Category: Courses

From Battlefield to Lab Bench

November 7th, 2013 in Courses, Faculty, Graduate Programs, Graduate Student Opportunities, Graduate Students, News-CE, News-EP, News-ISS, Research, Research-CE, Research-EP, Research-ISS, Students

NSF Research Program Helps ENG Vets Shape Careers

Christopher Stockbridge in Bifano's Precision Optics Research Lab

Christopher Stockbridge in Bifano's Precision Optics Research Lab

US military personnel return from active duty with highly marketable knowledge and skills, but many find it difficult to quickly parlay their experience into well-paying jobs. To help rectify the situation, the National Science Foundation (NSF) funds the Veteran’s Research Supplement (VRS) program, which allows veterans at selected colleges and universities to participate in industrially relevant research in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) — fields in which job openings far outpace the supply of qualified US applicants.

Since the inception of VRS in 2011, the College of Engineering’s NSF Industry/University Collaborative Research Center for Biophotonic Sensors & Systems has welcomed the opportunity to engage veterans in research through this program.

“Vets come to us with an unusually strong work ethic and high confidence but often lack the experience to be comfortable in taking on a big research project,” said BU Photonics Center Director and Professor Thomas Bifano (ME, MSE). “VRS gives them the opportunity to take on such projects and pursue careers in research, which is the main engine of our economy.”

So far two veterans have thrived in faculty-supervised summer projects funded by VRS, emerging not only with new research skills but also a more well-defined career path.

Cliff Chan: From Technician to Engineer

Cliff Chan, who deployed four times in the Middle East and Southeast Asia as an Air Force Guidance and Control Specialist, came to BU seeking to take his skillset to the next level. With a B.S. in mathematics and computer science from the University of California, San Diego, two years developing software for an electronic health records company, and four years maintaining aircraft control systems for the Air Force under his belt, Chan aspired to learn how to design the kinds of technologies he came across during his military service.

To transform himself from a technician to an engineer, he sought a way to earn a master’s degree in electrical engineering in a reasonable timeframe without having to start from scratch, and he found it in the College of Engineering’s Late Entry Accelerated Program (LEAP). Like all LEAP students, Chan spent his first year taking undergraduate engineering courses to get up to speed, but got his first taste of engineering design the following summer (2011), thanks to the VRS program. Working for three months in Professor Jerome Mertz’s (BME) Biomicroscopy Lab within BU’s Center for Biophotonic Sensors and Systems, he developed software that enables microscopes to provide high-contrast images of biological samples in real time.

“The project was a real transition for me, as I had to solve a problem by first figuring out what I needed to learn, and then how to apply it,” recalled Chan, who was used to getting more explicit instructions in the Air Force and had never worked in a research lab. “It opened up my eyes to another world.”

Subsequently hired to work full-time in the Biomicroscopy Lab while completing his Master of Engineering in electrical engineering, Chan has continued to advance microscopy techniques aimed at improving medical diagnostic imaging. The experience has led him to consider working in research and development for defense and other industries, conducting experiments and designing devices with real-world applications.

It has also prepared him to work through the inevitable unexpected challenges that arise in advancing new technologies.

“What I like about Cliff is that he’s undaunted,” said Mertz. “He wants to learn everything that’s out there to tackle his work. The problems we faced were much more complex than I had anticipated, but Cliff’s efforts definitely kept us on track, and kept us progressing.”

Chris Stockbridge: From Defusing Roadside Bombs to Protecting Future Soldiers

Photonics Center Director and Professor Thomas Bifano (ME, MSE), Professor Jerome Mertz (BME) and Cliff Chan in Mertz's Biomicroscopy Lab (Photo by BU Photo Services)

Photonics Center Director and Professor Thomas Bifano (ME, MSE), Professor Jerome Mertz (BME) and Cliff Chan in Mertz's Biomicroscopy Lab (Photo by BU Photo Services)

Chris Stockbridge returned to civilian life after five years as an officer and combat engineer in the Army that included two tours of duty in Iraq. During each deployment he came to appreciate the engineering behind technologies used to protect soldiers, including devices used to search for and destroy roadside bombs. Equipped with those experiences and a B.S. in mechanical engineering from the US Military Academy at West Point, he applied to the PhD program in mechanical engineering at BU with the goal of working as a civilian engineer at a national military research lab.

“I came to BU to study micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS), particularly those which could be of great value in military applications, and because I knew that the Photonics Center has a strong relationship with the US Army Research Laboratory,” said Stockbridge.

