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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).

Professor Zlatan Aksamija of our Electrical and Computer Engineering Department is a co-principal investigator for a multi-disciplinary team of researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), MIT, and UMass Amherst that has received a National Science Foundation (NSF) $1,999,966 grant to study the heterostructures of 2D materials and their thermal properties.

The news website of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has posted an article about the nanoscale memristive radiofrequency switches developed by two of DARPA’s Young Faculty Award (YFA) recipients, Qiangfei Xia and Joseph Bardin, both assistant professors from our Electrical and Computer Engineering Department. The DARPA story is entitled “New Nanoscale Programmable Switches Promise Faster, More Versatile Chip-scale Devices.”

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