The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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ECE Newsletter: Summer 2016

Message from Kris Hollot

Hi UMass Amherst ECE alumni and friends:

We've just been notified that one of our 2016 Senior Design Project Team, ASPECTS, was named First Place Winner in the National Transportation Research Board’s University Design Competition! Please visit Team ASPECTS’s website to learn more about their geofencing solution to prevent drone incursion of airport perimeters. Congratulations to the students and their faculty advisors. This project was a joint effort between ECE and the Transportation Group in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department.

Where in the world do our graduating seniors take jobs?  They tend to stay in their own backyards! Of our May 2015 graduating seniors who hail from Massachusetts, 80% accepted jobs in New England. Conversely, 20% of the out-of-state graduating seniors took jobs in Massachusetts. Roughly 85% of engineering undergrads are from Massachusetts.

In contrast, ECE’s May 2016 PhDs spread their wings a bit further ending up in:

Google, CA (2)

NIST, MD (2)

Synopsis, CA


Intel, Portland (2)

Univ of Missouri


Lumme, Inc, MA


Linear Technology, CA

MathWorks, MA

TUV, Germany

In last summer’s newsletter I said:

“Speaking of alums visiting campus, some of my best moments as department head are in hosting alums, hearing about their careers, and showing off the department and campus. If you are ever on campus or in the region, please contact me … ”

I would now like to add to this and say that some of my best moments as department head are in participating in off-campus alumni events. This past spring, Professor Soules and I attended wonderful ECE alumni events in Cambridge and Burlington, MA. It was great to catch up with our recent grads as well as to visit with alums more senior than ourselves. A takeaway for us is that UMass ECE can easily come to the alums, and we plan to hold similar events in the eastern part of the state in the coming academic year.

I hope you enjoy reading some of the selected news articles about the accomplishments of our department’s students, alums, and faculty members.

Best wishes for your midsummer nights!




CASA Radar Credited with Saving Lives and Avoiding Injuries During Texas Tornadoes
Officials in Ellis County, Texas, are crediting the recently installed radar system created by our Center for Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere (CASA) with being at least partially responsible for saving lives and greatly reducing injuries during the very dangerous tornado that touched down in the Ellis County town of Midlothian, south of the Dallas/Fort Worth area, during the December 26 Tornado outbreak.

Read more …

ACM Honors Stevens Professor with Distinguished Engineer Award

Nicholas Bowen, an alumnus of our Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, has received a major award from the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM). According to a press release issued by the Stevens Institute of Technology in New Jersey, the ACM has named Bowen, an industry professor in the systems & software division at the School of Systems & Enterprises (SSE) at Stevens, as a 2015 Distinguished Engineer, one of just five ACM members to be honored with the Distinguished Engineer award this year.

Read more …

ECE Graduate Student Wins Best Oral Presentation at American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting

Graduate student Sheila Werth of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department won Best Oral Presentation at the 7th Conference on Weather, Climate, Water, and the New Energy Economy, which was part of the American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting, held on January 10-14, in New Orleans. Her talk was entitled "Evaluating Parameters for Species-Based Classification of Bird Radar Echoes for Wind Energy Site Assessment."

Read more …

Leonard's “Mastery” Approach Takes the Mystery out of Learning

In the summer of 2005, William Leonard of the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department was having lunch with ECE Department Head Christopher Hollot, and they had one of those “OMG moments” that change the course of human events. Leonard was expressing his concern that many of his students, even the ones who were getting good grades, had not mastered some of the basic subject matter of his two-course sequence of Circuit Analysis classes. Leonard had arrived at this assessment after studying many of the answers on student exam papers and discussing the coursework with some of his students.

Read more …

ECE Grad Student Wins $6,000 IEEE Fellowship

Doctoral student Seyedeh-Shirin Montazeri of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department has been awarded a fellowship of $6,000 from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Microwave Theory and Techniques (MTT-S) Society Graduate Fellowship program. Ms. Montazeri’s Ph.D. advisor is Professor Joseph Bardin.