Supported last summer by the VRS program to serve as the lead student in an NSF-funded project in Bifano’s Precision Optics Research Lab, he began fabricating MEMS for a new deformable mirror design for use in the Keck and other very large telescopes. Aimed at supplying the telescopes with mirrors that have more pixels for finer imaging control, his work could enable astronomers to make observations that shed light on the origin of the universe and the existence of life on extra-solar planets.

“The primary benefit to me from this project was spending more time doing hands-on MEMS fabrication work,” said Stockbridge, who had already spent two years working on the design of deformable mirrors in Bifano’s lab. “While I would prefer to work more in design after graduation, the hands-on skills are important for getting an appreciation of each process step that goes into building a MEMS mirror.”

As he has cultivated those skills, Stockbridge has proven to be an invaluable asset in Bifano’s lab.

“Chris is a consummate engineer who seems to thrive on tackling problems that are both thorny and hard, and I can see in his work the experience and training that he gained while serving in the Army,” said Bifano. “He is a natural collaborator, and all of the other students in my lab and in the labs of my close colleagues have come to rely on him for his strong sense of mechanical design and for his eagerness to help those around him. Chris will make a great professional engineer.”

-Rachel Harrington (rachelah@bu.edu)

ECE Department Requests Ideas for Senior Design Projects

August 8th, 2013 in Courses, Events, Faculty, News-CE, News-EP, News-ISS, Research, Research-CE, Research-EP, Research-ISS, Senior Design, Students, Undergraduate Programs, Undergraduate Student Opportunities, Undergraduate Students

Chris Hall (ECE '13), a member of the team, Choreographed LED Artwork, shows his team's project during ECE Day '13.

Chris Hall (ECE '13), a member of the team, Choreographed LED Artwork, shows his team's project during ECE Day '13.

Boston University’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering seeks real world engineering challenges to give undergraduate seniors for their 2013 Senior Design Projects.

Each year, the ECE Department requests projects from industry, the government, non-profits, small businesses, and individuals to present to students as part of a year-long, team-based course. Students create a plan for solving the problem, design a solution, test a product, and present a prototype at the end of the spring semester.

Senior design projects give students a chance to work on a task that expands upon traditional classroom assignments and prepares them for future employment and real-world challenges.

Last May, seniors presented their work to ECE professors, alumni, and industry engineers. The top prize was awarded to the team, “Calibration Device for Microarray Slides,” whose members worked with Professor Selim Ünlü (ECE, BME) to develop a system for detection for microarray slides using an Interferometric Reflectance Imaging Sensor. The design has the potential to speed up disease detection in the future.

Take a look at examples of other projects from last year.

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer customer, have any questions about the project, or would like to discuss potential ideas, please email Associate Professor of the Practice Alan Pisano (ECE) at apisano@bu.edu.

Customers are not required to provide financial support but many have chosen to donate equipment or other resources. Project descriptions will be given to students at the beginning of September.

-Rachel Harrington (rachelah@bu.edu)

Designing a Lighter, Cheaper, More Reliable Vehicle

May 21st, 2013 in Awards, Courses, Faculty, Graduate Programs, Graduate Student Opportunities, Graduate Students, News-CE, Recognition, Research, Research-CE, Students

Pictured from left to right, Wei Si (PhD '15), Morteza Hashemi (PhD '16), and Professors Ari Trachtenberg (ECE) and David Starobinski (ECE) are working with General Motors Research to determine if using wireless sensor networks might be a greener way to construct tomorrow's vehicles.

Pictured from left to right, Wei Si (PhD '15), Morteza Hashemi (PhD '16), and ECE Professors Ari Trachtenberg and David Starobinski are working with General Motors Research to determine if using wireless sensor networks might be a greener way to construct tomorrow's vehicles.

Auto technology has come a long way over the years and includes recent advances ranging from night vision to automatic high-beam controls. With these new developments come more physical wires that will increase the cost, weight, and maintenance of a car.

“In the future, as much as four kilometers of wires may be necessary for a car to operate,” said Wei Si (PhD ’15). “On top of that, these wires could weigh as much as 40 kilograms, an amount that would have a bad effect on fuel consumption.”

To solve this potential problem before it happens, Si and Morteza Hashemi (PhD ’16) have been working with Electrical & Computer Engineering Professors David Starobinski and Ari Trachtenberg, as well as General Motors Research, to determine if using wireless sensor networks (WSN) might be a greener way to construct tomorrow’s vehicles.

Some research has already been done on wireless car sensors and electronic control units (ECU) arranged in a single-hop model, but the BU research team thinks this can be improved.

