Pitt | Swanson Engineering

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





Sep
15
2016

IEEE Nanotechnology Council Elects Pitt's Guangyong Li as Vice President for Conferences

Electrical & Computer

PITTSBURGH (September 15, 2016) … The Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), the world’s largest association of technical professionals, has chosen the University of Pittsburgh’s Guangyong Li as its 2017-2018 Vice President for Conferences for the IEEE Nanotechnology Council (NTC).Li, associate professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering, was one of three new officers announced at the NTC’s International Conference on Nanotechnology on August 22 in Sendai, Japan. Council members from the 22 IEEE Societies gather annually to elect new officers. All positions are effective as of January 1, 2017.As Vice President for Conferences, Li will establish and chair the Meetings Committee. With the assistance of the Meetings Committee, he will provide direction for the conference activities of the Council, including overseeing, coordinating and monitoring the annual conference of the Council and all conferences co-sponsored by the Council.About Guangyong LiGuangyong Li received his BS degree in mechanical engineering from Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics and his MS degree in control theory and application from the Beijing Institute of Control Engineering in the China Academy of Space Technology. He received his PhD in electrical engineering from Michigan State University. His research interests center on nanostructured thin film solar cells; scanning probe microcopy; micro/nanorobotics systems; nanodevices and biosensors; control theory and applications; and real-time design and integration. In 2006, he received the IEEE Transactions on Automation Science and Engineering Best Paper Award.In addition to his contributions in academia, Li gained industrial experience by working for the Beijing Institute of Space Mechanical and Electrical Engineering in the China Academy of Space Technology from 1992-1996 and Beijing Hollysys Corporation in 1999.Li has been a member of the IEEE NTC since 2002. He has received other appointments as Vice President for Technical Activities from 2014-2015; General Chair of the 17th IEEE International Conference on Nanotechnology in 2017; Program Chair of the 10th IEEE International Conference on Nano/Micro Engineered and Molecular Systems; and Program Co-Chair of the 14th IEEE International Conference on Nanotechnology. His extensive experience with the IEEE also includes positions as a representative from the IEEE NTC on the steering committee of IEEE Journal of Photovoltaics and registration chair for conferences sponsored by the NTC such as IEEE Nanotechnology Materials and Devices Conference in 2009 and 2010 and IEEE International Conference on Nano/Molecular Medicine and Engineering in 2013. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Sep
13
2016

