News

Jorge L. Salazar, a doctoral graduate from the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, was awarded a prestigious National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Advanced Study Program Postdoctoral Fellowship. The postdoctoral program provides an opportunity for recent Ph.D. scientists and engineers to continue to pursue their research interests in atmospheric and related sciences. Salazar is currently working at the Earth Observing Laboratory at NCAR in Boulder, Colorado, developing an emerging technology for two-dimensional, electronically scanned, and dual-pol phased array radars for use in atmospheric research.

In M5 (short for Marcus Hall, room 5), the student hub for hands-on inventiveness in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, innovation is happening faster than an electrical signal jumping a human synapse gap. In M5, change is standard operating procedure. One symbol of the innovation in progress is the antique pump organ centrally located in M5 as it waits to be mechanically restored and electronically synthesized by a team of faculty and students. Another change is the installation of the campus chapter of IEEE, which has been relocated in a high-profile, windowed office where students can find it easily. And a third alteration is the permanent configuration of electronic test equipment in a room that supports the freshman Introduction to Electrical and Computer Engineering course and also all the individual projects being worked on throughout the department.

On October 30, RailPod, a startup company founded by College of Engineering alumni Brendan English (B.S. 1999 in Computer Systems Engineering) and Blair Morad (B.S. 1998 in Mechanical Engineering), won $100,000 in the 2013 MassChallenge (masschallenge.org), the world’s largest startup accelerator. RailPod was one of five $100,000 first-prize winners out of 128 companies competing in the MassChallenge. RailPod is a railroad track inspection robot that provides a visual depiction of the track environment, supported by quantifiable measurements that quickly and accurately identify track problems.

On November 8 and 9, Marco Chiang, a senior BSCSE major, and his team from the Computer Science Department finished in the top six out of more than 500 “amazing hackers” and 200 teams that competed in the Yale Hackathon in New Haven, Connecticut. According to Chiang, the Hackathon is an event in which students compete to create the most innovative and complex computer software and hardware hacks to win a variety of cash and prizes. As Chiang explained, “Leaf, the name of our product and vision, is working hard to bring a piece of technology into our lives to revolutionize social and professional interactions.”

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 http://www.array2013.org/. 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 (http://www.cnsr.ictas.vt.edu/IEEE-CNS/index.html). 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.