Technology magazine "Popular Science" has named two-time Virginia Tech College of Engineering alumnus Maurizio Porfiri to its 2010 Brilliant 10 List. Porfiri, now an assistant professor at Polytechnic Institute of New York University, earned both master’s and doctoral degrees in engineering mechanics from Virginia Tech in 2000 and 2006, respectively.

The magazine’s annual listing honors top scientists younger than 40 years of age from across the United States. Porfiri was recognized for his advanced work with biologically inspired underwater robots at NYU Polytechnic’s department of mechanical and aerospace engineering. He argues that robot fish could guide real fish away from such dangers as power turbines or oil spills, thus saving aquatic life.

“I have had the privilege of interacting with and learning from world class researchers, great role models, and caring and humble individuals, such as my Ph.D. adviser Romesh Batra, my post-doctorate adviser Dan Stilwell, my master’s advisor Ed Henneke, and members of my committee, including Liviu Librescu, Mike Hyer and Doug Lindner,” Porfiri said. All of the faculty members are part of the College of Engineering. Librescu was among the 32 victims of the events of April 16, 2007.

Porfiri will visit the Virginia Tech campus on Nov. 1, hosting a seminar on his work, titled “Guidance and control of fish shoals using biomimetic robots. The talk will take place at 4 p.m. at 129 McBryde Hall.

Brilliant 10 honorees are chosen from among hundreds of nominees each year. The November issue, honoring the latest class of Brilliant 10, is available on newsstands and online.

Virginia Tech’s College of Engineering is no stranger to the list. In November 2009, the magazine named Dennis Hong, associate professor of mechanical engineering and director of Robotics and Mechanisms Laboratory, to its 8th annual Brilliant 10. “Science” recognized Hong for his work in robotics engineering, including the then-pending debut of the human-sized humanoid robot known as CHARLI.

Since then, “Popular Science” featured CHARLI (Cognitive Humanoid Autonomous Robot with Learning Intelligence) on the cover of its August 2010 issue.

Hong and Porfiri are friends, and say they plan to collaborate on an upcoming robotics project.

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