Northrop Memorial Auditorium pillars

MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL (01/09/2017)—University of Minnesota Department of Mechanical Engineering Associate Professor Michael McAlpine and Department of Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics Adjunct Associate Professor Bérénice Mettler have been named as recipients of the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE).

The award is the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers. McAlpine and Mettler are two of only 102 winners nationwide who will receive their awards at a Washington, D.C. ceremony this spring.

McAlpine, the Benjamin Mayhugh Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering, was nominated for the award by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services National Institutes of Health. His research is focused on 3D printing of devices that contain biologically active molecules and materials. The goal is to three-dimensionally interweave functional devices with biologically-active compounds for use in regenerative medicine, drug delivery, and smart prosthetics. An important aspect of this work is the construction of the devices using bio-compatible materials in order to increase their viability when implanted into an individual.

Mettler, who is also founder of iCueMotion, LLC, was nominated by the National Science Foundation for outstanding research pioneering new methods for capturing the interaction between human operators and guided vehicles and for STEM educational activities focused on female students. Mettler’s current research at the University of Minnesota focuses on guidance of aerial vehicles in challenging tasks and environments, with an emphasis on algorithms for autonomous guidance and human interactive guidance. Her work involves an interdisciplinary approach, combining theory of controls and dynamics with psychology and neurosciences. She is affiliated with the University of Minnesota’s Center for Cognitive Sciences and runs the Interactive Guidance and Control Lab at the University.

The Presidential Early Career Awards highlight the key role that scientists and engineers play in encouraging and accelerating American innovation to grow the U.S. economy and tackle the country’s greatest challenges. The awards were established by President Clinton in 1996. Awardees are selected for their pursuit of innovative research at the frontiers of science and technology and their commitment to community service as demonstrated through scientific leadership, public education, or community outreach.