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  COVID-19 Information and Resources for ECE Students, Faculty, and Staff

UW ECE-led team receives $5M award to help bring quantum computing into the real world

A multi-institutional research team led by UW ECE faculty members Mo Li, Arka Majumdar and Karl Böhringer is developing a powerful, miniaturized optical control engine, which will greatly increase capacity and speed of quantum computers.

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NSF to fund revolutionary center for optoelectronic, quantum technologies

The National Science Foundation announced on Sept. 9 that it will fund a new endeavor to bring atomic-level precision to the devices and technologies that underpin much of modern life, transforming fields like information technology in the decades to come.

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NSF to fund revolutionary center for optoelectronic, quantum technologies Banner

UW ECE and College of Education collaboration looks at differences in engineering classroom experiences before and during COVID-19

Interdisciplinary research team led by UW ECE Professor Denise Wilson and Ziyan Bai from the UW College of Education wins multiple paper awards at ASEE 2021 conference.

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UW ECE and College of Education collaboration looks at differences in engineering classroom experiences before and during COVID-19 Banner

UW ECE graduate student Felix Schwock receives Graduate School’s 2021 Distinguished Thesis Award

Eight UW graduate students received this year’s Distinguished Dissertation and Thesis Awards. Schwock won in the category of Mathematics, Physical Sciences & Engineering for his work on analyzing and predicting ocean ambient noise.

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UW ECE graduate student Felix Schwock receives Graduate School’s 2021 Distinguished Thesis Award Banner

UW ECE graduate students win 2021 North America Qualcomm Innovation Fellowship

Xichen Li and Yi-Hsiang Huang, 2nd and 3rd year UW ECE PhD students, have been named winners of the 2021 North America Qualcomm Innovation Fellowship (QIF) for their research proposal that looks to solve wireless data congestion issues.

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UW ECE graduate students win 2021 North America Qualcomm Innovation Fellowship Banner

Bringing light into computers to accelerate AI and machine learning

UW ECE faculty members Sajjad Moazeni and Mo Li are leading a multi-institutional research team, which has received a four-year grant from the National Science Foundation to develop a new type of computer chip that uses laser light for AI and machine learning computation.

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News + Events

https://www.ece.uw.edu/spotlight/uw-ece-brings-quantum-computing-into-the-real-world/
https://www.ece.uw.edu/spotlight/optoelectronic/
https://www.ece.uw.edu/spotlight/asee_awards_wilson_bai/
https://www.ece.uw.edu/spotlight/felix-schwock-thesis-award/
https://www.ece.uw.edu/spotlight/qif_2021/
https://www.ece.uw.edu/spotlight/light-to-accelerate-ai/
Bringing light into computers to accelerate AI and machine learning

Bringing light into computers to accelerate AI and machine learning

UW ECE faculty members Sajjad Moazeni and Mo Li are leading a multi-institutional research team, which has received a four-year grant from the National Science Foundation to develop a new type of computer chip that uses laser light for AI and machine learning computation.

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                    [post_content] => By Wayne Gillam | UW ECE News

[caption id="attachment_22899" align="alignright" width="625"]Mo Li, Arka Majumdar, Karl Böhringer headshots in front of an abstract illustration A multi-institutional research team led by UW ECE faculty members Mo Li, Arka Majumdar and Karl Böhringer is developing a powerful, miniaturized optical control engine, called PEAQUE, which will greatly increase capacity and speed of quantum computers.[/caption]

Quantum computers could be a game changer. These devices use principles of quantum mechanics to make huge leaps forward in solving complex and challenging problems that are well beyond the scope of the fastest supercomputer in existence. For example, optimizing complex algorithms involved in weather forecasting, controlling traffic flow and managing airline flight schedules is theoretically within reach of a full-scale quantum computer. Simulating complex chemistry and molecules involved in drug development and electronic materials discovery could also be enabled by quantum computing.

Because of this potential, there is an ongoing, worldwide race to build the first scalable quantum computer. But after several years, the most powerful quantum computer built to date is still well under 300 quantum bits, or ‘qubits.’ To be applicable to problems like what is described above, a quantum computer needs to have the capacity to operate millions of qubits. With this in mind, building a full-scale quantum computer capable of tackling real-world problems is a daunting challenge.

A multi-institutional research team led by UW ECE faculty members Mo Li, Arka Majumdar and Karl Böhringer has recently taken on this challenge by participating in the National Science Foundation’s Convergence Accelerator. The focus of this NSF program is to make timely investments in multidisciplinary research that will deliver tangible solutions improving the lives of millions of people. The NSF Convergence Accelerator is investing $50M to advance 10 out of 29 research teams addressing national-scale societal challenges from phase one to phase two of the program. The UW ECE-led team, part of the program’s 2020 cohort, was selected to move on to phase two as one of four teams focusing on quantum technology.

“The NSF Convergence Accelerator is a uniquely inspiring program, providing us with an experience that teaches us how to pitch our ideas, build a team and conduct user interviews,” said Li, who is lead principal investigator on the research team. “It helps us to have a fresh view of our original plan, moves us to better manage the project, and most importantly, the program helps us discover new directions, new applications, new stakeholders for our technology.”

[caption id="attachment_22910" align="alignleft" width="500"]NSF Convergence Accelerator logo This research is supported by the NSF Convergence Accelerator, which is investing $50M to advance 10 out of 29 research teams addressing national-scale societal challenges from phase one to phase two of the program. The UW ECE-led team, part of the program’s 2020 cohort, was selected to move on to phase two as one of four teams focusing on quantum technology.[/caption]

Along with moving into phase two of the program, the research team will receive a $5M, two-year award from the NSF Convergence Accelerator. The award will help the team build on their efforts and achievements from phase one, which were aimed at scaling up the capacity and speed of quantum computers. In phase two, the team will be developing a ‘Photonic Engine Accelerating atomic QUantum Engineering,’ or PEAQUE. The PEAQUE project will address quantum computing scalability by developing a powerful, miniaturized optical control engine that interfaces cold atom qubits with quantum software. The team will also participate in the NSF Convergence Accelerator’s Idea-to-Market curriculum to assist them in further developing solutions and to create a sustainability plan that ensures their efforts will have a positive impact beyond NSF funding.

“Miniaturization is a main theme of PEAQUE, but on top of that, we will make more powerful technology to optically control many qubits. We’re not just shrinking things. We are also using new materials and advanced microwave technology to make this possible,” Li said.

“We are developing a whole system using devices that we prototyped recently using fundamental physical principles,” Majumdar added. “Going from fundamental physics to application in a short period of time is very exciting.”

The PEAQUE project will be a collaboration between academia, industry and government institutions. The research team includes co-investigators Birgitta Whaley, a professor of chemical physics at UC Berkeley and director of the Berkeley Quantum Information & Computing Center, Adam Kauffman, Jun Ye, and Ana Maria Rey from JILA (a joint institute of the University of Colorado Boulder and the National Institute of Standards and Technology), and Ben Bloom and Brian Lester from Atom Computing. Other collaborators include Larry Minjoo Lee from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and Matt Eichenfield from Sandia National Laboratories.

Developing an ‘integrated circuit’ for quantum computing

[caption id="attachment_22904" align="alignright" width="525"]PEAQUE graphic illustration Along with moving into phase two of the program, the research team will receive a $5M, two-year award from the NSF Convergence Accelerator to develop a ‘Photonic Engine Accelerating atomic QUantum Engineering,’ or PEAQUE. The PEAQUE project will address quantum computing scalability by developing a powerful, miniaturized optical control engine that interfaces cold atom qubits with quantum software.[/caption] To some extent, quantum computing is now at a stage that is similar to where classical computing was in the 1950s. It takes a room-sized apparatus and quite a bit of human operation to realize a very limited computing capacity. The tipping point for classical computing was in 1959, when the integrated circuit was invented and patented. This ingenious invention allowed computers to be scaled down in size and up in computing speed and power. Li said that he believes quantum computing is at a similar tipping point, and PEAQUE could be to quantum computing what the integrated circuit was to classical computing. “To build a quantum computer for practical use is an enormous mission to accomplish. It requires solving many challenging technological problems,” Li said. “Scalability is one of the key factors to be able to go beyond a million qubits. Therefore, integrated scalable miniaturized technologies, like PEAQUE, are going to play a critical role.” The research team is designing PEAQUE to support a 1,000-qubit quantum computer. This may sound like a far cry from a million qubits, but it is a size that can show proof of concept. And according to Li, this is an important milestone between where we are now and quantum computers capable of impacting the real world. “Using current technology, it is possible to control 100 qubits. The equipment may be the size of a room, but it is doable,” Li said. “But from 100 to 1,000 qubits it is a very big challenge. And even if you manage to do that, how do you go from 1,000 qubits to one million? For that, you’ll need a technological breakthrough in terms of scalability. That is what we are trying to address.” In order to achieve this miniaturization, one of the main goals of PEAQUE is to reduce the size of the laser beam steering module that is at the core of the optical control system of a cold-atom quantum computer, while at the same time, greatly increase computing capacity and precision. Current laser beam steering modules for quantum computers are roughly the size of a large shoebox, and each module can generate and control 32 laser beams that interact with cold atoms. But at least 2,000 laser beams are needed to support a 1,000-qubit quantum computer. The research team addressed this issue in phase one of the NSF Convergence Accelerator by proposing a chip-scale multi-beam illumination and steering system, or MBIS, which is slated to go into PEAQUE during phase two. The MBIS in PEAQUE will be over a hundred times smaller than state-of-the-art beam systems, and it will be much more powerful. Instead of emitting only 32 laser beams, each MBIS module will be able to emit and steer 100 beams. Equally important, the MBIS emits its laser beams perpendicular to the plane of the module, as opposed to emitting beams from the edges of the device like current technology. What this means is that multiple MBIS modules can be placed next to each other like tiles in a compact, planar array to steer thousands of laser beams all at the same time. To help picture this, imagine an extremely complex laser light show, but one that is projected onto an array of single atoms. “This project is taking a revolutionary new idea all the way to a device for practical applications,” Böhringer said, who in addition to being a UW ECE professor and member of the research team is also director of the Institute for Nano-Engineered Systems. “We are building a truly scalable nano-engineered system.”

