Category: Alumni

2014 Best ECE Ph.D. Dissertation Award goes to Dr. Jie Meng

July 10th, 2014 in Alumni, Awards, Graduate Programs, Graduate Student Opportunities, Graduate Students, Recognition, Research, Students

By Donald Rock (COM ’17)

On May 17th, Dr. Jie Meng received a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering and was presented with the 2014 Best ECE Ph.D. Dissertation Award. Her dissertation is entitled Modeling and Optimization of High-Performance Many-core Systems for Energy-Efficient and Reliable Computing and focuses on improving the energy efficiency of many-core processors and large-scale computing systems.

PhD Story Block Quote

Accomplishing this goal, as Meng’s thesis argues, requires detailed, full-system simulation tools that can simultaneously evaluate power, performance, and temperature. Her award-winning thesis includes the design of such simulation methods and leveraging these methods for the development of dynamic optimization policies for computing systems.

This prestigious award is just one of a number of awards that the ambitious engineer has received throughout her Ph.D. career. In 2012, Dr. Meng won the Best Paper Award at the High Performance Extreme Computing Conference; in 2011 she won the A. Richard Newton Graduate Scholarship Award with her advisor, Assistant Professor Ayse Coskun (ECE), at the Design Automation Conference; and in 2010 she received the Google Scholarship at the Google GRAD CS Forum. Furthermore, Dr. Meng has won a number of awards from Boston University, including the Outstanding Graduate Teaching Fellow in the School of Engineering and the 2009 ECE Graduate Teaching Fellow of the Year Award.

Professor Ayse Coskun (left) and Dr. Jie Ming (right) at the 2014 College of Engineering Ph.D. Commencement Ceremony (Photo provided by Professor Ayse Coskun).

Professor Ayse Coskun (left) and Dr. Jie Ming (right) at the 2014 College of Engineering Ph.D. Commencement Ceremony (Photo provided by Professor Ayse Coskun).

Dr. Meng started her academic career at the University of Science and Technology of China (USTC), where she earned a Bachelor of Engineering Degree in Electrical Engineering in 2004. She went on to earn a Master of Applied Science in Electrical and Computer Engineering at McMaster University before coming to Boston University in 2008 to pursue her Ph.D.

Dr. Meng simultaneously pursued career advancement while maintaining her academic workload. She landed an internship at the Intel Corporation, and another at Sandia National Laboratories.

Currently, Dr. Meng works as a software engineer at CGG, a French-based geophysical services company. “To be specific, I am working on developing software modules for modeling and imaging geological structures in the exploration [of] seismic field,” Meng clarified in an email correspondence.

When Dr. Meng reflects back on her time at BU, she remembers, “I was very lucky and grateful to have Professor Ayse Coskun as my advisor. [She was] a role model for me.” Professor Coskun felt similarly, noting, “Jie is a very hard-working researcher and she has the necessary perseverance to succeed. Seeing Jie graduate successfully as my first Ph.D. student and continue to her career has been among the most satisfying accomplishments of my time at BU.”

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

ECE Seniors Share an Intention to Improve Societal Issues by Improving Technology

June 12th, 2014 in Alumni, Awards, Courses, Events, Recognition, Senior Design, Undergraduate Students, Video

By Gabriella McNevin

Print                                         Print                                            Print

 ECE Day 2014

Senior Capstone Design and Honors Thesis students in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) spent May 5, 2014 showcasing projects that represented the culmination of their education at Boston University.

Each presentation accomplished more than just entertain the audience; it earned its creators their due respect. Topics covered technology like a 3D printer scanner, a remote controlled helicopter, and a Mario Kart video game.

During team 6’s presentation, “Danger Zone” by Kenny Loggins blared through the speakers. The big screen streamed a video of a search and rescue remote controlled car, which the team programmed to patrol a fire hazard site for survivors. (Click the controller to listen to “Danger Zone”).

Earlier in the day, the team that created EPIC/ EpiPen Calls concluded their presentation with a spirited Q&A. A number of people –including team members, the client that requested technological support, and a panel of judges– raised their voice to speak about the real-world application and potential of the invention.

Photo by Chitose Suzuki for Boston University Photography © 2010 Boston University all rights reserved.

Photo by Chitose Suzuki for Boston University Photography © 2010 Boston University all rights reserved.

The commercial application that teams intend for their projects were as diverse as the equipment they used. The purpose of the designs ranged from assisting the visually impaired, to improving search and rescue missions, to generating alternative energy harvesting methods.

A panel of ECE alumni judges watched each presentation and asked questions to pick a winner for five of the ECE Day Awards. The judges were well prepared to make the call because each had once walked in the students’ shoes and all are currently executing the engineering skills that they realized during their Senior Capstone Design Course. ECE graduates Peter Galvin, Mikhail Gurevich, Craig Laboda, Ryan Lagoy, George Matthews, Drew Morris, Bradley Rufleth, Dan Ryan and Stephen Snyder served as the 2014 judges. Each missed work –at companies such as General Electric, Microsoft, ByteLite, and Btiometry– to share insight with the graduating class of 2014, and decide the most impressive project.

