Pitt | Swanson Engineering

Our graduates are successful professionals in today's diverse, global environment, and are able to adapt to new and shifting technologies, in whatever career path they choose to pursue. This includes careers in electrical engineering through employment in industry, government or private practice, as well as careers in other engineering or professional disciplines such as bioengineering, computer engineering, business, law, or medicine. Our graduates will also pursue advanced study in electrical engineering or other engineering or professional fields.

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

Jun
24
2015

Materials that Compute

Chemical & Petroleum, Electrical & Computer

PITTSBURGH (June 24, 2015) … Moving closer to the possibility of "materials that compute" and wearing your computer on your sleeve, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering have designed a responsive hybrid material that is fueled by an oscillatory chemical reaction and can perform computations based on changes in the environment or movement, and potentially even respond to human vital signs. The material system is sufficiently small and flexible that it could ultimately be integrated into a fabric or introduced as an inset into a shoe.      Anna C. Balazs, PhD , Distinguished Professor of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, and Steven P. Levitan, PhD , John A. Jurenko Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, integrated models for self-oscillating polymer gels and piezoelectric micro-electric-mechanical systems to devise a new reactive material system capable of performing computations without external energy inputs, amplification or computer mediation. Their research, " Achieving synchronization with active hybrid materials: Coupling self-oscillating gels and piezoelectric (PZ) films ," appeared online June 24, 2015 in the journal Scientific Reports , published by Nature (DOI: 10.1038/srep11577). The studies combine Dr. Balazs' research in Belousov-Zhabotinsky (BZ) gels, a substance that oscillates in the absence of external stimuli, and Dr. Levitan's expertise in computational modeling and oscillator-based computing systems. By working with Dr. Victor V. Yashin, Research Assistant Professor of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering and lead author on the paper, the researchers developed design rules for creating a hybrid "BZ-PZ" material. "The BZ reaction drives the periodic oxidation and reduction of a metal catalyst that is anchored to the gel; this, in turn, makes the gel swell and shrink. We put a thin piezoelectric (PZ) cantilever over the gel so that when the PZ is bent by the oscillating gel, it generates an electric potential (voltage). Conversely, an electric potential applied to the PZ cantilever causes it to bend," said Dr. Balazs. "So, when a single BZ-PZ unit is wired to another such unit, the expansion of the oscillating BZ gel in the first unit deflects the piezoelectric cantilever, which produces an electrical voltage. The generated voltage in turn causes a deflection of the cantilever in the second unit; this deflection imposes a force on the underlying BZ gel that modifies its oscillations. The resulting "see-saw-like" oscillation permits communication and an exchange of information between the units. Multiple BZ-PZ units can be connected in serial or parallel, allowing more complicated patterns of oscillation to be generated and stored in the system. In effect, these different oscillatory patterns form a type of "memory", allowing the material to be used for computation. Dr. Levitan adds, however, the computations would not be general purpose, but rather specific to pattern-matching and recognition, or other non-Boolean operations.   "Imagine a group of organ pipes, and each is a different chord. When you introduce a new chord, one resonates with that particular pattern," Dr. Levitan said. "Similarly, let's say you have an array of oscillators and they each have an oscillating pattern.  Each set of oscillators would reflect a particular pattern. Then you introduce a new external input pattern, say from a touch or a heartbeat. The materials themselves recognize the pattern and respond accordingly, thereby performing the actual computing." Developing so-called "materials that compute" addresses limitations inherent to the systems currently used by researchers to perform either chemical computing or oscillator-based computing. Chemical computing systems are limited by both the lack of an internal power system and the rate of diffusion as the chemical waves spread throughout the system, enabling only local coupling. Further, oscillator-based computing has not been translated into a potentially wearable material. The hybrid BZ-PZ model, which has never been proposed previously, solves these problems and points to the potential of designing synthetic material systems that are self-powered. Drs. Balazs and Levitan note that the current BZ-PZ gel model oscillates in periods of tens of seconds, which would allow for simple non-Boolean operations or pattern recognition of patterns like human movement. The next step for Drs. Balazs and Levitan is to add an input layer for the pattern recognition, something that has been accomplished in other technologies but will be applied to self-oscillating gels and piezoelectric films for the first time. The research is funded by a five-year National Science FoundationIntegrated NSF Support Promoting Interdisciplinary Research and Education (INSPIRE) grant, which focuses on complex and pressing scientific problems that lie at the intersection of traditional disciplines.  ###
Paul Kovach
Apr
30
2015