Next steps

[caption id="attachment_22906" align="alignright" width="525"]Graphic illustration showing research team collaborations The PEAQUE project will be a collaboration between academia, industry and government institutions. In addition to the University of Washington, the organizations involved include UC Berkeley and the Berkeley Quantum Information & Computing Center, Atom Computing, and JILA (a joint institute of the University of Colorado Boulder and the National Institute of Standards and Technology). Other collaborators include the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and Sandia National Laboratories.[/caption] In phase one of the NSF Convergence Accelerator, the research team proposed the MBIS and successfully fabricated prototype devices, which are currently under testing. They developed a full production process flow and built the electronics system for PEAQUE to contain a large array of atoms. The progress made in phase one put the team on a fast track to demonstrate the first prototype of PEAQUE early on in phase two. The team is planning to establish foundry processes at Sandia National Laboratories to fabricate PEAQUE on eight-inch wafers and mass produce the device. By the end of phase two, the team will deliver a full test kit, including devices, electronics and software, all in one package. They plan to disseminate the test kit and their findings broadly to the academic community and the private sector. “Quantum research and discovery is a priority for the National Science Foundation. Through the NSF’s Convergence Accelerator, teams like PEAQUE are expediting their solutions forward by integrating a convergence research approach to include a wide range of expertise and partnerships from industry, government, non-profits, academia and other communities of practice,” said Douglas Maughan, head of the NSF Convergence Accelerator program. “Today’s scientific priorities and national-scale societal challenges cannot be solved by a single discipline. Instead, the merging of new ideas, techniques, and approaches, plus the Convergence Accelerator’s innovation curriculum, enables teams to speed their research into application. We are excited to welcome PEAQUE into phase two and to assist them in applying our program’s fundamentals to solving this complex scientific challenge. If successful, PEAQUE’s scalable solution will provide a positive impact on society at large.” The success of the team’s project will make room-sized quantum experiments fit into a much smaller, rack-mounted system. Ultimately, PEAQUE will help to realize a full-scale quantum computer capable of solving important and challenging problems such as predicting weather patterns more accurately, speeding development of life-saving drugs and discovering entirely new materials to be used in future technologies. According to Li, PEAQUE will likely find many other important research applications outside of quantum computing as well. Much like the race to put people on the moon spawned new, and unexpected inventions, Li anticipates that the race to build a full-scale quantum computer will do the same. “The research toward building a quantum computer can spawn many innovations in optics, in control mechanisms, in micro-electro-mechanical systems, in packaging, in semiconductor technology,” Li said. “Many of our needs are new and have never been seen before, so the investment by the NSF in this project and the new model of the Convergence Accelerator program can generate many new and innovative ideas.” For more information, read the NSF press release, visit the PEAQUE website, or contact Mo Li, Arka Majumdar, or Karl Böhringer. [post_title] => UW ECE-led team receives $5M award to help bring quantum computing into the real world [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => uw-ece-brings-quantum-computing-into-the-real-world [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2021-09-16 13:09:41 [post_modified_gmt] => 2021-09-16 20:09:41 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.ece.uw.edu/?post_type=spotlight&p=22895 [menu_order] => 1 [post_type] => spotlight [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [1] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 22835 [post_author] => 25 [post_date] => 2021-09-10 15:20:52 [post_date_gmt] => 2021-09-10 22:20:52 [post_content] => Story by James Urton | UW News  The National Science Foundation on Sept. 9 announced it will fund a new endeavor to bring atomic-level precision to the devices and technologies that underpin much of modern life, and will transform fields like information technology in the decades to come. The five-year, $25 million Science and Technology Center grant will fund the Center for Integration of Modern Optoelectronic Materials on Demand — or IMOD — a collaboration of scientists and engineers at 11 universities led by the University of Washington that includes UW ECE Associate Professors Kai-Mei Fu and Arka Mujumdar. IMOD research will center on new semiconductor materials and scalable manufacturing processes for new optoelectronic devices for applications ranging from displays and sensors to a technological revolution, under development today, that’s based on harnessing the principles of quantum mechanics. [caption id="attachment_22838" align="alignright" width="522"] David Ginger at the sample preparation laboratory for atomic force microscopy in the UW’s Molecular Engineering and Sciences Building. Dennis Wise/University of Washington[/caption] “In the early days of electronics, a computer would fill an entire room. Now we all carry around smartphones that are millions of times more powerful in our pockets,” said IMOD director David Ginger, the Alvin L. and Verla R. Kwiram Endowed Professor of Chemistry at the UW, chief scientist at the UW Clean Energy Institute and co-director of NW IMPACT.  “Today, we see an opportunity for advances in materials and scalable manufacturing to do the same thing for optoelectronics: Can we take a quantum optics experiment that fills an entire room, and fit thousands — or even millions  — of them on a chip, enabling a new revolution? Along the way we anticipate IMOD’s science will help with a few more familiar challenges, like improving the display of the cell phone you already have in your pocket so the battery lasts longer.” Optoelectronics is a field that enables much of modern information technology, clean energy, sensing and security. Optoelectronic devices are driven by the interaction of light with electronic materials, typically semiconductors. Devices based on optoelectronics include light-emitting diodes, semiconductor lasers, image sensors and the building blocks of quantum communication and computing technologies such as single-photon sources. Their applications today include sensors, displays and data transmission, and optoelectronics is poised to play a critical role in the development of quantum information systems. But to realize this quantum future, present-day research must develop new materials and new strategies to manufacture them. That’s where IMOD comes in, Ginger said. Building on advances in the synthesis of semiconductor quantum dots and halide perovskites, the center will integrate the work of scientists and engineers from diverse backgrounds, including:
  • Chemists with expertise in atomically precise colloidal synthesis, characterization and theory, which consist of engineered systems of nanoparticles suspended in a medium
  • Materials scientists and mechanical engineers developing methods for the integration, processing and additive manufacturing of semiconductor devices
  • Electrical engineers and physicists who are developing new nanoscale photonic structures and investigating the performance limits of these materials for optical quantum communication and computing
“NSF Science and Technology Centers are integrative not only in the sense that they span traditional academic disciplines, but also in the sense that they seek to benefit society by connecting academic research with industrial and governmental needs, while also educating a diverse STEM workforce,” said Ginger. “To this end, we’re extremely lucky to have had the support of an amazing list of external partners across the fields of industry, government and education.” A partial list of IMOD’s external partners includes companies such as Amazon, Applied Materials, Corning Incorporated, Microsoft, Nanosys and FOM Technologies, Inc.; government organizations like the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the Washington State Department of Commerce; and educational partners including GEAR UP at UW, Catalyst @ Penn GSE and the Center for Education Integrating Science, Mathematics and Computing at Georgia Tech. [caption id="attachment_22837" align="alignleft" width="286"] UW ECE associate professor and IMOD’s associate director of quantum workforce development, Kai-Mei Fu.[/caption] The center will launch a series of mentorship, team science training and internship programs for participants, including students from underrepresented groups in STEM and first-generation students. Center scientists will also work with high school teachers on curriculum development programs aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards and act as “ambassadors” to K-12 students, introducing them to STEM careers. “In partnership with UW QuantumX and the Northwest Quantum Nexus, IMOD is launching a Quantum Training Testbed facility to provide cutting edge training and workforce development opportunities for students from across IMOD’s participating sites and partners,” said Kai-Mei Fu, who is IMOD’s associate director of quantum workforce development. “We’re excited to have such strong support from our partners in the region, allowing us to build on the investments that Washington state has already made in the Washington Clean Energy Testbeds to support workforce training and economic development. For example, Microsoft plans to donate a cryostat that will allow our students to cool samples down to within a few degrees of absolute zero to study phenomena such as quantum spin physics and decoherence, and we have plans to do so much more for our trainees. Right now, we’re asking the question: ‘What is the equipment we wish we had been able to experiment with as students?’” The 11 academic institutions that make up IMOD are the University of Washington; the University of Maryland, College Park; the University of Pennsylvania; Lehigh University; Columbia University; Georgia Institute of Technology; Northwestern University; the City College of New York; the University of Chicago; University of Colorado at Boulder; and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Other UW faculty involved with IMOD include Brandi Cossairt, a UW professor of chemistry; Devin MacKenzie, associate professor of mechanical engineering and of materials science and engineering, and technical director of the Washington Clean Energy Testbeds; and Daniel Gamelin, professor of chemistry and director of the Molecular Engineering Materials Center. Fu and Majumdar co-chair UW Quantum X and are also faculty members with the UW Institute for Nano-Engineered Systems. Ginger, Cossairt, Fu, MacKenzie and Gamelin are member faculty at the Clean Energy Institute. Ginger, Fu, Majumdar and Gamelin are faculty researchers with the UW Molecular Engineering and Sciences Institute. For more information, contact Ginger at dginger@uw.edu. [post_title] => NSF to fund revolutionary center for optoelectronic, quantum technologies [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => optoelectronic [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2021-09-14 16:24:51 [post_modified_gmt] => 2021-09-14 23:24:51 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.ece.uw.edu/?post_type=spotlight&p=22835 [menu_order] => 2 [post_type] => spotlight [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [2] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 22770 [post_author] => 26 [post_date] => 2021-08-25 16:27:09 [post_date_gmt] => 2021-08-25 23:27:09 [post_content] =>

Do international university students experience the engineering classroom differently from that of their domestic peers? 