“[In existing models], if some sensor-to-ECU links experience high power loss, then the quality of service degrades,” they wrote in an abstract about their work. Instead, they’re working on a multi-hop model that uses different sensors to cooperate and relay information in the car.

“Our results show that the transmission rate of previous models can be as low as 78 percent while our network performs at higher than 95 percent,” they wrote in their abstract, adding that their design provides energy savings as well.

Spending more than three years of work on the project, the researchers’ efforts are paying off. After competing in Scholars Day, the annual Boston University graduate student research symposium, Hashemi and Si have won both the Center for Reliable Information Systems and Cybersecurity Award as well as the Provost’s Award.

The research team tested out sensors, like this one attached to the suspension system of the front wheel, on a Cadillac Escalade.

The research team tested out sensors, like this one attached to the suspension system of the front wheel, on a Cadillac Escalade.

“We were very proud of Morteza and Wei for this accomplishment,” said Trachtenberg. “They had stiff competition from some very good researchers.”

Trachtenberg and Hashemi both said that they think their research stood out because it was easy to understand and could be applied to a real-life issue.

“One of the critical skills we try to teach is being able to talk about your research to those outside of your field,” said Trachtenberg. “They did a very good job in presenting their work in a way that was clear to a non-engineering audience.”

Still, finding success wasn’t always easy. The students were met with many challenges, including having only three weeks to test their work on a Cadillac Escalade and quickly discovering their initial design needed to be altered significantly.

“Sometimes, we’d stay up all night working,” said Hashemi, “but we’ve learned a lot along the way and hope the learning process continues.”

After seeing the long hours his students are putting into the project, Starobinski has noticed that the Ph.D. candidates are gaining confidence in their research, too.

“This project involves possessing a good understanding of various fields including wireless networks and low system processing,” said Starobinski. “They’ve done a great job using what they’ve learned in courses and applying it to a real-world application.”

-Rachel Harrington (rachelah@bu.edu)

Top Senior Design Projects Named at ECE Day ’13

May 20th, 2013 in Alumni, Awards, Courses, Events, Faculty, Graduate Students, News-CE, News-EP, News-ISS, Recognition, Research, Research-CE, Research-EP, Research-ISS, Senior Design, Students, Undergraduate Programs, Undergraduate Student Opportunities, Undergraduate Students, Video

Winners of the P. T. Hsu Memorial Award for Outstanding Senior Design Project, Team 17 - Calibration Device for Microarray Slides, demonstrate their project to judge, Bradley Rufleth (ECE '04). Pictured from left are Jyotsna Singh (ECE '13), Allison Marn (ECE '13), Ryan Lagoy (ECE '13), Rufleth, and Sasha Gazman (ECE '13).

Winners of the P. T. Hsu Memorial Award for Outstanding Senior Design Project, Team 17 - Calibration Device for Microarray Slides, demonstrate their project to judge, Bradley Rufleth (ECE '04). Pictured from left are Jyotsna Singh (ECE '13), Allison Marn (ECE '13), Ryan Lagoy (ECE '13), Rufleth, and Sasha Gazman (ECE '13).

Recently in the Photonics Center, passersby were met with a curious sight on the ninth floor. In a small setup resembling a couple of grocery store shelves, a robot, aptly named ShopBot, was picking out items from a grocery list.

Designed by seniors Jeffrey Chang, John-Nicholas Furst, Ngozi Nwogwugwu, Gurwinder Singh, and Hei Po Yiu, the Grocery Shopping Robot was one of 17 senior design projects on display as part of Boston University’s Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering’s annual ECE Day.

“We wanted to come up with a cheap, automated way to find groceries in a store,” said Singh during their presentation. Their robot uses a pathfinding algorithm to take the shortest path possible and scans barcodes to find its items.

Singh was one of 74 students showing the results of two semesters of work to faculty, friends, parents, and guests on May 6. Additionally, three seniors opted to write an honors thesis and presented their posters during the event.

View photos from ECE Day ’13 presentations.
View photos from ECE Day ’13 awards and demonstrations.
View videos of the student presentations.

The projects, one of the last requirements for seniors before they earn their undergraduate degree, allow students to design a prototype, electronic device or software system. Teams work with real world customers that include BU professors and companies like Microsoft and Bell Labs – Alcatel-Lucent.

“This year’s senior design class has been one of the very best,” said Associate Professor of the Practice Alan Pisano (ECE), the senior design advisor. “I have enjoyed working with such a talented and dedicated group.”

