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Long-range backscatter earns ACM IMWUT Distinguished Paper Award

UW Engineers' "outstanding research contributions" wins them recognition at Ubicomp 2018.

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Long-range backscatter earns ACM IMWUT Distinguished Paper Award Banner

ECE graduate student wins awards for graduate research

Niveditha Kalavakonda's research in robotics and computer vision won several awards this past month.

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ECE graduate student wins awards for graduate research Banner

Researchers develop 3-D printed objects that can track and store how they are used

A team of engineers at the University of Washington have developed 3-D printed devices that can track and store their own use — without using batteries or electronics.

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Researchers develop 3-D printed objects that can track and store how they are used Banner

ECE community grieves loss of friend, faculty and alum, John Ehrenberg

Beloved ECE member passes away at 74

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ECE community grieves loss of friend, faculty and alum, John Ehrenberg Banner

ECE welcomes 2018 faculty members

Professors Zurk, Moritz, Li, Orsborn, Johnson and Hussein are the newest members of the ECE community.

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ECE welcomes 2018 faculty members Banner

Electrical Engineering celebrates new name: Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering

UW Department of Electrical Engineering changes name to Electrical & Computer Engineering.

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Electrical Engineering celebrates new name: Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering Banner

News + Events

https://www.ece.uw.edu/spotlight/long-range-backscatter-earns-acm-imwut-distinguished-paper-award/
https://www.ece.uw.edu/spotlight/ece-graduate-student-wins-several-awards-for-research/
https://www.ece.uw.edu/spotlight/researchers-develop-3-d-printed-objects-that-can-track-and-store-how-they-are-used/
https://www.ece.uw.edu/spotlight/lih-lin-receives-mit-technology-review-award-2003/
https://www.ece.uw.edu/spotlight/ece-community-grieves-loss-of-friend-faculty-and-alum-john-ehrenberg/
https://www.ece.uw.edu/spotlight/ece-welcomes-newest-faculty-members/
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                    [post_date] => 2018-10-15 10:26:39
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                    [post_content] => By Kristin Osborne

Researchers in the University of Washington Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering and the Allen School were recognized this week with the IMWUT Vol 1. Distinguished Paper Award for their 2017 paper, “LoRa Backscatter: Enabling the Vision of Ubiquitous Connectivity.” The award, which was announced during the Ubicomp 2018 conference in Singapore, recognizes outstanding research contributions published in the Proceedings of the ACM on Interactive, Mobile, Wearable and Ubiquitous Technologies.

[caption id="attachment_13614" align="alignleft" width="375"]LoRa-backscatter-team-375x250 The long-range backscatter research team includes former UW electrical & computer engineering doctoral students Bryce Kellogg (left), Vamsi Talla (center) and Allen School doctoral student Mehrdad Hessar (right). Photo by Dennis Wise/University of Washington[/caption]

Long-range backscatter is the first system of its kind to enable low-cost, wide-area connectivity for a range of objects and devices while consuming 1000x less power than existing technologies. Until now, devices capable of communicating over long distances were bulky and consumed significant amounts of power, whereas the communication range for lighter, less power-hungry devices was short. Long-range backscatter offers the best of both worlds: a light-weight form factor that requires mere microwatts of power that is also capable of transmitting data over a distance of 2.8 kilometers. It manages this by reflecting radio frequency (RF) signals onto sensors that, in turn, synthesize and transmit data to a receiver for decoding, using chirp spread spectrum (CSS) modulation to amplify the signals over longer distances. Other noteworthy technical contributions include the first backscatter harmonic cancellation mechanism to combat sideband interference, and a link-layer protocol that enables multiple devices to share the spectrum.

The system builds on previous work on backscatter led by Allen School professor Shyam Gollakota, director of the Networks & Mobile Systems Lab, and Allen School and ECE professor Joshua Smith, head of the Sensor Systems Laboratory. ECE Ph.D. alumnus Vamsi Talla and Allen School Ph.D. student Mehrdad Hessar are co-primary authors of the paper. Additional contributors include ECE Ph.D. students Bryce Kellogg and Ali Najafi. UW spinout Jeeva Wireless, where Talla now serves as chief technology officer, is commercializing the technology.

For more on this project, see the UW News release here and the project website here.
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                    [post_content] => Niveditha Kalavakonda is a hard-working, innovative graduate student and the past month is evidence of this. The Electrical & Computer Engineering Ph.D. student won first place in the Grace Hopper Celebration in the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Student Research Competition two weeks ago and two place awards in the overall graduate category at the poster session at the 2018 ACM Tapia conference the week before.

Her win at Grace Hopper means she will soon compete in the grand finals in the ACM Student Research Competition for her work in robotics and computer vision. Her research topic, "robotic and neurosurgical instrument segmentation for development of intelligent surgical assistant," will help track surgical instruments autonomously during procedures and can be used for collaborative robotics. Her award-winning topic at ACM Tapia was on "isosurface visualization using augmented reality for improving tumor resection outcomes."

