Author: Sue Hill

Sue Hill is the Digital Content Manager for the College of Engineering.

Fridays with Fuhrmann: Postcard from Colorado

Fuhrmann at Steamboat Resort

Even department chairs get to take a break every once in a while. Here is a photo taken on Thursday, March 8, on the slopes of Steamboat ski resort in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. This is my second time at this resort – the first time was last year – and I just love it.

One of the things in my personal life that I enjoy most about moving to Houghton some ten years ago is that it has rekindled in me an appreciation for outdoor winter sports. I wouldn’t be able to do what I am doing at Steamboat if it weren’t for our little ski hill in Houghton, Mont Ripley, which is owned and run by Michigan Tech. It is only 450 feet vertical and has two chair lifts and a T-bar, but the lake effect snow we get is every bit as good as what you will find in the big resorts out west. What it lacks in size it makes up for in convenience. I can go over on the weekends or after work and practice my technique (which still needs a lot of work) or just have fun. I started going my second year at Tech, first with rental equipment, then buying my own inexpensive gear at a ski swap, and later getting even better equipment as the years went by and it became obvious to my family how much I was enjoying it. This year I even took lessons from ski instructor Dan Dalquist, who is terrific and helped me a lot. So, kudos to Nick Sirdenis and his whole crew over at Mont Ripley: you do a great job and help make Michigan Tech the unique place that it is. Keep up the good work!

– Dan

Daniel R. Fuhrmann
Dave House Professor and Chair
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Michigan Technological University

Pearce Gives Invited Talk on Cutting Lab Costs

Joshua Pearce
Joshua Pearce

Joshua Pearce (MSE/ECE) gave an invited talk on “How to Eviscerate Lab Costs: Advances in Materials, Electronics and 3-D Printing for Scientific Equipment” for the Industrial Engineering program at the University of Trento, Trento Italy, last Wednesday, (Feb. 21, 2018).

Notables

Red Hat, a $2.9 billion per year open-source software company, honored Joshua Pearce (MSE/ECE) as one of eight instructors globally who champion open source education. Read more here.

Lisa Hitch Goes Above and Beyond

Lisa Hitch
Lisa Hitch

ECE Business Manager and Technical Communications Specialist Lisa Hitch was recognized at the 2017 Making a Difference Awards reception on January 10, 2018.

“During our recent ABET visit, our department chair was suddenly called away from our department at a critical moment in the evaluation process. Without hesitation, Lisa organized the details of the department meetings between our ABET visitors and more than 50 students, staff, and faculty in a matter of hours. As a result of her intervention, the visit proceeded without interruption. When our chair returned, he found a department visit so smoothly tuned and ready that it went forward flawlessly. Without her initiative the meetings would have been hopelessly uncoordinated and left a terrible impression on our visitors. She saved the day for all of us.”

A total of 47 Michigan Tech staff members were nominated for 2017 Making a Difference Awards. Hitch received an award in the “Above and Beyond” category. The awards are organized by Michigan Tech Staff Council.

Congratulations to Lisa!

NSF CAREER Award for Sumit Paudyal

Sumit Paudyal
Sumit Paudyal

Sumit Paudyal (ECE) is the principal investigator on a project that has received $500,000 from the National Science Foundation. The project is entitled “CAREER: Operation of Distribution Grids in the Context of High-Penetration Distributed Energy Resources and Flexible Loads.”

This is a five-year project.

Abstract

The number of distributed energy resources (DERs) and flexible loads such as photovoltaic (PV) panels, electric vehicles (EVs), and energy storage systems (ESSs) are rapidly growing at the consumer end. These small distributed devices connect to low voltage power distribution grids via power electronic interfaces that can support bi-directional power flows. Despite being small in size, if aggregated, these devices a provide significant portion of the energy and ancillary services (e.g., reactive power support, frequency regulation, load following) necessary for reliable and secure operation of electric power grids. In future distribution grids, with numerous such small active devices, real-time control and aggregation will entail computational challenges. The computational challenges further increase when the aggregation requires coordination with legacy grid control actions which involve integer decision variables, such as load tap changers, capacitor banks, and network switches. This CAREER project concentrates around solving operational and computational issues for distribution grids with large penetration of DERs and flexible loads.

