It’s not easy being a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) student: The coursework is difficult and the students often feel it is a competition, rather than a network of support.
It’s even tougher being a STEM student when he or she comes from one of the 43% of the families in New Mexico who live in poverty. Or, for those who didn’t get a proper education before they entered UNM.
Regardless of a student’s past or current situation, it is difficult to adjust to the demands of college, especially within the STEM fields. They often feel unprepared to meet demands of college life. Fortunately, there is hope for STEM students in all stages of their college careers, even if they are struggling financially or academically: The STEM Gateway Program at UNM.
Dr. Yadéeh E. Sawyer is a program specialist at UNM's STEM Gateway Program and she has made her presence felt at ECE lately, even though she is not part of the School of Engineering.
ECE students, faculty and staff regularly receive personal invitations, slick flyers, and fancy posters from Sawyer. She reaches out and encourages ECE members, ranging from pre-majors through faculty and staff, to attend free workshops, activities, and programs. Working from an austere, cramped cubical in the College Enrichment and Outreach Programs (CEOP) near Career Services, she is part of a team that is making things better for all STEM students.
“We aim to serve all UNM STEM students, but focus especially on Hispanic, low-income, and/or first generation students,” said Sawyer during a recent interview. “STEM Gateway Activities are designed to help new STEM students transition successfully into the academic disciplines. But all students are welcome to participate in all STEM Gateway events and services, regardless of major or economic status.”
Sawyer said that the reason her group targets “Hispanic, low-income, and/or first generation students” is because the data shows that these groups have lower retention rates, especially within the STEM fields. She said that a “first generation student” is one who’s parents have not attended college — they are the first generation in their family line to pursue a college degree.
“Any and all students are welcome, encouraged to join, and will fit in, regardless of their background or current academic focus,” Sawyer said. “A lot of our events are geared towards life skills and applicable to any student.”
Sawyer glowed when she began talking about the activities that bring STEM students together.
“We know that it can be tough for STEM students to build a community, but students are each other's best support system: We want them to be able to connect with each other, as well as faculty and staff mentors. These networks can provide a sense of belonging, mental stimulation, as well as potential job or research opportunities,” she said.
STEM Gateway Activities are designed to help new STEM students transition successfully into the academic disciplines. The activities that would best apply to ECE students would be the AEON (Achievement, Exploration Opportunities & Networking) Workshops, and S3 (Students for STEM Success) Activities. Click here for more information
Additionally, many core STEM classes have Peer Learning Facilitators (PLFs) who are always there for them.
Sawyer can’t help solve every problem that faces a STEM student, but she is eager to point a STEM student in the right direction. They can e-mail her at Yadeeh@unm.edu or you can leave her a message at 277-2257.
“The S-cubed students are shifting to a more student centered group that will have monthly meetings for networking and planning. This is a great way for STEM students to meet and mingle are the various events and workshops that we offer throughout the semester. Her closing remarks, directed at all students even remotely in STEM is “You belong! And remember, you are not alone.”
—Story by Charles Reuben
If a picture says a thousand words then Patricio Cruz figured that a moving picture could tell ten thousand more.
Cruz, an ECE graduate student, got a chance to prove this theory at the 2014 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS) held in Chicago on Sept. 14-18.
"Our team's approach, and the experimental results that were presented in this video, were based on a contributed paper entitled Stable Formation of Groups of Robots via Synchronization," said Cruz.
IROS is one of the major annual international conferences in the field of robotic research. As second author, he created a three minute video of his team’s work during the multi-robot coordination session. Although it was a team effort, Cruz got ts new for me,” said Cruz, who is used to defending his ideas beside static posters. “It gave me the opportunity to efficiently present the main contributions of our research in a short time.”
The attention received
o be the star.
“This video format waby his video exceeded his expectations.
“Indeed,” said Cruz modestly, “my three-minute talk attracted the attention of professors and graduate students who wanted to know more details about our work. For example, I got interviewed about our work by the people of Robohub.”
