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MIE graduate student captures the art of engineering

UIC Image of Research Mechanical Engineering winner

Engineering embodies multiple disciplines within the sciences, and, all too often, the creativity goes unacknowledged. But it is in there in every aspect. The imagination and creativity of engineering is found in decision making, execution, and the results of research and experiments.

Rukmava Chatterjee, a graduate student working under the direction of Professor Sushant Anand in the mechanical and industrial engineering department, has an appreciation for the art of engineering and it has led him to win two contests with his photo entitled “Mist Heist.”

In June, Chatterjee won first place in the “Chemistry in Pictures Water Photo Contest” by Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), and last week he was named the second-place winner in the Engineering, Mathematics, and Physical Science category of UIC’s Image of Research contest.

The description accompanying the “Mist Heist” image provides a deeper look into the research it portrays.

“While the earth’s atmosphere embodies zillions of gallons of water vapor, ironically, more than half of the world’s population face water scarcity daily. Over the past few decades, researchers have come up with innovative strategies by tapping into this deluge of ambient moisture resource in an attempt to provide the world with ‘drinkable air’. However, most of these technologies suffer from the practical challenges of energy efficiency and durability. Motivated by this, we have developed a coating material for harnessing moisture from air in climates ranging from foggy to humid. To demonstrate this, experiments were conducted in a humid environment by cooling a hydrophilic textured surface coated with a naturally-derived waxy material. Stripped from moist air, water droplets show very low adhesion and effortlessly roll down the subcooled coated surface thereby harvesting water. The locking of the waxy material within the surface features of the underlying solid substrate prevents its out-of-texture depletion by water and provides a ‘cool’ solution to quench the thirsty world.”

The foundation and key concepts of this work is based on a research paper published under the advanced materials section of the Wiley Online Library.

The stunning images he has captured in his research clearly shows the beauty and artistic nature of engineering and it’s something Chatterjee wants to share with the world.

“I enjoy telling a story via images because ‘a picture is worth a thousand words,’” he said. “I occasionally participate in such competitions to showcase my ongoing research.”

These contests are not the first time he has entered a picture into a competition. Last year, Chatterjee was a finalist in the Image of Research contest with a stunning photo entitled “Mhysa,” which was captured from his doctoral research on anti-icing systems.

“I like showcasing my research in the form of images or informative videos to reach out to a broader audience,” he said.

Find videos of Chatterjee’s research here.