Category: Faculty

Dr. Dennis Wiitanen Honored with Legacy Marker

IMG_2575denniswiitanenThe unveiling of the first Legacy Marker for Alumni Way was held in front of the EERC. The Legacy Marker serves to honor someone associated with Michigan Tech, and it was unveiled and presented as a surprise to the Dennis O. Wiitanen, Professor Emeritus, Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Dennis O. Wiitanen received the B.S. and M.S. degrees from Michigan Tech in 1963 and 1967 respectively, and the Ph.D. degree from the University of Missouri-Rolla in 1970, all in electrical engineering.

In 1970, he joined the electrical and computer engineering department at Michigan Tech, where his major research interests were in the areas of insulating materials and power systems. Dr. Wiitanen taught courses in both electric machines and power systems for over forty years. He is currently a Professor Emeritus.

Dr. Wiitanen is a member of the IEEE’s Power Engineering Society, Education Society, Industry Applications Society, and Dielectrics and Electrical Insulation Society, serving on several committees and subcommittees, and is a Registered Professional Engineer in the State of Michigan.

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Dennis Wiitanen Legacy Monument
Dennis Wiitanen Legacy Monument

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Bruce Mork Named Wiitanen Professor of Electric Power Systems

Bruce Mork, a professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, has been named the Dennis Wiitanen Professor of Electric Power Systems.

The Wiitanen Professorship was established to honor longtime ECE faculty member Dennis Wiitanen, who retired in May 2012. Unlike most professorships, which are named for a single donor, the Wiitanen Professorship is supported by an endowment underwritten by a variety of industry, foundation, and alumni sources, including ITC Holdings, Consumers Energy Foundation, DTE Energy Foundation and electrical engineering alumnus David Brule.

Mork was named to the position after a yearlong selection process. He received high praise from leaders in the power industry and was unanimously supported by the major sponsors of the professorship.

“Bruce is the natural choice for the Wiitanen Professorship,” said Dan Fuhrmann, chair of electrical and computer engineering. “He has been a leader in teaching, research and curriculum development in the power and energy area within the ECE department and across campus for many years. He is a leading expert in power system protection, an area of critical need in the utility power industry as our infrastructure transitions to the smart grid. Plus, he was the driving force behind our online courses in power and energy, a model for the rest of the department and indeed the rest of the University.”

Dennis Wiitanen was also gratified by Mork’s appointment.

“I have had the pleasure of watching Bruce grow from a newly minted PhD assistant professor at Michigan Tech to an internationally recognized leader in the power field,” he said. “I am very pleased that he will be the first recipient of the professorship carrying my name.”

Bruce Mork was honored in his acceptance.

“It’s been a privilege to work with Dennis over the last 21 years of his outstanding 42 year career at Michigan Tech. He’s been an exemplary senior colleague and role model for us all. It’s an honor for me to be the first recipient of this prestigious Professorship. The resources provided will support ongoing developments in education and research which strategically address technology and work force needs of the Electric Power sector. We owe a lot to Dennis and this will greatly help us to maintain and advance our strong program.”

The professorship has a five-year renewable term and carries with it an annual discretionary stipend to support research equipment, graduate students and other expenses to build and maintain an active research program in the power area.

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Zhuo Feng receives DAC Best Paper Award

ECE assistant professor Zhuo Feng received Best Paper Award at the 2013 Design Automation Conference (DAC), held this week in Austin, Texas, for his paper titled “Scalable vectorless power grid current integrity verification”. 

The DAC is a major annual conference in the electronics industry, this year with 747 papers. Prof. Feng’s paper was the sole winner, topping a slate of 8 nominated papers from academic and research institutions across North America and Europe.