University of Pittsburgh recognizes the passing of beloved professor, inventor and entrepreneur, Dr. Marlin Mickle

Electrical & Computer

The Marlin H. Mickle Scholarship Fund: In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Marlin H. Mickle Scholarship Fund in the Swanson School of Engineering. Please make checks payable to the University of Pittsburgh and note on the memo line for the Marlin H. Mickle Scholarship. You may mail your contribution to Albert J. Novak Jr., Vice Chancellor for Institutional Advancement, University of Pittsburgh, 270 Park Plaza, Pittsburgh, PA  15260 Endowment income is to be used to provide support for tuition and other educational expenses of student(s) who are transferring from the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown to the Swanson School of Engineering. This Scholarship is renewable for up to four years, provided that the recipient continues to meet the University's academic standards. This fund will be administered by the Dean of the Swanson School of Engineering or his/her designee. Obituary by Marty Levine printed in the April 30, 2015 issue of The University Times . Reposted online with permission. Original post may be viewed here .Pictured: Marlin and Nancy Mickle at Pitt's 2014 Homecoming. Nancy Coleman Mickle's marriage to Marlin Mickle, an emeritus professor of electrical and computer engineering who died April 14, 2015, seemed to have a storybook quality, as seen from both inside and out. Nancy had been widowed in 2004 and moved to Pittsburgh part-time the next year to be near her son and his family. Marlin Mickle lived across the hall from her, but the two didn't meet until 2011. "It's really because I came crashing out of the elevator and nearly knocked him down," she recalls. "He kept saying there was something about my 'Oops!'" That's when he approached her for a first date. They were married Dec. 12, 2012, exactly a year later. It was Marlin Mickle's first marriage, recalls friend and colleague Albert J. Novak Jr., vice chancellor for Institutional Advancement, "and he was like a teenager. They were holding hands and walking up and down Fifth Avenue. He sure had a happy last few years with Nancy." Born July 5, 1936, in Windber, a suburb of Johnstown, Marlin Mickle began his first degree studying at Pitt-Johnstown in 1958 before transferring to the Pittsburgh campus after two years. "He was indebted to Pitt," Nancy Mickle says, having earned all his degrees here: a BS in electrical engineering in 1961, followed by an MSEE in 1963 and a PhD in 1967. He had already joined the Pitt faculty in 1962. "He had no money for college but he wanted an education," Nancy says. So he enlisted in the Air Force, then a branch of the Army, as a radar technician, stationed on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. He was supporting his mother at the time. He had been helping to do so since the age of 10, when she was widowed; some of his early jobs included long-time gigs as a drummer in local dance bands, beginning at age 12. In his academic career, Mickle was author, co-author or co-editor of more than 20 books and more than 200 other publications. He had more than 40 patents for such innovations as a magnetically levitated gyro and a gyro optical sensor, which resulted in seven spin-off companies following University licensing. One of his inventions won the Best of Show for Emerging Technologies at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in 2007. Before reaching emeritus status, Mickle was the Bell of Pennsylvania/Bell Atlantic Professor and previously the Nickolas A. DeCecco Professor in the Swanson School of Engineering, holding his primary appointment as professor of electrical and computer engineering, with secondary appointments in computer engineering, biomedical engineering, industrial engineering and telecommunications. His awards included the 1988 Systems Research and Cybernetics Award from the International Institute for Advanced Studies in Systems Research and Cybernetics, the Carnegie Science Center Award for Excellence in Corporate Innovation in 2005, a Life Fellowship from the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers), Pitt's 225th Anniversary Medallion Award, the 2011 Ted Williams Award from the Association for Automatic Identification and Mobility and the Pitt Innovation Award, 2005-12. His work was supported by more than 135 grants through the years, from