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.





Apr
26
2017

Ambient Cybersecurity and Tiny Lasers Win Big Prizes for ECE Students at Startup Competition

Electrical & Computer

PITTSBURGH, PA (April 26, 2017) … Two student teams from the Swanson School’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) won cash prizes at the campus-wide Randall Family Big Idea Competition. The competition, which takes place throughout March and April, awards a total of $100,000 to Pitt students with the most promising startup business ideas.Shuo Li, Aidong Yan and Ran Zou, all graduate students in the ECE Department, formed the team Airborne Laser and developed a company based on compact laser systems. Inspired by the laser system developed by NASA for space applications, the team used 3D printing to create solid state laser systems that are ultra-compact and resilient with superior thermal and mechanic properties.Airborne Laser took one of three second place awards and received $15,000. All three students are researchers under the direction of Kevin P. Chen, the Paul E. Lego Professor in Electrical Engineering at Pitt. Undergraduate students Kevin Householder, Christopher Colucci and Matthew Yurko won a $1,000 award for Best Video promoting their product. They originally developed Root—a novel method of defending against cyber-attacks—for their senior design project. The system generates numbers randomly based on ambient information collected from sensors, making it very difficult to predict the outcome. Samuel Dickerson, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, advised the students during their senior design work. The Randall Family Big Idea Competition is open to undergraduate students, graduate students and post-doctoral fellows from all schools within the University of Pittsburgh. The competition began in 2009, and former participants have often seen their ideas accepted into startup accelerators and turn into independent businesses. Robert P. Randall was president and chief executive officer of the Three Rivers Aluminum Company (TRACO), a prominent regional door and window company, which was acquired by Alcoa and is now a division of Kawneer. Randall continues to give back to the community through his position on the Board of Trustees at the University of Pittsburgh, his work with the United States Chamber of Commerce and as a board member of both the Allegheny Conference on Community Development and the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance. ### Image above (from left to right): Shuo Li, Ran Zou and Aidong Yan accept the first prize award at the Randall Family Big Idea Competition.
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Apr
25
2017

IEEE-Eta Kappa Nu Welcomes New Inductees, Celebrates 80 Years

Electrical & Computer

PITTSBURGH, PA (April 25, 2017) … Each year, the University of Pittsburgh Beta Delta Chapter of the IEEE-Eta Kappa Nu honor society sends out invitations to students in the Electrical and Computer Engineering department who have demonstrated academic excellence. New members rank in the upper one-fourth of their Sophomore and Junior classes, or in the upper one-third of their Senior class. This past February, they held their annual ceremony and inducted the following 14 new members:Ryan BeckerShane BenningLiam BertiKevin GilboyBenjamin HarperZachary MattisBrendan SchusterDavid SkrovanekToby SunRobert TaylorDominic TranchitellaLong VoCorey WeimannRoger XueThroughout the month of March, the chapter participated in service activities including the annual Hands-On Science activity with students in the Swanson School’s college-preparatory outreach program INVESTING NOW. The activity involved the construction, troubleshooting and testing of a digital circuit model for a simple traffic sign. The 19 high school students, representing 12 schools in the Greater Pittsburgh Area, built miniature traffic lights using integrated circuits on breadboards, which are special boards designed for making experimental models of electrical circuits. The students spent the afternoon under the supervision of Beta Delta chapter members learning the basics of using oscilloscopes and wiring resistors and capacitors. Several members of the Beta Delta chapter also served as judges for the Covestro Science Fair on March 31 at Heinz Field. The competition was open to students in grades 6-12 from 21 counties in Western Pennsylvania and Garrett County in Maryland. The University of Pittsburgh Beta Delta chapter, which celebrates its 80th anniversary this year, began with a petition from the family of founding member William Erickson in 1937. Eta Kappa Nu is the international electrical and computer engineering honor society of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). The society has about 200 chapters and thousands of members worldwide.Students interested in volunteering with the University of Pittsburgh chapter of IEEE-Eta Kappa Nu for this and/or other mentoring events, please email pitt.ieee.hkn@gmail.com. ### Shown in Induction Ceremony Photo: Back row: Dr. Stephen Jacobs (faculty advisor), Toby Sun, Liam Berti, David Skrovanek, Benjamin Harper, Brendan Schuster, Zachary Mattis, Kevin Gilboy, Shane BenningMiddle row: Jennifer Fang (vice president), Katherine Coronado (secretary), Matthew Yurko (web master sergeant), Sharif Abdelbaky (president), Christopher Colucci (treasurer), Betsalel "Saul" Williamson (web correspondent)Front row: Roger Xue, Dominic Tranchitella, Long Vo, Robert Taylor, Corey Weimann…Second Photo: High School students from Pitt’s INVESTING NOW program show off the integrated circuits they built under the supervision of students from the Beta Delta chapter.
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Mar
14
2017

Pitt’s Bioengineering and Industrial Engineering programs move up in 2018 U.S. News and World Report Graduate School Rankings

All SSoE News, Bioengineering, Chemical & Petroleum, Civil & Environmental, Electrical & Computer, Industrial, MEMS

