Category Archives: Mechanical Engineering

News and Updates from Mechanical Engineering. For more news and information about the department, please visit:

Tufts in Talloires: First week outside of “Home”

This summer, two students from the Bridge to Engineering Success at Tufts (BEST) program will blog their experiences from Tufts in Talloires, a six-week summer program that offers students a dynamic group of courses taught by Tufts faculty. Students enrolled in this program choose two courses from a selection of undergraduate offerings. In addition to coursework, a wide variety of optional outdoor activities, weekly hikes into the Alps, field trips, and organized events offer each student the opportunity to explore the unique Haute-Savoie region of France. 

The view from Hernan's host's flat, alongside Lake Annecy in Talloires, France.

The view from Hernan’s host’s flat, alongside Lake Annecy in Talloires, France.

By Hernan Gallegos

I had various amounts of emotions, both good and bad, rushing through my mind. I am not surprised since this was my first time traveling outside the country – overseas, to be exact. As an aspiring engineer, first-generation college student, and, most importantly, a young person of color, I was not aware of how I should have felt. Honestly, I was not expecting to be able to travel as far from my home city of Atlanta, Georgia, but this opportunity came to me. Thus, I began to travel outside the U.S. straight to my first destination, Turkey.

My first stop was amazing. My entire time there, I felt a different cultural atmosphere compared to Boston or Atlanta. This exposure was something that I did not know how to react to, so I just went along with this feeling of uncertainty. From walking along the stone streets of Turkey to taking the tram in Leipzig, Germany, I started to feel more at home. Which is a funny term to use since I was not native to neither of these locations. Once I reached Talloires, France, I felt like I returned “home.”

My first view of Talloires was Lake Annecy. Everyone who traveled here with me was in awe of its blue beauty and the nature surrounding it. By the time I start walking around, I met up with old and surprisingly new friends. I have had a snippet of what my courses will be like, my host’s way of living, and what France has to offer (so much cheese!!!). I am walking into a new, unknown world. As an aspiring, first-generation, person of color, engineer, I am ready to see what the next six weeks have in store for me.

Hernan Gallegos is a rising sophomore from Atlanta, Georgia, majoring in mechanical engineering.

Zenyuk researches hydrogen fuel cells

Widespread use of electric vehicles could offer relief from pollution, says Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering Iryna Zenyuk, and hydrogen fuel cells present the option for a cleaner, more efficient power source. However, the water byproduct created inside a hydrogen fuel cell compromises the cell’s efficiency.

Tufts Now covers the work being done by Zenyuk and colleagues as they develop new ways to see how water droplets form inside a fuel cell’s tiny cathode layer.

Black Wins One of Two NCAA Scholarships

Black_NCAAEvery year, the NCAA awards a Walter Byers Postgraduate Scholarship to only two student-athletes selected from a nationwide pool of applicants. Byers Scholars are recognized for outstanding academic achievement as well as for potential for success in postgraduate study. This year, Tufts senior and three-time 800-meter national champion Mitchell Black is one of the two national awardees. Double-majoring in mechanical engineering and astrophysics at Tufts, Black plans to pursue his doctorate in aerospace engineering at either Georgia Tech or the University of Michigan.

$3M Grant Awarded to Mass Nanotech Consortium

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker announced $3 million in state support of the Cluster for Advanced Nanomanufacturing of Smart Sensors and Materials (ANSSeM) — a consortium of Massachusetts businesses and universities led by Northeastern University that includes Tufts University School of Engineering and University of Massachusetts Boston. Associate Professor Sameer Sonkusale in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Professor Igor Sokolov in the Department of Mechanical Engineering will purchase equipment for developing nanoscale sensors and for measuring nanomechanical properties, respectively.

Alumna Zimmerman Wins Top Prize in Health and Life Sciences Track

04/07/2016 - Medford/Somerville, Mass. -  Award presentation:  Lauren Linton, deputy director of Tufts Institute for Innovation and BrainSpec. The 2016 $100K New Ventures Competition at Breed Memorial Hall in Tufts University, Thursday, April 7, 2016. (Chitose Suzuki for Tufts University)

Alexandra Zimmerman of team BrainSpec poses with Lauren Linton, deputy director of Tufts Institute for Innovation.

In the recent $100k New Ventures Competition organized by the Gordon Institute, mechanical engineering alumna Alexandra Zimmerman, E09, was on the BrainSpec team, which won first place in the Health and Life Sciences track. BrainSpec is a software platform that enables the accurate and non-invasive diagnosis of brain disorders, using magnetic resonance spectroscopy. It can help diagnose neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s disease, traumatic brain injury, and brain tumor progression.

Kemmerling Talks 3D Modeling and Mechanics in The Conversation

Assistant Professor Erica Kemmerling, Mechanical Engineering

Assistant Professor Erica Kemmerling, Mechanical Engineering

Assistant Professor Erica Kemmerling writes for The Conversation about fabricating physical models to study how cardiovascular devices affect blood flow. Now 3D printing technology is advanced enough to build realistic models of human blood vessels, and pulsatile-flow pumps can drive flow through these vessels to mimic the heart’s pumping. Since the vessel models are synthetic, there are no ethical issues associated with damaging them to take flow measurements.

Wendell Named 2016 PECASE Award Winner

Assistant Professor Kristen Wendell, Mechanical Engineering

Assistant Professor Kristen Wendell, Mechanical Engineering

Assistant Professor Kristen Wendell was named a recipient of a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE).  This award is the highest honor bestowed by the United States Government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers. She will receive her award at a Washington, D.C. ceremony in the spring.

The 105 awardees were selected for their pursuit of innovative research at the frontiers of science and technology and their commitment to community service as demonstrated through scientific leadership, public education, or community outreach.

Rogers Interviewed by CNC Machine Company

Professor Chris Rogers, department chair of Mechanical Engineering

Professor and Chair Chris Rogers was interviewed about his educational philosophy by Owen Smithyman, a blogger for Other Machine Co., a company that produces CNC machines.

Read more of the “LEGO and Super Soakers” interview:

What are some things that you do in your Mechanical Engineering classes to ensure that students learn the material, that you would like to see more of in higher education?

Nonstandard projects. We always talk about people trying to get the “right” answer, which would be a solution diversity of zero — everybody having the same answer — as opposed to giving a problem where people can come up with their own answers.

One year in my robotics class, the problem was to build robots that play acoustic instruments. And so there were robots that played the bagpipes, the trombone, the mandolin, the piano, the xylophone, the ukulele. Because there are all these different solutions, they’re all learning different skills, and then they teach them to each other.

So instead of trying to have everybody learn the same information, how can we develop courses where everybody learns different information and learns how to talk to each other and leverage each other, just like we do in the business world? Why do we want everybody to learn the exact same thing in Fluids class or in Controls class or whatever? Wouldn’t it be far more powerful if we taught them how to talk to one another but then had them specialize and have their own expertise and have different projects?

Messner Speaks with Metro About Driverless Trains

Professor Bill Messner

On December 13, 2015, Professor Bill Messner spoke with the the Boston Metro about the possibility of driverless trains in the public transportation system, commenting on the recent “Ghost Train” mishap where a Red Line train left a T station without its driver. “From a technology standpoint, it’s certainly doable. It’s a question of expense, really, and of course public acceptance of autonomous trains.” Messner commented that the MBTA is not a good case for “robotic retrofitting” because it was never designed to be an autonomous system.