To help answer this question, a research team led by UW ECE Professor Denise Wilson and Ziyan Bai, Ph.D. (UW College of Education), in collaboration with graduate students Shruti Misra and Neha Kardam from UW ECE and Morgan Anderson from the UW College of Education, published a paper that provides in-depth analysis in helping to understand such differences in experiential learning perception, both before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. [caption id="attachment_22769" align="alignright" width="582"]UW research team members, clockwise from left to right: Denise Wilson, Ziyan Bai, Morgan Anderson, Neha Kardam, Shruti Misra UW research team members, clockwise from left to right: Denise Wilson, Ziyan Bai, Morgan Anderson, Neha Kardam, Shruti Misra[/caption] The research and accompanying paper were inspired by the overwhelming concerns over the impact of COVID on international students' learning experience in the U.S. and the potential gloomy forecast of future prospective international student applicant pools. Besides logistical and immigration burdens, international students in engineering rely heavily on support from faculty members and teaching assistants (TA) to be successful. This research highlights the important role of faculty and TAs to international students and concludes with promising instructional practices for faculty and TAs to better support international students in engineering. The team’s paper won awards both for Best Diversity Paper and 2nd Best Paper in the New Engineering Educator's Division at the recent 2021 American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) Annual Conference and Exposition. Featuring more than 400 technical sessions and thousands of authors and speakers, the ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition is the only conference dedicated to all disciplines of engineering and engineering technology education, and is the premier event of its kind. The ASEE divisions include best paper and diversity awards, and the fact that the UW team’s paper involved elements of both speaks to the high quality of the work and the importance of their findings. To gather their results, the UW team surveyed over 1,200 students from 19 different UW ECE courses between 2016 and 2020. They investigated three primary questions:
  • Do international students perceive faculty support differently than domestic students?
  • Do international students perceive TA support differently than domestic students?
  • Do international students experience positive emotional engagement in the classroom differently than domestic students?
After the team gathered and began to analyze the results, they were able to make several notable conclusions. First and foremost, the survey data highlights the fact that both faculty support and TA support are equally important for student success, regardless of whether students are engaged in traditional or remote learning.  However, faculty support was more sensitive to self-efficacy (akin to self-confidence within the engineering discipline) for international students than for domestic students, implying that building self-efficacy among international students can help them to make the most out of what faculty provide. International students also generally perceived TA support as being higher than that of U.S. students and their positive emotional engagement (how students feel as they engage in their studies) was also more sensitive to that support.  [caption id="attachment_22775" align="alignleft" width="650"]diagram depicting differences between international student and U.S. student reports of self-efficacy and perceptions of faculty support during COVID. Diagram depicting differences between international student and U.S. student reports of self-efficacy and perceptions of faculty support during COVID.[/caption] Based on the findings of the study, the specifics of how faculty and TAs interact and engage with students in their engineering courses is likely to impact international students more strongly in certain ways than is the case for their domestic peers. These results call for higher education institutions to strive to be more sensitive to international students’ instructional needs, whether involved in traditional, remote, or hybrid learning models.  Administrators, advisers, and instructors alike should try to create opportunities to enhance the engagement of international students in course-based activities. Considering how much international students rely on faculty and TAs, as well as their peers, for academic support, faculty and TAs are encouraged to learn more about international students’ particular needs and stress factors, and also identify and utilize inclusive teaching pedagogical methods. Interestingly, international students often benefited from remote learning. For example, one international student commented during an interview:   “They [the effective teachers] broke things down easily, made themselves available to me with office hours and questions, and I feel like I learned much more during that time. So, I was actually happy with remote learning. In one of my classes, one professor stayed with us for three hours, helping us with the final project because we didn't know what we were doing and I remember learning a lot [during that time]. She made herself available to us, and I don't know how it would've worked out if it hadn’t been remote." And regardless of setting, international students called for faculty and TAs to take the time to understand where they were coming from: "They [the effective teachers] are willing to explore the topic further with me if I have questions that they're not prepared for. If they can't see it my way [at first] they might be like, “Oh, that's a good question,” and then they're willing to change their own ‘flow’ when I am coming from a different perspective, and are willing to go there with me a little." Faculty and TAs are already well-positioned to facilitate better communication with international students and implement several useful strategies. These include clarifying expectations, providing visual and oral support and written notes, and offering more constructive feedback. Faculty and TAs should make a concerted effort to get to know the international students in their classrooms on a personal level and reach out to those students who are not actively participating in classroom activities. 
"Through working and interacting with hundreds of international students each year, I appreciated learning about their unique perspectives and their contribution to the U.S. higher education.” - Ziyan Bai, Ph.D.
[caption id="attachment_22785" align="alignright" width="645"]Female studying with laptop and notebook photo by Zen Chung | Pexels[/caption] To encourage and facilitate international student participation, faculty and TAs can consider giving more time for students to prepare before a discussion, listen actively, and provide opportunities for students to understand the purpose of tasks and assignments. Furthermore, educators in higher ed are encouraged to familiarize themselves with community resources and opportunities for international students to engage outside of classrooms, considering that social connections with the host country increases these students’ overall confidence. “I have always been dedicated to supporting international student success through research and professional work,” said Bai, the paper’s first author. “In the past seven years, through working and interacting with hundreds of international students each year, I appreciated learning about their unique perspectives and their contribution to the U.S. higher education.”  Moving forward, the team plans to continue analyzing the data to understand how different groups, many of which are under-represented in engineering, experience the engineering classroom on a personal level, and are particularly interested in international students and under-represented gender and racial/ethnic groups. For more information, please visit the team’s COVID-19 research website or contact Professor Denise Wilson at denisew@uw.edu or Ziyan Bai at baiziyan@uw.edu.
Ryan Hoover | UW ECE News [post_title] => UW ECE and College of Education collaboration looks at differences in engineering classroom experiences before and during COVID-19 [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => asee_awards_wilson_bai [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2021-08-25 16:45:53 [post_modified_gmt] => 2021-08-25 23:45:53 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.ece.uw.edu/?post_type=spotlight&p=22770 [menu_order] => 3 [post_type] => spotlight [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [3] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 22658 [post_author] => 26 [post_date] => 2021-08-10 10:31:31 [post_date_gmt] => 2021-08-10 17:31:31 [post_content] => Adapted from article by UW Graduate School [caption id="attachment_22656" align="aligncenter" width="895"]Eight UW graduate students received this year’s Distinguished Dissertation and Thesis Awards. Schwock won in the category of Mathematics, Physical Sciences & Engineering for his work on analyzing and predicting ocean ambient noise. Eight UW graduate students received this year’s Distinguished Dissertation and Thesis Awards. Schwock (top left) won in the Thesis category of Mathematics, Physical Sciences & Engineering for his work on analyzing and predicting ocean ambient noise.[/caption] With research ranging from peace journalism in East Africa to structural racism in health care, eight recent graduate students were honored for their outstanding research in their doctoral and master’s studies. The Graduate School’s Distinguished Dissertation and Thesis Awards recognize exceptional scholarship in four categories: biological sciences; humanities & fine arts; mathematics, physical sciences & engineering; and social sciences. Professors who nominated these graduate students noted the advanced nature of their research, pragmatic and scholarly contributions to their field, and the students’ engagement with the academic community through service and mentoring. Awardees will each receive an honorarium of $1,000.

Felix Schwock, Electrical & Computer Engineering

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="294"]Felix Schwock Felix Schwock[/caption]

Thesis: “Statistical Analysis of Wind- and Rain-generated Ocean Ambient Noise in the Northeast Pacific Continental Margin”

Felix Schwock’s thesis unlocks some of the mysteries of the ocean by analyzing the ambient sounds of wind and rain. Light can only penetrate the upper layers of the ocean, which means studying these dark waters has been a notoriously difficult task that requires creativity. That’s why researchers of the ocean often turn to sound to explore and understand this landscape. Sound, and in particular ambient noise, is a powerful tool for studying ocean processes as many contributors such as marine mammals, ships, rain or wind have their own unique acoustic characteristics. Schwock, a Fulbright Scholar from Germany, used 3.5 years of acoustical and meteorological data recorded at the northeast Pacific continental margin to characterize the sound of wind and rain in the ocean. The research brings a recent perspective to the field, as most research in this area has used data collected in the 1950s and 1960s. [caption id="attachment_22657" align="alignleft" width="339"]An underwater hydrophone used to detect and record sounds at the bottom of the ocean. Photo: Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI) An underwater hydrophone used to detect and record sounds at the bottom of the ocean. Photo: Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI)[/caption] The ocean environment has changed significantly since that time, however. Schwock therefore chose to use more recent long-term datasets recorded with large arrays of underwater hydrophones in the northeast Pacific continental margin between 2015 and 2021. This allowed him to perform a comprehensive study of wind- and rain-generated ambient ocean sound using modern signal processing techniques that increases data analysis efficiency while retaining a high degree of accuracy. The results of Schwock’s analysis can serve as a baseline for measuring and estimating wind speed and rain rates over the open ocean, which is important for studying the earth’s climate system. Schwock’s analysis has the potential to contribute to more accurate meteorological forecasts and can also help as a reference for future ambient noise and underwater communication research. “I feel very honored to be a recipient of this award,” said Schwock. “I am grateful for all the support I received along the way from numerous people, most notably professor Shima Abadi, who dedicated so much of her time to provide feedback and guidance during the research and writing process.” [caption id="attachment_22663" align="alignright" width="256"]Shima Abadi Shima Abadi[/caption] Abadi, an adjunct assistant professor at UW ECE whose work includes developing signal processing algorithms for analyzing data collected by large, dynamic, and irregular underwater networks, discussed the impact of Schwock’s research: “Felix performed a comprehensive study of wind- and rain- generated sound in the ocean. What Felix found in his thesis provides a solid foundation for ocean noise prediction. He showed that the ocean ambient noise is strongly site-dependent and found the optimum frequency for ocean noise prediction. He also discovered that underwater noise during rain strongly depends on wind speed, which was not well addressed in literature before.” “In addition to his strong publication record," continued Abadi, "Felix made a significant contribution to his research community by developing a free Python package that helps researchers have easy access to this rich dataset (which had remained unused for several years due to data accessibility issues), perform spectral analysis, and visualize results.”
“This award really encourages me to continue working on fascinating research projects and to make my contribution to the scientific community.” - Felix Schwock
An article co-written by Schwock and Abadi on the topic, “Characterizing underwater noise during rain at the northeast Pacific continental margin” was recently featured as the cover image of the June 2021 edition of the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America (JASA). [caption id="attachment_22675" align="alignleft" width="308"]The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, Vol. 149, June 2021 The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, Vol. 149, June 2021[/caption] The last UW EE graduate student to be awarded the UW Graduate School’s Distinguished Thesis Award was Charles "Pascal" Clark in 2008 — the award’s inaugural year. Advised by ECE Professor Les Atlas, a leader in signal processing research, Clark went on to be recruited by Apple, where he is currently a key contributor to their audio research. Atlas said of Schwock, “Felix would make an excellent faculty candidate after completing his PhD. As faculty positions are very competitive, applicants need to stand out as having special qualities. This award will definitely help Felix get noticed if and when he decides to apply for such a position." When coming to the UW, Schwock said that his initial goal was to find an interesting research project and to spend a large part of his master's degree working on that project. “At that time, I couldn’t have imagined how great this was eventually going to work out,” said Schwock. “This award really encourages me to continue working on fascinating research projects and to make my contribution to the scientific community.” For the remainder of his doctoral studies, Schwock plans to work on Graph Signal Processing (GSP) and machine learning projects with professors Atlas and Abadi, focusing on theoretical work in the field of signal processing. His PhD research assistantship is currently supported by an Office of Naval Research (ONR) project titled, “Large Array Beamforming using Graph Signal Processing,” which is being run by Atlas. Listen to a selection of Schwock's recorded audio samples of wind and rain below. Note that rain noise has a higher pitch than wind noise. This is caused by small raindrops which generate oscillating air bubbles in the water that oscillate at a frequency of around 15kHz. In the first example, the periodic pinging sounds are Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (ADCP) pings, which are removed during post-processing. Congratulations to Schwock and all of these incredible graduate students for their achievements!
Ryan Hoover | UW ECE News [post_title] => UW ECE graduate student Felix Schwock receives Graduate School’s 2021 Distinguished Thesis Award [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => felix-schwock-thesis-award [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2021-08-10 10:31:46 [post_modified_gmt] => 2021-08-10 17:31:46 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.ece.uw.edu/?post_type=spotlight&p=22658 [menu_order] => 4 [post_type] => spotlight [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [4] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 22541 [post_author] => 26 [post_date] => 2021-08-04 09:10:59 [post_date_gmt] => 2021-08-04 16:10:59 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_22547" align="aligncenter" width="752"]Xichen Li and Yi-Hsiang Huang on UW Red Square Xichen Li (left) and Yi-Hsiang Huang (right). Photo: Chris Rudell | UW ECE[/caption] Xichen Li and Yi-Hsiang Huang, graduate students at the UW Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering (UW ECE), have been named winners of the 2021 North America Qualcomm Innovation Fellowship (QIF) for their proposal, “Enhanced Self-Interference Suppression with Phase Noise Cancellation in Full-Duplex Radios.” This research will help in the development of new full-duplex communication methods for devices such as smartphones and laptops that are capable of simultaneously transmitting and receiving data using the same frequency channel. With ever-increasing demand for higher data rates in congested wireless networks, such as the recently introduced 5G standard, Li and Huang's research appears to be a very promising solution to this problem. With its scalable design, the proposal also has potential applications in areas such as autonomous vehicle radar systems, brain-computer interfaces, and a multitude of other smart devices using 5G communications systems. Advised by UW ECE Associate Professors Jacques “Chris” Rudell and Visvesh Sathe, Li and Huang are both members of Rudell’s Future Analog System Technologies (FAST) Lab, which focuses on a broad range of topics related to analog, mixed-signal, radio-frequency (RF) and mm-wave circuits. "I am truly thankful to my teammate, Yi-Hsiang, and our advisers, Chris Rudell and Visvesh Sathe, for their guidance and advice," said Li. "I am excited to work with Qualcomm to explore new circuits and systems solutions to enhance the data rate and spectral efficiency of current and evolving wireless applications in the future research." [caption id="attachment_22576" align="alignright" width="558"]Examples of 5G wireless communications applications Examples of 5G wireless communications applications. Photo courtesy Li and Huang[/caption] Qualcomm created the Qualcomm Innovation Fellowship program in 2009 in an effort to foster innovative, forward-thinking ideas and further research and development of new technological advances while also establishing a forum for Qualcomm to partner and routinely engage with university Ph.D. students. So far, the QIF program has awarded over $5M and continues to grow annually with the addition of more universities and candidates, expanding to Qualcomm’s international research centers as well. View all of the 2021 winners here. "I am delighted to receive the QIF award and grateful to Qualcomm for supporting the project," added Huang. "It is a great opportunity to work closely with Qualcomm's engineers to benefit from their immense experiences for the success of our project. Their support for us is invaluable for our studies, building direct links to real-world problems." The QIF is highly competitive from a total of 170 abstracts submitted among twenty-four universities invited to participate in this year’s North American competition, just sixteen teams were selected as winners. Each winning team will receive a monetary prize for their proposals. Qualcomm also awarded Rudell and Sathe’s group a second grant of $65,000 for a proposal written by Rudell titled, "RF Transceiver Implementation Techniques to Allow Fully-Concurrent TX-RX Adjacent Channel Operation." The proposal is for research also related to the QIF, with the grant money to be used to help fabricate a 28nm chip for mm-Wave 5G applications. Watch a video of Li and Huang explaining the details of their proposal: 
Ryan Hoover | UW ECE News [post_title] => UW ECE graduate students win 2021 North America Qualcomm Innovation Fellowship [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => qif_2021 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2021-08-09 13:26:21 [post_modified_gmt] => 2021-08-09 20:26:21 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.ece.uw.edu/?post_type=spotlight&p=22541 [menu_order] => 6 [post_type] => spotlight [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [5] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 22588 [post_author] => 27 [post_date] => 2021-07-28 11:20:27 [post_date_gmt] => 2021-07-28 18:20:27 [post_content] => By Wayne Gillam | UW ECE News [caption id="attachment_22590" align="alignright" width="550"]HCU illustration A simplified illustration showing a novel computer chip being developed by a multi-institutional research team led by UW ECE faculty members Sajjad Moazeni and Mo Li. The chip is called a “hybrid co-processing unit,” or HCU. The HCU combines traditional electronics with photonics, using light generated by lasers instead of electricity for data processing and phase-change material (a substance similar to what is in CD-ROMs and DVDs) to record information. The computational power of the HCU will be over ten times greater than today’s most advanced silicon-based microprocessors of comparable size. The device promises to greatly accelerate the computing speed and efficiency of artificial intelligence and machine learning applications, while at the same time, reduce energy consumption. Illustration by Seokhyeong Lee, UW[/caption] It might not be commonly known, but artificial intelligence and machine learning applications are commonplace today, performing a multitude of tasks for us behind the scenes. For example, AI and machine learning helps to interpret voice commands given to our phones and devices such as Alexa, recommends movies and music we might enjoy through services such as Netflix and Spotify, and is even driving autonomous vehicles. In the near future, the reach of AI and machine learning applications is expected to extend even further, to more complex tasks such as supporting space missions and defense operations, and developing new drugs to treat disease. But the growing sophistication of AI and machine learning applications, as well as their implementation at such a large scale, demands a need for computing power which roughly doubles every three to four months. That’s much faster than Moore’s law (the observation that the number of transistors in a dense, integrated circuit doubles about every two years). Conventional computing paradigms and hardware platforms are having trouble keeping up. Also, cloud computing data centers used by AI and machine learning applications around the world currently gobble up an estimated 200-terawatt hours per year. That’s more than a small country. It’s easy to see that this energy consumption will come hand-in-hand with serious environmental consequences. To help address these challenges, UW ECE faculty members Sajjad Moazeni and Mo Li are leading a multi-institutional research team that recently received a four-year grant from the National Science Foundation to develop a new type of computer chip that uses laser light for AI and machine learning computation. This chip, called a “hybrid co-processing unit,” or HCU, stands to greatly accelerate the computing speed and efficiency of AI and machine learning applications, while at the same time reducing energy consumption. The computational power of the HCU will be over ten times greater than today’s most advanced silicon-based microprocessors of comparable size. “There is a need to shift the computing paradigm to something new,” said Moazeni, who is lead principal investigator of the project. “One of the most important and distinctive novelties in the work we are doing is that what we are proposing can very tightly get integrated with existing silicon-based microprocessors in today’s data centers. That is something very unique.”

