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Kayla Kelley and Ralph Wiser, undergraduate seniors in the Walker Department of Mechanical Engineering, have been chosen as the recipients of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission Undergraduate Scholarship. Each student will receive a $10,000 award directed toward their fall and spring semester tuition and fees. 

“Mike Walker has made an extraordinary investment in the future of engineering, not only for The University of Texas, but for our state and our nation,” said Gregory L. Fenves, president of UT Austin. “Our students and faculty will benefit tremendously. And, because of Mike’s generosity, our mechanical engineering department will continue to expand its reputation as one of the best in the country.”

Junmin Wang, Professor in the Walker Department of Mechanical Engineering, has been selected by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) as a co-recipient of the 2018 IEEE Andrew P. Sage Best Transactions Paper Award in the IEEE Transactions of the Systems, Man and Cybernetics Society (SMCS).

IEEE is the world’s largest technical professional society, serving professionals involved in all aspects of the electrical, electronic and computing fields and related areas of science and technology. The award was established in 1998 to recognize authors who wrote papers that are of high presentation quality, original, have technical merit and potential impact to the SMCS Field of Interest. 

Professor Wang co-authored the winning paper, “A Personalizable Driver Steering Model Capable of Predicting Driver Behaviors in Vehicle Collisions Avoidance Maneuvers,” with his former Ph.D. student, Scott Schnelle, and two other collaborators, and the paper was published in IEEE Transactions on Human-Machine Systems in 2017. He will receive a monetary award along with a plaque showcasing their accomplishment.

Professor Wang has received the Ohio State University Lumley Interdisciplinary Research Award in 2018, the 2017 IEEE Transactions on Fuzzy Systems Outstanding Paper Award in 2016, and is an IEEE Vehicular Technology Society Distinguished Lecturer, SAE Fellow, and ASME Fellow. Professor Junmin Wang serves as a Senior Editor, Editor, Technical Editor, or Associate Editor for the IEEE Vehicular Technology Magazine, IEEE Transactions on Vehicular Technology, IEEE/ASME Transactions on Mechatronics, and other journals.

Vaibhav Bahadur (VB), Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at UT Austin published research concerning biomass gasification-based atmospheric water harvesting in India in Energy, an international, multi-disciplinary journal in energy engineering and research.

The research discussed in the Energy article focuses on the problem of smog-filled cities in India. This is primarily due to field burning of crop residue, a popular solution to get rid of waste among farmers. However, this process is detrimental to the environment and public health. Burning crop residue releases greenhouse gases and particulates into the atmosphere, which is primarily responsible for smog in cities like New Delhi. Another problem this research could solve is the lack of potable water availability. Water supply systems in rural areas in developing countries are inadequate to provide enough clean, potable water for everyone.

VB collaborated with Professor Rishi Raj and Ajay Thakur from the Indian Institute of Technology in Patna, India. This team proposed a first-of-its kind concept system that harvests water from the atmosphere in two steps. First, crop residue is converted to producer gas through a sequence of thermo-chemical reactions. Next, this producer gas powers an industrial-scale refrigeration cycle, which condenses moisture from humid air.

The vision for this project was inspired by VB’s recent work on atmospheric water harvesting for the oil-gas industry. With over 60 journal/conference articles, VB continues to contribute valuable insights and new ideas to solve problems in the areas of energy, water and the environment. His research has been featured on the cover of ASME’s Mechanical Engineering magazine, in multiple journals, and has been highlighted by NBC News.

The Walker Department of Mechanical Engineering hosted its annual Mechanical Engineering Academy of Distinguished Alumni (MEADA) Award Ceremony on September 14, 2018. This event honors nominated alumni in four different categories: Outstanding Young Mechanical Engineer, Distinguished Mechanical Engineer, Mechanical Engineering Hall of Fame, and Honorary Mechanical Engineer. This year, the department honored 12 new members at the San Jacinto Hall at UT Austin.

In a rare occurrence and an extraordinary act of philanthropy, The University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University each received $20 million gifts from J. Mike Walker to support their Departments of Mechanical Engineering.

This year’s incoming faculty members exhibit a wide range of engineering expertise and bring research interests that range from nuclear and computational engineering to extreme environments and environmental fluid mechanics. Learn more about our newest Texas Engineers.

In a breakthrough for nanotechnology, engineers at The University of Texas at Austin have developed the first method for selecting and switching the mechanical motion of nanomotors among multiple modes with simple visible light as the stimulus. The capability of mechanical reconfiguration could lead to a new class of controllable nanoelectromechanical and nanorobotic devices for a variety of fields including drug delivery, optical sensing, communication, molecule release, detection, nanoparticle separation and microfluidic automation.

The finding, made by Donglei (Emma) Fan, associate professor at the Cockrell School of Engineering’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, and Ph.D. candidate Zexi Liang, demonstrates how, depending on the intensity, light can instantly increase, stop and even reverse the rotation orientation of silicon nanomotors in an electric field. This effect and the underlying physical principles have been unveiled for the first time. It switches mechanical motion of rotary nanomotors among various modes instantaneously and effectively.

The need for faster and smaller electronics has resulted in microelectronic components that produce progressively more heat. Thus, heat dissipation is an important issue, and one solution for cooling is to develop novel semiconducting materials with high thermal conductivity. The UT Austin team includes post-doc fellows Xi Chen and Jaehyun Kim, graduate students Sean Sullivan and Yuanyuan Zhou and professors Jianshi Zhou and Li Shi from the Cockrell School’s Department of Mechanical Engineering and Texas Materials Institute.

Prof. Guihua Yu of the Department of Mechanical Engineering and materials science program in the Cockrell School of Engineering has been selected to receive the prestigious Department of Energy (DOE) Early Career Research Award. His research project will expand fundamental knowledge of how nanoscale synthesis and self-assembly can encode properties and functionality into materials and will have direct implications for advanced energy science and technologies.

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