[caption id="attachment_13603" align="alignleft" width="200"]Niveditha Kalavakonda ECE graduate student Niveditha Kalavakonda.[/caption]

Kalavakonda has been interested in these research areas for quite some time. She said the whole idea of working on a problem and finding a solution that has the potential to save lives and be more cost effective, is very exciting to her. She hopes to have an impact in this area so that people in her home country of India can have more life-saving surgeries.

She took a year off between her undergraduate and graduate education to get more research lab experience, something she said her undergraduate education lacked. That lab inadvertently brought her to Seattle.

“When I was working in the lab I read a lot of papers by ECE professor Blake Hannaford and liked what his lab was going. I only applied to UW for grad school because I wanted to work with him,” she said.

Kalavakonda’s decision to get more experience in has helped her graduate career both in terms of research and building connections in her field.

“Nivi is very socially engaged and she is great at the networking aspects of a research career,” Blake Hannaford, Kalavakonda’s professor and graduate adviser said. “Even as a grad student she has developed many global connections at events like prestigious research summer schools on Computer Vision and Artificial Intelligence.”

Kalavakonda has said that the conferences were beneficial because she’s gotten a lot of helpful feedback on her research and encourages more female electrical & computer engineering students to attend Grace Hopper, which is the world’s largest gathering of women technologists.

Her adviser agrees that researchers need to attend conferences.

“It’s important to connect new research ideas with the personalities of the researchers themselves to judge the quality of the new ideas and through interactions to get a sense beyond what a written publication can convey,” he said. “For example, with what degree of confidence does an author answer questions about some research? This is why physically attending conferences is bigger than ever in the age of internet.”

After attending the two recent conferences and presenting her work to people with a diverse array of backgrounds, Kalavakonda is starting the autumn quarter with more ideas and new opportunities for collaboration.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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                    [post_date] => 2018-10-12 11:40:05
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                    [post_content] => By Sarah McQuate

Cheap and easily customizable, 3-D printed devices are perfect for assistive technology, like prosthetics or "smart" pill bottles that can help patients remember to take their daily medications. 

But these plastic parts don't have electronics, which means they can't monitor how patients are using them. 

Now engineers at the University of Washington have developed 3-D printed devices that can track and store their own use — without using batteries or electronics. Instead, this system uses a method called backscatter, through which a device can share information by reflecting signals that have been transmitted to it with an antenna. 

"We're interested in making accessible assistive technology with 3-D printing, but we have no easy way to know how people are using it," said co-author Jennifer Mankoff, a professor in the UW’s Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering. "Could we come up with a circuitless solution that could be printed on consumer-grade, off-the-shelf printers and allow the device itself to collect information? That's what we showed was possible in this paper."

The UW team will present its findings in a paper Oct. 15 at the ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology in Berlin. 

Previously the team developed the first 3-D printed objects that connect to Wi-Fi without electronics. These purely plastic devices can measure if a detergent bottle is running low and then automatically order more online.

[caption id="attachment_13590" align="alignleft" width="300"]3D team The team behind the 3D printed wireless analytics project. Back row (left to right): Vikram Iyer, Jennifer Mankoff, Ian Culhane; Front row: Shyam Gollakota, Justin Chan.Mark Stone/University of Washington[/caption]

"Using plastic for these applications means you don't have to worry about batteries running out or your device getting wet. That can transform the way we think of computing," said senior author Shyam Gollakota, an associate professor in the Allen School. "But if we really want to transform 3-D printed objects into smart objects, we need mechanisms to monitor and store data." 

The researchers tackled the monitoring problem first. In their previous study, their system tracks movement in one direction, which works well for monitoring laundry detergent levels or measuring wind or water speed. But now they needed to make objects that could monitor bidirectional motion like the opening and closing of a pill bottle.

"Last time, we had a gear that turned in one direction. As liquid flowed through the gear, it would push a switch down to contact the antenna," said lead author Vikram Iyer, a doctoral student in the UW Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering. "This time we have two antennas, one on top and one on bottom, that can be contacted by a switch attached to a gear. So opening a pill bottle cap moves the gear in one direction, which pushes the switch to contact one of the two antennas. And then closing the pill bottle cap turns the gear in the opposite direction, and the switch hits the other antenna."

Both of the antennas are identical, so the team had to devise a way to decode which direction the cap was moving. 

"The gear's teeth have a specific sequencing that encodes a message. It's like Morse code," said co-author Justin Chan, a doctoral student in the Allen School. "So when you turn the cap in one direction, you see the message going forward. But when you turn the cap in the other direction, you get a reverse message."

In addition to tracking, for example, pill bottle cap movement, this same method can be used to monitor how people use prosthetics, such as 3-D printed e-NABLE arms. These mechanical hands, which attach at the wrist, are designed to help children with hand abnormalities grasp objects. When children flex their wrists, cables on the hand tighten to make the fingers close. So the team 3-D printed an e-NABLE arm with a prototype of their bidirectional sensor that monitors the hand opening and closing by determining the angle of the wrist. 

