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UW ECE Launches New BSECE Degree Program

UW ECE labs host undergraduate students studying neurotechnology, providing a hands-on research experience

This summer, UW ECE labs are hosting five outstanding undergraduate students from across the country who are learning about neurotechnology through immersive research experiences, courses and workshops.

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Q&A: New children’s book shows how natural world inspired inventor to create medieval robots

UW ECE master's student Qishi Zhou is co-author of “Robots and Other Amazing Gadgets Invented 800 Years Ago," a children's book about Ismail Al-Jazari, the "father of robotics."

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Daniel Kirschen named editor in chief of IEEE Transactions on Energy Markets, Policy and Regulation

Daniel Kirschen is an IEEE Fellow and the Donald W. and Ruth Mary Close Endowed Professor in Electrical Engineering at UW ECE. He is known internationally for his power and energy system research.

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Next-generation data centers within reach thanks to new energy-efficient switches

UW ECE Associate Professor Arka Majumdar (left) and UW ECE fourth-year doctoral student Zhuoran (Roger) Fang (right) are leading a multi-institutional research team that has developed energy-efficient switches for the next generation of data centers.

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Professor Denise Wilson's new book and course on sexual harassment in engineering seek to disrupt culture of silence

UW ECE Professor Denise Wilson is co-author of “Sex, Gender, and Engineering: Harassment at Work and in School.” Wilson will teach a course to go along with the book next spring.

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Azadeh Yazdan awarded AHA funding for innovative stroke treatment

UW ECE Assistant Professor Azadeh Yazdan has earned the American Heart Association (AHA) Career Development Award with a promising approach to drive brain repair and recovery following a stroke.

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News + Events

https://www.ece.uw.edu/spotlight/cnt-reu-at-uwece/
https://www.ece.uw.edu/spotlight/kirschen-ieee/
https://www.ece.uw.edu/spotlight/medieval-robots-childrens-book/
https://www.ece.uw.edu/spotlight/wilson-dei/
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                    [post_content] => By Wayne Gillam | UW ECE News

[caption id="attachment_27867" align="alignright" width="600"]View through microscope of circuitry being adjusted A look through a microscope at circuitry being developed in the lab of UW ECE Professor Chet Moritz, who is co-director of the Center for Neurotechnology. UW ECE has partnered with the Center’s Research Experience for Undergraduates summer program for over a decade, hosting outstanding students from across the country in UW ECE labs. Photo by Mark Stone / Center for Neurotechnology[/caption]

This summer, UW ECE labs are hosting five outstanding undergraduate students from across the country who are learning about neurotechnology through immersive research experiences, interactive courses and workshops. The students are part of a larger cohort placed at labs across the UW campus to take part in the Research Experience for Undergraduates through the Center for Neurotechnology. This 10-week summer program is funded by the National Science Foundation and facilitated by the Center, which is co-directed by UW ECE faculty members Rajesh Rao and Chet Moritz.

“UW ECE has a rich history of partnering with the Center for Neurotechnology to mentor students from around the country each summer for the last 11 years,” said Moritz, who is a C.J. and Elizabeth Hwang Professor at UW ECE. “ECE faculty and graduate students provide outstanding hands-on research experience to these diverse students. Many students in the REU program have gone on to Ph.D. graduate programs here at the UW and at other top schools around the country.”

The REU program provides exceptional students with opportunities to work in the labs of scientists and engineers who are internationally recognized in their respective fields. This year, the program has 10 participants, who were selected from over 180 students that applied. At UW ECE, students have been placed in Moritz’ lab and with UW ECE faculty members Sam Burden, Jeffrey Herron, Amy Orsborn and Azadeh Yazdan, who are all Center affiliates well known for their work in neural engineering. REU participants are assigned research projects to complete over the summer with guidance and mentoring by faculty and graduate students in the lab.

In addition to working in research labs, students take part in scientific communication classes and attend workshops focused on industry applications and neuroethics, which is the study of ethical issues involved in neurotechnology. This training, along with the lab research experience, is designed to provide the students with a solid foundation for graduate study, one that can introduce them to new academic and career paths and provide a glimpse of the road ahead.

“I’ve never been exposed to engineering research beyond the undergraduate level,” said Annika Pfister, an REU participant in Burden’s lab who is a rising senior at Wellesley College in Massachusetts. “This program allowed me to get to know grad students and really get a feel for what grad school might be like, and that solidified my decision about what career I’d like to pursue. Broadly speaking, I’d like to stay in academia and potentially end up becoming an engineering professor doing research in a university setting.

Research in the lab

[caption id="attachment_27869" align="alignright" width="500"]Annika Pfister sitting at a desk, working on a computer Annika Pfister, an REU participant who is a rising senior at Wellesley College in Massachusetts, is participating in research this summer in the lab of UW ECE Assistant Professor Sam Burden. Photo by Eric Chudler / Center for Neurotechnology[/caption] Pfister said she was thrilled to learn upon acceptance into the program that she would be placed in Burden’s lab. Burden is a UW ECE assistant professor and the Department’s associate chair for diversity, equity and inclusion. He is also co-director of the AMP Lab at the UW, which seeks to ‘amplify’ human and robotic movement and performance in the interest of designing treatment strategies and assistive technologies that can improve people’s lives. His work focuses on applications in robotics, neural engineering and human-cyber-physical systems. “Annika is an outstanding researcher who has excelled in the lab, bringing curiosity, creativity and brilliance to experiments with human subjects. She participates fully in the intellectual and social community in my group and in the REU program,” Burden said. “Back at Wellesley, Annika is studying neuroscience, but this liberal arts college doesn’t have an engineering program. The REU program gives fantastic students like Annika access to research opportunities that are unavailable in their undergraduate institutions. I am confident this summer experience will open doors for her in graduate school and beyond. In Burden’s lab, Pfister was mentored by UW ECE graduate students Maneeshika Madduri and Amber Chou. Pfister was assigned her own research project, which was a subset of experimental work being conducted by Madduri. Pfister’s role in the course of several experiments conducted with research subjects was to monitor and adjust a decoding device that reads electromyographic (electrical muscle) signals from the surface of the skin. This device translates these signals into visual outputs on a screen, enabling the user to control a cursor with their forearm muscles while attempting to follow a visual target on screen. [caption id="attachment_27873" align="alignright" width="500"]Sam Burden sitting and smiling in a meeting UW ECE Assistant Professor and Associate Chair for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Sam Burden. Burden’s research work focuses on applications in robotics, neural engineering and human-cyber-physical systems. Photo by Mark Stone / University of Washington[/caption] “My part of this project is involved with an aspect of the decoder called the ‘adaptation rate,’” Pfister said. “Previously, it was set to a fixed number. My goal this summer is to figure out whether having the adaptation rate be dynamic and change over the course of the experiment helps with overall task performance and user learning.” Pfister will present her findings, along with other participants in the REU program, at the CNT Summer Undergraduate Research Symposium, which will be held August 17 in the Bill & Melinda Gates Center for Computer Science & Engineering. “The CNT Summer Undergraduate Research Symposium provides REU students with the opportunity to showcase their work to the local neuroscience and neural engineering research communities,” said Eric Chudler, who is the Center’s executive and education director and principal investigator of the REU program grant. “These talks and poster presentations help prepare the students for their attendance at future scientific meetings and conventions.”

A pathway to graduate school

By participating in this program and mentoring students who have shown a keen interest in neurotechnology, UW ECE and its CNT-affiliated faculty and graduate students are helping to prepare the next generation of neural engineers. And according to Chudler, it’s not uncommon for these students to later return to the UW or its affiliated institutions as graduate students pursuing careers in neurotechnology. For Pfister, she said that she found this research experience enjoyable and useful for forming her future academic and career goals. And the mentorship she received at UW ECE through the REU program appears to have made a lasting impact. “My research experience this summer has been invaluable to getting a feel for how day-to-day research would work,” Pfister said. “In terms of the program, it has been really great for me, helping me to think about how I want to engage with the scientific community going forward. If I am at grad school, whether it is at conferences or in presentations, I’ll be thinking about how to best present my work. I’ll also be thinking critically about what impacts my work is going to have, making sure that it’s going to be useful and able to help people.” For more information about the Research Experience for Undergraduates program, visit the Center for Neurotechnology website. [post_title] => UW ECE labs host undergraduate students studying neurotechnology, providing a hands-on research experience [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => cnt-reu-at-uwece [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2022-08-15 09:30:48 [post_modified_gmt] => 2022-08-15 16:30:48 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.ece.uw.edu/?post_type=spotlight&p=27862 [menu_order] => 4 [post_type] => spotlight [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [1] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27687 [post_author] => 27 [post_date] => 2022-07-28 09:40:24 [post_date_gmt] => 2022-07-28 16:40:24 [post_content] => By Wayne Gillam | UW ECE News [caption id="attachment_27708" align="alignright" width="588"]Professor Daniel Kirschen Daniel Kirschen is an IEEE Fellow and the Donald W. and Ruth Mary Close Endowed Professor in Electrical Engineering at UW ECE. He is known internationally for his power and energy system research. Photo by Ryan Hoover / UW ECE[/caption] UW ECE Professor Daniel Kirschen was recently named editor in chief of IEEE Transactions on Energy Markets, Policy and Regulation. This new publication, launching July 2022, is a peer-reviewed journal containing articles that cover complex topics and issues at the intersection of power systems engineering, energy policy and market regulation. The journal will promote a move toward renewable sources of energy, and it will seek to drive investment in resilient, sustainable energy systems that consider all stakeholders’ needs. Kirschen, who is an IEEE Fellow and the Donald W. and Ruth Mary Close Endowed Professor in Electrical Engineering at UW ECE, is known internationally for his power and energy system research. He is also well known for co-authoring “Fundamentals of Power System Economics,” a textbook that is considered essential reading for university students and practicing engineers. “In that book, I was trying to explain economics to engineers, so they could make the electricity markets work better,” Kirschen said. “I was also explaining a bit of the engineering to economists, so they could understand what physical limitations might be imposed on the design of markets. I saw this opportunity at IEEE as a continuation of the work that I already do.” Kirschen will serve as editor in chief of the publication for five years. He said that he hopes the journal will serve as a place where engineers, economists and policy makers can exchange ideas in ways that move existing power and energy systems toward more resilient and sustainable frameworks.

