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Two College of Engineering undergraduate students were among the five so-called “Rising Researchers” throughout the whole university designated by the UMass Amherst website Research Next (Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity for a Brighter Future). The two engineering winners are Electrical Engineering major Zachary Goodman and Chemical Engineering major Thomas McCarthy.

The five Rising Researchers for the fall of 2015 will soon be saluted with a special article about their research and other accomplishments in Research Next.

One major thrust of Jianhua Joshua Yang’s research in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department is creating new kinds of memristor devices that, among other uses, can take humans into the so-called “last frontier” of computing: a computer that works like the human brain. No wonder that during his first year as a professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Yang has been awarded three impressive research grants totaling nearly $1.5 million.

Encryption of a message to make it undecipherable to an unintended observer is often the goal of modern security research. But what if the mere presence of the message is enough to compromise the security of the transmitting and receiver parties? Then, the detection of the presence of a transmission, even if that observer cannot decode the message due to encryption, can be highly problematic. For example, an authoritarian government is not going to allow encrypted messages to go between potentially “dangerous” parties.

The UMass Amherst News Office reports that a team of engineers and computer scientists at the University of Massachusetts Amherst has received a three-year, $486,524 grant from the National Science Foundation for a project to enhance privacy in smart buildings and homes. The project is under the direction of David Irwin of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department and Prashant Shenoy of the College of Information and Computer Sciences.

The first phase of the UMass Amherst 2015–16 Innovation Challenge kicked off its 11th year of competition on October 28, with two teams from our College of Engineering capturing the first- and third-place prizes of $1,000 and $500 respectively.

Joseph Bardin of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst has received an $844,000 equipment grant from the Office of Naval Research (ONR) Defense University Research Instrumentation Program (DURIP), which supports instruments necessary to carry out cutting-edge research relevant to the Navy’s concerns. See ONR DURIP website

A long article written by Senior Editor Sally Cole of Military Embedded Systems and published on October 1, 2015, reported on the research of Joseph C. Bardin and Qiangfei Xia, electrical and computer engineering, who have developed ultra-tiny, electronic, radio-frequency (RF) switches with reprogrammable features and based on “memristor” technology.

Three researchers in our Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department have been developing and testing the prototypes of two portable weather stations that can monitor weather and road-surface conditions on Massachusetts highways. The two “Road Weather Information Systems” (RWIS) provide a cost-effective and accurate solution for monitoring road and weather conditions in places where permanent weather stations are not feasible due to costs, accessibility, siting concerns, or rugged terrain.

Ph.D. student John Logan of the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department won the “Best Student Paper” Award at the 39th Allerton Symposium on Antenna Applications, held from September 22 to 24 in Monticello, Illinois. Logan’s faculty advisor is ECE Professor Marinos Vouvakis, and the title of his winning paper was “Low Cross-Polarization Single-Polarized Vivaldi Arrays.”

David Irwin, a professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, is one of three co-principal investigators in a three-year, $1-million grant from the National Science Foundation (see National Science Foundation news) to create smart energy services in conjunction with the Holyoke Gas & Electric Company (HG&E).

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