”

device designs to develop a more physiologically

relevant microsystem. The second looked to

engineer magnetically activated artificial cells

that can be used in localized drug delivery.

Parigoris wants to take a few years gaining

experience abroad after graduation before

ultimately pursuing an M.D.-Ph.D. in biomedical

engineering.

“While most mechanical engineers are interested

in the mechanics of vehicles or manufacturing,

my research interests lie in applying these same

principles to biological systems.”

The Whitaker Fellowship is the perfect opportunity

for Parigoris to spend his time off from school

building international connections in the rapidly

expanding biomedical engineering community.

ADAM DOVE

MECHANICAL ENGINEERING

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Parigoris is working with Snedeker on a project

designed to characterize complex cell mixtures in

order to identify cancerous cells. Currently, earlydetection

remains the most effective strategy

for reducing cancer-related deaths, but until

now, only a few early detection methods have

been effective enough for clinical use. This novel

mechanical characterization method shows great

potential for early cancer detection.

Throughout his undergraduate career at Carnegie

Mellon, Parigoris developed a passion for using

mechanical engineering principles to help solve

critical medical problems with widespread

Eric Parigoris


MECH E featuring:

THE STUDENT EXPERIENCE

NICOLE HUANG LEADS CARNEGIE

MELLON MEDICAL BRIGADE TO

RURAL PANAMA

MECHANICAL ENGINEERING

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Nicole Huang

Mechanical Engineering’s Nicole Huang and a

group of Carnegie Mellon students returned from

an alternative spring break vacation — in rural

Panama.

Along with co-president Ashwath Sankar, Huang

headed the Carnegie Mellon chapter of the Global

Brigades, the world’s largest student-led global

health and sustainable development organization.

With the help of the organization, Huang

organized this alternative spring break and led a

group of students from across the university to a

Panamanian village, hoping to alleviate the health

problems experienced by the residents, as well

as partner with the residents to teach lessons on

personal health, building and farming practices.

“For the first half of the trip, we set up a makeshift

health clinic, usually in a school or an old building,”

Huang says. “For the other half of the trip, we take

a more holistic mindset, targeting the potential

environmental causes of the issues we see in

the clinic. It’s easy to treat patients with stomach

parasites, but that’s just a short-term fix. If we can

provide them a means of obtaining clean water,

we can keep them from getting sick, even long

after we’re gone.”

While the global organization chooses the

community and lays the groundwork, it’s up to

the chapter presidents to make the trip happen.

For Huang, this meant coordinating travel plans,

writing grants for fundraising, and more. The

group even spent their Saturdays and Sundays

standing outside of Rite Aid, asking customers to

purchase a donation of over-the-counter medical

supplies for them —things like ibuprofen, cold

medicine and pregnancy tests. All told, they were

able to bring more than $100,000 worth of muchneeded,

donated medication to Panama.

However, for Huang, even this was not enough.

She wanted this year’s trip to bring something

new to the table, in the form of vision tests and

eyeglasses.

“To see a hundred patients,” she says, “you need

almost three times as many glasses, so you have

a selection to pick from. We processed over 1,300

pairs of distance glasses before the trip.”

The biggest part of the preparation for the trip,

however, isn’t medical at all, but cultural. Without

a cultural awareness of the region, it’s difficult

for local people to trust that you care about their

well-being, so trying to teach them new health,

economic or even farming practices becomes

exceedingly difficult.

“It’s very hard to make a respectful impact

as someone who is from a different country;

someone who looks different and doesn’t

understand,” she says. “That’s why education is

one of the most important things in sustainable

health care.”

Upon returning to campus, the team started to

raise funds for the next trip with a 5K. Huang

continued to work through the semester on new

tools to help health care providers in rural areas,

such as a dental suction pump to keep the mouth

dry that can operate without electricity.

Although she graduated in May, Huang has no

plans to abandon her love of service.

“I do want to be a surgeon, because that’s my

academic passion,” she says, “but I would

like to incorporate my engineering on the side,

developing projects of this type to stay

connected to service work.”

ADAM DOVE


PRATITI MANDAL WINS

UNIVERSITY-WIDE 3 MINUTE

THESIS COMPETITION

The College of Engineering presented a strong

showing at the final round of the Carnegie

Mellon 3 Minute Thesis (3MT) competition,

held on Tuesday, April 4, with four of the 10

finalists representing the college. Biomedical

Engineering’s Shinjini Kundu and Blue Martin,

Electrical and Computer Engineering’s Amit Datta,

and Mechanical Engineering’s Pratiti Mandal

along with six other Ph.D. students from across

the university competed in front of an audience

of their peers and a panel of esteemed judges to

see who could most accurately, effectively and

compellingly present their thesis in under three

minutes.

