EE Student Information

The Department of Electrical Engineering supports Black Lives Matter. Read more.

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 EE Student Information, Spring & Summer Quarters 19-20: FAQs and Updated EE Course List.

Updates will be posted on this page, as well as emailed to the EE student mail list.

Please see Stanford University Health Alerts for course and travel updates.

As always, use your best judgement and consider your own and others' well-being at all times.

student

June 2020

We are proud of our history of innovation and entrepreneurship, and of our ongoing mission to address major societal challenges. This includes diversity in research interests, research styles, and providing supportive mentorship. EE recognizes that we have significant work to do in these areas and we look to the entire EE community to improve our future.


The Department of Electrical Engineering supports Black Lives Matter, inclusion, and diversity. 

As engineers, engineers-in-training, and staff, we build upon and apply systems-thinking to major societal challenges, including climate change, health, and better communication.

 The Department of Electrical Engineering strives to continue its success in innovation and research through the participation and inclusion of students, post-docs, and faculty from diverse backgrounds, experiences, religions, ethnicities, identities, genders, sexual orientation, and perspectives. We recognize diversity as central and critical to our mission to provide an inclusive environment and culture where all are welcomed, respected, and valued. Diversity in EE.

 

The following links are from our students, colleagues and friends. We include them to provide education and support to our community. 

If you have questions, insights, or edits, please contact us via info@ee.stanford.edu.

 

RELATED RESOURCES

Diversity in EE statement 
Black Lives Matter, Stanford Student Affairs
Coalition of Black Student Organizations Asks to University Administration on Campus Police 

Educational resources for anti-racism:

Support for Stanford students: 

Call for reform: Call to reform criminal justice system, police practices and to the end of police brutality:

Demand justice for George Floyd's murder:

  • Call the following Minneapolis officials or email them using this template:
    • Mayor Jacob Frey: (612) 673-2100
    • DA Mike Freeman: (612) 348-5550
    • Hennepin County Attorney Office: (612) 673-2100
  • Join a phone bank organized by Stanford Students for Workers' Rights
  • Sign this petition organized by Color Of Change demanding the prosecution of the officers involved in the murder of George Floyd.

To support and learn more about the following organizations:

  • Color Of Change: https://colorofchange.org/
  • Voting While Black
  • ACLU, which provides legal services to civil rights complaints.
  • George Floyd Memorial Fund
  • Tony McDade GoFund Me started for black transgender man who was murdered by the police last week.
  • The national bail fund network has a list of community bail funds.
  • List of bail funds by city: Bail funds are a way to support frontline protesters who are being arrested - as well as building towards a movement to end cash bail and free hundreds of thousands of people who are in pre-trial detention during a pandemic.
  • NorthStar Health Collective: NorthStar is a Minnesota-based street medic collective, offering first aid and medical support to people on the frontlines right now.
  • Reclaim the Block: Reclaim the Block is a Minneapolis community org providing supplies and support to protesters, as well as pushing Minneapolis to spend less on policing and more on healthcare, housing and education.
  • The Black Visions Collective and Legal Fund: Black Visions Collective, a Black, trans and queer-led organization, is helping lead the protests and advocating to defund the police in Minnesota.
  • Rebuild Lake Street: Lake Street Council is donating 100% of these proceeds to the local business and nonprofits affected by the fires and helping them continue to serve their communities.

image of prof. Gordon Wetzstein and Isaac Kauvar, EE /PhD
June 2020

Professor Gordon Wetzstein and first authors Isaac Kauvar (EE PhD candidate) and postdoctoral researcher Tim Machado, have developed an optical technique that can simultaneously record the activity of neurons spread across the entire top surface of a mouse's cerebral cortex, a key part of the brain involved in making decisions. Their article, "Cortical Observation by Synchronous Multifocal Optical Sampling Reveals Widespread Population Encoding of Actions" was published in the journal Neuron.

The researchers call their system Cortical Observation by Synchronous Multifocal Optical Sampling, or COSMOS. In addition to studying motor control and decision making, the team is also using COSMOS to study sensory perception in animals and as a screening technique to develop better psychiatric drugs.

