Departmental Contact Info Home About MIE
Home > News > April 2001

Newsletters



 

MIE SPRING FACULTY NEWSLETTER


WHAT IS THE MIE FACULTY UP TO THIS SPRING?
A wide array of exciting projects and activities!

Collaborative Activities

First, some medical applications…

Robert Gao received a one-year grant from the UMass-Baystate Medical Center Collaborative Research Grant (CBR) program to support his work on numerical and experimental evaluations of "lumbar spine fixation" techniques. Collaborators of this research are two surgeons from the Baystate Medical Center and New England Orthopedic Surgeons.

Industrial Engineering Ph.D. student Brian Nathanson and Prof. Richard Giglio are achieving success in developing a summary statistic, which can help physicians assess the status and guide treatment of critically ill patients in intensive care units. Typically, 20 or more physiological measurements are taken on critically ill patients, and physicians are the first to admit they suffer from information overload. There are standard procedures for combining physiological information but they, along with most intuitive approaches, tend to rate patients as improving if their measurements are close to normal. Yet very ill patients are not normal, and it is common for patients exhibiting some extreme values to recover, while others with mostly normal measurements recover more slowly or die. Rather than using classical statistical techniques, the UMass researchers are employing Data Envelopment Analysis, a technique developed by Operations Research analysts for assessing the productivity of complex systems with multiple inputs and outputs. Rather than look to the norm as ideal, DEA seeks to identify "efficient" units. For an ill patient, one input (of many) might be pulse rate while one output (of many) might be the amount of oxygen in the blood. So rather than worry about the absolute value of pulse rate, one would attempt to see how efficiently the patient was converting his pulse rate to oxygen in the blood, and how that efficiency was changing as time progressed. Unlike existing measures based on common statistical techniques, DEA does not assume that one response is ideal. Rather it recognizes that there may be more than one way for a patient to effectively deal with trauma. Furthermore, in identifying "efficient" patients, the DEA procedure offers clues about how to improve the status of "inefficient" patients, something not offered by any of the procedures currently in use. Working with Dr. Thomas Higgins, the Head of Critical Care Medicine at Baystate Medical Center and a Professor at Tufts Medical School, Brian Nathanson and Prof. Giglio have tested their procedure on two sets of patients, one suffering from septic shock and the other from head trauma. In both instances the DEA methods outperformed other techniques, a result which was reported at a critical care conference. Patients who were relatively "efficient" and whose efficiencies were improving through time were more likely than others to survive, even though these efficient patients often had physiological measurements far from the norm. A concept paper was submitted to a Division of the National Institutes of Health and the reviewers called it "one of the most interesting approaches they had seen in some time". The Umass/Baystate team was encouraged to submit a proposal, which is now under review.

Engineering at work to aide the autistic and the disabled…

Sundar Krishnamurty and Robert Gao have been working with the "Community
Resources for People with Autism" in Easthampton, MA, to develop a "Smart
Pressure Sleeping Bag" (SPSB) that provides deep pressure stimulation to children with autism. Autism is a neurological disorder that occurs in approximately 1 in 500 children. Clinical research has shown that applying deep pressure to an autistic child creates a calming effect, which in turn helps the child in learning, communication, and social interactions. The sleeping bag under development aims at helping autistic children to comfortably fall asleep by providing uniform and regulated deep pressure stimulation, based on the child's own GSR (Galvanic Skin Response) feedback.

Robert Gao, John Ritter, Don Fisher, Sundar Krishnamurty, and Janis Terpenny are continuing work on grants from the National Science Foundation and a Public Service Endowment Grant from the University of Massachusetts on "Senior Design Projects to Aid the Disabled". Faculty and students continue to work closely with the Lemelson Assistive Technology Development Center (LATDC) at the Hampshire College and the Adaptive Design Services (ADS) in Northampton. New community partners this year include the Universal Access Program under the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Management and Community Resources for People with Autism (see website at http://mielsvr2.ecs.umass.edu/at/home.htm). Results of this work will appear in a paper that will be presented by Janis Terpenny at the ASEE Conference held in Albuquerque, New Mexico, June 24-27, 2001.

Understanding how we visualize objects…

Ian Grosse, Sundar Krishnamurty, Larry Murch, Dean Poli and Don Fisher together with graduate students in this department (Hasmik Mehranian, Matthew Romoser, Anand Sampath, and Dileep Sathyarayana) and faculty and graduate students in Psychology and Computer Science are working on the second year of a three-year research project funded with monies from the National Science Foundation and the General Electric Fund. Last year, they found that engineering undergraduates have particular difficulty rotating three-dimensional objects. Such skills are needed to solve a broad range of problems in science, mathematics and engineering. Here in our department, the skills are critical to problem solving in manufacturing (stamping and die casting), engineering drawing, and kinematics. This year, the faculty and graduate students have constructed a number of computer-based tutors designed to teach undergraduates the basic visualization skills that they need in their courses. These tutors are now being evaluated and can be viewed on the web site (http://mielsvr2.ecs.umass.edu/vsr/). Weekly meetings are held at noon every Friday. A symposium will again be held in the third week of May. Any interested faculty or graduate students are more than welcome to attend.