“Wow,” muttered an impressed audience member after the AutoScan team calmly countered questions posed by judges on the technical depth of the team’s invention. The team’s pothole detection system demonstrated the technical skill that is only achievable by a team of well-matched individuals with different specialties.

The dynamic skill sets within each team is key in assembling the ECE Senior Capstone Design Project teams. Associate Professor of the Practice Alan Pisano (ECE) coordinated 20 well-rounded teams by measuring individual strengths. For example, he placed students that gravitate towards user interface development with those who lean towards sensor analytics or java script programming.

Photo by Chitose Suzuki for Boston University Photography © 2010 Boston University all rights reserved.

Photo by Chitose Suzuki for Boston University Photography © 2010 Boston University all rights reserved.

The team members that created AutoScan contributed either their hardware or software know-how to develop the project that won Best ECE Senior Design Project Award, 2014. The team was also nominated to show a poster of their project at the national Capstone Design Conference in Columbus, Ohio. The mission of the Capstone Design Conference in Columbus is to improve design-based courses around the country. On June 2nd, Professor Pisano and team members Vinny DeGenova, Stuart Minshull, Nandheesh Prasad, Austen Schmidt, and Charlie Vincent flew to Ohio for the two-day event. Professor Pisano led a workshop on assembling strong design teams.

A significant feature of the Senior Design Capstone project is the team client. Each team is paired with a client. The client (who is either a professor or actively working) requests software and/or hardware for a particular problem that will improve a societal issue.

Photo by Chitose Suzuki for Boston University Photography © 2010 Boston University all rights reserved.

Photo by Chitose Suzuki for Boston University Photography © 2010 Boston University all rights reserved.

The principle of a school in Boston that specializes in mentally and physically disabled student academics posed a task for one ECE senior design team. Carter School Principal Marianne Kopaczynski requested a learning tool that would impart fundamental communication and cognitive skills to students. The students created a user-friendly devise called the Automated Announcement System that generates announcements based on each student’s location. Principle Kopaczynski plans to install the system in the school to support location-based feedback learning.

ECE Day Award Winners

Best ECE Senior Design Project Award AutoScan
Entrepreneurial Award Cloud 3D Scanner
Design Excellence Award Cement Impedance Analyzer
Design Excellence Award dDOSI Spectrum Analysis Unit (dSAU)
Michael F. Ruane Award for Excellence in Senior Capstone Design Samuel Howes
Senior Honors Thesis Award Julie Frish, “Development of Low Loss Waveguides for Mid-Infrared Integrated Photonic Circuits”
Center for Space Physics Undergraduate Research Award Andrew Kelley
Teacher of the Year Ajay Joshi
Graduate Teaching Fellow of the Year/Teaching Assistant of the Year Lake Bu

Congratulations, Class of 2014!
Photo by Chitose Suzuki for Boston University Photography © 2010 Boston University all rights reserved.

Photo by Chitose Suzuki for Boston University Photography © 2010 Boston University all rights reserved.

 

By Gabriella McNevin

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

ENG Graduates Urged to Use Their Societal Engineer Skills

May 23rd, 2014 in Alumni, Events, Uncategorized

By Kathrin Havrilla

Kevin Kit Parker (ENG'89), Tarr Family Professor of Bioengineering and Applied Physics at Harvard University, addressed bachelor's degree recipients at Commencement Exercises. (All photos by Commencement Photos)

Kevin Kit Parker (ENG’89), Tarr Family Professor of Bioengineering and Applied Physics at Harvard University, addressed bachelor’s degree recipients at Commencement Exercises. (All photos by Commencement Photos)

The College of Engineering’s Class of 2014 was reminded of the impact a Societal Engineer can make in improving society’s quality of life at convocation ceremonies on Saturday, May 17.

Dean Kenneth R. Lutchen led the way for the 336 undergraduates being recognized with a quote from the popular movie “A League of Their Own,” congratulating graduates for attaining what he contended was one of the most difficult degrees to earn from BU, with the classic speech “’If it wasn’t hard, anyone could do it. The hard is what makes it great. Anyone can’t do it. YOU can.’ Well done.”

The Dean went on to add “What you’ve done by getting an education at Boston University is really understand the extraordinary importance of learning how to create, design and interact with other disciplines and understand how to move organizations forward by integrating with a complex social economic system.”

Student speaker Shana Blumenthal (ME’14, Aero) will soon be working at Pratt and Whitney as part of a two-year rotational Manufacturing Engineering Development Program. As she said to her fellow graduates, “Great engineering feats of the past century were not

DSC_0306smaller5

developed by those who Student speaker Shana Blumenthal (ME’14) addressed her fellow graduates, encouraging them to be risk-takers who find solutions for new challenges.

solved the easy problems, but by those risk-takers who attempted the impossible. It is our time to find solutions for new challenges. It is our responsibility to seek out opportunities to allow us to grow and develop.”

