Campus News in Brief

CMU professors attend London summit

Mark Kryder, professor of electrical and computer engineering, and Philip R. LeDuc, professor of mechanical engineering, attended the Grand Challenges Summit at Savoy Place in London from March 12–13.

At the Grand Challenges Summit, global thought leaders, including Bill Gates, discussed ideas for solving some of the world’s most significant problems.

Kryder, former director of Carnegie Mellon’s Data Storage System Center, said that the summit allowed him to focus on the ideas of data storage in a global context.

“In addition to hearing from some great speakers, there were many panel sessions dealing with global challenges and much discussion after each panel. It was a stimulating experience,” he said.

The Grand Challenges Summit is a new event, sponsored by the National Academy of Engineering, the Royal Academy of Engineering, and the Chinese Academy of Engineering.

The purpose of the summit is to put world-renowned thinkers into discussions about the world’s most critical issues. “This was a wonderful opportunity to meet leaders from a broad sector of academia, industry, and government,” LeDuc said.

LeDuc won a competitive Grand Challenges Explorations Award in 2011 from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for his work on nutrition for infants and children in underdeveloped countries. He is currently working on adjusting the cell mechanics of leafy vegetables in Africa to make them more palatable for children.

“It was a great event because it gave me the opportunity to build and develop the collaborations, networks and tools needed to solve our common global challenges,” LeDuc said.

The summit is planned to occur every two years; it will reconvene in China in 2015.

Professor wins Air Force research award

Assistant professor in mechanical engineering Carmel Majidi was awarded a three-year, $360,000 grant from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) for his work in soft robotics.

The term “soft robotics” refers to a relatively new sector of robotics in which researchers combine organic chemistry, soft materials science, and robotics.

Majidi’s research will be used by the Air Force to improve electronic power sources and sensors for air vehicles and flight suits.

Majidi also heads the research conducted by Carnegie Mellon’s Soft Machines Lab, where he works on soft electronics and sensors to improve the flexibility of medical devices and electronics.

“I’m extremely grateful for this award as I continue my research into producing soft matter electronics that are elastically deformable and extend these technologies for harvesting electricity from their environment,” Majidi said.

“Ultimately, this new domain of field robotics will help us focus on elastic and multifunctional materials. These types of new materials will be the building blocks for a new generation of devices and robots composed entirely of soft material and fluids,” he said.