Robohub is a non-profit online communication platform that connects the robotics community to the general public. With the video he will be able to promote robotic research that is being carried out at UNM.
Cruz works in the Multi-Agent, Robotics, Hybrid, and Embedded Systems (MARHES) Lab under the supervision of Prof. Rafael Fierro. His research focuses on the coordination control of multiple robots that have different dynamics and/or capabilities.
Cruz works in the basement robotics lab at ECE with Luis Valbuena and Rafael Figueroa. He also collaborates with of Prof. Francesco Sorrentino from the ME department. Together, they have developed a decentralized controller for the stable formation of heterogeneous groups of robots to enhance line-of-sight communications between the members of the different groups.
“We tested our approach carrying out several experiments using the aerial and ground robotic platforms available at the MARHES Lab,” said Cruz. “A reliable wireless data transmission is an important factor in this type of robotic networks especially for task coordination.”
When asked if he thought that he would incorporate more video into his work, Cruz pointed out that Dr. Fierro’s lab had already assembled quite a few videos and that they could be found online by clicking here.
What makes Cruz’s recent video unique is that there is a person in it. All the rest of his videos are experiments that contain no people.
So, will Cruz and his colleagues start standing in front of the camera more often?
“We have Robots here!” said Cruz, “ECE has a good robotic platform to carry out experiments. And if we have to get in front of the camera, we will do it!”
—Story by Charles Reuben
Winning first or second place isn’t always everything.
ECE Graduate Student Mattaleb Hossain walked away with the People’s Choice Award at the CS/ECE Tech Talent Showcase held September 10: After the ballots of the 100+ attendees were counted, his poster was declared crowd favorite.
Bill Hartman, President and CEO of Ion Linac Systems in Albuquerque, was one of the seven judges presiding over the contest and he had a lot to say about posters, entrepreneurialism, young people and whether the opinion of a panel of judges would guarantee the success of an idea.
“At the end of the day some sort of market mechanism will figure it out, even if the market selects what the judges didn’t happen to pick,” said Hartman. “And I would love to see the University put more fuel on that fire.”
Tech Day was an example of how UNM ignited an inferno. The poster competition, which attracted 20 entrants (four from ECE) was a collaboration between the Computer Science Department and ECE. The competition was fierce, fiery and Hartman was impressed.
“There’s a lot of knocking of younger folks nowadays as not being really invested in learning or making changes in the world. I could see how much pride of ownership and how much work and how many hours went behind each and every one of these posters…and that’s pretty encouraging,” he said.
Posters are one of the ways that engineers talk to each other, especially at conferences and IEEE poster sessions. Posters are a way for them to communicate their ideas with their peers and a way for them to get feedback. A typical poster session looks like an art opening: the young engineer stands before his poster, surrounded by (one hopes) a friendly crowd and fiercely defends his or her ideas.
Posters are especially important to the engineer who is just starting out. Hartman explained that it is much easier for a newcomer to share a poster with their peers but, often posters are only the first step in developing a project.
“There’s a pecking order and invited papers are usually more rigorously evaluated,” said Hartman. “it’s tougher to get (a paper) in: your credentials have to be more established. The poster sessions tend to be less rigorous and therefore, on average, less baked. The ideas are more earlier on and starting to develop, as opposed to something that you might expect to see and go, “Wow, that’s ready to go.”
“But within engineering communities, posters are the way you do it,” continued Hartman. “They are part of the culture. It’s part of the way an engineer communicates officially with other engineers and it’s the first step towards getting published.”
Hartman calls himself 1/3 engineer and 2/3 businessperson and he is exactly the kind of person that ECE graduates are going to have to impress if they want to bring home a paycheck someday.
“Engineers don’t necessarily start with a business problem in mind, they start with a technical problem that they’re trying to solve and then look for where that technology might be applied to solving a kind of a real world business problem.”
—Story by Charles Reuben
Your smart phone wants to get to know you. And if Sudharman Jayaweera, an ECE Associate Professor, has any say in the matter, it will get to know you, whether you “like” it or not .