Read more at the National Science Foundation.

Havens and Pinar Publish and Present on Fuzzy Systems

Tim Havens (ECE/CS) and Tony Pinar (ECE) published “Measures of the Shapley Index for Learning Lower Complexity Fuzzy Integrals” in Granular Computing and “Efficient Multiple Kernel Classification Using Feature and Decision Level Fusion” in IEEE Transactions on Fuzzy Systems, December 2017.

https://doi.org/10.1007/s41066-017-0045-6

Havens presented a paper co-authored by Pinar entitled “Generating Random Fuzzy (Capacity) Measures for Data Fusion Simulations” at the IEEE Symposium Series on Computational Intelligence (IEEE SSCI 2017) in Honolulu, HI, from Nov. 27 to Dec 1, 2017.

Timothy Havens
Timothy Havens
Tony Pinar
Tony Pinar

Glen Archer Demonstrates Excellence in Large Class Teaching

Glen Archer
Glen Archer

For many students and instructors, the upcoming weeks are the most motivationally challenging of the academic year. Days are getting shorter, colder and darker with six solid weeks of class behind us and four more weeks ahead before a break.

But Michigan Tech’s terrific faculty routinely provide me with inspiration to keep me focused. I want to share a story I play back in my head on tougher days in hopes that it will inspire you too.

When I first became the CTL director, Glen Archer, principal lecturer and associate chair in Electrical and Computer Engineering, used to do me the favor of speaking near the end of Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) orientation each fall. Glen would remind the GTAs that they were going to be the “maximum in the room.”

What he meant was that any students would almost certainly reflect and rise only to the level of enthusiasm and motivation set by their instructor. Glen was challenging them to set that bar high.

Glen’s advice helps me focus on bringing my best self into the classroom, even on days when I’m distracted by non-teaching or personal business, teaching material I don’t find that interesting myself, or just plain tired. It helps me see that if I’m not leading the way with interest and enthusiasm, it’s pretty hard to expect that my students will follow.

On Nov. 30, Glen will be recognized with the final 2017 CTL Teaching Award for Excellence in Large Class Teaching.  He’ll share other stories as part of this event; I encourage you to mark your calendar now so that you can attend and hear more words of wisdom from this terrific teacher.

If you’d like to talk more about ways to keep yourself and students motivated, stop into the William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning.

From Terrific Teaching at Tech, by Mike Meyer, William G. Jackson CTL.

Collaborative NSF Research Funding for Saeid Nooshabadi

Saeid Nooshabadi
Saeid Nooshabadi

Saeid Nooshabadi (ECE/ICC) is the principal investigator on a project that has received $349,988 from the National Science Foundation for the project, “Collaborative Research: ACI-CDS&E: Highly Parallel Algorithms and Architectures for Convex Optimization for Realtime Embedded Systems (CORES).” This is a three-year project.

By Sponsored Programs.

Abstract

Embedded processors are ubiquitous, from toasters and microwave ovens, to automobiles, planes, drones and robots and are typically very small processors that are compute and memory constrained. Real-time embedded systems have the additional requirement of completing tasks within a certain time period to accurately and safely control appliances and devices like automobiles, planes, robots, etc. Convex optimization has emerged as an important mathematical tool for automatic control and robotics and other areas of science and engineering disciplines including machine learning and statistical information processing. In many fields, convex optimization is used by the human designers as optimization tool where it is nearly always constrained to problems solved in a few hours, minutes or seconds. Highly Parallel Algorithms and Architectures for Convex Optimization for Realtime Embedded Systems (CORES) project takes advantage of the recent advances in embedded hardware and optimization techniques to explore opportunities for real-time convex optimization on the low-cost embedded systems in these disciplines in milli- and micro-seconds.

