Category: Events

Dr. Filbert Bartoli Reveals Biosensor Proposal to ECE Community

April 29th, 2014 in Events, Faculty, Lectures, Research

Gabriella McNevin

Bartoli lecture

Dr. Bartoli

What do environmental monitoring, food testing, homeland security and drug discovery have in common? Each market segment relies on biosensors to analyze chemicals.

Dr. Filbert Bartoli, a leader in biosensor advancement, is working to produce an alternative commercial biosensor that is optimized for modern performance needs. His goal is to eliminate molecule labeling, decrease sensor interference with target molecules, and lessen sensor-manufacturing costs.

Bartoli is a Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Chandler Weaver Chair and Electrical and Computer Engineering Department Chair at Lehigh University, and Director of the Biophotonics and Optoelectronics Lab at Lehigh University. While visiting Boston University on April 9th, Professor Bartoli presented the work he collaborated on with Professor Xuanhong Cheng and student Bu Wang. The lecture was part of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering Distinguished Lecture Series.

During the talk, Professor Bartoli disclosed his sensor proposal, which is technically referred to as a plasmonic interferometric sensor. He demonstrated how the instrument operates on principles established by preexisting SPR biosensors, but differs by utilizing a simple optical setup. Essentially, the proposed device works by first controlling the plasmon line shape, which is made possible by structurally tuning the phase and amplitude of interfering surface plasmon polarities. The control allows the chemical’s molecules to be altered for testing. The surface area of the device is then measured for protein surface coverage in a process that minimally disturbs the targeted molecules.

“The successful transformation of SPR technique from prism-coupling to this far simple optical setup would lead to major advances in low-cost, portable biomedical devices as well as in other high- throughput sensing applications including proteomics, diagnostics, drug discovery, and fundamental cell biology research.”

Bartoli

Bartoli with student

Dr. Bartoli with an ECE student after the lecture.

Biosensors are increasingly used in medical and non-medical applications. Business Wire offered examples of the rising use of biosensors by pointing to the formation of the biodefense industry, the growing diabetic population, and an increase in home health care in 2013 Report on the International Biosensors Market- Trends and Forecast to 2018.

To view the PDF presentation, titled “Nanostructured Plasmonic Interferometers for ultrasensitive Label-Free Biosensing”: http://www.bu.edu/ece/files/2014/04/Bartoli-Slides.pdf

Fall 2014 Distinguished Lecture Series speakers will be announced this summer. Please contact gmcnevin@bu.edu with inquires or comments regarding the upcoming series. 

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A 24-Hour Hackathon at Boston University

April 24th, 2014 in Awards, Events, News-CE, Students, Undergraduate Student Opportunities

Hacking to Innovate
By Gabriella McNevin

The Oxford Dictionary defines hackathon as an event “in which a large number of people meet to engage in collaborative computer programming.”

During an interview with Connor McEwen, a key organizer of a Boston University hackathon, McEwen mused on the evolution of the word hack and hackathon. He noted that, “hackers are makers, developers, and innovators.” The hackathon is a period of time in which people can tinker with existing technologies to improve or to invent something new.

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Make_BU hosts smaller weekly hackathons. Click to learn more.

“Wait,” I piped in,  “I thought that hackers broke into secure software systems and stole information.” McEwen smiled in response. He suggested that the term accrued a negative reputation in the 1970s as result of pop culture references.  Today, that reputation is fading.

McEwen attended his first hackathon at UCLA and wanted to bring the idea back to Boston. He worked with five other students to plan Boston University’s first overnight hackathon.

On March 21-22, more than 120 students came together for the 24-hour affair. The event included informational lectures, free food and mentoring from industry experts. Ultimately, 17 projects were submitted and five awards were offered.

The hackathon planning team, known as Make_BU, host smaller weekly hackathons. Going forward, the group plans to work with the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering to host their second University-wide hackathon in Fall 2014. Make_BU hopes to host a city-wide hackathon in Spring 2015. University clubs BUILDS, Digital Media Club, and Open Web were also involved in event planning.

Clement Su discussing the Mobile Award winning application.

