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November 2002


New Arrivals


Congratulations to Ana Muriel and husband! Their son Daniel was born on Friday October 25 at 12:10 pm. He is 6lbs and 13 ounces and 20.5 inches in length. Both mom and baby are doing well at home now.


We have 2 new faculty members this year. Bob Hyers in M. E. comes to UMass from NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, where he was a research scientist in Microgravity Materials Science. Before that he received both his S.B. and Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Materials Engineering.  His main area of interest is materials processing.


Erin Baker in I.E. is working on Climate Change Policy in the face of uncertainty. Her general interests are in decision theory applied to energy and environmental issues. She hopes to find a project related to Ghana (in West Africa), where she taught math in the Peace Corps before getting her Ph.D. at Stanford in Engineering Economic Systems.  She has also taught math in junior high, and worked as an actuary for Coopers and Lybrand.


In the News




Web-based driving scenarios are part of the driving simulator lab


AMHERST, Mass. – Younger, inexperienced drivers are dying at a rate some 10 times higher than more experienced drivers.  A University of Massachusetts Amherst researcher is helping to teach new drivers to anticipate dangerous situations on the roadway – without endangering themselves or others. Donald Fisher, professor of mechanical and industrial engineering, has created a series of sixteen driving scenarios which teach new drivers to be alert to situations that demand extra caution. The scenarios, which are on the World Wide Web, “drive” through each situation, and then detail safe and unsafe responses. A narrator describes the driving choices as the virtual car moves.


            “We know that new drivers understand the basics of operating a car,” Fisher said, “but problems arise when these new drivers are faced with potentially hazardous situations, such as a hidden stop sign, or a bicyclist riding toward a vehicle. Our research shows that, unlike more experienced drivers, people who are new behind the wheel don’t necessarily identify these situations as being potentially dangerous, and therefore they often don’t respond in the safest way possible.”


            The project is an outcropping of research at the Human Performance Laboratory, a facility that contains an advanced driving simulator in which a sedan is placed before three screens, onto which highways and neighborhoods are projected. The “car” reads the driver’s speed, direction, and even eye movements as input.


“We tested twenty-four teenagers, and followed their eye movements, to determine whether they really know where the danger is, and the simple fact is, they don’t,” said Fisher. In one particular scenario, in which a driver's view of the traffic in the opposing lane across the intersection is partly blocked by a truck slightly ahead of the driver and in the left turn lane, almost none of the new drivers, (defined as those on the road six months or less), looked at the right-front corner of the truck to see whether a vehicle might be turning from the opposing lane. However, 30 percent of 20 year-olds looked for danger, and 70 percent of 60 year-olds looked. “The younger drivers, for the most part, are just not aware or predicting ahead,” said Fisher.




Sundar Krishnamurty and Robert Gao's work on deep-pressure vest for children with autism was featured in the May 2002 issue of PTC Express, a web-based monthly newsletter of PTC (Parametric Technology Corporation). The title of the article was Helping Today's Students Become Tomorrow's Innovators.  Community Center for People with Autism also had a feature article on their work in their Fall/Winter 2001-2002 issue titled "Deep Pressure Vests and Sleeping Bags: A UMass Research Project.” As part of PTC's campaign to highlight the importance of design, PTC did a video-shoot of Krishnamurty's MIE313 classroom in April 2002 and also interviewed students and faculty. This video will be used for distribution to high schools.  It was also shown at the PTC's 2002 Design for the Future Conference in August 2002, Boston.


Three student groups from Krishnamurty's class of MIE313: Design of Mechanical Components participated in the PTC and Motorola sponsored "Flip for Design Competition." Two groups made it to the semifinals, and one group won the first prize in the technical merit category. The winning team of Paul Witherel, Travis Dane, Jay Robbins, and Alexander Brown were invited to present their work at the Motorola booth in Epcott Center, Orlando in June 2002. Larry Rivais from the Springfield Union Newspaper wrote a feature article on their design and their experience titled “Classwork a matter of design” which appeared in the newspaper's July 8, 2002 issue


Awards and Distinctions


Jonathan Rothstein was selected to receive the Frenkiel Award from the American Physics Society Division of Fluid Dynamics in recognition of significant contributions to fluid mechanics published in Physics of Fluids in 2001.  He will be accepting the award at the annual meeting of the APS Division of Fluid Dynamics in Dallas in November


Janis Terpenny was awarded the Women in Engineering Program Recognition Award in May 2002.

