Category: Graduate Students

Soft Community Detection

Sakineh “Audrey” Yazdanparast (ECE), Timothy C. Havens (CC), and Mohsen Jamalabdollahi have authored “Soft Overlapping Community Detection in Large-Scale Networks via Fast Fuzzy Modularity Maximization,” which is available under the “Early Access” area on IEEE Xplore.


Soft overlapping clustering is one of the notable problems of community detection. Extensive research has been conducted to develop efficient methods for non-overlapping and crisp-overlapping community detection in large-scale networks. In this paper, Fast Fuzzy Modularity Maximization (FFMM) for soft overlapping community detection is proposed. FFMM exploits novel iterative equations to calculate the modularity gain associated with changing the fuzzy membership values of network vertices. The simplicity of the proposed scheme enables efficient modifications, reducing computational complexity to a linear function of the network size and the number of communities.


S. Yazdanparast, T. C. Havens and M. Jamalabdollahi, “Soft Overlapping Community Detection in Large-Scale Networks via Fast Fuzzy Modularity Maximization,” in IEEE Transactions on Fuzzy Systems.

DOI: 10.1109/TFUZZ.2020.2980502

Kunle Olutomilayo Leads Outreach on True African Story

Kunle Olutomilayo
Kunle Olutomilayo

On May 15, 2019, eight students from the African Students Organization (ASO) chapter of Michigan Tech went to Dollar Bay High School to share a perspective of African history and culture that is often misrepresented or ignored by Western media.

Meeting a class of middle and high school students, Kunle Olutomilayo (PhD student, ECE), president of ASO, opened the floor with introductory remarks. Highlighting the historical significance of Africa to human existence. ASO’s interaction with the Dollar Bay School involved an exposition of West African naming practices, a telling of Asante folklore, a video showing different places in all 54 African countries, and a lesson on some facts about the African continent that are rarely pointed out.

Tolu Odebunmi (PhD student, Humanities) explained how the pronunciation of names worked in Yoruba, one of several languages in Nigeria. By referring to the tonal nature of Yoruba pronunciation, Tolu explained how names were significant in most African cultures. Of particular interest was the meanings attached to names and how the circumstances surrounding the birth of a child could dictate the name that was given to a child. For example, some ethnic groups in Ghana name their children based on the day of the week that a child is born.

While the video served as a means to retell the African story, the lesson led by Alfred Owusu-Ansah (PhD student, Humanities) highlighted rarely mentioned issues; Alfred pointed out how the world’s oldest university was established in 859 C.E. in Morocco by a woman. He also pointed out other firsts, like the first successful heart transplant was achieved in South Africa. In encouraging the students to explore the rich diversity of Africa, he suggested that they could read Nobel Laureates like Wole Soyinka of Nigeria or Nadine Gordimer of South Africa; or follow great scientists like Sameera Moussa (a renowned nuclear scientist) of Egypt, and Philip Emeagwali of Nigeria, who built the fastest computer of the time in 1989.

After the lesson students were invited to ask questions. This led to what was perhaps the climax of the day when a very bright student asked: “We hear that Africans are corrupt, how true is that?” Alfred pointed out that corruption does exist at different levels in the different countries in Africa; the same way that corruption exists at different levels in all countries in the world. Alfred highlighted the importance of checks and balances in any system of governance that seeks to minimize corrupt practices, which is as true for Africa as it is for North America. This led to a conversation on the cultural differences between African countries and the United States of America. It was clear that both Africans and Americans had a lot of respect for each other and were eager to learn new things. Ending the interaction with a song, the president of ASO sees this interaction as one of many that can help both Africans and the people of the great Upper Peninsula understand each other better.

by Bello Adesoji | African Student Organization.

Chaofeng Wang is the 2018 Matt Wolfe Award Recipient

Chaofeng Wang
Chaofeng Wang

Graduate students in Electrical and Computer Engineering were recognized for their outstanding achievements in a banquet held earlier this month.

Chaofeng Wang was awarded the 2018 Matt Wolfe Award for his remarkable research achievement as a graduate research assistant. His research included the development of intelligent and secure underwater acoustic communication networks and machine learning techniques. The Matt Wolfe Award is awarded each year to an outstanding research assistant and was established in memory of Matt Wolfe by his family. Wolfe was a 1992 BSEE graduate and MSEE candidate. Wang was nominated by his advisor, Zhaohui Wang (ECE).

Mehdi Malekrah is the 2018 Jonathan Bara Outstanding Teaching Assistant

Mehdi Malekrah
Mehdi Malekrah

Graduate students in Electrical and Computer Engineering were recognized for their outstanding achievements in a banquet held earlier this month.

