EE Student Information

EE Student Information, Spring Quarter 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.

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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.

 

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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.

Dr. Irena Fischer-Hwang, EE PhD 2019
June 2019

Excerpted from "Stanford grad trades STEM for storytelling," June 2019.

 

EE graduate, Irena Fisher-Hwang,PhD '19 said she realized early in her graduate studies that it was important to communicate science to wider audiences.

"There's an unexpected side to science that is really fun to communicate to people," she said. "I think if we can make science more approachable, it could really help people understand why scientists do what they do."

Little did she realize that her earlier interest in science communication would lead her to a new career path.

Irena's first foray into storytelling was through Goggles Optional, a humorous science podcast written, produced and hosted by Stanford graduate students. For the past two years, she has written and hosted dozens of episodes of the show, including one about lucid dreaming and another about how sound can hack smartphones.

"In academic science, not a lot of people will be able to understand what you are working on," she said. "But the whole goal of journalism is to take difficult concepts and explain them to the public in interesting ways."

Irena's doctoral adviser, Professor Tsachy Weissman, was so impressed by her journalistic leanings that he asked her to help him launch a podcast about his own field of expertise, information theory. Irena produced the pilot episode of the series and then trained 14 students in the new freshman seminar EE25N: The Science of Information to write scripts and edit audio so they can continue producing the series.

Turning Data analysis into storytelling

In communication Professor James Hamilton's class, Irena discovered how journalists and computer scientists are overlapping, as many reporters are now turning to big data analysis to help them with their reporting.

Irena found that the skills she honed during her graduate studies – sorting and evaluating data, managing large amounts of information and running statistical analysis, for example – are as relevant in the newsroom as they are in the lab.

"Now, finally, I feel like I've found a great way to combine my love of human stories with my rigorous training in STEM through journalism. I've had this creative streak for as long as I can remember, but until recently I didn't know what to do with it."

 

Please join us in congratulating Irena, and we look forward to seeing her on campus in the fall quarter!

 

Related News and Links:

image of 2019 student speaker, Meera Radhakrishnan, BS'19; MS'20
June 2019

In 1894, the Electrical Engineering Department awarded its first Bachelor's Degree to Lucien Howard Gilmore, at Stanford's Third Annual Commencement. 

125 years later, Samsung Professor in the School of Engineering and Chair of Electrical Engineering, Stephen P. Boyd introduced the 2019 graduates and faculty, to a large audience of family and friends. The event took place on the Medical School Dean's Lawn. Stephen acknowledged the students, families, staff, and faculty for their tremendous support of this year's graduates.

Throughout the academic year, students, faculty and staff are recognized for their contributions to the well-being of the department. The commencement event provides an opportunity for spotlighting many of these awards and tremendous contributions by individuals.

 

The 2019 Design Award Recipients

Professor John Pauly awarded two undergraduate students with the Student Design Project Awards. The capstone projects coalesce curriculum and allow students to innovate in novel ways.

  • Annie Elizabeth Brantigan (EE 168)
  • Caroline Braviak (EE 168)

2019 Centennial Teaching Assistant Award Recipients - EE News Article
Teaching Assistants who excel in teaching are recognized by students and faculty. The centennial Award recognizes tremendous service and dedication in providing excellent classroom instruction.

  • Mohammad Asif Zaman

2019 James F. Gibbons Award for Outstanding Student Teaching
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. We are deeply appreciative of the commitment to learning and sharing that our students display.

  • Mitch Pleus
  • Georgia Murray
  • "Jack" Humphries

Frederick Emmons Terman Engineering Scholastic Award - EE News Article, Jonathan & Meera ; EE News Article, Anastasios 
The Terman Award is presented to the top 5% of each senior class in the School of Engineering. We are pleased that 3 of our undergraduates received this recognition for their outstanding work.

  • Anastasios Angelopoulos, BS '19.
  • Jonathan Taylor Lin, BS '19; MS '20
  • Meera Radhakrishnan, BS '19; MS '20 (pictured below)

Nine EE students were elected to Phi Beta Kappa for their academic excellence and breadth of their scholarly accomplishments. Seven are 2019 graduates!

  • Anastasios Angelopoulos
  • Caroline Braviak
  • Sabar Dasgupta
  • Breno de Mello Dal Bianco
  • Vickram Gidwani
  • Joseph Yen
  • Robert Young
  • Namrata Balasingam (future graduate)
  • Milind Jagota (future graduate)

The 2018-19 Tau Beta Pi (TBP) Teaching Honor Roll recognizes engineering instructors for excellent teaching, commitment to students, and great mentoring. Professor Mary Wootters received this award for her excellent instruction and commitment, and EE lecturer David Obershaw was also honored for his outstanding commitment to students and instruction.