Blair Perot received the College Outstanding Junior Faculty Award, a Lilly Fellowship from the Center for Teaching and the College Outstanding Teacher Award in May 2002


Robert Gao was formally appointed Adjunct Professor at the School of Mechanical Engineering and Automation by the Northeastern University in Shenyang, China.  He gave several lectures during his visit to the university in July, and discussed with faculty and administration on collaborative research and graduate student education in the area of micro electromechanical sensors and manufacturing process monitoring


Grants and Publications


Dr Lawrence Ambs, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Dr. Beka Kosanovic have been awarded $861,000 over four years from the Department of Energy for operation of the Industrial Assessment Center (IAC). The IAC has been operating at UMass since 1984 under Dr. Ambs and provides education and training for MIE graduate students. Students and staff provide industrial resource assessments for small to medium manufacturing facilities. Assessments target savings from energy efficiency, waste minimization and productivity improvements. Over 550 assessments have been performed throughout New England and New York. Yearly savings for manufacturers served by the IAC exceed $30,000,000.


Dr. Eric Winkler, Technical Services Director at CEERE, was awarded, for the second year in a row, $72,800 to provide information and outreach to manufacturers in Massachusetts on energy efficiency programs available through state, federal, and private sector sources. This funding also came from the DOE. This program supports the University lead “Massachusetts Industries of the Future” program (, which leverages R&D funds and service programs through public/private partnerships. More than 50 companies and 25 public and trade group associations are participants in this program.


CEERE received $170,000 from the Chancellor to support the University participation in the Strategic Envirotechnology and Energy Technology Commercialization Program (STEP)  Funding for this program is being used to support energy program innovations directly on Campus as well as in the Commonwealth at large.  In particular the program is supporting deployment of technologies which are high risk with high return situations.


Robert Gao has received a three-year $325,000 grant from NSF on integrated signal processing techniques for bearing health assessment and life prediction.  This grant is aimed at developing a new multi-domain approach for bearing defect signature extraction, severity identification, and time-to-failure prognosis. The project is co-sponsored by the SKF Condition Monitoring company.  In addition, Professor Gao has received third-year funding from the UMass-Baystate Medical Center Collaborative Program to continue his work on biomechanical evaluation of lumbar spine fixation techniques. Highlights from this work will be presented at the upcoming ASME IMECE conference in New Orleans.

Janis Terpenny has been awarded an NSF Planning Grant Awarded for a “Multi-University Center for E-Design: IT Enabled Design and Realization of Engineered Products and Systems,” under the NSF - Industry University Cooperative Research Center (IUCRC) program. This is a multi-university NSF IUCRC with University of Pittsburgh. Faculty from across the UMass campus are participating, including faculty in Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, Computer Science and the School of Management.  A large meeting with industries interested in partnering will be held in Pittsburgh, Dec 9-10.


Professor Smith has submitted a patent application for an algorithm for routing

in resilient packet ring networks. This is joint work with Peter Kubat of Verizon

Laboratories in Waltham, Massachusetts


Blair Perot received an exploratory grant from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research to begin looking at drag reduction using ultrahydrophibic surfaces with Prof. Rothstein. He has also had 3 papers published recently in the Journal of Turbulence and Journal of Computational Physics


Professor Rothstein has also recently received a Faculty Research Grant and his had several papers accepted for publication in the Journal of Non-Newtonian Fluid Dynamics and the Journal of Rheology



Invited Seminars and Conference Presentations

CEERE is sponsoring a workshop on Wind Energy in New England Islands and Coastal Communities: Wind Energy on the Community Scale. For more information see their web site

CEERE is also a co-organizer of a seminar and workshop on Energy Efficient windows and Building Design in New Delhi (Nov 22-23, 2002) and Bangalore (Nov 25-26, 2002) in India. Dr. Charlie Curcija from CEERE is one of featured seminar speakers from USA. This seminar and workshop is intended to introduce fenestration (windows, doors, curtain walls and other transparent façade systems) simulation programs like WINDOW, OPTICS and THERM and the use of whole building energy simulation software in energy efficient design of new buildings and improvement of energy performance of existing buildings. Both Dr. Curcija and Dr. Mahabir Bhandari from CEERE will be teaching the use of software in rating and design of fenestration systems and energy efficient design of buildings during workshops in New Delhi and Bangalore. For more details Charlie Curcija can be reached at 413/545-4454 or


Steve Malkin was an invited keynote speaker at the Machining 2002 conference which was held in Sao Paulo, Brazil, October 29 - 31. While in Brazil, he also visited and presented seminars at three other universities: University of Sao Paulo in Sao Carlos, University of Campinas, and Sao Paulo State University in Bauru.


