The Campus Chronicle
Vol. XVII, Issue 31
for the Amherst campus of the University of Massachusetts
May 3, 2002

 Page One Grain & Chaff Obituaries Letters to the Chronicle Archives Feedback Weekly Bulletin

 Page One Grain & Chaff Obituaries Letters to the Chronicle Archives Feedback Weekly Bulletin




Muriel, Schmidt win young faculty awards

by Karen Skolfield, Special to the Chronicle

Ana Muriel

Ana Muriel

Cwo assistant professors in the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department recently received young faculty member awards. Ana Muriel of Industrial Engineering, has received a $375,000 CAREER award from the National Science Foundation; David Schmidt of Mechanical Engineering, has been given a $300,000 Young Investigator Award by the Office of Naval Research (ONR).

     With Muriel's award, faculty at the College of Engineering have won 12 CAREER or Presidential Young Investigator awards from the National Science Foundation. Her CAREER award will further 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 component. This 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, spent two years as faculty at the University of Michigan Business School and joined the Engineering faculty in 1999.

     Schmidt is one of just 26 researchers from across the country to receive the Young Investigator Award.

David Schmidt

David Schmidt

     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.

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