Internet Voting to Get a Closer Look

PASADENA, Calif. - It's election morning. In the old days you would track down your voter's pamphlet to find your precinct, open a map, figure out how to get there, and determine how you would fit voting into your work day--before work, after work, on your lunch hour, etc. But today, you shuffle to your computer in your pajamas, cast your vote, and go start the coffee.

How far in the future is this scenario? It's a little closer than it once was, thanks to a $643,085 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and $273,200 from the Carnegie Corporation to the Caltech-MIT Voting Technology Project, to explore the challenges and opportunities of Internet voting.

The Knight Foundation grant will fund the model of a more accessible voting system that would lower voter confusion, allow the visually impaired to vote without assistance, and improve the accuracy and usefulness of voter registration. It would also fund a study of electronic voting system security.

The Carnegie grant will fund multiple efforts as well: a conference on the sociological and technological issues surrounding electronic voting; an examination of the potential uses of the Internet to solve problems with the voter registration system; and an examination of the possibility that Internet voting may introduce a digital divide in elections.

In terms of Internet voting, the researchers will investigate the many security questions that arise--how do you ensure that voters vote only once and are free from coercion, and how can voters be certain that their votes are confidential. Additionally researchers will consider how voters who don't own computers will be able to gain computer access in order to vote.

According to Shuki Bruck, Moore Professor of Computational and Neural Systems and Electrical Engineering at Caltech, "Internet voting will happen, and will help in making our democratic decision process more robust. The key question is how long it will take our society to get it right. Solving the technological challenges is only one piece of the puzzle, addressing the social and political issues of this paradigm shift seems to be a more complex challenge." The researchers on both campuses include political scientists, engineers, sociologists, and individuals who study the interaction between humans and machines.

"Recent events in California, Maryland, and elsewhere have shown that election reform can be undermined when suspicions are raised by voting technologies. These two grants will help us shine a brighter light on the more troubling aspects of electronic voting, hopefully in ways that will support a robust voting technology industry while also assuring the public that their votes are being counted as cast," remarked Charles Stewart, associate dean of humanities, arts, and social sciences and professor of political science at MIT.

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation promotes excellence in journalism worldwide and invests in the vitality of 26 U.S. communities.

Carnegie Corporation of New York was created by Andrew Carnegie in 1911 to promote "the advancement and diffusion of knowledge and understanding." As a grantmaking foundation, the corporation seeks to carry out Carnegie's vision of philanthropy, which he said should aim "to do real and permanent good in the world." The corporation awards grants totaling approximately $80 million a year in the areas of education, international peace and security, international development, and strengthening U.S. democracy.

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MEDIA CONTACT: Jill Perry, Media Relations Director (626) 395-3226 jperry@caltech.edu

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Caltech Researchers to Receive Award for Environmental Contribution

PASADENA, Calif. – With the presentation of the prestigious Jack Edward McKee Medal to Hui-Ming Hung, Joon-Wun Kang, and Michael R. Hoffmann, the Water Environment Federation (WEF) is recognizing the environmental importance of the three scientists' work.

The McKee Medal, named for the past WEF president and Caltech professor, was created to honor achievement in groundwater protection, restoration, and sustainable use. The medal is awarded for significant contributions to the field of groundwater science or engineering, published in any WEF journal.

The three scientists are being honored for their article, "The Sonolytic Destruction of Methyl tert-butyl Ether Present in Contaminated Groundwater," which was published in the December 2002 issue of Water Environment Research.

Hoffmann is the James Irvine Professor of Environmental Science and the dean of graduate studies at Caltech. Hung received her PhD under Hoffmann's tutelage and is currently a postdoctoral researcher at Harvard University. Kang spent a year as a visiting associate in Hoffmann's laboratory and is currently a professor in the department of industrial environment and health, Yonsei University, Korea.

Since 1990, methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE) has been added to gasoline to meet the oxygenate requirements established by Congress in the Clean Air Act Amendments. Oxygenates are a family of chemicals that increase the oxygen content of gasoline, thereby allowing cleaner and more complete consumption of the fuel. MTBE, because it is less expensive and easier to transport than other oxygenates, has been extensively used by refiners and is found in close to 90 percent of treated gasoline. MTBE-treated gasoline has helped to improve air quality, reducing smog-forming pollutants by at least 105,000 tons and toxins by at least 24, 000 tons annually.