Clement Su discussing the mobile award winning application that he contributed to.

Some Award Winners Include:
Mobile Award Winner
“Buzy” – An application that monitors the busyness of a location. Kanav Dhir (ENG ’15), Alex Wong (ENG ’15), Deven Dayal (ENG ’15) and Clement Su (ENG ’15).

Web Award Winner
“Duster” – A service that determines which Facebook friends an individual interacts with least, and suggests those friends are deleted. Carter Wheatley (ENG ‘15) and Adlai Gordon (CAS ’16). Visit www.dusterapp.com to learn more.

Newbie Award Winner
“Feel Good BU” – a mobile application for the BU chapter of FeelGood, an organization which raises money to end world hunger by selling custom-made grilled cheese sandwiches. Chris Yip (SAR ’17), Kyle Mann(CAS ’17), and Joe Cho (CAS ’17)

More

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Applying the Control Theory to Red Blood Cell Counts

April 4th, 2014 in Events, Lectures, Research

Simplification and Customization
Chelsea Hermond (SMG ’15)

Hollot-small

Professor C.V. Hollot, Department Head of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst.

“I wanted to do something that would impact the world,” exclaimed Professor C.V. Hollot, Department Head of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Hollot appeared as part of Boston University’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering Distinguished Lecture Series in early March. His forum focused on the regulation of cell populations in individuals using feedback-based drug-dosing protocols.

Dr. Hollot explained the drug protocol that he promotes by comparing it to the current drug-dosing system. Currently, a doctor guides the drug-dosage that is administered to a patient through a manual protocol. If one cell population is irregular, a doctor will use a chart to determine the specific drug dose to prescribe. In other words, if the cell count is between A and B, the doctor will administer the corresponding dose as is it shown on the chart.

In contrast to current standards, Dr. Hollot’s research suggests a more efficient drug-dosing process: automatic regulation of cell populations through feedback mechanisms. Dr. Hollot lectured that feedback-based mechanisms could potentially replace doctors using the feedback loop. The automatic dosing protocol is supported by Dr. Hollot’s research on real patients that were prescribed a drug named EPO, which regulates red blood cells in individuals with chronic kidney disease.

In summary, Hollot touted simplification and customization; “we need to be able to individualize protocol for each patient.”

To see a PDF file of Dr. Hollot’s slideshow, click here.

 

ECE will host Dr. Filbert Bartoli, Chandler Weaver Chair, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Lehigh University as the next distinguished lecturer:

  • Wednesday, April 9, 2014 at 4:00 pm
  • Photonics Center, 8 Saint Mary’s Street, Room 211
  • Topic: Interferometric Plasmonic Biosensor Arrays for High-Performance Label-Free Biomolecular Detection.
  • To learn more, please see the event flyer.

Looking Beyond the Lab

February 11th, 2014 in Awards, Courses, Events, Faculty, Graduate Programs, Graduate Student Opportunities, Graduate Students, Grants, News-CE, News-EP, News-ISS, Research, Research-CE, Research-EP, Research-ISS, Students

Postdoctoral associate, George Daaboul; research associate, David Freedman; and lecturer and entrepreneur, Rana Gupta (SMG) were among the Boston University participants of the NSF I-Corps program.

Postdoctoral associate, George Daaboul; research associate, David Freedman; and lecturer and entrepreneur, Rana Gupta (SMG) were among those participating from Boston University in the NSF I-Corps program.

Many engineers have great ideas for products, but unfortunately, they don’t often have a background in business that will allow them to bring their designs to market.

To help with this problem, two Boston University research teams recently participated in the National Science Foundation (NSF) Innovation Corps (I-Corps), a program that encourages scientists and engineers to broaden their focus beyond lab work through entrepreneurship training.

“We had been trying to bring some of our ideas to a commercial state when we heard about the program,” said David Freedman, a BU research associate in the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering. “It seemed like a great fit for us.”