Sustainable energy systems and power grid resilience

Kirschen is part of the Clean Energy Institute at the UW, and his research at UW ECE has two main focal points. One is developing methods to integrate more renewable energy into the nation’s existing electrical power grid. The other is finding ways to ensure the resilience of the grid during natural disasters. Kirschen is an international leader in these research areas and is often sought after by experts in the field and members of the media for his insight. His research, and that of many others who will be publishing in the IEEE journal, is aimed in large part at decarbonizing the economy — using less energy from fossil fuels and more from renewable sources. This is work that is vitally important to reducing the worldwide impact of climate change. Decarbonizing will involve electrifying large sectors of the economy, including transportation, heating and cooling systems, and industrial processes. This increased electrification means that electricity demand in the future will spike upwards, putting extra pressure on existing power grids. Managing this sharp, upward trend in electricity demand will require smart planning and cooperation between engineers, those establishing energy policy and energy market regulators. “We will need to have good energy policies in place to handle future electricity demand,” Kirschen said. “Good policies rely on strong markets and appropriate regulation, so economically efficient solutions can be found through the invisible hand of the market. All of this must be supported by solid engineering.”

An international background and a dedicated educator

[caption id="attachment_27695" align="alignleft" width="525"] Kirschen with a group of undergraduate students, touring the inner workings of the Cushman Hydro Dam. Photo courtesy of Daniel Kirschen[/caption] Kirschen was born and raised in Brussels, Belgium. Following in his brother’s footsteps, he earned his electrical engineering degree from the University of Brussels. He later earned his doctoral degree at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and went on to hold professional positions at Control Data Corporation and Siemens. In 1994, he returned to academia at the University of Manchester, where he served as a professor and head of the University’s Electrical Energy and Power Systems Research Group. In 2011, he made a leap back across the pond to UW ECE, where he teaches and continues his research today. Over the years, he has received many national and international honors for his work, including recently being named a 2022 Fellow of the Chinese Society for Electrical Engineering. At UW ECE, Kirschen has built a reputation for his strong teaching skills and dedication to his students. He seeks ways to provide hands-on and interactive learning experiences such as field trips. And his students excel, earning prestigious fellowships and going on to successful careers in academia, government and the private sector. Kirschen said that he looked forward to how his new position with IEEE will help to enrich the educational experience he offers. “I really enjoy teaching and sharing what I’ve learned with students,” Kirschen said. “I enjoy students interacting, asking lots of questions and having the opportunity to help increase their understanding.” He continued, “The thing about power systems is that they have a lot of different parts that all must work together. Helping students understand how these various parts work together efficiently, in a stable and reliable way, that’s what I really enjoy. Learn more about Daniel Kirschen on his UW ECE webpage. [post_title] => Daniel Kirschen named editor in chief of IEEE Transactions on Energy Markets, Policy and Regulation [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => kirschen-ieee [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2022-07-28 10:45:23 [post_modified_gmt] => 2022-07-28 17:45:23 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.ece.uw.edu/?post_type=spotlight&p=27687 [menu_order] => 6 [post_type] => spotlight [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [2] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27636 [post_author] => 36 [post_date] => 2022-08-04 11:33:26 [post_date_gmt] => 2022-08-04 18:33:26 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_27637" align="alignright" width="562"]Book cover on wood background “Robots and Other Amazing Gadgets Invented 800 Years Ago,” a children’s book by the UW’s Faisal Hossain and Qishi Zhou, shares the inventions of Ismail Al-Jazari, a 12th-century polymath considered by many to be the “father of robotics.”[/caption] Adapted from an article by Misty Shock Rule, UW News Digital technology shapes how many children today interact with the world. The COVID-19 pandemic intensified this wired existence, with everything from school to playdates taking place online. With this in mind, Faisal Hossain, a hydrologist and University of Washington professor of civil and environmental engineering, and Qishi Zhou, a UW master’s student in electrical and computer engineering, set out to show children how technological breakthroughs predated the internet and were inspired by the natural world. In their children’s book “Robots and Other Amazing Gadgets Invented 800 Years Ago,” illustrated by Hatice Sena Balkan, Hossain and Zhou write about the work of Ismail Al-Jazari, a 12th-century polymath considered by many to be the “father of robotics.” The book, published by Mascot Books, explores the origins of eight of Al-Jazari’s inventions, including a four-cycle gear system, a blood measurement device, an elephant-shaped water clock and a robot that helps wash and dry hands. A few years ago, Hossain discovered Al-Jazari’s work, “The Book of Knowledge of Ingenious Mechanical Devices.” Hossain was amazed by the inventions and robots in the book and was eager to learn more. Around the same time, Hossain met Zhou as part of the College of Engineering’s industry capstone program, where they worked with teammates to create a remote-controlled culvert inspection vehicle called the HydroCUB. Hossain and Zhou worked together well and decided to collaborate on sharing a medieval story relevant to children today. Hossain answered questions from UW News about the book. What’s the most important thing you want kids to get from the book? We want them to know that the real world, outside of the digital world where they might be spending most of their time, can be a fascinating and wonderful place. The natural world is a laboratory that can show them how water works and moves. A pioneer of modern-day robotics invented robots by borrowing principles from the real world. That’s the message we want our kids to take: Spend more time outside watching and learning from nature and less time with computers. What’s your favorite invention in the book? I like the one about the robot that automatically dispenses water to clean and perform ablution, or washing. While the user is cleaning themselves, the robot plays a flute-like sound, which was also an invention, and then hands the user a towel. Every sequence of the task is timed and organized. Can you share more about how you came to work with Zhou on this book? When I met Qishi Zhou, I found we partnered really well on water issues, combining my understanding of the needs of the water community — the broad community that works on water issues for research, industry, policy, planning and utilities — with the expertise available from the electrical and electronics engineering design community to solve real-world problems. The partnership was based on the development of robots and gadgets to solve societal problems, improve quality of life and address societal needs. This was almost like a microcosm of what Ismail Al-Jazari did 800 years ago when he used automation to create tools to improve quality of life. How does your interest in Al-Jazari relate to your expertise as a hydrologist? I became interested in Al-Jazari because he used water as a core concept to drive the automation architecture of his devices using simple concepts of hydrostatic pressure and water flow laws. As a hydrologist, this is what we also study and use, but it never dawned on me that such concepts could be used to drive automation and even build robots when there was no electricity. It just drove home the concept that water is as powerful and relevant as today’s electronics, computers and information technology. This thought makes me feel quite proud as a hydrologist. Outside of your work as a hydrologist, you specialize in filmmaking and the communication of science. What do you think is most effective at sharing the wonder of science with kids? I don’t think there is one perfect or single way. But I do think there has to be a great story that will get kids hooked and want to know more. Often, that’s a story that kids can relate to, based on their personal experiences — so a story that humanizes the topic and is of a broad and uncommon perspective, with fun action that appears counterintuitive or is against mainstream thinking. [post_title] => Q&A: New children’s book shows how natural world inspired inventor to create medieval robots [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => medieval-robots-childrens-book [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2022-08-04 11:33:26 [post_modified_gmt] => 2022-08-04 18:33:26 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.ece.uw.edu/?post_type=spotlight&p=27636 [menu_order] => 7 [post_type] => spotlight [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [3] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27534 [post_author] => 27 [post_date] => 2022-07-19 16:55:46 [post_date_gmt] => 2022-07-19 23:55:46 [post_content] => By Misty Shock Rule | UW News [caption id="attachment_27535" align="alignright" width="600"]Denise Wilson headshot UW ECE Professor Denise Wilson and her colleague Jennifer VanAntwerp of Calvin University are co-authors of “Sex, Gender, and Engineering: Harassment at Work and in School.” Wilson will teach a course to go along with the book next spring. Photo by Dennis Wise / University of Washington[/caption] Denise Wilson, a University of Washington professor of electrical and computer engineering, has experienced sexual harassment and assault in the male-dominated field of engineering. In her early days as an undergraduate, she was expected to meet male students’ sexual needs. In graduate school, she was subjected to sexist comments, and in her academic and industry career, she faced inappropriate physical contact in the field and at academic conferences. “I thought things had changed,” Wilson said. “But then I still hear similar stories from women today.” Wilson is working to end the prevalence of sexual harassment in engineering. She and her colleague Jennifer VanAntwerp of Calvin University are co-authors of “Sex, Gender, and Engineering: Harassment at Work and in School,” published in April by Cambridge Scholars Publishing. In addition, Wilson will be teaching a department-level class, EE397, to go along with the book in spring 2023. “There are huge holes to understanding what’s going on in the workplace,” Wilson said. “The book and the course are about raising student awareness and helping them understand how to strategize toward a better work environment no matter where they are in the hierarchy.” The book starts by setting the groundwork for why sexual harassment is wrong, describing its legal aspects and the harmful effects on victims. It then examines the groups impacted and what harassment looks like in the university and the workplace, before moving on to contemporary factors, such as COVID-19, U.S. presidents, and social movements like #MeToo and Black Lives Matter. It concludes by looking at solutions for tackling harassment, with a focus on civility training and other strategies that positively motivate people to do better and intervene if they see harassment occur. This book isn’t a traditional textbook. It uses anecdotes to help connect students with the experience of sexual harassment. “In the culture of engineering, there’s a lot of pressure to not speak about difficulty,” Wilson said. “If you’re a good engineer and you’re underrepresented, you tough it out. How do we overcome that? I think it’s only by talking about it and by telling stories, along with the data.” Wilson said there is an unwritten rule about harassment in engineering to just “shut up and deal with it.” This message is conveyed not only by the male-dominant majority but also by those who have advanced in the field while quietly enduring abuse. This tendency to keep things quiet explains why things haven’t changed, even as gender representation in engineering has diversified, she said.  
“There are huge holes to understanding what’s going on in the workplace. The book and the course are about raising student awareness and helping them understand how to strategize toward a better work environment no matter where they are in the hierarchy.” — UW ECE Professor Denise Wilson
  Karen Thomas-Brown, the associate dean of diversity, equity and inclusion in the UW College of Engineering, said Wilson’s and VanAntwerp’s book is effective for “undergraduate students who may have never experienced harassment or heard about the law. Students are going to be able to say, ‘Oh, so this is not just a bunch of women saying you shouldn’t do this to us. There are laws.’” Thomas-Brown — who, as the lead of the college’s Office of Inclusive Excellence, plans to use a deliberate, data-driven approach to create change “top-down and inside-out” — is creating a suite of required college-level DEI courses, including a general course on diversity in society, a course on race, and a course on justice, equity, diversity and inclusion in engineering. A fourth course — on sex, gender and harassment, paired with Wilson’s and VanAntwerp’s book — will be added to the suite. Next spring’s department-level course will serve as a pilot, assessing what holes there might be in the book or course before rolling it out to the entire college. Wilson is hopeful about the potential for change in engineering. “Most people I know in this field — they want a good culture,” she said. “There’s a lot of kindness in engineering that is often hidden under our norms and our image. And I think that we should capitalize on that kindness and concern for society to build a better future internally.” She wants to create the change for her field that she’s undergone herself. Wilson has come a long way from the young woman who kept quiet about the harassment she experienced. “I cannot emphasize enough how I’ve changed in the process of writing this book,” she said. “It’s much harder to shut me up. I’m much more outspoken. I am more willing to be culturally uncomfortable. I learned the only way I’m going to do my best and contribute to change is just to be who I am and speak. I have learned to keep speaking even when there’s silence on the other end.” [post_title] => Professor Denise Wilson's new book and course on sexual harassment in engineering seek to disrupt culture of silence [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => wilson-dei [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2022-07-19 16:55:46 [post_modified_gmt] => 2022-07-19 23:55:46 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.ece.uw.edu/?post_type=spotlight&p=27534 [menu_order] => 8 [post_type] => spotlight [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [4] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27463 [post_author] => 36 [post_date] => 2022-07-25 12:41:49 [post_date_gmt] => 2022-07-25 19:41:49 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_27570" align="alignright" width="562"]Photo of Arka Majumdar on the left side and Zhuoran (Roger) Fang on the right UW ECE Associate Professor Arka Majumdar (left) and fourth-year doctoral student Zhuoran (Roger) Fang (right), alongside UW ECE graduate students Rui Chen, Jiajiu Zheng, and Abhi Saxena (not pictured), are leading a multi-institutional research team that has developed energy-efficient switches for the next generation of data centers. Arka Majumdar photo by Ryan Hoover / UW ECE. Photo courtesy of Zhuoran (Roger) Fang.[/caption] Adapted from an article by Renske Dyedov, UW NanoES Data centers, dedicated spaces for storing, processing and disseminating data, enable everything from cloud computing to video streaming. In the process, they consume a large amount of energy transferring data back and forth inside the center. With demand for data growing exponentially, there is increasing pressure for data centers to become more energy-efficient. Data centers house servers, high-powered computers that talk to each other through interconnects, physical connections that allow for the exchange of data. One way to reduce energy consumption in data centers is to use light to communicate information with electrically controlled optical switches controlling the flow of light, and therefore information, between servers. These optical switches need to be multi-functional and energy-efficient to support the continued expansion of data centers. In a paper published online July 4 in Nature Nanotechnology, a team led by University of Washington scientists reported the design of an energy-efficient, silicon-based non-volatile switch that manipulates light through the use of a phase-change material and graphene heater. “This platform really pushes the limits of energy efficiency,” said corresponding author Arka Majumdar, a UW associate professor of electrical and computer engineering and physics, and faculty member at the UW Institute for Nano-Engineered Systems and the Institute for Molecular & Engineering Sciences. “Compared with what is currently being used in data centers to control photonic circuits, this technology would greatly reduce the energy needs of data centers, making them more sustainable and environmentally friendly.” Silicon photonic switches are widely used in part because they can be made using well-established semiconductor fabrication techniques. Traditionally, these switches have been tuned through thermal effect, a process where heat is applied, often by passing a current through a metal or semiconductor, to change the optical properties of a material in the switch, thus changing the path of the light. However, not only is this process not energy-efficient, but the changes it induces are not permanent. As soon as the current is removed, the material reverts to its previous state and the connection – and flow of information – is broken. [caption id="attachment_27464" align="alignleft" width="546"]Rendering of a dark blue phase-change segment and a honeycomb lattice heater. An artistic rendering of a silicon-based switch that manipulates light through the use of phase-change material (dark blue segment) and graphene heater (honeycomb lattice). Image courtesy of Zhuoran (Roger) Fang.[/caption] To address this, the team, which includes researchers from Stanford University, Charles Stark Draper Laboratory, University of Maryland and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, created a “set and forget” switch capable of maintaining the connection without any additional energy. They used a phase-change material that is nonvolatile, meaning the material is transformed by briefly heating it, and it remains in that state until it receives another heat pulse, at which point it reverts back to its original state. This eliminates the need to constantly input energy to maintain the desired state. Previously, researchers have used doped silicon to heat the phase-change material. Silicon alone doesn’t conduct electricity, but when selectively doped with different elements like phosphorus or boron, silicon is able to both conduct electricity and propagate light without any excess absorption. When a current is pumped through the doped silicon, it can act like a heater to switch the state of the phase-change material on top of it. The catch is that this is also not a very energy-efficient process. The amount of energy needed to switch the phase-change material is similar to the amount of energy used by traditional thermo-optic switches. This is because the entire 220 nanometer (nm) thick doped silicon layer has to be heated to transform only 10 nm of phase-change material. A lot of energy is wasted heating such a large volume of silicon to switch a much smaller volume of phase-change material. “We realized we had to figure out how to reduce the volume that needed to be heated in order to boost the efficiency of the switches,” said lead and co-corresponding author Zhuoran (Roger) Fang, a UW ECE fourth-year doctoral student in electrical and computer engineering. One approach would be to make a thinner silicon film, but silicon doesn’t propagate light well if it is thinner than 200 nm. So instead, they used an un-doped 220 nm silicon layer to propagate light and introduced a layer of graphene between the silicon and phase-change material to conduct electricity. Like metal, graphene is an excellent conductor of electricity, but unlike metal, it is atomically thin – it consists of just a single layer of carbon atoms arranged in a two-dimensional honeycomb lattice. This design eliminates wasted energy by directing all heat generated by the graphene to go towards changing the phase-change material. In fact, the switching energy density (which is calculated by taking the switching energy divided by the volume of the material being switched) of this setup is only 8.7 attojoules (aJ)/nm3, a 70-fold reduction compared to the widely used doped silicon heaters, the current state-of-the-art. This is also within one order of magnitude of the fundamental limit of switching energy density (1.2 aJ/nm3).  
“Compared with what is currently being used in data centers to control photonic circuits, this technology would greatly reduce the energy needs of data centers, making them more sustainable and environmentally friendly.” – UW ECE Associate Professor Arka Majumdar  
Even though using graphene to conduct electricity induces some optical losses, meaning some light is absorbed, graphene is so thin that not only are the losses minimal, but the phase-change material can still interact with the light propagating in the silicon layer. The team established that a graphene-based heater can reliably switch the state of the phase-change material more than 1,000 cycles. This is a notable improvement over the doped silicon heaters, which have only been shown to have an endurance of around 500 cycles. “Even 1,000 is not enough,” said Majumdar. “Practically speaking, we need about a billion cycles endurance, which we are currently working on.” Now that they have demonstrated that light can be controlled using a phase-change material and graphene heater, the team plans to show that these switches can be used for optical routing of information through a network of devices, a key step towards establishing their use in data centers. They are also interested in applying this technology to silicon nitride for routing single photons for quantum computing. “The ability to be able to tune the optical properties of a material with just an atomically thin heater is a game-changer,” said Majumdar. “The exceptional performance of our system in terms of energy efficiency and reliability is really unheard of and could help advance both information technology and quantum computing.” Additional co-authors include UW electrical and computer engineering students Rui Chen, Jiajiu Zheng and Abhi Saxena; Asir Intisar Khan, Kathryn Neilson, Michelle Chen and Eric Pop from Stanford University; Sarah Geiger, Dennis Callahan and Michael Moebius from the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory; Carlos Rios from the University of Maryland; and Juejun Hu from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. This research was funded by National Science Foundation, DARPA, ONR, Draper Labs and Intel Labs.
For more information, contact Majumdar at arka@uw.edu.
[post_title] => Next-generation data centers within reach thanks to new energy-efficient switches [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => energy-efficient-switches [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2022-07-26 11:36:55 [post_modified_gmt] => 2022-07-26 18:36:55 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.ece.uw.edu/?post_type=spotlight&p=27463 [menu_order] => 9 [post_type] => spotlight [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [5] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27387 [post_author] => 27 [post_date] => 2022-07-11 11:19:37 [post_date_gmt] => 2022-07-11 18:19:37 [post_content] => Article adapted from content provided by May Lim Photos by Ryan Hoover [caption id="attachment_27392" align="alignright" width="575"]2022 UW ECE Award nominees and recipients in a group, standing outside the UW ECE building, making the "W" in "UW" with their hands UW ECE Professor and Chair Eric Klavins having a bit of fun with award nominees and recipients at the 2022 UW ECE Awards’ event social. Here, the group is trying (not always successfully) to make the ‘W’ in ‘UW’ with their hands. Pictured from left to right: (top row) Director of Academic Services Stephanie Swanson, Associate Teaching Professor Tai-Chang Chen, doctoral student Devon Griggs (front row) Professor Eve Riskin, Director of Professional Academic Programs May Lim, Professor and Chair Eric Klavins, recent graduate Zerina Kapetanovic, Undergraduate Program Coordinator Chris Overly.[/caption] Each year, UW ECE holds an award ceremony to honor students, faculty, and staff for their outstanding contributions to the Department. Award recipients represent exceptional achievements; embody UW ECE core values such as leadership, mentorship, collaboration, and teamwork; and foster greater diversity, equity, and inclusion. This year’s UW ECE Awards ceremony and social was held June 2 from 4 to 6 p.m. in the Paul G. Allen Center Atrium. The event was hosted by UW ECE Professor and Chair Eric Klavins. “I’d like to congratulate all award recipients and nominees,” Klavins said at the award ceremony. “You help to make UW ECE an exceptional Department, and we are lucky to have you!” It was also the first year for a new honor, the Outstanding Mentorship Award in Electrical and Computer Engineering. This award recognizes any member of the UW ECE community whose exemplary mentoring and advising activities made important contributions in building a supportive culture in the Department. Read on to learn more about this year’s award recipients.    

