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May 1, 2008

Around Campus

Skul(l)king About...

From Boynton Hall’s third floor, mysterious creatures were spotted on April 22 moving up the hill from Skull Tomb.

High School Students to Benefit from WPI-Developed FIRST Robotics Software

A software library developed at WPI is an integral element of a new control system that will be used by all teams participating in the FIRST Robotics Competition. The new system, developed jointly with FIRST and National Instruments (NI), will be delivered to nearly 1,700 high school teams, encompassing more than 42,000 students in eight countries, in time for next year's competition.

The new control system was unveiled April 17 during a ceremony in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, where the annual FIRST Robotics World Championship was held. On stage for the announcement were Dean Kamen ‘73, founder of DEKA Research & Development Corporation and FIRST; Ray Almgren, vice president of academic relations for National Instruments; and WPI President Dennis Berkey.

BattleCry 9 to be Held May 9 and 10

Students from 60 high schools around the Northeast will compete in BattleCry@WPI 9, one of the largest robotics contests in New England. The competition, which is hosted by WPI and cosponsored by SolidWorks, BAE Systems, and FIRST, offers high school FIRST robotics teams the chance to test their skills and technical expertise in postseason competition.

The competition will be held Friday, May 9, 5 to 9 p.m., and Saturday, May 10, 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. in Harrington Auditorium.

WPI Teams Win Honorable Mention in EPA’s National Sustainable Design Expo

Two teams of WPI students received honorable mentions the week of April 21 at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 4th annual National Sustainable Design Expo, held on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

The teams, led by professors David Olinger (mechanical engineering) and Jennifer Wilcox (chemical engineering), were among four New England and 54 national finalists awarded in January more than $500,000 in grants from the EPA for their initial designs to achieve sustainable solutions to environmental issues. The WPI teams competed once more April 20-22 in the Expo to win the prestigious “People, Prosperity and the Plant” (P3) Award. In January, the two WPI teams were awarded $10,000 each to put their sustainable energy-based designs into action for the April Expo.

Professor Olinger’s team is working to harness wind power from tethered kites as a low-cost and sustainable energy alternative for developing nations. Two billion people live in developing parts of the world without access to electricity. Wind turbines are a possible renewable source, but their high cost and low-use potential in less windy regions create steep disadvantages. These students hope kites will supply environmentally friendly electricity where wind turbines are much less practical; they propose to install a kite power system in Africa through WPI’s Project Center in Namibia.

Professor Wilcox’ team is developing a nano-structured material for capturing mercury, arsenic, and selenium from the gases of coal combustion. Although coal is not a sustainable energy source, such as sun, water, or wind, there is a demand for its use in both developed and developing countries. This team hopes to increase the sustainability of coal while helping to minimize its environmental impact. To take the project further, the team is working with a company on the fabrication of the material, which will be tested within the year.

Termites May Aid in Biofuel Production

Discoveries in the stomachs of termites and other organisms are helping a team at WPI’s Life Sciences and Bioengineering Center develop technology for the next generation of plant-based biofuels.

Corn-based ethanol is now the primary biofuel produced in the United States. It’s made by converting the starch from corn kernels into sugar, which is then fermented, much in the same way as beer or wine, to produce ethanol. A team at WPI is working on ways to develop biofuels that are based on cellulose, which makes up the heavy, woody fibers found in all plants. “We need to develop biofuels that do not compete with the food supply,” says Alex DiIorio, assistant professor of biology and biotechnology and director of WPI’s Bioprocessing Center at Gateway Park. “The goal is to find a renewable source of liquid fuel that is better for the environment, that doesn't rely on crude oil, and that doesn't affect the price of food.”

The biofuels work in DiIorio’s lab is sponsored by California-based EdenIQ, which is investing heavily in the development of cellulosic ethanol.


