University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Congratulations to the UMass ASCE student chapter Steel Bridge Team placed fourth overall at the ASCE Northeast Regional Competition hosted at UConn! The UMass Amherst bridge design was one of only five of 15 competitors to successfully hold the competition load of 2500 lbs.  The team designed a 249 lb, 20 ½ ft truss bridge with a cantilever and was awarded first place in Stiffness, second place in Aesthetics, and was the lightest truss design before infractions were added to their score.  The team built the bridge in 22 minutes and 38 seconds using launched construction to span the “river,” receiving creativity and safety thumbs-up from the judges. Zachary Bartula, Dan Clasby and Trent Guihan led the 17 member team, entirely comprised of first time participants. 

ElectroPure, a venture created by Ph.D. candidate Julie Bliss Mullen of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, won the $26,000 first prize in the finals of the University of Massachusetts Innovation Challenge on April 6. Mullen has developed a water treatment device at a competitive price and aimed at homes and small community systems such as schools to combat diverse water quality issues.

The UMass Amherst Institute for Teaching Excellence & Faculty Development, or TEFD, has informed Assistant Professor Caitlyn Butler of the Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) Department that its Selection Committee has chosen her as one of eight campus recipients of the 2017-18 Lilly Fellowship for Teaching Excellence. Among several other benefits, the fellowship involves $14,000 in funding split between Butler and the CEE department. “This is a significant achievement given the high volume and quality of nominations this year, which the committee members described as ‘truly astounding,’” said Brian Baldi of TEFD.

Richard Palmer, the head of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department and the university director of the Northeast Climate Science Center, has been elected to the grade of Distinguished Member of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). As the ASCE letter to announce the honor said in part, “You will also be interested to know that, prior to this year's election of nine new Distinguished Members, only 688 civil engineers in the 165-year history of ASCE have been similarly honored, and there are only 228 Distinguished Members among the Society’s current membership of over 150,000 people.”

The Department Head for Civil and Environmental Engineering, Dr. Richard Palmer, was elected to the grade of Distinguished Member of ASCE. Prior to this year's election, only 688 civil engineers in the 165-year history of ASCE have been similarly honored, and there are only 288 Distinguished Members among the Society's current membership of over 150,00 people. This is the highest honor ASCE can bestow.

We congratulate Dr. Palmer on this well-deserved honor.

Five of the 10 finalists in the final round of the Graduate School’s inaugural Three Minute Thesis (3MT) contest are from the College of Engineering. The event, which is free and open to the public, will be held on March 24 from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. in the Student Union Ballroom. See event flyer. 3MT finalists will highlight their research in engaging three-minute presentations, with $1,000 going to the winner, $500 to the runner-up, and $500 to the People’s Choice as voted on by the audience. Light refreshments will be provided for the audience so, for catering purposes, pre-registration is requested: pre-register here »

Two of the seven teams competing in April for the finals of the University of Massachusetts Innovation Challenge are from the College of Engineering. This year-long series of entrepreneurial competitions will climax on April 6 at 5:00 p.m. in the Campus Center Amherst Room, when the seven teams of finalists will be competing for $65,000 in funding to support their ventures. Thus far, during the 12th year of the annual Innovation Challenge, 61 pitches have been heard, and a total of $17,000 has been awarded to promising and enterprising ventures. The two engineering teams will be pitching an economical water-treatment device for community water systems and an inexpensive blood-analysis tool for dialysis patients.

Assistant Professor Colin J Gleason attended two meetings in his capacity as a Science Team member for the forthcoming NASA Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) mission. He first attended the International Workshop to Reconcile Northern Permafrost Region Methane Budgets, held in Seattle from March 7-9.

Prof Casey Brown led a training workshop entitled Addressing Climate Uncertainties in Water Projects at the Africa 2017 Hydropower Conference in Marrakech, Morocco. The training was sponsored by the World Bank and the Nordic Development Fund. The two day training included over 30 water professionals from throughout Africa. The event is the latest training workshop that Prof Brown and the Hydrosystems Research Group to help prepare water engineers for the challenges of climate change, following training events held in Washington DC, Nepal, Mexico, Kenya and Amherst.

Ph. D Candidate Julie Bliss Mullen is a finalist at the UMass Innovation Challenge and at the National Academy of Inventors conference. Julie was selected as one of the top 7 among 25 competitive applications for the semi-final and will be competing in the final on April 6th. The 7 teams will be competing for up to $65,000 worth of funding for their ventures. Julie was also selected as a finalist for the National Academy of Inventors which will be held April 7th in Boston at the Marriott Long Wharf. 

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