Pavlidis Wins 2015 IEEE Distinguished Educator Award

August 27th, 2015 in Alumni, Awards, Faculty, News-EP, Recognition, Research, Research-EP

By Gabriella McNevin


Professor Pavlidis receiving the IEEE MTT-S “Distinguished Educator Award” from the MMT-S Society President Tim Lee at the IEEE-IMS symposium in Phoenix, AZ, on May 20, 2015

Professor Dimitris Pavlidis (ECE) received the 2015 Distinguished Educator Award from the IEEE Microwave Theory and Techniques Society (MTT-S). The award recognizes an individual who has achieved outstanding success in the field of microwave engineering and science as an Educator, Mentor, and Role Model for Microwave Engineers and Engineering Students. The award consists of a recognition plaque, a certificate and an honorarium of $2,500. Pavlidis was conferred at the IEEE International Microwave Symposium the week of 17-22 May 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona.

Pavlidis has pursued microwave research while remaining active in both academia and the microwave engineering industry. He boasts citation in more than 550 publications, and his work with semiconductor devices and circuits have an extraordinary impact on high-speed, high-frequency and photonic applications.

Early in Pavlidis career, he recognized the importance of mentoring engineering students, and in improving microwave engineering academic programs. In 1989 he introduced the first comprehensive Microwave Monolithic Integrated Circuits (MMIC) course, of many, that would be taught around the world. The MMIC course (IEEE Trans. on Education, 1989) was followed by courses covering design, processing and characterization of high frequency components; also, microwave and millimeter-wave circuits and devices. The courses have been well received by students, because they are structured to shed light on the fundamental principles of each topic, and simultaneously provide information on cutting-edge applications.

Pavlidis’ decorated academic career is complemented by achievements in the field of microwave engineering. Pavlidis was involved in pioneering University Research Centers like the Space Terahertz Center and the High-Frequency Microelectronics Center and played a key role in establishing Nanofabrication facilities.

Pavlidis is recognized for a dedication to advancing global microwave engineering efforts. He was appointed to be the Chair of the High Frequency Electronic Department at the Technical University of Darmstadt (TUD) and Director of International Relations at the Institute of Electronics, Microelectronics and Nanotechnology (IEMN). In this capacity, Prof. Pavlidis created an entirely new facility for high frequency micro-/nano-electronics at TUD that served for education and research.

Artwork for the IEEE MTT-S 2015 International Microwave Symposium program

Artwork for the IEEE MTT-S 2015 International Microwave Symposium program

He introduced double degree teaching programs between the universities of Georgia Tech. and the University of Lille1 that have been supported by the US Department of Education/EU Directorate General for Education and Culture (ATLANTIS Program) and Partner University Fund (PUF Program). He initiated major programs for graduate education through transatlantic mobility of students and obtaining of double degrees from US and European institutions. These involved consortia consisting of the universities of Darmstadt, Lille1, Imperial College, Michigan, Illinois, Georgia Tech and UC Irvine and funded by the Funds for Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) and the European Union under joint US-EU initiatives. He has also coordinated and contributed to the initiation of CINTRA, a new international laboratory in Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University for research and education in micro/nano technology and high frequency electronics and optoelectronics. This laboratory is sponsored by the CNRS French Agency, and encourages graduate and postdoctoral students gain experience in Singapore. He played a key role in promoting microwave to Terahertz engineering, chaired and assisted in the organization of numerous international and IEEE meetings and was the general TPC Chair of the 2010 European Microwave Conference.

Ultimately, Prof. Pavlidis has trained and inspired several generations of students by providing them with the tools for setting up extremely successful careers in science and engineering.

Pavlidis has guided students to become highly influential Professors at top schools (Purdue; Seoul National University; Central University Taiwan; Nanyang University, Singapore) as well as key managers and senior scientists in industry (Northrop Grumman, TRW, IQE, Raytheon, Tyco, Freescale, Thales Alenia Space, EADS, Skyworks, Intel, Global Foundries, Samsung, ITRI).

His contributions to Education continue as the Program Director of the National Science Foundation’s Program on “Electronic, Photonic and Magnetic Devices”, Coordinator of future emerging technologies such as the “Beyond Graphene” (2DARE) program, and ECCS Coordinator of the Materials Genome (DMREF) program and various ERC Centers. In his present capacity, he is focused on boosting innovative potential by integrating the education of future scientists, engineers, and educators into a broad portfolio.