The commencement speaker Kevin Kit Parker (ENG’89) is now Tarr Family Professor of Bioengineering and Applied Physics at Harvard University, and led a research team that in 2011 upended the conventional wisdom about the cause of traumatic brain injury. Parker spoke consistently of strength and perseverance, mentioning his time as a U.S. Army paratrooper when he completed two tours of duty in Afghanistan. “I’m a BU-trained Societal Engineer. And my job isn’t always technical, but it always involves solving problems … Do not be afraid of the cutting edge.”

Dean Lutchen also gave out the Department Awards for Teaching Excellence, which went to Michael Smith (BME), Ajay Joshi (ECE) and William Hauser (ME). Outstanding Professor of the Year went to James J. Collins (BME, MSE, SE), and the Faculty Service Award went to Elise Morgan (ME, BME). He also noted that Stormy

grad speaker smaller4

Girish Navani (MFG), CEO and Co-founder of eClinicalWorks, addressed the graduate students at their ceremony later in the afternoon.

Attaway (GRS’84,’88) would receive the Metcalf Cup and Prize, the University’s highest teaching honor, at the University commencement ceremony the following day.

Later Solomon Eisenberg, Senior Associate Dean for Academic Programs and Chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering, gave out a multitude of student awards: the Earle & Mildred Bailey Memorial Award for Scholarship and Service to the College to Nichole Black and Harvin Vallabhanemi; the Ging S. Lee Community Service Award for Outstanding Community Service to Habib Mohammed Khan; and the Anita Cuadrado Memorial Awards for Enthusiasm and Devotion to the College to Samantha Chan. The prestigious Outstanding Senior Project Awards were also given out to Sarah Clark and Jeremy Rosenthal (both BME) for “SGRS RNA Visualization in Live Bacteria Cells Using Fluorescent Protein Complementation;” to Vincent DeGenova, Stuart Minshull, Nandheesh Prasad, Austen Schmidt and Charles Vincent (all ECE) for “AutoScan;” and to William Gullotta, Coleton Kirchner and Aaron Yuengert (all ME) for “Resettable Landing Gear for Mars Hopper.”

And finally, the Societal Impact Capstone Project Awards were given to Yash Adhikari, Angela Lai, Timothy Mon and Leslie Nordstrom (all BME) in first place; to Ian Choen and Zachary Herbert (both ME) in second place; and Elving Cako, Anne DuBois, Benjamin Nichols, Evan Praetorius and Heather Towey (all ECE) in third place.

Later in the day, Girish Navani (MFG), CEO and Co-founder of eClinicalWorks, a leader in ambulatory healthcare IT solutions, delivered the speech at the master’s and PhD ceremony in which 86 master’s students, 150 MEng students and 53 PhD students were recognized for successfully completing the requirements for graduating. Navani was named a 2010 Mass High Tech All-Stars honoree and received the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year® 2009 Award in the Healthcare Technology category in New England, and was also chosen for the Boston Business Journal’s 2006 40 Under 40 list of entrepreneurs and innovators.

He commended the graduate students on their success, saying that “milestones like the one you are experiencing right now remind us of the paths we have taken, and present us with a road for the future. Today is full of promise; full of opportunity for what lies ahead.”

Tagged , , , ,

Andrew Kelley Wins The Center for Space Physics Undergraduate Research Award

May 19th, 2014 in Alumni, Awards, Events, Recognition, Research, Senior Design, Students, Undergraduate Programs, Undergraduate Student Opportunities, Undergraduate Students, Video

Kelley found his passion while working with the BU Satellite Program & Rocket Group

By Gabriella McNevin

On May 5, 2014, Andrew Kelley (middle) received The Center for Space Physics Undergraduate Research Award at the senior capstone event, ECE Day. Standing to Kelley's left is Associate Professor Semeter, and to Kelley's right is ECE Department Chair Professor David Castañón. Photo by Chitose Suzuki  for Boston University Photography.

From left to right: Associate Professor Semeter, Andrew Kelley (ENG ’14), and ECE Department Chair Professor David Castañón. Photo by Chitose Suzuki for Boston University Photography.

Andrew Kelley (ENG ’14) won The Center for Space Physics Undergraduate Research Award for his contribution to the BU Satellite Program and the Boston University Rocket Propulsion Group. The award recipient was decided by the Director of the BU Center of Space Physics, Professor John Clarke (AS); and Associate Director of the BU Center for Space Physics, Professor Joshua Semeter (ECE).

