Yale Engineering Kicks off 150th Anniversary Celebration with Distinguished Lecture Series

Yale University’s Faculty of Engineering will mark the beginning of its sesquicentennial celebration with a monthly distinguished lecture series, the first of which features renowned French physicist and new Yale professor Michel Devoret, who will discuss the quantum computer on February 12.

“The Sesquicentennial Engineering Distinguished Lecture Series is a centerpiece of our celebration of Yale’s 150 years of leadership in teaching and research in the field that uniquely combines the expansion of intellectual frontiers with the challenge to translate such expansion into practical advances for the benefit of the human condition,” said Engineering Dean Paul Fleury. “We are delighted to have Michel as the premier lecturer in this series. His research is world leading and of considerable impact. And he is an outstanding speaker who will appeal to a broad audience.”

Devoret’s lecture, “The Quantum Computer: Miracle or Mirage,” will take place at 4 p.m. in Davies Auditorium, followed by a reception in Davies Lobby, 15 Prospect Street. The lecture will explore new discoveries in the area of quantum devices and information theory. In his abstract, Devoret says that quantum mechanics is still too often viewed as limiting the information one can extract from a physical system. Recent discoveries show that fundamental properties of quantum mechanics could actually be used to perform computations that would be impossible on a standard “classical” computer.

Devoret said recent alternative approaches based on superconducting circuits may be attractive in the long run since they benefit from the parallel fabrication techniques of microelectronics and can lend themselves to the assembly of a large number of quantum gates.

Devoret’s research has earned him numerous awards, including the coveted Ampere Prize of the French Academy of Sciences and the Descartes-Huygens Prize of the Dutch Royal Academy of Sciences. He is now setting up new laboratories at Yale to fabricate and explore novel nanoscale devices that may bring the quantum computer to realization.

The lecture series will bring at least another half dozen distinguished lecturers to Yale over the coming year. In addition to Devoret, the spring 2002 schedule includes:

March 5: John Morrell, chief engineer of DEKA Research, “Developing Segways: The Struggle for Smooth Transitions Between Research and Production.”
A Yale engineering graduate, Morrell is the lead dynamics engineer who, along with a team at DEKA, developed the control software and system design for the Segway Human Transporter, a two-wheeled mobility device code-named “Ginger.”

April 16: Robert Langer, the Kenneth J. Germeshausen Professor of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering at MIT, “Engineered BioMaterials Will Change Your Life.”
Langer’s many research interests include the development of biomaterials for therapeutic purposes. Before contributions from his research, most materials used in medicine were off-the-shelf items, such as ladies’ girdles to construct artificial hearts. One of the materials his lab developed has led to a new treatment for brain cancer. He is also studying how to deliver drugs across complex barriers such as the skin and combining materials with cells to create new tissues.

All lectures will be held at 4 p.m. in Davies Auditorium, and will be followed by receptions in the Davies Lobby.

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Karen N. Peart: karen.peart@yale.edu, 203-432-1326