UMass Amherst is one of eight institutions nationwide participating as center “sites”—research funded cooperatively by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and industry partners. The center specializes in information technology-enabled design and software tools that expedite product dissemination. Led by professor of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering and center co-director Sundar Krishnamurty, campus researchers are developing new design paradigms and processes, with particular emphasis on engineering knowledge modeling.
Krishnamurty has extensive experience in design optimization, innovation, and semantic web ontologies connected to engineering, assistive technology and mechanism design. His recent inventions include a portable seatbelt and a deep pressure vest. Krishnamurty works to create an “integrative and distributed environment” for students and faculty, and asserts the more integrative the design approach (from researcher-to-researcher and researcher-to-industry), the more quickly innovations can be achieved and made useful.
Another software tool the center team is optimizing is the “MemoExtractor.” MemoExtractor is designed to help users digitally scan large volumes of legacy documents and create a customized database for fast and efficient information retrieval. Legacy data refers to information stored in an obsolete, archaic format that is not easily accessible. By providing an intelligent, user-friendly format for managing this information, the team is helping companies to better store and communicate it. This project (like all center projects) involves graduate and undergraduate researchers, as well as industry partners. Graduate student Jeffrey McPherson and undergraduate student Edward Roy are working closely with industry to test and deploy the MemoExtractor, and are gaining valuable work experience in the process.
In western Massachusetts, Krishnamurty and colleagues are working with industry to develop and distribute new products more quickly and efficiently. Industry partners include companies such as Overlook Industry, Vistagy, Raytheon, and PTC (a Massachusetts based CAD company). In partnership with PTC, student researchers get hands-on experience using state-of-the-art CAD equipment—skills that prove useful in the job market. Krishnamurty says that the Center is generating a “new breed of engineers” that are extremely capable of tackling global problems.
“The main goal and the most satisfying part of the work is to see young students become mature, responsible, intelligent engineers who are ready and willing to solve the world’s problems,” Krishnamurty says.
Amanda Drane '12
Krishnamurty asserts the more integrative the design approach (from researcher-to-researcher and researcher-to-industry), the more quickly innovations can be achieved and made useful.