Welcome to Spring 2023. Below you will find department news and celebrations of faculty, staff, and student successes. We also have a brief update on improvements to our facilities, including the completion of the EBU-II Courtyard upgrade, the renovation of our undergraduate instructional laboratory facilities, and the revitalization of our undergraduate design studio spaces. Many thanks to all those who contributed to these upgrades! Finally, we share the sad news of the passing of our colleague Bob Skelton, even as we celebrate the indelible imprint he left on the department.
As I write this, my last message to the MAE Community as Department Chair, I find myself acutely aware of the passage of time. It seems like a few moments ago that I was preparing to step into the role, and now in the blink of an eye my time is almost done. In the past three years we have come through many challenges, but I believe we are also a stronger department as a result. I hope and trust that you, as the MAE Community, see the promising and impactful future that I am confident lies ahead for us.
My heightened awareness of the passage of time was also amplified by the news that our beloved and talented Mary Polytaridis will be retiring soon. Mary has been such a presence and anchor in the department for nearly a decade, and I know that I speak for all of us when I say that we have been so fortunate to have her with us during these years. From the depths of my being let me say "thank you" to Mary on behalf of the entire department; her knowledge and insights, her patience, gentle humor, and grace have been crucial during turbulent seasons and she will be missed. However, we also celebrate her well-deserved retirement with her family and friends.
Finally, if you would permit me, please let me share a personal note. For me, poetry speaks a truth that goes beyond words, for a well-written poem cuts to the heart of the matter. The poem “Ask Me” by William Stafford, seamlessly expresses the hope that I, in some small way, have helped build this amazing department and community of people during my time as your Department Chair and as a faculty colleague. What the river says, that is what I say.
Some time when the river is ice ask me
mistakes I have made. Ask me whether
what I have done is my life. Others
have come in their slow way into
my thought, and some have tried to help
or to hurt: ask me what difference
their strongest love or hate has made.
I will listen to what you say.
You and I can turn and look
at the silent river and wait. We know
the current is there, hidden; and there
are comings and goings from miles away
that hold the stillness exactly before us.
What the river says, that is what I say.
All the Best,
George R. Tynan
Professor & Chair
Department of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering
Retirement of Mary Polytaridis, Chief Operations Officer
Mary Polytaridis will be retiring in July of 2023 after serving as our Chief Operations Officer for almost a decade. Mary spent 24 years with UC San Diego, including her 8.5 years with the MAE Department. She championed our department through countless challenges, including the unprecedented territory of navigating a team through a worldwide pandemic while working remotely. Her grace and patience kept the boat steady even on rough seas. She initiated and oversaw several renovation processes that have improved both the function and aesthetic of our workplace and laboratories, which will serve our department for several years to come.
We celebrate Mary and all that she has contributed to MAE to make our department great, and she will be missed. We wish Mary the very best on this next adventure with family and friends.
In Memoriam: Robert E. Skelton- Professor Emeritus
It is with great sadness that we take a moment to remember Professor Emeritus Robert (Bob) Eugene Skelton, who passed away on February 15th, 2023 in Fairhope, Alabama. Skelton’s contributions to the field of tensegrity and engineering are immeasurable, and he paved the way for future generations of researchers. Skelton was a model for combining theory, method development, and industry engagement.
Upon joining UC San Diego in 1996, Skelton initiated and constructed a research group within MAE in Dynamic Systems and Controls that was both interdisciplinary and innovative. Two decades later, due to his leadership, MAE is now home to one of the top leading controls programs in the country, with almost 20 participating faculty members.
Skelton had an insatiable appetite for learning, and served in multiple roles throughout his lifetime. During his tenure at the Marshall Space Flight Center, he was crucial in the development of the control systems for Apollo, Skylab, the space shuttle, and the Hubble telescope. Afterwards, he joined Purdue as a Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics for 22 years. Once at UC San Diego, Skelton served as a Professor for 10 years and remained as a Professor Emeritus for several additional years. He also dedicated seven years to Texas A&M as a Distinguished Research Professor.
Skelton’s achievements are plentiful, including a SKYLAB Achievement Award, his induction into the National Academy of Engineering in 2012, the Norman Medal from the American Society of Civil Engineers, and the Humboldt Foundation Senior US Scientist Award, to name a few.
