Department News


Second Annual Research Exhibition Brings Community Together and Recognizes Graduate Students



Graduate student Lee Weinstein explains his research to attendees. Photo Tony Pulsone.

On a hot fall day this past September, MechE students and post-docs carefully hung up posters along the perimeter of Walker Memorial’s main room. The first presentation session for the second annual Mechanical Engineering Research Exhibition (MERE) was about to begin. The event, which was held for the first time last fall, is organized by the Graduate Association for Mechanical Engineers (GAME) and sponsored by the Department of Mechanical Engineering. Its purpose is to offer the entire MechE community a chance to learn about current research in the department and network with alumni, faculty, students, and staff. Just as importantly, it also gives graduate students a chance to practice communicating their research to various audiences and receive feedback on their presentation. This year, more than 80 MechE graduate students presented their research, and more than 450 members of the MechE community attended the event. MechE alum Eric Wilhelm, SB ‘99, MS ‘01, PhD ‘04, founder of the popular company Instructables, an online community where makers can share their projects and connect with each other, gave the keynote address. Jerry Wang, a graduate student working in Professor Nicolas Hadjiconstantinou’s Nanoscale Transport and Multiscale Simulation Group, won the highest honor, the Da Vinci Award for Outstanding Presentation for presentation of his work on nanofluidics.


First Joint Entrepreneurship and Innovation Mini-Hackathon with Sloan School MBA Students



Assistant Professor Cullen Buie (back) discusses one of his research projects with a table of MIT engineering and business students. Photo Tony Pulsone.

This past October, the Department of Mechanical Engineering partnered with the MIT Sloan School of Management to host a mini hackathon around entrepreneurship. Six engineering faculty from a range of departments presented an innovative project from their lab and challenged students to develop entrepreneurial ideas for each technology. Approximately 105 first-year MBA students on the Entrepreneurship and Innovation track and 40 students and post-docs from the School of Engineering split into 14 mixed groups to discuss the projects and brainstorm commercial applications. When the 90-minute brainstorming sessions ended, each group presented a one-minute pitch of their idea. Professor Hart, who organized the joint event with Sloan Professor Edward Roberts, presented his lab’s work on using aluminum as a clean and inexpensive fuel alternative. Assistant Professor Cullen Buie presented his work on the development of new bacterial biofactories. Professor Peko Hosoi presented her work on squishy robots. Professor Bruce Tidor, of the Department of Biological Engineering and the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, presented his work on target identification in biochemical pathways. Associate Professor Evelyn Wang presented her work with Department Head Gang Chen on a solar thermal aerogel receiver. Assistant Professor Amos Winter presented his work on single cylinder turbocharged engines. “It takes many different skill sets to come together for successful entrepreneurship and innovation,” says Professor Hart. “Sloan School of Management, the School of Engineering, and the School of Science can achieve far greater things in collaboration than we can independently.”


Alum Hock Tan Gives Professorship; Professor Seth Lloyd Appointed Inaugural Chairholder



From right to left: Department Head Gang Chen, Professor Seth Lloyd, Hock E. Tan, Professor Emeritus Nam P. Suh, Dean of the School of Engineering Ian Waitz. Photo Tony Pulsone.

The Department of Mechanical Engineering is pleased to announce a generous gift of $4 million for the endowment of a new full professorship from alumnus Hock E. Tan, ’75, SM ’75. The new professorship will be named in honor of Ralph E. and Eloise F. Cross Professor Emeritus Nam P. Suh, ’59, SM ’61, a celebrated mechanical engineer and leader. Suh served as head of the department from 1991 to 2001, and founded the Laboratory of Manufacturing and Productivity (LMP) and the MIT-Industry Polymer Processing Program. He served as president of the Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) from 2006 to 2013. Suh was also an influential and supportive mentor to Tan. Professor Seth Lloyd, who is internationally renowned for his work in quantum computation, physics of information, and complex systems, has been appointed the first Nam P. Suh Professor. “It is a great honor to be awarded the Nam P. Suh Professorship,” Lloyd says. “Professor Emeritus Suh was a visionary department head of the mechanical engineering department who ushered in an era of diversity and prosperity. I am grateful to Hock Tan, whose support will allow me to develop novel teaching tools and enhance undergraduate research opportunities.”