New Faculty Join Pitt Electrical and Computer Engineering Department

Electrical & Computer

PITTSBURGH (September 13, 2016) … The Swanson School of Engineering Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering will add three new professors to its faculty starting this fall. Robert Kerestes and Feng Xiong will join the department as assistant professors, and Brandon Grainger will join as a research assistant professor.“The ECE department at Pitt is growing, providing us with opportunities to attract new faculty with the potential to truly make an impact on departmental research and academics,” said Mahmoud El Nokali, interim department chair of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Pitt. “We are excited to have Robert, Feng and Brandon joining the team.”Robert Kerestes, Assistant ProfessorRobert Kerestes was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He received his BS (2010), MS (2012) and PhD (2014) from the University of Pittsburgh—all with a concentration in electric power systems. Kerestes’s research areas of interest are in electric power systems, in particular electric machinery and electromagnetics. He was a mathematical modeler for Emerson Process Management, working on electric power applications for Emerson’s Ovation Embedded Simulator. He has also taught as an adjunct professor at the University of Pittsburgh since 2014. Kerestes served in the United States Navy from 1998-2002 on active duty and from 2002-2006 in the U.S. Naval Reserves.At the University of Pittsburgh, Kerestes will focus on improving teaching methods for electrical and computer engineering curriculum. He will focus on effective measurement of student performance, which may diverge from the classical approach, as well as the effect of technology and how it can be used to reach students in ways that were not previously possible. Kerestes will also be trying to develop methods in which teachers can adequately assess the effectiveness of their own classroom experiments.Feng Xiong, Assistant ProfessorFeng Xiong received his PhD (2014) and MS (2010) in electrical and computer engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and his bachelor of engineering degree (2008) from the National University of Singapore. Prior to joining Pitt, Xiong was a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Electrical Engineering at Stanford University.In today’s big-data era, trillions of sensors will connect every aspect of our lives to the Internet, constantly producing and processing an overwhelming amount of data. Xiong is looking for novel materials for energy-efficient transistor and memory solutions with on-chip thermal management and 3D integration. Specifically, Xiong is working on (1) building wafer-scale energy-efficient 2D transistors, tackling challenges in synthesis, assembly and optimization; (2) characterizing nanoscale thermal transport in 2D materials, maximizing thermoelectric efficiency through heterogeneous stacking and intercalations for energy harvesting and developing on-chip thermal solutions; (3) achieving 3D integration of novel low-power memory (resistive and phase change memory) with logic, building energy-efficient flexible memory devices and exploring alternative memory structure with intercalation in layered 2D materials.Xiong received several awards including the Stanford Nano- and Quantum Science and Engineering Postdoctoral Fellowship, Materials Research Society (MRS) Graduate Student Gold Award, Beckman Institute Graduate Fellowship and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company Outstanding Student Research Gold Award. He is a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and MRS.Brandon Grainger, Research Assistant ProfessorBrandon M. Grainger holds a PhD in electrical engineering focusing on megawatt scale power electronic systems and controls with applications in microgrids and medium voltage DC system design. He earned his MS in electrical engineering and BS in mechanical engineering with a minor in electrical engineering. All of his degrees are from the University of Pittsburgh.Grainger was one of the first endowed Richard K. Mellon graduate student fellows through the Center for Energy at Pitt. His research concentrations and interests are in all classes of power electronic technology including topology design, semiconductor evaluation (currently Gallium Nitride transistors), advanced controller design, power electronic applications for microgrids, HVDC and FACTS and circuit reliability. He has contributed to more than 30 articles in the general area of electric power engineering, all of which have been published through IEEE.Grainger’s past work and internship experience include positions with ABB Corporate Research in Raleigh, NC; ANSYS Inc. in Southpointe, PA; Mitsubishi Electric in Warrendale, PA; Siemens Industry in New Kensington, PA; and volunteer work at Eaton’s Power Systems Experience Center in Warrendale, PA, where he designed electrical demonstrations. He is a member of the IEEE Power and Energy Society (PES), IEEE Power Electronics Society (PELS) and Industrial Electronics Society (IES) and is an annual reviewer of various power electronic conferences and transaction articles. Grainger serves as the IEEE Pittsburgh PELS Chapter Chair, which won chapter of the year in 2015 for its section. He is also an ambassador for the National Academy of Sciences and Engineering in the Pittsburgh region.With extensive experience with on-land electric grid applications, Grainger plans to extend his knowledge and apply his expertise to electric power system design for military applications while at Pitt. Combat power systems (like electric ships) are moving to an all DC based design operating at medium voltage (1kV to 35kV). These DC architectures require clean power, uninterruptible power supply, distributed power supply and large power generation resources in a localized and constrained footprint. Hence, new power conversion designs (particularly DC/DC conversion), methods for interrupting DC current, identifying system short circuits, equipment regulation procedures and stability analysis are all concerns worthy of further investigation.PromotionsSteve Jacobs, former assistant professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, is promoted to associate professor this fall. ###
Author: Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Sep
2
2016

Research at Pitt into “materials that compute” advances as engineers demonstrate system performs pattern recognition