The event, hosted by the University Libraries, was

moderated by Dean of Libraries Keith Webster,

who originally brought the 3MT competition to

Carnegie Mellon from its home at the University

of Queensland in 2013. The judges’ panel was

made up of prestigious university figures, such as

University President Subra Suresh, Posner Fine

Arts Foundation Executive Director Anne Molloy,

Professor of Drama and Dean of the College of

Fine Arts Dan Martin, Vice Provost for Education

and Biological Sciences Teaching Professor Amy

Burkert, and Chemistry Ph.D. student and last

year’s first place 3MT winner Annie Arnold.

Finalists’ presentations were judged on

three distinct criteria: communication style,

“I feel even more passionate

about my work, knowing that

people actually think it is of

consequence to society.”

comprehension and engagement. Each was

allowed one PowerPoint slide or image as a

visual aid for the audience, but no more. If their

presentation went over the 3-minute mark by any

margin, they would be immediately disqualified.

After the judges’ and audience’s deliberation,

Pratiti Mandal won both the first place award

and the People’s Choice Award, receiving $3,000

and $500 for each respectively, for her thesis

presentation titled “Investigation and mitigation

of degradation of fuel cells.”

Mandal’s research looks to make hydrogen fuel

cells more durable and economical by creating

a system to clear away water — a byproduct of

hydrogen fuel cells — from the inside of the cell,

where it can cause blockage in the electrodes and

thereby degrade the cell. Not only that, but her

design can then use that water as additional fuel,

making the cell more efficient.

“The 3MT competition was a very enriching

experience for me,” she says. “I feel even more

passionate about my work, knowing that people

actually think it is of consequence to society.

It also helped me realize the importance of

being able to drop the jargon and deliver the

true essence of the research without having to

oversimplify it.”

The $2,000 second prize was awarded jointly

to BME’s Shinjini Kundu for her work in training

algorithms to better predict osteoarthritis from

MRI scans, and to English Ph.D. student Juliann

Reineke. The $1,000 third prize went to ECE’s

Amit Datta, for his research into cracking

companies’ ad targeting prediction algorithms to

determine how web-browsing patterns affect ad

targeting.

“I never thought I would get first place as well

as the People’s Choice award,” says Mandal.

“I am immensely thankful to all my friends and

colleagues who attended the competition for

their support and to the judges who considered

me eligible for first place.”

ADAM DOVE

MECHANICAL ENGINEERING

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Pratiti Mandal


MECH E featuring:

THE STUDENT EXPERIENCE

FIRSTHAND FLIGHT

Ph.D. Student Interns at NASA’s Langley Research Center

MECHANICAL ENGINEERING

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Imagine you are an atmospheric scientist

collecting air samples in the field. You need

to teach a robot how to fly — specifically an

unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). These vehicles

collect air quality and ozone samples, but

generating a flight path requires the expert

knowledge of specialized engineers. So what

do you do?

Meghan Chandarana, who earned her Ph.D. in

mechanical engineering in May, spent last summer

working on a more intuitive way to allow nonexpert

users to build UAV flight paths. As an intern

at Langley Research Center’s Autonomy Incubator,

Chandarana developed a program that uses

gesture-based controls to build UAV trajectories.

By using gestures and an infrared hand sensor,

anyone can teach a UAV to fly, even kids.

“My project consisted of making interfaces easier

to manage and more intuitive between humans

and robots,” said Chandarana. “I’m interested in

creating interfaces for systems as my research is

in human factors and robotics.”

Chandarana created an interface that responds to

intuitive gestures — there is a very short learning

curve to operate the UAVs. Chandarana received

feedback from multiple users through machine

learning. She built a library of 12 gestures that are

used to create a flight path, confirm it and tell the

UAV when to take off and land. For example, to tell

the UAV to go left, the user would move their hand

to the left. To tell the UAV to fly in a spiral, the user

would move their hand in a spiral gesture.

“Of course the interface worked for me,” said

Chandarana. “But it has to work for the scientists

as well; it needed to be generalizable. So if I said,

‘make the vehicle go left,’ you’d have to make the

gesture for left without me teaching you.”

The interface has deep implications for users

in the field. The intuitive nature of the interface

reduces the need to pre-plan. The samples taken

by UAVs replace the need to properly model the

environment. Instead any sensor can be added to

the UAV regardless of the environment.

Through her work in Professor Kenji Shimada’s

robotics lab at CMU and at a previous internship

at Marshall Space Flight Center, Chandarana

knew she was interested in creating interfaces

for systems. She also managed the Tsuneishi

underwater robotics project in Shimada’s lab, a

project that brought a design perspective to

robotics. She spent the first four weeks of last

summer at the Tsuneishi internship in Japan where

she worked with a group of students on building a

ship-hull cleaning robot.

The Autonomy Incubator is intended to bring more

autonomy to the scientists and engineers at NASA.

Originally a short-term incubator project, they have

now agreed to continue funding the project. The

team will now be known as the Langley Autonomy

and Robotics Center.