Outstanding Teaching Award

[caption id="attachment_27396" align="alignleft" width="425"]UW ECE Associate Teaching Professor Tai-Chang Chen standing next to UW ECE Professor and Chair Eric Klavins Associate Teaching Professor Tai-Chang Chen (left) with Professor and Chair Eric Klavins (right)[/caption]

Tai-Chang Chen

UW ECE Associate Teaching Professor Tai-Chang Chen received several enthusiastic student nominations for this award, which recognizes a faculty member who demonstrates outstanding teaching abilities. Students spoke of Chen’s exceptional teaching skills, his inspiring character, his care for student learning, and his humor and personality. According to his students, Chen provides exemplary mentorship and exhibits creative approaches to teaching, with a clear commitment to student success. One of Chen’s nominators shared, “He truly cares about the longevity of an ECE student’s passion for a subject. It is inspiring to learn from a person who is so invested in a student’s experiences in the classroom, and I am reinspired every time I walk into one of his lectures.”    

Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award

Jimin Kim

Kim stood out as the top contender for this award, which is in recognition of a student who demonstrates an outstanding contribution to teaching. The award was presented by UW ECE Associate Professor Payman Arabshahi, who is the Department’s associate chair of education and industry liaison. Arabshahi noted that Kim’s work has been notable as a teaching assistant, pre-doctoral instructor, and course development teaching assistant both in electrical and computer engineering and in physics. Nominators spoke of Kim’s passion for teaching and education, his ability to create meaningful and effective lab materials and assignments, and his deep concern for student success. A nominator for Kim stated, “His presentations are elegant, instructions are clear and his approach to students is highly engaging. Jimin has established a great reputation as a mentor and teacher to students. He is devoted to fostering in the students strong scientific knowledge and reasoning, with emphasis on understanding the process of problem solving. With this type of teaching, students believe in their ability to succeed in the class.”    

