UCLA’s Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (MAE) Department held its Research and Technology Review (RTR) at the UCLA Faculty Center on April 27.  More than 130 people were in attendance at the event, in which representatives from industry, government organizations, and national laboratories were able to see and hear the latest in MAE’s innovations from faculty and students.  The technical focus of the event was on the applications to which MAE research is most relevant, i.e., aerospace/defense, energy, and micro/nano scale systems.

Both UCLA Chancellor Gene Block and UCLA Engineering Associate Dean Jane P. Chang welcomed the attendees at the start of the program.

Heidi Shyu, Acting Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology [ASA(ALT)], and a UCLA Engineering alumna, gave the plenary talk entitled, “Evolving Army Science and Technology Needs”. Shyu emphasized that, above all else, the safety of soldiers is the number one priority to the Army.  She told the attendees, who included a number of UCLA ROTC students, that ver the past ten years, innovations such as Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) Vehicles and improved body armor have saved thousands of lives. Going forward, Shyu identified a number of technology areas that the Army is continuing to explore, including improved energy storage and vehicle fuel efficiency, light weight “wearable” power generation systems, and improved safety and performance of vertical lift vehicles, i.e., helicopters.

Natalie W. Crawford, Senior Fellow at RAND Corporation, and Wayne H. Goodman, Vice President of Space Program Operations at the Aerospace Corporation, provided their perspectives in a panel discussion on “Optimizing Government-Industry-University Partnering.”  Both Crawford and Goodman stressed the need for strong partnerships among government, industry, and universities such as UCLA, to enable the U.S. to continue to lead the world technologically.  Their remarks stimulated a very interesting discussion among the attendees.

Following the panel discussion were oral technical presentations by faculty in two parallel sessions; Session I focused on research with aerospace and defense applications, and Session II focused on research relevant to energy systems and MEMS/nanotechnologies. In the afternoon, MAE undergraduate and graduate students presented technical posters. Forty-six posters covering every MAE discipline were on display.

“MAE faculty and students are pursuing high-impact research across a range of fields, and we were gratified that there was such a great turnout at the RTR,” said Professor Ann R. Karagozian, MAE Vice Chair for Industrial Relations. “Our industrial and government partners were very engaged in research discussions with our faculty and students, and we are continuing to build on these relationships through follow-up meetings with these partners. It was especially exciting to see so many of our graduate students engaged in technical discussions with future partners and employers.  This was surely a very valuable experience for them.”

The MAE RTR event concluded with tours of a few of the MAE experimental laboratories, including:
• Professor Bob M’Closkey’s Microsensor Development Research Lab
• Professor T.C. Tsao’s Mechatronics and Controls Lab
• Professor Steve Gibson’s and Prof. T. C. Tsao’s Beam Control Lab
• Professor C.J. Kim’s Micro and Nano Manufacturing Lab
• Professor Richard Wirz’ Plasma and Space Propulsion Lab and Energy Innovation Lab

UCLA’s MAE  Department has a broad range of ongoing research activities, and its recent RTR was an opportunity to showcase the faculty’s many technical innovations for their very enthusiastic stakeholders.