However, the benefits of MTBE come at a price. Leaks from storage containers and spills during transportation have led to a growing problem of MTBE contaminating groundwater, including drinking-water sources. The potential health risks of MTBE have not yet been determined, but the offensive odor and taste of the chemical can make water undrinkable. Because MTBE is not as biodegradable as other gasoline components, it has become a persistent problem that traditional methods of decontamination have proved unsuccessful in treating.

In their paper, Hung, Kang, and Hoffmann applied the established technique of ultrasonic irradiation to the removal of MTBE from a crude sample of contaminated groundwater. They first analyzed the mechanism of ultrasonic degradation in pure water spiked with MTBE, and then compared the degradation in the spiked sample to that in water collected beneath JFK International Airport, New York. They demonstrated that the destruction of the MTBE in the crude sample occurred efficiently, thus establishing the usefulness of ultrasonic irradiation for decontamination. Their thorough characterization of this technique has laid the groundwork for the development of a practical system for the efficacious removal of MTBE from contaminated groundwater.

WEF will recognize the three scientists on October 14 during WEFTEC.03, the largest water-quality conference and exhibition in North America. This year marks the 76th annual meeting which will be held from October 11 to 15 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. ###

MEDIA CONTACT: Katherine Poulin, volunteer Caltech Media Relations (626) 395-3226 poulin@its.caltech.edu

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Brennen Receives Research Award

PASADENA, Calif. -- Christopher Brennen, professor of mechanical engineering at the California Institute of Technology, is the first non-Japanese recipient of the Fluids Science Research Award, given by the Japanese Fluid Science Foundation.

The foundation was created in 1947 by Professor Fukusaburo Numachi and is currently managed by the Institute of Fluid Science at Tohoku University in Sendai, Japan. Tohoku University was founded in 1907 as the third Imperial University of Japan, and is among the most prestigious science and technology institutions in the world.

Brennen, author of Cavitation and Bubble Dynamics, published in 1995 by Oxford University Press, is an international expert in cavitation and multiphase flows. His contributions to the field of rocketry have greatly benefited the development of the U.S. and Japanese space programs. Brennen has traveled to Tohoku University's campus in northern Honshu on several occasions throughout his career, and is a familiar contributing collaborator at the Institute for Fluid Science.

Brennen looks forward to traveling once again to the university on December 11 to receive his award. Originally from Belfast, Northern Ireland, Brennen earned his master's and doctoral degrees from the University of Oxford, and has been a Caltech faculty member since 1969. The honors and awards that Brennen has garnered throughout his career include the 1992 Fluids Engineering Award of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and last year's Fluids Engineering Award of the Japan Society of Mechanical Engineers. Additionally, Brennen served as a United Nations consultant to India in 1980 and chaired the 4th International Symposium on Cavitation in 2001.

In response to the award, Brennen emphasizes Tohoku University's continued role in improving international relations. It was the first school in Japan to admit international students. In awarding his accomplishments within the field of mechanics, says Brennen, "In part they are recognizing my contribution to international cooperation."

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MEDIA CONTACT: Maryn Nelson Media Relations Intern (626)395-3227 mnelson@caltech.edu

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Caltech Car: No CD Player, No Seats, No Driver

PASADENA, Calif. – Interstate 15 is a virtual race track on any given Friday night, as road warriors from Los Angeles speed to cover the 250 miles to the neon-lit town wags refer to as "Lost Wages" (that is, of course, Las Vegas).

Making that same journey off-road across the Mojave desert would be a little insane for these folks. Making that same journey without a driver would be crazier still, but that's exactly what a group of undergraduates at the California Institute of Technology plan on doing. Talk about gambling.

The team of 23 Caltech students is competing for a $1 million prize in the DARPA Grand Challenge autonomous ground vehicle race, sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. This will not be a remote-controlled vehicle driven by a student wielding a laptop at a distance, but a completely autonomous car that will drive and navigate itself at speeds as fast as 55 mph; to win, says project manager and Caltech staff member David van Gogh, the car will need to average between 25 and 30 mph. "It's an historic opportunity," he says, "similar to the crossing of the Atlantic by Lindbergh."

