Mike Gennert, professor of robotics engineering; Carlo Pinciroli, assistant professor of robotics engineering; and Ashay Aswale, a PhD student in robotics engineering, were featured in a TV segment describing their participation in the NASA-sponsored Space Robotics Challenge. About a dozen undergraduate and graduate students have made measurable contributions in the competition.
Mike Gennert, professor of robotics engineering, offered his thoughts on the impact of NASA’s Perseverance rover landing on Mars. “Perseverance picked its own landing spot as it got near the surface,” said Gennert, “so it was able to avoid rocks and other obstacles as it landed.” In the TV segment, Gennert added that it has “much more autonomous ability” than other rovers.
President Laurie Leshin was interviewed by NECN about the successful landing of NASA’s Perseverance Rover on Mars. As a former NASA administrator, Leshin discussed the importance of this mission for the future of space exploration.
Carlo Pinciroli, assistant professor of robotics engineering, discussed how WPI’s Team Capricorn advanced to the finals of the NASA-sponsored Space Robotics Challenge. The WPI team is seeking to program virtual robots to locate and extract valuable resources from the Moon. “This has a direct financial and economic interest because there are lots of resources on the moon that are important to access,” he said.
Andrew Palumbo, assistant vice president for Enrollment Management & Dean of Admissions & Financial Aid, appeared in a story in about the impact of test-optional admissions processes on creating a more diverse campus. In the story, Palumbo noted that WPI has stopped awarding financial aid based on student test scores and has withdrawn from the National Merit Scholarship program. “We redirected those dollars to go back to need-based aid,” Palumbo said.
David Spanagel, associate professor of humanities & arts, was quoted in the Science News article, “Marie Tharp’s groundbreaking maps brought the seafloor to the world.” “That’s why her map is so powerful,” Spanagel told the publication. “It allows people to see the bottom of the ocean as if it were a piece of land, and then reason about it. That’s a transformative thing that she’s able to accomplish.”
President Leshin was noted in The Telegram & Gazette’s College Town section, “College Presidents Decry Jan. 6 Riots.”
Ahmet Can Sabuncu, assistant teaching professor, Mechanical Engineering; and students Jonathan Han and Natalia Han were featured in this article. This discusses Toys with Wings, an emerging learning and teaching experience in a junior-level Mechanical Engineering course at WPI where students develop an entrepreneurial mindset by using the Vygotsky Cycle – a learning theory that uses social interaction to strengthen comprehension -- to complement the engineering design process.
Nearly 80 media outlets, reported on research projects led by Michael Timko, associate professor of chemical engineering; Aaron Deskins, associate professor of chemical engineering; and Nikolaos Kazantzis, professor of chemical engineering, that explore finding applications for nitrogen-rich waste products and converting marine plastics into ship fuel.
·A thought leadership piece about how metal-based catalysts can boost biofuel yields by Mike Timko, associate professor of chemical engineering, was published in Biofuels Digest.
NBC News cited tests conducted in 2013 by Ali Rangwala, professor of Fire Protection Engineering, that led to passage last week of the Portable Fuel Container Safety Act of 2020, which establishes performance standards to protect against portable fuel container explosions. The piece showed that under certain conditions — including a very low volume of gasoline left inside — gas container explosions are possible.
In the article, “WPI Awarded $3M for Graduate Data Program” the Worcester Business Journal reported on WPI using a $3 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to establish a unique graduate curriculum to train the next generation of scientists who can apply chemical sciences along with data analytics, mathematics, and computing power to reduce energy usage, waste, and pollution. Elke Rundensteiner, professor of computer science, founding director of the Data Science program, and principal investigator on the grant, is collaborating with Michael Timko and Aaron Deskins, associate professors of chemical engineering, and Randy Paffenroth, associate professor of mathematical and data sciences, among others.
President Leshin was quoted in the WGBH report, “As Students Return, New England Colleges Are Seen As Models Of Testing And COVID Control.” “Here in Massachusetts, I think we’re actually lighting the way on how to live and learn in the age of COVID,” Leshin told the station. “I really sincerely hope that other parts of the country look to our successful model and set up a way that they can do the same because we’ve shown that it’s possible to stay open and keep operating with relatively low case numbers.”
The Worcester Business Journal noted that the WPI alumnus-founded nonprofit makerspace and incubator located in downtown Worcester is seeking new board members
Patrick Schaumont, professor of electrical and computer engineering, was included in The Boston Globe regarding a story about COVID-19 contact tracing apps. The story explores the larger picture of contact tracing apps being developed nationally. Reporter Hiawatha Bray wrote: “WPI said it’s developed a way to track location and time, while still concealing the identity of the infected person.” (The WPI community can also access the story here.)
President Leshin was quoted in The Boston Globe article, “Regular testing across the whole campus community is really essential to success,” Leshin told The Globe, which also noted her role in leading the state’s task force on college reopening. “The testing was really critical…It’s not a secret formula.”
Patrick Schaumont, professor of electrical and computer engineering, was featured in a story on Spectrum News 1 discussing his research on a COVID-19 contact tracing app. “When you have been diagnosed as COVID-positive, you will have the ability to share your data with the health agency,” he says in the interview.
The National Park Service quoted Music Professor Fred Bianchi, director and advisor at the Glacier National Park Project Center, and detailed how WPI students pivoted when COVID-19 impacted their research there.
Article courtesy of the Crown of the Continent Research Learning Center, Glacier National Park
Spectrum 1 News covered the $300,000 grant received by Haichong Zhang, assistant professor in robotics engineering and biomedical engineering, to build a robotic ultrasound machine to detect disease symptoms in the lungs. This is a significant development that will allow healthcare providers to minimize their exposure to the virus when conducting assessments of COVID-19 patients.
Paul Mathisen, director of sustainability, spoke with Worcester Magazine about the Green Worcester Plan. The goal of the plan is to make the city more energy sustainable and climate resilient. “A sustainable society really needs to be resilient, in that it can make an efficient recovery from the impact of various weather events,” Mathisen told the magazine.