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Amin Arbabian
January 2017

The Department of Energy (DOE) announced projects selected as part of the Rhizosphere Observations Optimizing Terrestrial Sequestration (ROOTS) program funding opportunity. ROOTS is a new program of the Energy Department's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E).

Amin Arbabian's project, "Thermoacoustic Root Imaging, Biomass Analysis, and Characterization," has been awarded $2 million by the ROOTS program. The team also includes, (Pierre Khuri-Yakub EE, José Dinneny and David Ehrhardt, Carnegie Institution for Science) and will develop a non-contact, high throughput, thermoacoustic root imaging system where ultrasonic signals from roots are generated by radio signals and then recorded by a novel sensor array. The Stanford team will demonstrate use of the system across a variety of soil and root types in the field to map the root architecture of plants. If successful, the project will be the first low-cost, large-scale, field-based plant phenotyping solution for eventual use with a fully autonomous measurement system.

The Rhizosphere Observations Optimizing Terrestrial Sequestration (ROOTS) program seeks to develop advanced technologies and crop cultivars that enable a 50 percent increase in soil carbon accumulation while reducing N2O emissions by 50 percent and increasing water productivity by 25 percent. Since 2009, ARPA-E has funded over 400 potentially transformational energy technology projects.

ROOTS projects will tackle the growing problem of soil "carbon debt" by developing sensing technologies to help farmers choose crop varieties that better capture carbon molecules from the atmosphere and store them in their root systems.

 

Arpa-E Roots Program: https://arpa-e.energy.gov/?q=arpa-e-programs/roots

ROOTS program project descriptions (PDF) 

November 2016

Sachin Katti and Pengyu Zhang, a postdoctoral researcher in Katti's lab, announced "HitchHike" this week at the ACM SenSys Conference. HitchHike is a tiny, ultra-low-energy wireless radio.

"HitchHike is the first self-sufficient WiFi system that enables data transmission using just micro-watts of energy – almost zero," Zhang said. "Better yet, it can be used as-is with existing WiFi without modification or additional equipment. You can use it right now with a cell phone and your off-the-shelf WiFi router."

HitchHike is so low-power that a small battery could drive it for a decade or more, the researchers say. It even has the potential to harvest energy from existing radio waves and use that electromagnetic energy, plucked from its surroundings, to power itself, perhaps indefinitely.

"HitchHike could lead to widespread adoption in the Internet of Things," Katti said. "Sensors could be deployed anywhere we can put a coin battery that has existing WiFi. The technology could potentially even operate without batteries. That would be a big development in this field."

The researchers say HitchHike could be available to be incorporated into wireless devices in the next three to five years.

The Hitchhike prototype is a processor and radio in one. It measures about the size of a postage stamp, but the engineers believe that they can make it smaller – perhaps even smaller than a grain of rice for use in implanted bio-devices like a wireless heart rate sensor (see video).

"HitchHike opens the doors for widespread deployment of low-power WiFi communication using widely available WiFi infrastructure and, for the first time, truly empower the Internet of Things," Zhang said.

 

 

Excerpted from Stanford Engineering News. Original article by Andrew Myers

 

November 2016

Lab64, a new electrical engineering laboratory and workspace located on the bottom floor of Packard, held its grand opening October 19. The workspace, also known as the Packard makerspace, is open 24 hours, seven days a week for any Stanford community member interested in building electronics.

The full space consists of a series of rooms in Packard that have been retooled expressly as a makerspace. Cleaned out and filled with various electronic equipment, the walls are for writing on and brainstorming ideas.

Students of all majors can use the space after they view a short lab safety presentation and email the Lab64 manager. Lab64 is also available for Stanford staff, faculty and resarchers. To further promote safety, lab64 has a buddy system that requires lab64 makers to work in pairs when they use the space.

"Whether you're an electrical engineer or an art major who wants to use lights in your art pieces, we want everyone working here," said lab64 course assistant Sam Girvin '16.

The lab is currently equipped with what Girvin calls "typical lab bench stuff," including oscilloscopes, power supplies, soldering irons and a 3D printer. A laser cutter is also expected to be purchased in the coming weeks.

Lab64 was created because the electrical engineering department has wanted to help create a "maker" culture at the University for years, according to Girvin. Students and others now have a place to build whenever they have project ideas; they can go beyond building for class assignments.