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Hip to Hacking Square

August 11th, 2015 in Alumni, Awards, Events, News-CE, Recognition, Uncategorized, Undergraduate Student Opportunities

ECE alums’ class project earns spot at Black Hat USA 2015

By Joel Brown, published in BU Today

Alexandrea Mellen (from left) (photo by Dmellendesigns), John Moore (photo by Chris Welch Photography), and Artem Losev (photo by Alexandrea Mellen).

Alexandrea Mellen (from left) (photo by Dmellendesigns), John Moore (photo by Chris Welch Photography), and Artem Losev (photo by Alexandrea Mellen).

The Square Reader, used by millions of businesses in the United States, could at one point be converted in less than 10 minutes into a skimmer that could steal and save credit card information, according to three recent ENG grads. Their findings will be presented today at the Black Hat USA 2015 cybersecurity conference in Las Vegas.

Computer engineering grads Alexandrea Mellen (ENG’15), John Moore (ENG’15), and Artem Losev (ENG’15) discovered the vulnerability last year in a project for their Cybersecurity class, taught by Ari Trachtenberg, an ENG professor of electrical and computer engineering.“The beauty of the hardware attack itself was that there would be no sure way to know if it was the merchant with the Square Reader that actually took your information,” Mellen says.

The trio also found that Square Register software could be hacked to enable unauthorized transactions at a later date.

“The merchant could swipe the card an extra time at the point of sale,” says Moore. “You think nothing of it, and a week later when you’re not around, I charge you $20, $30, $100, $200… You might not notice that charge. I get away with some extra money of yours.”

Moore, who was valedictorian of his ENG class, says the three reported the vulnerabilities to Square last fall, and the company quickly moved to close them. Square also sent Moore a $500 “bounty” for the software hack.

Moore says there is no evidence that either of the vulnerabilities has been used to scam credit card holders, but warns that the group’s findings raise red flags for the fast-growing mobile commerce field in general.

“This isn’t just about Square,” he says. “Over the past six years, mobile point-of-sale has really taken off…and all of these providers are offering new hardware and software to process payments, and customers are trusting their credit card information to new devices that haven’t been tested as much as traditional point-of-sale devices. They’re interacting with the personal cell phone of the merchant in a lot of cases. There’s just a lot going on.”

The three turned their class project into a paper that submitted to the Black Hat conference and waited two months before learning it had been accepted, which was a huge thing, “because Black Hat is the premiere information security conference in the world,” Mellen says. The weeklong event draws everyone from hackers to government officials. Mellen and Moore will give a 25-minute presentation on their work at the conference, where they get free passes to the briefings at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, worth $2,195.

The Square Reader mobile point-of-sale device is the small white object plugged into the iPad Mini in this photo. Photo courtesy of Square Inc.

The Square Reader mobile point-of-sale device is the small white object plugged into the iPad Mini in this photo. Photo courtesy of Square Inc.

Trachtenberg says students have derived papers from class projects before, but none were undergraduates and none of the conferences have had the stature of Black Hat. “This is a conference with a very high impact,” he says. “There are 10,000 security professionals that pay a lot of money to come to this conference and listen to the latest interesting security research.”

Vulnerabilities in payment software present more of an inconvenience than a financial risk, he says, at least for consumers who check their credit card statements regularly, because losses are generally covered by the credit card companies.

“The bigger reason to be scared is that Square had security in mind from the very beginning and designed these to be secure,” he says. “They should have known better than to have left these kind of holes. It kind of bodes poorly for other vendors who might not be taking security quite as seriously and what kind of problems they might be having.”

Square doesn’t disclose how many businesses use its software or how much revenue it derives by taking a small percentage of their transactions, but Bloomberg quoted one analyst as estimating that the company took in $300 million in merchant fees in 2013.

Mellen and Moore say they made Square aware of the two potential problems late last fall, and the company was receptive to their warning.

Through the winter and spring, Square staffers discussed possible solutions and their difficulties with Moore on a page on the HackerOne platform, and they eventually settled on a solution that would alert the company if the hack was ever used.

Square did not respond in detail and declined to discuss specific solutions on the record with BU Today, but a spokesperson offered a statement: “With so many sellers relying on Square to run their business, we’ve made protecting them a priority. We protect sellers by encrypting transactions at the moment of swipe, tokenizing data once it reaches our servers, and monitoring every transaction to detect suspicious behavior. We’ve also recently migrated the small percentage of remaining sellers who use an out-of-date, unencrypted card reader to new hardware. Today, those unencrypted card readers no longer work. We’re always making advances in security, and we appreciate John Moore’s research, which encouraged us to speed up our deprecation plans.”