Professor Jim Smith was invited to Saint Petersburg Russia for two weeks this last June

to work with faculty members at the Saint Petersburg State Technical University Department of Systems and Cybernetics on Location and Land Use Planning Models. Jim gave seminars in St. Petersburg and Pskov, Russia and is collaborating with professors at the University on modeling extreme events and emergency evacuation planning models.


Professor Smith was also invited for three weeks this past August to the Department of Electrical Engineering at the University of Melbourne, Melbourne Australia to work on network design problems. In particular, Jim was working with colleagues at the Department of Electrical Engineering on algorithms for 3-dimensional Steiner Minimal Tree problems. Jim also gave two seminars in Melbourne and even took a tour of the Great Ocean Road along the coast of Australia. Jim highly recommends the trip.


Blair Perot made conference presentations in Hawaii and Mallorca on the application of the turbulent potential model to complex flows and to unsteady flows.

Staff from CEERE presented talks at two conferences held on the Amherst Campus this fall, as well as at national and international conferences. Dr. Beka Kosanovic and Dr. Eric Winkler both presented at A US Department of Energy Distributed Energy Road Show held in series with the Massachusetts Building Inspectors Annual Conference.  Dr. Kosanovic presented a talk on Combined Heat and Power sand Peak Shaving.  Dr. Winkler presented information about University Resources and statewide program supporting energy efficiency and renewable energy. Dr. Eric Winkler presented a talk at the Annual Conference on Watershed Conservation, 2002.  His talk covered the state's role in stormwater management innovation and advances in engineered systems for meeting the water quality requirements under federal and state law. Dr. Lawrence L. Ambs presented a talk on the system optimization of water recovery systems for steam-injected gas turbines at the ECOS 2002 Conference Berlin, Germany this past July. Dr. Beka Kosanovic presented a talk on the economic analysis of water recovery systems for steam injected gas turbines at the ASME 2002 international joint power generation conference in phoenix in June.

Janis Terpenny has published and presented seven refereed conference papers, including an award winning paper entitled “Utilizing the Internet to Improve Student Learning in a First Course in Engineering Economy with Real-World Unsolved Problems in Collaboration with Industry.”  This paper, co-authored by Sullivan, Singh, and Sward, won the best paper award in Engineering Economy Division of the ASEE Annual Conference as well as first runner up in Professional Interest Council III.

Industry Connections


CEERE completed a technology assessment of the Vortechs™ system for Strategic Envirotechnology Partnership (STEP), which promotes the innovation of new technologies to meet the Commonwealth’s energy and environmental goals.  The Vortechs™ system is a structural Best Management Practice (BMP) used to provide treatment of stormwater runoff.  The technology uses hydrodynamic separation to remove a significant portion of sediment from stormwater. 


The Vortechs™ system is considered an innovative treatment technology that can be used to meet the Commonwealth’s Stormwater Standards as outlined in the Stormwater Management Handbooks.  For innovative technologies, performance claims must be supported before the technology is approved for use by Conservation Commissions or other permitting entities.  Historically, STEP Technology Assessments have been accepted by Conservation Commissions as substantiation of performance.  The Vortechs™ Technology Assessment report provides an analysis of both laboratory and field data collected in support of the performance claims of the VortechsTM system.




Margaret Patterson, Professor Smith's Ph.D. student, is finishing up her dissertation work on graph theoretic approaches to the facility layout problem. She has already produced three papers from her dissertation which are being submitted to journals for publication.


Mustafa Yuzukirmizi will be presenting his Ph.D. proposal defense very soon. He is working on closed queuing network models of production and manufacturing systems with single and multiple servers and multiple products. He has some generated some very interesting results so far.


Alex Stepanov is beginning his Ph.D. work on emergency planning and evacuation modeling of vehicular networks with state dependent queuing models. He is working with both transient and steady state models. He also has some interesting results for these special traffic networks.


Li Zhang and Charles (Burt) Theurer (Ph.D. students of Robert Gao and David Kazmer) have presented two papers at the 30th NAMRI conference in Purdue University and the IEEE Sensors conference in Orlando, FL. The papers describe the design, analysis, and experimental validation of a new sensor that extracts energy from the pressure differential at the injection molding cavity as a self-contained power source. Another paper will be presented at the upcoming ASME IMECE conference on the design of an “energy switch” to enable ultrasound signal generation for wireless mold pressure measurement. The papers are based on their NSF project "Self-Energized Micro Sensors for Process Monitoring of Injection Molding''


As faculty advisor, Janis Terpenny is proud to announce that the UMass IIE Student Chapter received 2002 Bronze Recognition Award from National Headquarters in 2002.  Congratulations IIE!


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