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Vol. 7, No. 7; December 14, 2006

Around Campus

WPI to Offer First Robotics Major

WPI plans to offer the nation's first bachelor's degree program in robotics engineering beginning in the fall of 2007, pending a final review in February by the Board of Trustees.

The new program will be offered jointly by the Computer Science, Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering departments. Students will receive a firm grounding in the fundamentals of these fields, and learn to apply them to design and build robots and robotic systems for a variety of applications. Graduates will be well-prepared for careers in the rapidly expanding robotics industry and for graduate work in the field. The program includes an entrepreneurship course to ensure that students will have the entrepreneurial skills they will need to turn their robotics ideas into viable businesses.

The new program will be offered jointly by the Computer Science, Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering departments. Students will receive a firm grounding in the fundamentals of these fields, and learn to apply them to design and build robots and robotic systems for a variety of applications. Graduates will be well-prepared for careers in the rapidly expanding robotics industry and for graduate work in the field. The program includes an entrepreneurship course to ensure that students will have the entrepreneurial skills they will need to turn their robotics ideas into viable businesses.

Robotics is one of the fastest growing areas of technology, notes Carol Simpson, provost and senior vice president. Already, robotic systems are finding applications in fields as diverse as manufacturing, medicine, elder care, defense, and home maintenance. As the cost of computers, sensors, and actuators continues to fall, the potential for robots to transform all aspects of technology and society, while improving our lives, is almost limitless.

WPI Awarded Chamber's Silver Hammer

At Mechanics Hall on Dec. 12, the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce honored WPI and Worcester Business Development Corp. with the Silver Hammer Award, in recognition of their partnership to preserve a historic former industrial building at Gateway Park.

The building, at 68 Prescott Street, is part of the four-story, 124,600-squarefoot future Life Sciences and Bioengineering Center, which will house WPI's graduate research programs in biology and biotechnology, biomedical engineering, chemistry and biochemistry, and chemical engineering, the WPI Bioengineering Institute, and other university offices. WPI will occupy about 75 percent of the center; the remainder will be leased to other tenants.

The award was given at the chamber's 131st Annual Business Meeting. Massachusetts Governor- Elect Deval Patrick was the keynote speaker. Prior to the meeting, he took a tour of and held a press conference at the new building at Gateway Park.

During our tour at Gateway Park, we saw an example of people who created a big vision, one that was out of the immediate reach of most, Patrick told the chamber meeting's attendees. Then, WPI and WBDC created a partnership across many interests. We have to do that all over Massachusetts.

High Turnout for First WPI Hobby Fair

WPI faculty, staff members, and students came out on a warm Dec. 1 to check out the hobbies and talents of their peers at the first annual Hobby Fair held in the Campus Center Odeum.

The room was filled with tables displaying various hobbies, such as wood carving, painting, photography, jewelry making, and cooking. Although there was a threat of rain, that didn't deter ECE Department Head Fred Looft from displaying his glider on the Quadrangle.

Tour Gateway Park

A recent invitation to the faculty and staff to tour the new WPI Life Sciences and Bioengineering Center at Gateway Park was met with great enthusiasm. At press time, space was still available in a Jan. 18 tour, and other dates were to be added.

The new facility represents an important step in WPI's mission to enhance its research capabilities in the biomedical sciences and engineering fields and to participate in building the economy. The building is an exciting, cutting-edge facility that promises to help WPI increase its life sciences profile.

To join the Jan. 18 tour, e-mail Elizabeth Stepien at the WPI Bioengineering Institute at estepien@wpi.edu.

ORA Newsletter, Upcoming Open House

The Office of Research Administration (ORA) Holiday Open House is set for 2 to 3:30 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 18, to celebrate the office's recent move from Daniels Hall to Morgan Hall.

In other news, the ORA Winter 2006-07 newsletter is available on the ORA Web site, 

People

Friendly House Gifts and Ceremony

It was a busy Friday, Dec. 8, for WPI at Friendly House in Worcester. In the early afternoon, staff members from the Student Activities Office dropped off gifts for the community center's children, the fruits of the annual "Spirit of Giving Tree" collection. Following this generous act, nine faculty and staff members and students were honored by Friendly House for their mentorship, leadership, and dedication to upgrade Friendly House's computer labs and equipment.

The honorees were Emily Perlow, director of student activities; Christina Mezzone, a senior biomedical engineering major, president of Exploradreams, and co-founder of RoboKids; Ross Tsantoulis, a senior civil engineering major, and his brothers at Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity; James Schementi '06 and Tom Fox '06; and professors Gary Pollice, Stanley Selkow, Ken Stafford, and Bill Baller.

Also recognized were the students and coordinators of the RoboKids robotics mentorship program that was launched Nov. 2. Friendly House children come every week to WPI to build robots that will compete in an April event at the university.

