Carnegie Mellon University
March 17, 2019

Researchers, Entrepreneurs Named 2019 Carnegie Science Award winners

By Alexandra George

& Byron Spice

Sherry Stokes
  • College of Engineering
  • 412-268-5976
Byron Spice
  • School of Computer Science
  • 412-268-9068

A team of researchers from Carnegie Mellon University's College of Engineering, a School of Computer Science professor and an alumna from the Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy are all among the 2019 Carnegie Science Award winners.

Established in 1997 by the Carnegie Science Center, the awards honor individuals and organizations whose contributions in the fields of science, technology and education significantly benefit Western Pennsylvania.

Changing the Tune of Magnetic Materials

The future of energy depends on new technology at the materials level. Specifically, power transformation components need to be smaller, more efficient and cheaper. To achieve this, a team of researchers from Carnegie Mellon's Department of Material Sciences and Engineering, the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) and NASA Glenn Research Center have worked together to develop a novel manufacturing process to create electromagnetic cores that will revolutionize technological innovation for power electronic applications.

In recognition of this achievement, the team will receive the Carnegie Science Award for Advanced Manufacturing and Materials. The award recognizes MSE Mike McHenry, MSE alumni Paul Ohodnicki and Alex Leary, researchers at NETL and NASA Glenn, respectively; Kevin Byerly, of NETL; and Vladimir Keylin, of NASA Glenn, for their breakthrough process of permeability engineering through strain annealing.

Engineering the permeability, or tuning the magnetism, of an electromagnetic core is important for creating efficient metal components for electrical devices. The team's process uses strain annealing, or heating soft magnetic amorphous metal ribbons under tension, to control nanocrystallization and the tuning of the material's magnetic response. The process ultimately leads to a significant decrease in the size of power electronic components.

The team applied the process to cobalt-based metal amorphous nanocomposite (MANC) materials that boast the world's largest response to permeability engineering. In the process, the metal ribbon is held under tension, and travels through a furnace heated to 500 to 600 degrees Celsius just before the final step of winding the ribbon into a tape-wound core. The researchers can optimize and tailor the core's magnetic permeability by carefully choosing the alloy chemistry and applied tension of the ribbon. The process allows for spatial variation in the magnetic permeability - lowering high frequency losses in the cores to make them more energy efficient.

The impact of this technology is threefold: it can reduce the size of the electromagnetic components without losing any power; it transforms energy without significant heating for better efficiency and reliability; and it has fewer processing steps resulting in lower production costs. Technology like this is needed to address the future of electricity production, transmission and transformation, and will help revitalize the nation's aging energy infrastructure and enhance electric vehicles. The team was awarded a patent on the technology in January.

"The thing that's most pleasing to me about this," McHenry said, "is that it was work between myself, some of my alumni, and other longtime collaborators. It's really a culmination of years of collaboration. It's a recent development, but something that wouldn't have happened if this group of people hadn't developed this level of trust among one another."

Eric Xing
Professor Eric Xing has been named the winner of the 2019 Carnegie Science Award for Startup Entrepreneur.

Startup Star

Eric Xing, a professor in the Machine Learning Department and Language Technologies Institute, has been named the winner of the 2019 Carnegie Science Award for Startup Entrepreneurs, recognizing his leadership of Petuum Inc., which developed and markets an AI software platform for a wide range of industries.

Xing is founder and CEO of Petuum. Its software platform makes it easy for a wide range of users, from healthcare to manufacturing industries, to build virtually any type of AI application and deploy it on a variety of computing hardware. Since its establishment in July 2016, the company has raised $108 million in financing.

Xing earned a bachelor's degree in physics at Tshinghua University in Beijing, a Ph.D. in molecular biology and biochemistry at Rutgers University, and then a Ph.D. in computer science at the University of California, Berkeley. He joined the CMU faculty in 2004 and was named a full professor in 2014. He is a fellow of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence and a recipient of the NSF Career Award, an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship, the U.S. Air Force Young Investigator Award and the IBM Open Collaborative Research Faculty Award.

Image of Leah Lizarondo412 Food Rescue, co-founded by Leah Lizarondo, will receive the Carnegie Science Award for Information Technology.

Food Disruptor

Created in response to the fact that 40 percent of the food supply in the United States goes to waste while one in seven people are hungry, 412 Food Rescue is the fastest-growing food recovery organization in the country. Co-founded by Leah Lizarondo, the organization partners with food retailers and other suppliers to pick up their healthy surplus food and deliver it to community nonprofit organizations, where it is directed to individuals and families experiencing food insecurity.

"People hate that food gets wasted, it's a very visceral issue," said Lizarondo, who graduated from Carnegie Mellon's Heinz College in 2003 with a master's degree in public policy and management.

The organization will receive the Carnegie Science Award for Information Technology for its innovative platform connects food donors with nonprofits that serve populations in poverty. The Food Rescue Hero app mobilizes a network of volunteer drivers to transport the food from donor restaurants, grocery stores, and farms to nonprofits in need of fresh food. In 2018, the program expanded to San Francisco, Cleveland and Philadelphia, and has a goal to be in 20 cities by 2020.

Ryan Sullivan, associate professor of mechanical engineering and chemistry, also was recognized with an honorable mention for the Environmental award category. Sullivan is a faculty member in the Center for Atmospheric Particle Studies and investigates important physicochemical particle properties using custom single-particle instruments. These instruments allow him to rapidly characterize atmospheric aerosols in real-time, one particle after another. He also is developing improved analytical methods to measure individual particles using laser ablation mass spectrometry and laser spectroscopy.

Also among the winners is Remake Learning, a network dedicated to education innovation and equity that will receive this year's Chairman's Award. Carnegie Mellon is among the network's members, as are the Robotics Institute, the Robotics Academy, the CREATE Lab and members of LearnLab. Patricia DeMarco, a visiting researcher in the department of chemistry, will receive the Environmental award for her work as a member of the Forest Hills Borough Council.

All awardees will be recognized at the 23rd annual Carnegie Science Awards celebration on Friday, May 10, at the Carnegie Science Center. View the complete list of Carnegie Science Award winners on the organization's website.