“A lot of people were working on a lot of

different things from different fields, but it was

one co- located team,” said Chandarana. “The

environment was very collaborative. And the work

we were doing applies to many fields — not just

atmospheric scientists.”

ALEXANDRA GEORGE

Meghan Chandarana


GRADUATE

RESEARCH

SYMPOSIUM

Oleg Sapunkov and Zeeshan Ahmad,

MechE Ph.D. students, discuss

sodium air batteries during the

Graduate Research Symposium.

DESIGN EXPO

Jab, an interactive kickboxing

target, won best overall project

at MechE’s undergraduate

Design Expo.

Ph.D. student Rose

Eilenberg collected field

data in rural India on

air quality related to

cookstove use.

MECHANICAL ENGINEERING

AIR QUA

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METAL 3-D PRINTING

Presidential candidate

Hillary Clinton speaks with

MechE graduate students

Zachary Francis and Luke

Scime about additive

manufacturing and metal

3-D printing.


MECH E EXPANDING THE MAKER ECOSYSTEM

MAKERWING

PHASE I

COMPLETED

MECHANICAL ENGINEERING

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The Department of Mechanical Engineering

announced the opening of new,

collaborative workspaces in the MakerWing

on September 12, 2016.

This marks the completion of Phase I of the

MakerWing transformation of Hamerschlag

Hall, a major overhaul of 40,000 square

feet in the College of Engineering’s iconic

flagship building.

Located on the building’s B-level and

mezzanine, the renovated space features

high ceilings, natural lighting and a modern,

high-tech feel.

It is more than just a facelift, however; the

multiphase MakerWing project represents

a $23 million commitment to cultivating a

multidisciplinary, collaborative environment of education and research.

“We wanted to eliminate barriers to collaboration among our students,” said Allen Robinson, head of

the Department of Mechanical Engineering. “This new space will encourage the kind of spontaneous

interactions that foster innovative thinking and creative problem-solving.”

Additional phases of the project will include more collaborative research space for students, design

workshops, electronic fabrication facilities, a student machine and teaching shop, a professional shop,

advanced and additive manufacturing labs, and micro/nanosystems labs.

All phases of the MakerWing project are scheduled to be completed by December 2017.

Watch the MakerWing video: http://engineering.cmu.edu/giving/maker_wing.html


ANSYS AND CMU PARTNER TO EMPOWER FUTURE ENGINEERS

A new 30,000 square foot building, thanks to the generosity of ANSYS, will become the

hub for undergraduate students working on real-world problems. It will firmly connect

computation with making, greatly expanding the hands-on, learning-by-doing culture —

the maker ecosystem — of the college.

The computational resources in the new building will revolutionize the design process,

setting a new standard for engineering education and industry. Engineering students

will explore ideas as fast as they can imagine them, without being bogged down by the

traditional process.

The focus of the making activity in the building will be a large, high bay space, where

students will assemble full-scale projects and prototypes after manufacturing smaller

components next door in Hamerschlag Hall’s MakerWing.

Additional features include collaboration areas, conference rooms and office, lecture

and training spaces. Another element of ANSYS’ gift is an endowed Early Career

Professorship for a faculty member conducting education and research in areas related

to engineering simulation software.

A groundbreaking celebration took place at the site of the new building between Scaife,

Hamerschlag and Porter Halls on October 4, 2016. A reception followed, featuring

hands-on student research demonstrations in Scott Hall’s Rothberg’s Roasters II.

“From human created

parameters or through an

analysis of existing designs,

computer intelligence and

simulations can generate

concepts that are novel,

surprising and creative.

Designers can draw upon such

machine generated ideas to

further inform their designs

or to efficiently explore what-if

scenarios.”

ADVANTAGES OF

SIMULATION SOFTWARE:

It can digitally test — and discard

— millions of permutations of

designs, materials, flows and

shapes to find the optimal

design for a product.

It can make the entire process

quicker, cheaper and more

environmentally sustainable.

MECHANICAL ENGINEERING

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Levent Burak Kara, Professor of

Mechanical Engineering


MECH E EXPANDING THE MAKER ECOSYSTEM

MECHANICAL ENGINEERING

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NEW SWANSON ENERGY LAB IN SCOTT HALL

The opening of the new Sherman and Joyce Bowie Scott Hall has added valuable space and

equipment into the College of Engineering’s maker ecosystem. One of the spaces to support

collaborative, interdisciplinary research among faculty and students is the Daniel and Karen

Swanson Energy Technology Laboratory.

“Energy is an interdisciplinary topic, and while overarching

energy challenges encourage top-down collaboration, we hope

that our collaborative lab space will also engender bottom-up

solutions due to the day-to-day interactions our teams now have

with one another.”