Chris Hall, a member of Team 3 - Choreographed LED Artwork, shows his team's project during ECE Day.

Chris Hall, a member of Team 3 - Choreographed LED Artwork, shows his team's project during ECE Day.

This year’s projects ranged from a deshredder, designed to test if shredding is secure with today’s computing techniques, to an application that would allow professors to more easily track how a student is performing using BU’s education software, Blackboard.

Six alumni who previously completed senior design projects, David Lancia (ECE ’02, MS ’04), Craig LaBoda (ECE ’11), David Mabius (ECE ’07, MS ’09), Mike Kasparian (ECE ’12), Aaron Ganick (ECE ’10), and Bradley Rufleth (ECE ’04), returned to their alma mater in the roles of judges.

Said Pisano: “The ECE Day judges told me that the job of selecting the winners was most difficult this year because of all of the excellent projects, and they wished we had more awards to give.”

After much deliberation, the judges awarded Calibration Device for Microarray Slides the top prize, the P. T. Hsu Memorial Award for Outstanding Senior Design Project. Sasha Gazman, Ryan Lagoy, Allison Marn, and Jyotsna Singh worked with Professor Selim Ünlü (ECE, BME) to develop a system for detecting target proteins, allergens, and diseases on microarray slides.

“Our system improves upon the accuracy of fluorescence based testing and is compact, portable, and user-friendly,” Singh said during her team’s presentation.

“Overall, we’re increasing the accuracy of diagnostics,” added Lagoy, who also was awarded the Michael F. Ruane Award for Excellence in Senior Capstone Design.

In a show of solidarity, the graduate students in Ünlü’s Optical Characterization and Nanophotonics Laboratory turned out to support the undergraduates during their team presentation.

The day centered around the seniors’ accomplishments, but two teachers were awarded as well. David Castañón, ECE professor and department chair, presented Ari Trachtenberg with the ECE Award for Excellence in Teaching and Molly Crane was named the GTF of the Year.

Other awards at this year’s ECE Day included:

Center for Space Physics Undergraduate Research Award
Chris Hoffman

Senior Honors Thesis Award
Beat Wave Generation and Interactions with Space Plasmas at Gakona, Alaska: Lisa A. Rooker

Entrepreneurial Award
Pitch: Brad Berk, Nick Lippis, Patrick Maruska, and Robins Patel

Design Excellence Awards
Choreographed LED Artwork: Chris Davis, Mike Gurr, Chris Hall, Matt Lee, and Kevin Meyer

Automated DNA Assembly Platform for Bioengineering: Alejandro Pelaez Lechuga and Janoo Fernandes

-Rachel Harrington (rachelah@bu.edu)

LEAPing Forward

February 28th, 2013 in Alumni, Courses, Faculty, Graduate Programs, Graduate Student Opportunities, Graduate Students, News-CE, News-EP, News-ISS, Students

Enrollment Skyrockets in Program for Late-Entry Engineers

LEAP alums share their experiences with current students at I*LEAP, a recent LEAP networking event co-sponsored by the Engineering Alumni and Career Development Offices.

LEAP alums share their experiences with current students at I*LEAP, a recent LEAP networking event co-sponsored by the Engineering Alumni and Career Development Offices.

Jeff Worthey had balanced interests in music and engineering until his senior year in high school, when he received acceptance letters from music schools and the College of Engineering.

“I decided to pursue music, but I cannot say that I was a typical music major,” says Worthey, who eventually earned a master’s degree in music from Yale University. “My elective slots were filled with physics and calculus, and I was more interested in disassembling my flute than practicing scales.”

This mechanical proclivity led to an apprenticeship with a flute maker and a quest for more training in mechanical design that led him to discover a unique academic program at Boston University. Because of this program, Worthey is well on his way to earning a master’s degree in mechanical engineering — even though he lacked an undergraduate degree in engineering.

What enabled Worthey to pull this off is the College of Engineering’s Late Entry Accelerated Program (LEAP), which for nearly 30 years has enabled non-traditional students and working professionals to obtain graduate degrees in engineering. Buoyed by a rising tide of interest in engineering in a tight job market, heightened demand for rapid but reliable pathways to career change in an uncertain economy, and word-of-mouth from a growing cadre of satisfied alumni, the program has seen its applicant pool grow by 50 percent and new enrollments double in the past year. Since 2008, applications have grown fivefold and new enrollments have quadrupled.

