Category: Research

Fridays with Fuhrmann – Teamwork without Borders

Google_2015_logo5I am writing today from beautiful Boulder, Colorado, where I have been attending a research progress review on a project I have been working on, along with other Michigan Tech faculty and students.  The project is sponsored by Google.  Michigan Tech is fortunate to be a research partner with Google on something they call a Multi-University Research Agreement, or MURA.  I can’t tell you the technical details of what we are doing, yet, but later this year everything will be made public.

Having observed how this project is managed over the past year, I am struck by how much the workplace, the team organizations, and the expectations of engineers have changed over the years.  This has been a great experience for me, not only because the work is interesting but because it gives me a glimpse of what our graduates can expect as they enter the workforce.

One of the most remarkable things I have noticed is how collaboration tools have made the world a smaller place, and have made geographical differences practically irrelevant.  The team working on this project, about 30 people all together, comprises full-time Google employees, independent contractors, engineering companies, and university teams like ours from Michigan Tech.  The group is spread out from Hawaii, to California, to Michigan, and to Europe.  Subsets of the team meet regularly via Google Hangout, which is a pretty easy-to-use teleconferencing tool, and it is like being in the same room (there is the one remaining issue of time zones, but most people don’t have a big problem with it.)   Even when most of the group gets together in the same city, like this week, there are still those who call in and contribute.

The success or failure of this project (and I’m pretty sure it’s going to be successful) depends on the ability of all the participants to work together as a team.  This week we had discussions about how things went in 2015, and the overall consensus was that the teamwork was pretty good.  It reminds me of why it is so important for us at Michigan Tech to teach our students about teamwork in our capstone projects, whether in Senior Design or Enterprise.  They are going to be working on teams when they leave the university, and knowing how to collaborate, how to get along, how to get work done on time, how to communicate, how to make expectations clear for others – these are all things that are going to be critical skills for career success.  The other side of teamwork that we stress at Michigan Tech is the development of individual skills.  Everyone on this Google project has a seat at the table because they are really good at what they do, and I don’t imagine that’s going to be any different anywhere else.

Finally, I will mention that the nature of engineering careers is changing rapidly.  Certainly there will be those that work full-time for a large corporation, and maybe they stay with that corporation a long time.  On the other hand, there are those that work for corporations, but change jobs often.  Others work as independent contractors, coming and going from teams as their skills are needed.  I am fascinated by these engineers, at least the ones I have seen in this group: they are extraordinarily talented in their particular area of expertise, and because of all the collaboration tools available today they can live wherever they want.   In all of these cases I am just talking about engineers selling their time and expertise; I haven’t begun to talk about entrepreneurship, which is another avenue that engineers are increasingly exploring.  The bottom line is, if an engineer is good at what he or she does, their career arc and their lifestyle is limited only by the imagination.

At Michigan Tech we do our best to prepare students for this new engineering environment of the 21st century.  I am always open to feedback about how well we are doing.

Being able to travel to meetings like this has its perks.  On Friday, when this is posted, I’ll be taking a vacation day and skiing at Loveland Pass, in the Rocky Mountains not too far Denver.  Finally, I have a chance to see if all my time spent on Mont Ripley has done me any good!

– Dan

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

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Follow ECE on Social Media

MTU_ECE_smphotoThe Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) is now on Facebook and Twitter. Like and follow us for faculty spotlights, student accomplishments, outreach and events, industry and alumni news, and more; including a weekly post from the chair in “Fridays with Fuhrmann”. We hope you’ll add us to your social media picks.

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ECE Annual Report 2015

ECE Annul Report 2015
ECE Annul Report 2015

We are happy to share with you our newly released ECE Annual Report 2015. A look back at our past year highlights research activities by Profs. Zhaohui Wang, Wayne Weaver, Bruce Mork, and Mike Roggemann, along with ECE’s involvement in Michigan Tech’s new research agreement with Google ATAP. 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! Our undergraduate programs added two new concentrations starting Fall 2015 – Biomedical Applications and Environmental Applications within the Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering. We invite you to read about these stories and more. From all of us at ECE, best wishes for 2016!

