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.





Aug
14
2017

Pitt Students’ Autonomous Drone ‘Flies High’ at International Robotics Competition

Electrical & Computer

ATLANTA (August 14, 2017) … Two decades ago, the Georgia Tech Campus Recreation Center served as a swimming venue for the 1996 Summer Olympics. This past summer, the competitors weren’t battling with backstrokes or synchronized dives; instead they were waiting anxiously on the sidelines to see if their autonomous robot drones could herd a group of randomly-moving Roombas to one side of the floor while avoiding obstacles.At the International Aerial Robotics Competition (IARC) Mission 7 at the Georgia Institute of Technology, the University of Pittsburgh Robotics and Automation Society (RAS) won Best System Design award and had the highest overall score out of 13 international teams present. The Best System Design award recognizes the overall design of the drone and its fitness for the mission, while points are awarded for flight performance and several static judging categories including a symposium presentation and a technical paper.“We were able to demonstrate autonomous flight, takeoff, and landing,” says Andrew Saba, Pitt RAS Director of Outreach and a member of the Pitt RAS team. “A lot of the aspects of the mission work in simulation but have not been integrated and tested on actual hardware. We are proud of how far we have come, but we know there is much more left to go.”The IARC Missions competition began in 1991, and each mission is repeated annually until it is successfully completed. Tsinghua University completed Mission 6 in 2013, prompting the creation of Mission 7.Mission 7 challenges teams to design and build a fully autonomous aerial vehicle capable of navigating through an indoor environment without landmarks. As the drone flies through the environment, ground robots move randomly around the floor. The main objective is for the drone to “herd” the ground robots across one side of an arena by touching them, while also avoiding moving obstacles.“Mission 7 is difficult because it requires the integration of many complex behaviors including localization without external landmarks, fast movement, target identification, obstacle avoidance, and artificial intelligence. Each of these is a research area in itself,” says Levi Burner, an electrical engineering undergraduate who led the Pitt RAS team at IARC alongside physics and computer science undergraduate Aaron Miller.In addition to the American Venue, an identical competition takes place annually at the Asia/Pacific Venue at Beihang University in Beijing, China. American judges and Asian judges confer, and representatives from both regions are present at each venue. The American Venue competition took place on July 26, and the Asia/Pacific Venue competition will take place in late August.“This mission could be completed at the Asia-Pacific Venue this year, or maybe never. We just do not know,” says Saba. “We have a lot of work to do and are hoping to beat the mission. This is its fourth year, and we have only been working on it for one.”“Competition allowed us to validate our design decisions, and this year the team will focus on higher level concepts such as interacting with ground robots and improving obstacle detection,” adds Burner. “While we did not interact with ground robots in 2017, we did lay a solid foundation and expect to have ground robot interaction completed in time for next year.”The IARC intentionally designs the mission to be impossible based on commercially available technology. If the mission is not completed by a team at the Asia/Pacific Venue this year, the mission will be repeated in 2018. No team was able to complete the full mission at the American Venue, and only four teams were capable of flying autonomously during the competition, including the Pitt team.“I was very impressed by what they were able to accomplish, especially in an international competition,” says Sam Dickerson, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at Pitt. “The project was totally student driven. Their workshop is next door to my office, and they worked every day on their design. There were many occasions I heard them working late in the evening. It’s really a great student group, not only are they active, they are very welcoming and make concerted efforts to include anyone and everyone who is interested in robotics.”About the Robotics and Automation SocietyPitt’s Robotics and Automation Society is a cross-discipline, student-run organization that focuses on emerging technologies in robotics, automation, and autonomous systems. Anyone interested in learning more about the Robotics and Automation Society and the IARC should visit their headquarters in 1212 Benedum Hall, email ras@pitt.edu, or check out the website at pittras.org. Pitt RAS also invites anyone to join their Slack at pittras.slack.com. ### Image above (from left to right):  Pitt RAS team members Andrew Saba, Ritesh Misra, Aaron Miller (back), Garret Sultzbach (holding plaque), Levi Burner, and Elliot Miller.
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Aug
14
2017

