The University of Massachusetts Amherst
University of Massachusetts Amherst

Search Google Appliance


ECE Newsletter: Summer 2013

Message from Kris Hollot

Dear UMass Amherst ECE alumni and friends:

With Hurricane Sandy and the Oklahoma City tornado fresh in our minds, I invite you to read some timely ECE newsletter stories devoted to the tornado-chasing expertise of our Microwave and Remote Sensing Lab and a radar network built and deployed by our NSF Engineering Research Center CASA to help forecast flashfloods in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

While these stories reflect on ECE's teaching and research strength in radar engineering, Governor Patrick's recent announcement of $100 Million worth of funding by the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center for UMass Amherst and Western Massachusetts signals potential growth of bioengineering in our engineering college and in ECE. Stay tuned for updates.

As always, our newsletter stories highlight alums and students, and for all our fans of the ECE Senior Design Project, this year's winner was the "Real Time Concussion Analyzer," a system allowing football coaches to remotely monitor the concussive impacts a player experiences during a game.

I hope you enjoy catching up with our ECE department. Please send me a note at, and best wishes for keeping cool in this summer's heat and humidity!

Polizzi's Article Included in Top 20 Most Read
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.
Read more »

Alumna Named Woman to Watch by Mass High Tech
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 »
Read more »

UMass Team's Black Box for Humans Featured on Yahoo! News
An enterprising team of student innovators from the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department was the object of an admiring feature story on Yahoo! News ("Your Own Black Box"). 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.
Read more »

CASA Radar Installed at University of North Texas
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, among other media.
Read more »

ECE Stages First Annual ECE Showcase
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.
Read more »

ECE Researchers Get GENI Best Paper Award
Michael Zink of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department and his graduate student Cong Wang received the Best Research Paper Award at the second Global Environment for Network Innovation (GENI) Research and Educational Experiment Workshop, held from March 21 to 22 in Salt Lake City, Utah. GENI is a national research and education network for exploring future internets at scale, that is, similar in size to the current Internet. The title of the winning paper was "GENI WiMAX Performance: Evaluation and Comparison of Two Campus Testbeds." Go to Geni workshop website »
Read more »

Polizzi's FEAST Algorithm Included in Intel's Math Kernel Library
The FEAST algorithm proposed in 2009 by Eric Polizzi of the University of Massachusetts Amherst Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department – an algorithm that represents a radical departure from "textbook approaches" to solving the legendary eigenvalue problem – received a major endorsement in early February when it was integrated into the Intel® Math Kernel Library, one of the world's leading and most used mathematical libraries. Polizzi's FEAST algorithm is now featured as the Intel library's main eigenvalue solver, and it can be found under the name "MKL Extended EigenSolver."
Read more »

CASA Grant Promises to Save Lives and Property
The National Science Foundation (NSF), National Weather Service, and the City of Fort Worth have given the Engineering Research Center for Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere (CASA), centered at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, a two-year, $1.34-million grant designed to accelerate the application of CASA's revolutionary weather-tracking radar system, now being tested in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The CASA radars provide high-resolution, near-surface views of hazardous weather events such as tornadoes, thunderstorms, and flooding and allow emergency managers to broadcast faster, more accurate, more targeted storm warnings and forecasts to the public.
Read more »

Alumnus Creates Video Game Inspired by 1984
UMass Amherst alumnus Patrick Ascolese, who graduated from the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department in 2002, is currently working on République, an upcoming game for iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, PC, and Mac. It is the first full-length project for Camouflaj, the new video game company he joined in 2011. In Republique players control a network of cameras, computers, and everything else electronic to keep a woman named Hope safe from pursuers. The idea for the game came from the increased surveillance people face on a daily basis, according to Ascolese. He said it is a "what if" look if legislation such as the Stop Online Piracy Act ever leads to an Orwellian state.
Read more »

McLaughlin Speaks About Chasing Storms Across Disciplines in Boston
On February 17, David McLaughlin, a professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department and the director of the Engineering Research Center for Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere (CASA) at the College of Engineering, spoke about Chasing Storms Across Disciplines during the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston. McLaughlin gave his presentation during a symposium entitled "Dynamics of Disasters: Harnessing the Science of Networks to Save Lives," organized by Anna Nagurney, the John F. Smith Memorial Professor at the Isenberg School of Management. The symposium took place between 3:00 and 4:30 p.m. in Room 208 of the convention center.
Read more »

Training School of Alum Celebrates Grand Re-opening
On March 21, alumnus Rafael D. Guzman (B.S. '88, EE), celebrated the grand re-opening his Lawrence Training School Inc., an occupational training center operating since 1998, which just moved into a remodeled building in the Arlington Mills Plaza at 530 Broadway Street in Lawrence, Mass. Guzman, the president and CEO of RM Technologies, Inc. (RMT) of Lawrence, is also the part owner of the Lawrence Training School and its new building. RMT, acquired by Guzman in 1997, is a small specialty contractor that deals in demolition, asbestos, and other hazardous material abatement. In fact, construction crews from RMT worked nonstop on the old mill building to convert it in just 60 days into a beautiful new training facility and office space.
Read more »

UMass Storm Chasers Interviewed on Channel 40
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 on WGGB-TV 40 site »
Read more »