The LEAP experience is divided into Phase 1, in which students take a core set of 10 to 12 undergraduate engineering courses to get up to speed, guided by one of 12 faculty advisors; and Phase 2, in which students enter a regular master’s degree program in biomedical, computer, electrical, mechanical, photonics, manufacturing, systems, or materials science & engineering.

“To our knowledge, LEAP is the only program of its kind,” says Kirstie Miller, director of Professional Education & Corporate Relations at the College of Engineering. “Some schools accept students from non-engineering backgrounds on an individual basis, but lack the kind of formal program that we have to prepare them for and accept them into graduate study in engineering—and provide ongoing career development as well.”

Known as LEAPers, these students come from diverse backgrounds, from organic farmer to sailor to doctor to lawyer. Some seek a complete change of pace, while others see engineering as a way to augment their current work. Some once considered engineering as a career but got sidetracked by life; others became enamored with engineering after dabbling in several fields.

Why People Make the LEAP

LEAP alum Paul Casey (EE, MS '88), director of engineering at Kofax, a leading business process solutions company, helps current LEAP students think about their programs and future career plans at I*LEAP.

LEAP alum Paul Casey (EE, MS '88), director of engineering at Kofax, a leading business process solutions company, helps current LEAP students think about their programs and future career plans at I*LEAP.

As he concluded his pediatrics residency in Portland, Oregon, Jesse Lock (BME, PhD ’11)  set his sights on applying the rigorous mathematical principles of engineering to the world of medicine, and ultimately developing technologies to enhance clinical effectiveness. However, he lacked the requisite educational foundation to pursue engineering graduate studies. Then he found LEAP. The program enabled him to catch up on missing undergraduate courses and complete the requirements for a master’s degree in biomedical engineering in less than three years. He remained at BU to earn his PhD and emerged with exciting new work as a physician/engineer.

“I now split my time between working as a pediatrician and acting as Chief Medical Officer for a local startup here in Boston called Etiometry,” says Lock, who founded the company with a group of engineers from BU. “We have had remarkable success applying control engineering principles to complex medical problems, and we’re currently developing decision support tools for clinicians working in critical care environments.”

For Lock, who discovered LEAP while searching the Web for an “academic bridge between medicine and engineering,” LEAP was the only program he could find that offered “the complete package” in short order.

“Graduate education is expensive in terms of both time and money, so the ability to get the majority of the basic engineering curriculum in one or two years was critical,” says Lock. “I really did feel as though I learned the core values of engineering and could jump into any sort of project with minimal additional effort.”

Yasmin Tirado-Chiodini (BME, MS ’89), who completed a B.S. in chemistry at the University of Puerto Rico and originally intended to go to medical school, agrees. After attending a summer program at Kennedy Space Center that introduced her to more exciting opportunities in space life sciences, she instead became a LEAPer.

“The program ensured that I got the necessary background to make the switch to biomedical engineering in an efficient and cost effective manner,” says Tirado-Chiodini, who went on to work as a space shuttle project engineer, high tech entrepreneur and business and intellectual property lawyer. “It was truly a seamless transition to biomedical engineering.”

Johnny Napoli, a former English major at North Carolina State University now pursuing a master’s degree in mechanical engineering at BU, found LEAP appealing because it not only promised an efficient transition to a technical career, but also the structure and support of a well-established program.

“I could have quit my job and taken whatever engineering courses I would have liked, but I would be hard-pressed to justify that decision, especially since an accredited engineering degree would by no means be guaranteed,” says Napoli, who first learned of the program while serving in the Peace Corps in Kazakhstan. “With LEAP, I have the benefit of an undergraduate engineering education while receiving a master’s degree in the process.”

Napoli now aims to work for an aviation or aerospace company, and has already netted an internship in the field.

The Benefits of LEAP

While LEAP students hail from many different backgrounds and harbor wide-ranging career aspirations, they have at least three things in common: exceptional academic aptitude, a broad set of knowledge and skills, and a strong drive to succeed.

“The quality of our applicants is very high,” notes Professor Thomas Little (ECE, SE), associate dean for Educational Initiatives. “LEAP students typically earn higher GPAs than their classmates. They are mature, highly motivated and approach school deliberately. When you combine the engineering with their breadth and life experience, they make ideal candidates for professional opportunities, demonstrating good communication skills, teamwork and leadership.”

By Commencement last May, at least 70 percent of the LEAP Class of 2012 had already found jobs. LEAP alumni are employed at all levels of responsibility by a diverse set of companies, including The Mathworks, GE Aviation, VMware, EMC, Draeger Medical, Raytheon, Intel and MIT Lincoln Laboratory.