Yang Research Award

[caption id="attachment_27403" align="alignleft" width="425"]Recent UW ECE graduate and Yang Research Award recipient Zerina Kapetanovic standing next to UW ECE Professor and Chair Eric Klavins Yang Research Award recipient Zerina Kapetanovic (left) with Professor and Chair Eric Klavins (right)[/caption]

Zerina Kapetanovic

The Yang Research Award recognizes a UW ECE doctoral student in their final year of study who has conducted outstanding research in the field of electrical and computer engineering, as evidenced by their publications or recognition by outside researchers in their field. This year, three outstanding doctoral students were finalists for the award: Devon Griggs, Zerina Kapetanovic and Yue Sun. These three finalists presented their research to a faculty panel, who selected Kapetanovic as the recipient of this year’s award. The award was presented by Milton and Delia Zeutschel Professor in Entrepreneurial Excellence Joshua Smith, who was Kapetanovic’s faculty adviser at UW ECE. Smith noted that while a member of his group, Kapetanovic was an extremely productive doctoral student while maintaining a separate, but complementary, research identity at Microsoft in their FarmBeats project. Kapetanovic’s most recent work in low-power communication methods, “Communication by Means of Modulated Johnson Noise,” demonstrated for the first time the possibility of communicating by modulating the thermal noise that occurs naturally in an unpowered resistor at room temperature. Kapetanovic will be starting as a tenure-track assistant professor in Stanford’s electrical engineering department next year. One of her nominators shared, “I believe this groundbreaking work presents a novel approach to communication, with the potential for significant real-world impact in areas such as implanted medical devices and digital agriculture. I think that Zerina’s Ph.D. research will be remembered for many years as extremely innovative and impactful.”    

Outstanding Mentorship Award in Electrical and Computer Engineering

[caption id="attachment_27410" align="alignleft" width="425"]UW ECE Outstanding Mentorship Award in Electrical and Computer Engineering award recipients May Lim (left) and Eve Riskin (right) with UW ECE Professor and Chair Eric Klavins (center) Director of Professional Student Programs May Lim (left) and Professor Eve Riskin (right) with Professor and Chair Eric Klavins (center)[/caption] As mentioned above, this inaugural award, made possible by a generous endowment from a donor, recognizes any member of the UW ECE community whose exemplary mentoring and advising activities made important contributions toward building a supportive culture in the Department. This year, there were two award recipients representing the impact our faculty and staff have on students. The award was presented by UW ECE Assistant Professor Sam Burden, who is the Department’s associate chair for diversity, equity, and inclusion.

May Lim

As Director of Professional Student Programs at UW ECE, May Lim develops strategy, travels around the world to sell the program to prospective students, sets the teaching schedule and advocates for program participants. Burden noted that she has also served as the PMP student adviser for the last six years. One of Lim’s nominators stated, “I usually do not talk to my adviser a lot unless I need advice about taking courses or anything on the administrative level. She is the first adviser I met that I really want to talk with and be friends with. Along with my two-year master’s life, she has always been the person encouraging me and endorsing me. Without her help, I would not have been able to receive the graduate staff assistant position, and I would not have been brave enough to apply for my Ph.D.”

Eve Riskin

Eve Riskin’s nominators spoke of her impactful research, her excellence in teaching and curriculum innovation, and most of all, her long history of advocacy and mentorship. During her time at the UW, Riskin has brought her passion to the goal of bringing more underrepresented students and faculty into STEM careers. She has served as the associate dean of diversity and access in the UW College of Engineering, the faculty director of the UW ADVANCE program and as the creator of the STARS program at the UW. Her nominators discussed Riskin’s extraordinary impact not only within the UW and UW ECE but also across the United States. One nominator shared, “She has changed the lives of undergraduate students, graduate students, and faculty members who without her mentorship would likely have suffered, but with her mentorship have thrived. Eve is a force of nature.”    

Vikram Jandhyala and Suja Vaidyanathan Endowed Innovation Award

Francisco Luquin Monroy

This award recognizes a UW ECE undergraduate or graduate student who has demonstrated entrepreneurial potential. It was presented by Milton and Delia Zeutschel Professor in Entrepreneurial Excellence Joshua Smith. Smith noted that Monroy’s graduate thesis research was on developing a computer-assisted stoma management visualization system. Monroy's adviser for this work was UW ECE Associate Teaching Professor Rania Hussein. Monroy is in the process of commercializing his project, and he has led a team through the 2021 UW National Science Foundation I-Corps Site Program, placed third in the GIX Innovation Competition and has advanced in the Dempsey Startup Competition. Additionally, Monroy is committed to equitable access to biomedical devices and has been building partnerships with insurance companies to provide coverage for his product. A nominator for Monroy shared, “Francisco works tirelessly on all aspects of the project, which shows very solid steps towards commercialization. He is a business-savvy student, who combines a strong technical background with solid entrepreneurial skills and who also provides an excellent leadership model to his team.”    

Student Impact Award

Nivii Kalavakonda

This award recognizes a student who shows an exemplary commitment to UW ECE and whose service has made a lasting impact in the Department. Kalavakonda is a doctoral student and graduate staff assistant with the UW ECE graduate advising team. The award was presented by UW ECE Director of Academic Services Stephanie Swanson, who noted that Kalavakonda, in her GSA role, has sought to decrease barriers and make the admissions process more accessible to first generation and underrepresented students. Kalavakonda created the UW ECE Graduate Applicant Support Program and Virtual Graduate Student Office Hours, where current doctoral and postdoctoral students provide information and mentorship to prospective students. She has also played a key role in diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives in the Department, working closely with Sam Burden on collecting data and co-leading Department-wide DEI meetings and town halls. As one of Kalavakonda’s nominator’s shared, “Nivii is someone who seeks to improve the world around her. She leaves a positive impact in the choices she makes and the things that she chooses to do. We are so lucky to have her!”    

Chair’s Outstanding Collaboration / Teamwork Award

[caption id="attachment_27412" align="alignleft" width="425"]Chris Overly, Stephanie Swanson, Eric Klavins and Ryan Hoover standing together outside of the UW ECE building From left to right, Undergraduate Program Coordinator Chris Overly, Director of Academic Services Stephanie Swanson, Professor and Chair Eric Klavins, Public Information Specialist Ryan Hoover (not pictured, Lead Academic Counselor for Undergraduate Programs Katherine Sykes and Public Information Specialist Wayne Gillam)[/caption]

Stephanie Swanson, Chris Overly, Katherine Sykes, Wayne Gillam, Ryan Hoover

This award recognizes exemplary collaborative work, and this year it went to members of the UW ECE Curriculum Reinvention Team, which included UW ECE staff from Advising and Public Relations. Klavins, who presented the award, noted that although the new electrical and computer engineering curriculum is straightforward, the transition from the EE to the ECE degree was anything but simple. This team of academic advising and public relations staff worked closely together on messaging for a large variety of stakeholders including prospective, incoming, and current students, as well as other departments and community colleges. With a new set of web pages, presentations and information sessions, this team ensured that UW ECE students would be well informed about their options and excited about the possibilities of the new degree. Klavins said that he was extremely impressed with how well the team communicated with each other, creating a shared vision for rollout of the new degree, and cheering each other on along the way.   Once again, congratulations to all award recipients. Thanks for all your outstanding efforts and contributions to the University and UW ECE! [post_title] => Congratulations to all 2022 UW ECE Award recipients! [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => 2022-uwece-awards [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2022-07-18 18:15:59 [post_modified_gmt] => 2022-07-19 01:15:59 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.ece.uw.edu/?post_type=spotlight&p=27387 [menu_order] => 10 [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] =>
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UW ECE has partnered with the Center’s Research Experience for Undergraduates summer program for over a decade, hosting outstanding students from across the country in UW ECE labs. Photo by Mark Stone / Center for Neurotechnology[/caption] This summer, UW ECE labs are hosting five outstanding undergraduate students from across the country who are learning about neurotechnology through immersive research experiences, interactive courses and workshops. The students are part of a larger cohort placed at labs across the UW campus to take part in the Research Experience for Undergraduates through the Center for Neurotechnology. This 10-week summer program is funded by the National Science Foundation and facilitated by the Center, which is co-directed by UW ECE faculty members Rajesh Rao and Chet Moritz. “UW ECE has a rich history of partnering with the Center for Neurotechnology to mentor students from around the country each summer for the last 11 years,” said Moritz, who is a C.J. and Elizabeth Hwang Professor at UW ECE. “ECE faculty and graduate students provide outstanding hands-on research experience to these diverse students. Many students in the REU program have gone on to Ph.D. graduate programs here at the UW and at other top schools around the country.” The REU program provides exceptional students with opportunities to work in the labs of scientists and engineers who are internationally recognized in their respective fields. This year, the program has 10 participants, who were selected from over 180 students that applied. At UW ECE, students have been placed in Moritz’ lab and with UW ECE faculty members Sam Burden, Jeffrey Herron, Amy Orsborn and Azadeh Yazdan, who are all Center affiliates well known for their work in neural engineering. REU participants are assigned research projects to complete over the summer with guidance and mentoring by faculty and graduate students in the lab. In addition to working in research labs, students take part in scientific communication classes and attend workshops focused on industry applications and neuroethics, which is the study of ethical issues involved in neurotechnology. This training, along with the lab research experience, is designed to provide the students with a solid foundation for graduate study, one that can introduce them to new academic and career paths and provide a glimpse of the road ahead. “I’ve never been exposed to engineering research beyond the undergraduate level,” said Annika Pfister, an REU participant in Burden’s lab who is a rising senior at Wellesley College in Massachusetts. “This program allowed me to get to know grad students and really get a feel for what grad school might be like, and that solidified my decision about what career I’d like to pursue. Broadly speaking, I’d like to stay in academia and potentially end up becoming an engineering professor doing research in a university setting.