A new, scalable optical computing paradigm

[caption id="attachment_22591" align="alignleft" width="400"]Headshots of HCU research team The research team developing the HCU, top row, left to right: UW ECE Assistant Professor Sajjad Moazeni, UW ECE Professor Mo Li. Bottom row, left to right: Nathan Youngblood, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Pittsburgh, Lei Jiang, an assistant professor of intelligent systems engineering at Indiana University Bloomington[/caption] The HCU combines traditional electronics with photonics, using light generated by lasers instead of electricity for data processing. The device does this by way of an optical computing core that includes phase-change material (a substance similar to what is in CD-ROMs and DVDs) to record information. This computing core can realize an optical neural network on the chip to accelerate computational speed in an ultracompact footprint, storing data on-chip using the phase-change material at essentially zero-power. “The HCU is a single-chip solution that can be integrated with today’s silicon-based microprocessors,” Moazeni said. “We call it ‘hybrid’ because we are co-optimizing the benefits of electronics, photonics and phase-change materials, all within one system.” The project builds on research by Moazeni, who is an expert in large-scale integrated photonics and microelectronics, as well as Li, who has been developing optical computing systems using phase-change materials at UW ECE. According to Moazeni and Li, this is the first time photonics and electronics have been so tightly integrated together in a single chip for the purpose of accelerating AI and machine learning computations. “Optical computing is best for data movement and linear computation, while traditional electronics are really good at digital computation and also implementing nonlinear algorithms, which optical computing cannot easily do,” Li said. “Our strategy combines the best of the two.” Other members of the research team are Nathan Youngblood, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Pittsburgh, and Lei Jiang, an assistant professor of intelligent systems engineering at Indiana University Bloomington. Youngblood will work on designing electrically programmable, high density optical memory arrays for ultrafast optical computation, and Jiang will be focusing on optimizing the device for accelerating emerging AI and machine learning applications.

What’s next?

The research team is working toward combining the phase-change material with microelectronics circuitry at the Washington Nanofabrication Facility. This will be achieved through integrating the phase-change material with an advanced silicon photonic process fabricated at a commercial foundry. The method allows thousands of photonic elements and millions of transistors to be fabricated together in a cost-effective and scalable manner. The team will also be building computer models to simulate every aspect of the device. “We’ll start by modeling and putting together the full end-to-end model of the HCU, model the phase-change material, model the photonics and construct a new, unique framework on which we can simulate all of them together,” Moazeni said. By the end of the NSF grant in 2025, the research team expects to have a working, physical prototype. Then, the group will be poised to manufacture the device in larger quantities and at a scale capable of moving into the marketplace. What does that mean for the rest of us? Eventually, the work promises to translate into quicker response times and improved performance for any computer application that involves AI or machine learning (such as our phones, Alexa, Netflix and Spotify). It also will help make possible a significant reduction in energy consumption, making technology driven by AI and machine learning more environmentally friendly. “This is the first time that we’ll be bringing a non-traditional computing chip into the real world for practical applications, and I’m really excited about that,” Moazeni said. “It’s a realization of Moore’s law, which stated that eventually new materials would need to be brought into chip development in order to increase computing capacity and speed.” “Our technology will improve speed, performance and power consumption,” Li added. “And perhaps most importantly, it will help to put AI computing on a sustainable energy path.” For more information about research described in this article, contact Sajjad Moazeni or Mo Li. [post_title] => Bringing light into computers to accelerate AI and machine learning [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => light-to-accelerate-ai [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2021-07-28 20:02:25 [post_modified_gmt] => 2021-07-29 03:02:25 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.ece.uw.edu/?post_type=spotlight&p=22588 [menu_order] => 7 [post_type] => spotlight [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) ) [_numposts:protected] => 6 [_rendered:protected] => 1 [_classes:protected] => Array ( [0] => view-block [1] => block--spotlight-robust-news ) [_finalHTML:protected] =>
https://www.ece.uw.edu/spotlight/uw-ece-brings-quantum-computing-into-the-real-world/
https://www.ece.uw.edu/spotlight/optoelectronic/
https://www.ece.uw.edu/spotlight/asee_awards_wilson_bai/
https://www.ece.uw.edu/spotlight/felix-schwock-thesis-award/
https://www.ece.uw.edu/spotlight/qif_2021/
https://www.ece.uw.edu/spotlight/light-to-accelerate-ai/
Bringing light into computers to accelerate AI and machine learning

Bringing light into computers to accelerate AI and machine learning

UW ECE faculty members Sajjad Moazeni and Mo Li are leading a multi-institutional research team, which has received a four-year grant from the National Science Foundation to develop a new type of computer chip that uses laser light for AI and machine learning computation.

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These devices use principles of quantum mechanics to make huge leaps forward in solving complex and challenging problems that are well beyond the scope of the fastest supercomputer in existence. For example, optimizing complex algorithms involved in weather forecasting, controlling traffic flow and managing airline flight schedules is theoretically within reach of a full-scale quantum computer. Simulating complex chemistry and molecules involved in drug development and electronic materials discovery could also be enabled by quantum computing. Because of this potential, there is an ongoing, worldwide race to build the first scalable quantum computer. But after several years, the most powerful quantum computer built to date is still well under 300 quantum bits, or ‘qubits.’ To be applicable to problems like what is described above, a quantum computer needs to have the capacity to operate millions of qubits. With this in mind, building a full-scale quantum computer capable of tackling real-world problems is a daunting challenge. A multi-institutional research team led by UW ECE faculty members Mo Li, Arka Majumdar and Karl Böhringer has recently taken on this challenge by participating in the National Science Foundation’s Convergence Accelerator. The focus of this NSF program is to make timely investments in multidisciplinary research that will deliver tangible solutions improving the lives of millions of people. The NSF Convergence Accelerator is investing $50M to advance 10 out of 29 research teams addressing national-scale societal challenges from phase one to phase two of the program. The UW ECE-led team, part of the program’s 2020 cohort, was selected to move on to phase two as one of four teams focusing on quantum technology. “The NSF Convergence Accelerator is a uniquely inspiring program, providing us with an experience that teaches us how to pitch our ideas, build a team and conduct user interviews,” said Li, who is lead principal investigator on the research team. “It helps us to have a fresh view of our original plan, moves us to better manage the project, and most importantly, the program helps us discover new directions, new applications, new stakeholders for our technology.” [caption id="attachment_22910" align="alignleft" width="500"]NSF Convergence Accelerator logo This research is supported by the NSF Convergence Accelerator, which is investing $50M to advance 10 out of 29 research teams addressing national-scale societal challenges from phase one to phase two of the program. The UW ECE-led team, part of the program’s 2020 cohort, was selected to move on to phase two as one of four teams focusing on quantum technology.[/caption] Along with moving into phase two of the program, the research team will receive a $5M, two-year award from the NSF Convergence Accelerator. The award will help the team build on their efforts and achievements from phase one, which were aimed at scaling up the capacity and speed of quantum computers. In phase two, the team will be developing a ‘Photonic Engine Accelerating atomic QUantum Engineering,’ or PEAQUE. The PEAQUE project will address quantum computing scalability by developing a powerful, miniaturized optical control engine that interfaces cold atom qubits with quantum software. The team will also participate in the NSF Convergence Accelerator’s Idea-to-Market curriculum to assist them in further developing solutions and to create a sustainability plan that ensures their efforts will have a positive impact beyond NSF funding. “Miniaturization is a main theme of PEAQUE, but on top of that, we will make more powerful technology to optically control many qubits. We’re not just shrinking things. We are also using new materials and advanced microwave technology to make this possible,” Li said. “We are developing a whole system using devices that we prototyped recently using fundamental physical principles,” Majumdar added. “Going from fundamental physics to application in a short period of time is very exciting.” The PEAQUE project will be a collaboration between academia, industry and government institutions. The research team includes co-investigators Birgitta Whaley, a professor of chemical physics at UC Berkeley and director of the Berkeley Quantum Information & Computing Center, Adam Kauffman, Jun Ye, and Ana Maria Rey from JILA (a joint institute of the University of Colorado Boulder and the National Institute of Standards and Technology), and Ben Bloom and Brian Lester from Atom Computing. Other collaborators include Larry Minjoo Lee from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and Matt Eichenfield from Sandia National Laboratories.

