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image of Denise Murphy
July 2021

Dedicated staff member, Denise Murphy retired in May after 30 years in the Electrical Engineering department.

 

During her career in EE, Denise's warmth, judgment, caring, and knowledge of Stanford's sometimes confusing processes and conventions, benefitted many students, faculty, and staff. A revered colleague, Denise continues to be a trusted friend and ally for many staff.

 

The Denise Murphy Electrical Engineering Endowment

In honor of Denise, a number of faculty and former students endowed a fund in her honor; The Denise Murphy Electrical Engineering Endowment. This fund will be used to support department staff, in perpetuity. If you're interested in contributing, please contact EE's Director of Finance and Operations, Mary K. McMahon.

Although sad to see Denise leave our department, we all wish her tremendous satisfaction with her future adventures.

image of prof Dorsa Sadigh
July 2021

Congratulations to Assistant Professor Dorsa Sadigh! She is included with MIT's 35 Innovators Under 35.

By developing new ways for computers to anticipate people's actions, Dorsa Sadigh wants to help pave the way for a future in which human and robots do things like share the roads. Her research interests lie at the intersection of robotics, machine learning, and control theory. Dorsa's research group develops algorithms for AI agents that safely and reliably interact with people. Her research group is ILIAD

The MIT Technology Review, 35 Innovators Under 35 looks at where technology is now, and where it's going and who's taking it there. Congratulations to all the innovators!

 

Please join us in congratulating Dorsa on this recognition!

 

 

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image of prof Abbas El Gamal; ic: John Todd
June 2021

By Leslie Hobbs

Two years before Abbas El Gamal was born in Cairo, his uncle drowned in a tragic accident just days before starting his PhD at MIT.

Abbas El Gamal inherited his uncle's engineering textbooks and when he learned to read English, he started looking at them. He never stopped. Today, El Gamal credits his Uncle Mahmoud as the reason he became an electrical engineer. His distinguished career includes being the Hitachi America Professor in the School of Engineering; a key player in multiple Silicon Valley companies over the years; the author and co-author of more than 230 papers and a textbook; holder of over 30 patents; and former chair of the Department of Electrical Engineering, where he has been on the faculty since 1981. El Gamal reflects on the lessons of a career focused on the applications of emerging technologies, enjoying the beauty of learning, and always tackling big problems.

Irrepressible

From day one, I liked building things and taking them apart. I used to ask my dad to bring me bits of electrical equipment leftover from World War II: motors, wireless communications gear, and the like. My desk was my lab, always filled with gadgets and things. On one memorable occasion, I set it – and almost the house too – on fire with a chemistry experiment. I often got in trouble with my father for spending more time tinkering than doing my homework.

As a child I always spoke my mind. I was very close with my grandfather, a well-regarded lawyer and senator, and he encouraged me to express my opinions. That got me in trouble at home and in school. This was not a time in Egypt to be too free with your opinions; we were living under the Nasser dictatorship. My parents had been very clear that you couldn't say anything publicly to criticize the government, not in school, not on public transportation. They were constantly watching and making sure we did not get into trouble.

At home, however, my father gave me a much more accurate picture of history and events. So at school, when a teacher would say something that I knew was false or if we read a textbook that had been sanitized by the government, I couldn't help saying, "That's not true. That didn't happen." Then I'd get kicked out of class. My father was always waiting for me to get in real trouble, but I was just speaking my mind like he taught me.

Determined

After getting my undergraduate degree at Cairo University, I came to the U.S. on a Rotary Club scholarship to pursue my master's at Stanford. It was a great time of life. I was really embraced by my host family and very much embedded in Bay Area culture. I remember being surprised when they encouraged me to have fun. I remember thinking, "Fun? What is this fun business? I've never heard of this before." I discovered hiking and it was fun!

At the time, I had an opportunity to return and take a full-time appointment as an assistant professor at Cairo University. But I knew if I went back, I would only get to teach. There were no opportunities in Egypt for electronics the way there were in medicine or even civil engineering – and I wanted to be where the action was. I switched my master's focus from electronic devices, which I already knew something about, to information systems. Eventually, working under renowned information theorist, the late SoE professor Tom Cover, I got my PhD in electrical engineering.