Jayaweera uses the word “radio” when he refers to his research. By that he means any wireless mobile communication device and not just future smartphones.
“The radio will learn from past behavior of the user — location, time of day, other wireless networks it sees — what might be the user's intentions,” he said.
Jayaweera will talk about his research as the keynote speaker at TSSA ’14 (8th International Conference On Telecommunication System, Services, And Applications) to be held in Kuta Bali, Indonesia Oct 23-24. His address is entitled, “Signal Processing and Machine Learning in Wideband Cognitive Radios”.
“Cognitive radio technology is one of the hottest current research topics in wireless communications,” said Jayaweera. He has promoted an ambitious path for this technology over the last several years. “These radios are not only intelligent and autonomous but are also self-aware,” said Jayaweera.
Jayaweera said that a self-aware radio is one that uses signal processing (machine learning) to make sense of its radio frequency (RF) environment and then uses that knowledge to make decisions on how best to meet the user’s needs. Cognition and intelligence in radios reside in the machine learning algorithms that are embedded within them . The development of those processing and learning systems are the focus of his research.
Jayaweera is quick to downplay any Orwellian associations. “[It is] a wireless communications device that can make its own decisions based on its past experiences. That is all. Since it can make its own decisions on how to operate, it is autonomous. For the same reason, it is like a robot. But since this is a radio, it is a radio+robot = radiobot, ” he said.
There is a great demand for cognitive radio technology. “There are many research groups, government agencies and companies attempting to develop smart radio systems and networks that can quench the seemingly never-ending thirst for anywhere, anytime, anyhow wireless communications,” he said.
Jayaweera just finished writing a book titled “Signal Processing for Cognitive Radios” that is to be published by John Wiley & Sons, in early 2015. It will highlight the fundamental importance of signal processing to cognitive radios.
Jayaweera was born in Matara, Sri Lanka. After completing his high schooling, he worked as a science journalist till 1993 at the Associated Newspapers Ceylon Limited. He left Sri Lanka that year, and in 1997, he received the B.E. degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering with First Class Honors from the University of Melbourne, Australia.
—Story by Charles Reuben
Jayaweera received his M.A. and PhD degrees in Electrical Engineering from Princeton University, USA in 2001 and 2003, respectively. He joined ECE@UNM as an Assistant Professor in 2006 where is now an Associate Professor and the Associate Chair and the Director of Graduate Program.
“Engineering is a way of life, not just a profession,” said ECE professor, Tarief Elshafiey .
Elshafiey taught three classes this summer and each one was filled to capacity
Grant Heileman, a student in Signals and Systems last summer and now studying Power Systems with Elshafiey spoke enthusiastically about his professor.
“His exuberant personality and enthusiasm towards the subject matter, as well as the well-being of his students, gave me much needed positive reinforcement for such difficult classes,” said Heileman.
Because of the difficulty of the class, Elshafiey offers his Communication Systems students extra credit opportunities.
One of the extra credit projects was to build a radio. Students were awarded five points if their radio received one channel plus up to ten points for each additional station the radio received.
Excitement about his extra credit project caught the professor off guard, “It was a surprise for me when 15 students out of 27 applied for the project because a significant amount of time and effort is required to achieve a functional radio in only four weeks,” said Elshafiey.
“The idea of the project,” said Elshafiey , “was to build an AM radio using envelope detection, which is considered the simplest demodulation technique.”
There were five constraints for the project:
- No IC or amplifiers were allowed.
- The radio had to be built using discrete components like diodes, resistors and capacitors.
- The radio had to have the capacity to receive more than one channel.
- Students had to design and build an antenna for the required frequency range.
- A breadboard and wires were allowed.
The students went above and beyond Elshafiey’s expectations.
“Students came up with amazing ideas to tune the radio and wonderful shapes for the antennas even though they had not taken the antenna course yet,” said Elshafiey.
