Pitt | Swanson Engineering
News Listing

Jun

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)

May

May
31
2017

Swanson School Research Partner PITT OHIO Receives Gold LEED Certification for Cheswick Terminal

Electrical & Computer

News release reposted with permission of PITT OHIO PITTSBURGH (May 31, 2017) - A PITT OHIO Terminal, located at 1 Rich Hill Road, Cheswick PA, 15024, has received enough points to officially certify the location as LEED Gold. LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, Certification requires a building to meet certain sustainability standards in water, energy, and material usage efficiency, all of which the terminal has met and surpassed.The terminal received points to achieve the Gold Level Certification in six of the eight LEED categories including, Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Energy & Atmosphere, Materials & Resources, Indoor Environmental Quality, and Innovation & Design. Out of a possible 60 points needed to obtain a Gold ranking, the terminal received 63 on the LEED scale.The 55,000 square foot terminal, responsible for servicing the Pittsburgh region, utilizes a low-emitting Energy Star roof positioned to reflect the highest percentage of the sun’s rays, cooling the surrounding area and lowering air conditioning costs. 150 LED lights are used in replacement of incandescent, saving about $2,000 a year in electricity. A geothermal well was put in place to utilize the Earth’s temperature as a heat source in the winter and a heat sink in the summer. The project also uses renewable solar and wind energy with a 60kw photovoltaic array and a WindStax Turbine. The energy cost savings, when all forms of innovation are taken into account, are over 45% when compared to a conventional building. The Pittsburgh terminal is the company's second LEED Gold certified building.  The 22,000 square foot Maintenance Shop Building located on the same campus received Gold distinction in late 2016.The entire site uses sustainable landscaping including bioswales, or man-made elements placed to remove pollutants and dirt from runoff, and drought tolerant native plants to cut down on water usage and prevent flooding. Low-flow appliances and fixtures are also projected to save over 30% of the water that conventional fixtures would use in the same buildings. PITT OHIO secured help from EvolveEA; an organization dedicated to the advancement of environmentally sustainable systems and solutions through design and thought leadership. Marc Mondor, an American Institute-Architect, LEED Fellow, and a USGBC Faculty at EvolveEA, and his team assisted PITT OIHO with the application process and submittals of all necessary documentation.“We are pleased and proud to have been a part of this project, from early goal setting sessions to this milestone of multiple LEED certifications,” said Mondor. “This makes PITT OHIO the first trucking terminal in the country with two LEED Gold projects.  PITT OHIO has raised the bar, with a terminal that employs solar energy, wind energy, energy storage, stormwater retention, as well as a design that benefits all interior occupants.”     “PITT OHIO is proud to provide its customers and employees with one of the most innovative, sustainable, LEED Gold certified facilities found anywhere in this country,” stated Jim Fields, Chief Operating Officer at PITT OHIO. “This flexible facility and world class vehicle maintenance shop have state-of-the-art features which help us attract and retain some of the most talented drivers and mechanics in the region.  It clearly represents our commitment to Pittsburgh and Allegheny County and to the western Pennsylvania region.  It also demonstrates how incredibly talented people from the academic and business communities can team-up to solve complex business problems.”Following consideration of the importance of environmental sustainability and a commitment to be a leader in the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest regions, PITT OHIO is dedicated to doing its best to achieve environmental and social responsibility.  The company actively tries to reduce its carbon footprint on the road and at their facilities and their commitment to sustainability will be evident in future construction projects. ### Photo above: 180 rooftop solar panels atop the PITT OHIO Cheswick facility, along with a WindStax Turbine (background)  helped the company achieve LEED Gold. Photo below: At the LEED ceremony, from left: Michael Rooney, Bob Hurley, Jim Fields, Chuck Hammel, Rich Fitzgerald, Dr. Brandon Grainger, Dr. Gregory Reed, Dr. Katrina Kelly and Jennifer Liptak.    Rich Fitzgerald, County Executive, Allegheny County    Bob Hurley, Director, Allegheny County Economic Development    Jennifer Liptak, Chief of Staff, County Executive    Dr. Gregory Reed, Director, University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Energy    Dr. Brandon Grainger, Assistant Professor, University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Energy    Dr. Katrina Kelly, Manager of Strategy and Business Development, University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Energy    Michael Rooney, Manager of District Energy Initiatives, University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Energy    Chuck Hammel, President, PITT OHIO    Jim Fields, Chief Operating Officer, PITT OHIO    Jim Maug, Director of Building Maintenance and Property Management ABOUT PITT OHIOIn adhering to their “We’re Always There For You” signature commitment, PITT OHIO is dedicated to providing their customers with the best value in its SUPPLY CHAIN, GROUND, Less-Than-Truckload (LTL) and TRUCKLOAD services.  Headquartered in Pittsburgh, PA, PITT OHIO services the entire Mid-Atlantic and Mid-West regions and the remainder of the United States and Canada with North American service providers. To contact PITT OHIO, please visit their website at www.pittohio.com.ABOUT LEADERSHIP IN ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENTAL DESIGN (LEED)LEED certification ensures electricity cost savings, lower carbon emissions and healthier environments for the places we live, work, learn, play and worship. LEED’s global sustainability agenda is designed to achieve high performance in key areas of human and environmental health, acting on the triple bottom line - putting people, planet, and profit first. LEED projects earn points by adhering to prerequisites and credits across nine measurements for building excellence from integrative process to indoor environmental quality.ABOUT EVOLVE ENVIRONMENT AND ARCHITECTUREEvolve environment and architecture (EvolveEA) is a nimble multidisciplinary practice situated at the intersection of sustainability and the built environment. The team of designers, architects, environmental scientists and sustainable business experts look through three lenses of sustainability: People, Process, and Place.
Candi Cybator, Manager Marketing/Public Relations, PITT OHIO
May
22
2017