The prototype COSMOS system is relatively simple to build and costs less than $50,000, which is hundreds of thousands of dollars cheaper than other optical systems for recording neural population dynamics. To encourage further adoption and development of the technique, the authors have built a website with instructions to help other researchers build their own COSMOS systems.

The bifocal microscope uses a single camera to capture two movies of neural activity at the same time: one focused on the sides of the brain, and the other focused on the middle, to provide a side-by-side view shown in a video. The researchers then computationally extract signals – reflecting the timing, intensity and duration of when neurons fire – from both of these movies to obtain a comprehensive measurement of neural activity across the whole surface.

Excerpted from Stanford News, "Stanford researchers develop an inexpensive technique to show how decisions light up the brain", June 2, 2020.

 

"COSMOS Reveals Widespread Population Encoding of Actions", first authors Isaac Kauvar, EE PhD candidate (photo credit: Daphna Spivack) and Tim Machado, Bioengineering postdoctoral researcher.

 

image of prof Shanhui Fan
May 2020

Professor Shanhui Fan and Sid Assawaworrarit (PhD candidate) recently published "Robust and efficient wireless power transfer using a switch-mode implementation of a nonlinear parity-time symmetric circuit" in Nature Electronics.

They have been working on improving the distance of a wireless charger. Previously they were able to transmit electricity as an object moved, but it wasn't practical.

In their new paper, the researchers show how to boost the system's wireless-transmission efficiency to 92%. The key, Sid Assawaworrarit explained, was to replace the original amplifier with a far more efficient "switch mode" amplifier. Such amplifiers aren't new but they are finicky and will only produce high-efficiency amplification under very precise conditions. It took years of tinkering, and additional theoretical work, to design a circuit configuration that worked.

The new lab prototype can wirelessly transmit 10 watts of electricity over a distance of two or three feet. Shanhui says there aren't any fundamental obstacles to scaling up a system to transmit the tens or hundreds of kilowatts that a car would need. He says the system is more than fast enough to re-supply a speeding automobile. The wireless transmission takes only a few milliseconds – a tiny fraction of the time it would take a car moving at 70 miles an hour to cross a four-foot charging zone. The only limiting factor, says Shanhui, will be how fast the car's batteries can absorb all the power.

Though it could be many years before wireless chargers become embedded in highways, the opportunities for robots and even aerial drones are more immediate. It's much less costly to embed chargers in floors or on rooftops than on long stretches of highway. Imagine a drone, says Shanhui, that could fly all day by swooping down occasionally and hovering around a roof for quick charges.

Excerpted from "Stanford researchers one step closer toward enabling electric cars to recharge themselves wirelessly as they drive"

 

Related

 

image of EE 276 students in the main quad
April 2020

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Professor Tsachy Weissman's Information Theory class transformed their in-person outreach event into a digital version. The students prepared videos that present an aspect of information theory, geared toward middle school students. EE276 students could also create blog entries as part of their coursework.

Students from EE276 created videos for middle school students in lieu of the planned in-person outreach event.

The outreach goal of the class is to teach middle school students a range of topics related to information theory. Some teams talk about mapping political landscapes while others delve into the theory of code breaking. Some groups demonstrate military applications when flying jets and others show information theory through Fortnite (https://www.epicgames.com). Each video presentation is unique and appeal to various interests and learning styles of students in middle school.

Tsachy and EE276 students encourage the use of their videos and blogs to help teach and understand concepts in information theory. Outreach project videos are listed below, those with related blogs are also included.

image of professor Krishna Shenoy
April 2020

Researchers from Professor Krishna Shenoy's Group: Saurabh Vyas (Bioengineering PhD candidate), Daniel O'Shea (EE postdoctoral researcher), and Professor Stephen Ryu, M.D. have found that the brain is deeply interested in what happens before you make a movement. Their paper was published in cell.com's Neuron.

Existing theories focus on the practice part — the repetition — not the preparation.
In fact, prior to this study, neuroscientists had no reason to think this preparatory state played any part in learning, says Krishna Shenoy. "We're saying that preparation not only has something to do with learning, it might actually be one of the biggest parts of it," adds Krishna who is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator.