Today there are more than 250 LEAP alumni and 118 current students, and their numbers are growing fast. But they’re much more than just a cohort; they’re a community.

“The greatest strength of LEAP is the community it has created,” Worthey observes.

“Being surrounded by driven, talented LEAPers from diverse backgrounds creates a unique experience and sets LEAP apart from other alternatives.”

To apply for admission to LEAP, prospective students must hold a bachelor’s degree in any field and have received a grade of B or better in a college-level calculus course.

-Mark Dwortzan

‘App’lying What They Learned

February 7th, 2013 in Courses, Faculty, News-CE, Research, Research-CE, Students, Undergraduate Programs, Undergraduate Student Opportunities, Undergraduate Students

For their final projects in Introduction to Software Engineering last semester, students designed marketable Android apps. Catch the Fruit involved squishing as many fruits as possible in a given time limit.

For their final projects in Introduction to Software Engineering, students designed marketable Android apps. Catch the Fruit involved squishing as many fruits as possible in a given time limit.

When students think of studying engineering in college, problem sets, heavy textbooks and challenging midterms all come to mind.

During the fall semester, Boston University’s Assistant Professor Ayse Coskun (ECE) and Associate Professor Ari Trachtenberg (ECE) took a different approach to teaching by giving students a chance to design mobile games for their final projects.

At the end of their Introduction to Software Engineering course (EC327), Coskun and Trachtenberg asked students to design a marketable Android app.

“Students had to learn how to interface different software components, work in teams – which is often the case in the real world – and think about important aspects of their apps like the target audience, robustness and user interface,” said Coskun.

Many students took a fun approach and came up with apps for chess, tic-tac-toe, or Catch the Fruit, a game that involves squishing as many fruits as possible in a given time limit.

“One of the goals of this project was to make students think about how their application will actually be used, as use-considerations often have a significant influence on real engineering design decisions,” said Trachtenberg.

As part of the assignment, John Moore (ECE ’15) and his teammates designed an app based off of one of the earliest arcade games, Pong.

“This project really showed us how to apply the programming knowledge we’d already had,” he said. “It was great because we had a chance to build something from scratch.”

MorSMS (pictured) allows text messages to be converted into Morse coded vibrations.

MorSMS (pictured) allows text messages to be converted into Morse coded vibrations.

Students had about a month to complete the projects before in-class demonstrations. They worked in teams of four or five people.

Moore said that one of his favorite parts of the project was seeing the interesting ways his teammates would tackle a programming problem – ideas that were often different from his own.

“With this project, you really learned how to work on a team,” he said. “Group members couldn’t improve the app unless they understood how it was working so that forced us to communicate with each other constantly.”

Like Moore, the majority of students designed games for their final projects but some groups took a different approach. Patrick Crawford (ECE ’15) and his teammates created MorSMS, an app that converts text messages into Morse coded vibrations.

“I had a blast working on it,” he said. “Finding the best ways to create the app, for user interface as well as efficiency, is definitely an important skill we took away from this.”

These final projects were possible, in part, because of funding from the Kern Family Foundation. As a Kern Faculty Fellow, Trachtenberg is responsible for helping develop an entrepreneurial mindset among engineering students. Overall, he and Coskun were very pleased with their first results.

“We were impressed by the quality and functionality of the projects as well as the amount of creativity students put into them,” said Trachtenberg.

Their students also gained some insight into what working as an engineer might be like one day. Crawford said, “This was my first time in mobile development, and though it can be time-consuming and difficult to learn something as new as this, it’s well worth it.”

-Rachel Harrington (rachelah@bu.edu)

Submit Your Design Project Challenges for This Year’s Seniors

August 22nd, 2012 in Courses, Faculty, News-CE, News-EP, News-ISS, Research, Research-CE, Research-EP, Students, Undergraduate Programs, Undergraduate Student Opportunities, Undergraduate Students

Members of Team iMedix and their client, Professor Theodore Morse, show the application they developed at ECE Day '12.

Members of Team iMedix and their client, Professor Theodore Morse, show the application they developed at ECE Day '12.

Boston University’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering is looking for real world engineering challenges to give undergraduate seniors for their 2012 Senior Design project.

Each year, the ECE Department seeks projects from industry, government, non-profits, small businesses, and individuals to present to students as part of a year-long, team-based course. Students create a plan for solving the problem, design a solution, test a product, and present a prototype.

Senior design projects give students a chance to work on a task that expands upon traditional classroom assignments and prepares them for future employment and real-world challenges.