Swanson School’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering appoints Amro El-Jaroudi as Associate Chair

Electrical & Computer

PITTSBURGH (May 22, 2017) … Recognizing his significant career experience at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering, Amro El-Jaroudi has been named Associate Chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. An associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at Pitt since 1988, Dr. El-Jaroudi’s appointment was announced by Alan George, PhD, department chair. In his role, Dr. El-Jaroudi will support the academic and research initiatives in the department, as well as help manage staff, programs, and resources. “Amro brings the knowledge, wisdom, and experience to serve in this key role for our department,” Dr. George said. “He is well respected by his peers, colleagues, and students throughout the Swanson School and will contribute significantly to the operation and growth of our department.” Dr. El-Jaroudi’s research interests include digital signal processing, and neural net algorithms, specifically with applications in speech analysis and recognition, spectral estimation, and filter design, which in all have attracted more than $3.9 million in research funding. He has authored or co-authored several dozen journal publications and book chapters. At the Swanson School, he has developed courses in modern spectral estimation and digital filter design, and established the Real-Time Signal Processing Laboratory, which is dedicated to improving the design and problem solving experience in signal processing for juniors and senior undergraduates in electrical engineering. He is a recipient of the Swanson School’s Outstanding Educator Award (previously the Beitle-Veltri Memorial Award), and was named Outstanding Teacher in Electrical Engineering. Prior to his career at Pitt, he earned his bachelor’s, master’s, and PhD in electrical engineering from Northeastern University. ### Pictured above from left: Dr. Alan George with Dr. Amro El Jaroudi.