Read more …

Padovani Awarded the IEEE Alexander Graham Bell Medal

Electrical and Computer Engineering Department alumnus Roberto Padovani, the executive vice president and a Fellow of Qualcomm Technologies, has been presented with the Alexander Graham Bell Medal by the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) "for innovations enabling efficient, wideband, wireless access to the Internet, that is central to all third-generation cellular networks.”

Read more …

Aksamija Selected as Lilly Teaching Fellow

Professor Zlatan Aksamija of the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Departments has been named as a Lilly Teaching Fellow. The Selection Committee of the Lilly Fellows Program has chosen Aksamija as one of only eight recipients nationally to get the Lilly Fellowship for Teaching Excellence. This is a significant achievement, given the high volume and quality of nominations this year, which the committee members described as “absolutely incredible.”

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MIRSL Studying Tornadoes in Alabama During March and April

The UMass Microwave Remote Sensing Laboratory (MIRSL) is participating in the 2016 Verification of the Origin of Rotation in Tornadoes Experiment (VORTEX), specifically in the Southeast (VORTEX-SE) region, sponsored by NOAA's National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL). During March and April 2016, MIRSL is deploying two mobile radar systems to northern Alabama to study the environment leading up to tornadoes and the severe weather outbreaks that can directly produce tornadoes. MIRSL is partnering with the Purdue University Department of Earth Atmosphere and Planetary Sciences in this project.

Read more …

Baker, Fan, and Bardin Selected as Outstanding Engineering Faculty

Dean Tim Anderson has announced that faculty members Erin Baker of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) Department, Joseph Bardin of the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department, and Wei Fan of the Chemical Engineering (ChE) Department have been selected as outstanding faculty in the College of Engineering for 2016.

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McLaughlin Receives Distinguished Teaching Award and Is Chosen as TIDE Ambassador

David McLaughlin, the Associate Dean for Student Affairs and Administration and a professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, has been selected for two major honors by the UMass Institute for Teaching Excellence and Faculty Development (TEFD). First, McLaughlin received a Distinguished Teaching Award, the university’s highest honor for classroom excellence. TEFD then named McLaughlin one of the 12 TIDE Ambassadors for the campus, with TIDE standing for Teaching for Inclusiveness, Diversity, and Equity.

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Three Engineering Projects Win Prizes in University of Massachusetts Innovation Challenge Final Competition

Three out of the six teams that won prizes in this year’s $65,000 University of Massachusetts Innovation Challenge Final Competition were spearheaded by engineering students. The three engineering winners were third-place finisher Brobar and two other finalists, Glow and Lumme.  Coordinated by the Berthiaume Center for Entrepreneurship, an Isenberg-based initiative that promotes entrepreneurship across the UMass Amherst campus, this culminating event of the multi-stage Innovation Challenge featured a Shark Tank-style contest presented to six judges and an enthusiastic audience.

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Student-run Series in M5 Attracts 300 Techies to 22 Tech Talks

“Come to M5 for Tech Talks and Workshops by Facebook, Dropbox, Intel, Fitbit, Circuitmaker, OpenBCI, Pair, RSA, Autodesk, Barnstorm Studio, and many more to come!” It is any tech-driven student’s ultimate dream. This is all part of the vision for the UMass Tech Talk Series, a totally student-run initiative that was presented throughout the spring semester in M5, the official makerspace of the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department. During that time, M5 hosted 22 Tech Talks attended by nearly 300 participants. It was an extravaganza of high-tech talking at its best.

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Five Teams Awarded for Their Wondrous Inventions

Each year seniors from the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst present, display, and demonstrate some 24 clever and useful electronic inventions for the public. This year five teams of senior ECE majors won the nine prizes given out for the event. The Senior Design Day Faculty Awards were given, in order, to: braillebook , SHARC (Simulated Hand & Arm Remote Control), Sauron, and SigninGlove. Then the IEEE People’s Choice Awards went to Sauron, braillebook, BRO (Basketball Return Optimizer), SHARC, and SigninGlove.

Read more …