Skelton’s kind and humble demeanor led him to become a mentor to many, and he will be greatly missed. Although we grieve his loss, we continue to feel the impact of his exceptional work both at UC San Diego and in the engineering community at large.
MAE Courtyard Renovation Project
The MAE Courtyard Renovation Project is complete. Our new, revitalized space will increase opportunities for community building, collaboration, and engagement amongst students, faculty, and staff. We hope to see you in this unique and dynamic space soon.
The former Student Affairs wing has been renovated as an additional work space for the 31 teams who will be completing their Mechanical Senior Capstone Design projects in MAE 156B in Spring 2023. The project groups will tackle issues in various fields ranging from biomechanics to soft robotics. The upgraded space hosts one of the department’s new smart locker systems, which will allow students to check out specialized tools and equipment for experiments. Additionally, the upgraded wing will be an area for students to collaborate, conduct meetings, and attend office hours.
Aerospace Fabrication Lab
Similarly, the Aerospace Fabrication Lab (part of the Aerospace Design Center) has expanded into EBU II Rooms 126 and 137 in order to provide more working space to over 20 project teams completing their Aerospace Senior Capstone Design projects in 155B in Spring 2023. These students will be designing and building various types of remote-controlled aircrafts.
Boris Kramer Receives Award from ASML
Assistant Professor Boris Kramer received an award from ASML of San Diego. Boris works to develop reduced-order modeling techniques for high-dimensional transient systems, such as the EUV light-source that ASML develops. The award is to further strengthen Boris’s research in order to target industrial applications. ASML strives to advance the next generation of EUV lithography.
Lisa Poulikakos Wins Air Force Young Investigator Award
Assistant Professor Lisa Poulikakos received the 2023 Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) Young Investigator Research Program (YIP) award for her work on metasurfaces technologies. The AFOSR is the research arm of the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), which leads in the development and discovery of new technologies for air and space. Additionally, YIP increases early career development while resolving challenges in science and engineering.
Lisa’s research focuses on miniature, on-chip nanostructured surfaces called “metasurfaces” that will provide a greater understanding of gas and plasma flow by viewing both at unparalleled spatial resolutions. In turn, the research could improve the development of power and propulsion systems while reducing optical component costs.
Her work, titled “Nano-Optical and Plasmo-Acoustic Metasurfaces for High-Resolution, Non-Intrusive Flow Visualization in Gases and Plasma" will enable collaborations in MAE with Associate Professor Nicholas Boechler, Assistant Professor Abhishek Saha, Professor George Tynan, and Professor Farhat Beg.
Aaron Rosengren Selected for AFOSR Faculty Fellowship Program
Assistant Professor Aaron Rosengren has been selected as a fellow for the 2023 Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) Summer Faculty Fellowship Program (SFFP) at the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Directed Energy Directorate. The SFFP spurs professional relationships among selected fellows and Air Force Scientists while advancing innovative research in science, engineering, and mathematics. Aaron will be working alongside Captain Zachary Funke to research “Astrodynamics for Space Surveillance”, specifically in regards to extending U.S. space situational awareness capabilities into Cislunar space. Aaron will spend 11 weeks at the AFRL in Maui this upcoming summer. He will be joined by MAE Ph.D student Benjamin Hanson, who is co-advised by Professor Thomas Bewley.
Photo courtesy of Dr. Aaron Rosengren, AFRL, and Dr. Paul Spudis.
Michael Tolley and Nicholas Gravish Win Multiple ONR Grants
Multimodal Ocean Soft Robot (MOSoRo) Platform
Associate Professor Michael Tolley and Associate Professor Nicholas Gravish were recently selected for the Office of Naval Research (ONR) Defense University Research Instrumentation Program (DURIP) for their work regarding a Multimodal Ocean Soft Robot (MOSoRo) Platform. DURIP supports research by providing the instrumentation needed for innovative studies.
The development of the MOSoRo Platform is inspired by the overwhelming successes of resistive-force theory applied to locomotion within dry granular materials. The system will enable the researchers to gain a new understanding of the mechanics of robots interacting with underwater environments while allowing them to investigate approaches to energy harvesting from the deformation of soft robots.
