University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota: Department of Mechanical Engineering

News and Events

News Archive 2010

December 2010

Mechanical Engineering Professors Jane Davidson and Wojciech Lipiński unveiled their high-flux solar simulator, the first in the U.S. The simulator will help them in their efforts to produce fuels from sunlight. More...

November 2010

Asst. Professor John Gunnar Carlsson has won First Prize in the Interactive Session Competition at the INFORMS 2010 conference in Austin, Texas, for his presentation, "Dividing a territory between several facilities".

Professor Jennifer Alexander won the prestigious Sidney Edelstein Prize for the best book in the History of Science for her book, Mantra of Efficiency.

Ilia Nikiforov, a Ph.D. graduate student in mechanical engineering currently working with Prof. Traian Dumitrica, won the University of Minnesota Distinguished Master's Thesis Award 2010-11. Ilia’s work makes striking predictions about the electromechanical properties of carbon nanostructures and has important implications for the areas of multiscale modeling and nanotoxicology. Ilia also won the nomination for the 2011 Midwest Association of Graduate Schools' Distinguished Master's Thesis Award.

Assistant Professor Rusen Yang was featured in the StarTribune on 11/8/10 for his research into nanogenerators. See the article.

October 2010

The Department of Mechanical Engineering placed seventh in the nation overall in the recently released 2010 National Research Council (NRC) Assessment of Doctoral Research Programs. This ranking reflects the departments placing in the regression-based overall ranking of 127 mechanical engineering programs nation-wide. More...

September 2010

Professor Terry Simon has been appointed as the Editor of the ASME Journal of Heat Transfer (2010 - 2015 term).

Professors Jane Davidson and Wojciech Lipiński along with Professor Sossina Haile at Caltech and Professor Bruce Dunn at UCLA have been awarded an NSF Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation grant entitled, "Thermochemical Routes to Efficient and Rapid Production of Solar Fuels."  The objective of this project is to transform and expand the nation's renewable energy storage capacity using a thermochemical approach for converting the energy of photons into chemical bonds.

Research Assoc. Professor Craig Shankwitz won the Management Innovation Award from the Minnesota Public Transit Association for his work on the bus driver assist system, part of the US DOT's "Urban Partnership Agreement" grant to Minnesota transportation agencies based on a major national competitive RFP run several years ago. Improving schedule reliability and helping drivers feel confident when using bus-only shoulders on suburban highways are two of the goals of the Driver Assist System (DAS) currently being implemented by the Minnesota Valley Transit Authority (MVTA) of Burnsville, MN.

Professors Perry Li and Terry Simon received a research grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to develop a "Novel Compressed Air Approach for Off-Shore Wind Energy Storage". The four year, $2 million award is made through the Emerging Frontier in Research and Innovation (EFRI) and the Grant Opportunities for Academic Liaison with Industry (GOALI) programs. More...

August 2010

Welcome to Rusen Yang, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering, who joined the department in August. Prof. Yang received his Ph.D. from Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta. His primary research interest is in the emerging field of energy harvesting nanotechnology.

Professor David Pui was named President of the International Aerosol Research Assembly. Their conference in Helsinki, Finland began August 29. He will receive the Fuchs Memorial Award, the highest aerosol award, at the conference.

Prof. Zongxuan Sun and Dr. Shih-Ken Chen are the guest editors for the special issue of IEEE Control System Magazine on "Automotive Active Safety Systems". Prof. Rajamani's work on tire road friction coefficient estimation is featured on the cover of the special issue.

Professor Allison Hubel was quoted in the June issue of Wired magazine. The article, "The Flesh Files," examines the state of biospecimen preservation, and how researchers are bringing needed preservation protocols to the forefront of cancer research. Article (pdf)

JULY 2010

Mechanical engineering student Stephanie Zastrow has been named as one of five laureates by the national Tau Beta Pi engineering honor society. This is the highest award given nationally to students by Tau Beta Pi. This award has been given since 1982 and 69 students across the country have received this honor. Stephanie is the first University of Minnesota student to ever receive this award.

Stephanie was specifically recognized for her athletic talents as a champion figure skater. She also is the U of M's Tau Beta Pi chapter president this coming year. In the past, she has also helped organize Tau Beta Pi's Kits for Kids toy collection for Toys 4 Tots.

Andrew James Carlson, a master’s student in mechanical engineering currently developing a new amphibious robotic platform at the U’s Center for Distributed Robotics within the College of Science and Engineering (CSE), won a Fulbright scholarship to the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). In Norway, he will aid in developing a test bed for optical measuring with use in manufacturing quality control of oil pipe welding. Carlson received a B.S. in mechanical engineering from the University of Minnesota in 2009.

