Moonshots: Inside the UC Davis Center for Spaceflight Research

Robots. Laundry. Emergency care. At the University of California, Davis, Center for Spaceflight Research, these topics and more are investigated as they relate to human spaceflight. The multidisciplinary research center is poised to become the preeminent resource for human spaceflight engineering research in the U.S.

International Women’s Day Spotlight on UC Davis Women in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

In honor of International Women’s Day on March 8, the University of California, Davis, College of Engineering recognizes women in engineering, their journey to and in the field, and how they promote a diverse, equitable and inclusive world.

Meet some remarkable women in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, and learn how they inspire inclusion in engineering.

A Second Wind

UC Davis' first wind tunnel was built in 1975 in Bainer Hall by then-new faculty member Bruce with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Today, assistant professors Camli Badrya and Christina Harvey are taking the wind tunnels to the next level.

Engineer Studying Bird Flight Awarded Packard Fellowship

Christina Harvey, a University of California, Davis, researcher studying how bird flight can be used to improve aircraft design, has been awarded a 2023 Packard Fellowship in Science and Engineering from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.

Parasitic Weeds Threaten Tomato Plants on California Farms

At first glance, Orobanche ramosa looks like an interesting blossoming plant, one that could add a unique flair to flower arrangements. But it’s a parasitic weed that attaches to roots, sucks out nutrients and is threatening California’s lucrative $1.5 billion processing tomato industry.

Matter at Extremes: A Question of Scale

In a paper published last week by Physical Review Letters, Jean-Pierre Delplanque, a professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and the dean of graduate studies at the University of California, Davis, and a team of researchers from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and Sandia National Laboratories, have developed a scaling law to analyze the kinetics of high-pressure, rapid solidification of metastable liquids observed in national laboratory and academic experiments over the past few decades.

New Drone Research Advances Wildfire Monitoring

Typically, the primary indicator of a burgeoning wildfire in California is a plume of hazy, gray smoke wafting through the air, seen by satellites or cameras. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or CalFire, is alerted, and mitigation and containment efforts ensue.

As New Paths to Spaceflight Emerge, Rich Whittle Explores a Vast Unknown: The Human Body

With the recent uptick in private spaceflight companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin, Virgin Galactic launching commercial flights into suborbital space, and NASA's ambitious Artemis program that aims to land people on the Moon in 2024 as a first step toward voyages to Mars, new assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Rich Whittle believes we are on the cusp of a new era of human spaceflight.

UC Davis C-STEM Brings Computer Science into Redlands Classrooms

Since 2010, the University of California, Davis, Center for Integrated Computing and STEM Education, or C-STEM, has aimed to transform K-12 math, computer science and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) education through integrated learning.

Sexing Chicken Eggs by Scent

Fertilized chicken eggs can be sexed by “sniffing” volatile chemicals emitted through the shell, according to new work by researchers at the University of California, Davis, and Sensit Ventures Inc., a startup company in Davis. The work is published May 22 in PLOS ONE.

Christina Harvey: Aerodynamics from Birds to Aircraft

Before aircraft, birds ruled the skies and Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Assistant Professor Christina Harvey thinks there’s still a lot to be learned from them. Harvey’s Biologically-Informed Research and Design (BIRD) Lab sits at the intersection of aerospace engineering and biology and looks to combine disciplines to make an impact in both fields. 

Four College of Engineering Projects Receive CITRIS Seed Awards

Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society and the Banatao Institute (CITRIS) at the University of California (UC) recently announced the 2022 CITRIS Seed Awards recipients. The eight selected proposals, submitted by multicampus teams from Berkeley, Davis, Merced and Santa Cruz, will receive up to $60,000 for their work, thanks in part to external philanthropic support. 

Camli Badrya: Efficiency Through Aerodynamics

Aircraft are a crucial part of a modern, connected world, but they take a heavy toll on the environment. Even short flights can release hundreds of kilograms of CO2 into the atmosphere and create a massive amount of noise wherever they fly. Camli Badrya, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at UC Davis, is looking to aerodynamics to help make all types of flying more efficient, sustainable and environmentally friendly.

