June 2015

The citation for Associate Professor Christos Kozyrakis' award reads, "For outstanding contributions to transactional memory technologies.” The Maurice Wilkes Award is given annually by ACM SIGARCH for an outstanding contribution to computer architecture made by an individual in the first 20 years of their career. The award is named after Sir Maurice Wilkes, a pioneer of computing systems that made fundamental contributions to the field quite early in his career.

Prof. Kozyrakis' research focuses on making computer systems of any size faster, cheaper, and greener. His current work focuses on the hardware architecture, runtime environment, programming models, and security infrastructure for warehouse-scale data centers and many-core chips with thousands of general purpose cores and fixed functions accelerators.

SIGARCH serves a unique community of computer professionals working on the forefront of computer design in both industry and academia. It is ACM's primary forum for interchange of ideas about tomorrow's hardware and its interactions with compilers and operating systems.

Congratulations to Christos for this well-deserved recognition of his outstanding research contributions.


Read more about the ACM SIGARCH Maurice Wilkes Award

Centennial TA Award winners
June 2015

PhD candidates Steven Bell and Jayant Charthad received the 2015 Centennial Teaching Assistant Award. The Centennial award program recognizes outstanding teaching by TA's in the Humanities and Sciences, Earth Sciences, and Engineering schools.

Nominated by faculty, peers, and previous students, each will receive a $500 prize and certificate in a June ceremony.

About Steven
Steven is the Head TA for ENGR40M, a wildly popular "maker" course. With Mark Horowitz as lead faculty, the course was re-vamped and taught to a small group of students in Spring of 2014. By Fall quarter, 120 students were enrolled. The current semester has 277 students enrolled; the highest enrollment to date.

Steven worked with his Ph.D advisor Mark Horowitz to create E40M. He created some of the lab assignments, and has worked tirelessly improving all of them to be more clear and fun for the students. He also manages the lab sessions and creates homework assignments, improving the clarity and educational value whenever possible.

A few comments from Steven's nominators include:

PhD candidate Steven Bell
  • "Steven's contributions have been essential to the course's success. Keenly aware that our students are beginners, Steven has worked tirelessly to improve the accessibility of our subject."
  • "He's also always looking to see how the class can be made better. He doesn't just fix current problems, but looks to see how such problems can be avoided in the future. Not only is he hardworking and organized, but he's a wonderful teacher. When explaining concepts to students, he presents them in an easy to understand way and checks in with the students to be sure they are actually understanding what he's saying."
  • "[I]t is clear that he thinks deeply about ways of teaching the introductory concepts in E40M more effectively. None of these efforts are required of a CA or head CA, but they speak to his commitment to improving the educational experience for both students and fellow teaching staff."



About Jayant

PhD candidate Jayant Charthad
Jayant has been TA for several courses, including EE101B, EE114/214A, 214B, Physics105 and Physics64. Jayant assisted Professor Amin Arbabian with redesigning EE101B's lab. The result was such a success, the course was adjusted to match the lab. Prof. Arbabian states, "Jayant's "secret sauce" is his deep understanding of the technical material, ability to break down complex concepts into smaller pieces and an amazing talent in explaining fundamentals -- and most of important of all -- true passion for teaching."


A few comments from Jayant's nominators include:

  • "Jayant's responses were lengthy, often going above and beyond the scope of the question to make sure the student would appreciate the problem in the greater context of IC design and to help the student develop intuition."
  • "He understands that learning is a journey and serves as a wonderful guide through the process. His humble nature makes him intrinsically approachable and helps transform apprehensive freshmen in electrical engineering into inquisitive explorers, itching for intellectual discovery. Long after lab hours have ended, Jayant is always there and welcoming of our questions."
  • "From my experience in this class, I do think Jayant influenced my decision to pursue circuits as my B.S. and M.S. concentrations."

Congratulations to Steven and Jayant! Their efforts are recognized and greatly valued by the Electrical Engineering department.

June 2015

Students, faculty, and staff gathered in Hewlett auditorium to try their luck at winning one of two $100 gift cards, and of course to hear the presentations and participate in the Q and A session of the 2015 State of the Department event. More than 70 questions were submitted in advance, with others being asked during the event.

