News & Events


2011 Caltech Space Challenge


The Caltech Space Challenge was a Keck Institute for Space Studies workshop led by Aerospace graduate students Prakhar Mehrotra and Jon Mihaly. It brought together two teams of students from around the world to develop plans for deep-space missions that could carry humans to an asteroid and back. Both teams planned missions to an asteroid known as 1999 AO10, which is between 45 and 100 meters in length and is thought to have a relatively slow spin rate. Since relatively little is known about this asteroid, both teams called for robotic precursor missions that could gather information needed to help plan the later human mission. The competing mission descriptions, from Team Explorer and Team Voyager, were so evenly matched that the jurors had to use three different judging methods to finally settle on a winner. In the end, the victory and shiny new iPads went to Team Voyager. [Caltech Feature] [NPR Broadcast]

Tags: GALCIT KISS Prakhar Mehrotra Jon Mihaly Space Challenge

Building A Wind Tunnel To Produce Shear Flow


Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) student, Yuyang Fan, working with Research Scientist Daegyoum Kim and Professor Morteza Gharib, has built a wind tunnel that produces shear flow—flow in which wind speed changes with position or time.  The tunnel is six feet long, four feet wide, and four feet tall.  It is made from 100 coaster-sized computer fans that blow air at around nine meters per second. [Caltech Feature]

Tags: energy research highlights GALCIT Morteza Gharib SURF Yuyang Fan Daegyoum Kim

Professor Shepherd Wins Literature Award for Outstanding Technical Paper


Joseph E. Shepherd, C. L. "Kelly" Johnson Professor of Aeronautics and Professor of Mechanical Engineering, and colleague Kazuaki Inaba have received the 2011 G.E.O. Widera Literature Award for their paper entitled Flexural Waves in Fluid-filled Tubes Subject to Axial Impact.  This award is given annually to one outstanding technical paper published in the ASME Journal of Pressure Vessel Technology. [Read the Paper]

Tags: honors GALCIT MCE Joseph Shepherd Kazuaki Inaba

One-way Transmission System for Sound Waves


Postdoctoral scholar, Georgios Theocharis, and GALCIT alumnus Nicholas Boechler; working with Professor Chiara Daraio, have created the first tunable acoustic diode- a device that allows acoustic information to travel only in one direction, at controllable frequencies. [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: APhMS energy research highlights Chiara Daraio GALCIT Georgios Theocharis Nicholas Boechler postdocs

Best Paper Finalist in Robotics


Marin Kobilarov, a W. M. Keck Institute for Space Studies Postdoctoral Fellow, was a finalist for the best paper award in the 2011 Robotics: Science and Systems Conference - his paper is entitled Cross-Entropy Randomized Motion Planning .  The conference committee solicited original papers in all areas of robotics and followed a highly selective review process designed to select the best work of its kind in every category. Dr. Kobilarov is working on discrete geometric motion control of autonomous vehicles with Professors Mathieu Desbrun and Sergio Pelligrino.  [Read the paper]

Tags: honors GALCIT CMS Mathieu Desbrun Marin Kobilarov Sergio Pelligrino KISS postdocs

Wind-turbine Placement Produces Tenfold Power Increase


Field tests of John O. Dabiri, Professor of Aeronautics and Bioengineering, and colleagues' vertical-axis wind turbines have shown that the power output of wind farms can be increased by an order of magnitude—at least tenfold— by optimizing the placement of turbines on a given plot of land. "Dabiri's bioinspired engineering research is challenging the status quo in wind-energy technology," says Ares Rosakis, Division Chair and Theodore von Kármán Professor of Aeronautics and Professor of Mechanical Engineering. "This exemplifies how Caltech engineers' innovative approaches are tackling our society's greatest problems." [Caltech Press Release] [Videos of Turbines]

Tags: energy research highlights GALCIT John Dabiri

Yue Yang Receives 2011 Richard B. Chapman Memorial Award


Yue Yang, a graduate student working with Dale Pullin, is the recipient of the 2011 Richard B. Chapman Memorial Award. Dr. Yang has developed a novel Lagrangian formulation and multi-scale diagnostic tools to study fluid turbulence and vortex dynamics. The award is given to an EAS graduate student in hydrodynamics who has distinguished himself or herself in research.

Tags: honors energy GALCIT Richard B. Chapman Memorial Award Yue Yang Dale Pullin

French Republic Knights Professor Ravichandran


G. Ravichandran, John E. Goode, Jr. Professor of Aerospace and Professor of Mechanical Engineering, and Director of the Graduate Aerospace Laboratories (GALCIT) has been selected to receive the Chevalier de l'ordre des Palmes Académiques, which is the Knight grade of the French Republic's Order of Academic Palms. Founded by Napoleon in 1808 to honor educators and scholars,  this distinction recognizes eminent personalities who have made significant contributions to the development of French culture, science, and education.  

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Tags: honors GALCIT MCE Guruswami Ravichandran Order of Academic Palms

Experiments Settle Long-Standing Debate about Mysterious Array Formations in Nanofilms


Sandra M. Troian, Professor of Applied Physics, Aeronautics, and Mechanical Engineering, and colleagues' experiments have confirmed which of three possible mechanisms is responsible for the spontaneous formation of three-dimensional (3-D) pillar arrays in nanofilms (polymer films that are billionths of a meter thick). "My ultimate goal is to develop a suite of 3-D lithographic techniques based on remote, digital modulation of thermal, electrical, and magnetic surface forces," Troian says. Confirmation of the correct mechanism has allowed her to deduce the maximum resolution or minimum feature size ultimately possible with these patterning techniques. [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: APhMS research highlights GALCIT MCE Sandra Troian

How an Idea Becomes a Business


Students in Ken Pickar's course Entrepreneurial Development (E 102) have the opportunity to identify a technology currently under study at Caltech and develop a business plan for it. The ideas used by the students this year included a solid-state memory technology developed by Jehoshua (Shuki) Bruck, Gordon and Betty Moore Professor of Computation and Neural Systems and Electrical Engineering. In this business plan the students proposed targeting Netflix and other high-volume streaming content providers. Another team pinpointed a new market for the vertical wind turbines of John O. Dabiri, Professor of Aeronautics and Bioengineering. A third team pitched a noninvasive method for breaking up arterial plaques using the concentrated-acoustic-pulse technology developed by Chiara Daraio, Professor of Aeronautics and Applied Physics. [Caltech Feature]

Tags: APhMS EE research highlights Chiara Daraio GALCIT Jehoshua Bruck John Dabiri Ken Pickar