Pitt | Swanson Engineering

Since its founding in 1893 by two legends, George Westinghouse and Reginald Fessenden, the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Pitt has excelled in education, research, and service.  Today, the department features innovative undergraduate and graduate programs and world-class research centers and labs, combining theory with practice at the nexus of computer and electrical engineering, for our students to learn, develop, and lead lives of impact.


City of Pittsburgh, Pitt and Danish government announce agreement to collaborate on energy planning and research

Chemical & Petroleum, Electrical & Computer

PITTSBURGH (March 20, 2018) … The City of Pittsburgh enjoyed three “renaissance” periods in the 20th century that transformed its environment, architecture, and quality of life. Following that legacy of innovation, a new working group announced today seeks to create an energy renaissance for Pittsburgh in the 21st century. The University of Pittsburgh and the Danish Energy Agency are joining forces to collaborate on designing and demonstrating smart energy systems in the City of Pittsburgh. The partnership will focus on: Energy planning for renewables (e.g., wind, solar, thermal, biomass) District heating planning and microgrid feasibility assessments Socioeconomic (community net benefit) analysis of district energy projects Energy infrastructure investments Policy and regulatory structures for district-scale energy approaches The Danish government is globally recognized for its energy leadership, whose objectives include creating security of energy supply, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and whilst furthering economic development. Through these initiatives, Denmark expects to be the first country in the world to be independent of fossil fuels by 2050, yet is simultaneously attracting technology companies interested in building power-dense data centers like Facebook, Google, and Apple by virtue of Denmark’s clean energy. Pittsburgh is the first city the government chooses to collaborate with under this program in the United States, and will join the DEA in celebrating and discussing energy and innovation. The Danish ambassador to the US, Lars Gert Lose, is optimistic about the possible outcomes of the cooperation. “Denmark is proud to work with an American city undergoing such rapid change. I hope this cooperation can help Pittsburgh replicate the clean energy initiatives we have established in Denmark, and create economic growth that supports sustainability and resiliency.” In its agreement with the University of Pittsburgh, the Danish Energy Agency will develop workshops for regional entities from the public and private sectors, as well as a familiarization tour for stakeholders to experience successful energy initiatives in Denmark. “Large-scale energy projects are logistically challenging for American cities like Pittsburgh, which unlike peer cities and countries in Europe, lack an overarching environmental- or energy-specific entity that both regulates and finances such ventures,” explained Rebecca Bagley, Vice Chancellor for Economic Partnerships at Pitt. “But in partnership with the Danish Energy Agency (DEA) and Danish utilities, we can develop a roadmap toward next-generation energy leadership and infrastructure priorities for Pittsburgh to benefit residents, businesses, government entities and utilities.” The University will provide faculty expertise through its Center for Energy, housed in the Swanson School of Engineering, and the Energy Grid Research and Infrastructure Development (GRID) Institute. “This melding of international expertise across diverse energy sectors will help to advance a new “smart cities” concept for Pittsburgh, one based in philosophical experience yet backed up by hard data,” noted Gregory Reed, director of the Center for Energy and the Energy GRID Institute. “In the end, we hope that this endeavor will not only benefit Pittsburgh’s energy renaissance, but provide a baseline for other American cities to follow.” “Like our past city renaissances, Pittsburgh has benefited tremendously from strong public-private partnerships that can see past the red tape and politics to develop transformative change,” noted Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto. “Pittsburgh already has a head start with the creation of the District Energy Initiative to address Pittsburgh’s challenge of creating 21st century energy systems,” the Mayor added. “But now by collaborating with Denmark, we can combine their international success with our own domestic expertise and establish more sustainable energy policies that help reduce our carbon footprint, and at the same time, increase the affordability and accessibility of our energy supplies here in Pittsburgh. Together we will show combining energy and environmental planning can provide a win-win for the economy.” ###


Swanson School faculty and STEM program among 2018 Carnegie Science Award honorees