Kelley’s success was achieved in a relatively short period of time. Kelley entered BU excited to gain a versatile education in computer engineering in an accelerated 3-year program. For his first two years, like many, Kelley was unsure of his passion and did not know what career would best unite his academic skills and interests. He explored the possibilities by researching extracurricular activities that involved computer engineering. Ultimately, Kelley joined his first space program venture after his freshman year, and realized his passion in the field after his second year. It was not until his third and final year at Boston University, that Kelley dove, head-first, into space programs.

600642_3945593760100_354146220_n

Andrew Kelley showing off one of the BU Rocket Propulsion Group’s model rockets in Amesbury, MA.

A future that blended computer engineering and space programs was first proposed to Kelley at Splash Day his freshmen year. Splash Day is an annual fair that features student organizations. Kelley recalls noticing a ten-foot model rocket hoisted on the shoulders of two students laughing and jogging to the opposite side of the field. He thought to himself, “follow those footsteps!” The name of the student organization in charge of that rocket, now known as the BU Rocket Propulsion Group, was painted on the side.

Before joining a team, Kelley weighed his enthusiasm about the BU Rocket Propulsion Group with his interest in other groups, and his collegiate goals. He spent the remaining year developing relationships with organization members, contemplating rocketry, and discovering how to best manage his time.

At the end of the academic year, Kelley and a member of the Rocket Propulsion Group were chatting about the organization. Kelley’s friend expressed some concern about the group’s leadership. The group insider mentioned that the vice president was expected to graduate with no prospect of a predecessor. Instinctively Kelley responded, “I will do it.”

Two years later, Kelley recalls those four words as the best he ever said. Joining the group helped Kelley to realize his passion for space programs, and introduced him to a network of some of his most trusted advisors, including Professor Semeter and Principal Fellow at Raytheon Missile Systems Joe Sebeny.

Towards the end of his second year at BU, Kelley was at a crossroad. He needed a summer job, and had been denied internships at Google and Microsoft. Uninterested in returning to his home in Texas, Kelley took the advice of Professor Semeter and applied to work at Boston University Student Satellite for Applications and Training program, specifically ANDESITE. It was a pivotal time for the satellite program, as it had recently been awarded an Air Force Research Laboratory grant and joined a national competition to win the opportunity to launch a satellite to orbit. As one of the newest members to the satellite program, the Texan embraced the organization’s mission to design, fabricate, and operate a low-earth-orbiting satellite.

ECE Day

Kelley stands ready to present a poster on his honors thesis research topic at ECE Day. Photo by Chitose Suzuki for Boston University Photography.

In September 2013, the beginning of Kelley’s final year at BU, his extracurricular and academic interests melted into one. Kelley opted to complete his academic capstone requirements by completing an honors thesis, rather than a senior design project. His theses work, entitled “Design and Implementation of a 3-DOF Rocket Autopilot,” advanced both the BU Student Satellite and supported the BU Rocket Propulsion Group.

“Design and Implementation of a 3-DOF Rocket Autopilot” provided an analysis and design investigation of rocket trajectory systems to develop a functioning autopilot. Without trajectory control, a rocket would run the risk of becoming a missile.

After graduation, Kelley will spend a week with his family in Fort Worth, Texas before jet-setting to Los Angles, California to be a Space X intern.  Kelley will be involved in vehicle and systems integration for the Dragon capsule.

Boston University Rocket Propulsion Group Watch the group’s second hot fire test:

Tagged , , , , , , ,

First Hackathon at Boston University

March 19th, 2014 in Alumni, Students, Undergraduate Students

Hackers receiving mentoring at one of their previous events.

Hackers receiving mentoring at one of their previous events.

Starting March 21 at 7 PM, students have 24 hours to “hack” a digital or physical product. Hackers will work on starting a website or mobile app from scratch, which could be useful for present applications.

“There have been various hackathons before run by BUILDS [an organization that strives on hacker ethic] and other student organizations but we believe this will be the largest, first to take place at EPIC, and includes a collaboration between multiple student organizations,” says team coordinator Connor McEwen (ECE ’14).

Boston University students are invited to get into groups of 2-4 people to learn new practical skills, meet other students interested in building things, having fun, and producing a project to show to potential employers or friends.

In addition, alumni interested in mentoring are welcomed to show up at 7 PM on Friday or 10 AM on Saturday, and those interested in judging should come at 5 PM on Saturday.

There are interesting categories students are being judged on, such as Most Fun Project, Best Noob Project (for those who have not competed or hacked before), Best Mobile Project, Best Web Project, and Best Hardware Project.

The most rewarding prize, however, will be the hands-on and educational experience.

For more information: http://make.bu.edu/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/events/617962314957038/

- Chelsea Hermond (SMG ’15)

Engineering in the Alps

February 25th, 2014 in Alumni, Courses, Faculty, Graduate Programs, Graduate Students, News-CE, News-EP, News-ISS, Research, Research-EP, Research-ISS, Senior Design, Students, Undergraduate Programs, Undergraduate Students

Kevin Mader (ECE '08, MS '08, who is teaching at ETH Zürich, bikes in one of the side valleys of Engadin in the Swiss Alps.