To arrive at this new understanding, the researchers explored how monkeys learn a relatively simple motion: how to use a videogame joystick. In a series of experiments, they first trained the monkeys to use the joystick to direct a computer cursor toward a target on the screen. Next, the scientists altered how the joystick worked so that when the monkeys moved the joystick in the direction they thought was upward or leftward or rightward, the cursor moved in a different direction than expected. Thus, the animals had to learn to move the joysticks anew to get the cursor to the target.

Saurabh Vyas uses an analogy to explain the significance of these findings. Imagine LeBron practicing free throws. He shoots the ball, and gets close, and his learning system uses the error to make some changes in the brain. But if his brain activity is disrupted during the planning period — or he doesn't take an instant to pre-visualize the shot — his next attempt will not do as well because he wasn't mindful enough during the critical, pre-movement period.

These findings significantly advance our understanding of the neurological underpinnings of learning. It has long been known that motor and other areas in the brain become active prior to movement. During this preparatory phase, brain activity reflects precise details of how the body should complete a movement.

Consequently, giving the mind more time to prepare — more time to visualize the task at hand — substantially improves learning. From a purely practical standpoint, the findings could reshape how athletes, artists, musicians or anyone who moves their body gets better at what they do.

Ultimately, Krishna and Saurabh hope to apply this new understanding to their specialty: developing prosthetic devices that are controlled by chips implanted in the brain that transform an individual's thoughts into movement. Krishna adds, "The more we understand about how the brain learns new motor skills and performs movement calculations, the more lifelike and realistic we can make thought-controlled prosthetics."

 

Excerpted from Stanford Engineering,"A team of scientists explore how the brain trains muscles to move" February 26, 2020.

 

Related

image of professor Shanhui Fan and postdoc researcher Avik Dutt
February 2020

 

Professor Shanhui Fan and postdoctoral researcher Avik Dutt describe their discovery in an article published in Science.

Essentially, the researchers tricked the photons — which are intrinsically non-magnetic — into behaving like charged electrons. They accomplished this by sending the photons through carefully designed mazes in a way that caused the light particles to behave as if they were being acted upon by what the scientists called a "synthetic" or "artificial" magnetic field.

In the short term, this control mechanism could be used to send more internet data through fiber optic cables. In the future, this discovery could lead to the creation of light-based chips that would deliver far greater computational power than electronic chips. "What we've done is so novel that the possibilities are only just beginning to materialize," said EE postdoc Avik Dutt.

Although still in the experimental stage, these structures represent an advance on the existing mode of computing. Storing information is all about controlling the variable states of particles, and today, scientists do so by switching electrons in a chip on and off to create digital zeroes and ones. A chip that uses magnetism to control the interplay between the photon's color (or energy level) and spin (whether it is traveling in a clockwise or counterclockwise direction) creates more variable states than is possible with simple on-off electrons. Those possibilities will enable scientists to process, store and transmit far more data on photon-based devices than is possible with electronic chips today.

To bring photons into the proximities required to create these magnetic effects, the Stanford researchers used lasers, fiber optic cables and other off-the-shelf scientific equipment. Building these tabletop structures enabled the scientists to deduce the design principles behind the effects they discovered. Eventually they'll have to create nanoscale structures that embody these same principles to build the chip. In the meantime, reports Shanhui Fan, "we've found a relatively simple new mechanism to control light, and that's exciting."

Excerpted from ScienceBlog "What If We Could Teach Photons To Behave Like Electrons?"

 

Related News

February 2020

2019 was the Department of Electrical Engineering's 125th anniversary

To mark this unique occasion, we invited distinguished faculty and alumni speakers to share their perspectives on the past, present, and future Stanford Electrical Engineering Department.

Their video presentations are available on the department's YouTube channel, or by clicking any of the title links below.

We invite you to share your memory, anecdote, or reflection in 125 words or less - ee.stanford.edu/EE125-share.

Read what others have shared about their EE journey - ee.stanford.edu/EE125.