Testing material performance…

Karl Jakus, along with Jeff Knox of Kollmorgen who spends several days a month on campus, a graduate student, Premal Shah, and two undergraduates, Rene Robert and Justin Piccirillo, had great success in testing submarine periscope seal performance for the Kollmorgen Corporation. The project involved the construction of a test apparatus that measures the required torque to turn the seal as a function of lubricant pressure, clamping pressure that holds the two halves of the seal together, and rotational speed and direction. The first seal tested provided very interesting information about the mechanism of lubrication under the different operating conditions. Recently they installed a computer based data acquisition system that greatly improves the resolution of the experiments. Currently, they are waiting for the delivery of the second seal.

And investigating mass customization in traditional manufacturing…

Ana Muriel has recently been awarded a three-year GOALI grant from NSF for the project "Capacity and Flexibility Planning in a Make-to-Order Environment". This is a collaboration with Ebru Bish (Virginia Tech ) and Stephan Biller (Enterprise Systems Lab at General Motors). Many manufacturers, including GM, are considering a shift towards make-to-order production in order to allow consumers to customize their products (in a similar fashion as Dell successfully does in the personal computer business). In this new environment, companies need to increase their flexibility to absorb the variability in demand, which was previously buffered by final goods inventory. Three different levers of flexibility can be pulled to handle the demand variability: (1) manufacturing flexibility, resulting from being able to build different products in the same plant at the same time, (2) price flexibility, i.e., dynamically changing price over time, and (3) delivery time flexibility, i.e., offering financial incentives for customers who are willing to wait longer for their products. The research team is studying the impact of each of these levers on capacity decisions and on the overall performance of the supply chain to aide traditional manufacturers in their transition towards mass customization. Part of this work will appear as a chapter "Impact of Manufacturing Flexibility on Supply Chain Performance in the Automotive Industry" in the upcoming book "Supply Chain Structures: Coordination, Information and Optimization" edited by David Yao and Jeannette Song.


MIE Labs

The Human Performance Laboratory has a new Associate Director, Professor David Noyce in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Professor Noyce is very active in the field of human factors and transportation. He is doing pioneering work in the areas of signalization and safety. Research on the driving simulator continues full steam ahead. Massport just finished funding a study of the signs at Logan International Airport and wants to pursue additional work (done in collaboration with Professors Shuldiner and Hancock). The Massachusetts Highway Department and the Federal Highway Administration are funding research on signage in the tunnel sections of the Central Artery (Big Dig) in downtown Boston (done in collaboration with Professors Duffy and Upchurch). The National Cooperative Highway Research Project is funding research on signalized left turn intersections (Professor Noyce). And work will soon be underway with the Governor's Highway Safety Bureau (studies of the effect of low levels of alcohol on driving behavior), the Massachusetts Highway Department (studies of the efficacy of centerline rumble strips) and the Vermont DOT (studies of the adequacy of bicycle lanes of different widths).

Professor Deshmukh and his students in the FARMS Lab have been focusing their research on developing distributed systems for design and control of complex systems. In 2000-2001, there were four active projects in the laboratory, Multi-Agent Diagnostics (NSF), Multi-Agent Architecture for Design (NASA), Negotiation Tool-Kit for Agents (DARPA, in collaboration with Professor Vic Lesser of Computer Science), and Emergent Organizational Structures in Scalable Enterprises (NSF, in collaboration with Professors Ana Muriel, Vic Lesser and Judy Whipple).


Individual Faculty News

Kourosh Danai presented two papers at the International Mechanical Engineering Congress in Orlando in November 2000. The papers were entitled: "Fault Diagnosis of an Internal Combustion Engine with embedded Radial Basis Function Modules," (by Gan, C., Danai, K., and Rizzoni, G.), and "A Knowledge-Based Tuning Method for Injection Molding Machines," (by Yang, D., Danai, K., and Kazmer, D.). He also chaired a session on Intelligent Systems at the Congress.

On the teaching front, Professor Deshmukh offered "IE.COM - Introduction to Information Engineering" for freshmen first time in Fall 2000. Students worked in teams to develop new product/process/service concepts, and convert these ideas into business plans. He is also working with Professor David Kazmer and Associate Dean Dennis Hanno of Isenberg School of Management to develop a business minor for engineering students.

Don Fisher was appointed to the Committee on Human Factors, a standing committee at the National Academy of Sciences. And he continues to serve on a study section of the National Institutes of Health.

Robert Gao was co-organizer and co-chairman of a workshop on "Built-in-Test (BIT) Technology for Smart Sensors and Systems", held on November 16, 2000, at NIST in Gaithersburg, Maryland. BIT has been widely applied for the design and testing of mixed-signal electronic and electromechanical systems, such as system-on-a-chip or sensor integrated machine tools. The workshop reviewed the current status of BIT research, standards, and applications, and discussed issues on how to promote its future growth in industry/government labs/academia.