Pitt's ECE Department Welcomes Four New Faculty Members This Fall

Electrical & Computer

PITTSBURGH (August 14, 2017) … Four new faculty members will join the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering beginning September 1. Ahmed Dallal and Jingtong Hu will join the department as Assistant Professors; Wei Gao will join as an Associate Professor; and Heng Huang will join as the John A. Jurenko Endowed Professor. “We are very excited to announce and welcome these four new ECE faculty members,” said Alan George , Department Chair of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Pitt. “This group is truly exceptional and brings diverse interests and strengths, educational backgrounds, and experiences in academia that will be crucial in our on-going efforts and progress to broaden and deepen our academic and research programs in computer and electrical engineering.” Ahmed Dallal, Assistant ProfessorDr. Dallal received his BS and MS degrees in systems and biomedical engineering from Cairo University in Egypt. He received his PhD in electrical and computer engineering from the University of Pittsburgh in 2017. His PhD work focused on human-machine interaction and networked control applications for air traffic management. His research interests include biomedical signal processing, biomedical image analysis, and computer vision, as well as machine learning, networked control systems, and human-machine learning. Dr. Dallal received the Duquesne Light Fellowship in 2013 and 2014. He also received the Dean Fellowship from the University of Pittsburgh in 2015. He was the winner of the Young Innovator Award of Nahdet el Mahrouse in Egypt in 2009. Jingtong Hu, Assistant ProfessorDr. Hu was an assistant professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Oklahoma State University from 2013-2017. He received his PhD degree in computer science from the University of Texas at Dallas in 2013. He received his BE degree from the School of Computer Science and Technology, Shandong University, China in 2007. His research interests include embedded systems, Field-Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) technology, and emerging memory technology. His research has been supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), Air Force Research Laboratory, and Intel/Altera. He has published more than 50 papers for premier journals and conferences. Dr. Hu has served on the Technical Program Committee for many international conferences such as ASP-SAC, DATE, DAC, ESWEEK, RTSS, and others. He is also the recipient of OSU CEAT Outstanding New Faculty Award, Women’s Faculty Council Research Award, and Air Force Summer Faculty Fellowship. Wei Gao, Associate ProfessorBefore joining Pitt, Dr. Gao was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Dr. Gao received his PhD degree in computer science from Pennsylvania State University in 2012. His research interests include mobile and embedded computing systems, cyber-physical systems, Internet of Things, wireless networking, and big data. Dr. Gao has published more than 60 research papers at various top-tier journals and conference proceedings. He has attracted more than $2.5 million of external research funding from various federal agencies including NSF, Army Research Office, and Department of Energy. He is the winner of an NSF CAREER award in 2016. Heng Huang, John A. Jurenko Endowed ProfessorBefore joining Pitt, Dr. Huang was a Distinguished University Professor in Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Texas at Arlington. He was also an adjunct professor of clinical sciences at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. Dr. Huang received his PhD degree in computer science at Dartmouth College and then joined UTA as an assistant professor. His research areas include machine learning, big data mining, imaging genomics, medical image analysis, bioinformatics, health informatics, computational neuroscience, and precision medicine. He has published more than 130 papers in top-tier conferences and many papers in premium journals such as NIPS, ICML, KDD, RECOMB, ISMB, IJCAI, AAAI, CVPR, ICCV, SIGIR, Bioinformatics, IEEE Trans. On Medical Imaging, Medical Image Analysis, IEEE TKDE, and others. As principal investigator, Dr. Huang is leading a National Institutes of Health-funded $2 million R01 project on imaging genomics based complex brain disorder study, multiple NSF-funded projects on precision medicine, biomedical data science, big data mining, electronic medical record data mining and privacy-preserving, computational biology, smart healthcare, cyber physical systems, and also industry-funded projects on computational sustainability, smart metering, and smart grids. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Aug
3
2017

Erosion triggers most bridge collapses, so a Pitt engineer buried an alarm

Electrical & Computer, Student Profiles

Michael Rothfuss buried 15 PVC tubes packed with batteries and radios around a remote bridge that spans a small creek in Armstrong County more than two years ago. He hasn't heard from them since. Rothfuss, who has a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the University of Pittsburgh, placed the tubes as part of a Pitt RFID Center of Excellence project. It was to help PennDOT improve erosion monitoring around underwater support structures of remote, rural bridges. Read the full story by Aaron Aupperlee in the Tribune-Review. Photo: Michael Rothfuss in the RFID Center of Excellence. (Aaron Aupperlee/Tribune-Review)
Aaron Aupperlee, Tribune-Review staff writer
Jul
27
2017

Raising the Bar

Electrical & Computer, Student Profiles

The next time the barcode on your box of cereal or bag of lettuce won't scan, it could be on its way to a lab at the University of Pittsburgh. Pitt partners with GS1 , the international association responsible for regulating barcodes and setting barcode standards, to improve on the decades-old technology. Read the full story by Aaron Aupperlee in the Tribune-Review.
Aaron Aupperlee, Tribune-Review staff writer
Jul
16
2017

How secure is the nation's power grid?

Electrical & Computer

Gregory Reed, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Director of Pitt's Center for Energy, joined PJM President and CEO Andy Ott with KDKA's Jon Delano on the Sunday Business Page to discuss the security of the nation's power grid. (Original airdate: July 16, 2017) View the Sunday Business Page at KDKA TV.

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