In The News Archive

This monthly summary includes excerpts from Illinois in the News, a daily service provided by the University of Illinois News Bureau and other media search tools. This collection of recent stories focuses on engineering topics and faculty contacted for their expertise by print and broadcast reporters around the world.

Engineering dean named new provost

News-Gazette (Nov. 15) -- College of Engineering Dean Andreas Cangellaris will be the next provost of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the first person to hold the job on a permanent basis in more than two years.

Blue Waters featured among world's largest supercomputers

Popular Science (Nov. 14) --  “A supercomputer is a large machine designed to focus its power on a single problem,” says Bill Gropp, who runs the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at Illinois, home to a machine called Blue Waters. In other words, a large server farm might be powering your Gmail experience or streaming your Netflix, but its computing power is focused on many individual tasks, not a single, complex one.

Changes in Non-Extreme Precipitation May Have Not-So-Subtle Consequences

Weather Nation (Nov. 14) --  Nonextreme precipitation can have a strong effect on ecosystems, agriculture, infrastructure design and resource management, pointing to a need to examine precipitation in a more nuanced, multifaceted way. “This study shows that everyday precipitation events – not just the extremes that have been the focus of most studies – are changing,” says Praveen Kumar, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Illinois, and the principal investigator of the National Science Foundation’s Intensively Managed Landscapes Critical Zone Observatory.

High-jumping beetle inspires agile robots

Nature (Nov. 13) --  A beetle that can launch itself spectacularly into the air after falling on its back could inspire a new generation of smart robots. “A lot of robots out there jump using their legs,” says Aimy Wissa, a professor of mechanical science and engineering at Illinois. “What’s unique about this is if something breaks, you can still jump without legs and get out of the situation.”

Next Grid: Illinois achieves second-highest rating for grid modernization

Daily Energy Insider (Nov. 13) -- Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) Chairman Brien J. Sheahan recently announced that Illinois earned the second-highest rating among all states for its work toward a modernized electric grid. The ICC recently initiated an 18-month customer-focused study called NextGrid that will explore emerging technologies and customer demand for expanded choices as well as establish a roadmap for creating a modernized grid that uses clean energy and keeps costs low for customers. Professors from the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are working with the ICC to lead the study.

The future of getting dressed: AI, VR and smart fabrics

CNN (Nov. 14) -- From artificial intelligence and gadgets to smart fabrics and virtual reality, technology is poised to breathe innovation into not only how we dress, but how we shop. “If algorithms do their job well, people will spend less time thinking about what to wear,” says Ranjitha Kumar, a professor of computer science at Illinois.

Next stop for UI-founded company: Space, thanks to NASA contract

News-Gazette (Nov. 12) --  A company founded by a University of Illinois physics professor has raised more than $1.5 million in venture funding this year, graduated from the UI Research Park's EnterpriseWorks incubator and this week announced it was selected for a project by NASA. At its new 12,000-square-foot facility on Kenyon Road near Interstate 74 in Champaign, Inprentus manufactures diffraction gratings, an advanced prism of sorts used in laboratories around the world.

Alumnus Phil Blizzard, inventor of pet-calming Thundershirts

Chicago Tribune (Nov. 9) -- Phil Blizzard's life has gone to the dogs. And while the saying goes necessity is the mother of invention, in Blizzard's case it was pet anxiety. Blizzard invented the ThunderShirt and founded ThunderWorks, which has grown since its start in 2009 to a multimillion-dollar business today. ThunderShirts are garments designed for dogs and cats, that apply pressure to their torsos in the hopes it produces a calming effect on them.

Book on PLATO

News-Gazette (Nov. 10) -- After nearly 30 years of intermittent research on PLATO, Brian Dear has finished a book on the innovative system, titled "The Friendly Orange Glow." Also: Motherboard (Nov. 13)

Robotic Surgery

Journal News￿(Nov. 9) --￿Federal regulators tightened oversight of the surgical robot industry after high-profile lawsuits were filed that were linked to older models of medical robots. ￿You can￿t afford for these devices to fail or be wrong or just to stop working,￿ says Ravishankar Iyer, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Illinois.

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