It’s not easy to build a radio from scratch. Some students like Justin Johnson even put time in during the weekend.
“Justin met me in the weekend at my office with his wife to find an explanation why the radio did not work here in the ECE building and works great at home, ” said Elshafiey.
Despite the extra time required by the project, Johnson found it beneficial to his understanding of the course material.
“Building the device itself was not difficult, but to obtain a clear, audible signal did require some effort,” said Johnson, “[Elshafiey’s] coupling of theory with a hardware project really helped to bring things together for me.”
Elshafiey marvels at his students, “Most of them have multiple responsibilities; studying, working part time or even full time and some of them have families and kids, this is really amazing,” he said.
Elshafiey seems to understand that engineers have a unique way of looking at life, something he likes to call “engineering sense.” He summed it up this way, “If you are a poet and I am an engineer and we are both buying a new car, you might say this car has a beautiful shape and wonderful romantic, red color. I, on the other hand, would say it is reliable and has good MPG.”
—by Charles Reuben
The AMEREM 2014 High Power Electromagnetics conference wrapped up its work on July 31 after a four-day run in the auditorium and meetings rooms of the UNM SUB.
"We had 175 attendees from 25 countries," said Edl Schamiloglu, ECE professor and conference general chair, "I received only positive comments from people regarding the technical sessions, the tours, the reception and the awards banquet."
AMEREM was the creation of Dr. Carl E. Baum who served as Distinguished Research Professor at ECE from 2005 until his death in 2010. The conference is a gathering of scientists and engineers whose name is coined from the word America and the abbreviation for “electromagnetics” (EM).
“Although there are many conferences that cover electromagnetics, AMEREM is uniquely focused on High Power Electromagnetics,” said Schamiloglu. “UNM came across first class”
Baum fashioned another EM conference in Europe known as EUROEM: The two conferences alternate between North America and Europe so there is an electromagnetics conference taking place every four years in each continent. At this year’s AMEREM it was announced that yet another electromagnetics conference will be held for the first time in Asia on Jeju Island, South Korea. And this, of course, will be called ASIAEM 2015.
“Although there are many conferences that cover electromagnetics and aspects of electromagnetics, the AMEREM, EUROEM, ASIAEM series is uniquely focused on High Power Electromagnetics,” said Schamiloglu, “This is an important technical area in the State of New Mexico since Sandia National Laboratories, Los Alamos National Laboratory, the Air Force Research Laboratory, and the University of New Mexico all have important programs dedicated to High Power Electromagnetics.”
To ECE graduate student Julie Lawrence, Baum's last PhD candidate before he passed away, presenting her paper at AMEREM 2014 was especially poignant.
"I wish Carl Baum were still alive to see the work that I am doing now. I miss his presence and extensive knowledge. Presenting at this conference gave me an opportunity to get invaluable feedback from my peers," she said.
Not all the presenters at the conference were seasoned veterans or professional engineers. Undergraduates Sydney Horne and Ahmed ElShafiey presented a poster at the conference on the subject of "EM Fields Produced from Over-Voltaged Spark Gaps." Both students work under the guidance of Research Professor Sal Portillo.
"This was my first poster presentation," said Horne who is a junior studying biophysics, "This was an excellent growth and learning opportunity for me."
"This conference gave me the chance to design circuits and simulate them which allowed me to gain experience in my field of study," said ElShafiey, a sophomore at ECE, "I made a lot of great connections that I can hopefully collaborate with in the future."
Ryan Hoffman, an attendee from the Office of Naval Research in Arlington, VA found the conference to be unique, “I was impressed by the fundamental nature of the work compared to most other conferences in this area.” Peter Zwamborne, from the The Hague, Netherlands said, “I return home with a lot of new ideas and scientific inspiration provided during the presentations and follow up discussions with my friends.”
Thanks to the support of ECE and others, AMEREM’s success and will be an inspiration to engineers and scientists entering the field of High Power Electromagnetics.
“UNM came across first class,” said Schamiloglu.
