The National Academy of Engineering (NAE) recently named 81 engineers under the age of 45 to participate in the U.S. Frontiers of Engineering Symposium, and among those chosen was Boston University Assistant Professor Douglas Densmore (ECE, BME).
Densmore, who was awarded the honor for performing exceptional engineering research, will attend the 19th annual symposium in Wilmington, Del., this September.
“The well-being of society will rely on engineering ideas developed by our nation’s leading technological thinkers,” said NAE President Charles M. Vest. “The Frontiers of Engineering programs give some of our most talented early career innovators the opportunity to create interdisciplinary relationships that are critical to shaping and advancing the future.”
Densmore, who was nominated by Boston University’s President Robert A. Brown, stood out in a pool of 310 applicants from industry, academia and government.
“The National Academy of Engineering invites the brightest young researchers from across the country to attend the U.S. Frontiers of Engineering symposium,” said Brown. “Dr. Densmore belongs in this group; he is a very promising researcher who is engaged in important cross-disciplinary work.”
Since joining BU’s Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering, Densmore has been working to advance the field of synthetic biology. Specifically, he is designing a platform that could reduce the cost and time involved in assembling DNA. His research could potentially be applied in renewable energy, medical, environmental remediation, and other critical societal challenges.
“I am looking forward to the symposium so that I get to interact with other faculty from around the world that are all working on really cutting edge research in a variety of disciplines,” said Densmore. “This will give me a chance to think about big picture applications and how we can use technology on a much more global scale.”
Over two and a half days, the symposium will cover developments in designing and analyzing social networks; cognitive manufacturing; energy and reducing dependence on fossil fuels; and flexible electronics.
-Rachel Harrington (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The IEEE Photonics Society (IPS) has named Professor Siddharth Ramachandran (ECE) as one of six Distinguished Lecturers for the 2013-2014 term. The award honors individuals across the globe who have made outstanding technical, industrial or entrepreneurial contributions to the field of lasers and electro-optics. Each honoree delivers at least six lectures at Society chapters and receives a plaque at the annual IEEE Photonics Conference.
Ramachandran, who recently published a paper in the journal Science on a new fiber optic technology that offers hope of significantly increasing Internet bandwidth, is the second College of Engineering faculty member – after Professor M. Selim Ünlü (ECE, MSE) (2005) to receive the award, which has been issued since 1984.
“The list of past recipients of this award includes stalwarts in the field of optics and photonics, and so I feel fortunate, deeply honored and excited to join this list,” said Ramachandran. “I am eagerly looking forward to utilizing the resources provided by this award to visit IEEE Photonics Society chapters around the world and describe our work in optical fibers.”
Ramachandran’s research focuses on the optical physics of nonlinear guided waves, with applications to quantum and atomic optics, biomedical imaging, lasers, sensors and telecommunications. His group studies phenomena that arise when light with unconventional spatial patterns propagates in fibers. Recent achievements include the development of a new class of fiber lasers that emit light in highly complex spatial patterns called Bessel beams, which could be used to improve maritime sensing capabilities; and novel optical fibers that can stably propagate optical vortices—donut-shaped laser light beams in which the light twists like a tornado as it moves along the beam path, rather than in a straight line – potentially boosting Internet connectivity considerably.
Students in Ramachandran’s group have received noteworthy recognition for their work in related areas, including a Maiman Award Finalist at the Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics (CLEO) 2013 (Jeffrey Demas), an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship (Patrick Gregg), and the President’s Award at the 2011 BU Science & Engineering Day (Nenad Bozinovic).
Ramachandran obtained his PhD in Electrical Engineering from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, in 1998. He spent the next decade in industry, working for Bell Laboratories and its spinoff, OFS Laboratories, before joining the College of Engineering faculty in 2010. Ramachandran has authored more than 200 refereed journal and conference publications; presented more than 40 invited talks, plenary lectures and tutorials; wrote three book-chapters and edited one book; and has been granted over 30 patents. For contributions to the field of fiber optics, he was named a Distinguished Member of Technical Staff at OFS Labs in 2003, and a fellow of the Optical Society of America in 2010. He was topical editor for Optics Letters from 2008-2011, and is now an associate editor for the IEEE Journal of Quantum Electronics. He also serves on several conference and grant-review committees in the field of optics and applied physics.
The Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering would like to congratulate all of our May 2013 graduates.
ECE degree recipients included the following students:
B.S. in Computer Engineering
Kimaya Anurag Agarwal
Bradley Thomas Berk
Michael Nanabhai Bhatt
Richard Alexander Christo
Jeffrey Andrew Crowell
Christopher Francis Hall
Peter Verne Junek
Matthew Kin-Chun Lee
Nicholas John Lippis
Michael William Mauro
Jacob Samuel Moisan
Robins N. Patel
Alejandro Lechuga Pelaez
Nicole Elizabeth Seaman
Marque Anthony Sterling
Jillian Noel Tullo
B.S. in Electrical Engineering
Richard Terry Black
Stephen Thomas Brogan
Tristan Javan Campbell
Dulce Maria Casado Fortique
Catherine Augusta Chan-Tse
Jeffrey Pei-Der Chang
Kelvin Michael Chui
Sean Gregory Cunnion
James Christopher Davis
Amilvikram Milind Divadkar
Christian Michael Dorman
Terence John Galasso
Michael Harrison Gurr
Christopher Nathan Hoffman
Matthew Paul Jenkins
Steven Lee Jung
Brian Timothy Kane
Ryan Charles Lagoy
Randy Hoseuk Lee
Huang Cesar Lin
Allison Marie Marn
Kevin Earl Meyer
Katherine Emily Murphy
Brian Keith Norton
Ngozi N. Nwogwugwu
Benjamin Paul Paolillo
Nicholas George Pobat
Gerardo Corpuz Ravago
Lisa Ann Rooker
Jyotsna Simran Singh
Todd Michael Sukolsky
Stefano Joseph Tasso
Daniel Lawrence Taylor
Elshaday Abebayehu Yilma
Hei Po Yiu
M.Eng in Computer Engineering
David Yu-Fong Cheung
Benjamin Francis Duong
Matthew Chet-Yen Yee
M.Eng in Electrical Engineering
Mohammed Saad Al Sammarraie
Benjamin Aaron Bearce
Nathaniel James Conway
Andrew Max Goldberg
Kevin Calder McLaughlin
M.S. in Computer Engineering
Benjamin Aaron Humphries
Michael Edward Pyrch
M.S. in Electrical Engineering
Marjan L S Hadipour
Laura Michelle Ross
Christopher J Sataline
Jason Andrew Small
Ph.D. in Computer Engineering
Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering
Thomas W. Butler
Andrew Mark Fraine
Gary F. Walsh
San Francisco, CA – After advancing to the US Finals in the Imagine Cup, Boston University students, Brad Berk, Nick Lippis, Patrick Maruska, and Robins Patel (all ECE ’13), won the SkyDrive Boost Award for their innovative software system.
The students make up the team, Pitch, and are aiming to make sharing files easier and more applicable to daily situations. Their product uses Windows 8 and a Windows Azure backend server in order to create a secure account that makes accessing any type of document manageable.
Team Pitch has been formulating this idea over the last year as part of their senior design project, a requirement for Electrical & Computer Engineering seniors. On May 6, the students presented their software system at ECE Day and were awarded with the Entrepreneurial Award.
The SkyDrive Boost Award
The SkyDrive Boost Award was given on May 13, 2013, at the U.S. Finals. Pitch was one of the ten teams that won $1,000. The team members will use the money to help launch their start-up. The award was given to United States finalists who utilized the SkyDrive API in a meaningful way into their projects. The SkyDrive API’s common tasks include viewing, editing, creating, and sharing photo albums.
About Imagine Cup
Since 2003, the Microsoft Imagine Cup has challenged students from more than 190 countries to submit ideas that solve the tough societal problems we face today. Each step of the way, students have the opportunity to make friends and win cash, grants, and prizes.