Freedman and postdoctoral associate, George Daaboul, had been working closely with Professor Selim Ünlü’s (ECE, BME, MSE) research group trying to determine how their technology, IRIS, used to detect viruses and pathogens, might be applied in doctors’ offices, hospitals, and emergency care centers. They soon decided that forming an I-Corps team would allow them to evaluate the commercial potential.

Teams receive $50K in grant money and consist of an Entrepreneurial Lead (Daaboul), a Principal Investigator (Freedman), and a business mentor. The researchers asked BU lecturer and entrepreneur, Rana Gupta (SMG), to take on the latter role.

Also participating from BU were Assistant Professor Douglas Densmore (ECE) and Research Assistant Professor Swapnil Bhatia (ECE). They pitched Lattice Automation, technology that will allow technology by the Cross-disciplinary Integration of Design Automation Research (CIDAR) group to transition into commercial products. Ultimately, they hope to create software that will help synthetic biologists work more efficiently.

“Our technology is building upon state-of-the-art techniques in computer science, electrical engineering, and bioengineering,” explained Densmore.

Conceptual illustration of SP-IRIS technology used for pathogen diagnostics.

Conceptual illustration of SP-IRIS technology used for pathogen diagnostics.

Over eight weeks in the fall, participants attended workshops in Atlanta, Ga., met with researchers from the 21 teams, followed an online curriculum, and spoke with up to 100 different potential consumers of their technology – a process known as “customer discovery.”

Through this experience, Freedman and Daaboul quickly learned that introducing a new technology to customers might not be the right approach for their research.

“We decided instead to focus on the pains customers had with existing technologies and hone in on how we could alleviate those,” said Freedman.

Added Daaboul: “Finding out what people really needed before developing a technology really allowed for a much different perspective than what I’m used to.”

Much of the knowledge gained through I-Corps will be used to advance science and engineering research. Some products tested during the workshops even show immediate market potential by the conclusion of the curriculum.

“I would recommend this program to anyone working in science or industry,” said Freedman. “Not only did this change how we think about our research, we also learned how to better tell our narrative.”

-Rachel Harrington (rachelah@bu.edu)

Cassandras, Han Win Faculty Awards

February 11th, 2014 in Awards, Events, Faculty, News-CE, News-EP, News-ISS, Recognition, Research, Research-ISS

Professor Christos Cassandras (ECE, SE) speaking at the Smarter Cities conference in 2013 (Photo by Kalman Zabarsky)

Professor Christos Cassandras (ECE, SE) speaking at the Smarter Cities conference in 2013 (Photo by Kalman Zabarsky)

Recognizing senior and junior faculty for major contributions to their fields and to society at large, the College of Engineering has bestowed its annual Distinguished Scholar Award on Professor Christos Cassandras (ECE, SE), and its annual Early Career Excellence Award on Assistant Professor Xue Han (BME).

The Distinguished Scholar Award honors senior faculty members who have helped move their field and society forward through outstanding, high-impact research, and provides the recipient with a public forum to discuss his or her work before the Boston University academic community. The Early Career Research Excellence Award celebrates the significant, recent, high-impact research achievements of exemplary tenure-track faculty who are within 10 years of receiving their PhD.

In conjunction with his award, Cassandras will deliver a public lecture, “Complexity Made Simple (at a Small Price),” on March 19 at 4 p.m. in the Photonics Center Auditorium (room 206). Cassandras plans to highlight methods he’s developed to solve difficult problems by exploiting their specific structure, asking the “right” questions and challenging some conventional engineering approaches — and show how these methods have resulted in energy savings, enhanced security and other benefits.

Distinguished Scholar Award

The Distinguished Scholar Award recognizes Cassandras as “one of the pioneers of an emerging field, discrete event dynamical systems, that is used extensively in the modeling, analysis and design of dynamical systems in diverse applications such as manufacturing systems, communications, transportation networks and cyber-physical systems,” said Electrical and Computer Engineering Chair and Professor David Castañón.

“I am honored to be selected as the 2014 College of Engineering Distinguished Lecturer,” said Cassandras, who also specializes in hybrid systems, stochastic optimization and computer simulation. “I have always enjoyed research which involves new, relatively unexplored areas and unusual ways to tackle ‘real world’ problems, from contributing to the establishment of the field of discrete event dynamic systems to envisioning new ways to design and manage complex systems such as ‘smart cities.’”