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Zhaohui Wang Receives Outstanding Service Award

Zhaohui Wang resized
Zhaohui Wang, ECE Assistant Professor

Zhaohui Wang, Assistant Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Michigan Tech University, received the Outstanding Service Award for her work as Information Systems Chair in the 10th ACM International Conference on Underwater Networks & Systems (WUWNet), held in Washington DC, October 22-24, 2015. The scope of the WUWNet conference covers a broad range of research directions relevant to underwater networks and network-related signal processing, communications, systems, and applications. The goal of WUWNet is to bring together researchers and practitioners in areas relevant to underwater networks, and serve as a forum for presenting state of the art research, exchanging ideas and experiences, and facilitating interaction and collaboration.

WUWNet’15 link: http://wuwnet.acm.org/2015/

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ECE News Briefs

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Tim Havens (ECE) co-authored two articles, “Data-informed Fuzzy Measures for Fuzzy Integration of Intervals and Fuzzy Numbers” and “Quadratic Program-based Modularity Maximization for Fuzzy Community Detection in Social Networks,” in the latest issue of IEEE Transactions on Fuzzy Systems. The second article was written with former graduate student, Jianhai Su, who is now at McAfee.

Wayne Weaver (ECE) has received $97,460 from Sandia National Labs under contract for a research and development project titled, “Unstable and Pulse Load Control Designs for Naval Electrical Systems.”

Laura Brown (CS/AIM) is the principal investigator on the research and development project, “Collaborative Research: CRISP Type 2: Revolution through Evolution: A Controls Approach to Improve How Society Interacts with Electricity” that has received a $699,796 grant from the National Science Foundation. Also working on the project are co-pi’s Chee WooiTen (ECE) and Wayne Weaver (ECE). This is a three-year project.

Durdu Guney (ECE) has received a $131,305 grant from the U.S. Department of Defense, Office of Naval Research for the research and development project titled, “Full Compensation and Control of Losses in Metamaterial Devices without Gain Medium.” This is the first year of a three-year project, totaling $374,027.

Joshua Pearce (MSE/ECE) published an article “Overcoming the North’s Diesel Dependence With Renewable Energy” in Circle, the magazine of the World Wildlife Federation’s Global Arctic Program and was posted on their arctic blog, Thin Ice Blog. Joshua Pearce’s (MSE/ECE) research showing a high ROI for open source scientific hardware development was the top story on NSF’s Science 360. It was also covered by others including ECN Magazine and 3Ders.

Graduate students Tony Pinar (ECE) and Bas Wijnen (MSE) collaborated with Jerry Anzalone (MSE), Tim Havens(ECE), Paul Sanders (MSE) and Joshua. Pearce (MSE) on a paper titled: Low-cost Open-Source Voltage and Current Monitor for Gas Metal Arc Weld 3-D Printing published in the Journal of Sensors.

Graduate students Wyatt Adams (ECE), Ankit Vora (ECE) and Jephias Gwamuri (MSE) co-authored a paper with Joshua Pearce (MSE/ECE) and Durdu Guney (ECE). Controlling optical absorption in metamaterial absorbers for plasmonic solar cells, for the SPIE Proceedings on Active Photonic Materials. Graduate student Bas Wijnen (MSE) co-authored a paper with Jerry Anzalone (MSE) and Joshua Pearce (MSE/ECE) on Multi-material additive and subtractive prosumer digital fabrication with a free and open-source convertible delta RepRap 3-D printer published in the Rapid Prototyping Journal.

Joshua Pearce (MSE/ECE) is quoted on the performance of solar in the Richmond Times Dispatch and Tulsa World.
The Pearce group solar-powered 3-D printers made the Tech.Mic top 6 list for Here Are the Big Ways 3-D Printing Is Creating the Future of Renewable Energy. 3D Printing Industry reports that copies of Pearce’s book The Open Source Lab are prizes inthe Second Great Big Gigabot Giveaway.

