Aurenice Oliveira (ECE) gave an invited talk at Federal University of Bahia-Brazil (UFBA) on June 13, 2016. Dr. Oliveira talked about possibilities for research collaborations in communications, signal processing, and international education. She also gave an overview of study opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students at Michigan Technological University. Dr. Oliveira had the opportunity to meet with several UFBA officials including the Vice President for Research and the International Office Director to discuss an international agreement between Michigan Tech and UFBA.
Conway Fellow Aishwarya Mundada (ECE) co-authored a paper with ECE PhD candidate Yuenyong Nilsiam and Joshua Pearce (MSE/ECE) entitled “A review of technical requirements for plug-and-play solar photovoltaic microinverter systems in the United States” in the journal Solar Energy.
Zhuo Feng (ECE/ICC) is the principal investigator on a project that has received a $450,000 research and development grant from the National Science Foundation. The project is “SHF: Small: Scalable Spectral Sparsification of Graph Laplacians and Integrated Circuits.”
This is a three-year project.
Timothy Havens (ECE/ICC), is the principal investigator on a project that has received a $99,779 research and development grant from the U.S. Department of Defense-Army Research Office.
Joseph Burns (MTRI) and Timothy Schulz (ECE) are co-PIs on the project “Multisensor Analysis and Algorithm Development for Detection and Classification of Buried and Obscured Targets.”
This is the first year of a potential three-year project totaling $1,066,799.
John Jaszczak (Physics) and Paul Bergstrom (ECE), published a paper “Physical Mechanisms Leading to the Coulomb Blockade and Coulomb Staircase Structures in Strongly Coupled Multi-Island Single-Electron Devices” with their former PhD student Madhusudan Savaikar in the May 24, 2016, issue of ECS Journal of Solid State Science and Technology.
PhD student Abhilash Kantamneni (CS) coauthored a paper with Richelle Winkler (SS), Lucia Gauchia (ECE/ME) and Joshua Pearce (ECE/MSE) titled: Emerging economic viability of grid defection in a northern climate using solar hybrid systems in Energy Policy.
Wayne Weaver (ECE) is the principal investigator on a project that has received a $119,997 research grant from the U.S. Department of Defense, Office of Naval Research. Rush Robinett (ME-EM) and Nina Mahmoudian (ME-EM) are Co-PI’s on the project entitled “Autonomous Microgrids: Theory, Control, Flexibility and Scalability.”
This is the first year of a potential four-year project that could total $869,980.
I am writing today while en route back to Houghton after a week in the San Francisco Bay Area. I was participating in something that has become an annual Spring Break event, tagging along with 20 Michigan Tech students on a whirlwind tour we call the Silicon Valley Experience. Students from all different majors apply through an internal competition to take part. They visited 12 different companies over 4 days, learning all about the high-tech world of Silicon Valley and the entrepreneurial culture surrounding it. The list of companies includes household names – Apple, Google, Facebook – along with other established companies and new start-ups. There is a Michigan Tech connection at all these places, which helps to get our foot in the door. My time is split between visiting with Michigan Tech alumni, both old friends and new, and joining the students at company visits as my schedule allows. I want to give a shout-out here to our Director of Industry Program Development, Adam Johnson, for the terrific job he did at organizing the event and taking care of all the logistics.
After one of these trips to California I come away with so many impressions that I could easily fill two or three of these columns with my random thoughts. I just might.
First off, we all just have to admit that Silicon Valley is the center of the universe when it comes to innovation in the information technology space. There is no other place like it. It is brimming with all sorts of electrical engineers, computer engineers, software engineers, and entrepreneurs working to create the next big thing and disrupt last year’s technology, with the support of a massive economic engine of venture capital. Almost overnight, it seems, the technology created there has gone from a novelty to a necessity – search engines on Google, smart phones from Apple, social media on Facebook where these very words are being written. I can sit in an airport and be connected to family, friends, and work via a communication network called the Internet that hardly anyone imagined some 30-40 years ago. These are hugely powerful forces that have transformed our lives completely, and the pace of that change shows no signs of slowing down.
There is a lot of excitement and buzz surrounding these technological innovations, and as a result Silicon Valley attracts the best and brightest engineering talent. There are a lot of job opportunities, but even so the market can be pretty competitive as the top companies can afford to be pretty choosy. It’s like the song lyric about New York – if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere. In fact, the analogy with Broadway is pretty apt, as job interviews have been transformed from conversations across a desk to auditions of actual programming and engineering skill. I understand the process can be pretty grueling. However, if one has what it takes, the salaries and perks are unmatched in the engineering world.
One immediate impression that I come away with is how the workplace itself has changed over the past decade. Google was on the leading edge, but their style has been picked up by most of the other established companies and newcomers. On this trip it seemed to me that Facebook is raising the bar even further. Every day is casual day. I don’t even bother packing a tie when I travel to California anymore; I wore the same pair of jeans all this week and half the time I was overdressed. More remarkable is the level of amenities available to employees – free food and drink 24/7, all you can eat, game rooms, music rooms, barber shops, bicycle repair, even medical care. The days of residential dormitories on or near the corporate campuses are not far away. The whole idea is to keep engineers and programmers at work and happy for hours on end, and not give them any reason to stop being productive. I get to sample this workplace style every so often because of a Google-sponsored research project I am on right now. I have to wonder what it would be like all the time – I guess one gets used to it – but for the few days at a time that I see it, I feel like I am living high on the hog. For the companies, it is clear that the cost of these amenities is far outweighed by the value of a productive employee.
I will bring this to a close here, and follow up in the next few weeks with my thoughts on 1) the culture of entrepreneurship in the high-tech world, 2) what universities like Michigan Tech should be doing to help students prepare for success, and 3) what can other regions of U.S., like the upper Midwest, learn from Silicon Valley. No doubt I’ll be trolling the Internet on my smartphone and checking in with social media to get some good material.
Daniel R. Fuhrmann, Dave House Professor and Chair
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Michigan Technological Univerrsity
Michigan Technological University’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE), along with Departments Biomedical Engineering (BME) and Physics were well represented at the annual SPIE Photonics West conference held in San Francisco, CA, on February 13-18, 2016.
Arash Hosseinzadeh, PhD candidate in electrical engineering, Derek Burrell, BSEE senior and SPIE/OSA MTU chapter president, and Mitch Kirby, BSBE (EE minor) presented papers and research findings on topics: Design and optimization of polymer ring resonator modulators for analog microwave photonic applications, Comparison of self-written waveguide techniques and bulk index matching for low-loss polymer waveguide interconnects, and Effects of incident intensity on laser speckle contrast imaging.
BME Chair Sean Kirkpatrick was session chair and moderator and ECE Prof. Chris Middlebrook co-authored two papers presented. Also attended were Nima Taherkhani, MSEE candidate, and ECE alumna Liz (Cloos) Dreyer ’12, currently a PhD pre-candidate in electrical engineering (optics) at the University of Michigan, Abhinav Madhavachandran, MSBE candidate, and Anindya Majumdar, PhD candidate Physics.
Student travel was partially funded by Michigan Tech’s Undergraduate Student Government (USG) and Graduate Student Government (GSG).
See more information on the SPIE/OSA MTU Chapter see mtu.osahost.org.