May
12
2017

Pitt IEEE Students Win Big at Student Activities Conference

Electrical & Computer

GLASSBORO, NJ (May 12, 2017) … Students from the University of Pittsburgh chapter of the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) placed in three competitions at the 2017 Region 2 IEEE Student Activities Conference at Rowan University. The Pitt teams won first place in the Pico Conference Paper Competition and the Micromouse Competition and third place in the Brown Bag Circuit Design Competition. “We are very proud of how these students represented the ECE department at this conference,” said Samuel Dickerson, assistant professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) and faculty advisor for Pitt IEEE. “The IEEE is not just the largest association for electrical and computer engineering professions, it is the world's largest association among all technical professions, so all of the major universities in the region participated. We are all delighted to see how our students’ performance reflects the quality of our SSOE ECE students and their ability to apply what they've learned to challenges outside of the classroom.” Kendra Farrell, a junior majoring in computer engineering at Pitt, took home first place for writing and presenting her technical paper titled “The James Webb Telescope and Its Search through Time.” For the competition, Farrell explored technical aspects of the James Webb Telescope—NASA’s next generation, infrared telescope scheduled to be launched in October 2018. A team consisting of Pitt undergraduates Ryan Matthews, Andrew Saba, Alex Glyde, and Michael Hermenault also won first place for their design of an autonomous robot mouse in the Micromouse Competition. The mouse was able to solve an eight-square-meter maze in the shortest amount of time. The four team members belong to the Robotics and Automation Society at Pitt. In the Brown Bag Circuit Competition, students completed challenges using various electrical components provided in a brown bag. The components included voltage dividers, clock signals, inverters, and XOR gates. Pitt students Brandon Contino, Jenna Delozier, and Demetri Khoury won third place. The Pitt students competed against 27 other universities in the Atlantic Region of IEEE, which covers parts of Ohio, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Washington DC, Virginia, and West Virginia. There were a total of 10 activities, and students could also attend leadership workshops and an awards banquet during the conference. ### Image above: Members from Pitt ECE attending the 2017 Student Activities Conference at Rowan University.
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
May
12
2017

Three Swanson School faculty recognized at 2017 Carnegie Science Awards

Electrical & Computer, MEMS

PITTSBURGH (May 12, 2017) … Three faculty members of the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering were among those recognized at the Carnegie Science Center’s 2017 Carnegie Science Awards, sponsored by Eaton. The program honors awardees from more than 20 categories, including Corporate Innovation, Emerging Female Scientist, Entrepreneur, Leadership in STEM Education, and others. According to the Science Center, “these individuals and companies have distinguished themselves by making unparalleled contributions to science and technology in various disciplines.” Carnegie Science Center established the Carnegie Science Awards program in 1997 to recognize and promote outstanding science and technology achievements in western Pennsylvania. “There’s a common thread among our award winners this year: They’re all problem-solvers who are dreaming big dreams,” said Ann Metzger, the Henry Buhl, Jr. Co-Director of Carnegie Science Center. “They’re using critical thinking skills to solve real-world problems and to make a difference. Those are crucial skills for all 21st –century learners, and that’s why problem-solving skills are a hallmark of all our Science Center programming.” Recipients from the Swanson School include: Information Technology AwardAlex Jones, PhDAssociate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Swanson School of EngineeringDirector of the Computer Engineering ProgramDr. Jones is internationally known for his research in “green computing.” His research led to the creation of GreenChip, a tool that provides detailed estimates about manufacturing and operational-phase metrics, such as energy consumption and carbon emissions. Innovation in Energy Award Kevin Chen, PhD The Paul E. Lego Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Swanson School of EngineeringDr. Chen is driving innovation with his research on fiber optical sensing technology. The innovations and technologies developed by Dr. Chen's team have critical applications to improve efficiency of energy production and safety of transportation infrastructures across all aspects of the energy industry. Advanced Manufacturing and Materials Award Paul Ohodnicki, PhD, and the Materials Science and Functional Materials Team, National Energy Technology Laboratory University of Pittsburgh Team Members: Kevin Chen, PhD, Aidong Yan, Sheng Huang The extreme environments of power generation systems and advanced manufacturing processes are too harsh for traditional sensors, limiting the ability to optimize efficiency and minimize environmental impacts. This team demonstrated a cutting-edge sensor technology capable of measuring temperature and gas composition inside solid oxide fuel cell systems, holding promise for commercialization and job growth. Honorable Mention - University/Post-Secondary Educator Peyman Givi, PhD Distinguished Professor and the James T. MacLeod Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science, Swanson School of EngineeringCo-Director of the PhD Program in Computational Modeling and SimulationDirector of the Laboratory for Computational Transport Phenomena Known as a modern-day “Rocket Scientist,” Dr. Givi is widely recognized as the leader and a first ranked researcher in the field of high-performance computing for propulsion, combustion, rockets, and energetic fluids simulation. He is also highly regarded for his effective mentoring of students. He has made a remarkable impact in engineering & computing education by training the next generation of outstanding scholars. All of his former postgraduate students are now in highly visible positions in academia, government laboratories and private industry across the globe. 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. About Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh Founded by Andrew Carnegie in 1895, Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh is a collection of four distinctive museums dedicated to exploration through art and science: Carnegie Museum of Art, Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Carnegie Science Center, and The Andy Warhol Museum. Annually, the museums reach more than 1.2 million people through exhibitions, educational programs, outreach activities, and special events. ###

