News

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.

A paper authored by, among others, three researchers in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department has been attracting international attention in the media. ECE Ph.D. student Georg T. Becker, Adjunct Professor Christof Paar, and Professor Wayne Burleson were among the authors of a paper entitled “Stealthy Dopant-Level Hardware Trojans,” presented in August at the Cryptographic Hardware and Embedded Systems 2013 (CHES 2013) workshop in Santa Barbara, California. “CHES 13 is the largest conference in applied crypto with more than 400 participants,” explains Paar in summarizing his paper. “We presented a way of building hidden hardware Trojans.” So far the paper has been covered in Slashdot (slashdothardware-trojans), Ars Technica (arstechnica.cpus/), Computerworld (computerworld.trojans), and Germany’s Der Spiegel (spiegel.html).

Dr. Vishal Misra, former Ph.D. student of Professor Weibo Gong of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, is the founder, CTO, and self-proclaimed “Chief Cheerleader” of Infinio Systems, which won the award for “2013 Start-up to Watch” on September 12 at the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Awards (MTLA) Gala. This award recognizes a new and innovative technology company (two years or younger) that demonstrates the potential for significant growth and positive change to its market or industry. The award was determined by the tech community through a public online voting process. MTLA is the Commonwealth’s most prestigious tech awards program, dubbed the “Academy Awards” of tech, attended by more than 700 company executives.

Four former researchers from the UMass Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department recently received a special Group Achievement Award from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) “for engineering team excellence and dedication to developing the advanced weather radar HIWRAP.” HIWRAP stands for High-altitude Imaging Wind and Rain Airborne Profiler. ECE Professor Emeritus Dan Schaubert, his former doctoral student Justin Creticos (now at MITRE), Lihua Li (former Ph.D. student of Robert McIntosh now at NASA), and former research faculty member Jim Carswell were all on the HIWRAP Radar Team of 18 scientists. The HIWRAP system was developed for use on NASA’s Global Hawk drone aircraft, used during hurricane season to gain many scientific insights into tropical storms.

On Thursday, September 19, Jon Roskill, Microsoft vice president of the Worldwide Partners Group and a 1985 alumnus of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, gave a special alumni talk for students on “Leadership, Innovation, and Prima Donnas.” The subtitle was “What UMass Can’t Prepare You for in the Real World.” The talk took place from 2:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. in the Computer Science Building, room 150/151. During his lecture, the occasionally irreverent Roskill gave his take on the highs, lows, and surprises ahead for graduates in this new era. Whether you are preparing to climb the corporate ladder, backpack around the world, or start your own company, Jon’s approach to achieving a successful and balanced career is worth hearing.

Graduate student Tariq Ahmad of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, whose advisor is ECE Professor Maciej J. Ciesielski (pictured), received a full scholarship to attend a week-long NetFPGA summer camp/workshop, July 29 to August 2, organized by the NetFPGA Group at Stanford University. During the workshop, the project Ahmad created there, entitled "Architectural Exploration of AES-128 in NetFPGA," was awarded first place on Friday August 2nd at a local reception. The work will be added to NetFPGA Open Source project repository for others to work and enhance.

Three local K-12 teachers have participated this summer in the Research Experience for Teachers (RET) while working with the Engineering Research Center for Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere (CASA) in mutually beneficial projects. In general, the RET program is designed as an opportunity for K-12 teachers to work side by side with CASA faculty and graduate students contributing significantly to a research project while creating material to benefit their classrooms. The three K-12 teachers were Tania Cezar (Fuller Middle School, Framingham), Nick Harrison (Amherst Regional Middle School), and Jason Donovan (SABIS charter school, Springfield). CASA provided stipends for all three of the teachers so they could afford to spend their summer doing research at UMass Amherst.