Chair's Award for Outstanding Contributions to Undergraduate Education
As in past years, this award is a surprise for the audience and the recipient. Meo Kittiwanich recieved the 2019 Chair's Award. She has mastered a number of student services roles, giving her deep insight into student, faculty and staff perspectives. Most recently, she accepted a promotion to Director of Student and Academic Affairs for EE. Meo has guided, directly or indirectly, each and every one of our graduates.

The 2019 Student Speaker was coterminal student Meera Radhakrishnan (BS '19; MS '20). She spoke of her path to EE – realizing a brain MRI was the closest she would get to doing magic, while taking Professor Dwight Nishimura's introductory seminar on medical imaging, freshman year. Since then she and her EE friends have continued to develop their superpowers in various directions, including overcoming challenging labs, solvong infinite problem sets, attending midnight breakfasts with Stanford's President, and efficiently solving escape room puzzles.

"[...] I hope that in the years to come we will share our hard-won superpowers with the rest of the world and make a positive impact in whatever way is most meaningful to each of us. Thank you all for a wonderful four years, and I'm excited to see where our new adventures will take us. Again, congratulations 2019 Graduates and I wish you all the best for a bright future ahead!"  ~Meera Radhakrishnan


 

Mohammad Asif Zaman Stanford's 2019 Centennial TA Award Winner
June 2019

Congratulations to Mohammad Asif Zaman!

Mohammad Asif ZamanPhD candidate, is recognized for his outstanding teaching in electrical engineering. He has been awarded the 2019 Centennial Teaching Assistant Award. The award program recognizes outstanding instruction by TA's in the Humanities and Sciences, Earth Sciences, and Engineering schools.

Asif was nominated by faculty, peers, and students. He received a stipend and certificate in recognition of his extraordinary contributions as a TA in EE134: Introduction to Photonics, taught by EE Professor Lambertus Hesselink.

About Asif

Asif is a committed, and extremely organized colleague. As an instructor, he took on massive tasks to organize, repair, inventory, order, and label optical components in the lab. His effort allowed EE134 students to make the most of their experience— several indicated they chose EE as a concentration because fo their experience during the course.

A few excerpts from Asif's nominations:

  • Asif has been one of the best – if not the best – TA I have had the pleasure to co-teach with.
  • The students and faculty are deeply impressed by Asif's knowledge, support and friendly manner of teaching students the secrets of good optical experimentation.

 

 

Please join us in recognizing Asif's outstanding effort and abilities!

image of the Stanford Student Robotics Mars rover
June 2019

Congratulations to the Mars Rover Team, part of the Stanford Student Robotics Club. The team won 3rd place in the 2019 University Rover Challenge (URC) competition which took place at the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) in southern Utah. Thirty-four teams from 10 countries competed throughout various challenges in the Utah desert.

2018 was the first time Stanford Student Robotics participated in the MRC – they placed 34th, and began immediately planning for the 2019 competition. The execution of their planning paid off, earning 3rd place this year. First place went to the IMPULS team from Poland's Kielce University of Technology.

Placing 3rd, Stanford's Student Robotics Mars Rover Team moved up thirty-one spots!

The 2019 Stanford Student Robotics Mars Rover Team members include,

  • Michal Adamkiewicz - Team Lead
  • Claire Huang - Mechanics and Software
  • Neil Movva - Electrical and Software
  • Connor Tingley - Mechanical
  • Connor Cremers - Mechanical and Software
  • Rita Tlemcani - Mechanical and Science
  • Amy Dunphy - Science
  • Alan Tomusiak - Science
  • Patin Inkaew - Mechanics
  • Derian Williams - Electrical and Mechanics
  • Jasmine Bayrooti - Software
  • Julia Thompson - Science
  • Mei-Lan Steimle - Science

As in past years, the teams and their rovers competed in four incredibly difficult and unique events,

  • Science Mission (soil and rock samples),
  • Extreme Retrieval and Delivery Mission,
  • Equipment Servicing Mission, and
  • Autonomous Traversal Mission.

"Reliability and ingenuity were the keys to success for several teams throughout the 3 day event," states the URC Mars Society website. Event judges included astrobiologists from NASA Ames Research Center.

 

Congratulations to all of the teams and participants! And an EXTRA congratulations to Stanford Student Robotics!


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