May
10
2017

Following two decades as Dean, Gerald Holder to return to faculty at Pitt's Swanson School of Engineering

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

PITTSBURGH (May 10, 2017) ... Marking the culmination of more than two decades of dynamic leadership, Gerald D. Holder, U.S. Steel Dean of Engineering in the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering, has announced his intention to step down from his position to return to the faculty in the fall of 2018.Holder, Distinguished Service Professor of chemical engineering, has been dean of the Swanson School since 1996 and a member of its faculty since 1979.“Two words come to mind when I look back on Jerry’s incredible career as dean of our Swanson School of Engineering: tremendous growth,” said Chancellor Patrick Gallagher. “Under Jerry’s leadership, our Swanson School has seen record enrollment levels and total giving to the school has topped $250 million. “The school has also expanded academically to support new knowledge in areas like energy and sustainability — and also new partnerships, including a joint engineering program with China’s Sichuan University. And while I will certainly miss Jerry’s many contributions as dean, I am grateful that he will remain an active faculty member and continue to strengthen our Swanson School’s bright future,” Gallagher said.       “Through a focus on innovation and excellence, Dean Holder has led a transformation of the Swanson School of Engineering into a leader in engineering research and education,” said Patricia E. Beeson, provost and senior vice chancellor. Beeson added, "From the establishment of the now top-ranked Department of Bioengineering to the integrated first-year curriculum that has become a national model, the Swanson School has been a change maker. And with nearly three-quarters of the faculty hired while he has been dean, the culture of success that he has established will remain long after he steps down.” The University plans to announce the search process for his successor in the coming months. Holder’s Many Accomplishments In his 21 years as dean, Holder has overseen school growth as well as increases in research awards and philanthropic gifts. Enrollment has doubled to nearly 4,000 undergraduate and graduate students, and the number of PhDs has increased threefold. Holder also has emphasized programs to nourish diversity and engagement — for example, in 2012 the Swanson School had the highest percentage in the nation of engineering doctoral degrees awarded to women. Co-curricular programs also have prospered during Holder’s tenure. The school’s cooperative education program, which places students in paid positions in industry during their undergraduate studies, has increased to approximately 300 active employers. International education or study abroad has also become a hallmark of a Pitt engineering education, with 46 percent participation in 2015 versus a 4.6 percent national average for engineering and a 22.6 percent national average for STEM fields. The school’s annual sponsored research has tripled during Holder’s years as dean, totaling a cumulative $400 million. Alumnus John A. Swanson’s landmark $43 million naming gift came in 2007, the largest-ever gift by an individual to the University at the time.University-wide initiatives developed during Holder’s tenure as dean include the Gertrude E. and John M. Petersen Institute of NanoScience and Engineering; the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation, founded with support of alumnus John C. “Jack” Mascaro; and the Center for Energy.Holder is likewise held in high regard by his peers. "As a dean of long standing, many of us refer to Dean Holder as `the Dean of deans,’ not just because of his years of service but also because of the respect that we have for his leadership, mentorship and impact on the engineering profession,” said James H. Garrett Jr., dean of the College of Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University.“He is an accomplished academician, an exceptional academic leader and a tremendous human being.” Holder, a noted expert on natural gas hydrates and author of more than 100 journal articles, earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Kalamazoo College and bachelor’s, master’s and PhD degrees in chemical engineering from the University of Michigan. He was a faculty member in chemical engineering at Columbia University prior to joining the Pitt engineering faculty in 1979. He served as chair of the chemical engineering department from 1987 to 1995 before being named dean of engineering.Among many professional accomplishments, he was named an American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellow in 2003. In 2008 he was named an American Institute of Chemical Engineers Fellow and was awarded the William Metcalf Award from the Engineers’ Society of Western Pennsylvania for lifetime achievement in engineering. In 2015 he was elected chair of the American Society of Engineering Educators’ (ASEE) Engineering Deans Council, the leadership organization of engineering deans in the U.S., for a two-year term. The council has approximately 350 members, representing more than 90 percent of all U.S. engineering deans and is tasked by ASEE to advocate for engineering education, research and engagement throughout the U.S., especially among the public at large and in U.S. public policy. ###
Author: Kimberly Barlow, University Communications
May
10
2017

