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.


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.


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

Pitt Electrical Engineering Undergraduate Emma Raszmann Awarded Second IEEE Scholarship

All SSoE News, Electrical & Computer, Student Profiles

PITTSBURGH (December 20, 2016) … The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Power and Energy Society (PES) recognized Emma Raszmann, a senior studying electrical engineering at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering, with her second IEEE PES Scholarship Plus Award. Raszmann also received the award in October 2015, and she is the ninth Pitt student to be named a PES Scholar since the award’s inception in 2011. “Pitt lengthens its streak of having a student awarded a PES Scholarship each year since the program started,” said Gregory Reed, professor of electrical and computer engineering and director of Pitt’s Center for Energy and the Electric Power Systems Lab. “Emma has shown remarkable commitment to power engineering and the desire to use her education to truly impact the field. We at the Center for Energy are happy to encourage that passion in our students.” Raszmann will graduate this semester with a B.S. in electrical engineering and a minor in computer science with a concentration in electric power. This spring she will intern with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internship program at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colorado, where she will be working with the power electronics and controls group for distributed grid integration. Raszmann also worked at NREL over the summer with the residential group on battery modeling for home energy management. She is currently in the process of applying to graduate school and would like to pursue a PhD in electrical engineering with a focus in power electronics. “I chose to study electrical engineering because I knew it would allow me to solve complex yet rewarding problems and lead me to create an exciting, lifelong career,” says Raszmann. “Although there is a theoretical side to electrical engineering, we also have a hands-on side to our design problems, such as soldering circuits and using test equipment. I love the balance between both theoretical problem solving and hands-on engineering problems. It’s challenging and fun at the same time. I hope to someday pursue a career in a research and development environment such as a national lab. My goal is to contribute to electrical engineering research for renewable energy integration and energy efficiency applications.” After enrolling in Dr. Reed’s Power System Analysis class, Raszmann worked in the Electric Power Systems Lab for two semesters. She designed a DC-DC dual active bridge converter circuit and performed exploratory research on high power density converter circuit design considerations and applications. When she began studying grant and proposal writing to help prepare her for a future career in research, the Center for Energy staff helped her network with energy related non-profits to get experience writing technical grants. “I worked with the Pennsylvania Environmental Council to get practice grant writing by working on a proposal for on the PEC’s energy efficiency initiatives in Pennsylvania,” said Raszmann. “The support from the Center for Energy has been outstanding, and I hope more Pitt students take advantage of such a great resource that we have at Pitt.” About the IEEE Power Engineering Plus Scholarship The IEEE PES Scholarship Plus Initiative encourages undergraduate students to pursue careers in power and energy engineering. The program provides scholarships and facilitates internships and co-op experience, but also offers many opportunities to gain experience and build knowledge in power and energy engineering careers, including mentoring opportunities and special recognition as a PES Scholar. ### Photo (from left): Dr. Brandon Grainger, research assistant professor and Pittsburgh Power Electronics Society Chapter Chair, Dr. Gregory Reed, Emma Raszmann, and U.S. Steel Dean of Engineering Gerald Holder in the Swanson School's Electric Power Systems Laboratory.
Author: Matthew Cichowicz, Communications Writer

Pitt’s Mascaro Center Announces 2017 Faculty Fellows in Sustainability

Civil & Environmental, Electrical & Computer

PITTSBURGH (December 15, 2016) … The University of Pittsburgh Office of the Provost and Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation have named the 2017 Faculty Fellows in Sustainability: Kyle Bibby, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering; Emily Elliott, associate professor of geology and environmental science; Shanti Gamper-Rabindran, associate professor of environment, health and development economics and policy; and Alex Jones, associate professor of electrical engineering and Director of Pitt’s Computer Engineering Program.The Faculty Fellowships in Sustainability serve to enhance the University’s mission of interdisciplinary excellence in research and education. The 2017 Fellows represent the Swanson School of Engineering, the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences and the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs. Fellows receive $25,000 to support efforts to contribute research, inside and outside of their fields, and may decide to renew their fellowships for one additional year. Other potential expectations for faculty fellows include taking the lead on large grant proposal submissions; establishing teams for new research collaborations; developing community engagement projects and sustained partnerships with community organizations; designing a new course; and organizing workshops, symposia and exhibitions on sustainability. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer

Pitt Engineering Student Teams Crowd Top Spots at 10th Annual Ergonomics Design Competition

Bioengineering, Electrical & Computer, Industrial, Student Profiles

PITTSBURGH (December 12, 2016) … Four University of Pittsburgh teams made a lasting impression at the 10th Annual Ergonomics Design Competition hosted by Auburn Engineers, Inc. by all finishing in the Top 10 and taking three spots in the top five—becoming the first school to achieve that feat in the 10 years of the competition. The top Pitt team finished in second place overall, for the second time in two years. “This is just our second year of competing, and I am so pleased with our teams’ successes in this national competition,” said Joel Haight, associate professor in Pitt’s Department of Industrial Engineering, director of the School’s Safety Engineering program and faculty advisor to the Ergonomics Design Competition teams.  The Ergonomics Design Competition began with a Preliminary Design project that challenged students to identify workplace stressors and design solutions to alleviate them. The project took place over the course of the fall semester and required students to apply ergonomic principles in a given scenario to tool design, complex workstation design, design of manufacturing cells, product handling devices, evaluation of work system and other considerations.  This year the students evaluated and compared the ergonomics of car washing at a commercial car wash, at home by the owner of the vehicle and with an “Uber” type service in which car washers travel to the customers upon request.  Students also had to complete a Final Design project, which was less complex but had strict 48-hour deadline. The teams analyzed a pizza making operation and the stressors of each position involved in the process of making pizza. Results from the Preliminary Design project and the Final Design project, along with a series of “Lightning Round” questions related to ergonomics, allowed the judges to select the Top Five teams. The finalists gave live presentations via WebEx to a panel of professional ergonomists across the country to determine the winner. (Second Place overall team. Left to right: Dr. Haight, Lauren Judge, Mikayla Ferchaw,Emily Zullo, Jonathan Kenneson and Andrew Becker) After thorough evaluation by the judges, one of the two teams from the University of Michigan slipped into first place, edging out the Pitt team, which consisted of the Department of Industrial Engineering’s (IE) Lauren Judge and Emily Zullo; Bioengineering’s (BioE) Mikayla Ferchaw and Andrew Becker; and Electrical and Computer Engineering’s (ECE) Jonathan Kenneson. As the second place finisher, the team will also serve as the alternate for presenting the results of their work at the Human Factors and Ergonomics Conference in Austin, TX in October 2017. Two of the Pitt teams finished in the Top Five. (Top Five finisher. Left to right: Dr. Haight, Piyusha Sane (BioE), Riddhi Gandhi (BioE), McKenzie Kallquist (IE), Geena Petrone (IE) and Kor'an Sharif (IE)) (Top Five finisher. Left to right: Dr. Haight, Jacqueline Schauble (BioE), Cagla Duzbasan (IE), Max Jablunovsky (IE) and Anthony Sciulli(IE)) The final Pitt team received an honorable mention for an overall Top 10 finish. (Top 10 finisher. Left to right: Kristyna Finikiotis (IE), Rob McCauley (IE), Dr. Haight,Sarah Masterson (IE), Emily Lain (IE) and Chris Jambor (IE)) The competition began with a total of 35 teams and ended with 28 completing all of the required tasks. In addition to the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Michigan, participating universities included Texas A&M University, University of Utah, Auburn University, University of Buffalo and University of Puerto Rico, among others. Auburn Engineers, Inc., sponsor of the competition, is an international ergonomics consulting company based in Auburn, Alabama. ###
Author: Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer

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