News Briefs

Welcome to the University of Virginia's Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering news briefs, a place to find quick notes and posts from the faculty, students, staff and alumni.

    AZtecTimed is now AZtecFlex

    November 03, 2021

    Heads up if you use AZTtec software for your SEM/TEM analysis.

    AztecTimed is no longer free to download, and has been updated.



    AZtecTimed is now AZtecFlex and for students the licence is discounted, from ($1,399.00) to ($139.00). For more information on how to access this discount as a student, click here.


    AZtecFlex is a 12-month personal subscription licence for installation on your desktop or laptop, designed to let you use AZtec anywhere and without needing to access shared facilities. 

    AZtecFlex includes advanced data processing features, for example, particle analysis and EBSD data processing, allowing you to access them even if they aren’t enabled on the system used to acquire the data.  Your licence will also provide access to the latest AZtec release as soon as it is available.


    Tutorials and Demos can be found here.



    3D Reconstruction Software Now Available for Phenom SEM

    October 07, 2021
    3D Reconstruction Software Image.JPG

    3D Reconstruction Software is now available on the NMCF Phenom Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM).


    3D Reconstruction Software can generate three-dimensional images and provide submicrometer roughness measurements over areas and lines. Calculation of Rz, Rz, and Sa, as well as topographical surface scans and line scans can be acquired. Scans can be displayed as heat maps (image below) or as profiles. Data can be exported to be displayed in user software.


    Details can be found here:

    A brief User Guide is available on Sharepoint, and additional information can be found in the Phenom Manual.

    Note that NMCF has a temporary license (expiration: 1 November 2021), so get your measurements in now!


    Would this software would be a useful permanent addition to the SEM toolkit? Let NMCF know! (email:

    Surface Area Roughness Image.JPG



    Patrick Hopkins Wins ASME Gustus L. Larson Memorial Award

    June 30, 2021

    UVA mechanical and aerospace engineering professor Patrick Hopkins has won the prestigious ASME Gustus L. Larson Memorial Award for outstanding achievement in mechanical engineering within ten to twenty years following graduation with a baccalaureate degree in mechanical engineering or related field. Hopkins joins the ranks of accomplished researchers like Evelyn Wang at MIT who won the award in 2017. Hopkins has also been recognized by other awards such as the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) and the ASME Bergles-Rohsenow Young Investigator Award in Heat Transfer. 

    NMCF moves into Research Phase III, allowing enhanced instrument access

    June 04, 2021

    The NMCF, along with the rest of UVa's Research Community, has been upgraded to COVID Safety Phase III

    This allows increased access to NMCF instrumentation for students, faculty, and researchers with no room occupancy restrictions. There are no restrictions on trained personnel instrumentation use, with both graduate and undergraduate students allowed access.

    For vaccinated members of the faculty, students, staff, and visitors, the use of face coverings is not longer required. Researchers and visitors who are not yet fully vaccinated are asked to continue wearing masks.

    Instrument training sessions are now conducted in person, although remote training may be requested. 

    Visitors to laboratory spaces no longer need to be logged.


    More information about UVa's Phase III safe research guidelines can be found on the VPR's "Research Ramp Up Guidance" Webpage.

    NIH Awards Caliari Lab Research Project Grant for Approach to Treating Muscle Loss Injuries

    April 26, 2021

    University of Virginia assistant professor Steven R. Caliari has received a Research Project Grant (R01) to address an understudied aspect of tissue engineering solutions for muscle loss due to traumatic injury. The award of more than $2 million from the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases proposes an approach to integrating the connective and nervous tissues surrounding the injured muscle. The aim is to improve the functionality of the repaired tissues.

    The project, “Aligned and electrically conductive collagen scaffolds for guiding innervated muscle-tendon junction repair of volumetric muscle loss injuries,” will apply a 3D collagen scaffold that mimics the muscle fibers where they join tendons and other connective tissue, known as the musculotendinous junction (MTJ).

    Caliari is an assistant professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering with a secondary appointment in biomedical engineering. He is collaborating on the project with George J. Christ, professor of biomedical engineering and orthopaedic surgery, and Shawn Russell, assistant professor of orthopaedic surgery and mechanical and aerospace engineering. The work builds on previous research recently published in the Royal Society of Chemistry journal Biomaterials Science, led by Ivan Basurto, a Ph.D. candidate in Caliari’s lab, with third-year chemical engineering student Gregg Gardner, biomedical engineering alumnus Mark Mora and Christ.

    Goyne Helps Lead Efforts to Modernize Hypersonic Flight

    April 19, 2021


    University of Virginia’s Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering professor Chris Goyne has been appointed air-breathing propulsion technical area collaboration co-lead for the University Consortium for Applied Hypersonics (UCAH). The project is part of a $100 million U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) initiative to modernize hypersonic flight capabilities.

    The University Consortium for Applied Hypersonics (UCAH) is an inclusive, collaborative ecosystem of universities working with government, industry, national laboratories, federally funded research centers, and existing university affiliated research centers. It aims to deliver the innovation and workforce needed to advance modern hypersonic flight systems in support of national defense.

    Goyne will be fielding technical and teaming questions from the consortium members and government representatives, participating with the government, federal and national labs, industry, and academia through planned engagements by the UCAH and DOD’s Joint Hypersonics Transition Office, and providing lists of potential reviewers to UCAH for whitepaper proposal review.

    Goyne has also been appointed to the UCAH Research Engagement Committee where he will lead international teaming efforts. Among others, Goyne is joined by distinguished UVA mechanical and aerospace engineering alumnus Wesley L. Harris, C.S. Draper professor of aeronautics and astronautics at MIT, who is the co-director of technical area coordination for UCAH and the chair of technical area collaboration.

    AI Neural Net Starts with Nanoscale Heat Transfer

    February 08, 2021


    C-3PO and Lt. Commander Data may be here sooner than you think.

    Scientists at UVA’s ExSiTE Lab — which focuses on heat transfer at the nanoscale (think measuring atoms) — are developing a whole new class of memory that could become the building block for simulating the way a human brain processes information.

    Alumnus (MAE '18) and research assistant Kuimars Aryana has recently advanced research about a new type of memory, called phase change memory, and catapulted this possibility forward. He recently published his findings in Nature Communications.

    “If we intend to do the type of data processing needed by more advanced artificial intelligence, we need a better way to process and store memory,” Aryana said. “We’ve maxed out what we can do with our current technology, it’s not enough. One of the most promising candidates for next-level data processing is phase change memory, and that’s what we’re working on.

    “Computers use two types of storage memory, ‘working’ memory, what we know as RAM, and ‘storage’ memory, what we know as SSD or our hard drive,” Aryana said. “Forty percent of the energy needed for the computer is used by the processor going back and forth between working and storage memory. Phase change memory has the potential to combine all of this into a single processing and storage unit, using significantly less energy. In our field, this type of memory design is the Holy Grail because it mimics the way human thinking works.”

    Aryana’s work is supported by Western Digital, who’s aim is to catalyze a major jump in memory technology, not unlike the jump we have already seen between a floppy disk (remember those?) and a thumb drive.

    “Kiumars started as a Ph.D. student three years ago but now he’s running the entire project and is just giving me updates. Besides making a huge impact in the field, he’s published in one of the most prestigious journals in our field as a student, that’s pretty awesome,” said Patrick Hopkins, Aryana’s advisor, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and ExSiTE lab director.