Jonathan Malen, associate professor, mechanical engineering

Located on Scott Hall’s fifth floor,

this lab combines the research

facilities of B. Reeja Jayan, Shawn

Litster, Jonathan Malen and Sheng

Shen. These faculty members

investigate areas like energy

conversion, nanoscale transport and

multifunctional hybrid materials.

WHAT’S NEXT?

The NextManufacturing Center, one of the world’s leading research centers for additive

manufacturing (3-D printing), has created a consortium to advance additive manufacturing

technology to widespread adoption and certification.

The consortium’s founding members are major players in the industrial, government and nonprofit

sectors. General Electric Company, Alcoa and ANSYS, Inc. are among the current members.

A launch event in July featured demos on metals additive manufacturing processes and parts,

3-D characterization of metal powders and printed parts, simulation and testing of powders, 3-D

bioprinting and printing of soft materials for medical applications.

Professor Jack Beuth is the center’s faculty director.

Read more: engineering.cmu.edu/next


NEW MECHE DUAL DEGREE:

MS in Technology Ventures rooted in Silicon Valley

In the current climate of innovation, there is a demand for crosstrained

engineers who understand emerging technologies as well

as possess the business skills to deliver them in a way that truly

impacts society.

“The Master of Science in Technology Ventures dual degree will

equip students with the tools and skills needed to bring their high

tech ideas to market,” said Jonathan Cagan, professor of Mechanical

Engineering and co-director of the Integrated Innovation Institute,

which is offering this new program.

Students pursuing the Mechanical Engineering master’s course-work

option may apply to complete the technology ventures dual degree.

In Pittsburgh, students will study mechanical engineering, innovation

methods, and how to use technology to solve society’s problems

before heading to the West Coast.

In Silicon Valley, they will complete an internship with established

startups and two semesters of immersion in business aspects of

technology ventures.

Read more: www.cmu.edu/integrated-innovation

MECHANICAL ENGINEERING

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Are you

a maker?

Are you a practicing engineer with experience in

mechanical design and the latest fabrication techniques?

Do you have a vision for a maker culture?

We are hiring an enthusiastic engineer to:

> lead the maker ecosystem

> develop and teach design and manufacturing courses

> inspire and enable design activities among students

Apply today: www.cmu.edu/me/employment


MECH E FACULTY

WHITEFOOT BRINGS EXPERIENCE WITH

POLICY MAKERS TO ENGINEERING

What do economics, policy, manufacturing and mechanical engineering have to

do with each other? They are all essential to reduce the environmental impacts of

the transportation sector — as demonstrated by Assistant Professor of Mechanical

Engineering and Engineering and Public Policy Kate Whitefoot’s research. New to

Carnegie Mellon University, Whitefoot has experience working with policymakers in

Washington D.C. and conducting research on fuel economy regulations.

“I’ve always had my eye on Carnegie Mellon because it’s so multidisciplinary,” said

Whitefoot. There aren’t too many places where you can find so many colleagues

who can put the pieces of policy, engineering design and manufacturing capabilities

together all in the same place.”

Whitefoot joined Carnegie Mellon from the National Academy of Engineering in

Washington D.C., a nonprofit, nongovernment organization that seeks to inform

policymakers on specific aspects of science and technology. She worked closely

with policymakers to inform them on manufacturing policy, which has the potential

to reinvigorate manufacturing in the U.S.

Whitefoot’s research centers around sustainable design with connections to energy efficiency and

additive manufacturing (also known as 3-D printing).

MECHANICAL ENGINEERING

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“There has been a lot of attention on additive manufacturing lately in the policy realms,” said

Whitefoot. “CMU has some of the best researchers on that topic so I am looking forward to working

within that space.”

“What drew me to

engineering was that

you can actually create

technologies that will help

reduce environmental

impact ... It’s really the

coupling of policy and

engineering that will reduce

environmental impacts.”

A desire to solve environmental problems motivated Whitefoot to pursue

engineering, receiving both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in

mechanical engineering from the University of Michigan.

Whitefoot completed her Ph.D. (also from the University of Michigan) in a

program called design science — a cross between economics and mechanical

engineering. She created a method of analyzing what the change in fuel

economy regulations means for automakers in terms of providing incentives.

At CMU, she will continue her research on fuel economy regulations and how

they impact the adoption of energy efficiency technologies in vehicles with

alternative power, like electrical vehicles.

Whitefoot has enjoyed returning to the classroom. She teaches a course

called “Quantitative Entrepreneurship” in engineering and public policy,

where students analyze a particular design and manufacturing process of

a product from an entrepreneurial standpoint. She will also teach the senior design course in

mechanical engineering.

Whitefoot brings her experience from D.C. as a way to help students who may be interested in

nonacademic career trajectories. Her experience working with major manufacturing companies and

government agencies gives her insight into many career paths.