Developing an ‘integrated circuit’ for quantum computing

[caption id="attachment_22904" align="alignright" width="525"]PEAQUE graphic illustration Along with moving into phase two of the program, the research team will receive a $5M, two-year award from the NSF Convergence Accelerator to develop a ‘Photonic Engine Accelerating atomic QUantum Engineering,’ or PEAQUE. The PEAQUE project will address quantum computing scalability by developing a powerful, miniaturized optical control engine that interfaces cold atom qubits with quantum software.[/caption] To some extent, quantum computing is now at a stage that is similar to where classical computing was in the 1950s. It takes a room-sized apparatus and quite a bit of human operation to realize a very limited computing capacity. The tipping point for classical computing was in 1959, when the integrated circuit was invented and patented. This ingenious invention allowed computers to be scaled down in size and up in computing speed and power. Li said that he believes quantum computing is at a similar tipping point, and PEAQUE could be to quantum computing what the integrated circuit was to classical computing. “To build a quantum computer for practical use is an enormous mission to accomplish. It requires solving many challenging technological problems,” Li said. “Scalability is one of the key factors to be able to go beyond a million qubits. Therefore, integrated scalable miniaturized technologies, like PEAQUE, are going to play a critical role.” The research team is designing PEAQUE to support a 1,000-qubit quantum computer. This may sound like a far cry from a million qubits, but it is a size that can show proof of concept. And according to Li, this is an important milestone between where we are now and quantum computers capable of impacting the real world. “Using current technology, it is possible to control 100 qubits. The equipment may be the size of a room, but it is doable,” Li said. “But from 100 to 1,000 qubits it is a very big challenge. And even if you manage to do that, how do you go from 1,000 qubits to one million? For that, you’ll need a technological breakthrough in terms of scalability. That is what we are trying to address.” In order to achieve this miniaturization, one of the main goals of PEAQUE is to reduce the size of the laser beam steering module that is at the core of the optical control system of a cold-atom quantum computer, while at the same time, greatly increase computing capacity and precision. Current laser beam steering modules for quantum computers are roughly the size of a large shoebox, and each module can generate and control 32 laser beams that interact with cold atoms. But at least 2,000 laser beams are needed to support a 1,000-qubit quantum computer. The research team addressed this issue in phase one of the NSF Convergence Accelerator by proposing a chip-scale multi-beam illumination and steering system, or MBIS, which is slated to go into PEAQUE during phase two. The MBIS in PEAQUE will be over a hundred times smaller than state-of-the-art beam systems, and it will be much more powerful. Instead of emitting only 32 laser beams, each MBIS module will be able to emit and steer 100 beams. Equally important, the MBIS emits its laser beams perpendicular to the plane of the module, as opposed to emitting beams from the edges of the device like current technology. What this means is that multiple MBIS modules can be placed next to each other like tiles in a compact, planar array to steer thousands of laser beams all at the same time. To help picture this, imagine an extremely complex laser light show, but one that is projected onto an array of single atoms. “This project is taking a revolutionary new idea all the way to a device for practical applications,” Böhringer said, who in addition to being a UW ECE professor and member of the research team is also director of the Institute for Nano-Engineered Systems. “We are building a truly scalable nano-engineered system.”

Next steps

[caption id="attachment_22906" align="alignright" width="525"]Graphic illustration showing research team collaborations The PEAQUE project will be a collaboration between academia, industry and government institutions. In addition to the University of Washington, the organizations involved include UC Berkeley and the Berkeley Quantum Information & Computing Center, Atom Computing, and JILA (a joint institute of the University of Colorado Boulder and the National Institute of Standards and Technology). Other collaborators include the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and Sandia National Laboratories.[/caption] In phase one of the NSF Convergence Accelerator, the research team proposed the MBIS and successfully fabricated prototype devices, which are currently under testing. They developed a full production process flow and built the electronics system for PEAQUE to contain a large array of atoms. The progress made in phase one put the team on a fast track to demonstrate the first prototype of PEAQUE early on in phase two. The team is planning to establish foundry processes at Sandia National Laboratories to fabricate PEAQUE on eight-inch wafers and mass produce the device. By the end of phase two, the team will deliver a full test kit, including devices, electronics and software, all in one package. They plan to disseminate the test kit and their findings broadly to the academic community and the private sector. “Quantum research and discovery is a priority for the National Science Foundation. Through the NSF’s Convergence Accelerator, teams like PEAQUE are expediting their solutions forward by integrating a convergence research approach to include a wide range of expertise and partnerships from industry, government, non-profits, academia and other communities of practice,” said Douglas Maughan, head of the NSF Convergence Accelerator program. “Today’s scientific priorities and national-scale societal challenges cannot be solved by a single discipline. Instead, the merging of new ideas, techniques, and approaches, plus the Convergence Accelerator’s innovation curriculum, enables teams to speed their research into application. We are excited to welcome PEAQUE into phase two and to assist them in applying our program’s fundamentals to solving this complex scientific challenge. If successful, PEAQUE’s scalable solution will provide a positive impact on society at large.” The success of the team’s project will make room-sized quantum experiments fit into a much smaller, rack-mounted system. Ultimately, PEAQUE will help to realize a full-scale quantum computer capable of solving important and challenging problems such as predicting weather patterns more accurately, speeding development of life-saving drugs and discovering entirely new materials to be used in future technologies. According to Li, PEAQUE will likely find many other important research applications outside of quantum computing as well. Much like the race to put people on the moon spawned new, and unexpected inventions, Li anticipates that the race to build a full-scale quantum computer will do the same. “The research toward building a quantum computer can spawn many innovations in optics, in control mechanisms, in micro-electro-mechanical systems, in packaging, in semiconductor technology,” Li said. “Many of our needs are new and have never been seen before, so the investment by the NSF in this project and the new model of the Convergence Accelerator program can generate many new and innovative ideas.” For more information, read the NSF press release, visit the PEAQUE website, or contact Mo Li, Arka Majumdar, or Karl Böhringer. [post_title] => UW ECE-led team receives $5M award to help bring quantum computing into the real world [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => uw-ece-brings-quantum-computing-into-the-real-world [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2021-09-16 13:09:41 [post_modified_gmt] => 2021-09-16 20:09:41 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.ece.uw.edu/?post_type=spotlight&p=22895 [menu_order] => 1 [post_type] => spotlight [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [1] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 22835 [post_author] => 25 [post_date] => 2021-09-10 15:20:52 [post_date_gmt] => 2021-09-10 22:20:52 [post_content] => Story by James Urton | UW News  The National Science Foundation on Sept. 9 announced it will fund a new endeavor to bring atomic-level precision to the devices and technologies that underpin much of modern life, and will transform fields like information technology in the decades to come. The five-year, $25 million Science and Technology Center grant will fund the Center for Integration of Modern Optoelectronic Materials on Demand — or IMOD — a collaboration of scientists and engineers at 11 universities led by the University of Washington that includes UW ECE Associate Professors Kai-Mei Fu and Arka Mujumdar. IMOD research will center on new semiconductor materials and scalable manufacturing processes for new optoelectronic devices for applications ranging from displays and sensors to a technological revolution, under development today, that’s based on harnessing the principles of quantum mechanics. [caption id="attachment_22838" align="alignright" width="522"] David Ginger at the sample preparation laboratory for atomic force microscopy in the UW’s Molecular Engineering and Sciences Building. Dennis Wise/University of Washington[/caption] “In the early days of electronics, a computer would fill an entire room. Now we all carry around smartphones that are millions of times more powerful in our pockets,” said IMOD director David Ginger, the Alvin L. and Verla R. Kwiram Endowed Professor of Chemistry at the UW, chief scientist at the UW Clean Energy Institute and co-director of NW IMPACT.  “Today, we see an opportunity for advances in materials and scalable manufacturing to do the same thing for optoelectronics: Can we take a quantum optics experiment that fills an entire room, and fit thousands — or even millions  — of them on a chip, enabling a new revolution? Along the way we anticipate IMOD’s science will help with a few more familiar challenges, like improving the display of the cell phone you already have in your pocket so the battery lasts longer.” Optoelectronics is a field that enables much of modern information technology, clean energy, sensing and security. Optoelectronic devices are driven by the interaction of light with electronic materials, typically semiconductors. Devices based on optoelectronics include light-emitting diodes, semiconductor lasers, image sensors and the building blocks of quantum communication and computing technologies such as single-photon sources. Their applications today include sensors, displays and data transmission, and optoelectronics is poised to play a critical role in the development of quantum information systems. But to realize this quantum future, present-day research must develop new materials and new strategies to manufacture them. That’s where IMOD comes in, Ginger said. Building on advances in the synthesis of semiconductor quantum dots and halide perovskites, the center will integrate the work of scientists and engineers from diverse backgrounds, including:
  • Chemists with expertise in atomically precise colloidal synthesis, characterization and theory, which consist of engineered systems of nanoparticles suspended in a medium
  • Materials scientists and mechanical engineers developing methods for the integration, processing and additive manufacturing of semiconductor devices
  • Electrical engineers and physicists who are developing new nanoscale photonic structures and investigating the performance limits of these materials for optical quantum communication and computing
“NSF Science and Technology Centers are integrative not only in the sense that they span traditional academic disciplines, but also in the sense that they seek to benefit society by connecting academic research with industrial and governmental needs, while also educating a diverse STEM workforce,” said Ginger. “To this end, we’re extremely lucky to have had the support of an amazing list of external partners across the fields of industry, government and education.” A partial list of IMOD’s external partners includes companies such as Amazon, Applied Materials, Corning Incorporated, Microsoft, Nanosys and FOM Technologies, Inc.; government organizations like the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the Washington State Department of Commerce; and educational partners including GEAR UP at UW, Catalyst @ Penn GSE and the Center for Education Integrating Science, Mathematics and Computing at Georgia Tech. [caption id="attachment_22837" align="alignleft" width="286"] UW ECE associate professor and IMOD’s associate director of quantum workforce development, Kai-Mei Fu.[/caption] The center will launch a series of mentorship, team science training and internship programs for participants, including students from underrepresented groups in STEM and first-generation students. Center scientists will also work with high school teachers on curriculum development programs aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards and act as “ambassadors” to K-12 students, introducing them to STEM careers. “In partnership with UW QuantumX and the Northwest Quantum Nexus, IMOD is launching a Quantum Training Testbed facility to provide cutting edge training and workforce development opportunities for students from across IMOD’s participating sites and partners,” said Kai-Mei Fu, who is IMOD’s associate director of quantum workforce development. “We’re excited to have such strong support from our partners in the region, allowing us to build on the investments that Washington state has already made in the Washington Clean Energy Testbeds to support workforce training and economic development. For example, Microsoft plans to donate a cryostat that will allow our students to cool samples down to within a few degrees of absolute zero to study phenomena such as quantum spin physics and decoherence, and we have plans to do so much more for our trainees. Right now, we’re asking the question: ‘What is the equipment we wish we had been able to experiment with as students?’” The 11 academic institutions that make up IMOD are the University of Washington; the University of Maryland, College Park; the University of Pennsylvania; Lehigh University; Columbia University; Georgia Institute of Technology; Northwestern University; the City College of New York; the University of Chicago; University of Colorado at Boulder; and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Other UW faculty involved with IMOD include Brandi Cossairt, a UW professor of chemistry; Devin MacKenzie, associate professor of mechanical engineering and of materials science and engineering, and technical director of the Washington Clean Energy Testbeds; and Daniel Gamelin, professor of chemistry and director of the Molecular Engineering Materials Center. Fu and Majumdar co-chair UW Quantum X and are also faculty members with the UW Institute for Nano-Engineered Systems. Ginger, Cossairt, Fu, MacKenzie and Gamelin are member faculty at the Clean Energy Institute. Ginger, Fu, Majumdar and Gamelin are faculty researchers with the UW Molecular Engineering and Sciences Institute. For more information, contact Ginger at dginger@uw.edu. [post_title] => NSF to fund revolutionary center for optoelectronic, quantum technologies [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => optoelectronic [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2021-09-14 16:24:51 [post_modified_gmt] => 2021-09-14 23:24:51 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.ece.uw.edu/?post_type=spotlight&p=22835 [menu_order] => 2 [post_type] => spotlight [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [2] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 22770 [post_author] => 26 [post_date] => 2021-08-25 16:27:09 [post_date_gmt] => 2021-08-25 23:27:09 [post_content] =>