MIT MechE Recognized at International Desalination Association 2015 World Congress



Prakash Narayan Govindan, CTO of Gradient, receives the Emerging Leader Award. Photo courtesy IDA.

Three MIT-affiliated researchers received awards at this year’s International Desalination Association 2015 World Congress on Desalination and Water Reuse. Several MIT research groups and affiliates were in attendance, including members of the Lienhard Research Group, the Global Engineering and Research (GEAR) Lab, the MIT/ King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) program, and MIT Ibn Khaldun Fellows. PhD student Jaichander Swaminathan won the Best Presenter Award for his paper “High efficiency single-stage membrane distillation configurations: experimental investigation” (J. Swaminathan, H.W. Chung, D.E.M. Warsinger, and J.H. Lienhard V), from a project sponsored by the MMIP program operated by MASDAR and the Deshpande Center. Postdoc Dr. David Warsinger, PhD ’15, received the Best Poster Award for his paper “The effect of filtration on membrane distillation fouling” (D.E.M. Warsinger, J. Swaminathan, H.W. Chung, S. Jeong, and J.H. Lienhard V), sponsored by the MIT and MASDAR Institute Cooperative Program. Finally, Dr. Prakash Narayan Govindan, PhD ’12, CTO of MIT spinoff company Gradiant Corporation, was recognized with the prestigious 2015 IDA Emerging Leaders Achievement Award.


MechE Spinoff’s Resuscitator Device Wins First Place in Boston Children’s Hospital Innovation Competition



Kevin Cedrone, inventor of the Augmented Infant Resuscitator. Photo Tony Pulsone.

Alum Kevin Cedrone SM ’10, PhD ’13, CEO of Augmented Infant Resuscitator (AIR), came in first place in Boston Children’s Hospital’s second annual Innovation Tank competition, which took place this past November during the hospital’s Global Pediatric Innovation Summit + Awards. Each of the three inventors invited to participate in the competition pitched their medical invention to a panel of venture capitalists and industry leaders, and Cedrone’s augmented infant resuscitator won unanimously after only 5 minutes of debate among the judges. The device, which came out of 2012’s MIT H@cking Medicine Hackathon at Massachusetts General Hospital, is a universal add-on to infant resuscitators that uses sensors to detect ventilation problems like airway obstructions, air leaks in the ventilator, incorrect ventilation rate, and excessive ventilation pressure. If the sensors detect a problem, the device sends feedback to a nurse’s laptop, giving them actionable cues about what is happening and how to solve it. It also improves training and skill maintenance by providing feedback to users. According to Cedrone, studies have shown that AIR could reduce infant ventilation problems by 26-48%. AIR was awarded $30,000 for first place.


APS 68th Annual Division of Fluid Dynamics Meeting Hosted by MIT



Water drops ejected from the surface of a Tibetan singing bowl. Image: Denis Terwagne and John Bush, MIT.

This past November, MIT hosted this year’s annual American Physical Society (APS) 68th Annual Division of Fluid Dynamics Meeting at Hynes Convention Center. The event, chaired by MIT Department of Mechanical Engineering Professors Triantaphyllos Akylas and Thomas Peacock, marks the first time in almost 50 years that the meeting is being held in Boston, Mass. It is the largest and most prominent meeting of the international fluid dynamics community. A fundamental aspect of engineering science, fluid dynamics includes a broad range of scientific disciplines and has many applications, including acoustics, biology, microfluidics, cooling, wave dynamics, surface interaction, combustion, wind energy, turbulence, rheology, and more. This year, a record-breaking 3,500 attendees presented new research, and approximately 40 lectures took place concurrently throughout the event. Several accompanying mini-events also were held during the meeting, including networking lunches, workshops, and award ceremonies. The Gallery of Fluid Motion (, another highlight of the meeting, provided an opportunity for scientists to display their latest eye-catching images and videos of striking fluid flow phenomena. In addition to several MIT faculty members who led the organization of the event, faculty from nine other regional universities also helped to orchestrate the meeting.