“I really enjoy interacting with students as they go through more real-world problem solving,” said

Whitefoot, “when they’re in the transition from working out problem sets on paper where there’s one

specific answer to the messy world of actually designing and creating products.”

ALEXANDRA GEORGE


NEW FACULTY MEMBER SHAPES THE FUTURE

OF ENGINEERING THROUGH EDUCATION

How do cruise control sensors know when to give your car more throttle? How do you

teach a thermostat’s “brain” to work? How do you design all the parts of a submarine

so they fit together? These are some questions that mechanical engineering students

seek to answer — questions that professors like Mark Bedillion help students to

address.

Mark Bedillion is a new associate teaching professor in the Department of Mechanical

Engineering. His new role is unique — unlike traditional tenure-track positions,

associate teaching professors teach two classes and place more priority on teaching

than on research.

“I think that just by the existence of these teaching-track faculty positions, the

department is really putting an emphasis on the quality of education,” said Bedillion.

“By bringing in people like me, we’re able to give more variety of offerings.”

One class that Bedillion will teach is an undergraduate gadgets course. The course is

a basic mechatronics class that introduces the most useful bits of electric circuitry to

mechanical engineers.

A lot of devices now have a “brain,” or an internal control that tells a device what to do. The

control is found prevalently in robotics, but devices like thermostats also have “brains.” The

gadgets class will teach mechanical engineers how to make that internal control work, how to

integrate sensors, read from the sensors and use the measurements.

Bedillion will also teach a feedback control systems elective. Feedback control systems are

systems where something is automated — like cruise control on your car — that involve

sensors to determine how to make something function on its own. In the cruise control

example, the car uses the sensor to figure out how fast or slow the car is going. If it’s going too

slow, it uses the measurement to know how much throttle to give the car, and automatically

gives the car more gas.

“This class teaches, for relatively simple systems, how to

design that control, or how to make decisions based on that

sensor measurement in order to make the car go a constant

speed even though it’s going up and down hills,” said

Bedillion.

Though focusing on teaching in this role, Bedillion conducts

research in the areas of distributed manipulation systems,

alternative locomotion methods for mobile robots and STEM

education — looking at how to bring skills from systems

engineering to the undergraduate level.

A field that most people enter after their time as

undergraduates, systems engineering deals with complex

systems, like cars or submarines, to understand how all the

parts fit together, what the dependencies are between the

parts and how to design the system. Bedillion works to bring

these skills to the undergraduate level.

“It’s a crash course in

electrical engineering from

a very practical standpoint.

We’re also going to

introduce micro-controllers

and do a little coding, so we

can start building systems

that have sensors and

use those sensors to drive

actuators.”

But at the end of the day, it’s being able to interact with students and make a difference at the

personal level that motivates Bedillion in what he does.

“What I’ve found in my career is the thing that really motivated me to come to work as a

faculty member was the teaching side of it,” said Bedillion. “I still enjoy the other stuff, I still

want to do the other stuff, but I’ve just put more of my focus into that area.”

MECHANICAL ENGINEERING

13

ALEXANDRA GEORGE


FACULTY NEWS Bytes

Fred Higgs Begins

Appointment at Rice

University

Mechanical Engineering Professor Fred Higgs has left a frictionless trail of

influences on both research and teaching during his time at Carnegie Mellon.

As the founder and director of the Particle Flow and Tribology Lab, Higgs

researched new methodologies to predict the behavior of granular, powder

and slurry flows in sliding contacts, which has applications to energy, nanotechnology,

space and other industries.

Higgs received many awards, including an NSF CAREER award, the Clarence

H. Adamson Career Faculty Fellow in Mechanical Engineering,

the 2010 ASME Burt L. Newkirk Award and the 2012 Benjamin

Richard Teare Teaching Award for excellence in engineering

education.

In July 2016, he began a new role at Rice University as the John

and Ann Doerr Professor of Mechanical Engineering and faculty

director at the Rice Center for Engineering Leadership (RCEL). We

wish him the best as he continues his career.

MECHANICAL ENGINEERING

14

EPA Awards $10M

for New Air Quality

Research Center

Carnegie Mellon launched a multidisciplinary, multi-institutional research

center, funded by a $10 million grant from the Environmental Protection

Agency (EPA).

Led by Mechanical Engineering Department Head Allen Robinson,

the Center for Air, Climate and Energy Solutions (CACES) represents an

unprecedented approach to the integrated management of air quality,

climate and energy.

The center will measure and map air pollutant concentrations across the

country to improve the health of vulnerable populations like children, the

elderly and those suffering from cardiac, respiratory and other medical

conditions. It will also develop air quality assessment tools to help

average citizens and policymakers alike understand which regions and

neighborhoods hold the most health risk.

“Issues like shale gas development, electric car subsidies and power plants

of the future are interconnected issues that require integrated thinking,”

said Robinson. “When you consider that air pollution is the fourth leading

cause of death globally, an innovative approach to addressing pollution and

climate change challenges is critical.”