Read more at the National Science Foundation.

NSF Funding on Cyber Risk Management for Power Grids

Chee-Wooi Ten
Chee-Wooi Ten

Chee-Wooi Ten (ECE) is the lead principal investigator on a project that has received a $348,866 research and development grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). Yeonwoo Rho (Math/ICC) is the Co-PI on the project “CPS:Medium: Collaborative Research: An Actuarial Framework of Cyber Risk Management for Power Grids.” This is a three-year project.

There are two investigators from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

The total for both universities is $700,975.

Abstract

As evidenced by the recent cyberattacks against Ukrainian power grids, attack strategies have advanced and new malware agents will continue to emerge. The current measures to audit the critical cyber assets of the electric power infrastructure do not provide a quantitative guidance that can be used to address security protection improvement. Investing in cybersecurity protection is often limited to compliance enforcement based on reliability standards. Auditors and investors must understand the implications of hypothetical worst case scenarios due to cyberattacks and how they could affect the power grids. This project aims to establish an actuarial framework for strategizing technological improvements of countermeasures against emerging cyberattacks on wide-area power networks.

Read more at the National Science Foundation.

NSF Funding for Semouchkina on Transformation Optics

Elena Semouchkina
Elena Semouchkina

Elena Semouchkina (ECE/ICC), is the principal investigator on a project that has received a $337,217 research and development grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The project is “Developing Anisotropic Media for Transformation Optics by Using Dielectric Photonic Crystals.” This is a three-year project.

Abstract

Transformation optics (TO) is based on coordinate transformations, which require proper spatial dispersions of the media parameters. Such media force electromagnetic (EM) waves, moving in the original coordinate system, to behave as if they propagate in a transformed coordinate system. Thus TO introduces a new powerful technique for designing advanced EM devices with superior functionalities. Coordinate transformations can be derived for compressing, expanding, bending, or twisting space, enabling designs of invisibility cloaks, field concentrators, perfect lenses, beam shifters, etc., that may bring advances to various areas of human life. Realization of these devices depends on the possibility of creating media with prescribed EM properties, in particular, directional refractive indices to provide wave propagation with superluminal phase velocities and high refractive indices in the normal direction to cause wave movement along curvilinear paths. Originally, artificial metamaterials (MMs) composed of tiny metallic resonators were chosen for building transformation media. However, a number of serious challenges were encountered, such as extremely narrow frequency band of operation and the high losses in metal elements. The proposed approach is to use dielectric photonic crystals to overcome these major limitations of MM media. This project will allow graduate and undergraduate students, especially women in engineering, to participate in theoretical and experimental EM research. Outreach activities include lectures and hands-on projects in several youth programs to K-12 students.

Read more at the National Science Foundation.

Former UPPCO CEO, Distinguished Tech Almunus, Elio Argentati Dies

Elio Argentati
Elio Argentati

Funeral services were held over the weekend for the former CEO of the Upper Peninsula Power Company and a distinguished Michigan Tech Alumnus, Elio Argentati.

Argentati, of Iron River, passed away Tuesday (Aug. 22, 2017) at Aspirus Hospital in Iron River, he was 89.

According to his obituary on the Jacobs Funeral Home website, Argentati was a 1950 graduate of the Michigan College of Mining and Technology (now Michigan Technological University) with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering.

He joined the Upper Peninsula Power Company in 1960 as an applications engineer and rose up through the ranks eventually becoming president, chairman of the board and CEO in the corporate office in Houghton, retiring in 1994.

He was active in the Michigan Tech Alumni Association and a member of the Golden M Club. In 2012 he was awarded the Board of Control Silver Medal.

Funeral services were held Saturday at St. Agnes Catholic Church in Iron River, with interment in the Resthaven Cemetery in Iron River.