The following is a photographic record of the events that occurred at AMEREM 2014:
To read more about Carl Baum and his special relationship with UNM and ECE, please click here
—by Charles Reuben
When Tony Mancuso sets his mind on doing something, it’s pretty much as good as done.
The big difference between Mancuso and most students is that he entered ECE at age 46, making him a “non-traditional student.” He is now part of a team in Alaska that is responsible for the design, maintenance and upgrades of the state’s communications system.
“I worked hard [at ECE] and had the benefit of experience and wisdom — things my classmates worked without,” said Mancuso. “It was great to compete and collaborate with my ECE friends. I was inspired by their questioning of everything and their persistence in finding answers.”
Though Mancuso enjoyed his previous career, his desire to learn motivated him to go back to school.
“I liked the work but there were many things I wanted to understand that could only be learned through study,” said Mancuso.
In his three years at ECE Mancuso earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering (BSEE) as a full-time student while working as an intern at Sandia National Laboratories.
He graduated in May 2014 and started working for the State of Alaska in July 2014.
Tony recommends that graduates take the Fundamentals of Engineering Exam (FE). It is a $225 test, which is the first step in the process leading to the Professional Engineer (PE) license.
Just like becoming a CPA defines an accountant and "passing the bar" allows a student to practice law, a PE gives a person the authority to sign and seal engineering plans and provide services to the public.
“I learned that the FE Exam certifies an engineering graduate to serve as an engineer in training and is the first step in obtaining a PE license,” said Mancuso.
Mancuso is well on his way to becoming a professional engineer now that he has earned his BSEE and has passed the FE and he’s working as hard as ever. He’s even considering an EE-masters program in atmospheric effects on electromagnetic wave propagation.
“I thought things would slow down after school but after a slow and peaceful drive to Alaska, the pace is nice and fast, just as I need it. Living the dream,” he said.
—story by Charles Reuben
The UNM Provost Chaouki Abdallah and the President of Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M), Daniel Peña, have signed a double degree program agreement within both universities together with the UNM Electrical and Computer Engineering Department and the UC3M School of Engineering.
The agreement allows UNM students pursuing an M.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering to also obtain an M.S. in Telecommunications or Multimedia and Communications at UC3M in Spain. Students of UC3M pursuing one of these degrees in Spain, can also obtain an M.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from UNM.
UNM students wanting to obtain a Master in Telecommunications must pass 30 credit hours corresponding to one of the ECE paths, and then spend a year at UC3M, where they need to take four specific courses, taught in English, an d complete their Masters’ thesis.
Manel Martínez-Ramón, Prince of Asturias Endowed Chair at UNM and Ramiro Jordán, Associate Professor, have been working to establish relationships between UNM and UC3M. Martínez-Ramón says that though classes will differ from the courses that would be taken at UNM, they will enrich students’ education.
“This is actually good because they will acquire knowledge in courses that have been developed with different objectives, to educate professionals with profiles that are quite different from the ones of the university of origin,” said Martínez-Ramón, “This will broaden the capacities of the students, and their scope.”
In addition to educational enrichment, this program will help students to develop new perspectives.
“I wish I had a penny for each time I heard, ‘In this country people live better than in any other,’ in Spain, the USA, France, Germany, and in other countries,” said Martínez-Ramón, “Living abroad makes you get rid of the concepts ‘better’ and ‘worse’ to adopt concepts like ‘different.’”
Martínez-Ramón also says that this exchange program will benefit students on the UNM campus.
“Studying abroad is not only a benefit for those who travel, but also for those who host the students,” said Martinez-Ramon, “Talking, living and sharing things with foreigners of any country is always an enriching experience that benefits the society.”
This is an opportunity for UNM students to obtain an additional M.S. valid in Europe, and to get immersed in the culture and language of Spain.
Students who are interested in joining the program should contact either Manel Martínez-Ramón or Ramiro Jordán.