STAFF

MECH E

JIM DILLINGER:

35

YEARS

OF HEARTFELT

WORK

Jim Dillinger started working at Carnegie Mellon University

35 years ago after replying to a two-line ad in the Pittsburgh

Press. Dr. Paul Wright, a mechanical engineering faculty

member at the time, was looking for a machinist to help with

his research. Now, 35 years later, Dillinger

is head machine shop foreman at CMU, is

someone with a heart for students and has a

real love for the trade.

“I didn’t know what I was getting into,”

said Dillinger. “But when I sat down and

interviewed for the position I thought, ‘this is

what I want to do.’”

As foreman of the machine shop, his role

is to oversee the machinists who support

professors with their research and to

educate students in the student shop. Machining can

become monotonous when manufacturing 10 to 50,000

copies of the same part. But for Dillinger, the intrigue comes in figuring out

how to make the part. When involved with research, he is working with

multiple revisions of a part until it works.

“It’s just fabulous. In here it’s a great venue to express my creativity and also

to be able to mentor students,” said Dillinger. “My clientele never gets old, so

it keeps me young.”

Dillinger values being able to help students learn and grow in confidence:

from being afraid to push the button on a computer numerical control (CNC)

machine to seeing the light come on when they understand how to assemble

a part. The value of teaching hands-on making is something that Dillinger has

been professing for years.

“There is a lot that you need to know about how things go together,” explains

Dillinger. “You can design many things, but if you have not tried to make

something and fit it together, you’re missing out on quite a bit.”

It’s clear the students also value the experience with Dillinger and the other

machinists in the shop. When students in the Design I class were asked to

come dressed up as superheroes the day their project was due, a group of

students came dressed as the machine shop guys.

Dean James H. Garrett

and Jim Dillinger

MECHANICAL ENGINEERING

15

ALEXANDRA GEORGE

“The payoff for me is being able to mentor

all these students and pass along this

information,” said Dillinger. “But in return

we get the appreciation from the students,

and it’s heartfelt. It’s such a blast — this

is not a get up and go to work job for

me; this is an ‘I’m going to Kennywood’

everyday experience.”


MECH E ALUMNI PROFILES

BEST FOOT FORWARD

Josh Caputo (ECE 2010, MechE 2010, 2015)

knows it’s hard to predict the future. As a

prospective college student, he didn’t predict

starting a company that develops advanced robotic

prostheses and exoskeletons. Since launching his

startup, HuMoTech, Caputo couldn’t have predicted

a few months ago where he’d be now.

It’s here that Caputo wants to improve the

connection between the university and industry.

There are not currently many commercial robotics

devices, so the market is full of opportunity,

but there could be more industry-academia

collaboration. In order to really improve patients’

lives, he thinks that needs to change.

MECHANICAL ENGINEERING

Caputo was a postdoctoral researcher in the

Experimental Biomechatronics Lab. After working

on a robotic foot during his Ph.D. in mechanical

engineering in Steve Collins’ lab, Caputo saw the

opportunity for turning it into a post-graduate

business. “When other researchers saw the device

we’d developed and wanted it for themselves,”

said Caputo, “I saw an opportunity.”

HuMoTech, short for Human Motion Technologies,

develops powerful but lightweight robotic limbs and

exoskeletons. But what differentiate these devices

from anything else on the market are the off-board

motors that power the devices.

“Other robotic devices currently on the market carry

their motors on board, which makes them heavy

and limits performance,” said Caputo.

“The device is extremely capable — it’s your Iron

Man, your million-dollar man,” said Caputo. “You

can’t leave the lab and walk around with it, but in

the lab, you can do super-human things.”

But one challenge facing the development of

portable devices with similar capabilities is the

need for better batteries, motors, computers and

materials. These components are slowly improving,

but there are still major technological barriers to

overcome.

In the meantime, developers face another problem:

how to control these devices, how to program them,

what sensors they need, and how they interact with

the user. But Caputo is addressing these issues.

“We are alleviating these tech limitations by putting

the actuation off board,” said Caputo.

16

The off-board motor enables a wider range

of behaviors, reduces weight and presents an

interesting opportunity for the science side — it

allows researchers to see how humans can

coordinate motion better with the technology of

the future. Currently, Caputo has sold three

systems to other labs, but he’s looking to do more

with it than just that.

“The goal is to transform clinical practice and

provide immediate benefit to current amputees,” he

said. “You can program in the behavior of off-theshelf

devices and test drive a broad range prosthetic

foot in a matter of minutes. Trial and error in current

practice is currently very time consuming and

expensive.”

With Caputo’s device in their labs, researchers

will be able to figure out better ways to control the

devices. As technology improves, they will be able

to find better solutions and create devices that will

transform daily life for many people.

“The research side is growing rapidly,” said Caputo.