ECE’s Ervin Sejdic Becomes IEEE Signal Processing Magazine Area Editor of eNews

Electrical & Computer

PITTSBURGH, PA (May 10, 2017) … The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Signal Processing Magazine has announced Ervin Sejdic, associate professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh, will become the new Area Editor for eNews. Dr. Sejdic joins the magazine’s five other area editors in this senior position.“It is my great honor and pleasure to serve as an area editor for the IEEE Signal Processing Magazine, which is the highest rated journal in the area of signal processing,” said Dr. Sejdic. “This is a great recognition of my contributions to this field, and I’m very fortunate to be given this extraordinary opportunity.”Signal Processing Magazine and the recently introduced “Inside Signal Processing E-Newsletter” is distributed to all members of the IEEE Signal Processing Society. The journal contains instructional articles with “comprehensive surveys of important theories, algorithms, tools, and applications related to signal processing and related areas.” Its impact factor of 6.671 is the highest in the field.About Dr. SejdicDr. Sejdic holds a B.E. Sc. and Ph.D. from the University of Western Ontario, both in electrical engineering. During his undergraduate studies, Dr. Sejdic specialized in wireless communications, while his Ph.D. project focused on signal processing. From 2008 until 2010, Dr. Sejdic was a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering, University of Toronto with a cross-appointment at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, Canada’s largest children’s rehabilitation teaching hospital. During his postdoctoral fellowship, Dr. Sejdic 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 (July 2010-June 2011), where he focused on cardiovascular and cerebrovascular monitoring of older/diabetic adults. In addition to his role of associate professor at Pitt, Dr. Sejdic is the associate director of the RFID Center for Excellence, which works within academia and industry to advance the understanding and application of radio frequency identification (RFID) technology.About IEEEWith more than 400,000 members in 160 countries, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers is the world’s largest technical professional organization dedicated to advancing technology for the benefit of humanity. The IEEE is a leading authority on world-changing technologies, from computing and sustainable energy systems to aerospace, communications, robotics, healthcare, and more. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
May
8
2017