—by Charles Reuben
Nothing spells sweet success like a second edition, especially in academia where textbooks aren't selling like hotcakes. This feat is particularly noteworthy when the subject matter is microwaves — which can hardly be called light reading.
ECE Professsor Christos Christodoulou’s book, Radio Propagation and Adaptive Antennas for Wireless Communication Networks, recently achieved the milestone of a second edition and he’s feeling good about it, “It is one of the most updated and most thorough books in this area,” he said proudly.
The book was published by John Wiley & Sons, a global publishing company founded in 1807 that specializes in academic publishing. According to Kai Chang, editor of the Wiley Series in Microwave and Optical Engineering, which included Christodoulou’s book, the book was originally published in October 2006 and several thousand of them have been sold to “professional people and for classroom use as a textbook.”
Chang, who also serves as a professor at Texas A&M University said that Christodoulou’s book is “a very good book [and] has lots of theoretical background for people working in this area. It also has practical applications.”
The first edition of the book was very popular among radio engineers and designers of wireless communication links because it allowed them to predict grade of service, quality of service and the information data rate that passed each individual link.
Christodoulou co-authored the book with Nathan Blaunstein, a professor at the Communication Systems Engineering Department at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer Sheba, Israel. Christodoulou and Blaunstein shared the responsibility of writing the book equally.
“I wrote chapters regarding radio propagation in different media and on various wireless systems,” said Blaunstein, “Christos dealt with chapters and parts of chapters regarding antennas and their applications in various wireless systems.”
“Christos was the first who understood the usefulness of such a unified technique for successful applications in wireless communication systems beyond 3-G (4-G and more),” said Blaunstein
Blaunstein left the former USSR in and immigrated to Israel in 1992. He first met Christodoulou in Calfornia in 1995. “He asked me a lot of questions on my report regarding radio propagation scenarios in built-up communication environment. He first suggested for me to use a general theory of radio wave propagation, based on statistical and quantum electrodynamics, in specific engineering fields, mostly for adaptive/smart multi-beam antennas applications.”
Christodoulou has worked with Blaunstein for over 10 years. UNM and Ben-Gurion University have a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on mutual scientific and educational collaboration.
Blaunstein said that his collaboration with Christodoulou has lead to important findings that will be added to the book in the new second addition.
“Christos was the first who understood the usefulness of such a unified technique for successful applications in wireless communication systems beyond 3-G (4-G and more),” said Blaunstein, “Obtaining very serious, practical results with him, we decided to introduce these very important results in the second edition of our joint book.”
No doubt these results in the second edition of their book will be hailed with as much fervor as those presented in the first edition.
—by Charles Reuben
There’s change (and dust) in the air at the ECE building these days. A lot of these changes are due to construction, but some of them are much more subtle. And that’s where ECE’s new marketing director, Sarah Lynas, comes in.
Lynas was a student at the Communication and Journalism Department who was recently hired by chair Jane Lehr after she presented a campaign to enhance the image of ECE as part of a class project.
Tired, old display cases and worn-out chairs have been sent to salvage and the walls are being patched and prepped for a long-overdue new coat of paint.
“The goal of the new campaign is to increase enrollment and revitalize the department’s image,” said Lynas, “as well as to really showcase who engineers are at ECE and what they’re doing.”
Lynas is a senior studying strategic communication and applied math. She hopes to help create a new, cohesive image for the department.
Lynas has discovered that our ECE students are doing a lot more than just hitting the books. ECE students write poetry, snowboard, and so much more, she is eager to showcase these talents. On Thursday, May 27, the first poster from the new campaign went up in the ECE foyer. The new poster showcases the work of graduate student, Gangadharan Esakki.
She is also hard at work on a poster that features the talent of our resident snowboarder, Grant Heileman.
Other changes at ECE are happening to the building itself. The department is determined to make the building a more comfortable and efficient place to work and study.
High efficiency LEDs have taken the place of fluorescent tubes in dark stairwells.
“They are Lithonia’s premier fixtures,” said electrician Ryan Ralson.