That's because, while autonomous vehicles have driven successfully on paved highways, none has done so off-road, at high speed. The Caltech vehicle, a 1996 Chevrolet Tahoe 4x4 (nicknamed "Bob"), will be equipped with navigational software from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA's lead center for robotic exploration of the solar system. That software is used on slow-moving planetary rovers, like the ones currently en route to Mars. It will have to be refined for this race, which is the responsibility of the students, who over the summer are engaged full time in making Bob race-ready for the March 13, 2004, starting gun. The race will leave from an as-yet undisclosed location somewhere near Los Angeles and follow a course that won't be announced until two hours before the race begins.

The students, selected last spring, are divided into three teams: computing (hardware and software), sensors, and mechanical infrastructure. Bob's interior has already been stripped; a batch of computers will be installed in the rear, suspended in air to avoid jolts. A spare gas tank will be installed, and the tires have been filled with a special foam to prevent a dreaded flat. Actuators--mechanical devices for controlling steering, acceleration, and braking--are also being installed; as is vision in the form of stereo cameras, infrared sensors, and lasers that will give Bob a three-dimensional view of the road. Last, global positioning software will provide the vehicle with the "big picture" of its desert environment.

It is a demanding race. Bob will have to avoid rocks, gullies, and other race cars, and must navigate over so-called "whoop-de-doos"--washboard-like ruts on a dirt road that any off-roader will tell you are challenging for a human to drive over, let alone a camera and a computer. The vehicles also have to stay within a defined corridor that will vary in width from tens of feet to possibly miles. There will be a series of checkpoints every car must pass through while en route.

It is a student-run event, with the undergraduates, mostly sophomores, making the decisions. Advice and oversight is provided, however, by experts from both Caltech, JPL, and Northrop-Grumman--"Sanity checks," says van Gogh.

The fastest team to complete the race in less than 10 hours will win the $1 million prize. (If the Caltech team wins, the money will go to an undergraduate student fund.) DARPA imposed the time constraint to push the limits of existing technologies. The prize will be available through 2007, so if no one wins the first time out, two more race days will be available.

The total cost of the Caltech project is estimated to be several hundred thousand dollars; a number of corporate donors have contributed equipment to the Caltech team. DARPA is sponsoring the challenge to encourage innovation in driverless technology, which the Department of Defense believes will be critical to future military endeavors. Because it wants to support creativity, DARPA has placed few restrictions on the type of vehicle, though it expects most will be modifications of existing 4x4s.

""The keys are the software and the integration of all these different components to work together," says van Gogh. There have been several field trials to date, at California's El Mirage dry bed lake, the others in the parking lot of the Santa Anita race track, not far from the Caltech campus. Media are welcome to attend future test runs; for details, call Caltech media relations, (626) 395-3227.

Contact: Mark Wheeler (626) 395-8733 wheel@caltech.edu

Visit the Caltech Media Relations Website at http://pr.caltech.edu/media

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Niles Pierce Awarded 2003 Feynman Teaching Prize

PASADENA, Calif. – There are numerous requirements before a faculty member at the California Institute of Technology can be awarded a Feynman Prize for Excellence in Teaching. To be nominated, an individual must be someone who demonstrates, in the broadest sense, "unusual ability, creativity, and innovation in undergraduate and graduate classroom or laboratory teaching."

For Niles Pierce, the 2003 Feynman Prize winner, teaching is innate. "I never learned any magic rules for lecturing--I just get up and talk and write in a way that feels natural," says Pierce, an assistant professor of applied and computational mathematics. "I like to explain things clearly. I'm sure my teaching style was influenced by my experiences learning from my mother, who is an extraordinary teacher. Maybe I'm a little unpredictable. I try to feed off the intellectual playfulness of the Caltech student body."

He was "thrilled and surprised" to learn of the award, Pierce says. "I remember the first day I stepped in front of a chalkboard after I arrived at Caltech--teaching was much harder than I expected."

That may be due to Pierce's area of expertise. His lab is focused on the development of computational algorithms--step-by-step procedures for a computer that solves a particular problem--with the goal of designing novel molecular machines that are capable of self-assembling from a collection of molecules, and functioning at the nanometer scale.

Still, Pierce's manner and his method have resonated with both undergrads and graduate students. "I wanted to communicate in a way that students would become excited by the ideas of applied and computational mathematics," says Pierce. "Of course, some material is hard to love, and I try to be honest with the students. If I really like a certain topic, I explain why. If we're talking about a subject that I think is boring, there better be a good reason, and I give it. My favorite lectures are the ones where the material is potentially hard to understand or absorb. It's not much fun to give a lecture if there's nothing challenging to explain and discuss."