The researchers also wanted to create a 3-D printed object that could store its usage information while out of Wi-Fi range. For this application, they chose an insulin pen that could monitor its use and then signal when it was getting low. 

"You can still take insulin even if you don't have a Wi-Fi connection," Gollakota said. "So we needed a mechanism that stores how many times you used it. Once you're back in the range, you can upload that stored data into the cloud." 

This method requires a mechanical motion, like the pressing of a button, and stores that information by rolling up a spring inside a ratchet that can only move in one direction. Each time someone pushes the button, the spring gets tighter. It can't unwind until the user releases the ratchet, hopefully when in range of the backscatter sensor. Then, as the spring unwinds, it moves a gear that triggers a switch to contact an antenna repeatedly as the gear turns. Each contact is counted to determine how many times the user pressed the button.

These devices are only prototypes to show that it is possible for 3-D printed materials to sense bidirectional movement and store data. The next challenge will be to take these concepts and shrink them so that they can be embedded in real pill bottles, prosthetics or insulin pens, Mankoff said.

"This system will give us a higher-fidelity picture of what is going on," she said. "For example, right now we don't have a way of tracking if and how people are using e-NABLE hands. Ultimately what I'd like to do with these data is predict whether or not people are going to abandon a device based on how they're using it."

Ian Culhane, an undergraduate student in the UW Department of Mechanical Engineering, is also a co-author on this paper. This research was funded by the National Science Foundation and Google Faculty Awards.

https://youtu.be/huZsAinypWc

 

 

 

 

 
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                    [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_2299" align="alignleft" width="150"] Professor Lih Lin[/caption]

Professor Lih Lin won the MIT Technology Review Award for 2003. For more information about MIT Technology Review awards, go here.
                    [post_title] => Lih Lin receives MIT Technology Review Award, 2003
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                    [post_content] => The Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering sadly announces the recent passing of a friend, faculty and alum John Ehrenberg on Sept. 27. Ehrenberg passed away in his home at the age of 74.

As a graduate student, a research professor and then an affiliate faculty member in the Department, he spent 45 years at the University of Washington. His innovative research was in advancement of fisheries acoustic research.

Learn more about his work and life here.
                    [post_title] => ECE community grieves loss of friend, faculty and alum, John Ehrenberg
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                    [post_content] => 

Rania Hussein Lecturer, Electrical & Computer Engineering

Research focus: embedded systems, human-machine interaction, image processing, machine learning Rania Hussein joined ECE last summer as a lecturer. For the last ten years, Rania taught courses at all levels in electrical engineering and computer science. Rania held leadership posts in non-profits to promote diversity and the social and educational development of women and youth. She has a record of high ratings from her students, and was a finalist for the distinguished teaching award at UW Bothell in 2017. She previously worked as a research engineer at the Walt Disney Company. She became a senior member of IEEE in 2017.
         

Brian Johnson Assistant Professor, Electrical Engineering

Brian Johnson Ph.D. Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, 2013 M.S. Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, 2009  B.S. Physics, Texas State University, 2008 Brian Johnson will join the Electrical Engineering department in the spring as an assistant professor. For the past five years, he has worked at National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado as a staff scientist. While there, he has led projects focused on next-generation control strategies and energy conversion circuits for power systems. At the UW, he will continue his research at the intersection of power electronics, power systems, and control systems. Broadly, he explores the challenges of transforming aging electricity grids to ease the integration of renewables, reduce costs, ensure reliable operation and enhance efficiency. To achieve these aims, he develops technologies that translate the economic needs of consumers into solutions and leverages the capabilities of power electronics to develop agile systems with high performance.He currently serves as an associate editor for the IEEE Transactions on Energy Conversion. He was awarded a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship in 2010.  
 

Mo Li Associate Professor, Electrical & Computer Engineering, Physics

Mo Li

Ph.D. Applied Physics, California Institute of Technology, 2007 M.S. Physics, University of California, San Diego, 2003 B.S. Physics, University of Science and Technology of China, 2001 Mo Li joins the College with a joint position in electrical and computer engineering and the physics department. Since 2010, he served as an assistant professor and then an associate professor with tenure in electrical and computer engineering at the University of Minnesota. At the UW, he plans to continue his work in integrated photonics, developing new device functionalities and materials for optical and wireless communication and sensing applications. His research also incorporates novel two-dimensional and quantum materials in optoelectronic devices and large scale, silicon-based photonic systems for next-generation communication and computation. Mo's distinctions include an NSF CAREER Award in 2014, McKnight Land-Grant Professorship in 2013 and Air Force Office of Scientific Research Young Investigator Award in 2012.  