The Intelligent Vehicles Laboratory research on buses equiped with a driver-assist system made the cover of GPS World. The article, written by Craig Shankwitz is in the July 2010, Vol. 21, n.7 issue. Or visit

JUNE 2010

The University's Solar Vehicle, Centauras II finished second overall in the American Solar Challenge - a 1,100-mile race from Tulsa, OK to Chicago, Il. The team also took home two additional awards, the sportsmanship award for the third consecutive time, and the electrical excellence award for the car's reliable and well-designed electrical and electronic system.

Professors Tom Kuehn and James Ramsey, with Bernard Olson, PhD, and Josh Rocklage, received a Best Paper Award from ASHRAE for "Grease Particle Emission Characterization from Seven Commercial Kitchen Cooking Appliances and Representative Food Products." The award was presented at the ASHRAE Annual Conference, June 26.

MAY 2010

Professor Caroline Hayes has received the 2010 President's Award for Outstanding Service. This award recognizes exceptional service to the University, its schools, colleges, departments and service units. Such service must have gone well beyond the regular duties of a faculty or staff member, and demonstrate unusual commitment to the University community.


Professor Rajesh Rajamani's research project on friction measurement and automatic applicator control for snowplows received the CTS Research Partnership Award for its partnership with Mn/DOT in achieving a significant impact on transportation. For a description of the developed smart snowplow technology, go to the article.

Professor Caroline Hayes was awarded the 2010 Taylor Award for Service for her work as faculty legislative liason and with the Women's Faculty Cabinet. Award Ceremony, Friday, May 7, at 5:30 PM, 150 Lind Hall. Hayes also received the Mullen-Spector-Traux Award for having a significant impact on women's leadership development at the University and the potential for long-term sustainability of these programs. Award Ceremony, Monday, April 19, 2010, 2:30 - 4:30, McNamara Alumni Center.

Professor Hayes has been working tirelessly for the University as legislative liaison to the state legislature. Her efforts are invaluable as they continuously help to inform legislators about the importance of the University to the state. She has testified at the capitol on behalf of our budget requests and she arranged campus visits to give legislators a first hand view of the University.

As the Chair of the Women’s Cabinet, Professor Hayes has been a strong advocate for gender equity at the University. In this role, she initiated studies of the percentage of women faculty at University of Minnesota in comparison to our national peer institutions and of salary gender equity at the University.

Professor Tom Kuehn's research on particles released into the air from various grilling techniques in restaurants (See ME News Summer 2008) was highlighted at the recent American Chemical Society's Annual meeting. Here is a link to to the to the news release from last weeks ACS meeting:
Here is a link to the Science News article:
NPR also aired the story last Friday.
Article in the Minnesota Daily 4/5/10:

Professor Frank Kulacki delivered the invited keynote lecture "The Body of Know ledge for Engineers in the 21st Century" at the First International Workshop in Innovative Engineering Education held in Seoul, Korea on February 4-5th. He was one of the keynote speakers invited from the US.

The workshop was the first sponsored by the Korea Institute for Advancement of Technology (KIAT) and the Korean Ministry of Education, Science and Technology. The Sungkyunkwan University hosted the event, and delegates from twelve engineering colleges attended. The workshop represented the first to address Korea's need for demand-driven engineering education and attainment of higher levels of technological innovation via Korea's long-term investment strategy in its engineering schools. Several of the delegates represented engineering schools in Japan and China with which several of the Korean colleges have collaborative relations.

A new volume, Trends in Computational Nanomechanics, edited by Professor Traian Dumitrica was just published by Springer. The volume presents recent developments in theoretical and computational methods for studying nanomechanical problems in which multiple length and/or time scales must be simultaneously resolved.


Professor Rajamani will be the Plenary Speaker at the forthcoming 29th IASTED International Conference on Modeling, Identification and Control to be held in Innsbruck, Austria during Feb 15-17, 2010. He will speak on “Novel Sensors, New Estimation Algorithms and Advanced Controls: Solutions for Improving Highway Vehicle Safety and Mobility.”


Professor Tianhong Cui together with Professors Perry Chang and Michael Romero from Mayo Clinic has been awarded a research grant to develop "Low-cost and high-performance nano-sensors: synthetic ion sensors for biological and medical applications". This research grant from the Minnesota Partnership for Biotechnology and Medical Genomics provides funding over the next two years.

BioCoR is the product of an interdisciplinary collaboration among the Institute of Engineering in Medicine, Institute of Technology, the Medical School, and the Academic Health Center in the University of Minnesota spearheaded by the Mechanical Engineering faculty. For more information, visit BioCoR at

(Biopreservation Core Resource: was launched by Professors Allison Hubel and Al Aksan on 01/08/10. The mission of BioCoR is to advance the science, technology and practice of biospecimen preservation by developing specific biopreservation protocols, improve preservation and storage technologies, establish standards and guidelines and to train individuals and institutions in the science and technology of biopreservation.

Professors Hubel and Aksan, in close collaboration with the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, are the recipients of a Minnesota Partnership grant to develop silica/collagen based artificial cornea.

Professor Rajesh Rajamani's research for enhancing snowplow efficiency is making news...go to the article.