This theory work was truly foundational and exciting. It was challenging and elegant – but at the time, there were almost no applications. I wanted to start practicing, to get my hands dirty and have some impact.

After I finished my PhD, I took a position at the University of Southern California as an assistant professor and started working on very large scale integrated circuits (VLSI). People were designing chips by hand, which was not remotely scalable and very error-prone in fabrication. I started attending Carver Mead's meetings on VLSI at Caltech; Carver was a pioneer in microelectronics and co-wrote a groundbreaking textbook on VLSI. He was looking at the automation and verification processes which would make it possible to scale design. I did some work on algorithms, leveraging my theoretical background, to reimagine the layout of chips.

This set me on a new and interesting path.

Mistaken

My work on VLSI led to my first foray into industry in 1983, when the co-founder of LSI Logic and Stanford alum Jim Koford invited me to consult with them. They asked me how I wanted to be paid – in money or in shares. I said, "What's a share?" In Egypt, you take the money. This was a stupid – and expensive! – mistake because they went public a year later and it was a hugely successful IPO. I subsequently started their research and development group, a lab that became the consumer products division, which – after I left – ended up reaching $1B in revenue in just five years.

I had intended to go right back to Stanford but then some Intel ex-employees told me they had developed an electrically programmable switch and asked if I knew how it might be used in logic devices. That's when I became a co-founder of Actel, only the second company to develop field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs), integrated circuits that can be electrically customized after they're manufactured. I spent a year and a half there before returning to the university while maintaining the chief scientist role with the company.

Once I returned to Stanford (again!), my PhD student Boyd Fowler got me interested in image sensors and how they might be designed in complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) technology, the mainstream technology for fabricating microprocessors, digital memories, among most other types of chips. Why have capture work separately from computing? Why not integrate them? Amazingly, this was not a waste of time. It actually made today's mobile phone and computer cameras possible – and my group was the first to work on this in academia.

Now, the PhD students who worked on this project have gone on to be leaders in imaging technologies at some of the world's most innovative companies. It's really exciting to see the impact they're making. This project has also resulted in several spinoff companies, including one that developed high dynamic range images and another that developed a next-generation DNA sequencer.

I also helped found a company that's developed very small microscopes to watch brain neurons fire. There is no bigger challenge or mystery than understanding the human brain. Given how important the brain is to life, it's astounding how very little we know about how it works. This company is working to advance our understanding of neural circuits, from what they do exactly, when they fire, in response to what stimuli, etc.

Reflective

As I reflect back on it, my focus on applications of emerging technologies has kept my work relevant, whether it was using CMOS technology scaling – which enables an ever-increasing number of transistors to be packed on a chip – to develop field programmable gate arrays or integrating image capture with computing, which led to the design of microscopes to uncover how neurons work in the brain.

For the past decade, I've also been working on smart grid problems as part of the Bits and Watts initiative in the Precourt Institute. Again, my work here has been motivated by emerging applications, in this case how high-capacity lithium-ion energy storage – used to power mobile devices and electric cars – could help decarbonize the electric power grid by offsetting the variability of centralized and distributed renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind.

I'm always trying to connect with the world. I'm asking myself continuously, "What's really going on with this?" I always want to be doing something relevant. I'd like to be remembered as someone who spent time on things that mattered. I never wanted to dig the hole deeper and deeper in one area or subject for no reason or goal.

Joyful

I encourage students to broaden their backgrounds and explore different subjects. You do need to take serious classes – in math, physics, the fundamentals of electrical engineering or computer science. But I hope students can find the beauty in the process, to enjoy the learning. Concepts are good for you intellectually and help you grow. It's so easy to be in the "run, run, run" mentality, always pushing for the learning that leads to the bottom line. Enjoy it for its own sake.

I was so lucky to be schooled by my grandfather for my first few years – staying at home and doing my own thing was wonderful. I read random things, built things on a whim, could lie on my bed and stare at the ceiling and just think. That was really valuable. It taught me to take my time and be curious. I wish everyone could have this experience and the joy that comes with it.