PITTSBURGH (March 14, 2017) … The University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering has moved up one slot among engineering programs in the 2018 edition of U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Graduate Schools,” which will be available on newsstands April 11. The Swanson School is tied 42nd overall among university engineering programs, and 21st among all Association of American Universities (AAU) members. Two of its programs, bioengineering and industrial engineering, made significant gains over 2017. Bioengineering jumped from 18th in the nation to 12th overall, and remains at 6th among public AAU university programs. Industrial moved from 23rd to 17th overall, and from 13th to 10th among AAU publics. Other department rankings include: Chemical engineering: 33rd overall, 18th among AAU publics Civil engineering: 60th overall, 27th among AAU publics Computer engineering: 43rd overall, 20th among AAU publics Electrical engineering: 55th overall, 26th among AAU publics Materials science: 43rd overall, 22nd among AAU publics Mechanical engineering: 57th overall, 26th among AAU publics Complete rankings and information about the process can be found online in the U.S. News Grad Compass. ###

Mar
8
2017

Five Pitt engineering faculty set university and school record by receiving competitive NSF CAREER awards in first months of 2017

Chemical & Petroleum, Civil & Environmental, Electrical & Computer

PITTSBURGH (March 8, 2017) … The National Science Foundation CAREER award is the organization’s most coveted and competitive research prize for junior faculty, and in the first few months of 2017, the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering has been awarded five CAREER grants totaling more than $2.5 million in research funding. The CAREER program “recognizes faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations.” The five awards – three in Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, and one each in Civil and Environmental and Electrical and Computer – are the most received by Pitt and Swanson School faculty in a single NSF CAREER funding announcement. The three Chemical and Petroleum Engineering CAREER awards also represent the most received by a single department within the Swanson School. The faculty applied for the awards during the NSF’s 2016 solicitation period.“This is a tremendous accomplishment for our faculty, and will greatly assist them in establishing their research at this early stage of their academic careers,” noted Gerald D. Holder, U.S. Steel Dean of Engineering and Distinguished Service Professor at Pitt. “This is the first time that five individuals at the Swanson School received CAREER awards in one year, which speaks to the caliber of their research.” David Vorp, the Swanson School’s Associate Dean for Research and John A. Swanson Professor of Bioengineering, added, “Research funding at the federal level grows tighter and more competitive each year, and so we’re very proud that these five outstanding faculty members developed such strong proposals. Most importantly, the CAREER awards include a community engagement component which is critical to inspiring future STEM careers in children and young adults.” The award recipients include: Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering John Keith, Inaugural R.K. Mellon Faculty Fellow in Energy and Assistant Professor ($500,000)Title: SusChEM: Unlocking local solvation environments for energetically efficient hydrogenations with quantum chemistry (#1653392)Summary: This project will address the production of carbon-neutral liquid fuels via electrocatalytic reduction of carbon dioxide (CO2) to methanol.  Its focus will integrate high-level electronic structure theory, molecular dynamics, and machine learning to understand how interactions between solvent molecules, salts, and co-solutes regulate CO2 reduction from greenhouse gas into fuels. The graduate and undergraduate students in Dr. Keith's lab group will also develop educational modules to engage and excite students in the Pittsburgh Public School District about opportunities in STEM fields, with an emphasis on renewable energy and computational chemistry. Giannis (Yanni) Mpourmpakis, Assistant Professor ($500,000)Title: Designing synthesizable, ligand-protected bimetallic nanoparticles and modernizing engineering curriculum through computational nanoscience (#1652694)Summary: Although scientists can chemically synthesize metal nanoparticles (NPs) of different shapes and sizes, understanding of NP growth mechanisms affecting their final morphology and associated properties is limited. With the potential for NPs to impact fields from energy to medicine and the environment, determining with computer simulations the NP growth mechanisms and morphologies that can be synthesized in the lab is critical to advance NP application. Because this is a relatively new field, traditional core courses in science and engineering lack examples from the nanotechnology arena. In addition to improving the research, the award will enable Dr. Mpourmpakis and his lab group to modernize the traditional course of Chemical Thermodynamics by introducing animation material based on cutting-edge nanotechnology examples, and developing a nanoscale-inspired interactive computer game. Christopher Wilmer, Assistant Professor ($500,000)Title: Fundamental limits of physical adsorption in porous materials (#1653375)Summary: The development of new porous materials is critical to improving important gas storage and separations applications, and will have a positive impact on reducing greenhouse gases. This includes the deployment of methane and/or hydrogen gases as alternative fuels, development of new filters for removing trace gaseous contaminants from air, and separation of carbon dioxide from flue gas to mitigate greenhouse emissions from the burning of fossil fuels. Dr. Wilmer’s grant will enable his lab to utilize computational methods to probe the limits of material performance for physical adsorption to porous materials. Although past computational screening has suggested physical limits of adsorption capacity for metal-organic frameworks (MOFs), this project will explore the novel use of so-called “pseudomaterials,” which represent all potential atomistic arrangements of matter in a porous material. As part of community outreach, Dr. Wilmer’s research group will develop educational movies on the fundamental science of gas adsorption, including those relevant to carbon capture to mitigate climate change. Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringKyle J. Bibby, Assistant Professor ($500,000)Title: Quantitative viral metagenomics for water quality assessment (#1653356)Summary: U.S. beaches and waterways often are closed to human contact when tests indicate an increase in E. coli, usually after heavy rains overwhelm sewage systems. However, the concentration of these common bacteria is not a reliable indicator of viruses in the water, which present a greater danger of causing illness in humans. Dr. Bibby’s research will focus on developing new DNA sequencing methods to directly measure viral loads in water and better indicate potential threats to human health. Dr. Bibby’s group, which previously studied persistence of the Ebola virus in the environment and has worked to develop novel indicators of viral contamination, will utilize quantitative viral metagenomics for viral water quality assessment. The CAREER Award includes an outreach component that allows Dr. Bibby to engage with students at the Pittsburgh Public School’s Science & Technology Academy (SciTech) next to the Swanson School, leading to development of a hands-on educational module for high school students to characterize microbial water quality. Dr. Bibby will also utilize the research to expand the H2Oh! interactive exhibit he developed with the Carnegie Science Center, enabling children to better understand the impact of water quality on everyday life. Department of Electrical & Computer EngineeringErvin Sejdić, Assistant Professor and 2016 PECASE Recipient ($549,139)Title: Advanced data analytics and high-resolution cervical auscultation can accurately predict dysphagia (#1652203)Summary: Dysphagia, or swallowing disorders, affects nearly one in 25 adults, especially the elderly and those who have suffered a stroke or neurological disease, and results in approximately 150,000 hospitalizations annually. A patient’s risk for dysphagia is diagnosed first by screening, and may require an endoscopy or fluoroscopy for further evaluation. However, some patients who aspirate do so silently, causing doctors to misdiagnose. Dr. Sejdić will utilize high-resolution vibration and sound recordings to develop a new screening technology to help doctors diagnose dysphagia and patients to learn how to properly swallow while eating or drinking. Dr. Sejdić and his lab group will also collaborate with speech language pathologists to develop an online learning module to further education and outreach throughout the U.S. ###