Each fixture costs about $120 and he has installed 100 of them in the building. The renovations are being paid for by UNM.
“The new lighting should pay for themselves in energy savings fairly quickly,” said Ralston.
Classrooms and offices light up after a person passes through a doorway making old-fashioned light switches a thing of the past. The new switches are wireless.
Contractors are tearing out old ductwork and replacing them with new and shiny, digitally controlled air handlers that will improve the building’s heating and cooling.
According to David Modisette, the building manager and part-time ECE instructor, changing out the building’s “air flow routing” is a work in progress and it will take some time before the work is completed.
“I think the construction workers are doing as well as possible, given that the building is occupied,” said Modisette, “When this is completed there will be significant energy savings and people will have better control over their work space temperature and lighting. The new vents will also eliminate the loud banging caused by the old baffle actuators.”
Modisette’s third floor office is a chilly 66 degrees while the temperature in the first floor offices is so hot that many of the staff have set up temporary fans that were leftover from a previous building crisis.
“That’s because the HAC guys are installing the ductwork,” said Ralston. “After that’s done, we’ll install the electrical power that the control guys will use for the systems that control the air conditioning. And then UNM will be able to control the building remotely.”
Modisette and Ralston said all these changes to the building will be completed at the end of July.
—story by Charles Reuben
Over 60 students crammed into the ECE118 conference room on Thurs., May 14, 2014 for Robot Fiesta. Their mission: To show how their little androids can successfully and independently, follow one of three paths that were taped out on a conference table. The awards were bragging rights and a grade.
The professor was Daryl Lee, a lecturer at ECE, and the class was “Fundamentals of Programming, “ECE 131. This joyous, and somewhat chaotic event, took place on the final exam day.
“We use robots for the primary purpose of showing the students how quickly they can get into programming electromechanical devices, and not be stuck with just printing text to a computer screen,” said Lee.
His expectations were high but Lee understands, better than most, how difficult this task really is. When asked what these robots were supposed to do, he joked, “They’re supposed to not fall off the table.”
During his free time, Lee sings in "Quintessence-Choral Artists of the Southwest." He likes to compare the software engineer’s task to that of a concert pianist.
“(Our job) is to make fairly complex work appear easy . . . The computer cannot read our minds; we must be very specific about every little thing, ” said Lee.
That task is daunting and the work of a software engineer can be frustrating but Lee said the rewards are huge.
“When the switch is flipped on, and that little monster begins following the path, the feeling of success is unbeatable,” said Lee.
After four years of teaching, Lee still enjoys watching his students’ robots.
“I've worked on devices of much higher levels of sophistication. Even though I still get a rush when some new software works right, every semester I'm reminded of what it feels like to slay that first dragon. The looks on the students’ faces are its own reward,” said Lee.
As the robot fiesta drew to an end, a frustrated student complained that her robot was moving much too slowly down its path. Lee responded by saying that despite that fact, the robot was on course and moving “nice and smooth.”
“Well,” conceded the student, “I guess it works . . .”
“There’s a lot to be said for that,” said Lee.
—by Charles Reuben
Md. Mottaleb Hossain, a CHTM and OSE-ECE graduate student, has won the prestigious 2014 Optics and Photonics Education Scholarship from the International Society for Optics and Photonics. He was awarded $2,000 for his potential contributions to the field of optics and photonics.
Mottaleb has been a mentor to a number of undergraduate and high-school students working on research projects at CHTM. He has donated his time generously to many outreach activities at CHTM and OSE.
Mottaleb received Bachelor of Science (BSc) in Electrical & Electronic Engineering (EEE) from Khulna University of Engineering & Technology (KUET), Bangladesh in 2009. He is now pursuing PhD in Optical Science and Engineering (OSE) at UNM.
Mottaleb works with ECE Professor Majeed M. Hayat, CHTM Associate Director and OSE General Chair and Fellow of SPIE, OSA, and IEEE on modeling, design, fabrication, and characterization of CMOS compatible avalanche photodiodes (APDs) and integrated plasmonic detectors to be used in smart-lighting applications. His research work is supported in part by the National Science Foundation (NSF) under the Smart Lighting-Engineering Research Center (ERC).
