News

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.

April 2015

Announced April 22nd, the American Academy of Arts and Scientists, elected 197 new members.

The American Academy is one of the nation's most prestigious honorary societies, it is also a leading center for independent policy research. Members contribute to Academy publications and studies of science and technology policy, global security and international affairs, social policy and American institutions, and the humanities, arts, and education.

Members of the 2015 class include winners of the Nobel Prize and the Pulitzer Prize; MacArthur and Guggenheim Fellowships; and Grammy, Emmy, Oscar, and Tony Awards. The list of new members is located at www.amacad.org/members.

"We are honored to elect a new class of extraordinary women and men to join our distinguished membership," said Don Randel, Chair of the Academy's Board of Directors. "Each new member is a leader in his or her field and has made a distinct contribution to the nation and the world. We look forward to engaging them in the intellectual life of this vibrant institution."

Academy President Jonathan Fanton added, "The honor of election is also a call to service. Through its projects, publications, and events, the Academy provides its members with opportunities to discover common interests and find common ground. We invite every new member to participate in our important and rewarding work."

The new class will be inducted at a ceremony on October 10, 2015, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

 

Read the full American Academy Press Release

Professor McKeown's EE Spotlight

April 2015

Recognized for their extraordinary efforts, two EE staff and one School of Engineering staff member, received $50 Visa gift cards. Each nominee received multiple submissions, emphasizing their key roles in the ongoing success of EE's department and programs.

The recipients, recognized for their valuable and unique contributions, are listed below with comments from their nominations:


Vickie Carillo, Administrative Associate, EE

  • "Vickie makes it simple and easy to get work done— she has a very positive presence!"
  • "Even when taking on new and extra tasks, Vickie is helpful, efficient and pleasant."

Eric Wheeler, Systems and Web Developer, EE

  • "Eric is always willing to listen, talk through ideas and troubleshoot issues."
  • "Eric is a key member of our team—I consider myself very fortunate to work with him!"

Tom Abate, Associate Director of Communications, School of Engineering

  • "Tom's expertise in writing effective stories and his keen insights [...] have made him highly effective. He is simply a pleasure to work with."
  • "We are thankful for his tireless efforts in communicating our research to the world [...] and creating opportunities for more coverage.

The Staff Gift Card Bonus Program is sponsored by the School of Engineering. Each year, the EE department receives several gift cards to distribute to staff members who are recognized for going above and beyond their role. Each month, staff are chosen from nominations received from faculty, students, and staff. Past nominations are eligible for future months. EE faculty, staff and students are welcome to nominate a deserving staff person by visiting gradapps.stanford.edu/NotableStaff/nomination/create.

Be sure to recognize the staff member, or members, that help in your accomplishments!

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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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