Given the tremendous demands placed on Caltech students, he says, it is quite a challenge to generate intellectual excitement every other day during a hectic academic term. "I guess I enjoy that challenge."

Pierce joined Caltech in 1998 as a senior postdoctoral scholar before becoming an assistant professor in 2000. Prior to Caltech, Pierce graduated as valedictorian from Princeton University in 1993, then went to the University of Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, earning his D.Phil. in 1997.

The Feynman Prize, awarded annually, consists of a cash award of $3,500 and an equivalent raise in the winner's salary. Past recipients include Professors Joseph Kirschvink, geobiology; David Stevenson, planetary science; Donald Cohen, applied mathematics; Emlyn Hughes, physics; Barbara Imperiali, chemistry; R. David Middlebrook, electrical engineering; Yaser Abu-Mostafa, electrical engineering and computer science; Erik Antonsson, mechanical engineering; and Tom Tombrello, physics.

The prize was established in appreciation of Richard Feynman's contributions to excellent teaching, and is made possible by an endowment from Ione and Robert E. Paradise, with additional contributions from William and Sally Hurt.

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Caltech applied physicists invent waveguideto bypass diffraction limits for new optical devices

Four hundred years ago, a scientist could peer into one of the newfangled optical microscopes and see microorganisms, but nothing much smaller. Nowadays, a scientist can look in the latest generation of lens-based optical microscopes and also see, well, microorganisms, but nothing much smaller. The limiting factor has always been a fundamental property of the wave nature of light that fuzzes out images of objects much smaller than the wavelength of the light that illuminates those objects. This has hampered the ability to make and use optical devices smaller than the wavelength. But a new technological breakthrough at the California Institute of Technology could sidestep this longstanding barrier.

Caltech applied physicist Harry Atwater and his associates have announced their success in creating "the world's smallest waveguide, called a plasmon waveguide, for the transport of energy in nanoscale systems." In essence, they have created a sort of "light pipe" constructed of a chain-array of several dozen microscopic metal slivers that allows light to hop along the chain and circumvent the diffraction limit. With such technology, there is the clear possibility that optical components can be constructed for a huge number of technological applications in which the diffraction limit is troublesome.

"What this represents is a fundamentally new approach for optical devices in which diffraction is not a limit," says Atwater.

Because the era of nanoscale devices is rapidly approaching, Atwater says, the future bodes well for extremely tiny optical devices that, in theory, would be able to connect to molecules and someday even to individual atoms.

At present, the Atwater team's plasmon waveguide looks something like a standard glass microscope slide. Fabricated on the glass plate by means of electron beam lithography is a series of nanoparticles, each about 30 nanometers (30 billionths of a meter, in other words) in width, about 30 nanometers in height, and about 90 nanometers in length. These etched "rods" are arranged in a parallel series like railroad ties, with such a tiny space between them that light energy can move along with very little radiated loss.

Therefore, if light with a wavelength of 590 nanometers, for example, passes through the nanoparticles, the light is confined to the smaller dimensions of the nanoparticles themselves. The light energy then "hops" between the individual elements in a process known as dipole-dipole coupling, at a rate of propagation considerably slower than the speed of light in a vacuum.

In addition to their functionality as miniature optical waveguides, these structures are also sensitive to the presence of biomolecules. Thus, a virus or even a single molecule of nerve gas could conceivably be detected with an optical device designed for biowarfare sensing. The potential applications include electronic devices that could detect single molecules of a pathogen, for example.

The ultrasmall waveguide could also be used to optically interconnect to electronic devices, because individual transistors on a microchip are already too small to be seen in a conventional optical microscope.

A description of the device will appear in the April 2003 issue of the journal Nature Materials. The other Caltech authors of the paper were Stefan A. Maier, a former graduate student and now postdoctoral researcher at Caltech, who was responsible for the working device, and Pieter G. Kik, also a postdoctoral researcher. Other authors were Sheffer Meltzer, Elad Harel, Bruce E. Koel, and Ari A.G. Requicha, all from the University of Southern California.

The nanoparticle structures were fabricated at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory's facility for electron beam lithography, with the help of JPL employees Richard Muller, Paul Maker, and Pierre Echternach.