Do international university students experience the engineering classroom differently from that of their domestic peers? 

To help answer this question, a research team led by UW ECE Professor Denise Wilson and Ziyan Bai, Ph.D. (UW College of Education), in collaboration with graduate students Shruti Misra and Neha Kardam from UW ECE and Morgan Anderson from the UW College of Education, published a paper that provides in-depth analysis in helping to understand such differences in experiential learning perception, both before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. [caption id="attachment_22769" align="alignright" width="582"]UW research team members, clockwise from left to right: Denise Wilson, Ziyan Bai, Morgan Anderson, Neha Kardam, Shruti Misra UW research team members, clockwise from left to right: Denise Wilson, Ziyan Bai, Morgan Anderson, Neha Kardam, Shruti Misra[/caption] The research and accompanying paper were inspired by the overwhelming concerns over the impact of COVID on international students' learning experience in the U.S. and the potential gloomy forecast of future prospective international student applicant pools. Besides logistical and immigration burdens, international students in engineering rely heavily on support from faculty members and teaching assistants (TA) to be successful. This research highlights the important role of faculty and TAs to international students and concludes with promising instructional practices for faculty and TAs to better support international students in engineering. The team’s paper won awards both for Best Diversity Paper and 2nd Best Paper in the New Engineering Educator's Division at the recent 2021 American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) Annual Conference and Exposition. Featuring more than 400 technical sessions and thousands of authors and speakers, the ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition is the only conference dedicated to all disciplines of engineering and engineering technology education, and is the premier event of its kind. The ASEE divisions include best paper and diversity awards, and the fact that the UW team’s paper involved elements of both speaks to the high quality of the work and the importance of their findings. To gather their results, the UW team surveyed over 1,200 students from 19 different UW ECE courses between 2016 and 2020. They investigated three primary questions:
  • Do international students perceive faculty support differently than domestic students?
  • Do international students perceive TA support differently than domestic students?
  • Do international students experience positive emotional engagement in the classroom differently than domestic students?
After the team gathered and began to analyze the results, they were able to make several notable conclusions. First and foremost, the survey data highlights the fact that both faculty support and TA support are equally important for student success, regardless of whether students are engaged in traditional or remote learning.  However, faculty support was more sensitive to self-efficacy (akin to self-confidence within the engineering discipline) for international students than for domestic students, implying that building self-efficacy among international students can help them to make the most out of what faculty provide. International students also generally perceived TA support as being higher than that of U.S. students and their positive emotional engagement (how students feel as they engage in their studies) was also more sensitive to that support.  [caption id="attachment_22775" align="alignleft" width="650"]diagram depicting differences between international student and U.S. student reports of self-efficacy and perceptions of faculty support during COVID. Diagram depicting differences between international student and U.S. student reports of self-efficacy and perceptions of faculty support during COVID.[/caption] Based on the findings of the study, the specifics of how faculty and TAs interact and engage with students in their engineering courses is likely to impact international students more strongly in certain ways than is the case for their domestic peers. These results call for higher education institutions to strive to be more sensitive to international students’ instructional needs, whether involved in traditional, remote, or hybrid learning models.  Administrators, advisers, and instructors alike should try to create opportunities to enhance the engagement of international students in course-based activities. Considering how much international students rely on faculty and TAs, as well as their peers, for academic support, faculty and TAs are encouraged to learn more about international students’ particular needs and stress factors, and also identify and utilize inclusive teaching pedagogical methods. Interestingly, international students often benefited from remote learning. For example, one international student commented during an interview:   “They [the effective teachers] broke things down easily, made themselves available to me with office hours and questions, and I feel like I learned much more during that time. So, I was actually happy with remote learning. In one of my classes, one professor stayed with us for three hours, helping us with the final project because we didn't know what we were doing and I remember learning a lot [during that time]. She made herself available to us, and I don't know how it would've worked out if it hadn’t been remote." And regardless of setting, international students called for faculty and TAs to take the time to understand where they were coming from: "They [the effective teachers] are willing to explore the topic further with me if I have questions that they're not prepared for. If they can't see it my way [at first] they might be like, “Oh, that's a good question,” and then they're willing to change their own ‘flow’ when I am coming from a different perspective, and are willing to go there with me a little." Faculty and TAs are already well-positioned to facilitate better communication with international students and implement several useful strategies. These include clarifying expectations, providing visual and oral support and written notes, and offering more constructive feedback. Faculty and TAs should make a concerted effort to get to know the international students in their classrooms on a personal level and reach out to those students who are not actively participating in classroom activities. 
"Through working and interacting with hundreds of international students each year, I appreciated learning about their unique perspectives and their contribution to the U.S. higher education.” - Ziyan Bai, Ph.D.
[caption id="attachment_22785" align="alignright" width="645"]Female studying with laptop and notebook photo by Zen Chung | Pexels[/caption] To encourage and facilitate international student participation, faculty and TAs can consider giving more time for students to prepare before a discussion, listen actively, and provide opportunities for students to understand the purpose of tasks and assignments. Furthermore, educators in higher ed are encouraged to familiarize themselves with community resources and opportunities for international students to engage outside of classrooms, considering that social connections with the host country increases these students’ overall confidence. “I have always been dedicated to supporting international student success through research and professional work,” said Bai, the paper’s first author. “In the past seven years, through working and interacting with hundreds of international students each year, I appreciated learning about their unique perspectives and their contribution to the U.S. higher education.”  Moving forward, the team plans to continue analyzing the data to understand how different groups, many of which are under-represented in engineering, experience the engineering classroom on a personal level, and are particularly interested in international students and under-represented gender and racial/ethnic groups. For more information, please visit the team’s COVID-19 research website or contact Professor Denise Wilson at denisew@uw.edu or Ziyan Bai at baiziyan@uw.edu.
Ryan Hoover | UW ECE News [post_title] => UW ECE and College of Education collaboration looks at differences in engineering classroom experiences before and during COVID-19 [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => asee_awards_wilson_bai [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2021-08-25 16:45:53 [post_modified_gmt] => 2021-08-25 23:45:53 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.ece.uw.edu/?post_type=spotlight&p=22770 [menu_order] => 3 [post_type] => spotlight [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [3] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 22658 [post_author] => 26 [post_date] => 2021-08-10 10:31:31 [post_date_gmt] => 2021-08-10 17:31:31 [post_content] => Adapted from article by UW Graduate School [caption id="attachment_22656" align="aligncenter" width="895"]Eight UW graduate students received this year’s Distinguished Dissertation and Thesis Awards. Schwock won in the category of Mathematics, Physical Sciences & Engineering for his work on analyzing and predicting ocean ambient noise. Eight UW graduate students received this year’s Distinguished Dissertation and Thesis Awards. Schwock (top left) won in the Thesis category of Mathematics, Physical Sciences & Engineering for his work on analyzing and predicting ocean ambient noise.[/caption] With research ranging from peace journalism in East Africa to structural racism in health care, eight recent graduate students were honored for their outstanding research in their doctoral and master’s studies. The Graduate School’s Distinguished Dissertation and Thesis Awards recognize exceptional scholarship in four categories: biological sciences; humanities & fine arts; mathematics, physical sciences & engineering; and social sciences. Professors who nominated these graduate students noted the advanced nature of their research, pragmatic and scholarly contributions to their field, and the students’ engagement with the academic community through service and mentoring. Awardees will each receive an honorarium of $1,000.

Felix Schwock, Electrical & Computer Engineering

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="294"]Felix Schwock Felix Schwock[/caption]

Thesis: “Statistical Analysis of Wind- and Rain-generated Ocean Ambient Noise in the Northeast Pacific Continental Margin”