 

Timeline of Stanford EE History (shown below in desktop and mobile view) – ee.stanford.edu/about/history

January 2020

During Fall quarter, professors Abbas El Gamal, Electrical Engineering (EE) and Ram Rajagopal, Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE), co-organized an interdisciplinary seminar / project course, Battery Systems for Transportation and Grid Services (EE/CEE 292X).

The course provided a holistic view of the subject with particular attention to interactions between different aspects of a battery system. It is intended for those who wish to research, design, analyze, model, apply or just learn about battery systems.


 

"We connected with our industry speakers to collect relevant projects for the students to work on in the class", shares Thomas Navidi (pictured right), teaching assistant for 292X. "This led to a wide variety of high quality projects ranging from cell thermal design to the economics of grid storage systems. The students worked hard to tackle these problems in a short time and made excellent discoveries.
 
 
Many projects have the potential to continue into well developed research papers. We are excited to see how our students can contribute to the research around revolutionary applications of battery technology."

The lectures provided an overview of the design, modeling, analysis, and operation of battery systems for transportation and grid services, and were organized into three parts.

  • Part One: Academic experts (including 5 Stanford faculty) introduced the key building blocks of the battery system.
  • Part Two: Experts from national labs discussed thermal and safety issues in battery systems.
  • Part Three: Industry experts (including from Waymo, Tesla, EVGo, and EPRI) provided an overview of use cases and critical concerns for battery systems being implemented in EVs and the grid, including its economics and lifecycle value. 

 

"We both are students from industry, and took this class to expand our knowledge in areas that directly relate to our professional roles."

Project Title, "Techno-economic Feasibility of a Hybrid Storage System at Stanford", Jack Pigott, SCPD graduate student and Ushakar Jha, SCPD graduate student 


Students also had to the opportunity to visit Tesla's Gigafactory (pictured at top) in Sparks, NV, for a factory tour and lectures from Tesla engineers on battery cell engineering and production.

TA and PhD candidate Thomas Navidi adds, "The wide variety of knowledgable guest speakers provided a unique opportunity for students to learn a broad range of perspectives about the applications of batteries in transportation and the grid. The industry experts provided insights into the manufacturing and financial aspects that are hard to learn without direct industry experience. The academic speakers provided insight on the state of the art research for batteries performed at academic institutions and the challenges they face."

The course culminated with a student research poster session. There were 22 featured projects spanning a very broad range of topics from battery technology and modeling to applications to transportation and the grid.


 

"The industry speakers were great; the topics covered and speakers' deep knowledge of their area provided important insights. We appreciated the time for Q and A, and the real-world examples. Working together was also great – we know one another from other classes, and doing this project together was a lot of fun."

Project Title, "Ancillary Services with Vehicle-to-Grid Charging", Michaela Levine, MS candidate, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Velvet Gaston, MS candidate, Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Michelle Solomon, PhD candidate, Materials Science and Engineering


 

RELATED:

Honors Cooperative Program (HCP), enables qualified working professionals to pursue the MS in Electrical Engineering on a part-time basis. Many classes are offered online, and it is possible to complete the MS degree requirements entirely from a distance. This program is offered in partnership with the Stanford Center for Professional Development (SCPD).

image of professor Tsachy Weissman
September 2019

The Stanford Compression Forum (SCF), recently completed its inaugural summer internship program, alliteratively named – STEM to SHTEM (Science, Humanities, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). Professor Tsachy Weisman and the Compression Forum hosted 44 high school students for internships that ranged from 5 to 9 weeks this summer. 

"The internship is a great opportunity for students to experience engineering research in a new light. Working in groups, students from all kinds of backgrounds had the chance to not only research exciting questions at the intersection of different fields, but also learn from their peers unique ways to approach these questions," reports internship coordinator and graduate student Cindy Nguyen. "This early exposure to research helps break down barriers to entry for a lot of underrepresented students and will, hopefully, trickle down into their decisions in becoming the next generation of engineers, doctors, and scientists."

