Pitt | Swanson Engineering

The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh emphasizes educational programs that combine theory with practice in the electrical engineering field. Whether students want a broad understanding of electrical engineering, or want to place specific emphasis on interests like computers, signal processing, power, or electronics, the department offers the education that sparks great careers.





Jun
28
2017

Improving Nuclear Sensor Tech

Electrical & Computer

PITTSBURGH (June 28, 2017) … The United States Department of Energy (DOE) announced the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering will receive $1.275 million for collaborative research that includes the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Reactor Laboratory, Westinghouse Electric Corporation, and the National Energy Technology Laboratory. The award is part of $66 million awarded by DOE to advance innovative nuclear technologies.Kevin Chen, the Paul E. Lego Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Pitt, will lead the collaborative study to develop radiation-hard, multi-functional, distributed fiber sensors, and sensor-fused components that can be placed in a nuclear reactor core to improve safety and efficiency. The grant is from the Nuclear Energy Enabling Technologies (NEET) program, part of the DOE’s Nuclear Energy University Program (NEUP).“This NEET grant will allow our lab to continue its partnerships with leading technological companies and national laboratories to develop solutions to some of the most pressing issues affecting nuclear energy production,” said Dr. Chen. “Advances in sensor technology can greatly enhance the sensitivity and resolution of data in harsh environments like a nuclear reaction, thereby improving safety operations.”The research will focus on the fabrication of the optic sensors using additive manufacturing and advanced laser fabrication techniques. The group will develop both high-temperature stable point sensors and distributed fiber sensors for high spatial resolution measurements in radiation-hardened silica and sapphire fibers, according to the funding report by the DOE.In 2014, Dr. Chen received a $987,000 grant from the NEET program to study high sensitivity, high accuracy sensor networks. These fiber optical sensor networks allow nuclear engineers to be much more responsive to problems in the nuclear power reactors and fuel cycle systems, increasing safety and reducing operating cost.“The networks we developed contain up to 100 sensors per meter and can be placed in critical locations to quickly relay information to the plant operators and isolate problems before they spread to other areas,” Dr. Chen explained.In addition to the NEET grants, the University of Pittsburgh has received $2.8 million in funding from the DOE NEUP program between 2009 and 2016:• General Scientific Infrastructure funding: $300,000• Two research and development projects: $1,676,422• Five fellowships: $770,000• 11 scholarships: $70,000Dr. Chen’s research into fiber optical sensing technology also earned him a 2017 Carnegie Science Award. The “Innovation in Energy Award” recognized Dr. Chen’s contributions to improving efficiency of energy production and safety of transportation infrastructures in the energy industry. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Jun
20
2017