For more information or a copy of the paper see http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=2488840

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The Circuit – Newsletter 2011-2012

ECE 2011-2012 newsletter The Circuit is now available. The publication highlights recent activities in the department including: 

  • ECE Education in Tune with Industry – electrical and computer engineers in demand at Fall 2011 Career Fair 
  • The Changing Face of Engineering – Women in ECE
  • Establishment of the Dennis Wiitanen Professorship in Electric Energy Systems – “Doc” Wiitanen to be honored at May 4 retirement celebration
  • Paul and Susan Williams Center for Computer Systems Research Dedicated
  • Student’s Winning Satellite to be Launched into Orbit
  • Senior Design: A Renaissance Approach

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Dennis “Doc” Wiitanen Announces Retirement

After 42 years of distinguished and dedicated service to the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Michigan Tech, Professor Dennis O. Wiitanen announces his retirement, to be honored May 4, 2012. Prof. Wiitanen is a nationally recognized leader in electric power and energy systems. His most significant impact and his lasting legacy, though, is in undergraduate education. Thousands of Michigan Tech students have completed his classes in power system design and analysis, and have gone on to take their place in the workforce.

Dennis was, and continues to be, a tireless team member and advocate for the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. No one knows more about the inner workings of the Department. He has served as the Associate Chair for the Department for twenty-five years and for five different chairs. For many of those years he was Chair of the Undergraduate Programs Committee, guiding the evolution of our educational programs to keep pace with ever-changing technology and workforce needs.

We invite you to participate in a very special initiative being put forward by the ECE Department, an initiative to honor Dennis Wiitanen on the occasion of his retirement. In recognition of everything that “Doc” has done, the Department is establishing the Dennis Wiitanen Professorship in Electric Power Systems. The funding to make this professorship a reality is 70% in place, but we need your help to finish the job. Our goal is to raise $300,000 to bring the total endowment to $1 million. Endowments are private gifts invested to produce income annually for use as faculty support, scholarships, or other needs. In this case, the income would be used to support the Wiitanen Professorship holder and to provide funds for supporting ECE students, purchasing equipment, and funding travel. Your gift can make it happen.

This will be a unique professorship on the Michigan Tech campus, in that it will be named in honor of one of our own rather than a single external donor. Several years ago, a fund was established for a professorship in electric power systems; gifts were solicited from several industry partners, with the primary contributors being Detroit Edison, Consumers Energy, Northern States Energy (now Xcel Energy), Upper Peninsula Power, and Wisconsin Public Service. The account has sat dormant, accumulating investment income, but the time has come to put the money to its intended use. Because the funding sources are so diverse, the ECE Department decided that the best title to put on the position is the name of the one person with a common connection to all of these entities, someone who has had a bigger role in the education of power engineers than anyone else at Michigan Tech: Dennis Wiitanen. For more information or to make a gift or pledge.

It is our goal to have everything in place by the time of Prof. Wiitanen’s retirement dinner, which will take place on the Michigan Tech campus on Friday, May 4, 2012. Please join us in celebrating the many accomplishments and contributions of Dennis O. Wiitanen to the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Michigan Tech University. See Wiitanen Celebration for event details and to purchase tickets.

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The Circuit – fall 2010 newsletter

The ECE fall 2010 newsletter, The Circuit is now available. The publication highlights recent activities in the department including:

> Strategic Faculty Hiring Initiatives (SFHI):  Next-Generation Energy Systems

> $3 Million Grant received from the US Department of Energy to Develop Electric Vehicles Education Programs

> ECE Students Bring Laptops to Ghana

> Tech’s Online Power Engineering Program Marks 10th Anniversary

> Dave House:  Why Research is Key to the Future of Tech and to ECE

and more . . . check it out!

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Alumni Gifts Fund New Center for Computer Systems Research

Center for Computer Systems Research
Center for Computer Systems Research

Computer engineering and computer science are both key to advancing knowledge of computing. The engineers focus on design and integrating software and hardware, while the scientists concentrate on analysis and the fundamental nature of computing.

Now, with the enthusiastic support of the Department of Computer Science, the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering is creating a space where Michigan Tech’s computer engineers and scientists can put their heads together.