All three alums have other plans now. In September, Mellen will return to running her own company, Terrapin Computing LLC in Cambridge, which sells four iOS apps. Moore will start work as a software engineer for Google, and Losev will continue his computer science education at New York University.

Moore says another lesson to draw from their experience has nothing to do with hackers or credit cards and everything to do with the classroom.

“Don’t be afraid to take on a project that goes a little bit above and beyond what’s required,” he says. “We could have done a project that was a lot simpler and easier, but instead we decided to do something that was quite challenging for us. We learned a lot in the process. We put in a lot more time than we expected, and it ended up paying off in the long run.”


Additional press coverage on ECE alums cyber security discovery: 

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Seeking 2015-16 ECE Senior Design Capstone Projects from Faculty, Industry, and Alumni ‘Customers’

July 31st, 2015 in Alumni, Awards, Courses, Events, Faculty, Graduate Programs, Graduate Student Opportunities

The Department of ECE is again seeking engineering challenges suitable for undergraduate seniors to address in their required capstone Senior Design project, a year-long, team-based course.  Would you or a colleague be able to suggest a project and serve as a volunteer ‘customer’?  We have a very large class this year so I do hope that you can help. Last year 2 of our teams were selected to compete in the finals round of the Intel-Cornell Cup competition at NASA and brought home First and Second prizes!

Each year Boston University’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering seeks real-world problems from industry, government, non-profits, small businesses, and individuals (especially our Alumni).  These problems are presented to our Senior Design capstone project student teams in early September.  Teams then work through the fall semester to develop a plan for delivering a solution to the problems and begin execution.  In the spring they complete their proposed design, test, and deliver the project prototype.   Many students report that capstone design was the single experience that best prepared them for employment and real-world challenges.

Projects guidelines are listed below, as is a sample one-page description template.  Please contact Professor Alan Pisano ( to submit a project or discuss a potential project idea.  Students return to classes after Labor Day, and we would like to have general problem descriptions available shortly thereafter.  After projects are assigned to the teams, their first responsibility will be to contact their ‘customers’ and learn the details of the problems. We do not require financial support from our “customers” although many choose to donate equipment or other resources.

Helpful Links:


BU to Launch a Satellite in the Final Round of a US Air Force Space Challenge

July 28th, 2015 in Awards, Events, Faculty, Graduate Programs, Graduate Student Opportunities, News-CE, News-EP, Recognition, Research, Research-CE, Research-EP, Undergraduate Programs, Undergraduate Student Opportunities, Undergraduate Students

One of Six Teams Selected

By Gabriella McNevin

ANDESITE team presenting their satellite to a team of judges at the Air Force Final Competition Review (FCR) in Albuquerque, NM, February 2015.   BU was one of 6 schools out of 16 selected to move on.

ANDESITE team presenting their satellite to a team of judges at the Air Force Final Competition Review (FCR) in Albuquerque, NM, February 2015. BU was one of 6 schools out of 16 selected to move on.

ANDESITE, a task force within Boston University’s Small Satellite Program, qualified to launch a self-designed satellite into orbit. The ANDERSITE team is one of six that qualified for the final round of the US Air Force University Nanosat Program competition.

The ANDESITE satellite is on the forefront of an international movement to advance our understanding of “space weather” and its effects on society.  Space weather arises from interactions between the Earth’s plasma environment and the impinging solar wind.   These interactions can damage satellites, harm astronauts in space, render GPS information erratic and unreliable, disrupt ground-space communications, and even cause electricity blackouts on Earth.  In 2013, the White House raised inadequate space weather forecasting to the global agenda, citing the significant  “threat to modern systems posed by space weather events” and “the potential for “significant societal, economic, national security, and health impacts.”

The ANDESITE satellite has been designed to deploy a network of magnetic sensors from a central mother ship. The ejected sensors will operate collectively as a space-based wireless mesh network with the aim of studying fine-scale variations in Earth’s geomagnetic environment caused by space weather events.   The ANDESITE satellite’s scientific and technological innovations place it at the cutting edge of the burgeoning cubesat movement.

A computer generated image of the satellite.

A computer generated image of the satellite.

ANDESITE is a unique interdisciplinary university-wide collaboration.  The team of 16 students is comprised of Astronomy, Electrical, Computer, and Mechanical Engineering scholars. The group is under the guidance of two faculty advisors, Joshua Semeter (ECE/Photonics) and Ray Nagem (ME). Research Engineer Aleks Zosuls also provides support and acts as a liaison with the Engineering Product Innovation Center (EPIC).