Chemical & Petroleum, Electrical & Computer

PITTSBURGH (September 2, 2016) … The potential to develop “materials that compute” has taken another leap at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering, where researchers for the first time have demonstrated that the material can be designed to recognize simple patterns. This responsive, hybrid material, powered by its own chemical reactions, could one day be integrated into clothing and used to monitor the human body, or developed as a skin for “squishy” robots. “ Pattern recognition for materials that compute,” published today in the AAAS journal Science Advances (DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1601114), continues the research of Anna C. Balazs, Distinguished Professor of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, and Steven P. Levitan, the John A. Jurenko Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Co-investigators are Yan Fang, lead author and graduate student researcher in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering; and Victor V. Yashin, Research Assistant Professor of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering. The computations were modeled utilizing Belousov-Zhabotinsky (BZ) gels, a substance that oscillates in the absence of external stimuli, with an overlaying piezoelectric (PZ) cantilever. These so-called BZ-PZ units combine Dr. Balazs’ research in BZ gels and Dr. Levitan’s expertise in computational modeling and oscillator-based computing systems. “BZ-PZ computations are not digital, like most people are familiar with, and so to recognize something like a blurred pattern within an image requires nonconventional computing,” Dr. Balazs explained. “For the first time, we have been able to show how these materials would perform the computations for pattern recognition.” Dr. Levitan and Mr. Fang first stored a pattern of numbers as a set of polarities in the BZ-PZ units, and the input patterns are coded through the initial phase of the oscillations imposed on these units. The computational modeling revealed that the input pattern closest to the stored pattern exhibits the fastest convergence time to the stable synchronization behavior, and is the most effective at recognizing patterns. In this study, the materials were programmed to recognize black-and-white pixels in the shape of numbers that had been distorted. Compared to a traditional computer, these computations are slow and take minutes. However, Dr. Yashin notes that the results are similar to nature, which moves at a “snail’s pace.” “Individual events are slow because the period of the BZ oscillations is slow,” Dr. Yashin said. “However, there are some tasks that need a longer analysis, and are more natural in function. That’s why this type of system is perfect to monitor environments like the human body.” For example, Dr. Yashin said that patients recovering from a hand injury could wear a glove that monitors movement, and can inform doctors whether the hand is healing properly or if the patient has improved mobility. Another use would be to monitor individuals at risk for early onset Alzheimer’s, by wearing footwear that would analyze gait and compare results against normal movements, or a garment that monitors cardiovascular activity for people at risk of heart disease or stroke. Since the devices convert chemical reactions to electrical energy, there would be no need for external electrical power. This would also be ideal for a robot or other device that could utilize the material as a sensory skin. “Our next goal is to expand from analyzing black-and-white pixels to grayscale and more complicated images and shapes, as well as to enhance the devices storage capability,” Mr. Fang said. “This was an exciting step for us and reveals that the concept of “materials that compute” is viable.” The research is funded by a five-year National Science Foundation Integrated 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. “As computing performance technology is approaching the end of Moore’s law growth, the demands and nature of computing are themselves evolving,” noted Sankar Basu, NSF program director. “This work at the University of Pittsburgh, supported by the NSF, is an example of this groundbreaking shift away from traditional silicon CMOS-based digital computing to a non-von Neumann machine in a polymer substrate, with remarkable low power consumption. The project is a rare example of much needed interdisciplinary collaboration between material scientists and computer architects.” ### Animation above: Conceptual illustration of pattern recognition process performed by hybrid gel oscillator system. (Credit: Yan Fang)

Jun
29
2016

University of Florida’s Alan George named Chair of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Pitt

Electrical & Computer

PITTSBURGH (June 29, 2016) … Alan D. George, PhD has been named Professor and Chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering, effective January 1, 2017. Currently Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Florida College of Engineering, Dr. George will also receive the Ruth and Howard Mickle Endowed Chair of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Swanson School. Dr. George succeeds Mahmoud el-Nokali, PhD, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, who has served as interim department chair since June 2015. “Our ECE department is poised for tremendous growth in both enrollment and research, and Alan is an accomplished scholar who has the energy, leadership and vision to take our ECE Department to the next level,” noted Gerald D. Holder, U.S. Steel Dean of Engineering. “I want to thank Mahmoud and our interdisciplinary search committee for their support during the search, and I look forward to welcoming Alan to Pitt next year.” “I am excited and looking forward to the unique opportunities in the ECE Department in the Swanson School at the University of Pittsburgh, and I will be honored to serve as Department Chair and as Ruth and Howard Mickle Endowed Chair,” Dr. George said.   Dr. George joined the faculty at the University of Florida (UF) in 1997 and serves as full professor with tenure in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE). Under the auspices of the National Science Foundation (NSF), he founded and leads one of the most successful research centers at NSF or UF, the NSF Center for High-performance Reconfigurable Computing (CHREC, pronounced “shreck”), which features more than 30 industry, agency, and academic partners. In ECE at UF, Dr. George built and led graduate and research programs in computer engineering, growing them from virtually nil to become the match of electrical engineering in every respect. He also led the university committee that created the first supercomputer center in UF history, which is a major campus facility that has grown to become one of the foremost at any US university. Before transferring to UF, he served on the faculty in the joint college of engineering at Florida State University and Florida A&M University. Dr. George is a Fellow of the IEEE for contributions in reconfigurable and high-performance computing. His research is in high-performance architectures, networks, systems, services, and apps for reconfigurable, parallel, distributed, and dependable computing. He works with many graduate and undergraduate students, and their experimental research often leads to new technologies. Two recent examples are the world’s foremost reconfigurable supercomputer (called Novo-G), and a hybrid and reconfigurable space computer (called CHREC Space Processor or CSP) featured on 14 spacecraft slated for launch into Earth orbit in 2016-17. Dr. George earned the B.S. in Computer Science (CS) and M.S. in ECE from the University of Central Florida, and the PhD in CS from the Florida State University. Throughout his academic career, he has been honored with a variety of awards, including university teacher of the year, university service award, university productivity award, college doctoral advisor of the year, college faculty mentor of the year, and just recently the college teacher and scholar of the year. Prior to his academic career, he worked as computer engineer for General Electric in Daytona Beach, and as senior computer engineer and group leader for Lockheed Martin (formerly Martin Marietta) in Orlando. ###