Research in the lab

[caption id="attachment_27869" align="alignright" width="500"]Annika Pfister sitting at a desk, working on a computer Annika Pfister, an REU participant who is a rising senior at Wellesley College in Massachusetts, is participating in research this summer in the lab of UW ECE Assistant Professor Sam Burden. Photo by Eric Chudler / Center for Neurotechnology[/caption] Pfister said she was thrilled to learn upon acceptance into the program that she would be placed in Burden’s lab. Burden is a UW ECE assistant professor and the Department’s associate chair for diversity, equity and inclusion. He is also co-director of the AMP Lab at the UW, which seeks to ‘amplify’ human and robotic movement and performance in the interest of designing treatment strategies and assistive technologies that can improve people’s lives. His work focuses on applications in robotics, neural engineering and human-cyber-physical systems. “Annika is an outstanding researcher who has excelled in the lab, bringing curiosity, creativity and brilliance to experiments with human subjects. She participates fully in the intellectual and social community in my group and in the REU program,” Burden said. “Back at Wellesley, Annika is studying neuroscience, but this liberal arts college doesn’t have an engineering program. The REU program gives fantastic students like Annika access to research opportunities that are unavailable in their undergraduate institutions. I am confident this summer experience will open doors for her in graduate school and beyond. In Burden’s lab, Pfister was mentored by UW ECE graduate students Maneeshika Madduri and Amber Chou. Pfister was assigned her own research project, which was a subset of experimental work being conducted by Madduri. Pfister’s role in the course of several experiments conducted with research subjects was to monitor and adjust a decoding device that reads electromyographic (electrical muscle) signals from the surface of the skin. This device translates these signals into visual outputs on a screen, enabling the user to control a cursor with their forearm muscles while attempting to follow a visual target on screen. [caption id="attachment_27873" align="alignright" width="500"]Sam Burden sitting and smiling in a meeting UW ECE Assistant Professor and Associate Chair for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Sam Burden. Burden’s research work focuses on applications in robotics, neural engineering and human-cyber-physical systems. Photo by Mark Stone / University of Washington[/caption] “My part of this project is involved with an aspect of the decoder called the ‘adaptation rate,’” Pfister said. “Previously, it was set to a fixed number. My goal this summer is to figure out whether having the adaptation rate be dynamic and change over the course of the experiment helps with overall task performance and user learning.” Pfister will present her findings, along with other participants in the REU program, at the CNT Summer Undergraduate Research Symposium, which will be held August 17 in the Bill & Melinda Gates Center for Computer Science & Engineering. “The CNT Summer Undergraduate Research Symposium provides REU students with the opportunity to showcase their work to the local neuroscience and neural engineering research communities,” said Eric Chudler, who is the Center’s executive and education director and principal investigator of the REU program grant. “These talks and poster presentations help prepare the students for their attendance at future scientific meetings and conventions.”

A pathway to graduate school

By participating in this program and mentoring students who have shown a keen interest in neurotechnology, UW ECE and its CNT-affiliated faculty and graduate students are helping to prepare the next generation of neural engineers. And according to Chudler, it’s not uncommon for these students to later return to the UW or its affiliated institutions as graduate students pursuing careers in neurotechnology. For Pfister, she said that she found this research experience enjoyable and useful for forming her future academic and career goals. And the mentorship she received at UW ECE through the REU program appears to have made a lasting impact. “My research experience this summer has been invaluable to getting a feel for how day-to-day research would work,” Pfister said. “In terms of the program, it has been really great for me, helping me to think about how I want to engage with the scientific community going forward. If I am at grad school, whether it is at conferences or in presentations, I’ll be thinking about how to best present my work. I’ll also be thinking critically about what impacts my work is going to have, making sure that it’s going to be useful and able to help people.” For more information about the Research Experience for Undergraduates program, visit the Center for Neurotechnology website. [post_title] => UW ECE labs host undergraduate students studying neurotechnology, providing a hands-on research experience [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => cnt-reu-at-uwece [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2022-08-15 09:30:48 [post_modified_gmt] => 2022-08-15 16:30:48 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.ece.uw.edu/?post_type=spotlight&p=27862 [menu_order] => 4 [post_type] => spotlight [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [1] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27687 [post_author] => 27 [post_date] => 2022-07-28 09:40:24 [post_date_gmt] => 2022-07-28 16:40:24 [post_content] => By Wayne Gillam | UW ECE News [caption id="attachment_27708" align="alignright" width="588"]Professor Daniel Kirschen Daniel Kirschen is an IEEE Fellow and the Donald W. and Ruth Mary Close Endowed Professor in Electrical Engineering at UW ECE. He is known internationally for his power and energy system research. Photo by Ryan Hoover / UW ECE[/caption] UW ECE Professor Daniel Kirschen was recently named editor in chief of IEEE Transactions on Energy Markets, Policy and Regulation. This new publication, launching July 2022, is a peer-reviewed journal containing articles that cover complex topics and issues at the intersection of power systems engineering, energy policy and market regulation. The journal will promote a move toward renewable sources of energy, and it will seek to drive investment in resilient, sustainable energy systems that consider all stakeholders’ needs. Kirschen, who is an IEEE Fellow and the Donald W. and Ruth Mary Close Endowed Professor in Electrical Engineering at UW ECE, is known internationally for his power and energy system research. He is also well known for co-authoring “Fundamentals of Power System Economics,” a textbook that is considered essential reading for university students and practicing engineers. “In that book, I was trying to explain economics to engineers, so they could make the electricity markets work better,” Kirschen said. “I was also explaining a bit of the engineering to economists, so they could understand what physical limitations might be imposed on the design of markets. I saw this opportunity at IEEE as a continuation of the work that I already do.” Kirschen will serve as editor in chief of the publication for five years. He said that he hopes the journal will serve as a place where engineers, economists and policy makers can exchange ideas in ways that move existing power and energy systems toward more resilient and sustainable frameworks.

Sustainable energy systems and power grid resilience

Kirschen is part of the Clean Energy Institute at the UW, and his research at UW ECE has two main focal points. One is developing methods to integrate more renewable energy into the nation’s existing electrical power grid. The other is finding ways to ensure the resilience of the grid during natural disasters. Kirschen is an international leader in these research areas and is often sought after by experts in the field and members of the media for his insight. His research, and that of many others who will be publishing in the IEEE journal, is aimed in large part at decarbonizing the economy — using less energy from fossil fuels and more from renewable sources. This is work that is vitally important to reducing the worldwide impact of climate change. Decarbonizing will involve electrifying large sectors of the economy, including transportation, heating and cooling systems, and industrial processes. This increased electrification means that electricity demand in the future will spike upwards, putting extra pressure on existing power grids. Managing this sharp, upward trend in electricity demand will require smart planning and cooperation between engineers, those establishing energy policy and energy market regulators. “We will need to have good energy policies in place to handle future electricity demand,” Kirschen said. “Good policies rely on strong markets and appropriate regulation, so economically efficient solutions can be found through the invisible hand of the market. All of this must be supported by solid engineering.”