Xinfan Lin Elected IEEE Senior Member

Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Associate Professor Xinfan Lin was recently elected a senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE). Senior membership is the highest grade that IEEE candidates can apply for. Achieving this honor requires ten years as an engineer, scientist, educator or originator in IEEE-designated fields with five years of significant performance.

UC Davis Hosts Inaugural Ujima Day

On September 2, 40 Black/African American middle and high school students and 10 staff from across Northern California visited UC Davis for Ujima Day—the culmination of the first year of the Ujima Girls in Robotics Leadership (GIRL) Project.

EcoCAR EV Challenge Marks a New Era for UC Davis Engineering

Over the next four years, UC Davis students will be designing the car of the future as part of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s EcoCAR Electric Vehicle (EV) Challenge. The competition challenges students to convert a Cadillac LYRIQ EV into an autonomous, next-generation battery-electric vehicle with vehicle-to-everything connectivity so it can interact with devices and the environment.

The Power of the Breath

One new trick a dog can learn is how to smell COVID-19. But although studies show they can accurately detect coronavirus infections, training enough canines to recognize the scent will take a long time to scale up. Cristina Davis, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and associate dean of research for the UC Davis College of Engineering, has a faster tool set to enter the industry by the end of 2022: a breathalyzer-like device to detect COVID-19 and its severity in individuals.

Space Research Takes the Stage

The Main Theatre at Wright Hall this month became the unlikely site of an experiment on technology that could eventually go into space.

Students in the Center for Spaceflight Research at UC Davis are working on technologies for a class of satellites that could inspect other spacecraft, such as the International Space Station, in collaboration with NASA. But up in space, the light is harshly bright with no atmosphere to attenuate the sunshine, and the technology must be configured for that environment.

Barbara Linke Named UC Davis Chancellor’s Fellow

Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (MAE) associate professor Barbara Linke was named a 2022 UC Davis Chancellor’s Fellow. The fellowship program, now in its 22nd year, recognizes and supports outstanding early-career faculty members at UC Davis. Chancellor’s Fellows receive a one-time award to support research, teaching and service and hold the title for five years.

Faculty Focus: Case van Dam

Mechanical and aerospace engineering (MAE) professor emeritus C.P. “Case” van Dam emphasizes the importance of going with the flow. He has pursued a lifelong interest in aviation while staying open to new opportunities that have helped him become a beloved teacher, mentor and leader and an impactful researcher in aerospace engineering and wind energy.

David Horsley elected IEEE Fellow

Mechanical and aerospace engineering professor David Horsley was recently elected a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). Fellowship is the highest level of IEEE membership, and it recognizes a high level of extraordinary accomplishment in an IEEE field. Fellowship is considered a prestigious honor and important career achievement.

Valeria La Saponara’s Lab wins UC Davis Lab Safety Award

Professor Valeria La Saponara’s lab recently received the College of Engineering Lab Safety Award from UC Davis Safety Services, naming it the best lab in the College of Engineering in terms of safety. The awards recognize labs with a strong safety emphasis who are doing their part to think safe, act safe and be safe.

C-STEM Center receives $2.4M to introduce African American girls to engineering and robotics

With a $2.4 million grant from the National Science Foundation, the UC Davis Center for Integrated Computing and STEM Education (C-STEM) will establish a new initiative to introduce Black/African American girls to engineering and robotics and provide them with resources to be leaders in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in their schools, communities and careers.

Seongkyu Lee recognized for excellence in graduate advising and mentorship

Mechanical and aerospace engineering (MAE) associate professor Seongkyu Lee has been named one of this year’s recipients of the UC Davis Graduate Program Advising and Mentorship Award. Recipients are nominated by their graduate programs in recognition of service to the program, commitment to advising and mentoring and the positive impact they have on their students and colleagues.