Mehdi Malekrah received the 2018 Jonathan Bara Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award in recognition of dedication to his lab preparation, engaged redevelopment and improvement of the exercises for several of the laboratories and his engagement with students in their preparation and activities in the lab sections. The Jonathan Bara Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award is awarded annually and was established in memory of Jonathan Bara by his family. Bara was a graduate student who received a master’s of science in electrical engineering in 1975. Malekrah was nominated by his advisor, Paul Bergstrom (ECE).

ECE Annual Report 2017

ece-annual-report-2017We are happy to share with you our newly released ECE Annual Report 2017. A look back at our past year highlights research activities from nine of our faculty members in the area of mobility, along with graduate students Mojtaba Bahramgiri, Derek Chopp, and Mehdi Jafari. We share in the good news received during the year in which three of our assistant professors received major early career awards: Lucia Gauchia and Zhaohui Wang received National Science Foundation CAREER awards and Jeremy Bos received the US Air Force Young Investigator Program award. We highlight two of our many outstanding undergraduate students, Brian Flanagan and Casey Strom, for accomplishments and contributions during their BS degree studies. This May we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the first female graduate of the Michigan Tech EE department, Pat Anthony. Pat was honored by the University during spring commencement and was also inducted into the ECE Academy. Once again the year included a wide variety of hands-on student projects in our Senior Design and Enterprise programs and we thank our sponsors for making it all possible! We invite you to read about these stories and more. From all of us at ECE, happy holidays and best wishes for 2018!

ECE Announces Graduate Student Awards

(L-R) Award recipients Aref Majdara and Navid Gandji
(L-R) Award recipients Aref Majdara and Navid Gandji

The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering announced its award recipients for 2016-2017 at the Annual ECE Graduate Student Banquet held on September 25. Aref Majdara received the Jonathan Bara Award for Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant and Navid Gandji received the Matt Wolfe Award for Outstanding Graduate Research Assistant.

Dr. Glen Archer, ECE associate chair and TA supervisor said in his nomination “Aref is one of those rare students who seems to excel at everything you ask him to do. He has worked as a TA for several years in a variety of different courses and received praise from the students in every case.” Archer stated that Aref’s performance in the Circuits lab “revealed a quiet patience that motivates students to perform at their best” and in the more difficult to staff labs such as Microcontroller, Embedded System Engineering, and Signal Processing, “Aref accepted these challenges in the same way he faces everything, with purposeful resolve and a relentless pursuit of excellence”. Mr. Majdara’s PhD advisor is Prof. Saeid Nooshabadi.

Dr. Elena Semouchkina, ECE associate professor and PhD advisor stated in her nomination for outstanding GRA, “Navid Gandji’s research features two important aspects: (1) novelty at the frontiers of engineering physics and (2) addressing vital societal needs. Navid’s work is in a very competitive field of artificial materials, including photonic crystals and metamaterials, which were named by the American Physical Society as one of the top three physics discoveries of the first decade of the new century. His work comprises theoretical studies, full-wave electromagnetic simulations, and experiments on a unique automatic microwave field mapping fixture, which he helped to develop and advance.” Overall, during his PhD studies, Navid has authored and co-authored 4 journal papers, 4 more papers are in preparation. He has also authored and co-authored 5 published refereed conference proceedings and made two presentations at the IEEE International Symposium on Antennas and Propagation, the major forum in the field.

The ECE Department congratulates Aref and Navid and appreciates their many contributions to the department, university, and their field.

ECE PhD Graduate Dr. Yang Liu joins Carnegie Mellon University as a Postdoc Researcher

ECE PhD Graduate Dr. Yang Liu Recent ECE Ph.D. graduate, Dr. Yang Liu, who studied under Prof. Shiyan Hu, Director of the Center for Cyber-Physical Systems, has joined Carnegie Mellon University as a Postdoctoral Researcher. Yang Liu joined the department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Michigan Tech as a Ph.D. student after he received his B.S. degree from Huazhong University of Science and Technology in China. Under the supervision of Prof. Shiyan Hu, his research focuses on smart home cyber-physical energy systems. The massive deployment of smart devices offers significant convenience on the remote and automatic control of the homes. Yet, it also makes the home vulnerable to cyberattacks. Yang has analyzed various cyberattacks to hack smart home systems for electricity pricing manipulation and energy theft. His work shows how these attacks could generate huge impacts to the power grid including the drastic increase of cost, interference of energy load and frequency, and even the large area blackout.

Fridays with Fuhrmann: Congratulations graduates!

FWF_image_20160506Well, here we are at the end of yet another academic year at Michigan Tech. Last week saw a flurry of activity leading up to to commencement, so much so that I overlooked writing this very column! (I doubt if anyone missed it, but if you did you will make me feel good.)

