MIT Department of Mechanical Engineering presents Michael Stern with a de Florez Award
The Beaver Works James Award recognizes three MIT mechanical engineering undergraduates for leadership
At an award luncheon held on 15 May, Michael Stern, a member of the technical staff in MIT Lincoln Laboratory's Rapid Prototyping Group, received a 2015 Luis de Florez Award, given by the MIT Department of Mechanical Engineering (MIT MechE) for outstanding creativity in design.
Stern has just completed a master's degree program in mechanical engineering at MIT under the Laboratory's Lincoln Scholars Program, which funds staff members' full-time study toward an advanced degree while they continue to conduct research in a technical division.
"Mike is a gifted individual with an impressive combination of skills that add up to a great designer," says Prof. Maria Yang, Stern's thesis advisor. "He’s terrific at generating new ideas and realizing them in visual form, and at the same time keenly analytical. It's clear that he always wants to make things better than he found them."
Stern was recognized for his work on two projects. One project was the structural optimization of an ice axe, on which he worked with another MIT MechE grad student, Geoff Tsai; the other project was a collaboration with MIT Media Lab students to develop a new 3D-printing system that creates objects from molten glass.
Yang explains that both projects are topically related to his thesis: "Mike’s thesis is about how new additive manufacturing techniques change the way that designers and engineers design and produce products. The thesis includes rethinking how optimization techniques can be used to take advantage of 3D printing as a manufacturing process."
The de Florez Awards are given annually to graduate and undergraduate students in two categories: engineering design and engineering science. The design award recognizes an innovative, working technology that effectively demonstrates the synthesis of mechanical engineering principles, and the science award acknowledges an advancement in the understanding of scientific principles. The awards were established by Admiral Luis de Florez, a 1911 MIT graduate and the first director of technical research at the Central Intelligence Agency, to recognize ingenuity and creative design.
Beaver Works award
For the second year, the MIT Lincoln Laboratory Beaver Works presented three seniors in MIT MechE with the Barbara P. James Memorial Award, which is supported by an endowment from Ms. James's estate to sustain STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) educational activities. Otto Briner, Peter Godart, and Jaya Narain are the 2015 recipients of this award that is given to students who have demonstrated excellence in project-based engineering. This year's recipients led capstone projects in the Engineering Systems Design and Engineering Systems Development courses. Briner and Godart worked on the development of a portable power supply; Narain was the team lead for the project to prototype a power and communication buoy system for maritime surveillance.
"The capstone courses are run very much like technical startup companies," explains Prof. Doug Hart, the instructor for these courses that partner with Beaver Works, a joint educational venture of the MIT School of Engineering and Lincoln Laboratory to promote project-based learning. "These three students were the CEOs in charge of the projects. They were the ones ultimately responsible for all of the deliverables. Faculty act as board members and advisors whose only power is to control the flow of funds and to hire and fire the CEOs. Day-to-day management, organization, and, ultimately, the success or failure of a project are the responsibilities of the CEOs."
In addition, two students who worked on Beaver Works capstone projects were among the recipients of the Carl G. Sontheimer Prize for innovation in design: Sarah Brennan was on the team that developed the power and communication buoy, and David D'Archiardi worked on the portable power supply team mentored by Scott Van Broekhoven, leader of the Laboratory's Energy Systems Group.
Posted June 2015
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