The qualifying competition took place in the Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, New Mexico in February 2015. Now, the qualifiers must shift their focus from satellite fabrication to implementation. The University Nanosat Program will provide Air Force technical guidance and $110,000 to support each of the remaining six competitors.

After returning to Boston from New Mexico, ANDESITE advisor Professor Semeter recalled, “it was a stressful experience for the students with an exciting outcome.”

The University Nanosat Program provides hands-on experience for graduate and undergraduate students and an opportunity to create and launch a satellite with a specific research capacity. The Air Force Research Laboratory’s Space Vehicles Directorate, Air Force Office of Scientific Research and American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics developed the program in 1999.

New ENG Offerings in Data Analytics, Cybersecurity and Robotics

July 22nd, 2015 in Alumni, Courses, Faculty, Graduate Programs, Graduate Student Opportunities, Graduate Students, Research, Undergraduate Programs, Undergraduate Student Opportunities, Undergraduate Students

Master’s students can now specialize in these fast-growing fields

By Janet A. Smith (ENG) and Amy Laskowski (BU Today)

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Amazon announced plans to deliver packages via drones; graduate students who specialize in ENG’s new robotics program could find themselves working for the commerce giant in the near future. Photo by Flickr contributor Arts Electronica Center

In an effort to train its graduate students in rapidly expanding fields, this fall the College of Engineering will begin offering three new master’s degree specializations in the fields of data analytics, cybersecurity, and robotics.

“The corporate sector has voiced frustration with the shortage of trained engineers in key sectors of the innovation economy,” says Kenneth Lutchen, dean of ENG. “By combining a master’s degree in a foundational engineering discipline with a specialization in a fast-growing, interdisciplinary field, students will be well positioned to meet this need and impact society. This unique combination should greatly enhance the power of their degrees in the marketplace.”

The specialization programs are open to all master’s degree candidates in ENG. Students who opt to add a specialization will select at least four of their eight required courses from a list specific to that field. Specializations will be noted with the degree title on students’ final transcripts.

Classes for the fall 2015 semester begin September 2, and master’s degree students who are interested in focusing on one of the three fields should contact the Graduate Programs Office for more information.

Two years ago, the Harvard Business Review noted that jobs in the field of data analytics are expected to continue to increase. reports that the average data scientist salary is currently $118,700. ENG’s new data analytics specialization will emphasize decisions, algorithms, and analytics grounded in engineering application areas. Students choosing to specialize in data analytics can expect to find jobs in finance, health care, urban systems, commerce, pharmaceuticals, and other engineering fields.

Recent, brazen cyber attacks on companies such as Target and Sony Pictures as well as the data breach thought to originate in China that compromised the records of 21.5 million Americans who had applied for government security clearances over the past 15 years highlight the growing importance of cybersecurity.

ENG’s cybersecurity specialization will teach students security-oriented theory and train them in practical cybersecurity applications including software engineering, embedded systems, and networking. It will also provide a context for cybersecurity threats and mitigation strategies ranging from protecting corporate and government systems, to home and building automation accessories and medical devices.

Global spending on robotics is predicted to increase to $67 billion by 2025 from just $15 billion in 2010. Today, robotics are used in everything from prosthetics and telemedicine to autonomous vehicles, feedback control systems, and brain-machine interface. The new ENG specialization will prepare master’s students for careers in research and development and deployment and operation of advanced individual or multi-coordinated robotic systems.

Tom Little, an ENG professor of electrical and computer engineering and systems engineering and associate dean of educational initiatives, says these new specializations are meant to be complementary to the numerous existing master’s degree programs. Come fall, someone getting a master’s degree in mechanical engineering, for instance, could specialize in cybersecurity, and learn how to prevent a car’s computer system from being hacked.

“These are all very exciting areas that are emerging,” Little says. “ENG is active in doing research, but also active in developing the next generation of scientists and engineers who can contribute to companies who want to build applications that have an impact.”

Bhatia Receives First Annual Biodesign Automation Award

July 20th, 2015 in Awards, Faculty, Grants, News-CE, News-EP, Research-CE, Research-EP

By Mark Dwortzan


Research Assistant Professor Swapnil Bhatia (ECE)

Research Assistant Professor Swapnil Bhatia (ECE) was awarded the first annual Allan Kuchinksy International Workshop on Bio-Design Automation (IWBDA) Scholarship by the Bio Design Automation Consortium, which promotes education, research, training and advancement of state-of-the-art technology in synthetic biology and bio-design automation.

