Question of the Month

This fall, the Engineering School is hosting 30 faculty members from China who are here to learn about our approach to undergraduate engineering education. What do you think the benefits are to the Engineering School – our faculty and our students – in hosting this sort of global exchange?

I look forward to hearing from you,     
Dean Jim Aylor      

Image of Industrial-scale equipment at CCAM includes additive manufacturing, surface coating and surface prep cells  
CCAM High-Tech Consortium Lands European Giant Airbus

European aerospace giant Airbus is the latest corporate partner to sign on with the Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing, an industry, academic and government consortium dedicated to manufacturing breakthroughs and advancements in applied research. Also, Aerojet Rocketdyne, a missile propulsion and launch system manufacturer, announced it is expanding its role in CCAM. Both companies will become “organizing industry members,” the front rank of corporate involvement in the center. CCAM, based in Prince George County, Va., is an applied research center that provides production-ready, advanced manufacturing solutions to member companies across the globe. (More)

Image of U.Va. biomedical engineering professors Shayn Peirce-Cottler and Silvia Blemker  
Biomedical Researchers Put Collaboration Power Behind Muscle Study

As any engineer will tell you, how you frame a problem determines how you solve it. Both Silvia Blemker and Shayn Peirce-Cottler, associate professors in the University of Virginia’s Department of Biomedical Engineering, study muscle tissue, and they both have developed highly sophisticated computer models that trace the ways muscles adapt to changing circumstances. Because their approaches are distinct, the insights they drew from their research were distinct as well. Blemker looks at muscles from a biomechanical perspective. Peirce-Cottler takes a different approach. She looks at the muscle tissue in a blood vessel — tissue that enables blood vessels to expand and contract — and she’s interested in the biochemical signals that determine how this tissue responds to exercise and to disease. (More)

Image of Christopher McFarland  
Christopher McFarland - Engineering Student Follows Winding Path to Graduation

Going to college is a huge adjustment for any kid, but for Chris McFarland it was culture shock. The son of officers in the U.S. Foreign Service and U.S. Agency for International Development, McFarland grew up in Peru, El Salvador, Bolivia, Paraguay, Guatemala and Venezuela. His family relocated stateside at a tough time for a teenager — the start of McFarland’s senior year in high school. He came to Charlottesville and U.Va. with high hopes, but once on Grounds, he felt lost. During his third year, he asked for a leave of absence that turned into a three-year hiatus and a series of adventures. McFarland graduated in August with a degree in computer science and economics and plans to follow his dad’s path into the Foreign Service. (More)

Image of URDS Students  
Engineering Students Excel at Undergraduate Research and Design Symposium

From researching ways to increase organ donations to designing a minimally invasive surgical device for spinal fusions, undergraduate students presented their research findings to compete in the School of Engineering’s 27th Annual Undergraduate Research and Design Symposium last spring. The symposium offered selected students the opportunity to present their projects to a panel of University of Virginia faculty and industry leaders. For the first time in its 27 years, the symposium included a category for science, technology and society (STS) research; top prizes were given for research and design, and two top prizes were given for STS research. (More)

Image of Robert Klein and William Suhring  
The New Engineering Education — for the New Engineer

Robert Klein (MSE ’14) and William Suhring (MAE ’14) couldn’t afford to wait to take a class on stepper motors or liquid lenses. They were in the midst of creating something completely new — a low-cost, handheld optical tool that manufacturers could use to measure the roughness and cleanliness of a surface — and ignorance of anything that would further their design was not an option. “We had to find out what we needed to know and then go learn it,” Suhring says. Klein and Suhring were motivated by the real-world value of the project. But the two students were also energized by the sheer satisfaction of gaining useful knowledge. (More)

Image of Matthew Gerber  
Combating Crime with … Twitter?

If Twitter had been invented during Prohibition, Al Capone’s criminal career might have been much shorter. That’s one conclusion that could be drawn from Matthew Gerber’s use of Twitter data to improve crime forecasting in modern-day Chicago. A systems and information engineering professor, Gerber analyzed Twitter content originating in different areas across the Windy City and combined this analysis with traditional crime-forecasting methods. He found that the combined method was more accurate in predicting 19 out of 25 crime types in those locations than predictions based on historical patterns alone. “Crimes are committed in a physical space,” Gerber said. “Twitter gives us another way of looking at it.” (More)