An enthusiastic welcome from EE Student Life (EESL) Committee Chair, Professor Andrea Goldsmith, opened the event and also provided an overview of EESL, whose main objective is to initiate and support student activities outside of the classroom and research lab. In addition to the State of the Department event, EESL facilitates and/or co-sponsors numerous activities throughout the year. The activities are highly valued by the students because they provide an opportunity for students to learn about others' experiences and perspectives, and help them navigate a successful path through Stanford and beyond. Says Goldsmith, "EESL was formed to enhance student life, create a strong sense of community within EE, and serve as a conduit for student feedback, input, and new ideas. Our goal is to improve the Stanford experience for every EE student."

Graduating senior and Fuse President, Mersina Simanski (BS '15) represented the EE undergraduate group, Fuse. Having completed its inaugural year, Fuse attracted more than 65 members and hosted many undergraduate events throughout the year. The most popular being the TI Make-a-Thon, the alumni dinner, the faculty mixer, and volleyball games on the Packard lawn. Incoming Fuse president, Iliana Bray (B.S. '17) plans to continue growing Fuse and hosting engaging events for EE undergrads.

GSEE, the graduate student body of the Electrical Engineering department, highlighted their involvement with various EE events throughout the year. Of note, are the popular social HappEE hours, EEPROM, and faculty lunches. The current president, Ziad Shehadeh (MS '15) will pass the role to Kevin Schubert (PhD, '17). Ziad states "Despite the major time commitment involved, it has been a privilege leading this organization in the 2014-2015 academic year. I got heavily involved with EE students from all over the world, interacted with the EE department as a whole, and built several connections with faculty, industry, and other departments and student groups on campus. We tried to target the needs of the EE graduate students and hopefully with a larger leadership team in the future, even more of those needs can be addressed."

EE Department Chair, Professor Abbas El Gamal, provided an update on the department. As the largest department within the School of Engineering, it is home to 58 faculty and nearly 1,000 students. EE welcomes three faculty in 2014 and 2015: John Duchi, Tom Soh, and Gordon Wetzstein.

The EE Department also announced the SystemX Alliance — an industry affiliate program, previously known as CIS. El Gamal reported, "SystemX essentially returns CIS to its' original mission with a 21st century focus: system scaling." SystemX is a multidisciplinary collaboration across 10 departments, with focus areas in energy, bio, quantum, IoE, and others. For EE students, SystemX provides a wealth of research opportunity and faculty collaboration.

The Q and A session, facilitated by Professor El Gamal also stimulated dialogue between students and faculty regarding several important issues. A few of them included:

Q: What change or new initiative in the EE department were you most proud of this year?
A: I think I am most proud of the efforts that our faculty have been putting into developing new undergraduate classes and revamping other classes. Although we started this initiative last year, the big effort started this year and will be continuing over the next years. I think the results are very promising. Another initiative we started this year is to improve graduate admissions. We have many more faculty involved in reviewing applicant folders, and the faculty conducted Skype interviews with the final candidates, which I think worked quite well.

Q: Why do we need to take so many classes in our PhD program?
A: Stanford's EE PhD program is designed to provide students with a strong foundation that will serve them throughout their career. Engineering is a very rapidly changing field and PhD research is by definition very narrow and deep. Courses, if selected correctly, will help broaden students' background and prepare them for moving into new areas in the future.
Or, as one faculty member playfully stated, "Because we said so, It's good for you, and one day you'll thank us," to which the room erupted with laughter.

Q: How is the department helping attract more undergraduate women to the major, especially freshmen who may not even take EE courses their freshman year?
A: EE works very hard to attract the best undergraduates in general. Our revamped undergraduate curriculum helps expose students to the amazing array of application that electrical engineering provides. We hope that students — especially female students — can see themselves being successful in EE. We're continuing to challenge ourselves to teach in new ways, and we want students who learn in new ways.
Student organizations like Fuse, WEE (Women in Electrical Engineering), and GSEE exist to be inclusive. They all do a great job of providing activities that are accessible to every student. Specifically, WEE has a mentoring pair program, and the leadership of Fuse is female. Each student group has it's own focus, and all are outstanding student communities — especially because of the female members.