The research was sponsored by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and was also supported in part by grants from the National Science Foundation and Caltech's Center for Science and Engineering of Materials.

Contact: Robert Tindol (626) 395-3631

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Caltech applied physicists create ultrahigh-Q microcavity on a silicon chip

In an advance that holds promise for integrating previously disparate functions on a chip, applied physicists at the California Institute of Technology have created a disk smaller than the diameter of a human hair that can store light energy at extremely high efficiency. The disk, called a "microtoroid" because of its doughnut shape, can be integrated into microchips for a number of potential applications.

Reporting in the February 27, 2003, issue of the journal Nature, the Caltech team describes the optical resonator, which has a "Q factor," or quality factor, more than 10,000 times better than any previous chip-based device of similar function. Q is a figure-of-merit used to characterize resonators, approximately the number of oscillations of light within the storage time of the device.

The devices store optical energy by resonant recirculation at the exterior boundary of the toroid and achieve Q factors in excess of 100 million. In general, resonators whether mechanical, electronic, or optical have many applications. TV tuners and quartz crystals in a wristwatch are examples of resonators at radio frequencies; at optical frequencies, resonators are used in filters, sensors, and quantum optics.

Attaining ultrahigh-Q and fabricating the resonators on a chip have so far been mutually exclusive. Only rather exotic structures, like droplets or microspheres, have exhibited the atomically smooth surfaces needed for ultrahigh-Q. Due to a novel fabrication step, it is now possible to achieve both high Q and atomically smooth surfaces at the same time and to bring two worlds together.

The fabrication procedure uses lithography and etching techniques on a silicon wafer in a manner similar to process steps used for making microprocessors and memories. Thus, the resonators can be integrated with the circuitry of a chip, with lab-on-a-chip functions, or even with other optical components. Wafer-scale processing methods also enable their production in large quantities, an important feature in many applications, like biosensing, where low-cost, field deployable sensors are envisioned.

The microtoroids were fabricated in the lab of Kerry Vahala, who is Jenkins Professor of Information Science and Technology and professor of applied physics at Caltech. Vahala is co-inventor of the device, along with his graduate students Deniz Armani, Tobias Kippenberg, and Sean Spillane.

"This is the first time an optically resonant device with an ultrahigh-Q has been fabricated on a chip," says Vahala.

Vahala says his group is exploring ways to further increase the Q value of these devices as well as to further reduce their size. He believes Q values in excess of 1 billion in even more compact toroids will soon be possible. Last year, in the February 7, 2002, issue of Nature, the Vahala group reported an efficient nonlinear wavelength source using ultrahigh-Q resonators. His group is now investigating microchip-toroid versions of these nonlinear sources that may one day be used in communications systems.

The work was supported by Caltech's Lee Center for Advanced Networking and DARPA.

Contact: Robert Tindol (626) 395-3631

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Fuel Cells: Powering Progress in the 21st Century

PASADENA, Calif. – Continuing tensions in the Middle East make it clear that we face long-term challenges in meeting our ever increasing energy demands, while still maintaining the quality of our natural environment and ensuring our national security. Fuel cells offer a possible solution, but, before they meet their potential, many technical hurdles remain.

On Wednesday, January 29, Dr. Sossina M. Haile, an associate professor of materials science at the California Institute of Technology, will provide a brief overview of current fuel cell technology, then discuss her own work in this promising area. Whereas the most common type of fuel cell--the kind that powers prototype cars--is a polymer electrolyte fuel cell, Haile is taking a different tack, developing an alternative type of fuel cell based on a so-called solid acid.

Haile will describe the recent breakthroughs in this new technology and the challenges that remain. The ultimate goal, of course, is that such engineering in materials science may someday mean a fuel cell in your automobile, your laptop, or your home.

Caltech has offered the Watson Lecture Series for almost 80 years, since it was conceived by the late Caltech physicist Earnest Watson as a way to explain science to the local community. The lecture will take place at 8 p.m. in Beckman Auditorium, which is located near Michigan Avenue south of Del Mar Boulevard, on Caltech's campus in Pasadena. Seating is available on a free, no-ticket-required, first-come, first-served basis, beginning at 7:30 p.m. Parking is available in the lots south of Del Mar Boulevard between Wilson and Chester Avenues, and in the parking structures at 341 and 405 South Wilson and 370 South Holliston Avenue.