“Lots of students are graduating and starting new

research endeavors. Now, with this device, they can

hit the ground running instead of spending the many

years it takes to develop new hardware.”

ALEXANDRA GEORGE


LIGHTWEIGHT FLIGHT

Alumni startup creates lightweight materials for

sustainable, efficient air cargo transportation

If you’ve traveled on a flight overseas on a large

aircraft, you’ll know the airplane’s tremendous

size and weight. These aircrafts are large. They

have twin aisles, and make up three quarters

of the world’s aircraft economy. The materials

used on devices to store and transfer cargo are

key in limiting the cost of fuel and emissions, but

currently the parts used to make these massive

machines are weighty and inefficient.

Seeing a need for lighter weight materials,

alumnus Glenn Philen (MechE 2015) began

Carbon Freight, a company that creates durable,

lightweight air cargo products.

To transport air cargo, airlines use pallets and

containers, known as unit load devices. The

goal of Carbon Freight is to minimize the weight

of pallets and containers, making air cargo

transportation more efficient. Carbon Freight’s

pallets are 20 percent lighter than any other pallet

currently on the market — this means lower fuel

costs, more cargo on each flight and a better use

of capital. Pallets and containers of cargo are

stored on the underbelly of the plane, each of

which can currently take 38 pallets.

“Planes can only carry so much because the

pallets take up a certain amount of weight,” said

Philen. “With lighter pallets, you carry more cargo

at the same weight, increasing efficiency.”

Philen started the company with fellow CMU

alumnus John Dieser (MCS 2015). Philen saw

the need for Carbon Freight after interning with

Boeing, where he worked on the 777X, a plane

with carbon fiber wings and an aluminum barrel,

the most efficient model currently on the market.

“Companies spend a lot of time making primary

structures more efficient,” said Philen, “but without

focusing so much on the secondary structure.”

With Carbon Freight’s technologies, airlines could

increase revenue by $500,000 to $1 million a year,

per aircraft. A normal pallet weighs 200 pounds,

but the one manufactured by Carbon Freight

weighs 160 pounds, a 40-pound difference.

Pallets are riveted together by fasteners that are

difficult to remove. When these pallets become

damaged, the process for repair is long and

expensive. You need to cut off the head of the

rivet, punch it out and drill 42 new holes to insert

new rivets. It’s about $40 in parts and eight hours

of time, and happens at least once a year.

“Carbon Freight’s pallet can be repaired in

minutes,” said Philen. “Instead of rivets, our pallets

are held together by eight bolts. It’s the best pallet

on the market.”

Another project venture is creating a container

made from carbon fiber. Current containers are

made from aluminum with fiberglass panels. The

carbon fiber containers prove difficult, though,

because they are liable to corrosion and can

become loose in the aircraft if damaged. Carbon

Freight’s solution is to prevent the liberation of

the carbon fiber, further reducing the weight of

the container. Moving forward, Carbon Freight

will test the pallet for the Federal Aviation

Administration in March and will continue to look

for airline partners.

“With the focus on primary structures, there is

room for a new market leader with innovative

products,” said Philen. “And Carbon Freight is

ready to be that.”

ALEXANDRA GEORGE

MECHANICAL ENGINEERING

17


“I am who I am in part because

others invested their time in me.

I joined the Alumni/Student Advisor

Network and am grateful for the

opportunity to invest in others.”

Tyler Crummy, MechE 2006

MECHANICAL ENGINEERING

Join over 100 CMU MechE alumni advisors on the

Alumni/Student Network and have one-on-one

conversations with our students!

18

Career Conversations Share Experiences Community Building

Create your profile today! cmumech.firsthand.co

Questions? Contact Emily Winn:

ewinn@andrew.cmu.edu


ALUMNI

MECH E

IN MEMORIAM

J. Fletcher Osterle Sr. graduated from the Carnegie Institute of Technology (CIT) with a

bachelor of science. For Osterle, it was the end of a four-year venture, but not the end of

his stay at Carnegie Mellon.

Six years after graduating, he earned both his master’s and doctor of science in mechanical

engineering from CIT (now Carnegie Mellon University). He went on to spend his entire

career at Carnegie Mellon becoming an instructor, assistant professor and later the

Theodore Ahrens professor of mechanical engineering.

In the 1950s, Osterle’s research centered on lubrication, and in the 1960s shifted to

direct energy conservation. He explored the magnetohydrodynamics field, an area of

thermodynamics, with other Carnegie Mellon professors. In 1956, he received the

Walter D. Hodson award from the American Society of Lubrication Engineers.

From 1975-1983 he served as the department head of nuclear science and engineering and

from 1985-1986 he served as acting head of the mechanical engineering department.

Osterle’s service as department head, professor and alumnus earned him the prestigious

Carnegie Mellon Alumni Merit Award in 1989. He remained a faculty member until 1995,

when he retired and continued to be an actively involved alumnus.

