Dartmouth Engineer - The Magazine of Thayer School of EngineeringDartmouth Engineer - The Magazine of Thayer School of Engineering

Spotlights

Consumer rating service Angie’s List has named Trumbull Barrett ’96 Th’98 one of the “Top Ten National Best Contractors.” The owner of Barrett Tree Service East Inc. was chosen from among 18,000 contractors in the country.

Trumbull Barrett
TREE SPIRIT: Trumbull Barrett ’96 Th’98. Photograph courtesy of Trumbull Barrett.

He started his business three years ago in Somerville, Mass. “I enjoy the challenges of tree care in an urban setting,” says the certified arborist, who has both cared for individual trees and managed large wooded tracts.

Phil Wagner ’09 took the Shuffling Transformers to Denver, Colo., to help them set their robot, Thing 1, loose in the state competition of the FIRST LEGO League. The team of eight students faced off against 60 teams in a challenge in which each group programs a robot to accomplish various tasks. “There’s no remote control, and that’s what makes it so interesting,” says Wagner, a chemical engineering research associate at startup OPX Biotechnologies. “The students have to make use of motors and sensors so that the robot can find its way around the playing field. Once you push ‘Go,’ the robot is on its own.” This isn’t the first LEGO competition for Wagner, who has been volunteering with the students at Casa de la Esperanza, a Boulder County residential center for agricultural workers, since last March. “I was introduced to the program by Kristen Lurie ’08, who mentored a LEGO League team at an elementary school in Lebanon, N.H., in 2006. She liked the program so much that she reached out to other students at Thayer School to set them up mentoring local teams,” Wagner says. In 2008 he and Caitlin Johnson ’10 Th’11 organized Thayer’s first LEGO League regional qualifying tournament for more than 200 kids. “That day remains one of my favorite Thayer memories,” he says. Although his team didn’t bring home a trophy from the state competition this year, Wagner says that one student “told me that he wants to be an engineer when he grows up.”

John Chae Th’86, M.D., a professor and vice chair of physical medicine and rehabilitation and a professor of biomedical engineering at Case Western Reserve University, has been elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies and to the College of Fellows of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE). Chae, whose research focuses on the use of functional electrical stimulation for reducing post-stroke shoulder pain and improving the upper- and lower-limb function of stroke survivors, was cited for “outstanding contributions to the clinical translation of neurotechnology for stroke rehabilitation and leadership in rehabilitation research.”

U.S. Army Lt. Chris Koppel ’09 Th’10 is stationed at Camp Buehring in Kuwait, after serving in Iraq, The Dartmouth reported in November. “I’m very proud to serve my country and am very thankful for the opportunity to serve as a platoon leader,” Koppel, commander of the Dartmouth ROTC during his senior year, told The Dartmouth.

Catalin Picu Th’96 has recently been elected a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). Picu is a professor and associate department head for undergraduate studies in the mechanical, aerospace, and nuclear engineering department at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. ASME cited him for his research in the field of mechanics of materials: “His work on multi-scale aspects of deformation and fracture has been published in over 100 journal articles and book chapters. He made advances in the understanding of the nature of rate sensitivity in metals and polymers and of stress production in polymeric materials.”

Hanover, N.H., selectboard chair Brian Walsh ’65 Th’66 announced that after 15 years of service he was stepping down from the board so that, as he told the Valley News, he and his wife, Linda Patchett, can “take a big bite out of life.” During his 36 years in Hanover, Walsh served on more than 15 boards and committees for organizations throughout the Upper Valley. A businessman and engineer who retired in 2003, he founded Fujifilm Dimatix in Lebanon and holds three U.S. patents.

Jake McCarter Th’09 admits to having “the most fun you can have at a job.” Since he started working as the head of business strategy with Bossa Nova Robotics a few months ago, he has been spending a lot of time playing with toys. The San Francisco-based company, a spinoff from the Carnegie Mellon Robotics Institute, has been developing increasingly sophisticated robot toys that interact with children. CNNMoney named two of the firm’s creations—an interactive dragon named Skylee and a series of alien robots called Mechatars—to its 2011 list of “7 Toys You Gotta Have.” “Mechatars are robot toys that are really fun to play with as a standard remote-control toy,” says McCarter, “but they are also connected to a free online game. The whole concept is to have a toy that evolves as you play with it, so kids play the game online, fight battles, complete missions, and level up their character online. But then everything they do with their physical toy is also stored on flash memory and uploadable to the game so you earn experience and credits for completing missions and battles offline as well!”

William Davidow
Photograph courtesy of William Davidow.

William Davidow ’57 Th’58 warns of the downsides of being online in his recent book, Overconnected: The Promise and Threat of the Internet (Delphinium Books 2011). The former senior vice president of Intel argues that while being connected has made systems more efficient, it has also intensified risk. “It is becoming evident that markets have become more volatile, financial innovations mushroom in size and become dangerous, computer viruses and junk email are beyond control, identity theft is rampant, social networking has the potential to cause big problems. The Internet, the world’s most powerful interconnection technology, facilitates all of this,” he says. “It is an unindicted co-conspirator.” During a lecture at Thayer School in October (below) and at the Aspen Ideas Festival last summer, Davidow elaborated on the hazards and challenges facing governments, social institutions, businesses, and economies. His solutions include redesigning systems to function more effectively, increasing regulation, and taxing certain activities such as financial transactions.

Categories: Alumni News, Spotlights

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