An international background and a dedicated educator

[caption id="attachment_27695" align="alignleft" width="525"] Kirschen with a group of undergraduate students, touring the inner workings of the Cushman Hydro Dam. Photo courtesy of Daniel Kirschen[/caption] Kirschen was born and raised in Brussels, Belgium. Following in his brother’s footsteps, he earned his electrical engineering degree from the University of Brussels. He later earned his doctoral degree at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and went on to hold professional positions at Control Data Corporation and Siemens. In 1994, he returned to academia at the University of Manchester, where he served as a professor and head of the University’s Electrical Energy and Power Systems Research Group. In 2011, he made a leap back across the pond to UW ECE, where he teaches and continues his research today. Over the years, he has received many national and international honors for his work, including recently being named a 2022 Fellow of the Chinese Society for Electrical Engineering. At UW ECE, Kirschen has built a reputation for his strong teaching skills and dedication to his students. He seeks ways to provide hands-on and interactive learning experiences such as field trips. And his students excel, earning prestigious fellowships and going on to successful careers in academia, government and the private sector. Kirschen said that he looked forward to how his new position with IEEE will help to enrich the educational experience he offers. “I really enjoy teaching and sharing what I’ve learned with students,” Kirschen said. “I enjoy students interacting, asking lots of questions and having the opportunity to help increase their understanding.” He continued, “The thing about power systems is that they have a lot of different parts that all must work together. Helping students understand how these various parts work together efficiently, in a stable and reliable way, that’s what I really enjoy. Learn more about Daniel Kirschen on his UW ECE webpage. [post_title] => Daniel Kirschen named editor in chief of IEEE Transactions on Energy Markets, Policy and Regulation [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => kirschen-ieee [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2022-07-28 10:45:23 [post_modified_gmt] => 2022-07-28 17:45:23 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.ece.uw.edu/?post_type=spotlight&p=27687 [menu_order] => 6 [post_type] => spotlight [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [2] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27636 [post_author] => 36 [post_date] => 2022-08-04 11:33:26 [post_date_gmt] => 2022-08-04 18:33:26 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_27637" align="alignright" width="562"]Book cover on wood background “Robots and Other Amazing Gadgets Invented 800 Years Ago,” a children’s book by the UW’s Faisal Hossain and Qishi Zhou, shares the inventions of Ismail Al-Jazari, a 12th-century polymath considered by many to be the “father of robotics.”[/caption] Adapted from an article by Misty Shock Rule, UW News Digital technology shapes how many children today interact with the world. The COVID-19 pandemic intensified this wired existence, with everything from school to playdates taking place online. With this in mind, Faisal Hossain, a hydrologist and University of Washington professor of civil and environmental engineering, and Qishi Zhou, a UW master’s student in electrical and computer engineering, set out to show children how technological breakthroughs predated the internet and were inspired by the natural world. In their children’s book “Robots and Other Amazing Gadgets Invented 800 Years Ago,” illustrated by Hatice Sena Balkan, Hossain and Zhou write about the work of Ismail Al-Jazari, a 12th-century polymath considered by many to be the “father of robotics.” The book, published by Mascot Books, explores the origins of eight of Al-Jazari’s inventions, including a four-cycle gear system, a blood measurement device, an elephant-shaped water clock and a robot that helps wash and dry hands. A few years ago, Hossain discovered Al-Jazari’s work, “The Book of Knowledge of Ingenious Mechanical Devices.” Hossain was amazed by the inventions and robots in the book and was eager to learn more. Around the same time, Hossain met Zhou as part of the College of Engineering’s industry capstone program, where they worked with teammates to create a remote-controlled culvert inspection vehicle called the HydroCUB. Hossain and Zhou worked together well and decided to collaborate on sharing a medieval story relevant to children today. Hossain answered questions from UW News about the book. What’s the most important thing you want kids to get from the book? We want them to know that the real world, outside of the digital world where they might be spending most of their time, can be a fascinating and wonderful place. The natural world is a laboratory that can show them how water works and moves. A pioneer of modern-day robotics invented robots by borrowing principles from the real world. That’s the message we want our kids to take: Spend more time outside watching and learning from nature and less time with computers. What’s your favorite invention in the book? I like the one about the robot that automatically dispenses water to clean and perform ablution, or washing. While the user is cleaning themselves, the robot plays a flute-like sound, which was also an invention, and then hands the user a towel. Every sequence of the task is timed and organized. Can you share more about how you came to work with Zhou on this book? When I met Qishi Zhou, I found we partnered really well on water issues, combining my understanding of the needs of the water community — the broad community that works on water issues for research, industry, policy, planning and utilities — with the expertise available from the electrical and electronics engineering design community to solve real-world problems. The partnership was based on the development of robots and gadgets to solve societal problems, improve quality of life and address societal needs. This was almost like a microcosm of what Ismail Al-Jazari did 800 years ago when he used automation to create tools to improve quality of life. How does your interest in Al-Jazari relate to your expertise as a hydrologist? I became interested in Al-Jazari because he used water as a core concept to drive the automation architecture of his devices using simple concepts of hydrostatic pressure and water flow laws. As a hydrologist, this is what we also study and use, but it never dawned on me that such concepts could be used to drive automation and even build robots when there was no electricity. It just drove home the concept that water is as powerful and relevant as today’s electronics, computers and information technology. This thought makes me feel quite proud as a hydrologist. Outside of your work as a hydrologist, you specialize in filmmaking and the communication of science. What do you think is most effective at sharing the wonder of science with kids? I don’t think there is one perfect or single way. But I do think there has to be a great story that will get kids hooked and want to know more. Often, that’s a story that kids can relate to, based on their personal experiences — so a story that humanizes the topic and is of a broad and uncommon perspective, with fun action that appears counterintuitive or is against mainstream thinking. [post_title] => Q&A: New children’s book shows how natural world inspired inventor to create medieval robots [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => medieval-robots-childrens-book [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2022-08-04 11:33:26 [post_modified_gmt] => 2022-08-04 18:33:26 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.ece.uw.edu/?post_type=spotlight&p=27636 [menu_order] => 7 [post_type] => spotlight [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [3] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27534 [post_author] => 27 [post_date] => 2022-07-19 16:55:46 [post_date_gmt] => 2022-07-19 23:55:46 [post_content] => By Misty Shock Rule | UW News [caption id="attachment_27535" align="alignright" width="600"]Denise Wilson headshot UW ECE Professor Denise Wilson and her colleague Jennifer VanAntwerp of Calvin University are co-authors of “Sex, Gender, and Engineering: Harassment at Work and in School.” Wilson will teach a course to go along with the book next spring. Photo by Dennis Wise / University of Washington[/caption] Denise Wilson, a University of Washington professor of electrical and computer engineering, has experienced sexual harassment and assault in the male-dominated field of engineering. In her early days as an undergraduate, she was expected to meet male students’ sexual needs. In graduate school, she was subjected to sexist comments, and in her academic and industry career, she faced inappropriate physical contact in the field and at academic conferences. “I thought things had changed,” Wilson said. “But then I still hear similar stories from women today.” Wilson is working to end the prevalence of sexual harassment in engineering. She and her colleague Jennifer VanAntwerp of Calvin University are co-authors of “Sex, Gender, and Engineering: Harassment at Work and in School,” published in April by Cambridge Scholars Publishing. In addition, Wilson will be teaching a department-level class, EE397, to go along with the book in spring 2023. “There are huge holes to understanding what’s going on in the workplace,” Wilson said. “The book and the course are about raising student awareness and helping them understand how to strategize toward a better work environment no matter where they are in the hierarchy.” The book starts by setting the groundwork for why sexual harassment is wrong, describing its legal aspects and the harmful effects on victims. It then examines the groups impacted and what harassment looks like in the university and the workplace, before moving on to contemporary factors, such as COVID-19, U.S. presidents, and social movements like #MeToo and Black Lives Matter. It concludes by looking at solutions for tackling harassment, with a focus on civility training and other strategies that positively motivate people to do better and intervene if they see harassment occur. This book isn’t a traditional textbook. It uses anecdotes to help connect students with the experience of sexual harassment. “In the culture of engineering, there’s a lot of pressure to not speak about difficulty,” Wilson said. “If you’re a good engineer and you’re underrepresented, you tough it out. How do we overcome that? I think it’s only by talking about it and by telling stories, along with the data.” Wilson said there is an unwritten rule about harassment in engineering to just “shut up and deal with it.” This message is conveyed not only by the male-dominant majority but also by those who have advanced in the field while quietly enduring abuse. This tendency to keep things quiet explains why things haven’t changed, even as gender representation in engineering has diversified, she said.  
“There are huge holes to understanding what’s going on in the workplace. The book and the course are about raising student awareness and helping them understand how to strategize toward a better work environment no matter where they are in the hierarchy.” — UW ECE Professor Denise Wilson
  Karen Thomas-Brown, the associate dean of diversity, equity and inclusion in the UW College of Engineering, said Wilson’s and VanAntwerp’s book is effective for “undergraduate students who may have never experienced harassment or heard about the law. Students are going to be able to say, ‘Oh, so this is not just a bunch of women saying you shouldn’t do this to us. There are laws.’” Thomas-Brown — who, as the lead of the college’s Office of Inclusive Excellence, plans to use a deliberate, data-driven approach to create change “top-down and inside-out” — is creating a suite of required college-level DEI courses, including a general course on diversity in society, a course on race, and a course on justice, equity, diversity and inclusion in engineering. A fourth course — on sex, gender and harassment, paired with Wilson’s and VanAntwerp’s book — will be added to the suite. Next spring’s department-level course will serve as a pilot, assessing what holes there might be in the book or course before rolling it out to the entire college. Wilson is hopeful about the potential for change in engineering. “Most people I know in this field — they want a good culture,” she said. “There’s a lot of kindness in engineering that is often hidden under our norms and our image. And I think that we should capitalize on that kindness and concern for society to build a better future internally.” She wants to create the change for her field that she’s undergone herself. Wilson has come a long way from the young woman who kept quiet about the harassment she experienced. “I cannot emphasize enough how I’ve changed in the process of writing this book,” she said. “It’s much harder to shut me up. I’m much more outspoken. I am more willing to be culturally uncomfortable. I learned the only way I’m going to do my best and contribute to change is just to be who I am and speak. I have learned to keep speaking even when there’s silence on the other end.” [post_title] => Professor Denise Wilson's new book and course on sexual harassment in engineering seek to disrupt culture of silence [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => wilson-dei [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2022-07-19 16:55:46 [post_modified_gmt] => 2022-07-19 23:55:46 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.ece.uw.edu/?post_type=spotlight&p=27534 [menu_order] => 8 [post_type] => spotlight [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [4] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27463 [post_author] => 36 [post_date] => 2022-07-25 12:41:49 [post_date_gmt] => 2022-07-25 19:41:49 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_27570" align="alignright" width="562"]Photo of Arka Majumdar on the left side and Zhuoran (Roger) Fang on the right UW ECE Associate Professor Arka Majumdar (left) and fourth-year doctoral student Zhuoran (Roger) Fang (right), alongside UW ECE graduate students Rui Chen, Jiajiu Zheng, and Abhi Saxena (not pictured), are leading a multi-institutional research team that has developed energy-efficient switches for the next generation of data centers. Arka Majumdar photo by Ryan Hoover / UW ECE. Photo courtesy of Zhuoran (Roger) Fang.[/caption] Adapted from an article by Renske Dyedov, UW NanoES Data centers, dedicated spaces for storing, processing and disseminating data, enable everything from cloud computing to video streaming. In the process, they consume a large amount of energy transferring data back and forth inside the center. With demand for data growing exponentially, there is increasing pressure for data centers to become more energy-efficient. Data centers house servers, high-powered computers that talk to each other through interconnects, physical connections that allow for the exchange of data. One way to reduce energy consumption in data centers is to use light to communicate information with electrically controlled optical switches controlling the flow of light, and therefore information, between servers. These optical switches need to be multi-functional and energy-efficient to support the continued expansion of data centers. In a paper published online July 4 in Nature Nanotechnology, a team led by University of Washington scientists reported the design of an energy-efficient, silicon-based non-volatile switch that manipulates light through the use of a phase-change material and graphene heater. “This platform really pushes the limits of energy efficiency,” said corresponding author Arka Majumdar, a UW associate professor of electrical and computer engineering and physics, and faculty member at the UW Institute for Nano-Engineered Systems and the Institute for Molecular & Engineering Sciences. “Compared with what is currently being used in data centers to control photonic circuits, this technology would greatly reduce the energy needs of data centers, making them more sustainable and environmentally friendly.” Silicon photonic switches are widely used in part because they can be made using well-established semiconductor fabrication techniques. Traditionally, these switches have been tuned through thermal effect, a process where heat is applied, often by passing a current through a metal or semiconductor, to change the optical properties of a material in the switch, thus changing the path of the light. However, not only is this process not energy-efficient, but the changes it induces are not permanent. As soon as the current is removed, the material reverts to its previous state and the connection – and flow of information – is broken. [caption id="attachment_27464" align="alignleft" width="546"]Rendering of a dark blue phase-change segment and a honeycomb lattice heater. An artistic rendering of a silicon-based switch that manipulates light through the use of phase-change material (dark blue segment) and graphene heater (honeycomb lattice). Image courtesy of Zhuoran (Roger) Fang.[/caption] To address this, the team, which includes researchers from Stanford University, Charles Stark Draper Laboratory, University of Maryland and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, created a “set and forget” switch capable of maintaining the connection without any additional energy. They used a phase-change material that is nonvolatile, meaning the material is transformed by briefly heating it, and it remains in that state until it receives another heat pulse, at which point it reverts back to its original state. This eliminates the need to constantly input energy to maintain the desired state. Previously, researchers have used doped silicon to heat the phase-change material. Silicon alone doesn’t conduct electricity, but when selectively doped with different elements like phosphorus or boron, silicon is able to both conduct electricity and propagate light without any excess absorption. When a current is pumped through the doped silicon, it can act like a heater to switch the state of the phase-change material on top of it. The catch is that this is also not a very energy-efficient process. The amount of energy needed to switch the phase-change material is similar to the amount of energy used by traditional thermo-optic switches. This is because the entire 220 nanometer (nm) thick doped silicon layer has to be heated to transform only 10 nm of phase-change material. A lot of energy is wasted heating such a large volume of silicon to switch a much smaller volume of phase-change material. “We realized we had to figure out how to reduce the volume that needed to be heated in order to boost the efficiency of the switches,” said lead and co-corresponding author Zhuoran (Roger) Fang, a UW ECE fourth-year doctoral student in electrical and computer engineering. One approach would be to make a thinner silicon film, but silicon doesn’t propagate light well if it is thinner than 200 nm. So instead, they used an un-doped 220 nm silicon layer to propagate light and introduced a layer of graphene between the silicon and phase-change material to conduct electricity. Like metal, graphene is an excellent conductor of electricity, but unlike metal, it is atomically thin – it consists of just a single layer of carbon atoms arranged in a two-dimensional honeycomb lattice. This design eliminates wasted energy by directing all heat generated by the graphene to go towards changing the phase-change material. In fact, the switching energy density (which is calculated by taking the switching energy divided by the volume of the material being switched) of this setup is only 8.7 attojoules (aJ)/nm3, a 70-fold reduction compared to the widely used doped silicon heaters, the current state-of-the-art. This is also within one order of magnitude of the fundamental limit of switching energy density (1.2 aJ/nm3).  
“Compared with what is currently being used in data centers to control photonic circuits, this technology would greatly reduce the energy needs of data centers, making them more sustainable and environmentally friendly.” – UW ECE Associate Professor Arka Majumdar  
Even though using graphene to conduct electricity induces some optical losses, meaning some light is absorbed, graphene is so thin that not only are the losses minimal, but the phase-change material can still interact with the light propagating in the silicon layer. The team established that a graphene-based heater can reliably switch the state of the phase-change material more than 1,000 cycles. This is a notable improvement over the doped silicon heaters, which have only been shown to have an endurance of around 500 cycles. “Even 1,000 is not enough,” said Majumdar. “Practically speaking, we need about a billion cycles endurance, which we are currently working on.” Now that they have demonstrated that light can be controlled using a phase-change material and graphene heater, the team plans to show that these switches can be used for optical routing of information through a network of devices, a key step towards establishing their use in data centers. They are also interested in applying this technology to silicon nitride for routing single photons for quantum computing. “The ability to be able to tune the optical properties of a material with just an atomically thin heater is a game-changer,” said Majumdar. “The exceptional performance of our system in terms of energy efficiency and reliability is really unheard of and could help advance both information technology and quantum computing.” Additional co-authors include UW electrical and computer engineering students Rui Chen, Jiajiu Zheng and Abhi Saxena; Asir Intisar Khan, Kathryn Neilson, Michelle Chen and Eric Pop from Stanford University; Sarah Geiger, Dennis Callahan and Michael Moebius from the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory; Carlos Rios from the University of Maryland; and Juejun Hu from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. This research was funded by National Science Foundation, DARPA, ONR, Draper Labs and Intel Labs.
For more information, contact Majumdar at arka@uw.edu.
[post_title] => Next-generation data centers within reach thanks to new energy-efficient switches [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => energy-efficient-switches [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2022-07-26 11:36:55 [post_modified_gmt] => 2022-07-26 18:36:55 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.ece.uw.edu/?post_type=spotlight&p=27463 [menu_order] => 9 [post_type] => spotlight [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [5] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27387 [post_author] => 27 [post_date] => 2022-07-11 11:19:37 [post_date_gmt] => 2022-07-11 18:19:37 [post_content] => Article adapted from content provided by May Lim Photos by Ryan Hoover [caption id="attachment_27392" align="alignright" width="575"]2022 UW ECE Award nominees and recipients in a group, standing outside the UW ECE building, making the "W" in "UW" with their hands UW ECE Professor and Chair Eric Klavins having a bit of fun with award nominees and recipients at the 2022 UW ECE Awards’ event social. Here, the group is trying (not always successfully) to make the ‘W’ in ‘UW’ with their hands. Pictured from left to right: (top row) Director of Academic Services Stephanie Swanson, Associate Teaching Professor Tai-Chang Chen, doctoral student Devon Griggs (front row) Professor Eve Riskin, Director of Professional Academic Programs May Lim, Professor and Chair Eric Klavins, recent graduate Zerina Kapetanovic, Undergraduate Program Coordinator Chris Overly.[/caption] Each year, UW ECE holds an award ceremony to honor students, faculty, and staff for their outstanding contributions to the Department. Award recipients represent exceptional achievements; embody UW ECE core values such as leadership, mentorship, collaboration, and teamwork; and foster greater diversity, equity, and inclusion. This year’s UW ECE Awards ceremony and social was held June 2 from 4 to 6 p.m. in the Paul G. Allen Center Atrium. The event was hosted by UW ECE Professor and Chair Eric Klavins. “I’d like to congratulate all award recipients and nominees,” Klavins said at the award ceremony. “You help to make UW ECE an exceptional Department, and we are lucky to have you!” It was also the first year for a new honor, the Outstanding Mentorship Award in Electrical and Computer Engineering. This award recognizes any member of the UW ECE community whose exemplary mentoring and advising activities made important contributions in building a supportive culture in the Department. Read on to learn more about this year’s award recipients.    