Pitt Names Founding Dean of School of Computing and Information

Electrical & Computer

PITTSBURGH—Paul R. Cohen is the founding dean of the University of Pittsburgh School of Computing and Information. Cohen’s deanship begins on Aug. 1, 2017. The first new school or college established at Pitt since 1995, the School of Computing and Information is a multidisciplinary environment that supports discovery, innovation and entrepreneurship driven by data and technology. It is a key element in Pitt’s strategy to support research in data and computation-intensive fields across the University. The school will begin operations on July 1 and will enroll its first students in the fall 2017 term. “Paul is a visionary leader who will quickly drive our School of Computing and Information to the forefront of academic excellence,” said Pitt Chancellor Patrick Gallagher. “He is also an expert collaborator and a leading authority on utilizing data, technology and information in new ways to solve some of the most challenging and complex issues facing society today.” “Paul’s scholarship and expertise are well suited to our ambitions for the School of Computing and Information. His history of leadership in academia and government positions him well to foster the development of the school and to partner with other leaders across the University,” said Pitt Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor Patricia E. Beeson. “I know that his enthusiasm and expertise will advance the school and will help the University of Pittsburgh continue to make an impact on our community and our world.” Since 2013, Cohen has worked as a program manager within the Information Innovation Office at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). At DARPA, he oversees programs that address a far-reaching collection of areas, such as communication between humans and machines, cancer biology, extracting knowledge from text, and global and national security. These programs have included the Big Mechanism and the Communicating with Computers programs. Cohen serves as a professor and was the founding director of the School of Information: Science, Technology and Arts, now the School of Information, at the University of Arizona. A professor at the University of Arizona since 2008, he also held positions at the University of Southern California from 2003 to 2008 and the University of Massachusetts from 1983 to 2003. In terms of his professional research, Cohen works in artificial intelligence and cognitive science. He is particularly interested in how robots and computers can learn the meanings of words and phrases — one of his programs at DARPA focuses on communicating with computers. He has also worked on other physical foundations for language, including vision-based learning of spatial language. Additionally, Cohen has developed methods for education informatics, which apply artificial intelligence and machine learning to better engage and teach students. Cohen's recent DARPA programs focus on technology to gather large numbers of journal articles and other data into causal models of very complicated systems, such as cell signaling systems in cancer or food and water systems. Cohen is the author of the book “Empirical Methods for Artificial Intelligence.” He was editor in chief of the International Journal of Intelligent Data Analysis, and also has been the co-editor for the International Journal of Approximate Reasoning, Artificial Intelligence for Engineering Design and Manufacturing, and Knowledge Engineering Review. Throughout his nearly 35 year academic and professional career, Cohen has been recognized with numerous honors and distinctions. He is an elected fellow of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. In 1998, he was named a faculty fellow of the University of Massachusetts. Cohen was a councilor for the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence from 1991 to 1994. Cohen earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology at the University of California San Diego in 1977, a Masters of Arts degree in psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles in 1978 and a PhD in computer science and psychology at Stanford University in 1983. ###
Author: Anthony Moore, University Communications

Apr

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
Apr
10
2017

Pitt Names Senior Vice Chancellor for Research

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

PITTSBURGH—Rob A. Rutenbar has been named the University of Pittsburgh’s senior vice chancellor for research. In this newly established position, he will lead the University’s strategic vision for research and innovation, enhancing existing technological partnerships. “I am delighted to welcome Rob to the University of Pittsburgh as our inaugural senior vice chancellor for research,” said Chancellor Patrick Gallagher. “His experience as a researcher, innovator, collaborator and entrepreneur — both inside and outside of the university — make Rob uniquely qualified to support our faculty’s research and innovation efforts and to champion Pitt research on a local, national and global scale.” Pitt Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor Patricia E. Beeson said Rutenbar is exceptionally well-suited for the role. “His administrative, entrepreneurial and research experiences align well with our vision for a leader who drives excellence and will serve as a champion for the University of Pittsburgh,” she said. “Rob’s experiences and expertise in both the academic world and the private sector make him the perfect individual to fully integrate and expand upon Pitt’s University-level research and medical school endeavors,” said Arthur S. Levine, senior vice chancellor for the health sciences and the John and Gertrude Petersen Dean of the School of Medicine. “In the coming years, we hope to be an internationally recognized model for how the various divisions of an educational institution can communicate and work together. Rob Rutenbar is precisely the type of professional needed to accomplish that goal.” Working with other senior University officials, the senior vice chancellor for research is responsible for establishing and implementing a long-term plan for research infrastructure. The position manages the University’s Center for Research Computing, Economic Partnerships, the Innovation Institute, the Office of Export Controls, the Office of Research, the Research Conduct and Compliance Office and the Radiation Safety Office. Additionally, Rutenbar will have an active role with the University's Swanson School of Engineering. “Dr. Rutenbar is an internationally=acclaimed scholar in computer engineering, and we are most excited that he is joining the faculty of our Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering here in the Swanson School of Engineering," saidAlan George, chair of the Swanson School's Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. "We are looking forward to his contributions to and collaboration with our ECE research programs." Rutenbar brings nearly 40 years of experience in innovation and technology to Pitt. His research focuses on three broad categories: tools for a wide variety of integrated circuit design issues, methods for managing the statistics of nanoscale chip design and custom computer architectures for perceptual and data analytics problems. Rutenbar currently serves as the Abel Bliss Professor of Engineering and heads the Department of Computer Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In this role, he oversees a department composed of 70 faculty members and more than 2,400 students that is currently ranked as the No. 5 computer science program in the nation by U.S. News and World Report. Prior to assuming that position in 2010, Rutenbar was a faculty member within Carnegie Mellon University’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering for 25 years. As an entrepreneur, Rutenbar founded the tech firms Neolinear Inc. and Voci Technologies, Inc. in 1998 and 2006, respectively. He was the founding director for the Center for Circuit and System Solutions, a multi-university consortium that focused on next-generation chip design challenges. The recipient of 14 U.S. patent grants, his endeavors have been funded by such notable entities as AT&T, Google, IBM, the National Science Foundation and the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Technology Alliance. Rutenbar is the author of eight books and 175 published research articles. In recognition of his career accomplishments, Rutenbar was elected a fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery. He has twice won the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ coveted Donald O. Pedersen Best Paper Award. He was recognized with distinguished alumnus awards from both the University of Michigan and Wayne State University. In 2002, Rutenbar 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. Rutenbar earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering at Wayne State University in 1978. He earned master’s and doctorate degrees in computer, information and control engineering at the University of Michigan in 1979 and 1984, respectively. Rutenbar will join Pitt’s senior leadership team in July. ###
Anthony Moore, University Communications