A member of the BU faculty since 1996, head of the College’s Division of Systems Engineering and cofounder of BU’s Center for Information and Systems Engineering (CISE), Cassandras has published five books and more than 300 refereed papers. He was editor-in-chief of the IEEE Transactions on Automatic Control from 1998 through 2009, and the 2012 president of the IEEE Control Systems Society (CSS). He has chaired several technical conferences and served as plenary speaker at various international conferences, including the American Control Conference in 2001 and the IEEE Conference on Decision and Control in 2002, and Distinguished Lecturer for the CSS.

Cassandras’s numerous awards include a 2012 Kern Fellowship, a 2011 prize for the IBM/IEEE Smarter Planet Challenge competition, the 2011 IEEE Control Systems Technology Award, the Distinguished Member Award of the IEEE Control Systems Society (2006), the 1999 Harold Chestnut Prize (International Federation of Automatic Control (IFAC) Best Control Engineering Textbook) for Discrete Event Systems: Modeling and Performance Analysis, and a 1991 Lilly Fellowship. He is also a Fellow of the IEEE and IFAC.

Early Career Research Excellence Award

Assistant Professor Xue Han (BME) recently won a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers.

Assistant Professor Xue Han (BME) recently won a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers.

A member of the BU faculty since 2010, Han develops and applies high-precision genetic, molecular, optical and electrical tools and other nanotechnologies to study neural circuits in the brain. By using these novel neurotechnologies to control and monitor a selected population of brain cells, she and her research team seek to identify connections between neural circuit dynamics and behavioral pathologies. Establishing such connections could improve our understanding of neurological and psychiatric diseases, and lead to new treatments.

In recognition of her innovative research on developing novel neurotechnologies using light sensitive nanoparticles to sense neurons’ cellular environment and to deliver drugs directly to the brain, Han was named by President Obama in January as one of 102 recipients of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honor bestowed by the US government on science and engineering researchers in the early stages of their careers. Han has also received a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director’s New Innovator Award and recognition as a Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences, Sloan Research Fellow and Peter Paul Fellow.

“We are delighted that the College of Engineering has chosen to celebrate Xue’s remarkable achievements with this award, and I can think of no one more deserving,” said Professor Sol Eisenberg, who heads the BME Department.

-Mark Dwortzan

Fourth Annual ECE Fair Offers Research Opportunities

February 10th, 2014 in Events, Faculty, Graduate Students, Jobs in ECE@BU, News-CE, News-EP, News-ISS, Research-CE, Research-EP, Research-ISS, Students, Undergraduate Programs, Undergraduate Student Opportunities, Undergraduate Students

Associate Professor Kotiuga talks with a student discussing his research project at the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering's annual fair.

Associate Professor Robert Kotiuga (ECE) discusses his research project at the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering’s annual fair.

It’s been a bitter winter in Boston, but that didn’t keep students and faculty from making their way toward the Photonics Building Colloquium Room on January 22. Anxious undergraduate students looking for research opportunities mingled among the 28 tables of Boston University researchers at the recent ECE Undergraduate Research and Lab Job Fair hoping to find opportunities to gain hands-on engineering experience.

The story of the research fair goes back four years ago when Dean Kenneth R. Lutchen spoke to matriculating freshman about the importance of research. While listening to the talk, Professor Mark Horenstein (ECE) realized that while entering students were being encouraged to engage in research, no one was telling them how.

In response, Horenstein started the annual ECE Undergraduate Research and Lab Job Fair as a way for undergraduates and faculty to explore mutual interests related to research and for students to ask about available research positions. The event also provides a public forum in which faculty can showcase what is happening in their laboratories. “This is a get-to-know-you meet-and-greet event,” says Horenstein.

View photos of the event on Facebook.

Watching presentations and submitting resumes to BU faculty and graduate students, about 75 students attended this year. Two sophomores, Dean De Carli (EE ’16) and Matthew Owney (EE ’16), were scouting for summer and fall positions.