Last May, seniors presented their work to ECE professors, alumni, and industry engineers. The top prize was awarded to “Team MINSensory,” who worked with Professor Ronald Knepper (ECE) to design a complete interface suite that allows for real-time collection, analysis, and visualization of neural signals using the Multiple-Input Neural Sensor Integrated Circuit (MINS IC).

Take a look at examples of other projects from last year.

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer customer, have any questions about the project, or would like to discuss potential ideas, please email Associate Professor of the Practice Alan Pisano (ECE) at apisano@bu.edu.

Ideally, project descriptions will be given to students at the beginning of September.

-Sneha Dasgupta (COM ’13)

Computer Engineering Chosen as Highest-Paid Major by CNNMoney

June 27th, 2012 in Courses, News-CE, News-EP, News-ISS, Students, Undergraduate Programs, Undergraduate Students

IMG_3906

ECE students use opportunities like the Senior Design Project to get ahead and earn higher salaries after graduation.

According to a report by CNNMoney, students who majored in computer engineering are the top earners of the Class of 2011.

Graduates who studied engineering take home the highest salaries with students majoring in computer science following closely behind.

“Computer engineering majors were the highest-paid of that bunch, bringing in a whopping $70,400 a year,” wrote CNNMoney’s Blake Ellis.

Read the article.

Associate Professor Martin Herbordt (ECE) wasn’t surprised to hear that computer engineering graduates are in such high demand.

“Computer engineering graduates have a diverse set of skills and experience that make them desirable for positions in a variety of rapidly growing fields,” said Herbordt. “They know how to program and design hardware but perhaps more importantly have experience creating and integrating systems — everything from cell phones to satellites.”

Traditionally, computer engineering graduates go on to work in fields such as consumer electronics, robotics, aerospace, finance, or video games.

The findings come out after the Payscale College Salary Report also gave good news to Electrical & Computer Engineering graduates. They ranked electrical engineering majors the third highest earners and computer engineering graduates received sixth place marks.

According to Payscale, Electrical Engineering graduates average a $61,300 yearly salary out of college and Computer Engineering majors earn slightly higher right out of college at about $61,800.

Boston University’s Class of 2011 is on par with Payscale’s statistics. Recent Electrical Engineering graduates earn an average $69,000 for their starting pay while Computer Engineering graduates earn about $60,000 a year.

BU ECE alumni work at a wide range of companies and organizations including IBM, Raytheon, Genzyme, Microsoft, Dreamworks, Toyota, and Hewlett-Packard.

-Rachel Harrington (rachelah@bu.edu)

Related links:
ECE Majors Among the Highest Earners in the US

ENG Adds Technology Innovation Concentration

June 22nd, 2012 in Courses, News-CE, News-EP, News-ISS, Students, Undergraduate Programs, Undergraduate Student Opportunities, Undergraduate Students

Paschilidis-for-webThe College of Engineering has added a Technology Innovation concentration option that will be available to ENG undergraduates in all majors beginning this fall.

This new concentration is a vehicle for introducing engineering students to an entrepreneurial mindset by understanding how technical innovations are translated into marketable products and businesses. The concentration is a key element of BU’s participation in the Kern Entrepreneurial Education Network (KEEN) and leverages the College’s Societal Engineer initiatives, as well as those involving ENG-SMG collaborative activities and BU innovation competitions.

“This concentration is the latest in a growing suite of educational initiatives focusing on the Societal Engineer, and in particular, on instilling an entrepreneurial mindset in all our undergraduate students. The association with KEEN also provides a wealth of experiential activities which deepen students’ educational experience,” said Associate Dean for Educational Initiatives Donald Wroblewski.

As part of the concentration, students will take a sequence of four courses (16 credits). Two courses – Business of Technology Innovation and Technology Commercialization – are required of all concentrators. Students select their remaining two courses from a list that includes options like Technology, Society and Policy; Product Development; and Project Management for Software-Intensive Systems, among others.

Students are also required to complete a relevant experiential project through a company internship or participation in a program such as the Entrepreneur Design Contest, the Imagineering Competition orTechnology Innovation Scholars, among others.

The College also offers four other concentrations: Students from throughout the College can concentrate in Energy Technologies and Environmental Engineering, or Nanotechnology; and Mechanical Engineering majors may choose concentrations in Aerospace Engineering or Manufacturing Engineering. ENG concentrations help students complement their undergraduate degrees with specialized areas of focus and give students exposure to some of the most exciting emerging fields in engineering, while the College’s major degree programs ensure a strong foundation in core disciplines.