Mar

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

Feb

Feb
14
2017

A Better Way to Swallow

Electrical & Computer

PITTSBURGH (February 14, 2017) … 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 first diagnosed by screening, and may require an endoscopy or fluoroscopy for further evaluation. However, some patients who aspirate do so silently, causing doctors to misdiagnose. To develop an improved screening method for dysphagia, the National Science Foundation awarded a researcher at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering a CAREER Award through the NSF’s Division of Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental, and Transport Systems. Ervin Sejdić, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, received a five-year, $549,139 award to further 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. The CAREER program is the NSF’s most prestigious award for junior faculty who exemplify outstanding research, teaching, and their integration.  Dr. Sejdić, who began this research while a postdoctoral associate at the University of Toronto and Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, Canada's largest children's rehabilitation hospital, explained that an improved, non-invasive method to detect dysphagia could help to reduce patient risk and hospitalization. “By using modern data analytics we can compare and contrast the sound and vibrations of normal swallowing against patients with dysphagia,” Dr. Sejdić explained. “This allows us to understand how the airway normally protects itself during swallowing to avoid aspiration, and how this is affected during dysphagia, without the need for surgery or intubation.”According to Dr. Sejdić, patients with silent dysphagia may pass a traditional screening, which increases the potential for choking and suffocation. Analyzing the sounds and vibrations from the neck would not only reduce the incidence of silent aspiration, but also the need for conservative recommendations that limit eating and drinking for individuals with neurological disabilities such as multiple sclerosis or ALS. In addition to developing the technology, the award will allow Dr. Sejdić to collaborate with speech language pathologists to develop an online learning module to further education and outreach throughout the U.S. He would also like to utilize the data analysis to design a mobile device that would help patients while eating, but notes that possibility is several years in the future. "Endoscopy and fluoroscopy are still the gold standard for detecting dysphagia,” Dr. Sejdić said. “For now we’re not looking at replacing them but rather enhancing and improving the screening process.” ### 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 cross-appointed at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, 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 over 130 publications and is the co-holder of several 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.

Jan

Jan
30
2017

Swanson School well-represented among recipients of 2017 Chancellor’s Innovation Commercialization Funds from the Innovation Institute