IQP Award Presentations

This year, 34 student teams submitted entries for the 2006-07 President's IQP Awards. Five projects were selected as finalists, and six were chosen to receive special commendation. The finalists will give presentations Jan. 31 to President Berkey and a panel of judges.
The finalists, in no particular order:

The following projects received special commendation:

The WPI Community is invited to attend the Jan. 31 presentations, which will be held in Higgins Labs Room 116 at 1:45 p.m.

Moruzzi Award Nominations Sought

The Educational Development Council (EDC) seeks nominations for the Romeo L. Moruzzi Young Faculty Award for innovation in undergraduate education.

Moruzzi was a professor of electrical engineering and a founder of the WPI Plan. This award has been presented annually since 1999 to recognize young faculty members who have made specific innovations or improvements to undergraduate education at WPI that have resulted in benefits such as enhanced motivation, conceptual understanding, reinforcement of knowledge, or real-world theory applications.

Candidates must be non-tenured, tenure-track members of the WPI faculty at the time of nomination. Any member of the WPI academic community of faculty, staff, and students may submit nominations. Self-nominations are allowed.

To nominate, submit the following to ceda@wpi.edu by Friday, Jan. 5: name of the nominee; a brief statement describing the specific innovation, initiative, or improvement made by the nominee (several sentences are sufficient); and name of the nominator.

Nominees will be asked to submit two pages of supporting documentation along with the names of three individuals for additional information.

The award is a $2,000 donation to the winner's professional development account, and will be announced at the April 24 Faculty Awards Convocation.

Publications and Presentations

Biomedical Engineering

Gaudette, G. R., and I. S. Cohen, "Cardiac Regeneration: Materials Can Improve the Passive Properties of Myocardium but Cell Therapy Must Do More," invited editorial in Circulation, vol. 114, pp. 2,575-2,577, 2006.

Potapova, I. A., S. V. Doronin, D. Kelly, A. B. Rosen, A. J. T. Schuldt, Y. Guo, Z. Lu, R. B. Robinson, M. R. Rosen, P. R. Brink, G. R. Gaudette, and I. S. Cohen, "A Novel Method to Commit Mesenchymal Stem Cells to a Cardiac Lineage Results in Improved Mechanical Function and MSC Derived Striated Cardiac Myocytes in the Adult Canine Heart," American Heart Association 2006 Scientific Sessions, Chicago, Ill., Nov. 13, 2006.

Chemical Engineering

Ayturk, M., M. Engin, P. Ivan, E. E. Engwall, and Y. H. Ma, "Synthesis of Composite Pd-Porous Stainless Steel (PSS) Membranes with a Pd/Ag Intermetallic Diffusion Barrier," J Memb. Sci, vol. 285, pp. 385-394, 2006.

Camesano, T. A., "Direct Measurements of Bacterial Adhesion Using Atomic Force Microscopy," Materials Research Society 2006 Fall Meeting, Boston, Mass., Nov. 27 to Dec. 1.

Fishtik, I., "Group Additivity Methods Without Group Values," Journal of Physics and Chemistry A, vol. 110, pp. 13,264-13,269, 2006.

Fishtik, I., "Thermodynamic Stability Relations in Redox Systems," Environmental Science & Technology, vol. 40, pp. 1,902-1,910, 2006.

Fishtik, I., C. Callaghan, and R. Datta, "Wiring Diagrams for Complex Reaction Networks," Industrial Engineering and Chemistry Resource, vol. 45, pp. 6,468-6,476, 2006.

Fishtik, I. and R. Datta, "A Reaction Route Network for Hydrogen Combustion," Physica A, vol. 373, pp. 777-784, 2007.

Fishtik, I. and I. Povar, "Buffer Capacity in Multiple Chemical Reaction Systems Involving Solid Phases," Canadian Journal of Chemistry, vol. 84, pp. 1,036-1,044, 2006.

Fishtik, I., D. Urban, and J. Wilcox, "The Effect of Stoichiometry on Ab Initio-Based Thermochemistry Predictions," Chemistry Physics Letters, vol. 417, pp. 185–189, 2006.

Guazzone, F., E. Payzant, S. A. Andrew Speakman, and Y. H. Ma, "Microstrains and Stresses Analysis in Electroless Deposited Thin Pd Films," I & EC Research, vol. 45(24), pp. 8,145-8,153, 2006.

Liu, Y., J. Strauss, and T. A. Camesano, "Study of Initial Steps of Biofilm Formation: Surface Characteristics and Interaction Forces Between Staphylococcus epidermidis and Serum Protein-coated Substrata. Materials Research Society 2006 Fall Meeting, Boston, Mass., Nov. 27 to Dec. 1.

Sholl, D. S., and Y. H. Ma, "Dense Metal Membranes for the Production of High-Purity Hydrogen," MRS Bulletin, vol. 31(10), pp. 770-773, 2006.

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