Osterle passed away peacefully on July 22, 2016 at the age of 90, shortly before his 91st

birthday. We remember and celebrate his commitment to Carnegie Mellon and the field

of engineering.

MECHANICAL ENGINEERING

19

Jeremiah Mpagazehe (E 2006, 2010, 2013) passed away in Kigali, Rwanda, on January 18,

2016. An accomplished researcher, scholar, project scientist and mentor, he had just learned

that he had won a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to commercialize high-value

algae products. He was a visiting professor at Carnegie Mellon Rwanda.

As a project scientist, he secured a new algae biofuel lab, obtained roughly a million dollars

worth of research equipment, and supervised and mentored almost 50 student researchers.

Deriving inspiration from his father, who is from Uganda, Mpagazehe’s long-held dream was

to explore research and educational opportunities in Africa.

The entire college is saddened by the loss of a colleague whose future held such promise.

Dan “Denver Dan” Smolens (E 1969) died on October 21, 2015 at home in

Oxnard, Calif. He fought a valiant battle with multiple myeloma. Our thoughts

are with his family and friends.


MECH E ALUMNI

ALUMNI NOTES:

MECHANICAL ENGINEERING

20

David Eisenberg (M.S. 2014, Ph.D.

2015) has enjoyed working on

sensors for firefighters,

water conservation,

cryopreservation and

medical devices at TDA Research Inc. in

Golden, Colo. The company also does

work in chemical processes, specialty

materials and clean energy. He was

well prepared through his studies and

research in Professor Yoed Rabin’s

Biothermal Technology Laboratory.

Jorge L. Jimenez-Rios’ (B.S. 2003,

Ph.D. 2007) current role is team

leader for Research and Development

Engineering for Urology and

Reproductive Health at Cook Medical

in Bloomington, Ind.

Karen J. (Lewis) Levin

(E 1976) accepted

a position as acting

operations manager/sr. program manager

for QinetiQ-North America (QNA)

in Pittsburgh, Pa. QNA develops robots

in a variety of sizes and with varying

capabilities that enable soldiers, first

responders and commercial workers

to stay out of harm’s way.

Anjali Sehrawat (M.S. and Ph.D.

2015) is an engineer at

Verdigris Technologies,

where her role ranges

from hardware development

to thermal modeling of buildings

to reduce energy consumption.

Located in the same building as

Carnegie Mellon Silicon Valley,

the company is a startup that

was co-founded by electrical and

computer engineering alumnus

Jonathan Chu.

Eric F. Spina (B.S. 1983) left his

position at Syracuse University to

become president of the University

of Dayton.

Conrad Zapanta (B.S. 1991)

received the

American Society for

Engineering Education

(ASEE) Biomedical

Engineering Division’s 2016 Theo

Pilkington Award for his significant

contributions to biomedical

engineering education. The

associate head of the Biomedical

Engineering Department at CMU,

he also earned the College of

Engineering’s Benjamin Richard

Teare Teaching Award.

Mana Heshmati founded Peace

Meal Kitchen, a

pop-up dining and

education series

that serves food from countries

with which the United States is in

conflict. The initiative was featured

in the Detroit Free Press. Heshmati,

an engineer with Ford, earned her

bachelor’s in 2011.

Alexander Lavin (M.S. 2014),

a former researcher at artificial

intelligence company Numenta,

was named to Forbes’ 30 Under

30 in Science. Look for a story on

Alex in the next issue of MechE

magazine!

Hannah Lyness (B.S. 2016)

won first place in

the senior honors

research poster competition at

CMU’s Meeting of the Minds last

spring. Her undergraduate work

on ankle/foot prostheses and

balance prepared her for her

current pursuit — a master’s in

robotics at the Robotics Institute.

Noah Tovares, who

earned his master’s

degree in 2013, is

a co-founder of Zenrez. This San

Francisco-based online service

provides last-minute deals on

fitness classes. A feature story on

Zenrez ran in Carnegie Mellon

Today.

Deepak Vidhani (B.S. 2013,

M.S. 2014) co-founded Autopods,

a “micro-taxi”

service of threewheeled,

battery-assisted

bicycles. CMU’s Piper

ran a story about the company

earlier this year.

We want to hear from you!

Email your news to

ewinn@andrew.cmu.edu


Mechanical engineering alumni,

faculty, staff, students and their

families enjoyed the annual

Spring Carnival lunch at Scaife

Hall last spring.

Students demonstrated

the additive manufacturing

techniques used to design and

3-D print products ranging

from a plastic buggy to metal

airplane parts.

SAVE

THE

DATE

Spring Carnival

April 20-22, 2017


Mechanical Engineering

Carnegie Mellon University

5000 Forbes Avenue

Pittsburgh, PA, 15213

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www.cmu.edu/me

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