Bioengineering, Chemical & Petroleum, Electrical & Computer

PITTSBURGH (January 30, 2017) ... The University of Pittsburgh Innovation Institute has awarded $140,000 to four Pitt Innovator teams to help them move their discoveries towards commercialization, where they can make a positive impact on society. The Chancellor’s Innovation Commercialization Funds were established to provide support for promising early-stage Pitt innovations to assist in reducing the technical and/or market risk associated with the innovations and make them more attractive to investors or potential licensees. One of the paths for identifying funding opportunities is through a request for proposal program that was launched in November of 2016 and recently culminated in these awards. “We are thrilled to be able to provide these funds to entrepreneurial Pitt faculty and graduate students to help expedite their commercialization journey,” said Marc Malandro, Founding Director of the Innovation Institute. “Often the most difficult hurdle to climb for commercializing University research is providing so-called ‘gap’ funding that can bridge the space between a promising idea and a marketable product.” The teams were selected by a panel of judges from a pool of two dozen applicants that was narrowed into a group of 10 finalists. The judges included several members of the region’s innovation and entrepreneurship community. They included: Nehal Bhojak – Director of Innovation, Idea Foundry Malcolm Handelsman – President, Pittsburgh Chapter, Keiretsu Forum Jim Jordan – President, Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse Andy Kuzneski – President, Kuzneski Financial Group Rich Lunak – President & CEO, InnovationWorks Mike Stubler — Managing Director, Draper Triangle Ventures “There were an impressive array of technologies presented by the finalists for the Chancellor’s Innovation Commercialization Funds. The business applications ranged from novel technologies for cancer therapy and biosensors for congestive heart failure to next generation LED displays and water desalination solutions.  The projects demonstrate not only the breadth of the University of Pittsburgh’s research prowess, but also the excellent coaching and preparation the innovators received from Pitt’s Innovation Institute,” Lunak said. Two awards of $35,000 each were made for innovations with a one-to-one matching partner: Thermoresponsive Hydrogel for Orbital Volume Augmentation Morgan Fedorchak, Assistant Professor, Department of Ophthalmology, Chemical Engineering and Clinical and Translational Science and Jenny Yu, Assistant Professor and Vice Chair, Clinical Operations Department of Ophthalmology, have discovered a non-degradable hydrogel material that can be injected into the orbit of the eye following ocular trauma or as a treatment for genetic eye disorders. The material can also be used to administer anti-inflammatory or antibiotic medications. The funding will be used to provide proof-of-concept studies. Data from the successful completion of the studies will better position the innovation for application to the Department of Defense for funding to explore the therapeutic potential of the technology. Matching funds will come from the University of Pittsburgh Center for Military Medicine Research, whose mission is to address combat-related injuries. Body Explorer: Autonomous Simulated Patient Douglas Nelson Jr. doctoral candidate in the Department of Bioengineering, John O’Donnell, Professor & Chair Department of Nurse Anesthesia, and Joseph Samosky, Assistant Professor, Department of Bioengineering have developed a mannequin medical simulator with projected augmented reality for training medical professionals in anatomy, physiology and clinical procedures. The team has previously participated in the Coulter Translational Partners II program and the Idea Foundry’s Science Accelerator to advance prototype development and usability testing. The new funding will assist in improving the user interface and expanding the BodyExplorer curriculum modules. Click here to see a video describing their invention. Idea Foundry is providing 1:1 matching cash support, in addition to $25,000 of additional in-kind support to assist in securing additional investment. Two projects received $35,000 awards without a matching requirement. Nano-LED Technology for Microdisplays Hong Koo Kim, Bell of PA/Bell Atlantic Professor, Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering and doctoral student Daud Hasan Emon have developed nano LED structures that have lower energy costs and longer battery life than existing LED technology. Applications include mobile device displays and other micro-display devices. The new funding will support the advancement of prototypes to demonstrate the breadth of the optimal applications. Reactive Extraction of Water: Desalination Without Membranes or Distillation Eric Beckman, Distinguished Service Professor of Chemical Engineering, has developed a chemical method for desalinating water that requires less energy than the longstanding existing methods such as reverse osmosis or flash distillation. The award will fund testing to validate the technology. Malandro said the Innovation Institute is working with those teams not chosen in this funding round to receive other education and funding opportunities to advance their discoveries. The Pitt Ventures Gear Program is an NSF I-Corps Site participant that provides an initial grant of $3,000 for teams to conduct customer discovery and value proposition activities. At the conclusion of each six-week First Gear cohort, teams pitch their ideas for the opportunity to receive from $5,000 to $20,000 from the Chancellor’s Innovation Commercialization Funds program. The teams are also eligible to apply for a second round of NSF funding of up to $50,000 from the national I-Corps program. The next First Gear cohort begins February 14, 2017. Applications are due February 1. Click here to learn more and apply. ###
Mike Yeomans, Marketing & Special Events Manager, Innovation Institute