News

As Ralph Waldo Emerson observed, “Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door.” Now, some 150 years later, somebody has finally built one! On Friday, April 25, not only was a better mousetrap on display, but also 22 other creative, useful, and socially conscious electronic inventions. The Electrical and Computer Engineering Department (ECE) at the University of Massachusetts Amherst hosted its 24th annual Senior Design Project Day on campus, when 23 teams of ECE students unveiled a high-tech floor show for the electronics of the future. This year’s senior design projects included a smart, have-a-heart, mouse trap, a virtual mountain bike, an electronic scarecrow, an ID bracelet that exchanges contact information with just a handshake, an electronic child reporting device, and much, much more. For full descriptions of all these projects, go to http://www.ecs.umass.edu/ece/sdp/sdp14/teams.html.

Qiangfei Xia of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department was one of five researchers from UMass Amherst who are sharing $100,000 in technology grants from the university system’s Commercial Ventures and Intellectual Property (CVIP) Technology Development Fund to assist in accelerating the commercialization of their inventions. Eight $25,000 grants to faculty at the Amherst, Lowell, and Worcester campuses were announced by President Robert L. Caret. “Every year, we identify game-changing research with commercial promise in laboratories on UMass campuses that speak to the major role that the university plays in advancing scientific discovery and improving and saving lives in the Commonwealth and around the world,” Caret said. See News Office article: http://www.umass.edu/newsoffice/article/5-researchers-awarded-grants-aid

The ninth annual University of Massachusetts Innovation Challenge final business plan competition was held on April 7. The event culminated in awards to five competing teams from a prize pool of $50,000 provided by private sector contributions as well as two special $5,000 named awards – The David Wolf Prize and The Glass Prize. Rescue Collar won the top prize of $25,000, followed by mDiagnostics which won a total of $15,000. Fiberessence and Nine Brain each won $7,500, while Acne Free, Naturally received $5,250 at the event. Rescue Collar offers a wearable device that reunites lost pets with their owners through community and technology at the push of a button. Both mDiagnostics and Fiberessence are teams from the College of Engineering.

Michael Zink of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst has come up with a brilliant solution for a very expensive problem: The various applications for networks of electronic sensing devices such as radars or cameras cannot be shared. For example, radar networks are applied for either weather forecasting or tracking aircraft. Camera systems might be applied for border security or Coast Guard life-saving activities.

Aura Ganz of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department has been selected to receive the 2014 Outstanding Senior Faculty Award, and Shelly Peyton of the Chemical Engineering Department will receive the 2014 Barbara H. and Joseph I. Goldstein Outstanding Junior Faculty Award. “Their excellent contributions to scholarship and the profession bring distinction to our college,” said Dean Tim Anderson while announcing the annual awards. “Aura and Shelly, along with the CoE Outstanding Teaching Award winner Rama Janaswamy, will be recognized during the CoE Senior Recognition Celebration to be held on Saturday, May 10, 2014. Congratulations, Aura and Shelly!”

Dean Tim Anderson is pleased to announce the appointment of three faculty members and one administrator as the new associate deans for the College of Engineering. The new appointments are: Professor John Collura, Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, as the Associate Dean for Research and Innovation; Professor David Ford, Chemical Engineering Department, as the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs; Professor Tilman Wolf, Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, as the Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and Operations; and Kathleen Rubin, the current Assistant Dean, as the Associate Dean for Student Affairs and Administration. The College of Engineering is indeed fortunate to have these dedicated individuals available to serve in four key positions at this crucial time of growth, evolution, and advancement within the institution.

Alumnus Bob Cramer, a CEO coach and advisor, board member, and private investor with 29 years experience in high-growth, venture-backed businesses, gave an informal talk in M5 (Marcus Hall, room 5) on Tuesday, April 15, from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. Mr. Cramer is a 1980 graduate of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department. His topic was “Lessons Learned from 30 Years of Tech Start-up Companies.” Among other companies, Cramer has served as CEO of: LiveVault, one of the first SaaS businesses targeting the SMB market (acquired by IRM in 2005); FirstSense, one of the first application performance management companies (acquired by CCRD in 1999); and Nimbit, one of the first direct-to-fan online sales and marketing platforms (acquired by PreSonus in 2012). The talk was free and open to the public, and refreshments were served.

The University of Massachusetts Amherst Alumni Association has announced the recipients of its annual student scholarships and awards, and six high-achieving undergraduates from the College of Engineering were among them. The engineering recipients were: Industrial Engineering major Avery Stroman ’16, who won a $750 Alumni Merit-Based SAA Scholarship; Mechanical Engineering major Aaron Annan '15, Computer System Engineering major Michael Bjorge '15, Civil Engineering major Marissa Shea '15, and Chemical Engineering major Marianne Sleiman '15, who all received $750 William F. Field Alumni Scholarships; and Electrical Engineering major Joshua Hodge ’14, who received a $500 Senior Leadership Award.

On March 5, Professor Christopher Hollot, the head of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at UMass Amherst, delivered a talk for the Boston University Electrical and Computer Engineering Department  Distinguished Lecture Series. The series is billed as “a forum for eminent individuals from the worlds of academia and industry to share their experience and vision in various areas of electrical and computer engineering.” Designed to cover a breadth of topics, the lectures target both undergraduate and graduate students as well as faculty. Hollot’s lecture was entitled Regulation of Cell Populations in Individuals Using Feedback-Based Drug-Dosing Protocols.”

On Saturday, April 5, the UMass Amherst chapter of the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) held its inaugural, 24-hour “HackUMass, the IEEE Embedded Systems Hackathon” in the M5 maker space on the University of Massachusetts Amherst campus. A hackathon (also known as a hack day, hackfest, or codefest) is an event in which computer programmers and others involved in software development collaborate intensively on software projects, often with hardware components. “We’re holding this hackathon because we want to give students the opportunity to learn something new,” explains Andrew Sousa, an undergraduate in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department and the vice chair of the UMass IEEE chapter.