Around Campus

MIT turns 150, the Gulf oil spill, and course 2.007 robots

MechE professors tapped for oil spill response

Alex Slocum, the Neil and Jane Pappalardo Professor of Mechanical Engineering and MacVicar Faculty Fellow, was invited by Steven Chu, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy, to help resolve the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

At the request of President Obama, Secretary Chu and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar assembled the panel of experts in Houston, TX to develop solutions for capping and containing the flow of oil in the Gulf. In describing the effort, Secretary Chu said, “Putting our best scientific minds together with BP’s deep water drilling engineers will enable these dedicated professionals to examine every feasible means and practical solution to this environmental crisis in the Gulf of Mexico.”

In the aftermath of the crisis, the Obama Administration directed the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) and National Research Council (NRC) to form a committee to analyze the causes of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and spill. MIT Sea Grant director, Professor Chrys Chryssostomidis and alum Dr. Roger McCarthy SM ’73, ME ’75, PhD ’77, have been nominated to this 10-member committee. The committee is tasked with identifying measures that will prevent similar accidents in the future.

Course 2.007 highlights

2007 CompetitionMechE professor Daniel Frey, PhD ’97, hosted the 39th annual 2.007 competition in which students pitted robot against robot for the 2010 course championship. The competition rink was Aztec (or Az-Tech) themed, complete with a temple and a serpent deity.

Design approaches included robotic scissor lifts, autonomous scoring features, gripper ratchets, and multiple bots working on various scoring tasks. “This year was the most exciting finale of a robotics competition I have seen in a long time,” said course instructor Dan Frey.

Course 2.007 is a critical component of the undergraduate curriculum because it requires students to incorporate creativity into their mechanical engineering designs. The course is generously supported by Chevron, Vigor Precision, Ford, General Motors, Solid Works, Exxon Mobil, National Fluid Power Association, and Shell. See competition videos amps-web.mit.edu/public/courses/2/2.007/.

MIT turns 150

Starting January 7, 2011, MIT will begin celebrating its sesquicentennial anniversary. Special museum exhibitions, an arts festival, and a series of symposia will be presented through May of 2011. The Department of Mechanical Engineering will be participating in the convocation held on April 10th and the open house held on April 30th. Learn about celebration events and offerings specifically for alumni at the MIT150 website mit150.mit.edu.

MechE in memoriam

The Department of Mechanical Engineering lost three valued colleagues last summer with the passing of professors James C. Keck, Ain A. Sonin, and H. Guyford Stever.

Keck, the Ford Professor of Engineering, developed teaching and research programs in thermodynamics, kinetics, and mechanics. He was a member of the National Academy of Engineering, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Physical Society

Sonin, an expert in advanced fluid mechanics, was the department’s graduate officer for 25 years and earned several teaching awards. He was a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, American Physical Society, American Nuclear Society, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Stever was head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at MIT from 1961 to 1965, and went on to be chief science advisor to Presidents Richard M. Nixon and Gerald R. Ford, Chief Scientist of the U.S. Air Force, President of Carnegie Mellon University, and Director of the National Science Foundation. He was a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering and the Carnegie Commission on Science, Technology and Government.

MechE Student Commons Dedicated 11.10.2010

MechE recently increased the common-room space available to undergraduate and graduate students. Room 1-114 has been transformed into a flexible mixed-use 750-square-foot space perfect for small group projects, reading, problem sets, or just checking email. A dedication ceremony was held on Wednesday, November 10 in 1-114. Generous support for the new MechE Student Commons was provided by Byiung Jun Park ’61 and Chunghi Park.meche logo