Kevin Mader (ECE ’08, MS ’08), who is teaching at ETH Zürich, bikes in one of the side valleys of Engadin in the Swiss Alps.

As a master’s candidate studying Photonics at Boston University, Kevin Mader (ECE ’08, MS ’08) decided to become an Undergraduate Teaching Fellow, a position that allowed him to work with students and help them master difficult concepts.

“I felt like I could help students because I had just struggled with learning the concepts a year before and could relate well to what they were going through,” he said.

The experience made Mader realize he wanted to become a teacher and today, he is a lecturer at ETH Zürich in Switzerland, where he is hoping to inspire the next generation to get excited about engineering.

“I think that a lot of students lose interest in science and engineering early on because it becomes too technical before it gets interesting,” he said. “I hope to try and make it exciting without watering it down too much.”

Prior to living in Switzerland, Mader’s roots were in the United States, where he lived in California, Ohio, Oregon, and Massachusetts. Still, moving abroad wasn’t quite the challenge you might expect.

“For some things it is no adjustment at all – there are Starbucks and McDonald’s restaurants on nearly every street corner – but for other aspects getting used to a new language and a different culture can take some time,” he explained. “Luckily, students seem to be pretty similar all around the world and Zürich is a very international city so it’s never a problem finding interesting people and somewhere to fit in.”

As an undergraduate studying Electrical Engineering at BU, Mader worked closely with Senior Lecturer, Babak Kia, on his senior design project. Like in Switzerland, Mader never had any problems finding other researchers he could collaborate with effortlessly.

“He was a very effective team player, espousing a humble leadership style and patiently sharing his thoughts and ideas with his team,” said Kia, who served as Mader’s customer during senior design.

Mader’s team, Esplanade Runner, was tasked with enabling a robot to navigate a Google Maps route while avoiding obstacles in its path. Known as autonomous navigation, the project was assigned a few years before Google Street View cars were popularized.

Calling the research one of his “most valuable experiences at BU,” Mader said, “Our project was particularly cool since it was tangible: make a little car follow a route and avoid obstacles. It was also deceptively simple, and I learned how difficult it is to make timelines and get everything running on time. We spent a few nights in the lab banging our heads against the wall trying to synchronize our vehicle, compass, sensors, and GPS.”

The hard work ultimately paid off and their team won the ECE Day Best Presentation Award that year.

“Kevin could hardly contain his drive and enthusiasm throughout the project,” said Kia. “He has such a natural ability and curious mind for exploring the unknown that is just a joy to witness.”

After earning his bachelor’s degree, Mader decided to continue his studies by pursuing a master’s in Photonics at BU.

“Initially I was intrigued by Photonics because I had no idea what it really was and had studied in the building by that name for years,” said Mader. “After taking the introductory class I was surprised by how complicated imaging really is – iPhones make it so easy – and how much potential there was in the field.”

Mader had completed a summer internship at the Center for Biophotonics at the University of California, Davis, where he looked at how cellular spectroscopy and imaging could be used to detect cancer. Upon returning to BU, he decided to build upon what he learned by taking a course on imaging and microscopy with Professor Jerome Mertz (BME).

“What struck me about Professor Mertz from my first interaction with him was how much interest and passion he had for the science he was working on,” explained Mader. “He seemed like one of those people who would continue to do the exact same thing even after winning the lottery because he enjoyed it so much.”

Mader went on to work on his master’s thesis in Mertz’s laboratory, where he worked on improving bioluminescence imaging so that a small group of cells, like a tumor, could be detected without using lasers or X-rays.

“Kevin was great to work with – really creative,” said Mertz. “He could always look at things from different and unexpected perspectives that were really intriguing. I think he’ll make a great professor someday.”

Since completing his master’s, Mader has taken more steps toward eventually becoming a professor, including earning a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering and Biomechanics from ETH Zürich.

He has also earned a Pioneer Fellowship from the university, which will allow him to work toward pairing microscopes, MRIs and CT-scanners with tools that will turn pictures into meaningful statistics.

“There seems to be sufficient industrial interest. The real challenge will be connecting with the right people at the right times,” he said.

As Mader balances research with teaching, he continues to give his all in both.

“I think one of the best ways to really understand a topic is to have to disseminate it to other people,” he said. “In particular, I enjoy trying to connect abstract concepts like parallel computing to everyday ones like card games with friends.”

Truly committed to being the best teacher he can be, Mader can often be found tweaking his lecture slides minutes before a talk, even though he’d finished preparing weeks before.

Said Kia: “I have no doubt, not even for a second, that he will become a highly effective professor and that his deep passion for research and discovery will be surpassed only by his immense passion for his students.”

Learn more about Mader’s new company, 4Quant.