Jim Manwell just returned from the Second International Workshop on Transmission Systems for Offshore Wind Farms, which was held in Stockholm, Sweden. Offshore wind energy is a concept that was actually invented at UMass in the early 1970's by Prof. William Heronemus (now retired). The concept has not yet been implemented in the US, but it is now one of the fastest growing sources of electricity in northern Europe, with a number of projects already producing power and thousands of megawatts expected to come on line in the next few years. Development of such projects has been giving engineers of all types a plethora of interesting new challenges.

Blair Perot has recently acquired two large PC cluster supercomputers. One machine contains 128 Intel Pentium III 800 Mhz processors and is a shared resource for faculty members in Mechanical and Chemical Engineering, Physics, Applied Mathematics and Computer Science. It is the result of a $250,560 Major Research Instrumentation grant from NSF written by Prof. Perot. A second 60-processor machine (also 800 Mhz Pentium III) has been installed in the Theoretical and Computational Fluid Dynamics Laboratory for dedicated use. This PC cluster, which will total 150 processors by the summer of 2001, was the result of a Office of Naval Research DURIP grant for $136,539. See attached pictures. Prof. Perot has recently received a three-year, $287,402 grant from the Office of Naval Research to develop a kinetic theory of turbulence and apply it to turbulence modeling and simulation.

David Schmidt received a faculty Research Grant for "Development of a Spray Test Code."
The project will allow him to test new numerical methods for spray simulation. He will look at issues of accuracy and convergence and investigate how spray models should best be constructed.

Janis Terpenny is continuing work with Telaxis Communications on a project titled "Improving Engineering Processes and Productivity Through Knowledge Capture and Reuse". Web hosted solutions are being developed to facilitate design processes and knowledge reuse and sharing. Work in design methodology and representation for next generation design systems is expanding with representation and protocols for knowledge exchange being developed in a project with Apprentice Systems, Inc. (http://www.apprenticesystems.com/). In addition, Professor Terpenny was an invited participant in an NSF sponsored workshop on "e-Product Design and Realization". Based on this workshop Professor Terpenny is now collaborating in a grant proposal for an NSF industry/university cooperative center. Professor Terpenny and co-PI Beverly Woolf in Computer Science have been awarded a grant through the Commonwealth Information Technology Initiative (CITI) for a new course entitled "Intelligent and Integrated Design Systems". The objective is to bridge the gap between engineering and information technology education in the area of design (see http://mielsvr2.ecs.umass.edu/mie597/index.html). Professor Terpenny is also continuing work on an NSF sponsored project in collaboration with Professor Sullivan at Virginia Tech and GE Industrial Systems on a Virtual Classroom for Economics of Engineering Design (see http://mielsvrs.ecs.umass.edu/virtual_econ/). The virtual classroom includes modular course materials as well as projects with industry based on real-world open-ended problems. Results of this work will appear in a paper that will be presented by Professor Terpenny at the ASEE Conference held in Albuquerque, New Mexico, June 24-27, 2001.

SAD GOODBYES….

Professor William Goss will retire from the MIE Department at the end of this spring semester after more than 30 years of college teaching. Of course, he wasn't always interested in teaching. Following his Bachelor's degree he had a signing bonus with the Washington Senators but unfortunately threw out his pitching arm before he even finished spring training. He then went on to graduate school, worked for Pratt & Whitney and taught in the Engineering Schools at UConn and VPI before coming to UMass. In the 1970's he, along with Paul Shuldiner in Civil Engineering, started the free campus bus system that many of us enjoy today. He now acts as an international expert in the field of fenestration, which deals with the energy loss through doors and windows. In his area of research he has served on national and international committees traveling all over the globe in what seems like an innumerable string of sabbatical leaves. Not surprisingly he built an energy-efficient home here a few years ago which incorporated the latest in window technology along with super insulation. The house gets his heat from ground water using a heat pump and is so air tight that it can use an air-to-air heat exchanger warming incoming air with the heat from the air exhaust. Sadly that house in now on the market because his future plans include residence in Florida in the winter and Cape Cod in the summer spending more time in community service.

David Kazmer will be leaving the university to focus on his passion of engineering practice. He will take up a position as Director of Research at a machinery supplier to the plastics industry.

STUDENT NEWS

Rosa DeRamus Motley was awarded a full year fellowship from the New England University Transportation Center. She is studying ways to improve signage at Logan International Airport in Boston.

Mimi Pabon Gonzalez recently was awarded her Ph.D. and received offers to join both the faculty of the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez and the Puerto Rico Technical University.

Anand Sundaram, the first of Professor Muriel's students to graduate, will be taking up a consulting position in the Supply Chain Consulting branch of PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

EDITORIAL COMMENTS

Please send email to muriel@ecs.umass.edu if you have ideas on how to improve the faculty newsletter. Cheers!

 

 

 



Home | Undergraduate programs | Graduate Programs | Research Labs | Faculty | About MIE | Contacts
UMass Logo Copyright 2000 University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
Produced and maintained by the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering
This is an official page of the University of Massachusetts Amherst Campus.