 

Source: Stanford Engineering News / School News

 

image of prof Howard Zebker
June 2021

Venus is often called Earth's sister planet or twin because the two worlds are of similar size and density. Yet the second rock from the sun is hot and inhospitable in the extreme. "That's one of the reasons we know so little about the surface," said Professor Howard Zebker. "If you send a spacecraft to the surface of Venus, which has been done several times, they only last a few minutes until the hot acid burns them up."

Howard is a member of the science team for VERITAS, one of three missions to Venus announced in June 2021 by NASA and the European Space Agency. As part of the VERITAS mission – which is expected to launch around 2028-2030 – instruments aboard the spacecraft will measure how long it takes radar signals to bounce back from a series of precise locations at different times. This will yield pairs of images that can be combined to reveal changes in altitude at the surface using a technique known as interferometric synthetic aperture radar, or InSAR.

Algorithms and techniques pioneered by Howard will help to guide these measurements and translate them into high-resolution 3D maps of any ongoing deformation of Venus' outermost layer. On Earth, InSAR has been used to map uplift and subsidence related to groundwater pumping; to detect sinkholes; and to study glacier movements, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, landslides and more. But this is the first time the techniques will be used by spacecraft to identify active fault movements beyond our world.

While NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. will manage the VERITAS (Venus Emissivity, Radio Science, InSAR, Topography & Spectroscopy) mission, students working in Professor Zebker's lab – Radar Remote Sensing & Radar Interferometry Group will help to refine algorithms for the mission over the next several years and work to interpret the data that come in once VERITAS makes it into orbit.

Howard Zebker is a professor of geophysics and electrical engineering. He discusses his role in the VERITAS mission; how InSAR will help to answer key questions about volcanic activity and tectonic plates on Venus; why our hothouse twin may hold insights relevant to modeling of climate change on our own planet; and paths for interested students to get involved.

 

Excerpted from Stanford News, "Is Venus still geologically active? Stanford expert explains technology powering NASA's quest to understand Earth's twin", June 29, 2021.

Related News

image of professor Eric Pop
June 2021

Professor Eric Pop and team describe the ability to produce nanoscale flexible electronics In their paper, "High-Performance Flexible Nanoscale Transistors Based on Transition Metal Dichalcogenides," published in Nature Electronics. Flexible electronics promise bendable, shapeable, yet energy-efficient computer circuits that can be worn on or implanted in the human body to perform myriad health-related tasks. Future variations future of the circuits will communicate wirelessly with the outside world – another large leap toward viability for flextronics, particularly those implanted in the human body or integrated deep within other devices connected to the internet of things.

[...]
With a prototype and patent application complete, postdoc Alwin Daus and Professor Eric Pop have moved on to their next challenges of refining the devices. They have built similar transistors using two other atomically thin semiconductors (MoSe2 and WSe2) to demonstrate the broad applicability of the technique.

Meanwhile, Alwin said that he is looking into integrating radio circuitry with the devices, which will allow future variations to communicate wirelessly with the outside world – another large leap toward viability for flextronics, particularly those implanted in the human body or integrated deep within other devices connected to the internet of things.

Eric reports, "This is more than a promising production technique. We've achieved flexibility, density, high performance and low power – all at the same time. This work will hopefully move the technology forward on several levels."

Co-authors include postdoctoral scholars Sam Vaziri and Kevin Brenner, EE doctoral candidates Victoria Chen, Çağıl Köroğlu, Ryan Grady, Connor Bailey and Kirstin Schauble, and research scientist Hye Ryoung Lee. Pop Lab People

 

Excerpted from "Stanford researchers develop new manufacturing technique for flexible electronics" Stanford News

June 2021
Capstone Course Award

Design Award, Capstone Courses

This award is given to the outstanding design project in one of the capstone design courses. This year the award goes to Ryan Ressmeyer for his EE 264 project: "Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexer".