"When I came to Stanford as a freshman, there wasn't an easy place to make things," Girvin said. "So I'm really excited about this."

During the opening event, students chatted over pizza and cookies and listened to presentations about the space. Attendees were then split into two workshop groups to explore the lab's capabilities: One group built a working AM/FM radio and the other, a functioning game console that plays the game Snake.

"This is a way to get into building important personal projects," said Zach Belateche '20, a prospective electrical engineering major and lab64 visitor. "Whether it's right after class or midnight on a Sunday, I can come here and work on things I care about."

Packard's makerspace has a team of mentors who can guide students to use the equipment effectively and safely. lab64 can be used by anyone, not just electrical engineers.

"We're trying to get as many different people to come in as we can," Girvin said. "We're willing to teach as much as people are willing to learn."

The lab supplies all equipment and basic materials for free, but a "Maker Store" is also set to open soon in Packard. It will sell more specific items that students may need to complete their projects.

Lab64 is not just a place to work with electrical equipment. Ultimately, the goal is to create a community where people can work, chat and talk about projects. 

 

 

 

Excerpted from The Stanford Daily, "Makerspace opens, available for students to build," October 21, 2016.

November 2016


Yanjun Han (PhD candidate) and co-authors Jiantao Jiao (PhD candidate) and Professor Tsachy Weissman received the ISITA 2016 Student Paper Award. The award was announced at the International Symposium on Information Theory and its Applications (ISITA2016) event in Monterey, California.

Their paper is titled, "Minimax Rate-Optimal Estimation of KL Divergence between Discrete Distributions."

Congratulations to Yanjun, Jiantao and Tsachy!

 

 

October 2016

Congratulations to David H. Lin (PhD '16), Eshan Singh (PhD candidate), and Professor Subhasish Mitra for receiving the 2015 IEEE International Test Conference (ITC) Best Paper Award.

To encourage excellence in its technical program, ITC presents awards to authors of outstanding papers presented at ITC and published in the proceedings. In determining award-winning papers, the ITC Awards Selection Committee considers the quality of the papers as published in the Proceedings and as presented at the conference technical sessions. The committee's decisions are based on responses by conference attendees as recorded on session rating cards and on the observations and recommendations of the ITC Program Committee.

Their paper, "A Structured Approach to Post-Silicon Validation and Debug using Symbolic Quick Error Detection", has been selected as the Best Paper for International Test Conference (ITC).

The Best Paper Award will be presented to Mitra and co-authors during the plenary session at ITC on November 15th.

 

Congratulations to all!

October 2016

 

A dozen teams of EE students came together Friday afternoon to compete in EE's Annual Pumpkin Carving Contest.

This year's event was hosted in the Packard Atrium, with plenty of candy, refreshments, and music. Judges included student services staff Meo Kittiwanich and Teresa Nguyen, graduate advisor Kai Zang, and Professor Mary Wootters. Judging criteria included completeness, technical skill, creativity, and costumes.

The timed competition resulted in a variety of creative and clever pumpkins, from classic carved and painted pumpkins to IoT trick-or-treater sensing pumpkins that send texts to alert their presence at the door.

  • Third Place went to the "PBBB&J" team of Nicole Grimwood, Nicolo Maganzini, Sophia Williams, and Tong Mu.
  • Second place went to "Pumpkin-Bombking" Team, whose members are Anqi Ji, Elias, Wang, Stanislav Fort, and Philip Lee.
  • The First place team was "2ndPlace4ever," Chris Vassos, Stephania Hsu, Lisa Yamada, and Abubakar Abid.

 

Happy HallowEEn!

Prof. Sachin Katti (pictured left) and Dinesh Bharadia (pictured right) at EE commencement 2016
October 2016

The Marconi Society honors Dinesh Bharadia (PhD '16) with the 2016 Paul Baran Young Scholar Award. Dedicated to furthering scientific achievements in communications and the internet, the Marconi Society will honor four scholars for their outstanding research and innovations in networking. The 2016 Paul Baran Young Scholars Awards will be presented at a gala on November 2 at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA.

"Bharadia's research disproved a long-held assumption that, it is generally not possible for a radio to receive and transmit on the same frequency band because of the interference that results," reads the announcement.