The Physical Review Letter paper underlying the perfect lens research of Durdu Guney (ECE) ranked in the top 5 percent of all articles scored by Altmetric, received “high score” compared to articles of the same age (96th percentile) and is listed as the second top trending article on Physical Review Letters in the month it’s published.
The research received media coverage in R&D Magazine, Technology.Org, Nanowerk, Phys.Org, Newswise, among others and was picked up by NSF’s website.

Graduate students Kunal Shah (ECE) and Conway Fellow Aishwarya Mundada (ECE) co-authored a paper with Joshua Pearce (MSE/ECE), “Performance of U.S. Hybrid Distributed Energy Systems: Solar Photovoltaic, Battery and Combined Heat and Power” published in the journal Energy Conversion and Management.

Tim Havens (ECE/CS) presented two papers at the IEEE Int. Conference on Fuzzy Systems in Istanbul, Turkey. The first paper was entitled, “Feature and Decision Level Fusion Using Multiple Kernel Learning and Fuzzy Integrals,” authored by ECE PhD student Anthony Pinar and coauthored by Havens and Derek Anderson and Lequn Hu from Mississippi State University. The second paper was authored by Titilope Adeyeba (Miss. State), Anderson and Havens, entitled, “Insights and Characterization of L1-Norm Based Sparsity Learning of a Lexicographically Encoded Capacity Vector for the Choquet Integral.” Havens also served as an Area Chair and Session Chair at the conference.

Several news outlets, including Chem Europe and Hackaday, have picked up a recent story about Joshua Pearce and NECi collaborating on developing an open source nitrate test kit.

The Chicago Tribune published an article from Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, quoting Associate Professor Joshua Pearce (MSE/ECE) on the use of solar panels in cold northern climates.

Tech Century, a science and technology news website published by the Engineering Society of Detroit, reported on Professor Durdu Guney’s (ECE) metamaterials work to create the “perfect” lens. Read the article.

Joshua Pearce (MSE/ECE) wrote “Win a Giant 3-D Printer for Making a Positive Social Impact” in ELSEVIER SciTech Connect.

Seyed Zekavat (ECE) has received $24,954 from the National Science Foundation for the project titled, Workshop on Challenges for Space Solar Power.

Graduate students Jephias Gwamuri (MSE) and Ankit Vora (ECE) co-authored a paper with Durdu Guney (ECE), Paul Bergstrom (ECE) , Anand Kulkarni (ECE) and Joshua Pearce (MSE/ECE); Limitations of Ultra-Thin Transparent Conducting Oxides for Integration into Plasmonic-Enhanced Thin Film Solar Photovoltaic Devices, in Materials for Renewable and Sustainable Energy.

Technology Century, a science and technology news website published by the Engineering Society of Detroit, reported on a visit by ESD executives to Michigan Tech and plans to establish a student chapter of the ESD at Michigan Tech.

Student Tayler Sly (Computer Engineering) shows off a circuit board and some of his co-op work at Extreme Engineering Solutions in an on-line article published by Corp Magazine. Corp also published an article on the future of the high-tech jobs market in Michigan, quoting Jim Baker, executive director of Innovation and Industry Engagement, and Steve Patchin, director of Career Services. The article also features several photos of Michigan Tech students and interns.

Joshua Pearce (MSE/ECE) was the keynote speaker for the Shared Resource Laboratories: Driving Innovation and Discovery joint Mid-Atlantic Directors and Staff of Scientific Cores (MAD SSCi) and Southeastern Association of Shared Resources (SEASR) meeting in Charlottesville at the University of Virginia. Pearce was also quoted in “5 upcoming developments in 3D printing” in the Business Reporter distributed with the Daily Telegraph (UK). Pearce and MSE PhD student Amberlee Haselhuhn coauthored “Intellectual Property as a Strategic National Industrial Weapon: the Case of 3D Printing.” in the May-August issue of Engineer: the Professional Bulletin of Army Engineers. Read the article.

