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ECE Newsletter: Summer 2015

Message from Kris Hollot

Hi UMass Amherst ECE alumni and friends:

It was great to see so many ECE alumni and friends at our Senior Design Project 2015 Demo Day this past April. For those who wanted to attend, but just couldn’t make it, click here for a video and images from the Daily Hampshire Gazette’s coverage of this event.

Speaking of alums visiting campus, some of my best moments as department head are in hosting alums, hearing about their careers, and showing off the department and campus. If you are ever on campus or in the region, please contact me – and, if you’d like to speak with students (and they do love to hear from alums), we can make that happen too. 

With May’s commencement activities we launched another cohort of UMass ECE Alums, graduating 68 BS (CSE/EE) degrees, 82 MSECE degrees, and seven PhDs. In all, 75 percent of the seniors either had jobs or were accepted into graduate schools at time of graduation, and a sampling of where they’ll be working (both in Massachusetts and farther away) is listed below.




Boston Children's Hospital

Draper Laboratory


General Dynamics (C4)


Hewlett Packard Servers


ISO New England

Liberty Mutual Insurance

Lockheed Martin Microsoft

Lutron Electronics


NASA (Kennedy Space Center)


Verizon Wireless


I hope you enjoy reading some of the selected news articles about the accomplishments of our department’s students, alums, and faculty members.

Best wishes for a relaxing and energizing summer!


Bardin Receives Office of Naval Research YIP Award

Joseph C. Bardin of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst is one of 36 faculty members across the country named as recipients of the Office of Naval Research 2015 Young Investigator Program (ONR YIP) award. Bardin’s proposal, entitled Superconducting Nanowire Quantum Samplers, has requested a grant of $510,000 for three years. The 36 awardees were chosen from 383 research proposals. The ONR described the honor as “a defining moment” for the 36 grant recipients. Read ONR YIP press release

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Engineers Demonstrate Wondrous Inventions

On Friday, April 24, seniors from the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department (ECE) at the University of Massachusetts Amherst presented, displayed, and demonstrated 21 clever and useful electronic inventions for the public. The ECE hosted its 25th annual Senior Design Project Day on campus, when 21 teams of seniors unveiled a high-tech floor show for the electronics of the future.

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Guzman Receives Distinguished Alumni Service Award

The University of Massachusetts Amherst Alumni Association presented Raphael Guzman (ECE ’88) with a Distinguished Alumni Service Award at the State House on April 23. The award honors alumni for outstanding and significant contributions of service to a particular community and to the university in the way of financial, volunteer, or advocacy support. Guzman’s award is part of a set of Distinguished Alumni Awards which each represent the highest honor bestowed by the UMass Amherst Alumni Association on alumni, faculty, and friends.

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Three Posters Take the Awards in ECE Ph.D. Poster Session

In late March the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department held its 2015 Ph.D. Poster Session, in which Azadeh Sheikholeslami won first place and the Special Tang Award, Prasana Ravindran took second place, and Hongtao Wang took third.

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Leonard Wins UMass Amherst Distinguished Teaching Award

Dr. William Leonard, a senior lecturer in the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department, has been chosen by the Office of the Provost to receive a 2015 University of Massachusetts Amherst Distinguished Teaching Award (DTA). The purpose of the DTA program, a feature of the UMass Amherst campus for 40 years, is to honor exemplary teaching at the highest institutional level. Both faculty and graduate students, nominated by students or alumni, are eligible for this highly competitive award.

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Tobiason and Xia Chosen for COE Faculty Awards

The College of Engineering has chosen Professor John Tobiason of the Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) Department as the 2015 Outstanding Senior Faculty Award winner and Assistant Professor Qiangfei Xia of the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department as the recipient of the Barbara H. and Joseph I. Goldstein Outstanding Junior Faculty Award. The two awards will be presented at the College of Engineering Senior Recognition Celebration for the Class of 2015 on Saturday, May 9, beginning at 9:00 a.m. in the UMass Amherst Recreation Center on campus.

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Tessier Chosen as Chancellor’s Leadership Fellow

Professor Russell Tessier of the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department has been selected as a Chancellor’s Leadership Fellow for the 2015-16 academic year. The UMass Amherst Fellows program provides a 50-percent course release for the 2015-16 academic year, as well as one month of summer salary. The ECE department will receive compensation for the teaching release at the rate of $7,000 in each of the two semesters of the fellowship. Professor Tessier will still be expected to devote 50 percent of his time during the academic year to his program activities.

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ESPN Talk on Women in Technology Careers

Maura Maloney (University of Massachusetts Amherst, B.S., Electrical Engineering, 1985), the Principal Technology Business Operations Analyst at ESPN, visited campus on February 26th along with four of her colleagues from ESPN to give a presentation on “Women in Technology Careers” as part of the UMass Amherst Information Technology TechTalk series.

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NSF Video Pays Tribute to CASA Radar System

The National Science Foundation has produced a lively and informative video about the revolutionary radar being developed and tested by the Engineering Center for the Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere (CASA), a national organization centered in our Electrical and Computer Engineering Department. CASA Co-director Brenda Philips lucidly explains the new radar system in the NSF video. When forecasters predict the chance of approaching severe weather, the CASA radar system swings into action, conducting “smart” scans focused on geographical areas of greatest concern and giving a precise location. The CASA system also detects wind shear, hail, debris fields, and raindrop size. The Red Orbit website (“Your Universe Online”) also posted an enlightening article (see below) to accompany the NSF video. Watch the NSF Video

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DOE Chooses UMass as One of 12 Collegiate Teams to Qualify for Wind Energy Competition

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has chosen UMass Amherst as one of 12 colleges and universities to compete in the 2016 Department of Energy Collegiate Wind Competition. The interdisciplinary UMass team hails from the departments of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE), Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Landscape Architecture & Regional Planning, as well as the Isenberg School of Management. A UMass Amherst team finished third in the inaugural DOE wind competition in 2014. Visit the Collegiate Wind Competition webpage

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