ECE Department Names 2017 Outstanding Seniors

Electrical & Computer

PITTSBURGH, PA (June 20, 2017) … The Swanson School’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering chose recent University of Pittsburgh graduates Brandon Contino and Daniel Bednarczyk as its Outstanding Seniors for 2017. Contino represents the electrical engineering (EE) discipline, and Bednarczyk represents computer engineering (COE).“Brandon and Daniel excelled at balancing their engineering interests outside of the classroom with truly exceptional academic performances,” said Alan George, the Mickle Chair Professor and Department Chair of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Pitt. “As the department continues to grow and explore new ways to provide our students with a comprehensive academic experience, these two outstanding seniors set the tone for student performance.” Assistant Professor and EE Undergraduate Program Director Irvin R. Jones Jr. and other faculty members are responsible for electing the Outstanding Senior in Electrical Engineering. Selection criteria are based on students’ academic standing; demonstration of character and leadership; and service to the EE discipline, ECE department, School of Engineering, and the community.A small committee consisting of undergraduate program leaders and chairs selects the Outstanding Senior in Computer Engineering. The committee evaluates students on the basis of their technical and professional accomplishments as well as their contributions to the discipline of computer engineering.About Brandon ContinoContino graduated this spring with a BS in Electrical Engineering and a minor in economics. He was president of the Robotics and Automation Society, the Engineering Student Council, and the Panther Amateur Radio Club. He also represented Pitt, Carnegie Mellon University, Point Park University, and West Virginia University students as Student Representative Chair of the Pittsburgh Section of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.While pursuing his degree, Contino had several positions at Pitt as an Undergraduate Researcher working alongside Electrical and Computer Engineering Associate Professor Guangyong Li; Civil and Environmental Engineering Assistant Professor David Sanchez; and Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science (MEMS) Department’s Professor William Clark and Professor and Vice Chair Jeffrey Viperman. He also took a position as Power Systems Automation Engineering Intern at Eaton Corporation during the summer of 2015.For his senior design project, Contino worked with three mechanical engineering students to design an autonomous laundry folding robot. “Foldie” won first place at the MEMS Symposium and both second in MEMS and second in ECE at the Pitt Design Expo in Fall 2016. Along with classmate and friend Dan Chi, Contino is now pursuing a venture applying technological innovation to greenhouse farming, beginning with the development of a tomato harvesting robot for greenhouse tomato production.“The ECE Department has assisted me as a student immensely through not only providing the courses to learn the required knowledge to function as an electrical engineer, but it has also provided numerous opportunities and outside the classroom learning,” said Contino. “The faculty and staff have been incredibly helpful in assisting in projects. A lot of the work and hands on learning I acquired would not have been possible without Jim Lyle and Bill McGahey in SERC (Student Electronics Resource Center).”About Daniel BednarczykBednarczyk graduated this spring with a BS in Computer Engineering. He interned with The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation and Bentley Systems, where he now works full-time as a Software Engineer. He recently received second place in his department at the Pitt Design Expo for his senior project ‘Augmented Reality Dashboard,’ an Android application sponsored by Eaton. He also received the Best Computer Engineering Paper award at the Freshmen Engineering Conference. Bednarczyk received the Buick Engineering Achievers Scholarship and the Pittsburgh Italian Scholarship in 2013.During his time as a student, Bednarczyk joined many clubs, including Engineers for a Sustainable World Hydroponics Team, Engineering Student Council, and the Music Engineering Laboratory. He was also involved in non-engineering clubs such as WPTS Radio, the Pitt Program Council, and Residence Life.Bednarczyk is a first-generation college student, which he was able to afford through a combination of scholarships, paid internships, and service as a Resident Assistant in the First-Year Engineering Living Learning Community. An avid singer/songwriter, Bednarczyk frequented the Swanson School’s new Music Engineering Laboratory and recording studio. He has also done graphic design work for both the university and Swanson School.“The ECE Department has dedicated, personable staff who worked with me closely in many courses. I was encouraged to develop challenging projects and experiment with new technologies,” said Bednarczyk. “It allowed me to have a flexible curriculum built around my particular interests in both hardware and software, and the department continues to offer new courses on exciting topics.” ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Jun
12
2017

Pitt Senior Vice Chancellor Robert Rutenbar to continue his computational research in Swanson School of Engineering

Electrical & Computer

PITTSBURGH (June 12, 2017) … To continue his research in computational engineering, Rob A. Rutenbar, the University of Pittsburgh’s new senior vice chancellor for research, has accepted a research position in Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering. According to an announcement by Alan D. George, Department Chair and R&H Mickle Endowed Chair of Electrical and Computer Engineering, the appointment will enable Dr. Rutenbar to expand his computational problem research while contributing to the breadth and depth of the Department’s expertise. “Rob’s research in developing solutions for challenging computational problems is a perfect fit for our computer engineering program in particular, as well as laboratories such as our NSF Center for High-Performance Reconfigurable Computing,” Dr. George said. “We’re proud to have him as a member of the Department and look forward to his contributions to our research portfolio.” Dr. Rutenbar’s research focuses on custom hardware accelerator architectures in both reconfigurable logic and directly in silicon, and his recent work targets machine learning (ML) tasks and their unique computational and memory requirements.“I am hoping to extend these efforts to problems at the intersection of ML and bioinformatics, leveraging Pitt’s unique strengths in the biomedical domain, and especially the strong partnership between its schools of Engineering and Medicine,” Dr. Rutenbar said. “I’m looking forward to recruiting new students and partnering with my colleagues on the Computer Engineering faculty to work on very tough computational problems, as well as to collaborate with Alan on the Department’s research initiatives.” Dr. Rutenbar is a fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery, and has twice won the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ coveted Donald O. Pedersen Best Paper Award. In 2002, he was named Carnegie Mellon’s Stephen J. Jatras Chair in Electrical and Computer Engineering, an endowed professorship position he held until leaving that university in 2010. He earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering at Wayne State University and master’s and doctorate degrees in computer, information and control engineering at the University of Michigan, and is a Distinguished Alumnus of both institutions. ###

Jun
4
2017

ECE's Dr. Greg Reed discusses potential closure of Three Mile Island on KDKA's "Sunday Business Page"

Electrical & Computer

Gregory Reed, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Director of Pitt's Center for Energy, joined KDKA's Jon Delano on the Sunday Business Page to discuss the potential closing of Three Mile Island and the future of nuclear power in the U.S. (Original airdate: June 4, 2017) View the Sunday Business Page at KDKA TV.