Mar
7
2017

The Swanson School Presents Alumna Vibha Rustagi with 2017 Distinguished Alumni Award for Electrical and Computer Engineering

Electrical & Computer

PITTSBURGH (March 7, 2017) … Collectively they are professors, researchers and authors; inventors, builders and producers; business leaders, entrepreneurs and industry pioneers. The 53rd annual Distinguished Alumni Banquet brought together honorees from each of the Swanson School of Engineering’s six departments and one overall honoree to represent the entire school. The banquet took place at the University of Pittsburgh's Alumni Hall, and Gerald D. Holder, US Steel Dean of Engineering, presented the awards. This year’s recipient for the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering was Vibha Rustagi, BSEE ’87, CEO of itaas, a Cognizant Company.“Engineers often have the ability to extend their expertise and abilities into other diverse fields, and Vibha is an example of how that translates into innovation and entrepreneurship,” said Dean Holder. “She co-founded her consulting firm, itaas, which was a startup poised for growth in the nascent digital communication industry. Vibha’s success is also reflected in the many patents she has been awarded, as well as recognition throughout our now-ubiquitous digital communications industry, including being named one of the most powerful women in cable, receiving the Vanguard Award from the Internet and TV Expo, the 2015 Women in Technology Award, and induction into the Cable TV Pioneers. About Vibha RustagiVibha Rustagi earned a BS in electrical engineering from the University of Pittsburgh and an MBA from the Mark Robinson School of Business at Georgia State University. Rustagi has been involved in the telecommunications and cable industries for over 20 years and started her career at Scientific-Atlanta, now Cisco, where she was integrally involved in the design and launch of the first digital networks and was awarded seven patents.In 1999, Rustagi co-founded itaas, a consulting firm focusing on the digital video delivery ecosystem where she served as itaas’ CEO and president. Under her leadership, itaas grew from a three-person start-up to a globally successful company, helping cutting-edge technology and telecommunications companies deliver a broad range of services to consumer devices. In 2014, itaas was acquired by Cognizant, one of the world’s leading professional services companies, transforming clients’ business, operating and technology models for the digital era, with over 260,000 employees worldwide.At Cognizant, Rustagi served as the CEO of itaas, a Cognizant Company, and is now the Head of Technology Ventures, Strategic Growth Areas and M&A for Cognizant’s Communications, Media and Technology Practice. Over the years, Rustagi has been honored by the cable industry as one of 12 cable executives in Communications Technology Cable Hall of Fame. At the 2014 National Cable TV Conference, Rustagi was inducted into the Cable TV Pioneers. And, at the 2015 Internet and TV Expo, she was awarded the most prestigious award in the industry – The Vanguard Award for Associates and Affiliates. Later in 2015, she was awarded the 2015 Women in Technology award by Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers, Women in Cable Telecommunications and Cablefax. ### Photo above: Dean Holder (left) with Vibha Rustagi and ECE Department Chair Alan George.
Author: Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer

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