Electrical & Computer, MEMS, Diversity

PITTSBURGH (March 19, 2018) – Two professors and a long-standing STEM program at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering are among the 2018 Carnegie Science Award honorees, presented by Carnegie Science Center. The recipients are among honorees in 17 categories announced at a reception on March 13 at Carnegie Science Center on the North Shore. Winners and honorable mentions will be honored May 4 during the Carnegie Science Awards Celebration at Carnegie Music Hall in Oakland.  Albert To, PhD, associate professor of mechanical engineering and materials science, is the recipient of the Advanced Manufacturing and Materials Award. Dr. To was recognized for his research in design optimization for additive manufacturing, multiscale methods, and computational mechanics. He is actively working on developing “Lattice Structure Design Optimization” software for generating optimal lightweight design for 3D printing. Gregory Reed, PhD, professor of electrical and computer engineering and Director of Pitt’s Center for Energy and the Energy GRID Institute, was one of two honorable mention recipients in the Innovation in Energy category. Dr. Reed is recognized internationally for his research in advanced electric power grid and energy generation, transmission, and distribution system technologies; micro-grids and DC infrastructure development, renewable energy systems and integration; and smart grid technologies and applications. The Swanson School’s Investing Now program received an honorable mention in the Leadership in STEM Education category. Created in 1988, Investing Now a college preparatory program created to stimulate, support, and recognize the high academic performance of pre-college students from historically underrepresented groups in science, technology, engineering and mathematics majors and careers. (Pictured from left: Justyce Hill, Kayla Ray, Nara Hernandez and Charlie Partlow) The Carnegie Science Awards champion efforts to strengthen science and technology in our region. This year’s winners range from a culinary arts teacher whose coursework extends beyond the conventional kitchen into food-science research and career exploration, to a tech start-up that secured $1 billion from Ford Motor Company. A committee of peers— past awardees and industry leaders— who rigorously reviewed nominations and selected the most deserving winners, selected winners. For more information about the awards celebration, go to CarnegieScienceCenter.org/Awards.“The Carnegie Science Awards applaud some of the most exciting leaders and innovators in our region’s science community,” said Ron Baillie, Henry Buhl, Jr., Co-Director of Carnegie Science Center. “They helped make Pittsburgh the technology hub it has become and inspire the young people who will become the next generation of professionals in the STEM fields of science, engineering, technology, and math.”Ann Metzger, Henry Buhl, Jr., Co-Director of Carnegie Science Center, said the awards are an integral part of the mission of promoting STEM education, which will be energized later this year when the Science Center’s PPG Science Pavilion opens in June and provides additional state-of-the-art classroom space. “Winners of the Carnegie Science Awards represent the pinnacle of excellence in STEM fields and STEM education,” Metzger said. “We are thrilled to recognize our amazing awardees and expect them to continue to do us proud with their accomplishments in the future.”Through the support of committed sponsors, the Carnegie Science Awards program has honored the accomplishments of more than 550 individuals and organizations. Eaton is the presenting sponsor for the Carnegie Science Awards. Chevron is the prime sponsor. ### About Carnegie Science Center Carnegie Science Center is dedicated to inspiring learning and curiosity by connecting science and technology with everyday life. By making science both relevant and fun, the Science Center’s goal is to increase science literacy in the region and motivate young people to seek careers in science and technology. One of the four Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, the Science Center is Pittsburgh’s premier science exploration destination, reaching more than 700,000 people annually through its hands-on exhibits, camps, classes, and off-site education programs.