Kuchinsky made seminal contributions to synthetic biology and design automation that have led to the creation of foundational, state-of-the-art technologies and tools. The scholarship recognizes his efforts by highlighting a student or young researcher who shares his vision for the field.

Bhatia, who is also a co-founder of Lattice Automation, has made significant contributions to bio-design automation in the areas of liquid handling automation, design space specification/generation, and end-to-end toolchain integration. He collaborated with Kuchinsky on several occasions and was an active participant in many of his interactions with Boston University.

This award will be presented at IWBDA 2015, and includes an honorarium provided by Cytoscape. More information on this award will be posted in the coming weeks to

College Announces New Masters Degree Specializations

June 25th, 2015 in News-CE, News-EP, News-IDS, Research, Students, Uncategorized, Undergraduate Programs, Undergraduate Student Opportunities, Undergraduate Students

Students Can Amplify Expertise in a High-Value Career Path

By Jan A. Smith


Motivated by emerging economic sectors, the College of Engineering has created new Master’s degree specializations in the high-impact, interdisciplinary fields of Data Analytics, Cybersecurity and Robotics. The specializations are designed to meet the demand for highly skilled professionals in these rapidly expanding fields.shutterstock_138612407_cybersecurity_CMS

“The corporate sector has voiced frustration with the shortage of trained engineers in key sectors of the innovation economy,” said Dean Kenneth Lutchen. “By combining a Master’s degree in a foundational engineering discipline with a Specialization in a fast-growing, interdisciplinary field, students will be well positioned to meet this need and impact society. This unique combination should greatly enhance the power of their degrees in the marketplace.”

Quadrocopter_shutterstock_261695444_CMS300Enormous quantities of data are driving rapid growth in the field of data analytics. The College’s approach to data science emphasizes decisions, algorithms, and analytics grounded in engineering application areas. This specialization is intended to yield graduates who will fulfill a variety of innovation needs for applications in finance, healthcare, urban systems, commerce, pharmaceutical and other engineering fields.

“Big Data engineers are critical pioneers and sorely needed in every industry,” said George Anton Papp, vice president for Corporate Development at Teradata, Inc. “The massive amounts of data being collected create enormous opportunities to innovate data architecture and analysis to solve pressing real-world problems.”

The Cybersecurity field is expanding exponentially, with career paths growing twice as fast as other information technology jobs. This Specialization will foster security-oriented software skills and enable an understanding of cybersecurity applications in software engineering, embedded systems, and networking. It will also provide a context for cybersecurity threats and mitigation strategies ranging from protecting corporate and government systems to home and building automation accessories and medical devices.

“Demand for cybersecurity professionals continues to outstrip supply and is a major concern to organizations in every sector,” noted Proteus Digital Health Co-Founder and Chief Medical Officer George Savage. “In our industry, it’s critical to protect the highly personal health data of consumers, providers, and insurers as we enter the digital and personalized health era powered by the smart phone in each of our pockets.”

The Robotics industry is predicted to grow to $67 billion by 2025 with applications in everything from prosthetics and telemedicine to autonomous vehicles, feedback control systems, brain-machine interfaces, and the Internet of Things. Robotics is inherently interdisciplinary, combining elements of electrical, computer, biomedical, systems, and mechanical engineering. The Specialization will prepare Master’s students for careers in research and development, deployment and operation of advanced individual or multi-coordinated robotic systems.

“There is enormous need for engineers skilled in robotics and the cross-disciplinary applications of robotics,” said Michael Campbell, executive vice president,
CAD Segment at PTC. “While the field today is very much concerned with applications in manufacturing, autonomous vehicles, healthcare, and military uses, we anticipate the field expanding into everything from education to home entertainment.”

Available to all Master’s Degree candidates, the Specialization options have been designed so that students can access from every Master’s degree program. Students who opt to add a Specialization – which is noted on their degree title and transcript – choose at least four of their eight courses from a list specific to each Specialization.

ENG Alums Create Transforming Display Technology

June 18th, 2015 in Alumni, Events, Recognition, Research, Video

Prysm’s custom video walls use proprietary LPD technology

By Mark Dwortzan

Amit Jain (ENG'85,'88) beside the Prysm video wall installed in the 44 Cummington Mall lobby. Photo by Dave Green

Amit Jain (ENG’85,’88) beside the Prysm video wall installed in the 44 Cummington Mall lobby. Photo by Dave Green


Prysm’s Olympic video walls allow architects, designers, and brand managers to create and customize unique, immersive experiences, engaging digital signage and unrivaled audience engagement in any number of environments. Photo courtesy of Prysm

After Amit Jain earned his first bachelor’s degree, in physics, chemistry, and math, in India, his older brother hired him to help out at the audiotape manufacturing company he owned in Kolkata. Despite knowing nothing about how to assemble audiotapes, Jain jumped right in and was soon running the factory floor.

