Notable Alumni

Man wearing virtual reality headset

Matt McGivern ’14, who works at Pratt & Whitney, and Joe Eilert ’15, an engineer at Electric Boat, opened the first virtual reality arcade in Connecticut, Spark VR, in May. Wearing elaborate headsets, players can fight zombies, swim with fish, or defend a castle, among other games.

250 combat missions

George Johns ’49, a USMC captain and fighter pilot, flew over 250 combat missions in four combat tours and is the recipient of four Distinguished Flying Crosses and seven Air Medals.

Third recipient of the John S. Foster Jr. Medal

Victor Reis ’57 is the third recipient of the John S. Foster Jr. Medal, recognizing his exceptional leadership in scientific, technical, and engineering development and policy formulation in support of U.S. nuclear security.

Sixth woman to receive the 2018 Black Engineer of the Year award

Alicia Boler Davis, M.S. ’98, executive vice president for global manufacturing and labor relations at General Motors, was named 2018 Black Engineer of the Year by the Black Engineer of the Year Awards (BEYA) selection committee. She is the 32nd recipient and sixth woman to receive the award. In 2001, President Shirley Ann Jackson was the first woman to receive the award.

2018 IEEE Alexander Graham Bell Medal

Nambirajan Seshadri, M.S. ’84, Ph.D. ’86, former chief technology officer, Broadcom Corp. and NAE member, received the 2018 IEEE Alexander Graham Bell Medal, the highest honor conferred by the IEEE in the field of communications and networking.

2 of the 11 National Inventors Hall of Fame

Ted Hoff ’58, inventor of the microprocesor, and Steve Sasson ’72, inventor of the digital camera, were two of the 11 National Inventors Hall of Fame inductee judges selected for the Collegiate Inventors Competition.

Class Notes

Have you started a new job or been promoted recently? Perhaps you are starting on a new educational journey. Or, maybe you are newly married or have added to your family. Let your fellow alums know what is happening with you. 


Student demonstrates virtual surgery technology

Simulating Virtual Surgery

While simulation platforms have been used to train surgeons before they enter an actual operating room (OR), few studies have evaluated how well trainees transfer those skills from the simulator to the OR. Now, a study led by Rensselaer that used noninvasive brain imaging to evaluate brain activity has found that simulator-trained medical students successfully transferred those skills to operating on cadavers and were faster than peers who had no simulator training.

Arun Nemani, who earned his doctorate in biomedical engineering in 2017, is the first author on the study, led by Suvranu De, the J. Erik Jonsson ’22 Distinguished Professor of Engineering and head of the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Nuclear Engineering; and Xavier Intes, professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. They evaluated the surgical proficiency of 19 medical students, six of whom practiced cutting tasks on a physical simulator, eight of whom practiced on a virtual simulator, and five of whom had no practice. Study results were presented at the American College of Surgeons Clinical Congress 2017.

The medical students who practiced on the physical simulator completed the task in an average of 7.9 minutes with a deviation of 3.3 minutes. Those who used the virtual simulator did the task in 13.05 minutes vs. an average of 15.5 minutes for the group that had no practice.

Brain imaging measured activity in the primary motor cortex, located in the frontal lobe. The researchers found that the simulator groups had significantly higher cortical activity than the group that had no training.

“By showing that trained subjects have increased activity in the primary motor cortex when performing surgical tasks when compared to untrained subjects, our noninvasive brain imaging approach can accurately determine surgical motor skill transfer from simulation to ex-vivo environments,” Nemani says.