Rochester Engineering Past Issues

Rochester Engineering Fall 2020

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Fall 2020 Hajim logo

'I've taken over my parents’ dining room'

Hajim School students share their experiences learning remotely.



Dean's Message: New ways of doing things

This has been a year like no other! COVID-19 has tested our resilience and creativity in unprecedented ways after the pandemic forced us to close our campus and quickly pivot to learning, teaching, and working remotely. As disrupting as this was, I have been impressed with how well our students, staff, and faculty have risen to the challenge with support from IT, the Digital Scholarship Lab, the AS&E Web Help Team and other offices across the University. With our campus now reopened, we recognize the need to remain vigilant. But we also recognize we’ve learned new ways of learning, teaching, and working that will benefit us long after the pandemic recedes . . . Read more here.


Research highlights from the Hajim School

(Illustration by National Science Foundation)

$13M center to study atoms at extreme pressures: Gilbert ‘Rip’ Collins, the Tracy Hyde Harris Professor of Mechanical Engineering, is lead PI of an NSF-funded collaboration with MIT, Princeton, UC Berkeley and Davis, the University at Buffalo, and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The new Center for Matter at Atomic Pressures will shed light on the formation and evolution of astrophysical bodies – and how that might guide the creation of new materials in laboratories here on Earth. Hajim School faculty members Jessica Shang and Hussein Aluie are among the senior investigators.

Smallest electro-optical modulator yet: The Lin lab creates a “crucial foundation” for realizing large-scale photonic integrated circuits, data communication, microwave photonics, and quantum photonics.

Laser-etched aluminum panels: The Guo lab offers a super-efficient, inexpensive solution to the global water crisis.

Stretched-pulse soliton Kerr resonator: New device from the Renninger lab produces more powerful, versatile ultrafast laser pulses.

Fuel from seawater? A catalyst from the Porosoff lab advances Navy project.


We've kept our traditions alive and created new ones

Thanks to everyone who participated in – and made possible — our virtual Art of Science Competition, Design Day, and Degree Conferral celebrations!

72 entries and 464 ballots cast for the People’s Choice Award was a remarkable rate of participation for the art competition given the challenging circumstances posed by the pandemic.

More than 80 student teams pivoted midway through their projects-just as they will often have to do in the ‘real world’-and posted their results on Design Day. The virtual format enabled parents and friends who would not have been able to attend, even in normal times, to congratulate the students and provide feedback.



Taking the fight to COVID-19

PPE for caregivers: Omar Soufan and a team of mechanical engineers joined forces with Face Shields Roc, a local volunteer group, and contributed 2,500 3-D printed headbands and more than 3,000 face shields for hospitals, nursing homes, and clinics here and abroad.

Quick turnaround: Greg Gdowski, Chris Muir, and John Miller designed and created intubation boxes to protect Strong Memorial Hospital clinicians.

Dr. Chat Bot: Cristiano Tapparello, working with the UR Health Lab, helped create a chat bot to monitor the health of UR employees; it is now used region-wide.



Women who have made a difference

In conjunction with this year’s 200th anniversary of the birth of Susan B. Anthony and the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment recognizing women’s right to vote, the Hajim School celebrates the women who have contributed to engineering and computer science at our University.

By recognizing their achievements, we also recognize the urgent need to do all we can to make engineering and computer science more inclusive of women and underrepresented minorities.

Learn about the factors that contributed to a dramatic increase in women undergraduates at the Hajim School – and read profiles of the 33 women we are recognizing.

Learn more here about the University’s Celebration 2020 observance.


Changes at the top

New director at the Goergen Institute for Data Science: Mujdat Cetin, at left above, takes the helm.

Two new department chairs: Marvin Doyley, at center, leads electrical and computer engineering and Michael Scott returns as chair of computer science. Read more here.


Individual achievements recognized

The Hajim School presents its top awards.

We are also proud to recognize these other recent accomplishments of our students, staff, faculty members, and alumni.


Meet the team: Joseph Pasquarelli

“Hybrid” is the new buzzword for the way Hajim School students are taught amidst the coronavirus pandemic. “Hybrid” also describes the way Joseph Pasquarelli and his IT colleagues helped the University transition to remote learning.

The transition required not only a lot of technological expertise, but also a lot of people skills. Especially in mid-March, when the entire University found itself pivoting to remote learning on extremely short notice.

“This was not a situation that you could just throw technology at, and make it work,” says Pasquarelli, a senior IT officer. Read more here.


How we are keeping the University safe and healthy

We have adopted science-based protocols for social distancing, wearing face masks, using hand sanitizer, and checking in each day with Dr. Chat Bot to report if we are, or are not, having symptoms of COVID-19.

We have adopted a mix of remote, hybrid, and in-person learning experiences.

And, so far, we have kept our COVID-19 cases well within acceptable limits. You can keep track of our progress here.

Thanks to our on-campus students, staff, and faculty for a great job of adhering to the protocols, and to all the people working from home who continue to support all we do.


Your partnership makes the difference

A sincere thank you to all who made a gift, volunteered, connected our students with professional opportunities, or otherwise engaged with the Hajim School and our University community. Your leadership, generosity, and thoughtfulness create opportunities that make a Hajim education prominent and enables our students to flourish.

JOIN US by making a gift here or connect directly with Executive Director of Hajim Advancement, Tyrone Jimmison (, to learn more about initiatives and priorities within the Hajim School.

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Rochester Engineering is a biannual news magazine of the Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. You are receiving this e-newsletter because you are a member of the Hajim School community (student, parent, staff, faculty, former engineering graduate or friend) or direct an engineering school.