In The News Archive

This monthly summary includes excerpts from Illinois in the News, a daily service provided by the University of Illinois News Bureau and other media search tools. This collection of recent stories focuses on engineering topics and faculty contacted for their expertise by print and broadcast reporters around the world.

Should Corn Be Used as Food or Fuel? (June 20) --For the first time, researchers at the University of Illinois have quantified and compared these issues in terms of economics of the entire production system to determine if the benefits of biofuel corn outweigh the costsAlso: International Business Times (June 20)

Baseball has a home run conundrum, but experts aren't blaming the balls

Chemical and Engineering News (June 21) MLB players can send baseballs screaming off their bats at nearly 200 km per hour. Under that type of abuse, no synthetic material that Rawlings has tested performs as well as what the company’s already using, Smith-Stephens says.And performance is the primary concern, whether you’re a batter, a ball manufacturer, or even a juiced-ball conspiracy theorist. The key performance metric for ball aficionados is the coefficient of restitution, or COR, which people in the biz pronounce as “core.” The COR for any object falls between 0 and 1, explains nuclear-physicist-turned-baseball-physicist Alan M. Nathan of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). If you drop the object and it doesn’t bounce at all, it has a COR value of 0. If it returns to its original height, its COR is 1.

Bespoke Processors: Cheap, Low-Power Chips That Only Do What￿s Needed

IEEE Spectrum (June 19) -- “Processors are overdesigned for most applications,” says University of Illinois electrical and computer engineering professor Rakesh Kumar. It’s a well-known and necessary truth: In order to have programmability and flexibility, there’s simply going to be more stuff on a processor than any one application will use. Kumar, University of Minnesota assistant professor John Sartori (formerly a student of Kumar’s), and their students decided to do something about all that waste. Their solution is a method that starts by looking at the design of a general-purpose microcontroller. 

Staphani joins NASA showcase on Capitol Hill

The Hill (June 15) -- Kelly A. Stephani, a professor at the University of Illinois Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering, was one of the attendees at the NASA showcase on Capitol Hill. She touted her work to better protect spacecraft when they reenter earth's atmosphere.

NPRE alumnus selected as Dean of Penn State College of Engineering

Penn State U. (June 12) -- Penn State announced today that Justin Schwartz, who holds a BS degree in nulcear engineering from the University of Illinois, has been named the new Harold and Inge Marcus Dean in the College of Engineering at Penn State.

ShipBob raises $17.5 million to help e-commerce businesses with shipping and logistics

VentureBeat (June 13) -- ShipBob, which helps ecommerce businesses with shipping and logistics, today announced funding of $17.5 million, led by Bain Capital Ventures. ShipBob is led by CEO and co-founder Divey Gulati, a computer engineering alumnus. Also: Wall Street Journal (June 13), Crain's Chicago (June 13), Chicago Tribune (June 13), Chicago Inno (June 13)

Illinois partnership looks to build trust in grid through cybersecurity research

Midwest Energy News (June 12) A team of researchers at a unique facility in downstate Illinois is working to answer questions around maintaining trust in the power grid, particularly when faced with cybersecurity threats.The Cyber Resilient Energy Delivery Consortium (CREDC) is a federally funded collaboration between universities, national labs and private industry aimed at bolstering the security and reliability of a power grid that is becoming increasingly digitally connected. CREDC, which was launched in 2015 with $22.5 million in DOE funding and $5.6 million in recipient cost-sharing, is based at the Information Trust Institute at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. It builds on two previous grid-cybersecurity efforts at the institute that date back to 2005.


Today in 1922, Illinois professor showed how movies could talk (June 9) On June 9, 1922, an Illinois professor showed how movies could talk. Electrical and Computer Engineering professor Joseph Tykociner had given several private demonstrations of his inventions, but on June 9, 1922, he gave his first public lecture and demonstration of his sound on film apparatus. A film of his demonstration was one of the first to successfully incorporate sound. Also: Electrical Business (June 21)




These UI professors say they can make phone batteries last longer (and explode less)

Chicago Tribune (June 9) University of Illinois researchers say they’ve found a new way to make cellphone and laptop batteries safer and longer-lasting: self-healing technology.

Want to Understand Creativity? Enlist an AI Collaborator

Wired (June 7) Lav Varshney  is working on a mathematical theory of creativity. “The way I’ve been defining it is things that are both novel, and of high quality in their domain,” says Varshney, an engineering theorist at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. For example, a new kind of food.

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