The new Center for Computer Systems Research will occupy the entire fifth floor of the Electrical Energy Resources Center (EERC). The Seaman Mineral Museum, a longtime tenant of the area, will be moving to a new building in the Advanced Technology Development Complex. Construction on the center is slated to begin December 1, with the opening expected in April 2011.

“We’re excited about working with the computer science department on this,” said Dan Fuhrmann, chair of electrical and computer engineering. “We’ll be looking at experimental architectures, new applications, and new ways of doing computing.”

Steven Carr, interim chair of computer science, is equally enthusiastic. “It’s a really neat opportunity for Computer Science and Computer Engineering to finally collaborate in a much more defined way,” he said. “We have always worked well together, and there are faculty in both departments who have the potential to cooperate closely on large projects. The center will play a big role in making that happen.”

The half-million-dollar renovation is funded in part by two $150,000 gifts, one from the James Fugere Foundation and the other from the Dave House Family Foundation. The remaining $200,000 is being underwritten by numerous smaller donations given to the department over the last several years.

“The fact that this is made possible completely by alumni donations is phenomenal,” said Fuhrmann.

Brainstorming for the new center began over a year ago, when Michigan Tech launched a strategic initiative to hire faculty in the area of computational discovery and innovation. Through the initiative, the department has gained two new computer engineering faculty, Zhuo Feng and Saeid Nooshabadi.

“We started thinking about what we could do to reinforce the hiring initiative and our relationship with the computer science department,” Fuhrmann said. In addition, the computer engineering program was growing; with new master’s and PhD degrees, it needed more space.

The Center for Computer Systems Research addresses all three issues. The new faculty are expected to be heavily engaged; Nooshabadi in particular will play a leadership role, since his research crosses the disciplines of electrical engineering and computer science. Preliminary plans include offices that can be used by faculty from both departments, informal meeting rooms, laboratory space, a conference room, space for graduate students, a seminar room, and even a kitchen. A department committee chaired by Senior Lecturer Glen Archer provided guidance to OHM Engineering Services in Hancock, which drew up the plans.

The center represents a huge step forward for the department, and it wouldn’t be happening without support from alumni, Fuhrmann stressed. “I’d like to thank all of you who have contributed to the department over the years,” he said. “Your generosity has made this possible. We literally couldn’t have done it without you.”

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Researchers Design More Reliable Invisibility Cloak

glasscloak
The design of the invisibility cloak consists of a spoke-like configuration of glass resonators, which form a magnetic resonance that is used to obtain the desired parameters of the medium. The illustration shows the glass cloak designed to hide a metal cylinder of 15 micrometers in diameter. Image credit: Semouchkina, et al.

In the study, Elena Semouchkina from Michigan Technological University and Pennsylvania State University and her coauthors designed an invisibility cloak made of glass for the infrared range. Currently, most metamaterial cloak designs require that the metamaterial response be homogeneous. However, the new design relies on simulations of a true multi-element cloak structure and takes into account the inhomogeneity of a real metamaterial response.

“This is one of the first designs of an optical cloak, in particular, of a cylindrical shell,” Semouchkina told PhysOrg.com. “This is a non-metallic low-loss all-dielectric cloak. … In contrast to the previous designs, the design of our cloak has been developed at a careful control of interactions between resonators, since a true multi-resonator structure has been simulated. It makes the design essentially more reliable.”

The structure of the proposed cloak consists of identical nanosized chalcogenide glass resonators arranged in a concentric pattern. In simulations, the researchers found that glass resonators in the shape of a cylinder with a diameter of 300 nm and a height of 150 nm provided the best results for the light wavelength of 1 micron.

“The design employs identical resonators in all layers of the cloak, which, from the point of view of fabrication tolerance, presents a tremendous advantage versus fabricating nano-sized elements of different prescribed dimensions,” Semouchkina said.

The spoke-like configuration of the resonators forms radial magnetic moments despite different incidence angles of incoming light. As Semouchkina explained, the magnetic resonance response creates the desired effective parameters of the medium. [Read more at Physorg.com]

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