“Even though I didn’t get any research jobs, I was able to connect with the faculty,” said second-time attendee, De Carli. Owney added that he is looking for any opportunity since it’s his first time attending the fair.

Friends Dean De Carli (EE ’16) and Matthew Owney (EE ’16) travel from table to table together.

Friends Dean De Carli (EE ’16) and Matthew Owney (EE ’16) travel from table to table together.

Horenstein tells younger attendees, such as Alexandra Miller-Browne (CE ’17), that it’s important to “build up your skills as time goes on; don’t get discouraged.”

People on the other side of the table have a similar thought process. Dr. Traci Haddock, Executive Director of the Center for Synthetic Biology at BU, says, “Most students have no experience, but we will take anyone who is interested.” For example, she is looking for students to help develop the iGEM team’s website and build genetic devices this summer.

Third-time veteran, Associate Professor Robert Kotiuga, changes his presentation every year but remains steadfast in his belief that though people will always possess different areas of expertise, “it is important to be passionate about the project.”

Every year since the program’s initiation, the event has turned out eager attendees, and 2014 was no exception. Students continue to return each year, hoping to gain experience and take advantage of the department’s available opportunities.

-Chelsea Hermond (SMG ’15)

The Search for Satisfying Solutions

February 6th, 2014 in Events, Faculty, Graduate Programs, Graduate Students, Lectures, News-CE, Research, Research-CE, Students, Undergraduate Programs, Undergraduate Students

Professor Sharad Malik, Chair of the Department of Electrical Engineering at Princeton University, spoke as part of the ECE Distinguished Lecture Series on January 29.

Professor Sharad Malik, Chair of the Department of Electrical Engineering at Princeton University, spoke as part of the ECE Distinguished Lecture Series on January 29.

When a bug in Pentium processors was discovered that gave rise to incorrect solutions of scientific and mathematical calculations, the company was forced to take action. The result? Public outcry and the loss of $475 million worth of earnings.

It’s been almost two decades since the Pentium FDIV bug made headlines, but its discovery led to a new research thrust in computer science and engineering – one that Professor Sharad Malik, Chair of the Department of Electrical Engineering at Princeton University, knows quite well.

“It’s an instance of how real practical concerns have driven solutions to real, fundamental problems,” said Malik.

The incident brought the examination of Boolean Satisfiability or SAT, the challenge of determining if a logic formula will ever evaluate to true, to the forefront. In proving the correctness, this problem has a direct application to hardware and software and more specifically, avoiding costly bugs. SAT was already well known in computer science, but theoretical analysis deemed it to be too difficult to be applied in practice.

Malik is one of the nation’s experts on the topic, and his group has made several critical contributions to the field of SAT solvers that are now widely used in practice. On January 29, he visited Boston University to share his findings during the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering Distinguished Lecture Series, which brings groundbreaking engineers to campus.

The latest ECE Distinguished Lecture was attended by BU faculty, students, researchers and staff who were hoping to learn more about Boolean Satisfiability, or SAT.

The latest ECE Distinguished Lecture was attended by BU faculty, students, researchers and staff who were hoping to learn more about Boolean Satisfiability, or SAT.

Currently, there is a strong motivation to discover useful SAT solvers thanks to all of the potential practical uses, such as in applications in artificial intelligence, circuit synthesis, and malware analysis.

“It’s already very widely used in hardware verification and we’re seeing an increasing use of the theory in software verification,” added Malik.

Though the SAT problem may be relatively unknown outside computer science and engineering, a very active community of researchers exists and can be found sharing their research and questions on the website, SAT Live!

Malik notes that the biggest change he’s noticed with SAT studies over the years is a revolution in how the topic is approached.

“There has been a significant shift from theoretical interest in SAT to how it can have a practical impact,” he said. What was once considered practically impossible due to its theoretical hardness is now within reach thanks to challenge-driven algorithmic and experimental research.