private companies and foundations as well as such federal agencies as the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Army, NASA and the National Institutes of Health. In more recent years, Mickle was best known for pioneering the application of radio frequency energy waves to create wireless devices such as communication networks, battery chargers and radio frequency identification (RFID) tags for use in retail technology. He oversaw several laboratories for developing practical radio frequency applications and directed the RFID Center of Excellence. In 2004 he endowed a pair of faculty chairs in his department to honor his parents, Ruth E. Mickle and Howard T. Mickle. His $2.5 million bequest was one of the largest gifts a faculty member had made to the University at that time. He retired from the Swanson School of Engineering in 2013. Tom Cain, also an emeritus Swanson professor, was one of Mickle's most frequent collaborators. They met when Cain was working on his master's thesis in 1965-66 and Mickle was working on his PhD thesis. Mickle later was co-adviser on Cain's PhD thesis. Cain joined the school as an assistant professor in 1990; the pair co-advised students and worked together when their research coincided. That included working on RFIDs and writing books. "Over his entire career, he had a tremendous impact on research," says Cain. "He was a tremendous faculty member. There's no other way to phrase it." IA's Novak had known Mickle since 1997, when Novak came to Pitt from Carnegie Mellon University. He and Mickle had exchanged emails about an upcoming visit of Hewlett-Packard scientists to Mickle's lab. When Novak joined the visitors, he met Mickle in person for the first time. "I was used to working with much younger researchers," Novak recalls. Mickle was 58 at the time. But, Novak says, "I heard all this drive in his voice, all this energy. I thought, 'Whoa!' He had these HP people eating out of the palm of his hand. I thought, if everyone at Pitt was like Marlin Mickle, I'm going to be just fine." Novak became so friendly with Mickle that he purchased a condominium in Mickle's building. "He was just a good citizen," Novak says, noting Mickle's support for everything from their condo association to Shadyside Presbyterian Church, where Mickle was an elder. Mickle also helped the Asbury Heights assisted-living facility in Mt. Lebanon build the Ruth E. Mickle Library. He was a good citizen of the University, too, Novak says: "He was active on committees, programs and projects outside his laboratory and his discipline. "Marlin was a beloved figure and we are truly going to miss him," he adds. "He was just an outgoing, dedicated person. When I grow up I want to be like him." Even following his retirement, Nancy Mickle and her husband loved going to "everything at Pitt," she recalls. "We used to say, 'All you have to do is get dressed up and you will find a Pitt event to go to.' He loved parties and having someone on his arm." Previously, he joked, at events at then-Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg's home, he had ended up mainly talking to the Nordenbergs' large German shepherd, Bear. Nancy Mickle says her husband especially enjoyed running into former students who had "so many marvelous memories of courses with him" and who had gone on to prominent careers. "He was a researcher, a scholar, an inventor, but I always think of him as a teacher. "I don't know anyone who cared so much about people and always did the right thing. He was a gem." After inviting the local Boilermaker Jazz Band to play at their wedding - Nancy's son is the band's drummer - she surprised attendees by asking Marlin to play a song with the band. "He hadn't picked up a pair of drumsticks in 50 years, but he had no problem," she says. "No matter what the issue, he would give it his profound attention, creativity and intelligence," she says. "Apart from all those academic honors and awards, he was just a really sweet man." Besides his wife, Mickle is survived by her son, Richard Strong, and his wife, Melissa Kalarchian, and their children Max and Kate. A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. May 15 at Shadyside Presbyterian Church . Donations may be made to the Marlin H. Mickle Scholarship Fund in the Swanson School of Engineering, c/o Albert J. Novak Jr., Institutional Advancement, 270 Park Plaza, Pittsburgh 15260.
Marty Levine
Apr
9
2015

