The College of Engineering welcomes five new faculty members for the fall semester of 2013: Boris Lau and Gouping (Gregg) Zhang, who will join the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department; Christos Dimitrakopoulos, joining the Chemical Engineering Department; Zlatan Aksamija, who will be a member of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department; and Stephen Nonnenmann, in the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department. The college is very fortunate to employ these new faculty members with such diverse backgrounds, outstanding academic performance, and cutting-edge research experience.

In 2001, electrical enginineering alumnus James M. Smith, who was at that time the CEO of the EDO Corporation, established the James M. Smith ’67 Scholarship Fund at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Today, the fund, established to support excellent engineering students in need of financial assistance, has helped 206 Smith Scholars earn their degrees from the College of Engineering. In addition, Smith has sponsored numerous summer research projects for undergraduates seeking enrichment beyond the academic year. In recognition of this generous support of students at UMass Amherst, his prominent business career, and his contributions to national defense, the university presented James Smith with an honorary degree in 2007. 

Graduate student Krzysztof A. Orzel of the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department and the Microwave Remote Sensing Laboratory (MIRSL) was interviewed on WGGB-TV 40 about the dangers faced by those who study tornadoes and other severe weather. Orzel was on teams from MIRSL in 2009 and 2010 that tracked tornadoes throughout the Great Plains. “I wouldn’t call it scary,” Orzel told Channel 40, “but you really have to stay on the safe side, and it’s easy to follow the excitement and cross the line.He also said scientists in the field always have to weigh the danger of being close to tornadoes and the chance to gather invaluable information. “Everybody is cognitive of the risk, and we make an extra effort to be safe,” said ECE Professor Stephen Frasier, the director of MIRSL. See TV clip: WGGB-TV 40.

The Journal of Chemical Physics has identified an article written by Eric Polizzi and his graduate student Brendan Gavin of our Electrical and Computer Engineering Department on the list of its “Top 20 Most Read in May 2013.” Gavin is the first author of the manuscript, entitled "Non-linear eigensolver-based alternative to traditional SCF methods." As Marsha I. Lester, the editor of The Journal of Chemical Physics, wrote to Polizzi, “This is an impressive accomplishment with which you must be very pleased. The Journal of Chemical Physics ranks number one in total citations by the ISI with an impact factor of 3.33 in the category of Atomic, Molecular and Chemical Physics.” A link to Polizzi’s manuscript is featured on The Journal of Chemical Physics website at: downloaded

Alumna Leslie Jelalian, VP of Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance at BAE Systems, has been named by Mass High Tech as one of its 20 “Women to Watch” in 2013. Jelalian is a 1988 graduate of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department. Now in its 10th year, the annual Women to Watch program recognizes women in tech and life sciences who are judged to be leaders in their field and shaping the future of their industries for years to come. According to Mass High Tech, “Leslie Jelalian has become part of BAE’s DNA. The vice president of Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance at one of the largest defense companies in the nation has been with the company since college. In fact, it is where she landed her first job.” Read Mass High Tech article on Jelalian: jelalian.html

An enterprising team of student innovators from the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department was the object of an admiring feature story on Yahoo! News (black-box-html). Though the UMass team did not win any prizes for its Personal Black Box as one of 30 finalists in the 2013 Cornell Cup competition during the first weekend in May, Yahoo! News judged that “The Amherst black box for humans was perhaps the most intriguing idea on display.” The team—comprised of Brett Kaplan, Jack Vorwald, Mike Burns, and Ryan Holmes, with assistance from advisors Professor David Irwin and Professor Tilman Wolf—presented its black box prototype at the annual competition hosted by Cornell University that challenges engineering students to create new technologies of their choosing using embedded Intel chips.

A weather-radar unit developed by the Engineering Center for Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere (CASA), a consortium based at UMass Amherst, has been installed at the University of North Texas in Denton. According to CASA, the radar installation at the Discovery Park campus of the University of North Texas is part of a multi-sensor network, called the CASA DFW Urban Demonstration Network or CASA WX, that will help local emergency managers, National Weather Service forecasters, and weather-sensitive industries save lives, as well as reduce injuries and the economic costs of tornadoes, flash floods, hail, and high-wind events. The installation was covered by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, NBC TV, and Fox TV foxdfw/casa-radar, among other media.

The College of Engineering has chosen three highly accomplished academics to receive 2013 Outstanding Faculty Awards, which were distributed at the Senior Recognition Celebration for the Class of 2013, held on May 11. Dr. Lixin Gao of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department was the recipient of the Outstanding Senior Faculty Award, and Dr. Paul Dauenhauer of the Chemical Engineering Department and Dr. Casey Brown of the Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) Department each accepted the Barbara H. and Joseph I. Goldstein Outstanding Junior Faculty Award. Dr. Michael Knodler of the CEE department was previously selected to receive the College Outstanding Teaching Award, which was also handed out at the Senior Recognition Celebration.

On April 20, the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department at UMass Amherst held its first ECE Showcase, a celebration of the undergrads who are designing and building the products of the future. The ECE Showcase was two fabulous technical events under one roof. The Senior Design Project Expo featured 13 teams of ECE students demonstrating their creative, useful, and socially conscious electronic inventions, created as the capstone projects of their ECE education. Then the 4th biannual Circuits and Code event featured the first, second, and third year ECE students demonstrating the results of their independent design projects.

On Friday, April 19, the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department (ECE) at the University of Massachusetts Amherst hosted its 23rd annual Senior Design Project Day on campus, when 13 teams of ECE students unveiled their creative, useful, and socially conscious electronic inventions. The event was a high-tech floor show for the electronics of the future. This year’s senior design projects included electronic devices for the fast location of avalanche victims, teaching the guitar quickly, helping sports trainers diagnose concussions, and automating parking payments from a wireless platform. For full descriptions of all the projects, go to Senior Design Project.