Although, the internship was unpaid, it provided exposure to research, transcending traditional disciplinary boundaries. Students were grouped into eleven projects that spanned 9 topic areas. Topic areas included DNA compression, Facial HAAC, Nanopore Technology, Discrete Cube Mathematics, Olfactory in VR, Artificial Olfaction Measurement, Decision Making in Games, Computer Assisted Image Reconstruction, and Audio File Compression.


Additional information about the Stanford Compression Forum: compression.stanford.edu/summer-internships-high-school-students; for inquiries on the 2019 projects and groups: scf_high_school_internship@stanford.edu


Excerpts from 2019 interns:

"I applied to this internship with the intent on working on something related to the genetics field (which I love), and I never expected to learn how to use Python in the process. If it weren't for this internship I probably wouldn't have ever put myself in a situation where I would have to learn how [to] code. I'm happy to say that although it can be challenging at times, I'm extremely grateful for having been given this opportunity to learn about Python and how to use it."

"This internship introduced me to some amazing people and mentors. This project taught me things like advanced programming, communication skills, and developed my interest in computer science and electrical engineering."

"I had a wonderful experience with this internship! My mentor is not only amazing at what he does – but he is also very funny. I enjoy spending time with my group because whenever one of us makes a small discovery, we all get excited."

"This internship has allowed me to learn so much from basic compression to coding with python. I am glad I was able to participate."

Photo: 2019 STEM to SHTEM interns, faculty, and graduate students. Professor Tsachy Weissman, second from right, an internship coordinator and grad student Cindy Nguyen, third from right.

image of published researcher Anastasios Angelopolous, EE BS'19
August 2019

Anastasios Angelopolous (BS '19), et al, recently published a paper titled, "Enhanced Depth Navigation Through Augmented Reality Depth Mapping in Patients with Low Vision." It was published in Nature Research journal Scientific Reports August 2, 2019. The paper describes the use of augmented reality (AR) to assist those diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa (RP).

After his freshman year, Anastasios started working with USC Professor Mark Humayun, initially focusing on artificial retinal technology. However, in the following two and a half years, their research expanded to explore the possibility of using augmented reality as a way to help people with low vision navigate safely through complex environments.

They combined special glasses and software, which scans an environment, then projects onto the wearer's retina the corresponding obstacles. The team found that the use of their unique AR visual aid reduced collisions by 50% in mobility testing, and by 70% in grasp testing. This striking result is the first to prove clinically that augmented reality can help people with low vision live more independent lives.

Anastasios and team hope that work like this can help people with low vision increase their independence through mobility. They plan to continue their research to include other modalities, such as audio and haptics.

Please join us in congratulating Anastasios and team on the publication of their research work!
This year Anastasios received the Terman Scholastic Achievement Award and completed his BS in Electrical Engineering in an accelerated timeframe.

 

Related Links


Additional Authors:
Dr. & Prof. Hossein Ameri, USC Ophthalmology (bio link)
Dr. & Prof. Mark Humayun, USC Institute for Biomedical Therapeutics (IBT) (bio link)
Dr. & Prof. Debbie Mitra, USC Institute for Biomedical Therapeutics (IBT) (bio link)

Paper Abstract:
Patients diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) show, in the advanced stage of the disease, severely restricted peripheral vision causing poor mobility and decline in quality of life. This vision loss causes difficulty identifying obstacles and their relative distances. Thus, RP patients use mobility aids such as canes to navigate, especially in dark environments. A number of high-tech visual aids using virtual reality (VR) and sensory substitution have been developed to support or supplant traditional visual aids. These have not achieved widespread use because they are difficult to use or block off residual vision. This paper presents a unique depth to high-contrast pseudocolor mapping overlay developed and tested on a Microsoft Hololens 1 as a low vision aid for RP patients. A single-masked and randomized trial of the AR pseudocolor low vision aid to evaluate real world mobility and near obstacle avoidance was conducted consisting of 10 RP subjects. An FDA-validated functional obstacle course and a custom-made grasping setup were used. The use of the AR visual aid reduced collisions by 50% in mobility testing (p = 0.02), and by 70% in grasp testing (p = 0.03). This paper introduces a new technique, the pseudocolor wireframe, and reports the first significant statistics showing improvements for the population of RP patients with mobility and grasp.

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