In this issue of ENGenious, we offer a profile of the Mechanical Engineering Option as we celebrate the Centennial of Mechanical Engineering at Caltech this year. The Centennial is being marked by a Symposium on March 30-31, 2007 . Caltech alumnus Tom Tyson (BS '54, PhD '67) and Professor Chris Brennen are serving as co-chairs of the event, and speakers include the president of Caltech, Jean-Lou Chameau, and the former president of the University of Michigan, James Duderstadt (MS '65, PhD '68). Talks by our alumni on electric cars, oil and gas exploration, nanomechanics for biological structures, and space exploration round out the program, with presentations by faculty and students as well.

We are also very much looking forward to September, when we will hold an international conference celebrating 50 years of space technology hosted by the Graduate Aeronautical Laboratories (GALCIT), Northrop Grumman Space Technology, and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Speakers include the president of Northrop Grumman Space Technology, Alexis Livanos (BS '70, MS '73, PhD '75), who we have interviewed in these pages; Charles Elachi, Director of JPL; Michael Griffin, Administrator of NASA; astronaut and Caltech Trustee Sally Ride; former U.S. Senator and astronaut Harrison Schmitt (BS '57); and John Mather, 2006 Nobel Laureate.

The continuing generosity of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation is evident by the recent establishment of the Caltech Center for Sustainable Energy Research (CCSER). This Center has the goal of replacing fossil fuel as an energy source. In an interview, the principal faculty members, led by Professor Harry Atwater, describe the scientific goals and the challenges.

This issue of ENGenious also reports on lensless microscopes, floating DNA circuits, the evolution of the Sherman Fairchild Library in the era of digital publishing, and the expanding possibilities for collaborations between the Division and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

In many ways, we are who we hire. I am happy to introduce eight new faculty members to you in these pages—as well as announce that there are currently nine active faculty search committees operating on behalf of the Division.

As always, we welcome your feedback, and we hope you will visit us when you are in the area.

David Rutledge

Cover image caption: Montage created from photos and research images highlighting the strengths of Mechanical Engineering at Caltech. Two 2007 ME72 contestants are shown, Jeff Kranski and Tony Kelman, making last-milli-second adjustments to their machines. The lattice figure is from research by current PhD student Vikram Gavini (MS '04). It depicts the hierarchy of triangulations that form the basis of a new method (called QC-OFDFT) for conducting electronic structure calculations at continuum length scales. This method probes the quantum-mechanical nature of defects in solids where necessary, while seamlessly capturing long-ranged continuum fields. The backdrop of sand dunes is in reference to a long-standing inquiry by Caltech researchers into the "booming sand dune" phenomenon. Melany Hunt, Executive Officer and Professor of Mechanical Engineering, and her colleagues have recently made great progress on understanding the origins of this "music of the dunes."


Note From The Chair

Letter from the E&AS Chair: David Rutledge

Snap Shots

'Round About the Institute: Recent Events on Campus

New Faculty

Who's New: New Faculty, Joint Appointments,
and Moore Distinguished Scholar


Mechanical Engineering: Celebrating 100 Years of Forward Motion in a Constantly Changing Landscape


Powering the Planet
The Caltech Center for Sustainable Energy Research

Alumni Profile

Alexis C. Livanos
Vision, Ethics, Passion, Transformation—The Shaping of a Leader in Aerospace

Progress Report

Building a Microscopic Microscope
by Changhuei Yang and Demetri Psaltis

Idea Flow

Virendra Sarohia
Bringing Academia to the Forefront of Space Research

Campus Resource

Sherman Fairchild Library: Ten Years Later
by Kimberly Douglas

Research Note

Biochemical Logic: Submerged Circuits of Floating DNA
by Erik Winfree