Outstanding Teaching Award

[caption id="attachment_27396" align="alignleft" width="425"]UW ECE Associate Teaching Professor Tai-Chang Chen standing next to UW ECE Professor and Chair Eric Klavins Associate Teaching Professor Tai-Chang Chen (left) with Professor and Chair Eric Klavins (right)[/caption]

Tai-Chang Chen

UW ECE Associate Teaching Professor Tai-Chang Chen received several enthusiastic student nominations for this award, which recognizes a faculty member who demonstrates outstanding teaching abilities. Students spoke of Chen’s exceptional teaching skills, his inspiring character, his care for student learning, and his humor and personality. According to his students, Chen provides exemplary mentorship and exhibits creative approaches to teaching, with a clear commitment to student success. One of Chen’s nominators shared, “He truly cares about the longevity of an ECE student’s passion for a subject. It is inspiring to learn from a person who is so invested in a student’s experiences in the classroom, and I am reinspired every time I walk into one of his lectures.”    

Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award

Jimin Kim

Kim stood out as the top contender for this award, which is in recognition of a student who demonstrates an outstanding contribution to teaching. The award was presented by UW ECE Associate Professor Payman Arabshahi, who is the Department’s associate chair of education and industry liaison. Arabshahi noted that Kim’s work has been notable as a teaching assistant, pre-doctoral instructor, and course development teaching assistant both in electrical and computer engineering and in physics. Nominators spoke of Kim’s passion for teaching and education, his ability to create meaningful and effective lab materials and assignments, and his deep concern for student success. A nominator for Kim stated, “His presentations are elegant, instructions are clear and his approach to students is highly engaging. Jimin has established a great reputation as a mentor and teacher to students. He is devoted to fostering in the students strong scientific knowledge and reasoning, with emphasis on understanding the process of problem solving. With this type of teaching, students believe in their ability to succeed in the class.”    

Yang Research Award

[caption id="attachment_27403" align="alignleft" width="425"]Recent UW ECE graduate and Yang Research Award recipient Zerina Kapetanovic standing next to UW ECE Professor and Chair Eric Klavins Yang Research Award recipient Zerina Kapetanovic (left) with Professor and Chair Eric Klavins (right)[/caption]

Zerina Kapetanovic

The Yang Research Award recognizes a UW ECE doctoral student in their final year of study who has conducted outstanding research in the field of electrical and computer engineering, as evidenced by their publications or recognition by outside researchers in their field. This year, three outstanding doctoral students were finalists for the award: Devon Griggs, Zerina Kapetanovic and Yue Sun. These three finalists presented their research to a faculty panel, who selected Kapetanovic as the recipient of this year’s award. The award was presented by Milton and Delia Zeutschel Professor in Entrepreneurial Excellence Joshua Smith, who was Kapetanovic’s faculty adviser at UW ECE. Smith noted that while a member of his group, Kapetanovic was an extremely productive doctoral student while maintaining a separate, but complementary, research identity at Microsoft in their FarmBeats project. Kapetanovic’s most recent work in low-power communication methods, “Communication by Means of Modulated Johnson Noise,” demonstrated for the first time the possibility of communicating by modulating the thermal noise that occurs naturally in an unpowered resistor at room temperature. Kapetanovic will be starting as a tenure-track assistant professor in Stanford’s electrical engineering department next year. One of her nominators shared, “I believe this groundbreaking work presents a novel approach to communication, with the potential for significant real-world impact in areas such as implanted medical devices and digital agriculture. I think that Zerina’s Ph.D. research will be remembered for many years as extremely innovative and impactful.”    

Outstanding Mentorship Award in Electrical and Computer Engineering

[caption id="attachment_27410" align="alignleft" width="425"]UW ECE Outstanding Mentorship Award in Electrical and Computer Engineering award recipients May Lim (left) and Eve Riskin (right) with UW ECE Professor and Chair Eric Klavins (center) Director of Professional Student Programs May Lim (left) and Professor Eve Riskin (right) with Professor and Chair Eric Klavins (center)[/caption] As mentioned above, this inaugural award, made possible by a generous endowment from a donor, recognizes any member of the UW ECE community whose exemplary mentoring and advising activities made important contributions toward building a supportive culture in the Department. This year, there were two award recipients representing the impact our faculty and staff have on students. The award was presented by UW ECE Assistant Professor Sam Burden, who is the Department’s associate chair for diversity, equity, and inclusion.

May Lim

As Director of Professional Student Programs at UW ECE, May Lim develops strategy, travels around the world to sell the program to prospective students, sets the teaching schedule and advocates for program participants. Burden noted that she has also served as the PMP student adviser for the last six years. One of Lim’s nominators stated, “I usually do not talk to my adviser a lot unless I need advice about taking courses or anything on the administrative level. She is the first adviser I met that I really want to talk with and be friends with. Along with my two-year master’s life, she has always been the person encouraging me and endorsing me. Without her help, I would not have been able to receive the graduate staff assistant position, and I would not have been brave enough to apply for my Ph.D.”

Eve Riskin

Eve Riskin’s nominators spoke of her impactful research, her excellence in teaching and curriculum innovation, and most of all, her long history of advocacy and mentorship. During her time at the UW, Riskin has brought her passion to the goal of bringing more underrepresented students and faculty into STEM careers. She has served as the associate dean of diversity and access in the UW College of Engineering, the faculty director of the UW ADVANCE program and as the creator of the STARS program at the UW. Her nominators discussed Riskin’s extraordinary impact not only within the UW and UW ECE but also across the United States. One nominator shared, “She has changed the lives of undergraduate students, graduate students, and faculty members who without her mentorship would likely have suffered, but with her mentorship have thrived. Eve is a force of nature.”    

Vikram Jandhyala and Suja Vaidyanathan Endowed Innovation Award

Francisco Luquin Monroy

This award recognizes a UW ECE undergraduate or graduate student who has demonstrated entrepreneurial potential. It was presented by Milton and Delia Zeutschel Professor in Entrepreneurial Excellence Joshua Smith. Smith noted that Monroy’s graduate thesis research was on developing a computer-assisted stoma management visualization system. Monroy's adviser for this work was UW ECE Associate Teaching Professor Rania Hussein. Monroy is in the process of commercializing his project, and he has led a team through the 2021 UW National Science Foundation I-Corps Site Program, placed third in the GIX Innovation Competition and has advanced in the Dempsey Startup Competition. Additionally, Monroy is committed to equitable access to biomedical devices and has been building partnerships with insurance companies to provide coverage for his product. A nominator for Monroy shared, “Francisco works tirelessly on all aspects of the project, which shows very solid steps towards commercialization. He is a business-savvy student, who combines a strong technical background with solid entrepreneurial skills and who also provides an excellent leadership model to his team.”    