Computer Engineering junior Zachary Barnes one of two Pitt students awarded 2015 Goldwater Scholarships

Electrical & Computer, Student Profiles

UNIVERSITY OF PITTSBURGH NEWS RELEASE   PITTSBURGH- Two University of Pittsburgh students, Zachary A. Barnes and Joseph P. Johnston, have been named 2015 Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship winners. The two undergraduates were awarded the prestigious honor for their exceptional research in the areas of embedded computer system technology and high-energy particle physics, respectively. University of Pittsburgh students have now won 45 Goldwater Scholarships in the last 20 years.  The Goldwater Scholarship, established in 1986 by U.S. Congress and named for then-Senator Barry M. Goldwater of Arizona, supports outstanding students who are pursuing careers in the fields of engineering, mathematics, and the natural sciences. The award-granted in either a student's sophomore or junior year-assists in covering the costs of books, room and board, and tuition for each student's remaining period of study. In addition to Barnes and Johnston's recognition as Goldwater Scholars, Pitt students Reginald J. Caginalp and Zachary A. Eddinger received 2015 Goldwater Scholarship Honorable Mention designations. Institutions can nominate up to four students per year for the scholarship. This is the third consecutive year that all of Pitt's nominees have received either a Goldwater Scholarship or an Honorable Mention designation.  "I am happy to offer my congratulations to these students who have been recognized in the Goldwater Scholarship competition for their hard work and talent," Pitt Chancellor Patrick Gallagher said. "Their accomplishments bolster the legacy of excellence in undergraduate education and research at the University of Pittsburgh and are another example of the outstanding capabilities of Pitt students."  "The research pursuits of Zachary Barnes and Joseph Johnston are fascinating and deserving of the support of this prestigious scholarship," said University Honors College Dean Edward M. Stricker. "With the aid of the Goldwater Scholarship, both of these undergraduate students will move forward in their respective fields and continue to exemplify the type of students and professionals who are educated at the University of Pittsburgh."  A native of San Diego, Calif., Zachary A. Barnes is a junior majoring in computer engineering within the Swanson School of Engineering.  Barnes has helped to conduct research in the fields of medical technology research, embedded computer systems, and complex robotics within the laboratories of several Pitt faculty members. Most recently, he assisted in the development of safe-control algorithms for surgical robotics as well as a smart syringe for use in teaching proper drug-administration techniques to students in the medical fields. He also played a key role in the design of an autonomous aerial tracking system for monitoring animals in the wild. Barnes plans to pursue a PhD in computer engineering. He intends to focus his graduate study on complex embedded computer system technology with a specialization in personal robotics and prostheses.  Barnes is the vice president of the student technological-ideation organization Design Hub and a member of the engineering honors society Tau Beta Pi. He has served as president of Scientists, Engineers, and Mathematicians for Service, a student organization that provides educational outreach activities for K-12 students in Pittsburgh.  The University of Pittsburgh has honored Barnes with its University Honors Scholarship as well as the University Scholarship, which is annually awarded to the top two percent of Pitt juniors, seniors, and most recent graduating class. Barnes' other awards and distinctions include a 2015 Student Research Fellowship at Johns Hopkins University and a 2014 Research Experience for Undergraduates Fellowship from the National Science Foundation.  A native of Webster, N.Y., Joseph P. Johnston is a junior majoring in mathematics and physics within the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences.  Johnston has assisted Pitt faculty with research on particle physics. As a freshman, he assisted in the condensed matter physics lab of Jeremy Levy, a distinguished professor in Pitt's Department of Physics and Astronomy in the Dietrich School and director of the University's Pittsburgh Quantum Institute. Since his sophomore year, he has been involved in research on neutrino physics within the lab of Pitt Physics and Astronomy Professor Steven A. Dytman. Within Dytman's lab, he has collaborated on numerous projects with researchers from other nations for the GENIE Neutrino Monte Carlo Generator, a large-scale, long-term event generator project developed by an international partnership of scientists.  Johnston plans to pursue a PhD in high-energy particle physics. Upon completion of his academic career, he intends to attain a faculty position at a major research university, where he could teach physics and conduct further research in the field of high-energy particle physics. Johnston's professional affiliations have included the Society of Physics Students, the Pitt Math Club, and the Phi Eta Sigma National Honor Society, the nation's oldest and largest freshman honor society.  Upon arriving at Pitt in 2012, Johnston was awarded a University of Pittsburgh Academic Scholarship. His other awards and distinctions include the 2012 Get it Straight Orthodontics Community Service Award and the 2012 Shirley Miller Scholarship from the Webster Community Chest, which also recognizes exemplary community-service activities. Johnston was the valedictorian of Webster Thomas High School's class of 2012.  Goldwater Honorable Mention designee Reginald J. Caginalp , a native of Pittsburgh's Squirrel Hill neighborhood, is a junior majoring in physics and astronomy as well as mathematics. Goldwater Honorable Mention designee Zachary A. Eddinger , from Fleetwood, Pa., is a junior majoring in chemistry as well as in history and philosophy of science.  Pitt's four 2015 Goldwater Scholarship students were nominated with assistance from Pitt's University Honors College, which advises Pitt undergraduate students and alumni who are interested in pursuing national and international awards. ###  
Anthony M. Moore
Mar
30
2015