Chet Moritz Associate Professor, Electrical & Computer Engineering, Rehabilitation Medicine

  Chet MoritzPh.D. Integrative Biology, University of California, Berkeley, 2003 B.S. Zoology, University of Washington, 1998 Chet Moritz joins ECE in a joint appointment with UW Medicine’s Department of Rehabilitation, where he has been faculty since 2010. He is co-director of the UW’s Center for Neurotechnology (CNT), a research center that leverages transdisciplinary collaborations in medicine and engineering to design novel devices and methods for improving brain and spinal cord injury rehabilitation. In his research, Chet develops techniques to bypass damaged areas of the nervous system and restore control of movement to paralyzed limbs, promoting recovery and potentially regenerating damaged neural tissue. As a 2013 Allen Distinguished Investigator, he and other faculty received $1.5M to design a brain-computer-spinal interface that blends technology, neuroscience and computation to reanimate hand and arm movements after injury. He is currently collaborating with industry partners to test novel stimulation technologies to restore hand and walking function for people with spinal cord injuries, using technique of engineered neuroplasticity to drive long term recovery in the brain and spinal cord.
 

Amy Orsborn Clare Boothe Luce Assistant Professor, Electrical Engineering and Bioengineering

Amy Orsborn Ph.D. Bioengineering, University of California, Berkeley; University of California, San Francisco, 2013 B.S. Engineering Physics, concentration in biomedical engineering, Case Western University, 2007Amy Orsborn will join UW this winter as the Clare Boothe Luce Assistant Professor in the departments of Electrical Engineering and Bioengineering. She has spent the last four years as a postdoctoral researcher at New York University’s Center for Neural Science where she helped to develop platforms to stimulate, record and map neural activity across multiple spatial scales.Amy applies neuroscience to improve rehabilitative and restorative therapies and design state-of-the-art prosthetics for people with disabilities such as limb loss, stroke or spinal injury. Her research collects large-scale data sets to develop brain-machine interfaces (BMI) with potential to restore motor-functions and combines brain adaptation with machine learning to make BMIs that provide more natural and intuitive control for patients.In addition to her research, Amy is helping develop a new web-based resource, called STEMM Role Models, aimed to increase diversity in speakers at scientific conferences. Amy has received fellowships from the National Science Foundation and American Heart Association and was named a 2016 L’Oreal For Women in Science Fellow.  
 