-Rachel Harrington (rachelah@bu.edu)

Atlas Changing the Workout Experience

February 18th, 2014 in Alumni, Graduate Students, News-CE, News-EP, News-ISS, Recognition, Research, Research-CE, Senior Design, Students, Undergraduate Students

Mike Kasparian (ECE ’12, MS ’13)

As many of us try to stick to our New Year’s resolution of going to the gym more, we often find ourselves looking toward apps and equipment that can help us keep track of our progress.

Jawbone and Nike Fuel Band are just some of the wearable products on the market that allow you to keep track of this data, but what if these devices could be more customizable?

2013-8-9_Michael

Mike Kasparian (ECE ’12, MS ’13)

That’s the idea behind Atlas, the company founded by Mike Kasparian (ECE ’12, MS ’13) and his preschool friend, Peter Li.

Atlas tracks and identifies exercises, counts reps, calculates burned calories, and evaluates form. It also displays workouts live and is compatible with many popular fitness apps such as MapMyFitness.

Said Kasparian: “It’s one thing to come up with a great idea that will disrupt a technology, but it’s another thing to formulate the idea into a business and develop it into something that will one day not only generate revenue but also be in the hands of consumers.”

Li initially came up with the idea and contacted Kasparian to help with the hardware. Techstars, a startup accelerator in Austin, provided them office space, funding, and mentorship.

It was not an easy decision for Kasparian, who had a stable position at Philips Healthcare, to leave his day job. However, he took the risk and now holds the position of Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of the growing company.

The company gained funding through a campaign on indiegogo, a web platform that helps people raise money for new ideas and products. Atlas has surpassed its $125,000 fundraising goal, collecting over $450K.

Even though there is a lot of uncertainty associated with this venture, Kasparian feels that providing people with a personalized workout experience outweighs the risk.

Kasparian, who studied Electrical Engineering at Boston University, attributes the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering’s senior design course as having a significant impact on his career. He said, “It was really the first time I was able to fully apply all of the technical skills from my coursework toward a legitimate project.”

As his advisor, Professor Bakak Kia gave Kasparian invaluable help and guidance during senior design. Kia is very proud of Mike, saying, “To reach this level, where he is competing with some of the most innovative companies in this field, speaks volumes about Mike’s vision, ability, and the value of the education he has received at BU.”

While working on the project, MINSensory, for senior design, Kasparian said he learned the importance of both collaboration and taking feedback. He did both well, too, winning the top team prize, the P. T. Hsu Memorial Award for Outstanding Senior Design Project, and an individual honor, the Michael F. Ruane Award for Excellence in Senior Capstone Design.

Later, his M.S. research project involved designing the hardware platform that would be used in the Atlas wristband. Professor Ajay Joshi (ECE) was Kasparian’s academic and research advisor, and he advised him during the platform design process. Joshi believes “the fitness band market is just picking up” and said he hopes “the Atlas wristband becomes the preferred choice of most fitness enthusiasts.”

Kasparian continues to remain close to the department, serving as one of the judges for senior design last year and graduating with his M.S. in December.

- Chelsea Hermond (SMG ’15)

EPIC Ribbon-Cutting Welcomes Industry, Local Officials

January 21st, 2014 in Alumni, Events, Faculty, Graduate Programs, Graduate Student Opportunities, Graduate Students, News-CE, News-EP, News-ISS, Research, Research-CE, Research-EP, Research-ISS, Students, Undergraduate Programs, Undergraduate Student Opportunities, Undergraduate Students

Features tour of ENG’s new design, manufacturing studio

The Engineering Product Innovation Center (EPIC) will train BU engineers “for the future manufacturing economy in this country,” says EPIC director Gerry Fine. Photos by Mike Spencer

The Engineering Product Innovation Center (EPIC) will train BU engineers “for the future manufacturing economy in this country,” says EPIC director Gerry Fine. Photos by Mike Spencer

The Engineering Product Innovation Center (EPIC) hadn’t yet opened for its inaugural semester, and it already had a wait list of students eager to register for classes in the sleek, glass-fronted Commonwealth Avenue building that not too long ago was the Guitar Center. That bodes well for the College of Engineering and the University officials and corporate sponsors who made the new facility possible.

ENG will host EPIC’s ribbon-cutting ceremony this Thursday, January 23. Among those present will be President Robert A. Brown, ENG Dean Kenneth Lutchen, local dignitaries, and key corporate partners, including representatives from principal industry sponsors GE AviationProcter & GamblePTC, and Schlumberger.

Lutchen, who is also an ENG professor of biomedical engineering, says that EPIC’s opening “now begins the opportunity for us to transform our engineering education at the undergraduate level to really create a much more powerfully enabled graduate who understands the process of designing products from conception to deployment.”

Those skills are particularly important, and valuable, now that manufacturing is making a comeback in the United States. US manufacturers have added at least 500,000 new workers since the end of 2009, energy costs have dropped, and labor costs in competing countries such as China and India have been inching upward.

