UMass Amherst College of Engineering Announces Recent Grants to Faculty

AMHERST, Mass. - David Schmidt, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Massachusetts, has been awarded a $300,000 grant by the Office of Naval Research (ONR). Schmidt is one of just 26 researchers from across the country to receive the Young Investigator Award.

Schmidt''s work centers around sprays, which are important for reducing the pollution from liquid fuel combustion. "Sprays are ubiquitous," Schmidt said. "Sprays drive nearly every engine - you burn liquid fuel and you do it by making a spray. That''s critical for controlling the emissions."

His current research is on refining computer simulations of sprays. The core of a spray, he said, has largely been a mystery since peripheral droplets block and scatter light: "I''m calculating the inner workings of the core that we can''t see or measure," he said. Knowing those inner workings could eventually lead to smaller and cleaner engines through better atomization and a more efficient burn.

Historically, Schmidt said, the droplets in computer models were treated as if they were simplistic dots of a single, unchanging shape that did little more than evaporate. Schmidt''s simulations include a more realistic approximation of the droplets, which actually "stretch into ligaments and barbells," he said. "We''ll be able to calculate what''s going on in the heart of a spray instead of just speculating."

ONR''s Young Investigator awards recognize exceptional young scientists and engineers. Young Investigators are selected on the basis of prior professional achievement, a research proposal, and strong support by their respective universities.

Muriel Named Recipient of CAREER Award

AMHERST, Mass. - Ana Muriel, assistant professor of industrial engineering, has received $375,000 from the National Science Foundation to continue her research in supply chain management. The prestigious, five-year CAREER award is aimed at supporting the work of junior faculty members.

Muriel''s CAREER project focuses on the development of algorithms for the effective integration of production, inventory, and distribution in the supply chain, especially when mass production results in lower production and transportation costs. The objective is to reduce system-wide costs, make delivery times more reliable, and provide better service to consumers. These algorithms will be applied to real large-scale distribution systems accounting for complexities such as uncertainty in demand, multiple methods of transportation, and capacity constraints of the different facilities and transportation modes.

The CAREER award also has a strong educational comonent, and will enable Muriel to develop case studies in logistics and supply chain management for classroom use. "Case studies are very rarely used in engineering courses," Muriel said. "The case studies will provide students with data to allow rigorous engineering analysis, while presenting real, unstructured situations that require sound business assessment."

Muriel earned her Ph.D. at Northwestern University in 1997, spent two years as faculty at the University of Michigan Business School,and joined the College of Engineering at UMass in 1999.