Jun
2
2017

Article by ECE's Kevin Chen highlighted by Nature Physics' "News and Views"

Electrical & Computer

Reprinted with permission of Pittsburgh Quantum Institute. PITTSBURGH (June 2, 2017) ... Kevin Chen's article Experimental observation of optical Weyl points and Fermi arc-like surface states (DOI: 10.1038/nphys4072), published in Nature Physics, was the subject of a "News and Views" article entitled " Topological Photonics: Come to Light." The physics idea leading to this paper originated from Penn State collaborator Mikael Rechtsman. Dr. Chen is the Paul E. Lego Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh's Swanson School of Engineering. Topological states of matter can exhibit a range of unique quantum phenomena that are of interest to various fields of classical physics, such as acoustics, mechanics or photonics. Although a number of these topological states have been successfully emulated in photonics, their application has been restricted to certain frequencies. Most topological properties have been demonstrated in two-dimensional (2D) systems; however, a variety of new topological properties have been predicted for three-dimensional (3D) systems. The study published in Nature Physics marks an important step by emulating Weyl points, which constitute the simplest possible topologically nontrivial band structure, in three dimensions. Weyl fermions are massless spin-1/2 particles that arise in the form of quasiparticle excitations. The band structure of Weyl materials exhibits conical valence and conduction bands that touch at a single Weyl point, which carries a topological charge. Weyl points are surprisingly robust with respect to perturbations, which, whether global or local, can only shift the Weyl point and not lift the degeneracy between the bands, implying that the conical dispersion will persist. Such materials also have exotic topological excitations on the surface, with a dispersion referred to as a Fermi arc due to its distinct shape. Such arcs interconnect a pair of Weyl points of opposite charges in reciprocal space. To realize the optical equivalent of Weyl points and Fermi arcs, the authors exploited a platform that has already been proven to be extremely versatile and fruitful for topological photonics in the context of Floquet topological insulators. The system comprises a periodic array of optical waveguides, fabricated by direct laser writing inside a glass slab. The hopping between different waveguides can be controlled by tuning their separation. A helical shape provides an additional modulation in the z-direction, making the structure truly three-dimensional. The Weyl dispersion thus engineered could be probed by coupling an optical field to the system and imaging lateral field distributions along the xy-cuts of the structure near the frequency of one of the Weyl points. To confirm the topological properties the authors had to look for signatures of the type-II Weyl dispersion in the 2D field profiles: type-II Weyl points significantly modifies the diffraction pattern of light, rendering it conical in shape. Even more exciting is that, in addition to this bulk signature, the Weyl dispersion is expected to give rise to the emergence of optical surface states — photonic analogues of topological excitations forming the arc-shaped dispersion connecting two Weyl points. The observation of Weyl points and the associated surface states at optical frequencies is an important advance for two reasons. First, it shows that these exotic systems can be emulated in the optical domain, which offers the opportunity to probe other complex physical systems in photonic crystals and metamaterials. Second, it brings the concept of topological photonics one step closer to practical applications in optics. The properties unique to this class of system can now be exploited to the full extent, controlling light not only classically, but also in quantum regimes. The synthetic gauge fields produced by Weyl charges open a new opportunity for engineering and controlling entangled states of photons, and may become indispensable for quantum computing. Says Dr. Chen, "For engineer researchers, it is absolutely intriguing that manufacturing technology developed in an engineering laboratory can advance our fundamental understanding of Quantum mechanics. It has been a wonderful learning experience. But our research also has inversion symmetry. Next step, we will explore how cutting-edge quantum mechanics research can benefit manufacturing technology leading to better products and services." ### Image above: Theoretical and numerical demonstration of topological phase transition associated with type-II Weyl points. a, Microscope image of the output facet of structure, representing a two-dimensional cut of the waveguide array for fixed z. b, Numerically determined phase diagram of the structure, as a function of lattice constant a and wavelength λ. Type-II Weyl points reside along the red curves, and Fermi arc-like surface states exist between these two curves (yellow region). c, Bulk band structure for the two relevant bands plotted as a function of kz (in the kx = ky = 0–plane, using the extended-zone scheme). Type-II Weyl points arise at their intersection. d–f, Isofrequency surfaces for the topologically trivial case (no Fermi arc-like states), at the Weyl point (WP), and the topological (with Fermi arc-like states) case, at a = 29,27 and 25 μm, at wavelengths 1,450 nm, 1,525 nm and 1,600 nm, respectively. The open circles in the phase diagram shown in b correspond to the band structures in d–f. All results in b–f are calculated numerically 28, using experimental parameters. (License #4120910778162)

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