Companies like Apple and GE are bringing high-tech facilities back home from overseas. While a positive development, “the problem is now there aren’t enough engineers trained in highly technological methods,” says Bruce Jordan, ENG assistant dean of development and alumni relations.

EPIC could help fill that void. “We’re hoping to set a standard for the training of engineers for the future manufacturing economy in this country,” says EPIC director Gerry Fine, an ENG professor of the practice.

Funded through the University, ENG alumni and friends, and regional industry, EPIC’s 20,000-square-foot space houses a computer-aided design (CAD) studio, demonstration areas, fabrication facilities, materials testing, and project management software available to engineering students in all specialties — from computer and electrical engineering to biomedical engineering and nanotechnology. The facility has a flexible design and offers students supply chain management software, 3-D printers, robotics, laser processing, and around-the-clock digital access to the studio’s online resources.

A representative from each principal industry sponsor, GE Aviation, Procter & Gamble, PTC, and Schlumberger, will sit on EPIC’s Industrial Advisory Board, whose primary function will be to offer suggestions on how the ENG undergraduate curriculum might be redesigned to better prepare students for employment in the years ahead.

Timothy Jackman (ENG’15) with one of EPIC’s 3-D printers, which he used to create a miniature car from a digital model.

Timothy Jackman (ENG ’15) with one of EPIC’s 3-D printers, which he used to create a miniature car from a digital model.

“We want to create as many options for our graduating students as possible,” Fine says. “By teaching them some of the things that regional industry wants, we think we’re giving our students more options. And we’re making our students more desirable to potential employers.”

Representatives from the principal sponsors will also participate in guest lectures and provide case studies and projects, and the companies will offer internship and employment opportunities to qualified students. 

While other universities have manufacturing-oriented centers, most focus on basic research, but EPIC allows engineering students to put theory into practice by converting their ideas into products that could one day benefit society.

Fine has given tours of the facility to at least five teams from other universities since June. “We’re not aware of anyone who’s invested in this scale and made this commitment to undergraduate education,” he says.

“When I first heard from Dean Lutchen about the idea of EPIC, I was thrilled,” says Michael Campbell (ENG ’94), executive vice president of PTC’s CAD segment, who will serve on EPIC’s advisory board. “I always felt that my engineering education lacked that real-world perspective, that real-world exposure to the challenges, processes, and complexities of collaboration and the sophistication of tools. Now we have a chance to share all of that with students.”

J. David Rowatt, research director and technical advisor at Schlumberger, echoes that sentiment. “There were so many things I didn’t learn in school that I picked up on the job,” he says. “Some of these are clearly being addressed by what EPIC is trying to do,” which is exposing students to the entire engineering process — from conception and manufacturing to working on deadlines and understanding resource constraints.

Greg Morris, strategy and business development leader for additive manufacturing with GE Aviation, says this generation of students grew up in a world where computers and software were second nature, but tinkering under the hood of a car was not. EPIC will provide engineering students with the hands-on experience that gives them an advantage in the marketplace. “I can’t tell you how much that resonates with an employer,” he says.

Both BU and its partners see EPIC as a win-win. ENG faculty and students will benefit from a revamped curriculum and access to global leaders in innovation and manufacturing, while industry partners will interact with the University’s deep bench of cutting-edge researchers and get exposure to a new crop of engineers.

“If we tap into EPIC,” says Bruno De Weer, the vice president of global engineering at Procter & Gamble, “we can find ourselves connected with another hub of innovation that brings the very best.”

The EPIC ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, January 23, at 750 Commonwealth Ave., followed by a reception and tours for those invited. The event is not open to the public.

-Leslie Friday, BU Today

From Student to Professor

December 11th, 2013 in Alumni, Graduate Students, News-ISS, Undergraduate Students

Sam Keene (PhD ’07)

Sam Keene (ECE ’98, PhD ’07)

In 1998, Sam Keene completed his first college experience when he graduated from Boston University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering. Nearly a decade later, he now also holds a doctoral degree in Electrical Engineering (PhD ’07) and works on the other side of the classroom as an Assistant Professor in Electrical Engineering at The Cooper Union in New York City.

His job not only entails teaching two or three classes each semester and supervising Master’s Theses and various undergraduate projects; it also demands that he keep up with the latest technology.

“I’m always amazed at how much my students are capable of, so the pressure is on me to keep challenging them with interesting work, whether they are course projects, contests, senior projects or thesis topics,” said Keene. He added that watching his students overcome the research challenges put in front of them is a rewarding experience.

It’s easy to see how Boston University could prepare Keene for teaching in the classroom, but he credits the Electrical & Computer Engineering Department for launching another career as well – communication engineer at The Mathworks Inc. After a few years in the industry, he decided to fully immerse himself in research by going back to school and focusing his studies on wireless communications and networks.