WPI, Berkey Receive Bowditch Award

WPI and President Dennis Berkey have received the Bowditch Award from Worcester Business Development Corp. (WBDC), for the university and Berkey’s visionary leadership in the development of and commitment to Gateway Park, in particular for WPI’s Life Sciences and Bioengineering Center at Gateway Park.

The annual Bowditch Award, named after WBDC founding member Robert S. Bowditch, goes to the recipient who has exceeded the WBDC’s expectations for economic development in the Worcester region. The award was given on April 23 at the WBDC’s 43rd annual meeting, held at Mechanics Hall.

The Gateway partnership between WPI and WBDC was formed in 1999 to undertake a large-scale, brownfields revitalization project on a former industrial site in an environmentally and economically stagnant area.

Academic Community Members Honored

WPI recognized seven members of its academic community during the university’s annual Honors Convocation on April 22.

Students of the Year

Nicole Baugh and Yilmaz Kiymaz were named WPI Student Employees of the Year at an April 18 ceremony at Higgins House. The winners were chosen from a pool of 25 student employees who were nominated by their supervisors.

Baugh was named Graduate Student Employee of the Year for her work in Web Operations, in the Division of Marketing and Communications. She works as student content management system (CMS) administrator, where her responsibilities include customer service, resolving CMS tickets, and supervising other student employees.

Kiymaz was named Undergraduate Student Employee of the Year for his work as student helpdesk supervisor, where his responsibilities include customer service, resolving tickets sent to the Helpdesk, and supervising other student employees.

They were presented with awards and certificates by Deborah Bockus, access services manager, and Philip Clay, dean of students. The Student Employee of the Year Committee decided the winners.

Daniel Swan and Tom Niemczycki received honorable mention awards for their service to their employers. Swan was unable to attend the ceremony at Higgins House as he is at the WPI Project Center in Namibia, Africa. There, his hosts honored him in a traditional African ceremony.

Publications and Presentations

Biomedical Engineering

Fire Protection Engineering

Humanities and Arts

Social Science and Policy Studies

Recent Grants

Biology and Biotechnology

Chemical Engineering

Computer Science

Fire Protection Engineering

Mathematical Sciences


Artists, Scientists Collaborate for Exhibit

WPI artists and scientists have joined forces for a multimedia exhibit that takes the meaning of collaboration to a new level, the result being an exhibit that is equally at home in an art gallery or a science museum and that opens a dialogue between artists and scientists. Open to the public, the exhibit runs now through Friday, May 30, at the EcoTarium, 222 Harrington Way, in Worcester.

The eight-piece exhibit features light and electron microscopy images that have been incorporated into works of art that successfully transcend the original scientific nature of the images.

The display, based on an IQP project, includes three student artists: Ian Anderson, a senior mechanical engineering major; junior Mark Lindblad, a chemical engineering major; and junior Andres Lopez, a biomedical engineering major. The scientists are a cohort of WPI faculty and graduate students who have shared microscopy images, data, knowledge, and their visions with the students.

Note: Information for the calendar comes from the Web-based WPI Events Calendar, which is powered by the Social Web. To have your events listed in @WPI, please enter them in Social Web and request that they be added to the appropriate WPI calendar. Visit Social Web to learn how.


Friday, May 2

Saturday, May 3

Friday, May 9

Tuesday, May 13

Saturday, May 17

Events are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted. Only home sports contests are included.

Editor's Note

Summer Schedule

We hope you are enjoying the new electronic version of @WPI, the campus community’s news source. For the remainder of the academic year, @WPI will print and email editions on Thursday, May 15 and 29. In June, July, and August, @WPI will come out once a month, on the last Thursday. Please continue to send your news to either atwpi@wpi.edu, or to Editor Lorraine U. Martinelle at lurbans@wpi.edu. Because a large amount of faculty publications, presentations, and grants are submitted, not all can be printed in the next edition following a submission. These will be included on a space-available basis, generated by the print version. We appreciate your patience and your taking the time to contribute to your campus community newsletter.

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Last modified: July 13, 2010 09:56:14