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Three faculty members invited to National Academy of Engineering symposium

Three Cornell faculty members from among the nation's "brightest young engineers" have been invited to participate in the 2009 U.S. Frontiers of Engineering Symposium, Sept. 10-12, at the National Academies' Beckman Center at the University of California-Irvine.

The 15th annual symposium, hosted by the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), will feature 88 engineers between the ages of 30 and 45 who are performing "exceptional engineering research and technical work in a variety of disciplines," according to the NAE. Topics will include engineering tools for scientific discovery; engineering the health care delivery system; nano/microphotonics and new applications; and resilient and sustainable infrastructures.

Cornell's participants are:

David Erickson, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, whose research involves microfluidics and nanofluidics, where chemicals are manipulated in tiny channels on a silicon chip for applications in biomolecular detection and nanomedicine. He also studies biologically enabled robotics and programmable matter.

Carla Gomes, associate professor of computing and information science, who works on combinatorial problems, with an emphasis on planning and scheduling problems, and combining techniques from computer science, artificial intelligence and operations research. Gomes, who is co-principal investigator for the Institute for Computational Sustainability at Cornell, will deliver a talk on "Computational Sustainability: Computational Methods for a Sustainable Environment, Economy, and Society."

Michal Lipson, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, who investigates the physics and applications of nanoscale photonic structures, creating microchips in which information is processed by light beams instead of electrons in wires. Lipson is one of the organizers of the photonics section of the symposium. Lipson and Erickson collaborate on optofluidics, where light is used to manipulate and measure chemical processes in microfluidic channels.

Although the program lists a number of technical lectures, "The main idea is these people interacting with each other and coming up with new research directions," Erickson said.

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