The self-interference cancellation filter Bharadia developed also unleashed the potential for many more applications. The unique architecture had to allow cancellation in all environments. According to Bharadia's PhD advisor, Sachin Katti, "Dinesh's work enables a whole host of new applications, from extremely low-power Internet of Things connectivity to motion tracking. It has the potential to be used for important future applications such as building novel wireless imaging that can enable accuracy in driverless cars during severe weather scenarios, helping blind people to navigate indoors, and much more."

Bharadia thinks receiving the Marconi Young Scholar award is especially rewarding because his work has a direct connection to Marconi. "Marconi invented the radio and I was able to make radios full-duplex," he says. "It's fitting that this work should be recognized by the Marconi Society."

 

Hearty congratulations to Dinesh Bharadia!

June 2016

Congratulations to Tim Anderson and José Padovani!

 

Tim (EE and ICME PhD candidate) and José (EE PhD '16) were recognized for their outstanding teaching. They each were awarded the 2016 Centennial Teaching Assistant Award. The award program recognizes outstanding instruction by TA's in the Humanities and Sciences, Earth Sciences, and Engineering schools.

Nominated by faculty, peers, and previous students, each received a $500 stipend and certificate.


About Tim

Tim is a committed instructor. He has taught, tutored, or assisted with Computational and Mathematical Engineering (CME) 102, 108 and 100. His nominators emphasized his valuable contribution in advancing equity via ACE (Additional Calculus for Engineers) in CME. Tim is a first-year PhD student, having completed his EE BS earlier in 2016.

A few comments from Tim's nomination:

PhD candidate Tim Anderson
  • Tim did a phenomenal job not only reviewing and explaining material in-depth, but going the extra mile in explaining industry and major related applications for nearly every topic.
  • I really benefited from the extra practice, and having a good relationship with Tim.
  • ACE has greatly helped me with my academic experiences so far in STEM: developing better study habits, giving me extra help, and gaining confidence in my abilities.

 

 

 

 

 

About José

José Padovani
José Padovani was the Teaching Assistant and head lab TA for EE101A. Being the first to incorporate the course's new curriculum, he rewrote the exercises, synchronizing them with the lectures, while incorporating feedback from students. EE101A's enrollment climbed significantly with José's insights and improvements.

Excerpts from José's nomination:

  • He is genuinely dedicated to making sure that the labs ran smoothly, and that students truly learn from the exercises.
  • José's mini-tutorials helped all the students be better prepared for each section, resulting in an improved learning experience for students.
  • He doesn't leave until he's sure that everyone 'gets it'.

 

Please join us in recognizing Tim and José – their efforts are greatly valued!

July 2016

Electrical Engineering PhD candidate Cheuk Ting Li was awarded the IEEE Jack Keil Wolf ISIT Student Paper Award for his paper titled, "Distributed Simulation of Continuous Random Variables."

The IEEE Jack Keil Wolf ISIT Student Paper Award is given to up to 3 outstanding papers for which a student is the principal author and presenter. Award criteria includes both content and presentation. The award consists of an honorarium and plaque.

The Awards Committee is responsible for selecting the winners with the support of the ISIT TPC. The ISIT TPC recommends between 8 and 12 papers as finalists to the Awards Committee. The Awards Committee selects up to 6 papers as finalists. The Awards Committee judges the presentations, selects the winners, and announces the winners at the ISIT banquet.

 

Congratulations to Cheuk Ting Li!

 

June 2016

Kartik Venkat (PhD '15) has won the 2016 Thomas M. Cover Dissertation Award. The title of his thesis is "Relations Between Information and Estimation: A Unified View."

The Thomas M. Cover Award was established by the IEEE Information Theory Society in 2013. It is awarded annually to the author of an outstanding doctoral dissertation contributing to the mathematical foundations of any of the information sciences within the purview of the Society. Including, but not limited to, Shannon theory, source and channel encoding theory, data compression, learning theory, quantum information theory and computing, complexity theory, and applications of information theory in probability and statistics.

Kartik completed his PhD December 2015. In 2015, he also received the Marconi Young Scholars Award, at which time he planned to pursue entrepreneurial opportunities to apply his work to real world problems, taking "deep ideas in research and using them to transform the way an industry is viewed."

 

Congratulations to Kartik!

Read Kartik's EE Spotlight article

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