-Kathrin Havrilla

Team MINSensory Takes Top Prize at ECE Day ’12

May 15th, 2012 in Alumni, Awards, Courses, Events, Faculty, Graduate Students, News-CE, News-EP, News-ISS, Recognition, Research, Research-CE, Research-EP, Research-ISS, Senior Design, Students, Undergraduate Programs, Undergraduate Student Opportunities, Undergraduate Students

Winners of one of two Design Excellence Awards pose with their self-cleaning solar panel. Pictured from left are Kshitiz Kohli (ECE '12); Syed Naufal Bin Veqar (ECE '12); Sarah Griesse-Nascimento (ECE '12); Alex Chan (ECE '12); and Christopher Petrik (ECE '12).

Winners of one of two Design Excellence Awards pose with their self-cleaning solar panel. Pictured from left are Kshitiz Kohli (ECE '12); Syed Naufal Bin Veqar (ECE '12); Sarah Griesse-Nascimento (ECE '12); Alex Chan (ECE '12); and Christopher Petrik (ECE '12).

On May 4, the ninth floor of Boston University’s Photonics Center was transformed as Electrical & Computer Engineering students displayed their end-of-the-year projects – designs that included a tracking program that follows a speaker’s movements during a lecture, an iPad application designed to improve hospital efficiency, and even a ping pong ball retriever.

The projects may be challenging in scope, but that didn’t stop ECE seniors from tackling the research and developing real-life solutions to engineering problems.

On ECE Day, 59 seniors finally had a chance to show off their senior design projects or honors theses – the result of two semesters of work.

View photos from ECE Day ’12.

View videos of the student presentations.

Fifty-five of those students made up 12 teams that worked to design and prototype a product, electronic device, or software system. They worked with customers ranging from industry figures to faculty in an effort to improve everything from solar panel functionality to UAV collision avoidance.

The four remaining seniors wrote honors theses about topics ranging from geosensing to human-computer interfaces.

“The students’ accomplishments surpassed even my expectations this year,” said Professor Alan Pisano (ECE), the senior design advisor. “Their hard work and diligence – including several ‘all-nighters’ in the Senior Design Lab – really paid off in producing some of the best projects in recent years. I am very proud of this year’s class.”

Kholood Al Tabash (ECE '12) demonstrates her team's iMedix application to Professor Ronald Knepper.

Kholood Al Tabash (ECE '12) demonstrates her team's iMedix application to Professor Ronald Knepper.

Five alumni judges – Bradley Rufleth, Chris Maloof, David Mabius, Francine Lalooses, and David Lancia – returned to their alma mater to watch the seniors present and weigh in on their final designs. Ultimately, they selected System for Sensing Neural Response, also known as Team MINSensory, as the winner of the top prize, the P. T. Hsu Memorial Award for Outstanding Senior Design Project. Benjamin Duong, Nima Haghighi-Mood, Michael Kasparian, and Parth P. Patel (BME), members of the winning team, worked with Professor Ronald Knepper (ECE) to develop a system that senses neural responses.

“If neuroscientists are going to be using our product, we have to make something that’s helpful for them,” said Kasparian.

The team decided to design a complete interface suite that allows for real-time collection, analysis, and visualization of neural signals.

“A suite for collecting and visualizing this kind of data did not exist prior to this project,” explained Duong.

Ultimately, the MINSensory design will provide researchers with unprecedented control and depth in their neural experiments and also help expand neural research.

The day largely focused on the seniors’ accomplishments, but two teachers were awarded as well. David Castañón, ECE professor and department chair, presented Douglas Densmore with the ECE Award for Excellence in Teaching and John Gancarz was named the GTF of the Year.

Other awards announced at this year’s ECE Day included:

Michael F. Ruane Award for Excellence in Senior Capstone Design
Michael Kasparian

Senior Honors Thesis Award
Automated Detection of Colon Pre-Cancer Based on in vivo Endomicroscopy Images: Evgeni Aizenberg

Entrepreneurial Award
iMedix Patient-Nurse Communication System: Kholood Al Tabash, Donald Dougherty, Eric Hsiao, Kenneth Zhong, and Gregory Zoeller

Design Excellence Awards
Self-Cleaning Solar Panels: Alex Chan, Sarah Griesse-Nascimento, Kshitiz Kohli, Syed Naufal Bin Veqar and Christopher Petrik

Sailboat Bailer: Andrew Francis, Srilalitha Kumaresan, Henry Lok, Mason Tan, and Alexander Whittemore

-Rachel Harrington (rachelah@bu.edu)