“While doing my Ph.D., I learned from my many advisors and professors how to do research, publish papers, and teach classes,” said Keene. “All of these skills helped me land the job I currently have.”

He credits many faculty members, including Professor Hamid Nawab (ECE), Associate Professor Jeffrey Carruthers (ECE), and Professor Thomas Little (ECE, SE), for having a great impact on his career. Each had different qualities that Keene wanted to emulate.

“I am so proud of Sam’s progress from Boston University to professor,” said Carruthers. “He was disciplined, doing excellent work and staying on track with his research. Sam and I had many interesting discussions about academic life and finding the right fit between balancing teaching and research.”

Keene hopes to inspire his students in the same manner the ECE faculty inspired him and is even collaborating with a student of Little’s who mentors one of his undergraduates. He may have graduated, but Keene still has a strong connection to his alma mater.

- Chelsea Hermond (SMG ’15)

Distinguished Alumni Awards Honor Exceptional ENG Grads

November 19th, 2013 in Alumni, Awards, Events, News-CE, News-EP, News-ISS, Recognition

Dean Kenneth R. Lutchen with Anton Papp (EE '90) (top), Dan Ryan and Aaron Ganick (both ECE '10) (middle) and George Savage (BME '81) (bottom) (Photos by Dave Green)

Dean Kenneth R. Lutchen with Anton Papp (EE '90) (Photo by Dave Green)

In a ceremony held October 25 at the Boston University Photonics Center, the College of Engineering celebrated its alumni and announced the 2013 Distinguished Alumni Awards. Presented by Dean Kenneth R. Lutchen following a buffet dinner and champagne toast, the awards recognize individuals who have made significant contributions to their alma mater, community and profession. Lutchen commended the recipients for bringing honor to the College through their careers, commitment to the highest standards of excellence, and devotion to the College.

Anton Papp (EE ’90), vice president for Corporate Development at Teradata, received the Service to Alma Mater award, which honors alumni who have enhanced the College of Engineering’s stature through voluntary service to BU.

Dean Kenneth R. Lutchen (center) with Dan Ryan (left) and Aaron Ganick (both ECE '10) (Photo by Dave Green)

Dean Kenneth R. Lutchen (center) with Dan Ryan (left) and Aaron Ganick (both ECE '10) (Photo by Dave Green)

At Teradata Papp oversees, evaluates and executes investments, mergers and acquisitions, and strategy. Prior to joining Teradata, he served as vice president of Corporate Development & Global Alliances at Aprimo and held numerous investment banking positions. A graduate of the prestigious US Navy Fighter Weapons School (TOPGUN), Papp attended BU on a Naval ROTC scholarship and served as a Naval Officer and F-14 Tomcat Flight Instructor. He also earned an MBA in Finance from Columbia Business School.

Papp serves on the College of Engineering Dean’s Advisory Board, the ENG West Coast Alumni Leadership Council, and the BU West Coast Regional Campaign Committee. He has been the leading supporter for the ENG/SMG Summer Leadership Institute program, and part of the College’s efforts to recruit top undergraduates.

Dan Ryan and Aaron Ganick (both ECE ’10), cofounders of the telecommunications company ByteLight, received the Distinguished Young Alumni award, which honors outstanding alumni within 10 years of graduation for outstanding service to their profession or community.

Dean Kenneth R. Lutchen and George Savage (BME '81) (Photo by Dave Green)

Dean Kenneth R. Lutchen and George Savage (BME '81) (Photo by Dave Green)

A startup that emerged out of the Smart Lighting Engineering Research Center at BU, ByteLight has produced a system that’s similar to an indoor GPS. Special LED lights provided by Bytelight enable your smartphone to determine your location and to bring up location-based information ranging from store coupons to museum exhibit descriptions.

George Savage (BME ’81), Chief Medical Officer and cofounder of Proteus Digital Health, and a member of the BU College of Engineering West Coast Advisory Council, received the Service to the Profession award, which honors alumni whose work has significantly contributed to the advancement of their profession and brought them recognition within their field.

Savage has started 10 companies since 1989 as entrepreneur or founding investor, including FemRx (acquired by Johnson and Johnson), CardioRhythm (acquired by Medtronic) and QRx Pharmaceuticals. He holds an M.D. from Tufts University School of Medicine and an M.B.A. from Stanford University Graduate School of Business, and serves on the boards of Menlo Healthcare Ministry, the Pacific Research Institute and Silent Cal Productions.

At Proteus, Savage has advanced a system of small, ingestible event markers that are implanted in a patient’s medications. A monitor worn as a patch on the patient identifies each pill upon swallowing and tracks vital signs, which are uploaded to the patient’s mobile phone and transmitted to caregivers and healthcare professionals. The system allows for instantaneous and personalized treatment and promises to transform the way doctors monitor patients’ medicine.

-Mark Dwortzan