Harry Cheng Wins Chancellor’s Award for Diversity and Community

Mechanical and aerospace engineering (MAE) professor Harry Cheng received a UC Davis Chancellor’s Award for Diversity and Community. The annual awards highlight and uplift UC Davis students, faculty, staff, postdoctoral scholars, community members and departments who have made significant contributions to fostering “an environment that fosters a sense of inclusiveness and community for all.”

Xinfan Lin wins NSF CAREER Award

Mechanical and aerospace engineering assistant professor Xinfan Lin has received the prestigious National Science Foundation (NSF) Early Career Development Program (CAREER) Award. The CAREER Award recognizes young faculty members across the country who have the potential to be leaders in their fields. He is one of 500 researchers from across the country and one of eight College of Engineering faculty to receive the honor this year.

Ralph Aldredge: Uplifting Voices in Engineering

Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies and professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering Ralph Aldredge has been a leader in the college for years in an effort to lift up student voices and ensure prospective and current students with disadvantaged backgrounds can find a pathway to excel at UC Davis.

J.P. Delplanque Named ASME Fellow

The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Committee of Past Presidents recently recognized the outstanding engineering achievements of mechanical and aerospace engineering professor Jean-Pierre Delplanque and promoted him to the grade of Fellow.

Ralph Aldredge wins NSBE Lifetime Achievement Award

The National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) has honored Ralph C. Aldredge, associate dean for undergraduate studies in the College of Engineering and professor in mechanical and aerospace engineering, with the 2021 NSBE Golden Torch Award for Lifetime Achievement in Academia.

In Memoriam: Professor Emeritus Fidelis Eke

The Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (MAE) and the College of Engineering mourn the passing of their friend and colleague, Professor Emeritus Fidelis Eke. Eke is remembered as a brilliant researcher, gifted educator and a kind, gentle and welcoming person who leaves lasting impact on the MAE department and UC Davis.

“He was a great teacher, a gentle soul and one of the kindest people I have come across,” said Professor Francis Assadian. “This is truly a big loss.”

David Horsley Elected National Academy of Inventors Fellow

Mechanical and aerospace engineering professor David Horsley has been elected a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI). NAI Fellowship highlights inventors in academia for creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made an impact on quality of life, economic development and societal welfare, as well as a “prolific spirit of innovation.”

Iman Soltani: Automation Renaissance Man

For mechanical and aerospace engineering (MAE) assistant professor Iman Soltani, automation is vital to the present and a key to the future. With experience automating everything from microscopes to assembly lines and vehicles and a desire to collaborate across campus, Soltani plans to help make UC Davis a leader in the field as the world becomes more automated.

Though automation is important, Soltani feels the field is largely misunderstood.

Steve Robinson wins UC Davis Graduate Advising and Mentoring Award

Professor Steve Robinson has been named one of the inaugural recipients of the UC Davis Graduate Advising and Mentoring Award for his outstanding work in the mechanical and aerospace engineering (MAE) graduate program.

These new awards, administered by UC Davis Graduate Studies, honor outstanding excellence in advising and mentoring of graduate students. Winners are nominated by their graduate program to highlight a faculty member’s positive impact on both graduate students and colleagues.

Ralph Aldredge and Vinod Narayanan Elected ASME Fellows

Mechanical and aerospace engineering (MAE) professors Ralph Aldredge and Vinod Narayanan are two of the newest American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Fellows. Fellowship recognizes ASME members with over 10 years of experience and with significant achievements in engineering teaching, research and service in mechanical engineering or a related field.

Faculty Spotlight: Mohamed Hafez

As he approaches his 35th year on campus, mechanical and aerospace engineering professor Mohamed Hafez continues to leave an indelible mark on the department and his students. He has taught and mentored undergraduate, graduate and high school students and postdoctoral scholars alike while introducing several courses and being a driving force behind aerospace engineering at UC Davis.

MAE welcomes three new faculty members

The Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering is excited to welcome Kelly Kissock, Shima Nazari and Iman Soltani to its faculty for the 2020-21 academic year. Together, they bring expertise in energy efficiency, control and automation to UC Davis and strengthen and diversify the department’s teaching and research. Kissock and Soltani start July 1 and Nazari starts November 1.