Centennial Award

Centennial Teaching Award

The School of Engineering's Centennial TA Award is given to students to recognize their outstanding contributions to teaching. The 2021 Centennial TA award recipients are: Shubham ChandakAmy FritzSiavash KananianAnna NunesErik Van.

JEDI award

Justice, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (JEDI) Graduation Awards

The School of Engineering's Justice, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Graduation Awards recognizes the exceptional work done by graduating graduate students in outreach and mentorship for underserved and underrepresented communities with the goal of improving the accessibility of STEMM. This includes the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, and Medicine.
The JEDI Graduation Award recipients are Crystal NattooCindy NguyenSean Peters.

Gibbons Award

James F. Gibbons Outstanding Student Teaching Award 2021

The James F. Gibbons Award for Outstanding Student Teaching Award highlights students who have been nominated by faculty and peers for their extraordinary service as teaching assistants. Thank you for your tremendous work in our department – Anna NunesElizabeth Chen, and Erik Van.

Phil Levis Chairs Award 2021

Chair's Award for Outstanding Contributions to Undergraduate Education

Congratulations to Professor Phil Levis - Over the last few years, Phil has led a team of students on the FLIGHT project, it's a large-scale electromechanical art installation for the Packard [building] stairwell, right behind me. It consists of 76 Fractal Flyers, each of which is a programmable shape inspired by the geometry of the stairwell, with hundreds of LEDs and moving dichroic surfaces that cast colored reflections and shadows.

Terman Award

Frederick E. Terman Engineering Scholastic Award

The Terman Award is presented to the top 5% of each senior class in the School of Engineering. We are pleased to congratulate our 2021 Terman Scholars for their outstanding work. Joaquin BorggioRahul Lall, and Ryan Ressmeyer.

TBP Teaching Award

Tau Beta Pi (TBP) Teaching Honor Roll (The Engineering Society)

Professor John Pauly and Assistant Professor Mary Wootters - This award recognizes outstanding faculty instructors in the School of Engineering. These faculty instructors were nominated by Stanford students to recognize their distinguished teaching, superior mentorship, and/or any other notable contribution to engineering education at Stanford.

TBP Student Honor Roll

Tau Beta Pi (TBP) Honor Roll (The Engineering Society)

The California Gamma chapter of Tau Beta Pi at Stanford University serves the Stanford community by acting as a representative entity for academic excellence, leadership, and continued service to our community. Tau Beta Pi is the only engineering honor society representing the entire engineering profession. Congratulations to
  • Vineet Edupuganti, EE-BS
  • Yong (Collin) Kwon, EE-BS
  • Rahul Lall, EE-BSH
  • Michael Oduoza, EE-BS
  • Kangrui Xue, EE-BS

image of Londa Schiebinger and James Zou
June 2021

Debiasing artificial intelligence (AI)

In the medical field, AI encompasses a suite of technologies that can help diagnose patients’ ailments, improve health care delivery and enhance basic research. The technologies involve algorithms, or instructions, run by software. These algorithms can act like an extra set of eyes perusing lab tests and radiological images; for instance, by parsing CT scans for particular shapes and color densities that could indicate disease or injury.

Problems of bias can emerge, however, at various stages of these devices’ development and deployment, James explained. One major factor is that the data for forming models used by algorithms as baselines can come from nonrepresentative patient datasets.

By failing to properly take race, sex and socioeconomic status into account, these models can be poor predictors for certain groups. To make matters worse, clinicians might lack any awareness of AI medical devices potentially producing skewed results. 


In a new perspective paper, James Zou and Londa Schiebinger discuss sex, gender and race bias in medicine and how these biases could be perpetuated by AI devices. 
 
James and Londa suggest several short- and long-term approaches to prevent AI-related bias, such as changing policies at medical funding agencies and scientific publications to ensure the data collected for studies are diverse, and incorporating more social, cultural and ethical awareness into university curricula.

“The white body and the male body have long been the norm in medicine guiding drug discovery, treatment and standards of care, so it’s important that we do not let AI devices fall into that historical pattern,” said Londa Schiebinger, the John L. Hinds Professor in the History of Science in the School of Humanities and Sciences and senior author of the paper published in the journal EBioMedicine.