Malik’s talk was the first in the three-part Spring 2014 Distinguished Lecture Series. The next talk features Professor C. V. Hollot of University of Massachusetts, Amherst, who will speak on the topic, “Regulation of Cell Populations in Individuals Using Feedback-Based Drug-Dosing Protocols.” Hear him on March 5, 2014, at 4 p.m. in Room 211 of the Photonics Center, located at 8 Saint Mary’s St.

-Rachel Harrington (rachelah@bu.edu)

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

Sharing Innovative Research, Succinctly

January 21st, 2014 in Awards, Events, Faculty, Graduate Programs, Graduate Student Opportunities, Graduate Students, Lectures, News-CE, News-EP, News-ISS, Recognition, Research, Research-CE, Research-EP, Research-ISS, Students

Ph.D. student, Delaram Motamedvaziri, was one of two winners of the Best CISE Presenter awards. Photo by Dan Aguirre for Boston University Photography.

Ph.D. student, Delaram Motamedvaziri, was one of two winners of Best CISE Presenter awards. Photo by Dan Aguirre for Boston University Photography.

Boston University students have big ideas – whether they’re aiming to prevent cyber attacks or using GPS data to improve cattle herding. As good as their work is though, they don’t always know the best way to present their research.

Enter the Center for Information & Systems Engineering (CISE) Graduate Student Workshop (CGSW), designed to give Ph.D. and Master’s candidates a chance to present their work.

View a slideshow from the event.

Ph.D. students, Yasaman Khazaeni, Greg Castanon, and Jing Wang, initially came up with the idea for the event last semester and hoped it would give their classmates a chance to practice speaking in front of a large audience.

“One of the main issues we have as students becomes clear at conferences,” said Khazaeni. “We’ve done great research but don’t present it well.”

Often times, she added, engineering students come from international backgrounds and don’t have enough confidence to present in English.

“By speaking in front of a friendly audience, as opposed to a conference where you’d know few people in the audience, your classmates and professors can offer feedback and really help you smooth out your final presentation,” said Khazaeni.

Ph.D. students, Jing Wang, Greg Castanon, and Yasaman Khazaeni (pictured from left to right), organized the CISE Graduate Student Workshop in hopes of giving their classmates a chance to practice speaking in front of a large audience. Photo by Dan Aguirre for Boston University Photography.

Ph.D. students, Jing Wang, Greg Castanon, and Yasaman Khazaeni (pictured from left to right), organized the CISE Graduate Student Workshop in hopes of giving their classmates a chance to practice speaking in front of a large audience. Photo by Dan Aguirre for Boston University Photography.

Khazaeni, who helped choose 14 students to present out of a pool of 23 applicants, said that the event also allowed CISE students to learn from classmates and discover more about the projects they’ve been working on.

Among those she learned from were Ph.D. students, Morteza Hashemi and Delaram Motamedvaziri, who took home the Best CISE Presenter awards.

Hashemi, who is advised by Professor Ari Trachtenberg (ECE, SE), spoke about his project, Coded Data Sharing in Intra-Car Wireless Sensor Networks. He has been working with Trachtenberg, Professor David Starobinski (ECE, SE), Ph.D. student, Wei Si, and General Motors Research to determine if using wireless sensor networks (WSN) might allow for a greener way to construct tomorrow’s vehicles. The work previously won the Center for Reliable Information Systems and Cybersecurity Award as well as the Provost’s Award at Scholars Day last year.

Advised by Professor Venkatesh Saligrama (ECE, SE), Motamedvaziri spoke about her work, “Poisson Statistics and the Future of Internet Marketing.”

“The effectiveness of search engine marketing is dropping while the power of social media marketing is rising,” she explained. “Mathematics would suggest that social media is now the better advertising strategy.”

She said that though her research focused on total hits advertisements received, she’d like to expand her work in the future by looking at data concerning how long a person stayed on a website.

“Ultimately, we’re more interested in seeing transactions occur as opposed to clicks,” said Motamedvaziri.

Also honored at a reception at the BU Castle following the presentations were Setareh Ariafar, the Most Attentive CISE Student, and Professor David Castañón (ECE, SE), awarded for his contributions to CISE. Because 20 students attended all fourteen presentations, the most attentive of them was chosen by raffle.

