A team led by graduate student Akshaya Shanmugam of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department won the $1,000 first prize in the UMass Innovation Challenge MinutePitch competitionon Oct. 29. The competition was featured in a Springfield Republican article on November 11. Shanmugam’s team, mDiagnostic, is developing a low-cost, accurate test for hepatitis C., and the team’s faculty advisor is ECE Professor Christopher Salthouse. Shanmugam’s winning poster was entitled “Lensless Fluorescence imaging with height calculation.”

On November 4 the Fort Worth Star-Telegram published and posted a long feature article about the network of new weather radars being established in the Dallas-Fort Worth area by the Center for Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere (CASA). The consortium of universities, government agencies, and industry partners is based at UMass Amherst in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department. In the newspaper article, experts and administrators from various agencies and towns called the CASA system “game changing,” “lifesaving,” and “a paradigm shift for public safety.” Brenda J. Philips, co-director of CASA, commented that Dallas-Fort Worth’s 6.5 million people and volatile weather mix made it the perfect urban beta site for CASA’s next five-year study phase.

On October 18 the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department held its 2013 Ph.D. Poster Session, in which Akshaya Shanmugam won first place and also received the “Special Tang Award,” sponsored by the Shirley and Ting-wei Tang Endowment. Shanmugam’s faculty advisor was Christopher Salthouse, and the winning poster was entitled “Lensless Fluorescence imaging with height calculation.” The second place poster, entitled “Forest stand height inversion using spaceborne repeat-pass L-Band INSAR correlation,” was created by Yang Lei. Matthew Conte won third place with his poster entitled “Down-conversion frequency mixer implementation strategies.”

John Logan, a Ph.D. student in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, was Runner-up in the Student Paper Contest at the 2013 IEEE International Symposium on Phased Array Systems and Technology His paper was entitled "Low-Cost mm-Wave UWB Phased Arrays." Logan’s advisor, ECE Professor Marinos Vouvakis, was the co-author of the paper. The conference was held on October 15 to 18 at the Westin Hotel in Waltham on Boston's famous Route 128 Technology Highway.

Christopher Hollot, a professor and the head of our Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department, recently appeared on WGBY-TV 57’s Connecting Point show to talk about the Real-Time Concussion Analyzer, the senior design project of four ECE seniors last spring. Hollot was the faculty advisor for the students while they worked on their invention, which could potentially protect football players and other athletes who have suffered head-impact traumas. The Real-Time Concussion Analyzer collects data from football collisions and sends a report wirelessly to the coach’s cellphone on the sideline, so the coach can make the decision whether or not a player needs to be pulled out of the game. The Real-time Concussion Analyzer could be valuable, not just on a national or collegiate level, but in high school or even pee wee football. See video: WGBY-TV 57.

A paper authored by four researchers from the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department – graduate student Kekai Hu, former graduate student Harikrishnan Chandrikakutty, and Professors Russell Tessier and Tilman Wolf – won the Best Paper Award at the First Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Conference on Communications and Network Security ( The paper is entitled “Scalable Hardware Monitors to Protect Network Processors from Data Plane Attacks.” The conference had 141 paper submissions, of which 40 were accepted for presentation.

Rob Palumbo, a Raytheon Ph.D. student working under Professor Steve Frasier of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, won the Best Student Oral Presentation at the 36th American Meteorological Society’s Conference on Radar Meteorology held in Breckenridge, Colorado, from September 16 to 20. Palumbo’s paper was entitled "Polarimetric Observations of Prescribed Bushfires in South Australia using an X-band Phased Array Radar" and was co-authored by W. Al-Ashwal, D. Gray, S.J. Frasier, D.J. McLaughlin, E.J. Knapp, B. Ferguson, and C.P. McCarroll. The Conference on Radar Meteorology is held bi-annually and this year included over 400 contributions. Palumbo’s winning presentation dealt with his research using an X-Band Phased Array Radar to observe controlled burns around the Adelaide Hills in South Australia.

Brian Hickey, a junior major in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department with a Management minor, has created the prototype for a true and sure-footed career path during his first three years at UMass Amherst. He’s had a hand in two startup companies, including one he founded on his own as an eighth grader, and he spent a summer internship as a sort of jack of all trades at Verizon Wireline in Boston. In the process, Hickey has set himself up for a future job with his “superb communication skills and solid technological background,” as he so aptly sums up his qualifications in his resume.

On Wednesday, October 16, Eric A. Swanson (’82 B.S., ECE) deliverered the 14th annual Tang Lecture in Campus Center Room 1009. The title of this year’s Tang Lecture was “Startup Stories: Personal Observations and Other Comments.” Mr. Swanson is the director of Acacia Communication, Curata Incorporated, and NinePoint Medical. In 2012 he was a co-recipient of the $1.3-million António Champalimaud Vision Award, one the world’s largest scientific and humanitarian prizes and the largest in visual research, for the discovery of optical coherence tomography, which plays a key role in the diagnosis and treatment of the most important blinding diseases of the industrialized world: macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and glaucoma.

Freshman Steven So of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department has arrived on campus with eight world titles in various martial arts under his Black Belt. Well, to be more accurate, it’s two Black Belts; one in Taekwondo, and the other in Traditional Mixed Martial Arts. He also holds multiple state and national titles and has won several grand championships all over the country. He also appeared and performed on ESPN multiple times and was featured in Karate World Magazine. The articulate, soft-spoken undergrad from Billerica, Massachusetts, also has the grades, academic awards, and smarts to enter UMass Amherst as part of the first class ensconced in the brand new and upgraded Honors College, where he lives on a residence floor devoted to talented engineering students.