Felix Schwock’s thesis unlocks some of the mysteries of the ocean by analyzing the ambient sounds of wind and rain. Light can only penetrate the upper layers of the ocean, which means studying these dark waters has been a notoriously difficult task that requires creativity. That’s why researchers of the ocean often turn to sound to explore and understand this landscape. Sound, and in particular ambient noise, is a powerful tool for studying ocean processes as many contributors such as marine mammals, ships, rain or wind have their own unique acoustic characteristics. Schwock, a Fulbright Scholar from Germany, used 3.5 years of acoustical and meteorological data recorded at the northeast Pacific continental margin to characterize the sound of wind and rain in the ocean. The research brings a recent perspective to the field, as most research in this area has used data collected in the 1950s and 1960s. [caption id="attachment_22657" align="alignleft" width="339"]An underwater hydrophone used to detect and record sounds at the bottom of the ocean. Photo: Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI) An underwater hydrophone used to detect and record sounds at the bottom of the ocean. Photo: Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI)[/caption] The ocean environment has changed significantly since that time, however. Schwock therefore chose to use more recent long-term datasets recorded with large arrays of underwater hydrophones in the northeast Pacific continental margin between 2015 and 2021. This allowed him to perform a comprehensive study of wind- and rain-generated ambient ocean sound using modern signal processing techniques that increases data analysis efficiency while retaining a high degree of accuracy. The results of Schwock’s analysis can serve as a baseline for measuring and estimating wind speed and rain rates over the open ocean, which is important for studying the earth’s climate system. Schwock’s analysis has the potential to contribute to more accurate meteorological forecasts and can also help as a reference for future ambient noise and underwater communication research. “I feel very honored to be a recipient of this award,” said Schwock. “I am grateful for all the support I received along the way from numerous people, most notably professor Shima Abadi, who dedicated so much of her time to provide feedback and guidance during the research and writing process.” [caption id="attachment_22663" align="alignright" width="256"]Shima Abadi Shima Abadi[/caption] Abadi, an adjunct assistant professor at UW ECE whose work includes developing signal processing algorithms for analyzing data collected by large, dynamic, and irregular underwater networks, discussed the impact of Schwock’s research: “Felix performed a comprehensive study of wind- and rain- generated sound in the ocean. What Felix found in his thesis provides a solid foundation for ocean noise prediction. He showed that the ocean ambient noise is strongly site-dependent and found the optimum frequency for ocean noise prediction. He also discovered that underwater noise during rain strongly depends on wind speed, which was not well addressed in literature before.” “In addition to his strong publication record," continued Abadi, "Felix made a significant contribution to his research community by developing a free Python package that helps researchers have easy access to this rich dataset (which had remained unused for several years due to data accessibility issues), perform spectral analysis, and visualize results.”
“This award really encourages me to continue working on fascinating research projects and to make my contribution to the scientific community.” - Felix Schwock
An article co-written by Schwock and Abadi on the topic, “Characterizing underwater noise during rain at the northeast Pacific continental margin” was recently featured as the cover image of the June 2021 edition of the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America (JASA). [caption id="attachment_22675" align="alignleft" width="308"]The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, Vol. 149, June 2021 The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, Vol. 149, June 2021[/caption] The last UW EE graduate student to be awarded the UW Graduate School’s Distinguished Thesis Award was Charles "Pascal" Clark in 2008 — the award’s inaugural year. Advised by ECE Professor Les Atlas, a leader in signal processing research, Clark went on to be recruited by Apple, where he is currently a key contributor to their audio research. Atlas said of Schwock, “Felix would make an excellent faculty candidate after completing his PhD. As faculty positions are very competitive, applicants need to stand out as having special qualities. This award will definitely help Felix get noticed if and when he decides to apply for such a position." When coming to the UW, Schwock said that his initial goal was to find an interesting research project and to spend a large part of his master's degree working on that project. “At that time, I couldn’t have imagined how great this was eventually going to work out,” said Schwock. “This award really encourages me to continue working on fascinating research projects and to make my contribution to the scientific community.” For the remainder of his doctoral studies, Schwock plans to work on Graph Signal Processing (GSP) and machine learning projects with professors Atlas and Abadi, focusing on theoretical work in the field of signal processing. His PhD research assistantship is currently supported by an Office of Naval Research (ONR) project titled, “Large Array Beamforming using Graph Signal Processing,” which is being run by Atlas. Listen to a selection of Schwock's recorded audio samples of wind and rain below. Note that rain noise has a higher pitch than wind noise. This is caused by small raindrops which generate oscillating air bubbles in the water that oscillate at a frequency of around 15kHz. In the first example, the periodic pinging sounds are Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (ADCP) pings, which are removed during post-processing. Congratulations to Schwock and all of these incredible graduate students for their achievements!
Ryan Hoover | UW ECE News [post_title] => UW ECE graduate student Felix Schwock receives Graduate School’s 2021 Distinguished Thesis Award [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => felix-schwock-thesis-award [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2021-08-10 10:31:46 [post_modified_gmt] => 2021-08-10 17:31:46 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.ece.uw.edu/?post_type=spotlight&p=22658 [menu_order] => 4 [post_type] => spotlight [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [4] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 22541 [post_author] => 26 [post_date] => 2021-08-04 09:10:59 [post_date_gmt] => 2021-08-04 16:10:59 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_22547" align="aligncenter" width="752"]Xichen Li and Yi-Hsiang Huang on UW Red Square Xichen Li (left) and Yi-Hsiang Huang (right). Photo: Chris Rudell | UW ECE[/caption] Xichen Li and Yi-Hsiang Huang, graduate students at the UW Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering (UW ECE), have been named winners of the 2021 North America Qualcomm Innovation Fellowship (QIF) for their proposal, “Enhanced Self-Interference Suppression with Phase Noise Cancellation in Full-Duplex Radios.” This research will help in the development of new full-duplex communication methods for devices such as smartphones and laptops that are capable of simultaneously transmitting and receiving data using the same frequency channel. With ever-increasing demand for higher data rates in congested wireless networks, such as the recently introduced 5G standard, Li and Huang's research appears to be a very promising solution to this problem. With its scalable design, the proposal also has potential applications in areas such as autonomous vehicle radar systems, brain-computer interfaces, and a multitude of other smart devices using 5G communications systems. Advised by UW ECE Associate Professors Jacques “Chris” Rudell and Visvesh Sathe, Li and Huang are both members of Rudell’s Future Analog System Technologies (FAST) Lab, which focuses on a broad range of topics related to analog, mixed-signal, radio-frequency (RF) and mm-wave circuits. "I am truly thankful to my teammate, Yi-Hsiang, and our advisers, Chris Rudell and Visvesh Sathe, for their guidance and advice," said Li. "I am excited to work with Qualcomm to explore new circuits and systems solutions to enhance the data rate and spectral efficiency of current and evolving wireless applications in the future research." [caption id="attachment_22576" align="alignright" width="558"]Examples of 5G wireless communications applications Examples of 5G wireless communications applications. Photo courtesy Li and Huang[/caption] Qualcomm created the Qualcomm Innovation Fellowship program in 2009 in an effort to foster innovative, forward-thinking ideas and further research and development of new technological advances while also establishing a forum for Qualcomm to partner and routinely engage with university Ph.D. students. So far, the QIF program has awarded over $5M and continues to grow annually with the addition of more universities and candidates, expanding to Qualcomm’s international research centers as well. View all of the 2021 winners here. "I am delighted to receive the QIF award and grateful to Qualcomm for supporting the project," added Huang. "It is a great opportunity to work closely with Qualcomm's engineers to benefit from their immense experiences for the success of our project. Their support for us is invaluable for our studies, building direct links to real-world problems." The QIF is highly competitive from a total of 170 abstracts submitted among twenty-four universities invited to participate in this year’s North American competition, just sixteen teams were selected as winners. Each winning team will receive a monetary prize for their proposals. Qualcomm also awarded Rudell and Sathe’s group a second grant of $65,000 for a proposal written by Rudell titled, "RF Transceiver Implementation Techniques to Allow Fully-Concurrent TX-RX Adjacent Channel Operation." The proposal is for research also related to the QIF, with the grant money to be used to help fabricate a 28nm chip for mm-Wave 5G applications. Watch a video of Li and Huang explaining the details of their proposal: 
Ryan Hoover | UW ECE News [post_title] => UW ECE graduate students win 2021 North America Qualcomm Innovation Fellowship [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => qif_2021 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2021-08-09 13:26:21 [post_modified_gmt] => 2021-08-09 20:26:21 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.ece.uw.edu/?post_type=spotlight&p=22541 [menu_order] => 6 [post_type] => spotlight [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [5] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 22588 [post_author] => 27 [post_date] => 2021-07-28 11:20:27 [post_date_gmt] => 2021-07-28 18:20:27 [post_content] => By Wayne Gillam | UW ECE News [caption id="attachment_22590" align="alignright" width="550"]HCU illustration A simplified illustration showing a novel computer chip being developed by a multi-institutional research team led by UW ECE faculty members Sajjad Moazeni and Mo Li. The chip is called a “hybrid co-processing unit,” or HCU. The HCU combines traditional electronics with photonics, using light generated by lasers instead of electricity for data processing and phase-change material (a substance similar to what is in CD-ROMs and DVDs) to record information. The computational power of the HCU will be over ten times greater than today’s most advanced silicon-based microprocessors of comparable size. The device promises to greatly accelerate the computing speed and efficiency of artificial intelligence and machine learning applications, while at the same time, reduce energy consumption. Illustration by Seokhyeong Lee, UW[/caption] It might not be commonly known, but artificial intelligence and machine learning applications are commonplace today, performing a multitude of tasks for us behind the scenes. For example, AI and machine learning helps to interpret voice commands given to our phones and devices such as Alexa, recommends movies and music we might enjoy through services such as Netflix and Spotify, and is even driving autonomous vehicles. In the near future, the reach of AI and machine learning applications is expected to extend even further, to more complex tasks such as supporting space missions and defense operations, and developing new drugs to treat disease. But the growing sophistication of AI and machine learning applications, as well as their implementation at such a large scale, demands a need for computing power which roughly doubles every three to four months. That’s much faster than Moore’s law (the observation that the number of transistors in a dense, integrated circuit doubles about every two years). Conventional computing paradigms and hardware platforms are having trouble keeping up. Also, cloud computing data centers used by AI and machine learning applications around the world currently gobble up an estimated 200-terawatt hours per year. That’s more than a small country. It’s easy to see that this energy consumption will come hand-in-hand with serious environmental consequences. To help address these challenges, UW ECE faculty members Sajjad Moazeni and Mo Li are leading a multi-institutional research team that recently received a four-year grant from the National Science Foundation to develop a new type of computer chip that uses laser light for AI and machine learning computation. This chip, called a “hybrid co-processing unit,” or HCU, stands to greatly accelerate the computing speed and efficiency of AI and machine learning applications, while at the same time reducing energy consumption. The computational power of the HCU will be over ten times greater than today’s most advanced silicon-based microprocessors of comparable size. “There is a need to shift the computing paradigm to something new,” said Moazeni, who is lead principal investigator of the project. “One of the most important and distinctive novelties in the work we are doing is that what we are proposing can very tightly get integrated with existing silicon-based microprocessors in today’s data centers. That is something very unique.”

A new, scalable optical computing paradigm

[caption id="attachment_22591" align="alignleft" width="400"]Headshots of HCU research team The research team developing the HCU, top row, left to right: UW ECE Assistant Professor Sajjad Moazeni, UW ECE Professor Mo Li. Bottom row, left to right: Nathan Youngblood, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Pittsburgh, Lei Jiang, an assistant professor of intelligent systems engineering at Indiana University Bloomington[/caption] The HCU combines traditional electronics with photonics, using light generated by lasers instead of electricity for data processing. The device does this by way of an optical computing core that includes phase-change material (a substance similar to what is in CD-ROMs and DVDs) to record information. This computing core can realize an optical neural network on the chip to accelerate computational speed in an ultracompact footprint, storing data on-chip using the phase-change material at essentially zero-power. “The HCU is a single-chip solution that can be integrated with today’s silicon-based microprocessors,” Moazeni said. “We call it ‘hybrid’ because we are co-optimizing the benefits of electronics, photonics and phase-change materials, all within one system.” The project builds on research by Moazeni, who is an expert in large-scale integrated photonics and microelectronics, as well as Li, who has been developing optical computing systems using phase-change materials at UW ECE. According to Moazeni and Li, this is the first time photonics and electronics have been so tightly integrated together in a single chip for the purpose of accelerating AI and machine learning computations. “Optical computing is best for data movement and linear computation, while traditional electronics are really good at digital computation and also implementing nonlinear algorithms, which optical computing cannot easily do,” Li said. “Our strategy combines the best of the two.” Other members of the research team are Nathan Youngblood, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Pittsburgh, and Lei Jiang, an assistant professor of intelligent systems engineering at Indiana University Bloomington. Youngblood will work on designing electrically programmable, high density optical memory arrays for ultrafast optical computation, and Jiang will be focusing on optimizing the device for accelerating emerging AI and machine learning applications.

What’s next?