Soft-Bodied Robot and Locomotion
Michael and Nicholas also received an ONR award for their work titled, “Self-Sufficient Swimming and Digging Worm-Inspired Robot (S2 SanD-Worm)”. The research is inspired by the digging capabilities of Polychaete worms, and aims to develop a completely soft-bodied robot capable of locomotion in the water and submerged granular seabeds. The robot will use appendage-based locomotion influenced by Polychaete parapodia by drawing on knowledge gained from previously funded ONR research on robot digging.
Their research will enhance robot digging capabilities in three areas: (1) resistive force control of granular materials through hydraulic fluidization and fracture; (2) actuation and volumetric control through heating of low-boiling point fluids (LBFs); (3) and drag reduction and forward propulsion through soft body eversion.
Oliver Schmidt Receives ONR Grant
Associate Professor Oliver Schmidt received an Office of Naval Research (ONR) grant for his work titled, “Machine Learning Control of Jet Noise". His team is investigating the use of episode-based machine learning to discover new control laws for active open-loop control of jet noise from complex nozzles. This study builds upon a previously developed numerical simulation environment, which accurately predicted noise emissions of a supersonic rectangular twin-jet. The research design incorporates expert knowledge into the latest generation of model-free machine learning algorithms, focusing on finding new control laws for reducing or redirecting noise using new actuation strategies. The research considers two machine learning paradigms (deep reinforcement learning and gradient-enriched genetic programming) which have shown efficiency and effectiveness in previous active open-loop flow control studies.
The MAE Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Committee exists to increase advising support for MAE graduate students in a peer mentorship capacity, to improve communication between graduate students and the MAE department, and to collaborate on pathways for improvement.
Use the open feedback form to share your thoughts or suggestions for the committee or the MAE department.
Learn more on the P2P website or contact us via email.
Phuong Truong (PI: James Friend)
"Neonatal Non-Nutritive Suckling Waveform Extraction, Characterization, and Classification"
Future Plans: Phuong is currently adjunct faculty at San Diego Mesa College
Sheel Nidhan (PI: Sutanu Sarkar)
"Simulation-Based Analyses of Turbulent Wakes: Coherent Structures, Wake Generator Shape and Buoyancy Effects"
Future Plans: Sheel is currently a Senior R&D Engineer at Ansys, Inc. working at the intersection of numerical methods for CFD applications and deep learning
Aditya Vasan (PI: James Friend)
"Non-Invasive Neuromodulation using Ultrasound"
Future Plans: Aditya is creating a company titled SonoBac that combines ultrasound and genetic engineering as a platform to improve microbial fermentation
Shuai Zhang (PI: James Friend)
"Effect of High-Frequency Acoustic Waves on the Fluid Interface"
Future Plans: Research Fellow at Mayo Clinic
Baharak Sayahpour (PI: Shirley Meng)
"Advanced Characterization Methods for Reaction Mechanism Investigation in Next Generation Energy Storage Systems"
Meir Shachar (PI: Javier Garay)
"Optical Modeling of Transparent Polycrystalline Ceramics"
Future Plans: Postdoctoral Researcher at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Chad Warren (PI: Javier Garay)
"The Synthesis and Processing of Epitaxially Strained Rare Earth Iron Garnet Films"
Ben Murphy Pineda- Faculty Assistant
Ben recently joined the MAE team as a Faculty Assistant. He previously served as a contractor at NAVWAR by providing administrative support for two engineering teams. Ben graduated from UC San Diego in 2019 with a degree in International Business.
In his free time, Ben loves to bike, hike, and take photographs. He also loves spending time at the beach and exploring new Mexican cuisine.
A good night of sleep is as important as a healthy diet and exercise.
Most adults need about 7-9 hours of sleep each night. In order to maximize your sleep, try to stick to consistent wake and sleep times, which will align your circadian rhythm. Equally helpful, bright light exposure each day through sunlight or bright lights indoors can increase your energy and will aid in a more fulfilling night of sleep.
Deadline to file for Advancement to Candidacy for Master's degrees
Deadline for all students to drop classes without "W" grade
Deadline to register for Graduate Commencement
6/17/2023 - 6/18/2023
Graduate Commencement / All Campus Commencement
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