Campus News in Brief

CIT awarded new grant for transportation improvement

The Carnegie Institute of Technology, along with the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Engineering and Applied Science, received a $3.5 million grant last Wednesday which will fund research related to the improvement of transportation. The grant, which spans the next two years, focuses specifically on initial inquiry into, and eventual development of, innovative technologies that will make transportation safer and more efficient.

As a result of the grant, a new initiative called the University Transportation Center for Technologies for Safe and Efficient Transportation, or T-SET UTC, will be developed by Carnegie Mellon and Penn, and located on Carnegie Mellon’s Pittsburgh campus.

Carnegie Mellon electrical and chemical engineering professor Raj Rajkumar will serve as the director of the UTC. “State-of-the-art computing and communication technologies can significantly advance the safety and efficiency of transportation, since extending the physical infrastructure is both very expensive and limited by existing road layouts,” Rajkumar said in a university press release.

The center will also work closely with Traffic21, a multidisciplinary research team currently working on the development of technologies that will deploy information to improve safety conditions of transportation options.

The Carnegie Mellon and Penn UTC was chosen as one of 22 grant recipients out of 63 applicants.

Research reveals offshore wind turbines at storm risk

A group of professors, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows from Carnegie Mellon’s department of engineering and public policy researched the risks hurricanes pose to offshore wind turbines in the U.S. Atlantic and Gulf Coast regions. Recently, the researchers released their findings. They say that some turbines are at risk.

Engineering and public policy professor Paulina Jaramillo is the primary author of the paper summarizing the results, which appeared last week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The group’s research focused on the shore regions with the most accessible offshore wind resources. Those regions were struck by hurricanes more than 90 times between 1949 and 2008.

“The U.S. Department of Energy has estimated that if the U.S. is to generate 20 percent of its electricity from wind that some 50 [gigawatts] of power will have to come from offshore turbines that may be vulnerable to hurricane damage,” Jaramillo said in a university press release. “While no offshore wind farms have been built in the U.S., there are several in advanced stages of planning.”

The research team proposed the development of prevention and safety measures that would allow these turbines to measure wind direction. Ideally, such measures would help prevent serious hurricane damage in the future.