Kelly Kissock Appointed as New Energy and Efficiency Institute Faculty Director

The UC Davis Energy and Efficiency Institute is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Kelly Kissock as its new Faculty Director. Kissock’s faculty appointment is in the UC Davis Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, where he will serve as a professor. He will start his new positions in July. Kissock will also hold the Chevron Endowed Chair in Energy Efficiency.

A computer cursor that moves without being touched

Imagine turning on your computer and moving the cursor without ever touching it. Sanjay Joshi, a professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at UC Davis, and his lab are working with people in the medical, engineering, and disability communities to improve the capabilities of machines to assist people with physical limitations.

Wolfgang Kollmann publishes new book on turbulent flow

The culmination of over 20 years of teaching and research, mechanical and aerospace engineering professor emeritus Wolfgang Kollmann’s new book lays out different mathematical approaches to analyzing and solving the problem of turbulent flows for graduate students in engineering and applied science. The book, Navier-Stokes Turbulence: Theory and Analysis, was published this December by Springer International Publishing.

In Memoriam: Professor Emeritus Hector Baldis

The Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (MAE) mourns the loss of professor emeritus Hector Baldis, who passed away on January 1. He is known for his distinguished research career in plasma physics, high-energy density science and inertial confinement fusion and his enthusiastic mentorship as a faculty member at UC Davis.

Cristina Davis named National Academy of Inventors Fellow

Mechanical and aerospace engineering professor and chair Cristina Davis was named a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI). Being named a fellow recognizes academic inventors with a “highly prolific spirit of innovation” who have created or facilitating inventions that have had a major impact on society, says the NAI website.

Cristina Davis elected AAAS Fellow

Mechanical and aerospace engineering professor and chair Cristina Davis was elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). She was cited for, “distinguished contributions to non-invasive chemical and biological sensing tools, algorithms, and applications for human and agriculture diagnostics and monitoring.”

AAAS fellows are recognized for outstanding achievements in advancing science through research, teaching, service, administration and/or science communication.

Mohamed Hafez’s new book introduces first-year students to computer simulations

Professor Mohamed Hafez’s latest book, Introduction to Computer Simulations for Integrated STEM College Education, was published by World Scientific Publishing Co. in October 2019.

The book, aimed at high school senior students and first-year undergraduate students, gives a background in basic physics and basic mathematics—including differential equations and numerical methods, among other areas—while showing the students how to use computers to solve problems in STEM fields.

Francis Assadian brings vehicle dynamics expertise to new $7M Department of Transportation project

Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering professor Francis Assadian is a co-PI on a $7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to study cooperative automated vehicles (CAVs) in rural and multimodal environments. Led by at Texas A&M University, the four-year project titled, “AVA: Automated Vehicles for All” involves collaborators at George Washington University, General Motors, NVIDIA and National Instruments.

Bahram Ravani and Stephen Robinson receive College of Engineering Outstanding Faculty Awards

Distinguished Professor Bahram Ravani and Professor Stephen Robinson received Outstanding Faculty Awards from the UC Davis College of Engineering for their outstanding work during the 2018-19 academic year. Ravani received the Outstanding Senior Faculty Research Award and Robinson received the Outstanding Faculty Teaching Award. These awards are the college's highest honors given to faculty.

Ralph Aldredge: Engineering success for all students

By Brady Oppenheim

When Dr. Ralph Aldredge begins his new position as the UC Davis College of Engineering’s Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies in summer 2019, he will bring a long history of student advocacy to his latest role.

Vinod Narayanan Receives $2.2M Department of Energy Grant

Narayanan’s project, “Additively-Manufactured Molten Salt-to-Supercritical Carbon Dioxide Heat Exchanger,” received $2.2 Million from the Department of Energy to create a high-pressure heat exchanger for concentrating solar thermal power (CSP) systems.