Another submitted question, was the oft wondered, "Why is Bob Dutton so cool?" Professor El Gamal responded, "The reason Bob is so cool is because he is one of the most passionate and focused people I've ever worked with. When he takes on a mission, he goes all the way. He has done this in his research and is now doing it for the undergrads."

Following the Q and A session, the winning ticket was drawn for the gift cards — Congratulations to Neal Master (PhD candidate), and Atinuke Ademola-Idowu (MS '15) .

The State of the Department event concluded with dinner and drinks, hosted by the EESL Committee and GSEE on the Hewlett/Packard entrance patio.

 Consider joining us at the 2015 EE Commencement Ceremony, Sunday, June 14th on the Medical School Dean's Lawn, where you'll hear more about the EE student experience.

June 2015

In their Nature Photonics paper, Professor Shanhui Fan, graduate student Yu Shi, and alum Zongfu Yu show that, "when a signal is transmitting through, such isolators are constrained by a reciprocity relation for a class of small-amplitude additional waves and, as a result, cannot provide isolation for arbitrary backward-propagating noise. This result points to an important limitation on the use of nonlinear optical isolators for signal processing and for laser protection."

The Stanford News reports, "In previous works, researchers used a specific method to test whether nonlinear isolators on a chip could keep information flowing in the right direction. They would direct a beam of light in the "forward" direction and verify that the isolator would let the light through. Then they would direct a beam of light in the "backward" direction toward the isolator, and verify that the isolator would block that beam. It was not standard practice to test forward and backward beams at the same time."

This finding is important for designing isolators for optical chips. Engineers will need to look elsewhere for devices that can keep optical information flowing in one direction, but not the other.

Read full Stanford News article.

April 2015

"Electricity for All" is the course Kristen Pownell, a junior in EE, designed for the Stanford Splash program. As nearly 50 students filed into her classroom, Kristen grew more enthused to share the fun and potential of Electrical Engineering.

Kristen's "students" were 7th-9th graders participating in Stanford's Splash program. The Splash program brings more than 2,000 high school and middle school students to Stanford's campus for a two-day learning extravaganza. Classes are taught by Stanford undergraduates, graduate students, and community members.

"Electricity for All" was designed to teach basic EE principles like current, voltage, and resistance. In addition to introducing and talking through the principles, Kristen brought a simple LED flashlight project for each student to make and take home.

Excitement grew as the room went dark and each student was able to turn on and off their handmade LED flashlight, basking in the glow of their new EE knowledge.


Kristen Pownell (EE '16) was assisted by 3 other undergraduates. They plan to continue teaching Splash courses and sharing the fantastic possibilities of EE.


Read more about Stanford's Splash program.

May 2015

Kristen Lurie (EE PhD '15), pictured center, received the Best Paper Award from the Engineering in Urology Society (EUS). Kristen will present her paper, "Scanning fiber technology for rapid volumetric optical coherence tomography cystoscopy" at the American Urology Association conference in May.

Kristen is a research assistant at the Stanford Biomedical Optics group; Professor Ellerbee's research lab. The majority of Kristen's work is dedicated to development of an algorithm for computer vision and biomedical optical systems to enable new visualizations of the bladder wall.

Tahereh Marvdashti (EE PhD '16), pictured left, has been awarded an International Society for Optics and Photonics (SPIE) Education Scholarship. Tahereh's research focus area is "Label-free assessment of molecular and structural abnormalities for early skin cancer detection."


Congratulations to Kristen and Tahereh!

June 2015

Professor Shenoy is one of 26 finalists appointed as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. Shenoy is a leader in the emerging field of brain-machine interfaces to control the movement of computer cursors and prosthetic limbs. He has developed computational methods to dramatically speed up the ability to decode patterns of neural activity in a person's brain. These algorithms have been incorporated into a system designed to allow people with paralysis to control a computer cursor with their thoughts.

Known for their creativity and productivity, HHMI investigators push the bounds of knowledge in biomedical research. Professor Shenoy will continue his research and teaching at Stanford. As an HHMI investigator, additional funding will allow the freedom to explore and follow his research ideas through to completion.