The Final Frontier’s Final Frontier

Electrical & Computer, MEMS

PITTSBURGH (March 5, 2018) … In T minus 8,760 hours, or roughly one year, the Space Test Program-Houston 6 (STP-H6) hybrid and reconfigurable space supercomputer will board the International Space Station. The newest mission to the ISS featuring research and technology from the University of Pittsburgh’s NSF Center for Space, High-performance, and Resilient Computing (SHREC) will bring an unprecedented amount of computing power into space and invaluable research opportunities from the ground station on Pitt’s Oakland campus. “Computer engineering for space is the ultimate challenge,” says Alan George, SHREC founder and the Mickle Chair Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) at Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering. “Space computing has become a principal challenge in all spacecraft, since remote sensing and autonomous operation are the main purposes of spacecraft and both demand high-performance computing.” This new mission experiment is the work of an outstanding team of graduate and undergraduate students studying at Pitt, led by Chris Wilson.Earlier this month, the Pitt system for STP-H6 completed its 1,400-mile earth journey from NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. to NASA Johnson Space Flight Center in Houston. Its next much shorter trip is scheduled for February 2019 when it will travel 240 miles skyward from NASA Kennedy to the ISS. The new space supercomputer is nearly three times more powerful than its predecessor launched last year and contains dual high-resolution cameras capable of snapping 2.5K by 2K pixel images of Earth.“Our new system has a similar goal to perform in space and evaluate our new kind of space computer featuring an unprecedented combo of high performance and reliability with low power, size, weight, and cost,” Dr. George explains. “The big difference is that our STP-H6 system is more powerful in computing and sensing capability and arguably the fastest computing system ever deployed in space.” The new system for STP-H6 passed extreme environmental testing at NASA Goddard and recently completed initial integration and testing at NASA Johnson. It will remain at NASA for a year of integration and verification. When all systems are go, STP-H6 will travel to the ISS on a SpaceX rocket, marking the second time that Pitt has had a payload on SpaceX technology.“We think it’s a perfect match since SpaceX is an industry leader in launch vehicles and SHREC is the leading academic group in space computing,” says Dr. George.Another first for SHREC is collaboration with the Swanson School of Engineering’s Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science (MEMS). Assistant Professors Dave Schmidt and Matthew Barry led the MEMS department’s contributions by designing and verifying the system chassis to meet the demands of STP-H6.“Dr. Schmidt worked on mechanical design and validation of the system so it fit the new additions to the H6, and I worked thermal modeling so the system had the capacity to dissipate heat from the electronics within,” says Dr. Barry. “An excellent group of volunteer students were fully engaged and committed to make sure the project succeeded.”Dr. George intended academic, industrial, and governmental collaborations like the one between the ECE and MEMS departments when he brought the NSF Center for High-Performance Reconfigurable Computing (CHREC) from the University of Florida to Pitt in 2017 and later reorganized it as SHREC. It is the first interdepartmental partnership on a space mission in Swanson School history.“Our first ISS experiment entirely focuses upon R&D topics in computer and electrical engineering, so it was handled entirely in SHREC and ECE. However, our second mission brought additional challenges in mechanical design, thermal analysis, and safety analysis – challenges that we as electrical and computer engineers couldn’t tackle alone – so we reached out to colleagues in the mechanical engineering department,” says Dr. George.The full name of the new payload is the STP-H6/SSIVP or the Space Test Program – Houston 6, Spacecraft Supercomputing for Image and Video Processing. Its predecessor on STP-H5 is the CHREC Space Processor or STP-H5/CSP. The H5 system will remain on the ISS, working separately and together with the H6 system on a dynamic set of space technology experiments. “After one year in space, the H5 system is proving highly successful in the harsh environment of space, and researchers are using it as a sandbox for a growing list of experiments uploaded from the Pitt campus. When a new technology is deployed in space, the first and biggest question is whether it will operate well there, and ours continues to impress,” says Dr. George. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer

Pitt Alumnus and Veteran Energy Research Leader Named Acting Director of NETL

Chemical & Petroleum, Electrical & Computer, MEMS

NETL News Release. Posted with permission. Pittsburgh, Pa. – Sean I. Plasynski, Ph.D., a 28-year veteran of federal fossil energy research, has been named acting director of the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL). Plasynski was named to the leadership post by U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy Steven Winberg following the retirement of Grace Bochenek, Ph.D., who served as director for three years. “This Laboratory has a long history of helping to provide energy security for the people of the United States,” he said. “It is a history accentuated by bold research and solid contributions that have had long-lasting impacts. It is an honor to have the privilege of working with a roster of talented researchers and administrators who have the skills and expertise to continue moving our nation forward.” Plasynski comes to the assignment after having served as the executive director of NETL’s Technology Development and Integration Center where he was responsible for overseeing NETL’s national programs with sister DOE National Laboratories, universities and industrial partners. In the role, he led integrated technical and business teams in managing federally sponsored, extramural research in coal, oil, and gas, and energy technology development. He has held numerous management and technical positions over his NETL career, including acting deputy director and chief operating officer, director of the Strategic Center of Coal, director of the Office of Coal and Power R&D, and Sequestration Technology manager. He has been involved in a wide spectrum of energy technology development, including advanced power and environmental systems, solids transport, biomass co-firing, and carbon capture and storage. Plasynski holds a B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of Pittsburgh, and an MBA from the University of Pittsburgh’s Katz Graduate School of Business. NETL, part of DOE’s national laboratory system, supports the DOE mission to advance the energy security of the United States. The Laboratory implements a broad spectrum of energy and environmental research and development programs. NETL, with research sites in Pittsburgh, Morgantown, W.Va., and Albany, Ore., has expertise in coal, natural gas, and oil technologies; contract and project management; analysis of energy systems; and international energy issues. The Laboratory had an FY 17 federal budget of $927 million with a research portfolio that includes more than 900 projects and activities in all 50 states, with a total value that exceeds $7 billion. More than 1,200 employees work at NETL. In addition to research conducted onsite, NETL’s project portfolio includes R&D conducted through partnerships, cooperative research and development agreements, financial assistance, and contractual arrangements with universities and the private sector. Together, these efforts focus a wealth of scientific and engineering talent on creating commercially viable solutions to national energy and environmental problems. NETL’s current mission is to discover, integrate, and mature technology solutions to enhance the nation’s energy foundation and protect the environment for future generations. NETL is the only national lab dedicated to fossil energy. Over the past 20 years, NETL’s scientists have earned 46 R&D 100 Awards, and 33 regional and national awards from the Federal Laboratory Consortium. These awards, along with the many other individual awards won by NETL scientists and research partners, recognize NETL’s contribution to the nation’s energy future. ###
Shelley Martin, DOE National Energy Technology Laboratory

Swanson School’s Ervin Sejdic among 2018 Chancellor’s Award winners

Bioengineering, Electrical & Computer

PITTSBURGH (February 23, 2018) … The Swanson School of Engineering’s Ervin Sejdić is among eleven University faculty members to be recognized with the University of Pittsburgh’s Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching, Research and Public Service Awards at the annual Honors Convocation on Feb. 23. Dr. Sejdić, associate professor in the Swanson School’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, will receive the Chancellor’s Distinguished Research Award in the Junior Scholars category and receive a $2,000 prize and $3,000 grant to support research. Dr. Sejdić, who also has a faculty appointment in the Swanson School’s Department of Bioengineering, was selected for his work establishing the field of signal processing for swallowing accelerometry, and for significant contributions to multisystem quantification of the human gait. Chancellor Patrick Gallagher noted that this “groundbreaking work has earned you international standing in your field,” including more than $7.4 million for his research. “I am incredibly honored to be recognized by the Chancellor and the Pitt community for my research,” Dr. Sejdić said. “The strong collaboration between the Swanson School, the School of Medicine, and UPMC is a rarity among universities and has helped me to further my research. This award is a recognition of how those partnerships have established Pitt as one of the top research universities in the U.S.” In February 2017, Dr. Sejdić was among five Swanson School junior faculty to receive a CAREER award from the National Science Foundation, the organization’s most prestigious award for junior faculty who exemplify outstanding research, teaching, and their integration.  The five-year, $549,139 award would further his research using high-resolution vibration and sound recordings that would help doctors diagnose dysphagia and assist patients in improving how to properly swallow while eating or drinking. “This is a well-deserved award for Ervin and is a testament to his passion for life-changing research,” noted Alan George, Department Chair and R&H Mickle Endowed Chair of Electrical and Computer Engineering. “He is an inspiration for our faculty and students alike, and I look forward to his future success at the Swanson School.” ### About Dr. Sejdić Dr. Sejdić’s research interests include biomedical signal processing, gait analysis, swallowing difficulties, advanced information systems in medicine, rehabilitation engineering, assistive technologies, and anticipatory medical devices. During his undergraduate studies at the University of Western Ontario, Dr. Sejdić specialized in wireless communications, while his PhD project focused on signal processing. These two areas would influence his postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Toronto’s Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering, where he focused on rehabilitation engineering and biomedical instrumentation. He was also a research fellow in medicine at Harvard Medical School cross-appointed at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, where he focused on cardiovascular and cerebrovascular monitoring of older diabetic adults. Dr. Sejdić has co-authored more than 90 publications in the last five years and is the co-holder of seven patents. In 2016, he was one of four Pitt faculty and 105 researchers nationwide to receive the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. Government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers.

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