Joshua Pearce, (MSE/ECE) is quoted in the article “Money-Smart Reasons to Install Solar Panels at Your Home Now,” on Kiplinger.com and in the August 2015 edition of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. Pearce’s research on low-cost heat exchanger technology was featured in the Mumbai Mirror (daily circulation of about 700,000).

Wisconsin STEM Pathways, a publication of Wisconsin Project Lead the Way, published a feature article in its Winter issue about a Michigan Tech computer engineering student, Eric Johnson, from Appleton, Wis.

Joshua Pearce (MSE/ECE) made Red Hat‘s list of 21 open hardware enthusiasts to follow on Twitter. Red Hat is a $1.5 billion/year multinational open source company. Pearce explains the 3D printing revolution in a podcast on Japan’s Corbett Report. The Corbett Report is an independent, listener-supported alternative news source, operating on the principle of open source intelligence.

Christopher Middlebrook (ECE), has received a $348,268 research and development contract for the project, Highly Linear Electro-optic Modulator for Microwave Photonic Links Department/Center/Institute: Electrical & Computer from the US Department of Defense, Defense Advance Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

Joshua Pearce’s (MSE/ECE) article on Michigan Tech’s course to build your own 3D printer, which was supported by a William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning grant, was the editor’s pick and most read story on OpenSource.com last week.

Alumnus/Winn Fellow Joseph Rozario (ECE) and Joshua Pearce (MSE/ECE) published “Optimization of annealing cycles for electric output in outdoor conditions for amorphous silicon photovoltaic–thermal systems,” in Applied Energy. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.apenergy.2015.03.073.

Joshua Pearce’s MSE/ECE cross-listed course was covered by OpenSource, 3D Print (Unchained with Open Source: Michigan Tech 3D Printing Course Teaches Students to Build 3D Printers) and 3D Printing Industry (Michigan Tech’s Open Source Course – The Future of 3D Printing Education). Pearce was quoted in the Examiner story What ever you need, chances are a 3D printer can print it and in a Science News story about a new method to 3D print.
The research of Joshua Pearce (MSE/ECE) and his group was highlighted in the article “Can We 3D Print Our Way to Sustainability,” in the Earth Island Journal.

Joshua Pearce (MSE/ECE) coauthored “Effect of ambient combinations of argon, oxygen, and hydrogen on the properties of DC magnetron sputtered indium tin oxide films” in AIP Advances.

R&D, an online magazine, published a story about Associate Professor Shiyan Hu’s (ECE) work on smart home cybersecurity.

The work of Associate Professor Joshua Pearce (MSE/ECE) and his group was featured in “How 3D Printers Are Boosting Off-the-Grid, Underdeveloped Communities” in Motherboard.

PhD students Chenlong Zhang and Jephias Gwamuri (MSE) coauthored an article with Associate Professor Joshua Pearce (MSE/ECE) titled “Design of Multijunction Photovoltaic Cells Optimized for Varied Atmospheric Conditions” published in the International Journal of Photoenergy.

Technology Century, an online and print publication of the Engineering Society of Detroit, featured editor Matt Roush’s interviews with faculty and graduate students from the College of Engineering at Michigan Tech, the first stop on his annual Tech Tour of university campuses in Michigan.

Joshua Pearce (MSE/ECE) coauthored an article, “Innovation Through Collaboration: Scaling up Technological Solutions for Sustainable Development,” published in the journal Environment, Development and Sustainability.

Elena Semouchkina (ECE) has received $83,837 of $257,412 from the National Science Foundation for the first year of a three-year research and development project titled “Collaborative Research: IDBR: Type A: Unconventional Antenna Probes for Ultra-High-Resolution Magnetic Resonance Imaging.”

Zhaohui Wang (ECE) received $100,000 from the University of Connecticut for a research project titled “Collaborative Research: Underwater Distributed Antenna Systems: Fundamental Limits and Practical Designs.”

PhD students Ankit Vora (ECE) and Jephias Gwamuri (MSE) co-authored a paper with Joshua Pearce (MSE/ECE), Paul Bergstrom (ECE) and Durdu Guney (ECE) titled “Multi-resonant Silver Nano-disk Patterned Thin Film Amorphous Silicon Solar Cells For Staebler-Wronski Effect Compensation,” in the “Journal of Applied Physics.”