Prysm video walls use up to 75 percent less energy than competing large-format display technologies. Photo courtesy of Prysm

Prysm video walls use up to 75 percent less energy than competing large-format display technologies. Photo courtesy of Prysm

That training later proved invaluable. During his senior year at the College of Engineering, Masud Mansuripur, then an associate professor of electrical engineering (now at the University of Arizona), made him an offer he couldn’t refuse: he would hire Jain as a research assistant and teach him everything he knew about optics if he decided to stay at ENG for graduate study. Jain (ENG’85,’88) accepted, and became one of the first ENG students to graduate with a master’s in electrical engineering with a focus on optics.

Fast forward to 2005. When investors asked Jain and his business partner, Roger Hajjar (ENG’88), to shift from optical networking to large displays, they came up with a new display technology that wound up transforming the industry—despite the fact that neither had prior knowledge of the field.

Jain and Hajjar cofounded Prysm, Inc., and their new display technology laid the foundation for the Silicon Valley–based designer and manufacturer of video wall systems now used across the globe by leading technology, retail, financial services, and media companies, governments, and universities, among them Beijing TV, CNBC, General Electric, and ENG.

“I have learned to never be afraid of trying new things and to go with my gut,” says Jain, 53, now Prysm CEO (Hajjar is CTO). “When we started Prysm, Roger and I had no fear of entering a new industry and no baggage from previous companies on what couldn’t be done—just ideas that could be applied in a new context. Within 18 months we came up with the concept for a new display technology, built a prototype, and shipped our first product.”

Today Prysm designs, assembles, installs, and provides software support for large, modular, interactive video walls of nearly any size, brightness, or resolution, customized to users’ needs, as well as 117-inch and 190-inch standard video walls used in collaboration rooms. The custom video walls enable architects, designers, and brand managers to provide unique, engaging, immersive experiences in lobbies, conference centers, control rooms, stores, and other environments. The collaborative walls empower teams in multiple locations to boost their productivity through real-time interactions, whether through touch or gesture, or by posting, sharing, and editing content uploaded from smartphones, tablets, or other mobile devices.

At the heart of Prysm’s video walls is the company’s proprietary laser phosphor display (LPD) technology, which features a solid-state ultraviolet laser engine, phosphor panel, and advanced optics. Mirrors direct beams from the laser engine across the phosphor panel, which in turn emits red, green, or blue light to form image pixels. The process occurs on multiple 25-inch tiles that fit together to make up a single integrated wall. Compared to conventional LED- and LCD-based technologies, LPD video walls deliver superior image quality, viewing angles, energy efficiency, and environmental impact—resulting in a lower ownership cost. With an an eco-friendly manufacturing process and nontoxic materials and requiring no consumables, they use up to 75 percent less energy than competing large-format display technologies and give off far less heat, eliminating the need for electrical system or HVAC upgrades.

“The Prysm video wall…delivers astounding image quality and ultrawide 178-degree viewing angles,” says Yao Hong, a sales director at the State Grid Corporation of China, which uses a curved, 80-foot-wide-by-11-foot-high wall to monitor the electrical grid system of China’s Jiangsu province. “These attributes combined with the tremendous scalability of LPD technology provide an ideal display solution for the command and control environment.”

Chris Van Name, a regional vice president at Time Warner Cable, chose Prysm to impress customers and minimize environmental impact. “Prysm’s video wall creates a significant ‘wow’ factor for any customer visiting our store and enables us to showcase our technologies in TV, broadband internet, and digital phone in a brilliant and beautiful fashion,” he says.

For Jain, Prysm represents the pinnacle of a 20-year career of growing successful technology-related businesses. Before cofounding Prysm, he was CEO of Bigbear Network and cofounder and CEO of Versatile Optical Networks, which was acquired by Vitesse Semiconductor Corporation; he led the Vitesse Optical Systems Division as vice president and general manager. Previously, he had held several management positions in start-ups and large companies, such as Terastor, Optex Communications, and Digital Equipment Corporation.