For more information, call 1(888) 2CALTECH (1-888-222-5832) or (626) 395-4652. Persons with disabilities: (626)-395-4688 (voice) or (626)-395-3700 (TDD).

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Caltech Students to Clash--Robotically

Gears will grind, shafts will spin, and who-knows-what the slat from a Venetian blind will do as undergraduates from the California Institute of Technology attempt to "bag the flag" in Caltech's 18th annual Engineering Design Contest.

The competition between machines, hand-built by undergraduates, will take place at 2 p.m. December 5 in Beckman Auditorium, and is open to the Caltech community. Due to limited seating and the expected large campus turnout, the general public is not invited for this event. The media, however, are invited to attend and cover the event, which should last about 90 minutes.

The contest, which indeed is usually observed by a packed crowd of somewhat-raucous students, is the culmination of a quarter's worth of hard work for the 24 juniors and seniors enrolled in this year's Mechanical Engineering 72 class. On October 1 each student was presented with a so-called "bag of junk"--motors, gears, springs, screws, bearings, and yes, go figure, a slat from a Venetian blind--to use in assembling their machines. At the same time, they were presented with the details of this year's contest: In teams of two, they must design and build separate devices that will work with their partner's device to remove a 10-inch-tall flag from its base. One of the gadgets must then transport the flag across the center line of a six-and-a-half foot diameter arena and plant the flag in their opponent's base, thus "bagging" the flag. The teams have 44 seconds to do it; the first team to plant the flag wins.

The course was originated by Caltech's Erik Antonsson, a professor of mechanical engineering and the chief technologist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The course is being taught by instructors Dr. Maria Yang and Dr. Curtis Collins. In the course's introduction, they warn the students that "your moment of glory (on stage) is only made possible by the expenditure of many hours of planning, designing, building, testing, failing, repairing, rebuilding, modifying (crying, laughing, screaming, chuckling, wailing, cheering, sweating. . .)." All together, the students are expected to put in 150 hours of work during the ten-week term on the design, fabrication, testing, and fine-tuning of their device.

While the annual contest is a highlight of the Caltech academic year for students and faculty alike, the object, of course, is to learn something about designing, under deadline, for the real world.

"Caltech students have a well-earned reputation for being able to solve just about any problem presented to them, and this course pushes those abilities to the limit," says Yang. "Students not only generate concepts and design solutions, but they get some serious hands-on experience building and testing, building and testing, and then building and testing some more."

The event is sponsored by Applied Materials, BSST a subsidiary of Amerigon, Dr. David and Mrs. Barbara Groce, Honeywell, idealab!, Mabuchi Motor Co., Northrop Grumman Corp., the San Diego Foundation, and the Toro Company.

MEDIA ACCESS: The contest is open to the news media. Media will have special seating in the front of the auditorium. To ensure that the hundreds of students, faculty, and staff have a clear view of the contest, we ask that the media not stand on or in front of the stage.

Note to Editors: Attached is a jpeg of third-year mechanical engineering student Salomon Trujillo and his machine.

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Wu elected to Chinese Academy of Science

PASADENA, Calif. — The Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) has announced that Theodore Yaotsu Wu, professor, emeritus, of engineering science at the California Institute of Technology, was elected as a Foreign Member of the Academy.

Wu, 78, who earned degrees from Shanghai Jiaotong University in China, Iowa State University, and a Ph.D. in aeronautics from Caltech in 1952, is being recognized for his work in fluid mechanics and for his international academic interaction and collaboration, especially with CAS.

This year the Academy offered memberships to Wu and six others, bringing the total number of foreign members worldwide to 41.

The CAS elects foreign members to assist in the future development of, and advances in, science and technology, education, research, and interaction between international scholars.

Wu, the author of several books and more than 150 scholarly papers, has contributed to the understanding of biophysical, geophysical, and physical fluid dynamics and has directed several research groups in the fields of hydrodynamics, and nonlinear ocean waves.

Wu is also a member of the National Academy of Engineering and Academia Sinica, a John Simon Guggenheim Fellow, and a fellow of the American Physical Society and Japan Society of Promotion of Science. In 1993, he was honored with the American Physical Society's Fluid Dynamics Prize, which is awarded annually to an individual for major contributions to fundamental fluid dynamics made during a career of outstanding work in the United States.

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