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Five of the best and brightest academics from the College of Engineering (COE) have been chosen to receive COE’s 2017-2018 Outstanding Faculty Awards. Professor Russell Tessier was selected for the Outstanding Senior Faculty Award. The review committee designated Assistant Professors Caitlyn Butler and David Irwin as joint awardees for the Barbara H. and Joseph I. Goldstein Outstanding Junior Faculty Award. Finally, Professors Matthew Lackner and Shelly Peyton were named the co-recipients of the COE Outstanding Teaching Award. All five award winners will be recognized during the COE Senior Recognition Celebration to be held on Saturday, May 12, 2018.

Apoorva Bajaj, a senior research fellow and innovation manager with the Engineering Research Center for Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere (CASA), was interviewed for a March 22 article in Forbes magazine, which was covering a startup company that manufactures solar-powered sensors to collect data on hyperlocal weather conditions. On behalf of CASA, Bajaj has been working with the new company to help verify the accuracy of the weather data it was gathering.

Zlatan Aksamija, an assistant professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department and the principal investigator in the Nanoelectronics Theory and Simulation Lab (NET Lab), was recently quoted in a Science News story about why scientists are studying how 2-D materials such as graphene behave at high temperatures. In the February 13 edition of Science News, Aksamija said that commonly used silicon-based electronics are “hitting a brick wall” regarding how much smaller they can be manufactured, and that 2-D materials could be ideal for constructing the next generation of tiny devices.

An article co-authored by Zlatan Aksamija, an assistant professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department and the principal investigator in the Nanoelectronics Theory and Simulation Lab (NET Lab), was included in the 2017 highlights of the scientific journal Nanotechnology. As the journal described its prestigious highlights: “This collection includes outstanding articles and topical reviews published in the journal during 2017. These articles were selected on the basis of a range of criteria including referee endorsements, presentation of outstanding research, and popularity with our online readership.”

Daniel Holcomb of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department says, there is a burgeoning danger in how companies currently manage their semiconductor supply chains. “Supply-chain threats such as counterfeits and hardware Trojans can compromise reliability of integrated circuits and lead to unexpected or malicious functionalities embedded within them,” says Holcomb.  This growing national security threat explains why he was recently awarded a five-year, $596,160 CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to study supply-chain security for integrated circuits.

ECE Graduate student Natesh Ganesh will be one of 10 finalists presenting in the third annual Three Minute Thesis Competition on March 2, from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m., in the Campus Center Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public, and refreshments will be served.

According to industry estimates, there could be as many as three-million drones in the skies globally. As the number of drones mushrooms, so will the chances that they will pose a danger to public safety; in Massachusetts alone, at least 80 near-collisions between drones and aircraft have been reported to date. Now, according to the UMass News Office, researchers in the UMass Electrical and Computer Engineering Department are continuing to develop a multi-purpose radar system that can detect very small drone aircraft and also serve as a severe-weather warning system for airports and urban settings. Read News Office release or article on

As a 2013 article on in The Economist said about neuromorphic computing (meaning microprocessors configured more like human brains than like traditional chips): “Computers will help people to understand brains better. And understanding brains will help people to build better computers.” In that general context, Professors Joshua Yang and Qiangfei Xia of our Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department led a 24-person international team of researchers that has just published the second of two defining papers on neuromorphic computing, which mimics neuro-biological architectures present in the nervous system in order to build better computing systems.

Memristors are basically a fourth class of passive electrical circuit, joining the resistor, the capacitor, and the inductor, which exhibit their unique properties primarily at the nanoscale and represent one of the most promising circuit elements for information storage and processing in future computing technologies. But one major problem with current memristors is their inability to perform effectively at extremely high temperatures, such as those in aircraft engine control systems or in wearable electronics for firefighters.

Think about the startling international news stories surrounding the hacking of our American voting files and the Meltdown and Spectre bugs, the two recently announced security flaws that can expose personal data to hackers and could potentially affect Linux systems, along with computers and devices running Windows, Mac, and other operating-system software. These and many other news events prove the resounding importance of cybersecurity in today’s uncertain world.