In case any students left the workshop having doubts about their speaking skills, Professor Christos Cassandras (ECE, SE) closed the day by offering some advice, including “never overestimate the intelligence of your audience” and “the maximum pieces of information that should appear on a slide is two.”

“Giving a good talk is a difficult thing,” he said. “It’s as much of an art as a science.”

-Rachel Harrington (rachelah@bu.edu)

Combatting the Age of Big Data

December 2nd, 2013 in Events, Faculty, Graduate Programs, Graduate Student Opportunities, Graduate Students, Lectures, News-EP, Research, Research-EP, Students, Undergraduate Programs, Undergraduate Student Opportunities, Undergraduate Students

Professor Larry A. Coldren, University of California, Santa Barbara, takes questions during a Boston University Electrical & Computer Engineering Distinguished Lecture.

Professor Larry A. Coldren, University of California, Santa Barbara, takes questions during a Boston University Electrical & Computer Engineering Distinguished Lecture.

Telecommunications companies – those that allow us to talk on the phone, communicate over the Internet and watch cable television – used to operate under the notion that there was an infinite amount of fiber bandwidth available to transmit these signals. Then we moved into the Y2K era.

“There was a big explosion of data around the year 2000,” said Larry A. Coldren, the Fred Kavli Professor of Optoelectronics and Sensors at the University of California, Santa Barbara. “Computers were also getting faster and faster at this time and the demand for bandwidth was rising quickly.”

Coldren and his team had started looking at photonic integrated circuits (PICs), devices that allow signals to travel on optical waves on semiconductor chips, back in the 1980s and discovered that they could viably be produced much like analogous electronic integrated circuits (ICs) that generally use electrical wires for transferring data.

Last month, he spoke about his research during Boston University’s Electrical & Computer Engineering Distinguished Lecture Series. He suggested that PICs could be the key component in the future of telecommunications.

Just a couple of decades ago, wavelength-division multiplexing (WDM) was introduced to meet the demand for more fiber bandwidth. This method allowed a number of signals to be simultaneously transferred on a single optical fiber. However, at the terminals where the WDM channels must be either combined or separated, the optical and electronic equipment became more and more complex as the channel count and signal speed increased. That’s where Coldren’s research comes into play.

“PICs have the potential of improved performance, reliability and cost while also reducing the size, weight and power of the equipment,” said Coldren.

PICs for various applications have been made using indium phosphide, silica on silicon, polymer technologies, and silicon photonics. Electronic ICs, however, usually use silicon as a dominant ingredient. Coldren’s team currently focuses on a monolithic indium phosphide integration platform.

“Ultimately, we may find that the best results will come from a hybrid solution using more than one of these materials,” said Coldren.

Today, PICs are widely deployed commercially and outperform many discrete device approaches, but Coldren is optimistic that they can work even better in the future and hopefully result in more environmentally friendly supercomputers and data centers.

“Our efforts have always been focused on making PICs very efficient and very fast,” said Coldren. “Now we need to look at how they can be used to create more green data centers.”

Assistant Professor Jonathan Klamkin (ECE), who introduced Coldren at the lecture, previously had an opportunity to study with Coldren while earning his Ph.D. at UC Santa Barbara.

“I benefitted immensely from his guidance and even use his books in my class here,” Klamkin said. “It’s a pleasure having him on our campus.”

Prior to teaching, Coldren worked at Bell Labs, where he studied surface-acoustic-wave signal processing devices and tunable coupled-cavity lasers. He continued his work at UC Santa Barbara, where he has developed more widely-tunable DBR lasers and efficient, high-speed vertical-cavity-surface-emitting lasers (VCSELs) in addition to his PIC research.

Coldren is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the Optical Society (OSA) and the Institution of Electrical Engineers (IEE).

Coldren’s talk was the third in the three-part Fall 2013 Distinguished Lecture Series. The seminars will resume in Spring 2014.

-Rachel Harrington (rachelah@bu.edu)