-Chelsea Hermond (SMG ’15)
“What is synthetic biology and what can it do?” asked Corey Powell, the editor-at-large of DISCOVER magazine, at a recent conference on the topic. “You’re lucky that you have the world’s leaders in that field right here giving you authoritative answers.”
One of those leaders was Boston University Assistant Professor Douglas Densmore (ECE) who participated in the event, Programming Life: The Revolutionary Potential of Synthetic Biology, on March 25. The conference was sponsored by DISCOVER magazine and SynBERC.
“To me, synthetic biology really is to be able to engineer things using abstraction, modularity and rules,” said Densmore. “If we can compose systems rationally, then ultimately people like myself can get in and build tools and techniques and algorithms to do that.”
Currently, Densmore is working to make the design of synthetic biological systems more mechanized through electronic design automation. CLOTHO, a unified tool set he and his team have designed, encapsulates this research.
His interest in synthetic biology began, in part, when he realized that DNA assembly was not a very efficient or organized practice.
“As a computer engineer, I said there’s a lot of things wrong with this fundamentally,” said Densmore.
At the conference, Densmore spoke on the Catalyzing Biological Engineering panel. The only computer engineer in the discussion, Densmore served as an example of how non-linear the field of biology really is.
Much of the day-long event aimed to show that synthetic biology could be used to make a better world – improving everything from human health to food supplies. To make these changes though, minds from many academic disciplines will need to work together.
Densmore is playing his part by getting students excited about the field, which can be a challenge since researching synthetic biology isn’t as much of an established career path as opposed to, say, working for Google.
“You really have a chance to be a pioneer in this field,” said Densmore. “The kinds of things that we establish now I believe will set the stage for the future.”
Watch the complete video of the panel discussion at DISCOVER.
-Rachel Harrington (email@example.com)
It’s not uncommon to find hospital patients unable to speak to their nurses and doctors as a result of language barriers or speech-debilitating medical issues.
Three alumni – Nick Dougherty (ECE ’12), Eric Hsiao (ECE ’12), and Gregory Zoeller (ECE ’12) – have been working to solve that problem with the creation of an app called Verbal that allows patients to communicate with picture-based icons. By touching one of the images, patients can let their nurses know that they require help – whether they need water or want to use the restroom.
In April, the team presented their app at the Boston University Institute of Technology Entrepreneurship & Commercialization (ITEC) New Venture Competition. The alumni competed against almost four dozen teams and took home the People’s Choice Award, which included a $1,000 cash prize.
“This was a great experience for us,” said Dougherty. “Other than a few courses at BU, we don’t have a lot of business experience yet. By participating, we were able to get a lot of helpful feedback about our business strategy.”
The initial idea for Verbal stemmed from a Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering senior project with Professor Emeritus Theodore Morse (ECE) and won both the ECE Entrepreneurial Award and College of Engineering Societal Impact Capstone Project award last year. Since then, the three alumni have shadowed nurses at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and perfected their design.
“For us, the main focus of Verbal is helping people,” said Dougherty. “Competitions like ITEC’s are helping us move closer toward that goal.”
Verbal was up against some tough competition at ITEC. Cellanyx Diagnostics, a startup that aims to improve results for prostate cancer patients by combining nanomedicine and predictive diagnostics, took the top prize. The team is made up of Brad Hogan (GRS ’13), Kevin Yu (BME ’10) and Jonathan Varsanik.
“Coming from a scientific background, it really helped to come to ITEC and learn more about the business side,” said Hogan.
Cellanyx has used proprietary matrix biology, microfluidics, and nanomedicine to provide quantitative live-cell in vitro diagnostic service to physicians and hospitals.
As part of the win, Cellanyx receives $20,000 rental credit from Cummings Properties to provide a space for their business as well as legal advice from WilmerHale and many additional mentoring opportunities.
“We were super excited about winning, and this will be very beneficial to our company moving forward,” said Hogan. “We’re eager to move into our summer startup space.”