Throughout his career, Jain has drawn on expertise in both engineering and business and on lessons learned from an extended family, many also entrepreneurs. While working for his brother in the audiotape business, he imagined inventing technologies rather than just assembling them on the factory floor, so he came to ENG in 1983 to earn a second bachelor’s degree, in electrical engineering.

He learned not only engineering, but also how to communicate effectively to large groups as the first undergraduate teaching assistant of Kenneth Lutchen, a biomedical engineering professor at the time and now dean of ENG.

“Because I already had a bachelor’s degree, Ken gave me the opportunity to teach classes while still an undergraduate,” recalls Jain. “As I faced up to 40 friends and peers, I learned how to explain complex ideas clearly and concisely.”

Fortunately, he had already developed a penetrating voice, capable of drawing attention. “My projectile voice comes from survival of the fittest,” he says. “I have 48 cousins and am second from the bottom in age, so you needed a powerful voice to get your point across.”

After earning both undergrad and grad degrees at BU and an MBA at the University of Maryland, Jain became well-versed in the technological, communications, entrepreneurial, and other skills that are the hallmark of the societal engineer (basically, one who has a sense of purpose and appreciation for how engineering education and its experiences are superior foundations for improving society), a concept he embraces both as CEO of Prysm and as a member of the ENG Dean’s Leadership Advisory Board.

His close relationships with his family and his 200-plus employees, he says, are critical to his success and those relationships are anchored by his religion, Jainism, some of whose tenets—Don’t kill. Ask forgiveness. Respect different views—appear on a card he carries in his pocket.

“Everyone has a viewpoint,” he says. “The important thing is to listen to all views in order to make the right decisions.”

A version of this article appeared in Engineer.

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BU Team Only US Finalist in Student Supercomputer Challenge

June 15th, 2015 in Awards, News-CE, Recognition, Research-CE, Students, Undergraduate Student Opportunities, Undergraduate Students

By Gabriella McNevin

The Boston Green team in Taiyuan City, China. From left to right, Quentin Li, Winston Chen, event organizer, Scott Woods,  Nicolas Hinderling, and Huy Le.

The Boston Green Team in Taiyuan City, China. From left to right, Quentin Li, Winston Chen, an event organizer, Scott Woods, Nicolas Hinderling, and Huy Le.



One hundred and fifty-one teams from 6 continents were admitted into the preliminary round of the ASC 15 (ASC15) Student Supercomputer Challenge, which was held in Taiyuan City, China. Sixteen teams were accepted into the final round, only one of which was from a university in the United States.

A group of five Boston University students specializing in supercomputing, entered the competition as The Boston Green Team. The students- Winston Chen (CE ’16), Nicolas Hinderling (CS ‘17), Huy Le (CS ’16 ), Quentin Li (CE ‘15), and Scott Woods (CS ‘16)- met through a student organization, BUILDS, which serves as the Association of Computer Machinery local university chapter. Boston University Professor Martin Herbordt (ECE) and MIT Professor Kurt Keville advise the team.

The Boston Green Team working on the final challenge at Taiyuan University of Technology in Taiyuan City. From left to right, Scott Woods, Quentin Li, Huy Le, Winston Chen, and Nicolas Hinderling.

The Boston Green Team working on the final challenge at Taiyuan University of Technology in Taiyuan City. From left to right, Scott Woods, Quentin Li, Huy Le, Winston Chen, and Nicolas Hinderling.

The preliminary round of the competition, involving a remote cluster located in Japan, consisted of a three-tier challenge. To advance, the teams were measured by performance metrics like LINPACK testing, NAMD, and their input on the Square Kilometre Array project.

On April 10 the Boston Green Team was notified that they were invited to the ASC15 Finals, held at Taiyuan University of Technology. The teams were given four days to solve six supercomputing application challenges. Ultimately, the top prize went to the Tsinghua University team, and Nanyang Technological University from Singapore broke the world record for their performance on LINPACK.

The ASC Student Supercomputer Challenge is organized by Asia Supercomputer Community, Inspur Group, and the Taiyuan University of Technology. The competition began four years ago, and has since become the world’s largest supercomputer contest.

The ASC Student Supercomputer Challenge is organized by Asia Supercomputer Community, Inspur Group and the Taiyuan University of Technology. Initiated four years ago, the competition has since become the world’s largest supercomputer contest.

“ASC15 has encouraged more and more college students to learn, understand and love the cutting-edge technology of supercomputers,” said Lv Ming, president of Taiyuan University of Technology. “[It] will significantly boost interdisciplinary academic study and talent cultivation in universities, sparking creativity and innovation in students.”