Jun
23
2016

University of Pittsburgh launches Energy GRID Institute

Electrical & Computer

PITTSBURGH (June 23, 2016) … The U.S. power and energy infrastructure is at a crossroads. Aging, legacy-based systems face demands to integrate the growth of distributed and renewable energy resources, with sources ranging from the average consumer with a solar rooftop to commercial industry developing on-site microgrids.   This rapidly evolving environment affects grid technologies, systems, designs, operations and regulation, and influences markets and policy.   To address these challenges, the University of Pittsburgh is launching the Energy Grid Research and Infrastructure Development (GRID) Institute. This new entity, grounded in research from Pitt’s Center for Energy, will leverage the University’s public and private partnerships with new laboratory space at the Energy Innovation Center in downtown Pittsburgh to create a comprehensive international solution center for industry. The Institute’s inaugural partners include Duquesne Light, Eaton, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), Dominion Virginia Power, FirstEnergy, Emerson, PITT-OHIO Express, Sargent Electric Company, Siemens, and Universal Electric Corp. Nonprofits including the Henry L. Hillman Foundation and the Richard King Mellon Foundation are also supporting the work of GRID. The Institute is coordinating closely with the City of Pittsburgh and with the National Energy Technology Laboratory on behalf of the U.S. Department of Energy on joint efforts to advance new energy technologies through an agreement aimed at designing a 21st century energy infrastructure for Pittsburgh. The Institute’s leadership team is also exploring additional public-private partnerships in the Pittsburgh region and throughout the U.S. “Considering the expansive and somewhat daunting goal—to modernize the nation’s electric power grid and energy infrastructure—it’s vital that research institutions such as Pitt partner with the utility industry and the community to find solutions addressing security, resiliency, and reliability,” Pitt Chancellor Patrick D. Gallagher said. “The Energy GRID Institute will serve as the nexus for collaborative  research that encourages economic growth and job creation, and enhances our incubator, start-up, and commercialization potential.” Groundwork for the Institute was developed under the leadership of Gregory Reed, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering in Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering and Director of the Center for Energy, and Rebecca Bagley, Vice Chancellor for Economic Partnerships. GRID’s operations will be based in new research and incubator space currently under construction by Pitt at the Energy Innovation Center (EIC), a project developed by Pittsburgh Gateways Corporation in the former Connelly Trade School. The 18,600-square-foot laboratory will include the Electric Power Technologies Laboratory, led by Reed; the Next Generation Energy Conversion and Storage Technologies Laboratory, headed by Prashant Kumta, professor of bioengineering, mechanical engineering and materials science, and chemical and petroleum engineering; the High-Temperature Corrosion Testing Laboratory, led by Brian Gleeson, professor and chair of mechanical engineering and materials science; and the Pitt Energy Incubator Laboratories, developed by Mark S. Redfern, vice provost for research. In collaboration with these researchers, the GRID Institute will address the utility sector’s critical issues, including: Micro grids and resilient energy systems Renewable technology integration (solar, wind, micro-hydroelectric, etc.) Energy storage and power electronics technologies Electric vehicle-to-grid concepts Direct current (DC) infrastructure, technologies, and standards Hybrid AC/DC systems Integrated Energy Networks “The University’s leading research in energy and sustainability and state-of-the-art laboratory space at the Energy Innovation Center enables GRID to evaluate, assess, and develop solutions collaboratively with our partners on major issues and technologies that impact not only our nation’s power grid, but also energy transmission and distribution infrastructure around the globe,” said Reed. Collaborative partnerships are a key element of the enterprise, Bagley said. “We’re developing a world-class enterprise for energy and power grid research, development, demonstration, and deployment in collaboration with energy-based industry and utilities” she said. “We appreciate the contributions of our existing partner entities and are actively seeking to add to the group in order to enrich the exchange of ideas and reach universally beneficial outcomes more quickly.” ###

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