Additional winners at the ITEC competition included second place team, ScanKart, and third place team, Aeolus Building Efficiency. ScanKart is an integrated mobile commerce and marketing platform for businesses designed by Kavita Mehta (GSM ’12), Guarav Tanna (GSM ’13), Okeno Palmer, and Guarav Mehta. Aeolus, designed by David Cushman (GSM ’14), Jonathan Ellermann (GSM ’13), Benjamin Smith (GSM ’13), Ryan Cruz (ME ’13), Michael Gevelber and Donald Wroblewski, provides software-based optimization of airflow in large commercial office buildings.
-Rachel Harrington (firstname.lastname@example.org)
“The Verbal Advantage” – January 2013
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.
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.”
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
Senior Honors Thesis Award
Beat Wave Generation and Interactions with Space Plasmas at Gakona, Alaska: Lisa A. Rooker
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 (email@example.com)
Awarded only every four years, the honor recognizes dedicated service and notable contributions to the advancement of the field of industrial electrostatics as a researcher and teacher.
“Being awarded was a total surprise,” said Horenstein. “It’s an incredible honor.”
Horenstein received the award in April during Electrostatics 2013, the 12th International Conference on Electrostatics that took place in Budapest, Hungary. As part of the honor, Horenstein also gave one of the event’s keynote talks.
“We loved Budapest,” said Horenstein, who, along with his wife, took advantage of their chance to visit Hungary. “The residents were unbelievably hospitable and there was so much to do and see.”
Horenstein’s current research interests include applied electromagnetics, electrostatics, and microelectromechanical systems (MEMS). He is the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Electrostatics and is an Honorary Life Member of the Electrostatics Society of America (ESA).
The EFCE has promoted scientific collaboration and supported the work of scientists and engineers in 30 European countries since 1953. The organization represents more than 100,000 chemical engineers in Europe.
-Rachel Harrington (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Just fifteen years ago, internet browsing usually involved leaving the room to kill time as a dial-up modem slowly connected you to the world wide web. The process might have been painful but we didn’t know any better.
Fast forward to 2013 and these past connection speeds seem archaic. Still, that doesn’t stop some researchers from asking the question – can we be faster?
Professor Keren Bergman of Columbia University is one of those researchers asking that and she believes the answer is yes.
“It’s all about communication,” she said. “How do you get all of this data to talk to each other in the most effective way?”
In April, Bergman visited Boston University’s Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering as part of the Distinguished Lecture Series. She offered insight into one of her areas of expertise, optically enabled data.
During the lecture, Bergman discussed how recent advances in chip-scale silicon photonic technologies have the potential for developing optical interconnection networks that provide communications that are highly efficient and improve upon computing performance-per-Watt.
“With optical interconnects, it’s possible to build a better system that you couldn’t with electronics,” said Bergman.
As part of her work with the Lightwave Research Laboratory, some of Bergman’s other research centers around fiber optics through which data can be sent in the form of light waves.
“Compared to electronic routers, you can send a tremendous amount of data using photonic interconnects for computing platforms,” she said.
At this time, the fiber optic network isn’t configured in a way that’s particularly efficient, but according to Bergman, it has the potential to carry data faster than traditional copper wires.
In addition to teaching at Columbia, Bergman is an IEEE and Optical Society of America Fellow and serves as co-Editor-in-Chief of the IEEE/OSA Journal of Optical Communications and Networking.
Bergman’s talk was the third in the three-part Spring 2013 Distinguished Lecture Series. The lectures will resume again in Fall 2013.
-Rachel Harrington (email@example.com)
Before the Singh Imagineering Lab was launched in October 2011, Dean Kenneth R. Lutchen envisioned the facility as a place where College of Engineering students could cultivate their entrepreneurial spirit and develop as Societal Engineers who apply their expertise to advance our quality of life. Since the Lab’s opening, more and more undergraduates have taken advantage of its tools and machinery to pursue their own ideas on how to do just that — including nine who vied for top prizes in the College’s second annual Imagineering Competition, held April 16 and 23 at Ingalls Engineering Resource Center.