The next student cluster competitions will take place on November 15-20 in Austin, Texas. Students interested in BUILDS are encouraged to subscribe to the mailing list and follow the group on Facebook.



Remembering Arthur Thompson

June 8th, 2015 in Alumni, Events, Recognition, Uncategorized

First ENG Dean Put College on Path to Prominence

By Mark Dwortzan

Thompson opening the colleg

Opening of the College of Engineering Building at 110 Cummington Street in February, 1964. Left to right are, Merritt A. Williamson, dean of the College of Engineering and Architecture at Penn State, BU President Harold C. Case and BU College of Engineering Dean Arthur T. Thompson. Williamson gave the Convocation Address at the inaugural ceremony of the College. (Photo by BU Photography)

Arthur T. Thompson, the first dean of Boston University College of Engineering, died on May 9 at the age of 96.

Serving with distinction from 1964 to 1974, Thompson laid the foundation for the College’s accreditation, instituted novel degree programs and considerably expanded the College’s undergraduate and graduate offerings. His achievements helped pave the way for the College to become one of the world’s finest training grounds for future engineers and platforms for innovation in synthetic biology, nanotechnology, photonics and other engineering fields. Since 1964, the College’s position in the US News & World Report’s annual survey of US engineering graduate programs has surged from unranked to the top 20 percent nationally.


College of Engineering students in a typical lab setting on Cummington Street in 1964 (Photo by BU Photography)

College of Engineering students in a typical lab setting on Cummington Street in 1964 (Photo by BU Photography)

In 1963, Boston University hired Thompson, then a longtime associate dean of engineering at Penn State University, to become dean of the College of Industrial Technology (CIT). At the time, CIT offered only three degree programs—in technology, aeronautics and management—and occupied a single, four-story building, but Thompson was bullish about CIT’s future. Reflecting on that time during an interview conducted last year in advance of the College’s 50th anniversary, Thompson noted that “the soil was rich for this little technical school to grow.”

He pledged to develop engineers with “the capacity for responsible and effective action as members of our society” at dedication ceremonies on February 27, 1964, when CIT was officially renamed as the Boston University College of Engineering. His primary mission was to transform CIT into an accredited engineering program.

During his deanship, the new Aerospace, Manufacturing and Systems Engineering departments received accreditation. The College also instituted the nation’s first BS degree program in bioengineering and expanded to five BS and three MS programs in five fields.

“Dean Thompson took some major risks and took on the responsibility of starting a small engineering college in the shadow of a very large, world-class college across the river, and did it successfully,” said Dean Kenneth R. Lutchen.

“Art had defined the College—he recruited people willing to start with nothing,” recalled Professor John Baillieul (ME, SE). Key appointments included Richard F. Vidale, who would later head the Systems Engineering program, and Merrill Ebner, who headed the Manufacturing Engineering program.

“Thompson and [Ebner] came up with this idea of manufacturing engineering,” said Louis Padulo, who served as dean from 1975 to 1985. “They had the two first accredited programs in the country in systems engineering and manufacturing engineering—way ahead of their time. The real strength, almost like in any startup, is to do something innovative.”

Thompson left the College in 1974 having accomplished the mission he had signed up for a decade earlier. “I felt I had completed my job because the school had taken off, we were accredited and applications were coming in,” he said.

After serving Boston University as engineering dean, associate vice president and professor of engineering, Thompson became provost at Wentworth Institute of Technology.

He was a fellow of the American Society for Engineering Education and of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, and a Registered Professional Engineer. In addition, he was a trustee emeritus at Colby College and Wentworth and served on the Academic Board of the US Merchant Marine Academy and as a trustee of Norwich University. His honors include the Education Award of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers and the Outstanding Civilian Service Medal of the US Army, in which he served during World War II.

Thompson received an arts degree from Colby College, an engineering degree from Penn State, amaster’s degrees in engineering from Harvard University and a master of business administration degree from the University of Chicago. He was also awarded honorary doctorates from Colby, Norwich and Wentworth.

Most recently residing in Newton, Thompson was predeceased by his wife of 70 years, Virginia (Deringer) Thompson, and survived by daughters Deborah A. and Harriet T. Thompson of Newton; granddaughter Ashima Scripp and husband Robert Bloomfield of Windham, NH; and great grandson Thatcher Bloomfield.

A memorial service will be held at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, 79 Denton Road, Wellesley on Friday, June 12 at 11 a.m. For tributes and guest book, visit

More information about Dean Thompson’s role in launching the College of Engineering can be found in the brochure ENG @ 50: Moving Society Forward.