ECE Newsletter: Summer 2012

Message from Kris Hollot

Dear UMass Amherst ECE alumni and friends,

The undergrads have graduated and left campus, and the ECE Department has now turned its full attention to research and preparation for the upcoming academic year. We hope our newsletter finds you also savoring the summer months ahead.

In May, we graduated 57 undergrads, 27 CSEs and 31 EEs. At that time, 76% had job offers or acceptance to graduate schools, including MIT, Harvard, the University of Michigan, the University of Minnesota, the University of Texas, and Stanford. From experience we expect this placement percentage to be around 90 percent six months out, an improvement over the past three years. The incoming class of freshmen engineers will be 400 large. We admitted less than half the applicants, and the matriculated students have an average SAT score of 1285 and high school GPA of 3.85.

ECE Senior Design Project Day was held in April, and it was great to alums. The Automated Relearning Hand Therapy  Project (Team Ganz) won first place, and it was encouraging to see projects inspired by special needs students from West Springfield. In addition, two teams, Augmented Reality - Head Up Display (Team Wolf) and Automated Aero-Painting System (Team Mortiz), participated in the Cornell Cup.

Alongside Ted Koppel (think Nightline), alumnus Mark E. Russell (MS, ’85) received an Honorary Doctorate of Engineering Degree at the UMass Amherst Commencement ceremonies for his groundbreaking technological contributions to radar components and systems. Russell is the Raytheon Corporate Vice President of Engineering, Technology, and Mission Assurance. Russell was recently elevated to the honorary status of Fellow by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

The mid-1980s were good years for ECE, as attested by Russell’s MIRSL lab mate Professor David McLaughlin (EE’84, PhD’ 89) receiving the Chancellor's Medal, the highest honor bestowed to faculty by the campus, and  giving a Distinguished Faculty Lecture entitled: "Chasing Interdisciplinarity while Chasing Tornadoes." The Engineering Research Center for Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere, conceived by Professor McLaughlin and his collaborators, comprises a dense network of small radars that communicate with one another to sense hazardous weather patterns and distribute accurate warnings to people who need them.

Professor Paul Siquiera is headed on sabbatical in the upcoming academic year, and he has recently received a Charles Bullard Fellowship from Harvard University to conduct research at the Harvard Forest in Petersham, MA. Also, as you will read further in the newsletter, Paul has been selected to serve on the Science Definition Team for a NASA space-borne radar mission meant to study earth deformation, ecosystem science, and the dynamics of ice.

I hope you enjoy catching up with our ECE Department. Please send me a note at hollot@ecs.umass.edu, and best wishes for a relaxing and productive summer!