Student Impact Award

Nivii Kalavakonda

This award recognizes a student who shows an exemplary commitment to UW ECE and whose service has made a lasting impact in the Department. Kalavakonda is a doctoral student and graduate staff assistant with the UW ECE graduate advising team. The award was presented by UW ECE Director of Academic Services Stephanie Swanson, who noted that Kalavakonda, in her GSA role, has sought to decrease barriers and make the admissions process more accessible to first generation and underrepresented students. Kalavakonda created the UW ECE Graduate Applicant Support Program and Virtual Graduate Student Office Hours, where current doctoral and postdoctoral students provide information and mentorship to prospective students. She has also played a key role in diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives in the Department, working closely with Sam Burden on collecting data and co-leading Department-wide DEI meetings and town halls. As one of Kalavakonda’s nominator’s shared, “Nivii is someone who seeks to improve the world around her. She leaves a positive impact in the choices she makes and the things that she chooses to do. We are so lucky to have her!”    

Chair’s Outstanding Collaboration / Teamwork Award

[caption id="attachment_27412" align="alignleft" width="425"]Chris Overly, Stephanie Swanson, Eric Klavins and Ryan Hoover standing together outside of the UW ECE building From left to right, Undergraduate Program Coordinator Chris Overly, Director of Academic Services Stephanie Swanson, Professor and Chair Eric Klavins, Public Information Specialist Ryan Hoover (not pictured, Lead Academic Counselor for Undergraduate Programs Katherine Sykes and Public Information Specialist Wayne Gillam)[/caption]

Stephanie Swanson, Chris Overly, Katherine Sykes, Wayne Gillam, Ryan Hoover

This award recognizes exemplary collaborative work, and this year it went to members of the UW ECE Curriculum Reinvention Team, which included UW ECE staff from Advising and Public Relations. Klavins, who presented the award, noted that although the new electrical and computer engineering curriculum is straightforward, the transition from the EE to the ECE degree was anything but simple. This team of academic advising and public relations staff worked closely together on messaging for a large variety of stakeholders including prospective, incoming, and current students, as well as other departments and community colleges. With a new set of web pages, presentations and information sessions, this team ensured that UW ECE students would be well informed about their options and excited about the possibilities of the new degree. Klavins said that he was extremely impressed with how well the team communicated with each other, creating a shared vision for rollout of the new degree, and cheering each other on along the way.   Once again, congratulations to all award recipients. Thanks for all your outstanding efforts and contributions to the University and UW ECE! [post_title] => Congratulations to all 2022 UW ECE Award recipients! [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => 2022-uwece-awards [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2022-07-18 18:15:59 [post_modified_gmt] => 2022-07-19 01:15:59 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.ece.uw.edu/?post_type=spotlight&p=27387 [menu_order] => 10 [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] => 27862 [post_author] => 27 [post_date] => 2022-08-15 09:28:30 [post_date_gmt] => 2022-08-15 16:28:30 [post_content] => By Wayne Gillam | UW ECE News [caption id="attachment_27867" align="alignright" width="600"]View through microscope of circuitry being adjusted A look through a microscope at circuitry being developed in the lab of UW ECE Professor Chet Moritz, who is co-director of the Center for Neurotechnology. UW ECE has partnered with the Center’s Research Experience for Undergraduates summer program for over a decade, hosting outstanding students from across the country in UW ECE labs. Photo by Mark Stone / Center for Neurotechnology[/caption] This summer, UW ECE labs are hosting five outstanding undergraduate students from across the country who are learning about neurotechnology through immersive research experiences, interactive courses and workshops. The students are part of a larger cohort placed at labs across the UW campus to take part in the Research Experience for Undergraduates through the Center for Neurotechnology. This 10-week summer program is funded by the National Science Foundation and facilitated by the Center, which is co-directed by UW ECE faculty members Rajesh Rao and Chet Moritz. “UW ECE has a rich history of partnering with the Center for Neurotechnology to mentor students from around the country each summer for the last 11 years,” said Moritz, who is a C.J. and Elizabeth Hwang Professor at UW ECE. “ECE faculty and graduate students provide outstanding hands-on research experience to these diverse students. Many students in the REU program have gone on to Ph.D. graduate programs here at the UW and at other top schools around the country.” The REU program provides exceptional students with opportunities to work in the labs of scientists and engineers who are internationally recognized in their respective fields. This year, the program has 10 participants, who were selected from over 180 students that applied. At UW ECE, students have been placed in Moritz’ lab and with UW ECE faculty members Sam Burden, Jeffrey Herron, Amy Orsborn and Azadeh Yazdan, who are all Center affiliates well known for their work in neural engineering. REU participants are assigned research projects to complete over the summer with guidance and mentoring by faculty and graduate students in the lab. In addition to working in research labs, students take part in scientific communication classes and attend workshops focused on industry applications and neuroethics, which is the study of ethical issues involved in neurotechnology. This training, along with the lab research experience, is designed to provide the students with a solid foundation for graduate study, one that can introduce them to new academic and career paths and provide a glimpse of the road ahead. “I’ve never been exposed to engineering research beyond the undergraduate level,” said Annika Pfister, an REU participant in Burden’s lab who is a rising senior at Wellesley College in Massachusetts. “This program allowed me to get to know grad students and really get a feel for what grad school might be like, and that solidified my decision about what career I’d like to pursue. Broadly speaking, I’d like to stay in academia and potentially end up becoming an engineering professor doing research in a university setting.

Research in the lab

[caption id="attachment_27869" align="alignright" width="500"]Annika Pfister sitting at a desk, working on a computer Annika Pfister, an REU participant who is a rising senior at Wellesley College in Massachusetts, is participating in research this summer in the lab of UW ECE Assistant Professor Sam Burden. Photo by Eric Chudler / Center for Neurotechnology[/caption] Pfister said she was thrilled to learn upon acceptance into the program that she would be placed in Burden’s lab. Burden is a UW ECE assistant professor and the Department’s associate chair for diversity, equity and inclusion. He is also co-director of the AMP Lab at the UW, which seeks to ‘amplify’ human and robotic movement and performance in the interest of designing treatment strategies and assistive technologies that can improve people’s lives. His work focuses on applications in robotics, neural engineering and human-cyber-physical systems. “Annika is an outstanding researcher who has excelled in the lab, bringing curiosity, creativity and brilliance to experiments with human subjects. She participates fully in the intellectual and social community in my group and in the REU program,” Burden said. “Back at Wellesley, Annika is studying neuroscience, but this liberal arts college doesn’t have an engineering program. The REU program gives fantastic students like Annika access to research opportunities that are unavailable in their undergraduate institutions. I am confident this summer experience will open doors for her in graduate school and beyond. In Burden’s lab, Pfister was mentored by UW ECE graduate students Maneeshika Madduri and Amber Chou. Pfister was assigned her own research project, which was a subset of experimental work being conducted by Madduri. Pfister’s role in the course of several experiments conducted with research subjects was to monitor and adjust a decoding device that reads electromyographic (electrical muscle) signals from the surface of the skin. This device translates these signals into visual outputs on a screen, enabling the user to control a cursor with their forearm muscles while attempting to follow a visual target on screen. [caption id="attachment_27873" align="alignright" width="500"]Sam Burden sitting and smiling in a meeting UW ECE Assistant Professor and Associate Chair for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Sam Burden. Burden’s research work focuses on applications in robotics, neural engineering and human-cyber-physical systems. Photo by Mark Stone / University of Washington[/caption] “My part of this project is involved with an aspect of the decoder called the ‘adaptation rate,’” Pfister said. “Previously, it was set to a fixed number. My goal this summer is to figure out whether having the adaptation rate be dynamic and change over the course of the experiment helps with overall task performance and user learning.” Pfister will present her findings, along with other participants in the REU program, at the CNT Summer Undergraduate Research Symposium, which will be held August 17 in the Bill & Melinda Gates Center for Computer Science & Engineering. “The CNT Summer Undergraduate Research Symposium provides REU students with the opportunity to showcase their work to the local neuroscience and neural engineering research communities,” said Eric Chudler, who is the Center’s executive and education director and principal investigator of the REU program grant. “These talks and poster presentations help prepare the students for their attendance at future scientific meetings and conventions.”

A pathway to graduate school

By participating in this program and mentoring students who have shown a keen interest in neurotechnology, UW ECE and its CNT-affiliated faculty and graduate students are helping to prepare the next generation of neural engineers. And according to Chudler, it’s not uncommon for these students to later return to the UW or its affiliated institutions as graduate students pursuing careers in neurotechnology. For Pfister, she said that she found this research experience enjoyable and useful for forming her future academic and career goals. And the mentorship she received at UW ECE through the REU program appears to have made a lasting impact. “My research experience this summer has been invaluable to getting a feel for how day-to-day research would work,” Pfister said. “In terms of the program, it has been really great for me, helping me to think about how I want to engage with the scientific community going forward. If I am at grad school, whether it is at conferences or in presentations, I’ll be thinking about how to best present my work. I’ll also be thinking critically about what impacts my work is going to have, making sure that it’s going to be useful and able to help people.” For more information about the Research Experience for Undergraduates program, visit the Center for Neurotechnology website. [post_title] => UW ECE labs host undergraduate students studying neurotechnology, providing a hands-on research experience [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => cnt-reu-at-uwece [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2022-08-15 09:30:48 [post_modified_gmt] => 2022-08-15 16:30:48 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.ece.uw.edu/?post_type=spotlight&p=27862 [menu_order] => 4 [post_type] => spotlight [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [comment_count] => 0 [current_comment] => -1 [found_posts] => 813 [max_num_pages] => 136 [max_num_comment_pages] => 0 [is_single] => [is_preview] => [is_page] => [is_archive] => 1 [is_date] => [is_year] => [is_month] => [is_day] => [is_time] => [is_author] => [is_category] => [is_tag] => [is_tax] => [is_search] => [is_feed] => [is_comment_feed] => [is_trackback] => [is_home] => [is_404] => [is_embed] => [is_paged] => [is_admin] => [is_attachment] => [is_singular] => [is_robots] => [is_posts_page] => [is_post_type_archive] => 1 [query_vars_hash:WP_Query:private] => c64914061c8ecf9b16abe746203f6ad7 [query_vars_changed:WP_Query:private] => 1 [thumbnails_cached] => [stopwords:WP_Query:private] => [compat_fields:WP_Query:private] => Array ( [0] => query_vars_hash [1] => query_vars_changed ) [compat_methods:WP_Query:private] => Array ( [0] => init_query_flags [1] => parse_tax_query ) ) )
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