“As we’re developing AI technologies for health care, we want to make sure these technologies have broad benefits for diverse demographics and populations,” said James Zou, assistant professor of biomedical data science and, by courtesy, of computer science and of electrical engineering and co-author of the study.

The matter of bias will only become more important as personalized, precision medicine grows in the coming years, said the researchers. Personalized medicine, which is tailored to each patient based on factors such as their demographics and genetics, is vulnerable to inequity if AI medical devices cannot adequately account for individuals’ differences.

“We’re hoping to engage the AI biomedical community in preventing bias and creating equity in the initial design of research, rather than having to fix things after the fact,” said Londa Schiebinger.
 
 
 
 

Related News

image of prof Boris Murmann
May 2021

Congratulations to Professor Boris Murmann for receiving the 2021 Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA)-SRC University Researcher Award. Award winners are selected by SRC members who truly recognize great contributions to the semiconductor industry.

Source: src.org/award/university-researcher/

The SIA University Research Award was established in 1995 by the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) to recognize lifetime research contributions to the U.S. semiconductor industry by university faculty.

Please join us in recognizing Boris for his significant contributions in the semiconductor industry.

 

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image of prof Subhasish Mitra
May 2021

Congratulations to Professor Subhasish Mitra for receiving the 2021 Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA)-SRC University Researcher Award. Award winners are selected by SRC members who truly recognize great contributions to the semiconductor industry.

Please join us in recognizing Subhasish for his significant contributions in the semiconductor industry.

 

The SIA University Research Award was established in 1995 by the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) to recognize lifetime research contributions to the U.S. semiconductor industry by university faculty.

Source: SRC.org/award/university-researcher

 

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image of prof Eric Pop
May 2021

A team of Stanford researchers including EE Professor Eric Pop report the design and fabrication of single-wall carbon nanotube thermoelectric devices on flexible polyimide substrates as a basis for wearable energy converters.

source: ScienceDaily.com [...]
Inspiration came from a desire to ultimately fabricate energy converting devices from the same materials as the active devices themselves, so they can blend in as an integral part of the total system. Today, many biomedical nanodevices' power supplies come from several types of batteries that must be separated from the active portion of the systems, which is not ideal.

In Applied Physics Letters, the researchers report the design and fabrication of single-wall carbon nanotube thermoelectric devices on flexible polyimide substrates as a basis for wearable energy converters.

"Carbon nanotubes are one-dimensional materials, known for good thermoelectric properties, which mean developing a voltage across them in a temperature gradient," said Professor Eric Pop. "The challenge is that carbon nanotubes also have high thermal conductivity, meaning it's difficult to maintain a thermal gradient across them, and they have been hard to assemble them into thermoelectric generators at low cost."

The group uses printed carbon nanotube networks to tackle both challenges.

Professor Pop continued, "For example, carbon nanotube spaghetti networks have much lower thermal conductivity than carbon nanotubes taken alone, due to the presence of junctions in the networks, which block heat flow. Also, direct printing such carbon nanotube networks can significantly reduce their cost when they are scaled up."

Thermoelectric devices generate electric power locally "by reusing waste heat from personal devices, appliances, vehicles, commercial and industrial processes, computer servers, time-varying solar illumination, and even the human body," said Hye Ryoung Lee, lead author and a research scientist.

"To eliminate hindrances to large-scale application of thermoelectric materials – toxicity, materials scarcity, mechanical brittleness – carbon nanotubes offer an excellent alternative to other commonly used materials," Lee said.

The group's approach demonstrates a path to using carbon nanotubes with printable electrodes on flexible polymer substrates in a process anticipated to be economical for large-volume manufacturing. It is also "greener" than other processes, because water is used as the solvent and additional dopants are avoided.

Excerpted from "Nontoxic, flexible energy converters could power wearable devices" April 27, 2021

 

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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 visitinghttps://gradapps.stanford.edu/NotableStaff/nomination/create.

Ann Guerra  Teresa Nguyen  Helen Niu

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