Lisa Zurk Professor, Electrical & Computer Engineering

Lisa ZurkPh.D. Electrical Engineering, University of Washington, 1995 M.S. Electrical Engineering and Computer Engineering, Northeastern University, 1991 B.S. Electrical Engineering, University of Massachusetts at Amherst, 1985 Lisa Zurk joined the UW last spring as a professor in electrical and computer engineering and executive director of the UW Applied Physics Laboratory (APL-UW). She was most recently a program manager in the Strategic Technologies Office at the Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency (DARPA). She was an APL-UW associate scientist during her tenure at Portland State University (PSU) and a principal investigator in collaborative sponsored research with APL-UW scientists. At PSU, she was a professor of electrical and computer engineering and founded and co-directed the Northwest Electromagnetics and Acoustics Research Laboratory. Lisa previously spent 10 years at MIT's Lincoln Laboratory working on national security programs in the areas of radar signal processing and underwater acoustics for advanced sonar systems. She received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, an NSF CAREER award and the ONR Early Faculty Award. She was selected as a recipient for a Murdock Grant, an NSF MRI Grant and was a Fulbright scholar.  
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https://www.ece.uw.edu/spotlight/long-range-backscatter-earns-acm-imwut-distinguished-paper-award/
https://www.ece.uw.edu/spotlight/ece-graduate-student-wins-several-awards-for-research/
https://www.ece.uw.edu/spotlight/researchers-develop-3-d-printed-objects-that-can-track-and-store-how-they-are-used/
https://www.ece.uw.edu/spotlight/lih-lin-receives-mit-technology-review-award-2003/
https://www.ece.uw.edu/spotlight/ece-community-grieves-loss-of-friend-faculty-and-alum-john-ehrenberg/
https://www.ece.uw.edu/spotlight/ece-welcomes-newest-faculty-members/
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Distinguished Paper Award for their 2017 paper, “LoRa Backscatter: Enabling the Vision of Ubiquitous Connectivity.” The award, which was announced during the Ubicomp 2018 conference in Singapore, recognizes outstanding research contributions published in the Proceedings of the ACM on Interactive, Mobile, Wearable and Ubiquitous Technologies. [caption id="attachment_13614" align="alignleft" width="375"]LoRa-backscatter-team-375x250 The long-range backscatter research team includes former UW electrical & computer engineering doctoral students Bryce Kellogg (left), Vamsi Talla (center) and Allen School doctoral student Mehrdad Hessar (right). Photo by Dennis Wise/University of Washington[/caption] Long-range backscatter is the first system of its kind to enable low-cost, wide-area connectivity for a range of objects and devices while consuming 1000x less power than existing technologies. Until now, devices capable of communicating over long distances were bulky and consumed significant amounts of power, whereas the communication range for lighter, less power-hungry devices was short. Long-range backscatter offers the best of both worlds: a light-weight form factor that requires mere microwatts of power that is also capable of transmitting data over a distance of 2.8 kilometers. It manages this by reflecting radio frequency (RF) signals onto sensors that, in turn, synthesize and transmit data to a receiver for decoding, using chirp spread spectrum (CSS) modulation to amplify the signals over longer distances. Other noteworthy technical contributions include the first backscatter harmonic cancellation mechanism to combat sideband interference, and a link-layer protocol that enables multiple devices to share the spectrum. The system builds on previous work on backscatter led by Allen School professor Shyam Gollakota, director of the Networks & Mobile Systems Lab, and Allen School and ECE professor Joshua Smith, head of the Sensor Systems Laboratory. ECE Ph.D. alumnus Vamsi Talla and Allen School Ph.D. student Mehrdad Hessar are co-primary authors of the paper. Additional contributors include ECE Ph.D. students Bryce Kellogg and Ali Najafi. UW spinout Jeeva Wireless, where Talla now serves as chief technology officer, is commercializing the technology. For more on this project, see the UW News release here and the project website here. [post_title] => Long-range backscatter earns ACM IMWUT Distinguished Paper Award [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => long-range-backscatter-earns-acm-imwut-distinguished-paper-award [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-10-15 10:26:40 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-10-15 17:26:40 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.ece.uw.edu/?post_type=spotlight&p=13612 [menu_order] => 1 [post_type] => spotlight [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [1] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 13602 [post_author] => 22 [post_date] => 2018-10-12 14:44:55 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-10-12 21:44:55 [post_content] => Niveditha Kalavakonda is a hard-working, innovative graduate student and the past month is evidence of this. The Electrical & Computer Engineering Ph.D. student won first place in the Grace Hopper Celebration in the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Student Research Competition two weeks ago and two place awards in the overall graduate category at the poster session at the 2018 ACM Tapia conference the week before. Her win at Grace Hopper means she will soon compete in the grand finals in the ACM Student Research Competition for her work in robotics and computer vision. Her research topic, "robotic and neurosurgical instrument segmentation for development of intelligent surgical assistant," will help track surgical instruments autonomously during procedures and can be used for collaborative robotics. Her award-winning topic at ACM Tapia was on "isosurface visualization using augmented reality for improving tumor resection outcomes." [caption id="attachment_13603" align="alignleft" width="200"]Niveditha Kalavakonda ECE graduate student Niveditha Kalavakonda.[/caption] Kalavakonda has been interested in these research areas for quite some time. She said the whole idea of working on a problem and finding a solution that has the potential to save lives and be more cost effective, is very exciting to her. She hopes to have an impact in this area so that people in her home country of India can have more life-saving surgeries. She took a year off between her undergraduate and graduate education to get more research lab experience, something she said her undergraduate education lacked. That lab inadvertently brought her to Seattle. “When I was working in the lab I read a lot of papers by ECE professor Blake Hannaford and liked what his lab was going. I only applied to UW for grad school because I wanted to work with him,” she said. Kalavakonda’s decision to get more experience in has helped her graduate career both in terms of research and building connections in her field. “Nivi is very socially engaged and she is great at the networking aspects of a research career,” Blake Hannaford, Kalavakonda’s professor and graduate adviser said. “Even as a grad student she has developed many global connections at events like prestigious research summer schools on Computer Vision and Artificial Intelligence.” Kalavakonda has said that the conferences were beneficial because she’s gotten a lot of helpful feedback on her research and encourages more female electrical & computer engineering students to attend Grace Hopper, which is the world’s largest gathering of women technologists. Her adviser agrees that researchers need to attend conferences. “It’s important to connect new research ideas with the personalities of the researchers themselves to judge the quality of the new ideas and through interactions to get a sense beyond what a written publication can convey,” he said. “For example, with what degree of confidence does an author answer questions about some research? This is why physically attending conferences is bigger than ever in the age of internet.” After attending the two recent conferences and presenting her work to people with a diverse array of backgrounds, Kalavakonda is starting the autumn quarter with more ideas and new opportunities for collaboration.                   [post_title] => ECE graduate student wins awards for graduate research [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => ece-graduate-student-wins-several-awards-for-research [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-10-12 14:46:12 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-10-12 21:46:12 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.ece.uw.edu/?post_type=spotlight&p=13602 [menu_order] => 2 [post_type] => spotlight [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [2] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 13587 [post_author] => 22 [post_date] => 2018-10-12 11:40:05 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-10-12 18:40:05 [post_content] => By Sarah McQuate Cheap and easily customizable, 3-D printed devices are perfect for assistive technology, like prosthetics or "smart" pill bottles that can help patients remember to take their daily medications. But these plastic parts don't have electronics, which means they can't monitor how patients are using them. Now engineers at the University of Washington have developed 3-D printed devices that can track and store their own use — without using batteries or electronics. Instead, this system uses a method called backscatter, through which a device can share information by reflecting signals that have been transmitted to it with an antenna. "We're interested in making accessible assistive technology with 3-D printing, but we have no easy way to know how people are using it," said co-author Jennifer Mankoff, a professor in the UW’s Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering. "Could we come up with a circuitless solution that could be printed on consumer-grade, off-the-shelf printers and allow the device itself to collect information? That's what we showed was possible in this paper." The UW team will present its findings in a paper Oct. 15 at the ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology in Berlin. Previously the team developed the first 3-D printed objects that connect to Wi-Fi without electronics. These purely plastic devices can measure if a detergent bottle is running low and then automatically order more online. [caption id="attachment_13590" align="alignleft" width="300"]3D team The team behind the 3D printed wireless analytics project. Back row (left to right): Vikram Iyer, Jennifer Mankoff, Ian Culhane; Front row: Shyam Gollakota, Justin Chan.Mark Stone/University of Washington[/caption] "Using plastic for these applications means you don't have to worry about batteries running out or your device getting wet. That can transform the way we think of computing," said senior author Shyam Gollakota, an associate professor in the Allen School. "But if we really want to transform 3-D printed objects into smart objects, we need mechanisms to monitor and store data." The researchers tackled the monitoring problem first. In their previous study, their system tracks movement in one direction, which works well for monitoring laundry detergent levels or measuring wind or water speed. But now they needed to make objects that could monitor bidirectional motion like the opening and closing of a pill bottle. "Last time, we had a gear that turned in one direction. As liquid flowed through the gear, it would push a switch down to contact the antenna," said lead author Vikram Iyer, a doctoral student in the UW Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering. "This time we have two antennas, one on top and one on bottom, that can be contacted by a switch attached to a gear. So opening a pill bottle cap moves the gear in one direction, which pushes the switch to contact one of the two antennas. And then closing the pill bottle cap turns the gear in the opposite direction, and the switch hits the other antenna." Both of the antennas are identical, so the team had to devise a way to decode which direction the cap was moving. "The gear's teeth have a specific sequencing that encodes a message. It's like Morse code," said co-author Justin Chan, a doctoral student in the Allen School. "So when you turn the cap in one direction, you see the message going forward. But when you turn the cap in the other direction, you get a reverse message." In addition to tracking, for example, pill bottle cap movement, this same method can be used to monitor how people use prosthetics, such as 3-D printed e-NABLE arms. These mechanical hands, which attach at the wrist, are designed to help children with hand abnormalities grasp objects. When children flex their wrists, cables on the hand tighten to make the fingers close. So the team 3-D printed an e-NABLE arm with a prototype of their bidirectional sensor that monitors the hand opening and closing by determining the angle of the wrist. The researchers also wanted to create a 3-D printed object that could store its usage information while out of Wi-Fi range. For this application, they chose an insulin pen that could monitor its use and then signal when it was getting low. "You can still take insulin even if you don't have a Wi-Fi connection," Gollakota said. "So we needed a mechanism that stores how many times you used it. Once you're back in the range, you can upload that stored data into the cloud." This method requires a mechanical motion, like the pressing of a button, and stores that information by rolling up a spring inside a ratchet that can only move in one direction. Each time someone pushes the button, the spring gets tighter. It can't unwind until the user releases the ratchet, hopefully when in range of the backscatter sensor. Then, as the spring unwinds, it moves a gear that triggers a switch to contact an antenna repeatedly as the gear turns. Each contact is counted to determine how many times the user pressed the button. These devices are only prototypes to show that it is possible for 3-D printed materials to sense bidirectional movement and store data. The next challenge will be to take these concepts and shrink them so that they can be embedded in real pill bottles, prosthetics or insulin pens, Mankoff said. "This system will give us a higher-fidelity picture of what is going on," she said. "For example, right now we don't have a way of tracking if and how people are using e-NABLE hands. Ultimately what I'd like to do with these data is predict whether or not people are going to abandon a device based on how they're using it." Ian Culhane, an undergraduate student in the UW Department of Mechanical Engineering, is also a co-author on this paper. This research was funded by the National Science Foundation and Google Faculty Awards. https://youtu.be/huZsAinypWc           [post_title] => Researchers develop 3-D printed objects that can track and store how they are used [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => researchers-develop-3-d-printed-objects-that-can-track-and-store-how-they-are-used [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-10-12 11:48:56 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-10-12 18:48:56 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.ece.uw.edu/?post_type=spotlight&p=13587 [menu_order] => 3 [post_type] => spotlight [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [3] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 13554 [post_author] => 22 [post_date] => 2003-01-04 13:51:31 [post_date_gmt] => 2003-01-04 21:51:31 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_2299" align="alignleft" width="150"] Professor Lih Lin[/caption] Professor Lih Lin won the MIT Technology Review Award for 2003. For more information about MIT Technology Review awards, go here. [post_title] => Lih Lin receives MIT Technology Review Award, 2003 [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => lih-lin-receives-mit-technology-review-award-2003 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-10-04 14:02:23 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-10-04 21:02:23 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.ece.uw.edu/?post_type=spotlight&p=13554 [menu_order] => 4 [post_type] => spotlight [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [4] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 13550 [post_author] => 22 [post_date] => 2018-10-03 15:34:08 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-10-03 22:34:08 [post_content] => The Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering sadly announces the recent passing of a friend, faculty and alum John Ehrenberg on Sept. 27. Ehrenberg passed away in his home at the age of 74. As a graduate student, a research professor and then an affiliate faculty member in the Department, he spent 45 years at the University of Washington. His innovative research was in advancement of fisheries acoustic research. Learn more about his work and life here. [post_title] => ECE community grieves loss of friend, faculty and alum, John Ehrenberg [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => ece-community-grieves-loss-of-friend-faculty-and-alum-john-ehrenberg [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-10-03 15:34:08 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-10-03 22:34:08 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.ece.uw.edu/?post_type=spotlight&p=13550 [menu_order] => 5 [post_type] => spotlight [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [5] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 13492 [post_author] => 22 [post_date] => 2018-09-19 14:23:27 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-09-19 21:23:27 [post_content] =>