Pitt designated an Innovation Corps Site by National Science Foundation

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

UNIVERSITY OF PITTSBURGH NEWS RELEASE PITTSBURGH- The National Science Foundation (NSF) has designated the University of Pittsburgh as an NSF I-Corps site. The award, which supports innovation activities at select academic institutions, comes with a three-year, $300,000 grant to be used to advance innovation, commercialization, and entrepreneurship at Pitt. The University's Innovation Institute will manage the Pitt I-Corps site. (The "I" in I-Corps stands for "Innovation.") Through the I-Corps grant, 30 Pitt Innovator teams per year will receive $3,000 to participate in the Institute's Pitt Ventures program, which provides Pitt teams with hands-on commercialization and entrepreneurial education activities in partnership with entrepreneurs-in-residence, investors, and local business mentors. Pitt Innovator teams may use the $3,000 stipends for market research, customer-discovery analyses, and other development efforts.  "We're honored to receive this prestigious NSF award to support our commercialization efforts," says Marc Malandro, founding director of the Innovation Institute and associate vice chancellor for technology management and commercialization at Pitt. "This award builds on our efforts to instill a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship across the entire University, bringing together more faculty, staff, and student innovators with educators, mentors, and other community partners to advance our commercialization activities." The Innovation Institute's goals for the I-Corps program are to accomplish the following: Increase the number of entrepreneurially minded faculty, staff, and students at Pitt through education, training, and outreach-particularly among innovators from diverse backgrounds and underrepresented academic disciplines. Enhance a recently deployed commercialization process at Pitt that includes experiential learning and customer-discovery support for Pitt Innovator teams. Improve Pitt's connection to-and support of-the Pittsburgh region's entrepreneurial ecosystem in nurturing startup companies emerging from University innovations. "Through support provided by the I-Corps program, the University of Pittsburgh now will be able to develop an even deeper pipeline of commercialization opportunities from a broader group of innovators, further enhancing our impact on regional and national economic development," Malandro says. The Innovation Institute , launched in November 2013, serves as the hub of innovation commercialization and entrepreneurship activities at the University of Pittsburgh.   ###
Joe Miksch
Mar
30
2015

Research Papers by Computer Engineering Senior Donald Kline Jr. Accepted to Two International Conferences

Electrical & Computer, Student Profiles

PITTSBURGH (March 30, 2015) ... Two research papers written by University of Pittsburgh senior Donald Kline Jr. will appear in the proceedings of upcoming peer-reviewed conferences in computer engineering. Mr. Kline, whose major is computer engineering at Pitt's Swanson School of Engineering, is first author on both papers and will present the work at these conferences. Mr. Kline is a native of Wexford, Pa. and a graduate of Pittsburgh Central Catholic. The first paper, "Domain-wall Memory Buffer for Low-Energy Networks-on-Chips," was developed during a Swanson School undergraduate internship experience last summer, which built upon Kline's fall-term classwork and preliminary research in the spring. Working with Alex K. Jones, PhD , associate professor and director of the computer engineering program, Kline researched control schemes that leverage the "shift-register" nature of spintronic domain-wall memory to replace conventional memory buffers for networks-on-chips, which are a leading energy consumer in modern multi-core processors. "The university's high-performance computers were highly useful for running my simulations," said Mr. Kline. The computers enabled him to run multiple simultaneous simulations and receive timely results. The paper based on this research will appear at the Design Automation Conference (DAC), the premier conference for design and automation of electronic systems with an approximately 20% acceptance rate.  DAC will be held in San Francisco in June. Kline's second paper is entitled "MSCS: Multi-hop Segmented Circuit Switching," developed during his undergraduate design project with Dr. Jones and Rami Melhem, PhD , professor of computer science. Mr. Kline's research revealed a reservation-based circuit-switching design that provides simplified global control and multi-hop traversal while reducing latency. He presented his results at the senior design expo in December. This paper has been accepted at the GLSVLSI Symposium , an international conference on semiconductor technology and circuits, which happens to be held this year in Pittsburgh in May. The GLSVLSI Symposium has an acceptance rate of 29%. "Don's paper on domain-wall memory buffers at DAC, a premiere conference in chip design, is a significant achievement for an undergraduate student. However, to make two independent contributions in such a short period of time is quite remarkable," Dr. Jones said. "Don's work describes, fundamentally, how we can build queue structures using an emerging domain-wall magnetic storage structure which can reshape the landscape of computing architectures and networks." Pictured at top: Donald Kline Jr. (seated) with Dr. Alex Jones. ###
Rachel Baker

Upcoming Events


back
view more