A lot of parents and other family members came to town on Friday. I got to meet many of them at a reception for ECE students that we host here in the department, followed by another university-wide reception hosted by President Glenn Mroz and his wife Gail. Most of our students have good jobs lined up, as one might expect with the strong demand for electrical and computer engineers that I have written about before. I was struck this year by the handful of students who did not have definitive plans for the immediate future. I did not get a sense of concern about this at all, it was just that students were so busy doing other things that they had not yet mounted a serious job search. I am not at all worried about the availability of good jobs out there, only about the complacency (for a small minority) that comes with being in a seller’s market.

Saturday was the big day. For me it started at 7:30am with the commissioning of the ROTC candidates. This year Michigan Tech had 11 graduating students assume their first positions as 2nd lieutenants in either the Army or the Air Force. Two of those were ECE students, Carrie Shuler and Michael Bartkowiak. I congratulate them and thank them for their service. The main commencement in the Student Development Center was at 10:30am, and this year with 993 students graduating and walking across the stage it turned into a 3-hour and 10-minute affair. Our commencement speaker, Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet, reminded us to look for the good in all people and to consider the satisfaction of a life of service. Despite all the pomp and circumstance, and the long wait for the last student to get his diploma and get off the stage, it really is a great moment in the life of the university and one that always leaves me energized.

This year, including the Fall 2015 commencement, the ECE Department granted 72 BSEE degrees and 34 BSCpE degrees, for a total of 106 undergraduates degrees. That number is a little low for us, 26 fewer than last year. With 169 new undergraduates predicted to enter next year, we should see a big jump in the total undergraduate enrollment in the fall. On the graduate side, we produced 95 MS degrees and 3 PhD degrees, for a net increase in 4. Our MS numbers are up, but the PhD degrees are down, which is a concern considering our strategic plan to graduate 10 PhD students per year. However, I am told we have 12 PhD students ready to finish up this summer. The department is going to be hopping this summer if that comes to fruition!

As we wrap up the year I like to take a few moments and recognize a few people that do an outstanding job of teaching, research, and service in the ECE Department. I will repeat here some of the acknowledgements I made at the last faculty meeting of the year three days ago. On the teaching side, I like to recognize faculty members that handle very large classes and still get very good to excellent student teaching evaluations; these include Glen Archer, Duane Bucheger, Bruce Mork, Ashok Ambardar, and John Lukowski. I also want to congratulate faculty members with student course evaluations very close to 5 on a 0-5 scale in small and medium-sized classes: Tim Schulz, Ashok Ambardar, and Warren Perger in undergraduate courses and Joshua Pearce, Wayne Weaver, and Tim Havens in graduate courses. Thank you all for a job well done!

One of the key metrics that we use in evaluating the strength of our research programs is the number of PhD students supported by external grants and contracts. Our goal is to have 50% of the PhD students on external support, and while we are not there yet we get a little closer every year. This year we had 23 students supported by 13 different faculty members, both numbers larger than we have seen in quite a while. The faculty members are: Feng, Guney, Havens, Hu, Middlebrook, Mork, Nooshabadi, Roggemann, Semouchkina, Ten, Wang, Weaver, and Zekavat.  Special recognition goes to Prof. Christopher Middlebrook for having the largest research expenditures in the department this year. Nice going Chris!

A special acknowledgement goes to our relatively new Graduate Program Coordinator Joan Becker, for the extraordinary job she has done in meeting the needs of our graduate students. Our program has seen tremendous growth in recent years, and we do not have a faculty or staff position dedicated to academic advising for everyday things like making sure all the degree requirements are being met and the appropriate forms are turned in. This task has fallen to Joan, and she has really gone above and beyond taking care of the steady stream of students outside her door.

Another person I need to recognize is ECE faculty member Ashok Ambardar, one of our absolute top instructors. Prof. Ambardar is old school: he likes to lecture with chalk on a blackboard, assign regular weekly homeworks, and give regular paper-and-pencil exams, just like he has done his entire career. Students love him. Ashok had an amazing Fall 2015 semester, in terms of student enrollments and responses. He taught three courses – one sophomore, one junior, one senior – with enrollments of 76, 73, and 11, and bottom-line student course evaluations of 4.51, 4.37 and 4.82 out of 5. Prof. Ambardar goes about his work quietly and does not seek a lot of attention, but I hope he knows how much we all appreciate everything he does.

Finally, I want to recognize Senior Lecturer Kit Cischke, this year’s Eta Kappa Nu Professor of the Year. Kit is another amazing instructor, someone who shoulders a lot of the teaching responsibility in our computer engineering program. He teaches courses in microcontrollers, hardware/software integration, and computer networks, and is the faculty advisor for the Wireless Communications Enterprise. His many students realize what an impact he has on their lives and here in the ECE Department. Congratulations Kit on being recognized by our students and thank you for everything you do!

I think that’s about it for this year – students have cleared out, and spring has returned to the Keweenaw.  Have a great summer everyone!

– Dan

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