Siqueira Selected for NASA Team
Paul Siqueira of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst has been selected to serve on the Science Definition Team for DESDynI, a NASA space-borne radar mission meant to study “Earth Deformation, Ecosystem Science, and the Dynamics of Ice,” as the title of the project indicates. DESDynI is intended to be launched before the end of the decade. The Science Definition Team is a group of 15 scientists nationwide who are considered experts in their fields and who will help direct the formulation of the mission.
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Russell Receives Honorary Doctorate at Commencement
Alumnus Mark E. Russell, who earned his M.S. degree from the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department in 1985, received an Honorary Doctorate of Engineering Degree from the University of Massachusetts Amherst at its 2012 Commencement ceremonies. Russell is the Raytheon Corporate Vice President of Engineering, Technology, and Mission Assurance. Russell was recently elevated to the honorary status of Fellow by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). The prestigious distinction of AIAA Fellow is conferred upon those members of the institute who have made notable and valuable contributions to the arts, sciences, or the technology of aeronautics and astronautics.
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McLaughlin Delivers Distinguished Faculty Lecture
On April 4, Professor David J. McLaughlin from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering presented "Chasing Interdisciplinarity while Chasing Tornadoes" as part of the 2011-2012 UMass Amherst Distinguished Faculty Lecture Series. McLaughlin also received the Chancellor's Medal, the highest honor bestowed to faculty by the campus. The Engineering Research Center for Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere, conceived by Professor McLaughlin and his collaborators, comprises a dense network of small radars that communicate with one another to sense hazardous weather patterns and distribute accurate warnings to people who need them. McLaughlin articulated the social, policy, behavioral, and technical interface issues around the use of CASA in weather-determined decision making and response.
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Faculty Receive Mentoring Grant
A group of female faculty members from the College of Engineering and Department of Computer Science has received a Mellon Mutual Mentoring Team Grant to support women academics in their professional development. The goal of the project is to establish a sustainable network – what the UMass team calls an Engineering and Computing Women Faculty Group (ECWG) – which will provide mutual mentoring among female faculty of all ranks and varied backgrounds. The team leaders of the ECWG are Assistant Professor Mi-Hyun Park of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department and Professor Aura Ganz of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department. “This [group] will enable the participants to navigate professional development in this competitive world,” as the ECWG proposal explains.
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Engineering Students Score a Host of Honors
Talented and accomplished students from all four departments at the College of Engineering have won numerous awards, scholarships, fellowships, and other distinctions this semester on the national, regional, and campus level. They range from the prestigious National Science Foundation's Graduate Research Fellowship, competing against the best undergraduates in the nation, to a host of awards presented by the chancellor. Chemical engineering undergraduates Kathryn Geldart and Sarena Horava have both received one of the country’s most highly sought-after fellowships, the National Science Foundation's Graduate Research Fellowship, worth more than $40,000 annually for three years.
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Special Needs Students Visit UMass and Test Devices to Make Them More Independent
Brushing our teeth and tuning a radio are activities that most people take for granted, but for some of us being able to do these simple tasks would be the chance of a lifetime. That’s exactly what happened on May 4 when 10 special education students from West Springfield Middle School visited UMass Amherst to test out engineering devices designed to make their lives much easier and more independent. The devices, created in cooperation with West Springfield Middle School special needs teacher Megan Ferrari by undergraduates in the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department for their mandatory Senior Design Project, allow disabled students to carry out two of their regular daily functions, tuning a radio and brushing their teeth, for the first time on their own.
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ECE Places Two Teams in the National Cornell Cup Competition
The Electrical and Computer Engineering Department placed two teams of student innovators in the final field of 24 from across the nation that competed in the Cornell Cup competition on May 4 and 5 at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla. One ECE team designed and built an “Automated Aero-Painting System,” a model “quadrocopter” (helicopter with four propellers) that can spray-paint. The other team created an “Augmented Reality Head-Up Display,” a wearable augmented-reality system, displayed on the lenses of goggles and capable of creating an immersive 3-D environment. Cornell Cup USA, presented by Intel, is a college-level competition created so student teams can design and invent the newest innovative applications of embedded technology.
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Team Ganz Wins on Senior Design Project Day
The results are in for the annual Senior Design Project Day, when 20 creative, useful, and socially conscious electronic inventions were unveiled by seniors from the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department (ECE) and judged on their technical design, understanding of realistic constraints, and other criteria. The judges awarded Team Ganz first place, Team Jackson second place, and Team Siqueira third place. The Senior Design Project provides a capstone experience for undergraduate students in the ECE department, when students work in teams of four during a year-long course to design and build systems of their own conception.
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Three Chosen for COE Outstanding Faculty Awards
The College of Engineering has chosen Professor Sandip Kundu of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department to receive its 2012 Outstanding Senior Faculty Award and Assistant Professor Jenna Marquard of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department to receive its 2012 Barbara H. and Joseph I. Goldstein Outstanding Junior Faculty Award. Associate Professor James Rinderle of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department was previously selected to receive the 2012 Outstanding Teaching Award.
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CASA Radar to Be Installed in Dallas-Fort Worth
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram and the Sacramento Bee recently ran a long feature story on the radar system being installed by the Engineering Research Center for Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere (CASA) in the Dallas-Fort Worth area in Texas. The CASA radars are much better than existing weather detection radars at providing high-resolution views of ground-level and low-level weather events and help provide quicker warnings of severe weather events. Dallas-Fort Worth's 6.5 million people and volatile weather made it the perfect urban test site for CASA's next five-year study phase, after the system was tested over the last four years in Southwestern Oklahoma. "What we were looking for was a large enough metro area and one that experiences a variety of hazards,” said Brenda Philips of CASA.
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Republican Features ECE Undergrad and Anti-bullying Advocate
On February 21, the Springfield Republican published a long feature article on Krysten Moore, a 22-year-old electrical and computer engineering major, national anti-bullying spokesperson, and founder of a non-profit organization called Students Helping Instill New Esteem. She has spoken at more than 100 schools about the dangers of bullying. Bullied in middle school, she now visits schools as a spokeswoman for Love Our Children and STOMP Out Bullying to tell young people about the pain and anguish caused by bullying. Moore is also the current Miss Bergen County in New Jersey and will compete for Miss New Jersey in June hoping to advance to the Miss America Pageant.
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Dean Djaferis Wins IEEE CSS Distinguished Member Award
On December 14, College of Engineering Dean Ted Djaferis was recognized with a 2011 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Control Systems Society (CSS) Distinguished Member Award. This was one of two Distinguished Member Awards given in 2011 and one of only 86 that have been given out since the formation of CSS in 1954. The award was presented during the CSS Awards Ceremony at the 2011 IEEE Conference on Decision and Control, held in conjunction with the 2011 European Control Conference in Orlando, Florida. 
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Impact of Hluchyj Fellowship Will Be Felt for Decades
When UMass Amherst alumni Mike and Terry Hluchyj created a fellowship in 2008 to support one graduate student per year from the College of Engineering and one from the School of Nursing, Terry Hluchyj summarized their motivation this way: “Quality healthcare ranks among the most important issues our society faces, and the collaborative research initiatives between nursing and engineering at UMass Amherst can make a real difference.” Indeed, during the ensuing four years, the Hluchyj Graduate Fellowship has done just that. The research carried out by Hluchyj Fellows has already generated significant healthcare reforms, beneficial applications, important grants, prestigious journal papers, and key presentations, and it is beginning to earn fellows esteemed professional positions.
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