PluggedIn, an internal newsletter published by American Transmission Company (ATC), featured an article about a Michigan Tech Senior Design team that worked with ATC to create a tool that can be used to determine whether it is safe to use ATC transmission lines to start a motor, something that the company’s customers often want to know if they can do. The student team won the Michigan Tech Electrical and Computer Engineering External Advisory Committee’s Industry Innovation Award for their work. See their work.

Graduate School Announces Award Recipients for Fall 2013 and Spring 2014; The Graduate School is pleased to announce that the following students have earned: Fang Chen, PhD candidate in electrical engineering; Xiaohui Wang, PhD candidate in electrical engineering

Outstanding Alumni and Friends Recognized: Please join us in congratulating the following recipients of the 2014 Alumni Association awards:Honorary Alumna: Martha Sloan, professor emerita, electrical and computer engineering. Sloan’s profile is available online.

Assistant Professor Zhaohui Wang (ECE) was honored at 2013 Connecticut Women of Innovation Awards ceremonies, receiving the Collegian Innovation and Leadership Award for exceptional achievements in the area of underwater acoustic communications and networking. The awards are sponsored by the Connecticut Technology Council, Boehringer Ingelheim USA, Covidien, Day Pitney and United Technologies. She was honored for her work on underwater acoustic communications. Wang has also received a 2014 Outstanding Senior Women Academic Achievement Award from the Graduate School of the University of Connecticut.
The awards honor outstanding graduating women from each of the university’s schools and colleges and are sponsored by the The Provost’s Office, the Alumni Association and the Women’s Center at the University of Connecticut. With her advisor, Wang has also coauthored the book, “OFDM for Underwater Acoustic Communications,” published by John Wiley & Sons and available here and on Amazon.

A story on Associate Professor Shiyan Hu’s (ECE) research, “A Lab in
Your Pocket
,” was published on the eHealthserver website. It can be viewed online.

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Shiyan Hu named as an ACM Distinguished Speaker

image25903-persThe Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), the world ‘s largest educational and scientific computing society, has named Associate Professor Shiyan Hu (ECE) as an ACM Distinguished Speaker.

ACM’s Distinguished Speaker Program identifies top computing technology leaders and innovators, and makes them available to speak at colleges and universities, corporations, events and conferences and ACM local chapters.

Each distinguished speaker serves a three-year term. Hu will be available to speak about computer aided design for VLSI circuits and cyber-physical systems.

Hu received a prestigious National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Award. He is a senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and has chaired more than 70 committees for IEEE conferences.

Hu’s ultra-fast slew buffering technique has been widely deployed in industry. For example, it became a default option in the IBM physical design flow used for designing more than fifty microprocessors and ASIC chips, including IBM flagship chips POWER 7 and 8.

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Hackers Could Make Smart Homes Stupid–or Worse

image25903-persImagine the smart home of the future. Thanks to a central controller and wi-fi, not only does the thermostat power up and warm or cool the house as you are heading home. Smart light bulbs come on low at dusk and brighten up as the sky gets darker; your washing machine starts a load of clothes when the electricity is cheapest; your smart refrigerator thaws the roast in one section, while another keeps your cheese ready to slice and yet another chills your beer. The doors lock automatically behind you and unlock as you—but no one else—approach. A 2-way nannycam lets you keep an eye on the kids while a sprinkler waters your lawn when water demand is lowest.
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Zhuo Feng Gets CAREER Award to Develop New Tools for Nanoscale Computer Chip Design

Back in the day, actual human beings wired computer circuitry by hand. Then along came integrated circuits, and now the technology is so advanced that tens of billions of transistors can be put on a single chip no bigger than a dime. The complexity of these nanoscale integrated circuits makes it difficult to make the most of their design, says Zhuo Feng, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at Michigan Technological University. That’s because software used to design computer chips hasn’t kept pace with the hardware in these emerging computing systems.
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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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