Only 36 faculty across the US were invited to join the Young Investigator Program (YIP) from the Office of Naval Research this year; additionally, only a small percent of faculty receive the CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation (NSF). Nina Mahmoudian, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering-engineering mechanics at Michigan Technological University, is one of a select few to receive both in the same year.
Old rocks hold on to their secrets. Now, a geophysicist at Michigan Technological University has unlocked clues trapped in the magnetic signatures of mineral grains in those rocks. These clues will help clear up the murky history of the Earth’s early core.
Most people see defects as flaws. A few Michigan Technological University researchers, however, see them as opportunities. Twin boundaries — which are small, symmetrical defects in materials — may present an opportunity to improve lithium-ion batteries. The twin boundary defects act as energy highways and could help get better performance out of the batteries. This finding, published in Nano Letters earlier this year, turns a previously held notion of material defects on its head. Reza Shahbazian–Yassar helped lead the study and holds a joint appointment at Michigan Tech as the Richard & Elizabeth Henes associate professor in nanotechnology and an adjunct associate professor in materials science and engineering. Anmin Nie, a senior postdoctoral researcher in his group, conducted the study.
Drought in the southwest has left only a trickle running through irrigation ditches on farms outside El Paso, Texas. The Rio Grande — called Rio Bravo in Mexico — is what supplies that trickle, struggling to meet water demands in three US states and five in Mexico.
As drought continues, and demand grows, researchers like Alex Mayer from Michigan Technological University are looking to new models to improve the region’s drought resiliency. Mayer, a professor of environmental engineering at Michigan Tech, is part of a unique team looking at water resources along a section of the Rio Grande. The National Institute of Food and Agriculture, part of the US Department of Agriculture, has awarded the project a $4.9 million grant to study water shortage and climate change for the next five years in the region.
Wind turbines appear simple, but it’s the complex engineering behind the technology that makes harnessing the wind seem like a breeze. Bridging the gap between mechanical details and large-scale infrastructure needs of wind turbine technology is also no easy feat.
But that’s the research focus of Antonio Velazquez, who earned his PhD from Michigan Technological University last fall, and Assistant Professor Andrew Swartz, Velazquez’s advisor in civil and environmental engineering. Their forward-thinking research on better monitoring systems for wind turbines earned the duo this year’s Bhakta Rath Research Award.
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The printer looks like a toaster oven with the front and sides removed. Its metal frame is built up around a stainless steel circle lit by an ultraviolet light. Stainless steel hydraulics and thin black tubes line the back edge, which lead to an inner, topside box made of red plastic. In front, the metal is etched with the red Bio Bot logo. All together, the gray metal frame is small enough to fit on top of an old-fashioned school desk, but nothing about this 3D printer is old school. In fact, the tissue-printing machine is more like a sci-fi future in the flesh—and it has very real medical applications.
Water is perhaps the most controversial natural resource in the US. Alex Mayer recognizes that, for all its controversy, water is essential to life and society. Mayer holds the Charles and Patricia Nelson Presidential Professor in civil and environmental engineering at Michigan Technological University and studies water resources. For his dedication to studying water quality and scarcity — and his unique approach to these complex problems — Mayer won Michigan Tech’s 2015 Research Award.
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The watery world under winter’s ice is a mystery. It’s also a world full of sound. Now, as the days lengthen and the ice is retreating, researchers at Michigan Technological University are wrapping up their first winter season of underwater acoustic studies.
Learning more about acoustic properties underwater — and specifically under the ice — is important for designing acoustic communication networks and quiet underwater vehicles. These networks and vehicles have a range of applications. Environment monitoring is an example, encompassing everything from ice movement to the habits of aquatic critters to keeping tabs on chemical conditions.
The 3-D printing revolution has changed the way we think about plastics. Everything from children’s toys to office supplies to high-value laboratory equipment can be printed. The potential savings of producing goods at the household- and lab-scale is remarkable, especially when producers use old prints and recycle them.