Shenoy's HHMI appointment will begin in September. 


Read School of Engineering News article.

May 2015

In April, Fuse partnered with Texas Instruments (TI) and IEEE to host a Make-a-Thon. Iliana Bray, an EE undergraduate, led the event and chose the term "Make-a-Thon" to emphasize the creative process in electrical engineering. The daylong event was held in the Packard Atrium.

The Make-a-Thon attracted both EE students and students considering EE; all exhibited their "maker spirit." Nearly fifty students joined together and spent their Saturday deconstructing, reconstructing, transmitting and fine-tuning various projects. Several participants are currently enrolled in EE101B and E40.

The morning began with a workshop lead by a TI engineer, Rick Chelminski. The students created alarm clocks using TI's MSP430 Launch Pad. After the sponsor-provided lunch, the students were free to work on their own projects, using a variety of sensors provided by TI that could connect with the LaunchPads.

Many students formed groups for their projects, embodying the collaborative spirit of creating. A few student projects included:

  • a plant moisture monitoring system, which alerts the user when the plant needs to be watered,
  • a motion-activated music player
  • and a theremin.

Students from the Internet of Things (IoT) used this opportunity to continue working on long-term projects, including:

  • smart sprinklers
  • and a remote-controlled microwave.

Everyone enjoyed exploring how various devices and sensors could help them realize their goals. A panel of judges gave prizes to several teams, based on their project and presentation. Overall, the Make-a-Thon was an exciting, engaging event, leaving students and sponsors looking forward to future Make-a-Thons.

May 2015

On May 18th and 19th, Professor Stephen P. Boyd will present at the Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel. The occasion marks the 56th Chaim Weizmann Memorial Lectures. The Weizmann Memorial Lectures are considered the most prestigious lecture series at the Weizmann Institute of Science.

The lectures are intended to review the newest developments in the field chosen for discussion. This year's event consists of two lectures, which are open to the Institute's faculty and staff, and the community. Monday's talk is aimed toward anyone interested in science, while Tuesday's lecture is geared toward scientists from the Weizmann Institute and from other institutions of higher education in Israel.

Professor Boyd's two lectures are titled: 'Convex Optimization' and 'Domain Specific Languages for Convex Optimization.'

May 2015

"A new algorithm enables a moment-by-moment analysis of brain activity each time a laboratory monkey reaches this way or that during an experiment. It's like reading the monkey's mind," states the Stanford Report article.

Professor Shenoy and neuroscientist Matthew Kaufman, a previous student of Shenoy's, published the research findings in eLife.

Shenoy's lab focuses on movement control and neural prostheses — such as artificial arms — controlled by the user's brain.

"This basic neuroscience discovery will help create neural prostheses that can withhold moving a prosthetic arm until the user is certain of their decision, thereby averting premature or inopportune movements," Shenoy said.


Krishna Shenoy is Professor of Electrical Engineering and Courtesy Professor of Neurobiology.



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February 2014

Three staff members each received a $50 Visa card in recognition of their extraordinary efforts as part of the department’s 2014 Staff Gift Card Bonus Program. The EE department received several nominations in January, and nominations from 2013 were also considered.

Following are January’s gift card recipients and some of the comments from their nominators:

Ann Guerra, Faculty Administrator

  • “She is very kind to students and always enthusiastic to help students… every time we need emergent help, she is willing to give us a hand.”
  • “Ann helps anyone who goes to her for help with anything, sometimes when it’s beyond her duty.” 

Teresa Nguyen, Student Accounting Associate

  • “She stays on top of our many, many student financial issues, is an extremely reliable source of information and is super friendly.”
  • “Teresa’s cheerful disposition, her determination, and her professionalism seem to go above and beyond what is simply required.”

Helen Niu, Faculty Administrator

  • “Helen is always a pleasure to work with.”
  • “She goes the extra mile in her dealings with me, which is very much appreciated.”

The School of Engineering once again gave the EE department several gift cards to distribute to staff members who are recognized for going above and beyond. More people will be recognized next month, and past nominations will still be eligible for future months. EE faculty, staff and students are welcome to nominate a deserving staff person by visiting

Ann Guerra  Teresa Nguyen  Helen Niu



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