News

On March 5, Professor Christopher Hollot, the head of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at UMass Amherst, delivered a talk for the Boston University Electrical and Computer Engineering Department  Distinguished Lecture Series. The series is billed as “a forum for eminent individuals from the worlds of academia and industry to share their experience and vision in various areas of electrical and computer engineering.” Designed to cover a breadth of topics, the lectures target both undergraduate and graduate students as well as faculty. Hollot’s lecture was entitled Regulation of Cell Populations in Individuals Using Feedback-Based Drug-Dosing Protocols.”

Paul Dauenhauer of the Chemical Engineering Department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst has been approved by the university Board of Trustees to receive the Armstrong Professional Development Professorship. The Armstrong Professorship was established in 2001 with an endowment of $850,000 by John and Elizabeth Armstrong of Amherst and a $650,000 matching grant from the University of Massachusetts President’s Distinguished Professorship Initiative. It is awarded for a three-year period “to a faculty member who is at the beginning of his/her career and has demonstrated substantial achievement and great promise in his/her area of teaching and research.”

On Saturday, April 5, the UMass Amherst chapter of the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) held its inaugural, 24-hour “HackUMass, the IEEE Embedded Systems Hackathon” in the M5 maker space on the University of Massachusetts Amherst campus. A hackathon (also known as a hack day, hackfest, or codefest) is an event in which computer programmers and others involved in software development collaborate intensively on software projects, often with hardware components. “We’re holding this hackathon because we want to give students the opportunity to learn something new,” explains Andrew Sousa, an undergraduate in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department and the vice chair of the UMass IEEE chapter.

The March 16 edition of the Boston Sunday Globe included a long feature article on PERCEPT, the brainchild of Professor Aura Ganz (Electrical and Computer Engineering Department) that will be installed in Boston’s Arlington Metro Station to help the visually impaired navigate the complicated building and the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) system. The new technology designed at the University of Massachusetts Amherst will make subway orienteering easier for blind people by offering step-by-step instructions on how to get to their destinations inside a T station. The electronic navigation system uses a smartphone application to help people detect landmarks inside a station and provides verbal directions for moving from one spot to another. Go to Globe article: http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2014/03/16/new-technology-for-visually-impaired-debut-arlington station/3f78woRN794pBjee3LCFcL/story.html

Christos Dimitrakopoulos, a professor in the Chemical Engineering (ChE) Department, has achieved a scholarly feat rarely reached by any researcher. According to the Google Scholar (http://scholar.google.com/citations?user=_9ZuIhkAAAAJ&hl=en) website, Dimitrakopoulos has just sped past the 12,000 mark in publication citations. “My colleague Professor Christos Dimitrakopoulos has achieved a unique milestone in his career,” noted ChE Department Head T.J. Lakis Mountziaris. “It’s now over 12,000 citations and counting!” Before joining the College of Engineering in September of 2013, Dimitrakopoulos had spent the past 17 years as a research staff member at IBM’s T.J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, New York.

On March 4, the Engineering Career and Student Development Center staged its first Startup Fair to connect a full house of 115 engineering students with seven new startup companies. The seven startups are touring college campuses together as members of a group named ThinkB1g (ThinkB1G.com), coordinated by Michael Gaiss, ThinkB1G’s founder and currently an entrepreneur in residence at the UMass Boston Venture Development Center. This first-time event on the crowded calendar of the Career Center was started by director Cheryl Brooks and assistant director Sally Darby because “There is a growing groundswell of interest within the College of Engineering for startup companies,” as Brooks said.

A student from the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department, David Joy, has been invited to present a paper on his team’s senior capstone project at the eighth annual Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers International Conference on RFID (http://2014.ieee-rfid.org), being held at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida, from April 8 to 10. The title of the paper is "RFID Solution to Fighting Handicap Parking Abuse," which describes a capstone project being developed by Joy, Redwan Alzain, Andrew Baraby, and Mark Page. Their faculty advisor is Professor David McLaughlin, and the team is named Team HP-ID (for Handicap Parking ID).

Justin Calderara, an undergraduate in the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department, figured prominently in a video about Representative Joseph P. Kennedy III, chairman of Gov. Deval L. Patrick’s STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) Advisory Council, when the congressman toured the recently completed University of Massachusetts Amherst Life Science Laboratory and Integrated Sciences Building. Calderara took part in lively student discussions with Congressman Kennedy concerning the university’s STEM Diversity Institute and its Integrated Concentration in Science (ICONS) program. After trading observations with Calderara and a tableful of other UMass undergrads, Congressman Kennedy called the group “tremendously impressive.” View the video at http://www.umass.edu/newsoffice/article/congressman-joseph-p-kennedy-iii-tours.

Professor Ramakrishna Janaswamy of the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department has been named the 2013-2014 College of Engineering Outstanding Teacher. “Rama's effectiveness as a classroom instructor and dedication to the overall teaching mission of the college are truly appreciated by our students,” said Dean Tim Anderson and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Dave Ford in making the announcement. Among other accomplishments, Janaswamy was nominated for the UMass Distinguished Teaching Award in 2011, served as the ECE graduate program director for three years, developed four new graduate courses that were highly rated by students from 2003 to 2012, and has received a very high average of 4.44 out of a maximum 5 for his Student Response to Instruction rating from student evaluations over the last 10 years.

On Wednesday, March 6, the American ideal of upward mobility went on exhibit. About 80 students and faculty members from at least four of the Commonwealth’s community colleges gathered in room 163C of the Lincoln Campus Center for a day of orientation, recruitment, communication, and financial advice about attending the University of Massachusetts Amherst College of Engineering or Department of Computer Science. The event, the 39th annual Community College Day, was a showcase for young people in Massachusetts pulling themselves up by their own bootstraps.