A picture is worth a thousand data points

2020 Vizzies competition in the Department of Mechanical Engineering recognizes visually engaging research


By Erin Cassidy Hendrick

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — On Feb. 7, the Penn State Department of Mechanical Engineering (ME) celebrated its graduate students and their visually engaging research contributions during the 2020 Vizzies.

The Vizzies is an annual departmental competition, based on the National Science Foundation (NSF) initiative, that recognizes outstanding visuals of scientific research.

“This competition challenges our students to think about their research in a new way and provides new avenues for public engagement,” said Daniel Haworth, associate head of graduate programs in mechanical engineering. “Once again, our students have outdone themselves!”

Luis Enrique Paniagua Guerra took first place with his image, “Fractal Waterblock for Liquid Cooling of Electronics.”

“Liquid cooling has emerged as the most suitable solution for thermal management of high-power electronics,” he said. “Using 3D-printing technology and low-cost materials, we can exploit the enormous potential of liquid cooling systems, while using intricate flow path designs to enhance their hydraulic and thermal efficiency.”

Jai Dhanani came in second place with his entry titled, “Highs and Lows of Graduate School.” The image was an optical profilometry of the surface of a piece of paper.

The third-place honor went to Xiaoyue Zhao, for her submission of an image of carbon nanotubes embedded in a polydimethylsiloxane matrix. She named it “War Horse” since the image resembled a running war horse after it was adjusted for color and contrast.

The People’s Choice winner, determined by the image that garnered the most engagement on Facebook, went to Carlos Gonzalez-Valle. His work, which received more than 400 likes, detailed a new generation of polymer-based diaelectric materials.

“Remarkable enhancements to the dielectric response of polymers can be achieved by adding ultralow content of inorganic nanofillers,” Gonzalez-Valle said. “The enhanced dielectric properties in polymer-based nanocomposites make these materials appealing for the new generation of energy storage devices.”

The winning entries will be displayed in ME’s Office of Graduate Programs, 127 Reber Building.

All the entries can be found on the Penn State Mechanical Engineering Facebook page.


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Megan Lakatos