Rania Hussein Lecturer, Electrical & Computer Engineering

Research focus: embedded systems, human-machine interaction, image processing, machine learning Rania Hussein joined ECE last summer as a lecturer. For the last ten years, Rania taught courses at all levels in electrical engineering and computer science. Rania held leadership posts in non-profits to promote diversity and the social and educational development of women and youth. She has a record of high ratings from her students, and was a finalist for the distinguished teaching award at UW Bothell in 2017. She previously worked as a research engineer at the Walt Disney Company. She became a senior member of IEEE in 2017.
         

Brian Johnson Assistant Professor, Electrical Engineering

Brian Johnson Ph.D. Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, 2013 M.S. Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, 2009  B.S. Physics, Texas State University, 2008 Brian Johnson will join the Electrical Engineering department in the spring as an assistant professor. For the past five years, he has worked at National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado as a staff scientist. While there, he has led projects focused on next-generation control strategies and energy conversion circuits for power systems. At the UW, he will continue his research at the intersection of power electronics, power systems, and control systems. Broadly, he explores the challenges of transforming aging electricity grids to ease the integration of renewables, reduce costs, ensure reliable operation and enhance efficiency. To achieve these aims, he develops technologies that translate the economic needs of consumers into solutions and leverages the capabilities of power electronics to develop agile systems with high performance.He currently serves as an associate editor for the IEEE Transactions on Energy Conversion. He was awarded a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship in 2010.  
 

Mo Li Associate Professor, Electrical & Computer Engineering, Physics

Mo Li

Ph.D. Applied Physics, California Institute of Technology, 2007 M.S. Physics, University of California, San Diego, 2003 B.S. Physics, University of Science and Technology of China, 2001 Mo Li joins the College with a joint position in electrical and computer engineering and the physics department. Since 2010, he served as an assistant professor and then an associate professor with tenure in electrical and computer engineering at the University of Minnesota. At the UW, he plans to continue his work in integrated photonics, developing new device functionalities and materials for optical and wireless communication and sensing applications. His research also incorporates novel two-dimensional and quantum materials in optoelectronic devices and large scale, silicon-based photonic systems for next-generation communication and computation. Mo's distinctions include an NSF CAREER Award in 2014, McKnight Land-Grant Professorship in 2013 and Air Force Office of Scientific Research Young Investigator Award in 2012.  

Chet Moritz Associate Professor, Electrical & Computer Engineering, Rehabilitation Medicine

  Chet MoritzPh.D. Integrative Biology, University of California, Berkeley, 2003 B.S. Zoology, University of Washington, 1998 Chet Moritz joins ECE in a joint appointment with UW Medicine’s Department of Rehabilitation, where he has been faculty since 2010. He is co-director of the UW’s Center for Neurotechnology (CNT), a research center that leverages transdisciplinary collaborations in medicine and engineering to design novel devices and methods for improving brain and spinal cord injury rehabilitation. In his research, Chet develops techniques to bypass damaged areas of the nervous system and restore control of movement to paralyzed limbs, promoting recovery and potentially regenerating damaged neural tissue. As a 2013 Allen Distinguished Investigator, he and other faculty received $1.5M to design a brain-computer-spinal interface that blends technology, neuroscience and computation to reanimate hand and arm movements after injury. He is currently collaborating with industry partners to test novel stimulation technologies to restore hand and walking function for people with spinal cord injuries, using technique of engineered neuroplasticity to drive long term recovery in the brain and spinal cord.
 

