Department News


PhD Student Daniel Dorsch Wins Lemelson-MIT Student Prize for Invention

Daniel Dorsch
The Lemelson-MIT Student Prize is a nationwide search for the most inventive undergraduate and graduate students. This year, PhD student Daniel Dorsch was a winner of the prestigious award in the “Drive it!” category for his invention of the first high-performance, lightweight clutchless hybrid transmission. Dan designed a way to achieve both efficiency and performance by using an electric motor to fill the acceleration lag between gears for seamless shifting. The electric motor can also be used for efficient city driving. Dan received $15,000 for his invention. In the “Eat it!” category, a team of three MechE undergrads and one grad student – Kale Rogers, Michael Farid, Braden Knight, and Luke Schlueter – won for their invention of the first fully automated restaurant.


De Florez Competition Winners Split $20K in Prize Money

With an impressive array of some of the best gadget and product developments mechanical engineering students have to offer, this year’s de Florez Competition pitted 25 applicants against each other to compete for a total of $20,000 in prize money. Entrants do their best to pitch the gizmos and products they’ve designed to a team of judges, who look at each entry’s level of creativity, innovation, practical application, scientific basis, and design skill. The purpose of the competition is to give students a chance to strut their skills and gain school-wide recognition for their ideas and prototypes.

This year’s winners in the category of Graduate Design were: Tyler Wortman, in first place, for Tissue Characterization for Skin Cancer Detection and Mapping; tied for second place were Alexandre Girard, for Lightweight Robotic Arms Using Dual-Speed Actuators, and Sahil Shah for Clutchless Dual-Shift Hybrid Transmission Architecture for Performance Applications; and tied for third place were Mark Jeunnette for High-Speed Multispectral Camera Array and Peter Chamberlain for the Automated Walker. In the category of Graduate Science, Katie Olesnavage won first place for her Development of a Novel Optimization Objective for Passive Prosthetic Feet. Jerry Wang tied for second place with Nanofluidic Adventures in Extreme Confinement along with Rachel Kurchin for Next-Generation Photovoltaics through Advanced Probabilistic Modeling. Pulkit Shamshery won third place for A Low-Activation Pressure Online Pressure Compensating Drop Emitter.

In the Undergraduate Design category, Benjamin Katz won first place for Cheap Actuators for Dynamic Robots; Matthew Cavuto won second place for Low-Cost Transfemoral Rotator for Use in the Developing World; and Samuel Resnick and Jacob Rothman tied for third place for Curved Scissor Truss and ProForm Power Rack, respectively. In the Undergraduate Science category, Teddy Ort won first place for A Robotic Helping Hand that Utilizes Visual Feedback to Optimize Human Robot Interaction in Soldering Applications.


In Memoriam: Dr. A. Douglas Carmichael and Dr. Koichi Masubuchi

Professor Emeritus A. Douglas Carmichael passed away peacefully following a brief illness on November 9, 2015, at the age of 86. He was a highly regarded thermodynamicist with a specialty in steam and gas turbines for ship power and propulsion. A Professor of Power Engineering in the Department of Ocean Engineering at MIT from 1970 to 1996, he was a lead developer of the first MIT autonomous underwater vehicle. He was also well known at MIT for his mentorship and dedication to undergraduate students. Dr. Koichi Masubuchi, Professor Emeritus of Ocean Engineering, passed away on April 1, 2016, at the age of 92 years old, in Concord, Mass. Professor Masubuchi was a leading expert in welding science and fabrication technology whose work helped to progress the understanding of welding and the important role it plays in marine and aerospace structures. He spent his first 10 years at MIT focused on solving welding problems NASA was having with its Apollo project. His main areas of expertise were in heat flow, residual stresses, and distortion in weldments; the fracture of welded structures; and welding technologies for underwater and space applications.


MIT Hyperloop Team Unveils its Pod

Hyperloop Unveil
The MIT Hyperloop team unveiled its pod on Friday, May 13, to a large crowd at the MIT Museum in Cambridge. After winning the first round of Elon Musk’s Hyperloop design competition in March of this year, the team of 30 MIT graduate students, 14 of which are in MechE, spent much of their free time over the past two months building their pod. The team, which is also comprised of students from the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, and Sloan School of Management, is organized into five sub teams, focused on aerodynamics and structures, levitation, vehicle dynamics, electronics and software, and business and marketing. Employing magnets for braking, levitation, and lateral control, the team’s main goal, in addition to proving their design’s viability, is to demonstrate the scalability of the technology. Along with their advisor, Professor Doug Hart, the team of students will travel to Los Angeles next January to showcase their pod on the Hyperloop track at SpaceX for the ultimate phase of the competition.


Calling all Battlebots!

What is it called when multiple 250-pounders battle each other in an arena with hammers, flamethrowers, and spinning blades for the general public’s entertainment? Although it may sound like an episode of Game of Thrones, it’s something much better. It’s Battlebots! A reboot of the original TV show from the early 2000s premiered on ABC this past June. The new show features more than 10 MechE students and alumni who have joined forces to fight gladiator-style with a twist against heavy-duty bots they’ve built from scratch. “Overhaul” was built by Charles Guan SB ’11 and Paige Reiter SB ’16. “Sawblaze” was built by Jamison Go SM ’13, Lucy Du SB ’14, SM ‘16, Chris Merian SM ’16, John Mayo SM ’16, and PhD candidate Joao Ramos. “Dentist” was built by Rebecca Li SB ’17 and Austin Brown SB ’18. “RoadRash” was built by Frederick Moore SB ’14, Julian Merrick SB ’13, and Cheetiri Smith ‘SB 14.