Facing a panel of five judges — Associate Dean for Administration Richard Lally, Associate Dean for Educational Initiatives/Professor Thomas Little (ECE, SE), Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs/Professor Solomon Eisenberg (BME), Engineering Product Innovation Center Director/Professor of Practice Gerry Fine (ME, MSE), and last year’s first prize winner, David A. Harris (ME ’15)—across an oblong conference table, the competitors described, demonstrated and defended seven projects that they developed in the Imagineering Lab and other on-campus facilities. The judges assessed each project for originality, ingenuity and creativity; quality of design and prototype; functionality; and potential to positively impact society.
Biking, 21st-Century Style
The project that wowed the judges the most and garnered the competition’s $2,500 first prize was Smart Bike, a bicycle that Konstantinos Oikonomopoulos (ME ’14) and Lanke A. Fu (ME ’14) enhanced to automatically shift gears in response to changing terrain and road conditions, such as hills and traffic lights.
To provide that capability, they developed an automatic transmission device that’s attached to the rear wheel along with a set of sensors measuring torque (turning force), cadence (peddling rate) and speed, and microcontrollers that adjust gears to keep each of these three factors steady. The gearing can change both manually and electronically via custom designed gear shifter.
“Given the platform’s ability to collect data as well as electronically adjust the gearing with the addition of microcontrollers, the bicycle can become a self-regulating system,” said Oikonomopoulos. “By making the biking experience more pleasant, technologically enhanced and ‘care free,’ we believe that more people will view biking as a modern means of transportation.”
In addition to adding new appeal to an alternative, non-polluting mode of transportation, the Smart Bike may be used as a means of outpatient rehabilitation for people recovering from leg injuries; by regulating the amount of torque on the crank set, the bicycle can reduce strain on riders’ legs.
Fu and Oikonomopoulos — who won second prize last year for his highly-accurate, affordable, easy-to-assemble desktop 3D printer — developed the Smart Bike using workspace and tools in the Imagineering Lab and 3D-printed parts from Mechanical Engineering Department labs.
“It’s like a gym bike that is used for real-life bike riding,” said Lanke, who sees fitness riders, rehab patients and commuters as its most likely customers.
“They started with an interesting premise — an exercise bike you could program with a certain setting and take out on the street and achieve that setting — and they solved a lot of mechanical, electrical, control system and software problems,” said Little. “It was a thorough, end-to-end design, and they built it and demonstrated it by getting on the bike in the presentation.”
Smarter Medicine Cabinets and Alarm Clocks
The second prize winners, John Aleman (ME ’14) and Benjamin Corman (EE ’14), received $1,500 for their project, Roommate Friendly Alarm Clock, which they designed to wake up and keep awake only one person in a room at a set time by shining a concentrated beam of high-brightness LEDs at the user’s face and an under-pillow motor that vibrates the bed.
“I’m a heavy sleeper, so the motor worked for me,” said Corman. “But I’m also a snooze button person, and the light helped me get out of bed.”
Two entries, Can of Corn and Smart Medicine Cabinet, tied for third place, splitting the $1,000 prize.
Can of Corn, developed by Yingming Wang (EE ’13), Ajith Prasad (SMG ’13) and Lalitha Kumaresan (EE ’13), couples electronics — LEDs, a photoresistor and microcontroller — with conventional bug traps to automate the counting of corn borers, which have caused massive crop damage in recent years in China. When counts spike at the start of mating season, farms are sprayed with an environmentally benign pheromone to kill the borers.
Designed by Benjamin Graham (ME ’16), Smart Medicine Cabinet upgrades the traditional medicine cabinet by exploiting built-in electronic sensors and Internet connectivity to make taking medicine and monitoring and ordering prescriptions simple and stress-free, particularly for seniors.
Other entries included a system to manufacture arrays of microneedles for faster, painless diagnostic blood tests; an electronic go-cart; and a MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) controller.
Sponsored by John Maccarone (ENG ’66), the competition was designed to reinforce the ideal of creating the Societal Engineer by spotlighting student efforts to design, build and test new technologies that promise to positively impact society.
Imagineering Lab programming is supported by the Kern Family Foundation and alumni contributions to the ENG Annual Fund.