The research team is working toward combining the phase-change material with microelectronics circuitry at the Washington Nanofabrication Facility. This will be achieved through integrating the phase-change material with an advanced silicon photonic process fabricated at a commercial foundry. The method allows thousands of photonic elements and millions of transistors to be fabricated together in a cost-effective and scalable manner. The team will also be building computer models to simulate every aspect of the device. “We’ll start by modeling and putting together the full end-to-end model of the HCU, model the phase-change material, model the photonics and construct a new, unique framework on which we can simulate all of them together,” Moazeni said. By the end of the NSF grant in 2025, the research team expects to have a working, physical prototype. Then, the group will be poised to manufacture the device in larger quantities and at a scale capable of moving into the marketplace. What does that mean for the rest of us? Eventually, the work promises to translate into quicker response times and improved performance for any computer application that involves AI or machine learning (such as our phones, Alexa, Netflix and Spotify). It also will help make possible a significant reduction in energy consumption, making technology driven by AI and machine learning more environmentally friendly. “This is the first time that we’ll be bringing a non-traditional computing chip into the real world for practical applications, and I’m really excited about that,” Moazeni said. “It’s a realization of Moore’s law, which stated that eventually new materials would need to be brought into chip development in order to increase computing capacity and speed.” “Our technology will improve speed, performance and power consumption,” Li added. “And perhaps most importantly, it will help to put AI computing on a sustainable energy path.” For more information about research described in this article, contact Sajjad Moazeni or Mo Li. [post_title] => Bringing light into computers to accelerate AI and machine learning [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => light-to-accelerate-ai [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2021-07-28 20:02:25 [post_modified_gmt] => 2021-07-29 03:02:25 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.ece.uw.edu/?post_type=spotlight&p=22588 [menu_order] => 7 [post_type] => spotlight [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) ) [post_count] => 6 [current_post] => -1 [in_the_loop] => [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 22895 [post_author] => 27 [post_date] => 2021-09-16 13:09:41 [post_date_gmt] => 2021-09-16 20:09:41 [post_content] => By Wayne Gillam | UW ECE News [caption id="attachment_22899" align="alignright" width="625"]Mo Li, Arka Majumdar, Karl Böhringer headshots in front of an abstract illustration A multi-institutional research team led by UW ECE faculty members Mo Li, Arka Majumdar and Karl Böhringer is developing a powerful, miniaturized optical control engine, called PEAQUE, which will greatly increase capacity and speed of quantum computers.[/caption] Quantum computers could be a game changer. These devices use principles of quantum mechanics to make huge leaps forward in solving complex and challenging problems that are well beyond the scope of the fastest supercomputer in existence. For example, optimizing complex algorithms involved in weather forecasting, controlling traffic flow and managing airline flight schedules is theoretically within reach of a full-scale quantum computer. Simulating complex chemistry and molecules involved in drug development and electronic materials discovery could also be enabled by quantum computing. Because of this potential, there is an ongoing, worldwide race to build the first scalable quantum computer. But after several years, the most powerful quantum computer built to date is still well under 300 quantum bits, or ‘qubits.’ To be applicable to problems like what is described above, a quantum computer needs to have the capacity to operate millions of qubits. With this in mind, building a full-scale quantum computer capable of tackling real-world problems is a daunting challenge. A multi-institutional research team led by UW ECE faculty members Mo Li, Arka Majumdar and Karl Böhringer has recently taken on this challenge by participating in the National Science Foundation’s Convergence Accelerator. The focus of this NSF program is to make timely investments in multidisciplinary research that will deliver tangible solutions improving the lives of millions of people. The NSF Convergence Accelerator is investing $50M to advance 10 out of 29 research teams addressing national-scale societal challenges from phase one to phase two of the program. The UW ECE-led team, part of the program’s 2020 cohort, was selected to move on to phase two as one of four teams focusing on quantum technology. “The NSF Convergence Accelerator is a uniquely inspiring program, providing us with an experience that teaches us how to pitch our ideas, build a team and conduct user interviews,” said Li, who is lead principal investigator on the research team. “It helps us to have a fresh view of our original plan, moves us to better manage the project, and most importantly, the program helps us discover new directions, new applications, new stakeholders for our technology.” [caption id="attachment_22910" align="alignleft" width="500"]NSF Convergence Accelerator logo This research is supported by the NSF Convergence Accelerator, which is investing $50M to advance 10 out of 29 research teams addressing national-scale societal challenges from phase one to phase two of the program. The UW ECE-led team, part of the program’s 2020 cohort, was selected to move on to phase two as one of four teams focusing on quantum technology.[/caption] Along with moving into phase two of the program, the research team will receive a $5M, two-year award from the NSF Convergence Accelerator. The award will help the team build on their efforts and achievements from phase one, which were aimed at scaling up the capacity and speed of quantum computers. In phase two, the team will be developing a ‘Photonic Engine Accelerating atomic QUantum Engineering,’ or PEAQUE. The PEAQUE project will address quantum computing scalability by developing a powerful, miniaturized optical control engine that interfaces cold atom qubits with quantum software. The team will also participate in the NSF Convergence Accelerator’s Idea-to-Market curriculum to assist them in further developing solutions and to create a sustainability plan that ensures their efforts will have a positive impact beyond NSF funding. “Miniaturization is a main theme of PEAQUE, but on top of that, we will make more powerful technology to optically control many qubits. We’re not just shrinking things. We are also using new materials and advanced microwave technology to make this possible,” Li said. “We are developing a whole system using devices that we prototyped recently using fundamental physical principles,” Majumdar added. “Going from fundamental physics to application in a short period of time is very exciting.” The PEAQUE project will be a collaboration between academia, industry and government institutions. The research team includes co-investigators Birgitta Whaley, a professor of chemical physics at UC Berkeley and director of the Berkeley Quantum Information & Computing Center, Adam Kauffman, Jun Ye, and Ana Maria Rey from JILA (a joint institute of the University of Colorado Boulder and the National Institute of Standards and Technology), and Ben Bloom and Brian Lester from Atom Computing. Other collaborators include Larry Minjoo Lee from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and Matt Eichenfield from Sandia National Laboratories.

Developing an ‘integrated circuit’ for quantum computing

[caption id="attachment_22904" align="alignright" width="525"]PEAQUE graphic illustration Along with moving into phase two of the program, the research team will receive a $5M, two-year award from the NSF Convergence Accelerator to develop a ‘Photonic Engine Accelerating atomic QUantum Engineering,’ or PEAQUE. The PEAQUE project will address quantum computing scalability by developing a powerful, miniaturized optical control engine that interfaces cold atom qubits with quantum software.[/caption] To some extent, quantum computing is now at a stage that is similar to where classical computing was in the 1950s. It takes a room-sized apparatus and quite a bit of human operation to realize a very limited computing capacity. The tipping point for classical computing was in 1959, when the integrated circuit was invented and patented. This ingenious invention allowed computers to be scaled down in size and up in computing speed and power. Li said that he believes quantum computing is at a similar tipping point, and PEAQUE could be to quantum computing what the integrated circuit was to classical computing. “To build a quantum computer for practical use is an enormous mission to accomplish. It requires solving many challenging technological problems,” Li said. “Scalability is one of the key factors to be able to go beyond a million qubits. Therefore, integrated scalable miniaturized technologies, like PEAQUE, are going to play a critical role.” The research team is designing PEAQUE to support a 1,000-qubit quantum computer. This may sound like a far cry from a million qubits, but it is a size that can show proof of concept. And according to Li, this is an important milestone between where we are now and quantum computers capable of impacting the real world. “Using current technology, it is possible to control 100 qubits. The equipment may be the size of a room, but it is doable,” Li said. “But from 100 to 1,000 qubits it is a very big challenge. And even if you manage to do that, how do you go from 1,000 qubits to one million? For that, you’ll need a technological breakthrough in terms of scalability. That is what we are trying to address.” In order to achieve this miniaturization, one of the main goals of PEAQUE is to reduce the size of the laser beam steering module that is at the core of the optical control system of a cold-atom quantum computer, while at the same time, greatly increase computing capacity and precision. Current laser beam steering modules for quantum computers are roughly the size of a large shoebox, and each module can generate and control 32 laser beams that interact with cold atoms. But at least 2,000 laser beams are needed to support a 1,000-qubit quantum computer. The research team addressed this issue in phase one of the NSF Convergence Accelerator by proposing a chip-scale multi-beam illumination and steering system, or MBIS, which is slated to go into PEAQUE during phase two. The MBIS in PEAQUE will be over a hundred times smaller than state-of-the-art beam systems, and it will be much more powerful. Instead of emitting only 32 laser beams, each MBIS module will be able to emit and steer 100 beams. Equally important, the MBIS emits its laser beams perpendicular to the plane of the module, as opposed to emitting beams from the edges of the device like current technology. What this means is that multiple MBIS modules can be placed next to each other like tiles in a compact, planar array to steer thousands of laser beams all at the same time. To help picture this, imagine an extremely complex laser light show, but one that is projected onto an array of single atoms. “This project is taking a revolutionary new idea all the way to a device for practical applications,” Böhringer said, who in addition to being a UW ECE professor and member of the research team is also director of the Institute for Nano-Engineered Systems. “We are building a truly scalable nano-engineered system.”

Next steps

[caption id="attachment_22906" align="alignright" width="525"]Graphic illustration showing research team collaborations The PEAQUE project will be a collaboration between academia, industry and government institutions. In addition to the University of Washington, the organizations involved include UC Berkeley and the Berkeley Quantum Information & Computing Center, Atom Computing, and JILA (a joint institute of the University of Colorado Boulder and the National Institute of Standards and Technology). Other collaborators include the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and Sandia National Laboratories.[/caption] In phase one of the NSF Convergence Accelerator, the research team proposed the MBIS and successfully fabricated prototype devices, which are currently under testing. They developed a full production process flow and built the electronics system for PEAQUE to contain a large array of atoms. The progress made in phase one put the team on a fast track to demonstrate the first prototype of PEAQUE early on in phase two. The team is planning to establish foundry processes at Sandia National Laboratories to fabricate PEAQUE on eight-inch wafers and mass produce the device. By the end of phase two, the team will deliver a full test kit, including devices, electronics and software, all in one package. They plan to disseminate the test kit and their findings broadly to the academic community and the private sector. “Quantum research and discovery is a priority for the National Science Foundation. Through the NSF’s Convergence Accelerator, teams like PEAQUE are expediting their solutions forward by integrating a convergence research approach to include a wide range of expertise and partnerships from industry, government, non-profits, academia and other communities of practice,” said Douglas Maughan, head of the NSF Convergence Accelerator program. “Today’s scientific priorities and national-scale societal challenges cannot be solved by a single discipline. Instead, the merging of new ideas, techniques, and approaches, plus the Convergence Accelerator’s innovation curriculum, enables teams to speed their research into application. We are excited to welcome PEAQUE into phase two and to assist them in applying our program’s fundamentals to solving this complex scientific challenge. If successful, PEAQUE’s scalable solution will provide a positive impact on society at large.” The success of the team’s project will make room-sized quantum experiments fit into a much smaller, rack-mounted system. Ultimately, PEAQUE will help to realize a full-scale quantum computer capable of solving important and challenging problems such as predicting weather patterns more accurately, speeding development of life-saving drugs and discovering entirely new materials to be used in future technologies. According to Li, PEAQUE will likely find many other important research applications outside of quantum computing as well. Much like the race to put people on the moon spawned new, and unexpected inventions, Li anticipates that the race to build a full-scale quantum computer will do the same. “The research toward building a quantum computer can spawn many innovations in optics, in control mechanisms, in micro-electro-mechanical systems, in packaging, in semiconductor technology,” Li said. “Many of our needs are new and have never been seen before, so the investment by the NSF in this project and the new model of the Convergence Accelerator program can generate many new and innovative ideas.” For more information, read the NSF press release, visit the PEAQUE website, or contact Mo Li, Arka Majumdar, or Karl Böhringer. 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