Amy Orsborn Clare Boothe Luce Assistant Professor, Electrical Engineering and Bioengineering

Amy Orsborn Ph.D. Bioengineering, University of California, Berkeley; University of California, San Francisco, 2013 B.S. Engineering Physics, concentration in biomedical engineering, Case Western University, 2007Amy Orsborn will join UW this winter as the Clare Boothe Luce Assistant Professor in the departments of Electrical Engineering and Bioengineering. She has spent the last four years as a postdoctoral researcher at New York University’s Center for Neural Science where she helped to develop platforms to stimulate, record and map neural activity across multiple spatial scales.Amy applies neuroscience to improve rehabilitative and restorative therapies and design state-of-the-art prosthetics for people with disabilities such as limb loss, stroke or spinal injury. Her research collects large-scale data sets to develop brain-machine interfaces (BMI) with potential to restore motor-functions and combines brain adaptation with machine learning to make BMIs that provide more natural and intuitive control for patients.In addition to her research, Amy is helping develop a new web-based resource, called STEMM Role Models, aimed to increase diversity in speakers at scientific conferences. Amy has received fellowships from the National Science Foundation and American Heart Association and was named a 2016 L’Oreal For Women in Science Fellow.  
 

Lisa Zurk Professor, Electrical & Computer Engineering

Lisa ZurkPh.D. Electrical Engineering, University of Washington, 1995 M.S. Electrical Engineering and Computer Engineering, Northeastern University, 1991 B.S. Electrical Engineering, University of Massachusetts at Amherst, 1985 Lisa Zurk joined the UW last spring as a professor in electrical and computer engineering and executive director of the UW Applied Physics Laboratory (APL-UW). She was most recently a program manager in the Strategic Technologies Office at the Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency (DARPA). She was an APL-UW associate scientist during her tenure at Portland State University (PSU) and a principal investigator in collaborative sponsored research with APL-UW scientists. At PSU, she was a professor of electrical and computer engineering and founded and co-directed the Northwest Electromagnetics and Acoustics Research Laboratory. Lisa previously spent 10 years at MIT's Lincoln Laboratory working on national security programs in the areas of radar signal processing and underwater acoustics for advanced sonar systems. She received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, an NSF CAREER award and the ONR Early Faculty Award. She was selected as a recipient for a Murdock Grant, an NSF MRI Grant and was a Fulbright scholar.  
[post_title] => ECE welcomes 2018 faculty members [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => ece-welcomes-newest-faculty-members [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-10-09 09:41:14 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-10-09 16:41:14 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.ece.uw.edu/?post_type=spotlight&p=13492 [menu_order] => 6 [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] => 13612 [post_author] => 22 [post_date] => 2018-10-15 10:26:39 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-10-15 17:26:39 [post_content] => By Kristin Osborne Researchers in the University of Washington Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering and the Allen School were recognized this week with the IMWUT Vol 1. Distinguished Paper Award for their 2017 paper, “LoRa Backscatter: Enabling the Vision of Ubiquitous Connectivity.” The award, which was announced during the Ubicomp 2018 conference in Singapore, recognizes outstanding research contributions published in the Proceedings of the ACM on Interactive, Mobile, Wearable and Ubiquitous Technologies. [caption id="attachment_13614" align="alignleft" width="375"]LoRa-backscatter-team-375x250 The long-range backscatter research team includes former UW electrical & computer engineering doctoral students Bryce Kellogg (left), Vamsi Talla (center) and Allen School doctoral student Mehrdad Hessar (right). Photo by Dennis Wise/University of Washington[/caption] Long-range backscatter is the first system of its kind to enable low-cost, wide-area connectivity for a range of objects and devices while consuming 1000x less power than existing technologies. Until now, devices capable of communicating over long distances were bulky and consumed significant amounts of power, whereas the communication range for lighter, less power-hungry devices was short. Long-range backscatter offers the best of both worlds: a light-weight form factor that requires mere microwatts of power that is also capable of transmitting data over a distance of 2.8 kilometers. It manages this by reflecting radio frequency (RF) signals onto sensors that, in turn, synthesize and transmit data to a receiver for decoding, using chirp spread spectrum (CSS) modulation to amplify the signals over longer distances. Other noteworthy technical contributions include the first backscatter harmonic cancellation mechanism to combat sideband interference, and a link-layer protocol that enables multiple devices to share the spectrum. The system builds on previous work on backscatter led by Allen School professor Shyam Gollakota, director of the Networks & Mobile Systems Lab, and Allen School and ECE professor Joshua Smith, head of the Sensor Systems Laboratory. ECE Ph.D. alumnus Vamsi Talla and Allen School Ph.D. student Mehrdad Hessar are co-primary authors of the paper. Additional contributors include ECE Ph.D. students Bryce Kellogg and Ali Najafi. UW spinout Jeeva Wireless, where Talla now serves as chief technology officer, is commercializing the technology. For more on this project, see the UW News release here and the project website here. [post_title] => Long-range backscatter earns ACM IMWUT Distinguished Paper Award [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => long-range-backscatter-earns-acm-imwut-distinguished-paper-award [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-10-15 10:26:40 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-10-15 17:26:40 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.ece.uw.edu/?post_type=spotlight&p=13612 [menu_order] => 1 [post_type] => spotlight [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [comment_count] => 0 [current_comment] => -1 [found_posts] => 616 [max_num_pages] => 103 [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] => 0f87fe429e20a1f4e53778b54d8d4588 [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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