Mottaleb is the newly elected President of the Optical Society of America's UNM Student Chapter (OSA-UNM) for 2014-2015. He also served as the Vice President of OSA-UNM Student Chapter for the period of 2013-2014. He is an active graduate student member of many professional and learned societies including SPIE, OSA, IEEE, IEEE Photonics Society (IPS), IEEE EDS, and Institution of Engineers, Bangladesh (IEB).
—by Charles Reuben
Poster sessions can usually be found at most scientific conferences but now, thanks to a couple of energetic ECE professors, they are becoming a regular feature in our department.
Ten teams of four students squeezed into the lobby of ECE on May 1 to show off their posters to the rest of the community. This poster session marked the culmination of 32 weeks of instruction in the Senior Design class taught by Edward Nava, professor at ECE.
They were joined by the 10 member team of the newly instituted, multi-disciplinary Senior Design class taught by Dr. Rich Compeau.
“Students will be making posters for the rest of their careers and displaying them at conferences and meetings,” said Nava. “As professional engineers, they will need to clearly summarize their work to people who are unfamiliar with it.”
The Senior Design course teaches students how to make posters and communicate their projects within a 24”x36” space. Students also learn to work in teams whose members have a variety of different technical backgrounds.
“The Senior Design course teaches students how to apply their technical skills to real-world problems,” said Nava. “They learn how to plan and manage projects that are more extensive than the typical course assignments that they have experienced thus far.
“The key to success of this program is having sponsors who are willing to pose technical problems to the teams and provide technical guidance. We are fortunate to have support from local firms, but there is always a need for additional sponsors.”
Nava encourages organizations to contact him if they would like to sponsor a project for future senior design classes. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
—by Charles Reuben
Swapnadip Ghosh, a fourth year doctoral student at ECE, has won the “Excellence in Graduate Research Award” from the UNM Chapter of Sigma Xi.
Sigma Xi, an international honor society with strong ties with IEEE, is an international honor society that recognizes undergraduates and graduate students for excellence and outstanding research in science and engineering.
Swapnadip (or “Swap” to his friends) is the recipient of numerous honors and awards including a best student speaker award and Dorothy M. and Earl S. Hoffman Travel Grant award by the American Vacuum Society. He has authored and co-authored in ten peer-reviewed journals including Applied Physics Letters and IEEE Electron Device Letters.
Swapnadip has presented his research in over 20 international conference meetings and his research has brought four United State patents to fruition. He plans to pursue his Postdoctoral research work on thin-film, low-cost photovoltaic devices based on III-V semiconductors.
"This award is recognition of my scholarly accomplishments by a scientific society from UNM. It acknowledges the fact that my research work is gradually making some impact in the scientific community. The ECE department — and especially CHTM— has allowed me to broaden my research skills and dexterity beyond my coursework," said Swapnadip whose hobbies include working out, hiking, and “occasionally looking through Journals."
Swapnadip’s dissertation, "Germanium Based Epitaxy, Devices and Ge Based QDs for Next Generation Technologies,” is being supervised by Prof. Sang M. Han.
Swapnadip will be honored at a ceremony hosted by Sigma Xi on May 19. At that ceremony Swapnadip will receive a certificate and will then be initiated into Sigma Xi as a new member.
“Swap is then responsible to organize a lecture within his department,” said Kelly Monteleone, secretary for the organization, and postdoctoral fellow at the Maxwell Museum of Anthropology. “At this lecture Swap will receive a check for $100.”
—by Charles Reuben
Three outstanding, well-rounded students from ECE were honored at the 2014 SOE Awards Banquet held on Fri., May 9th. The awards presentation took place at 11 a.m. in the auditorium of the Centennial Engineering Center and was followed by a delicious, Brazilian-style lunch in the courtyard.
Here are ECE’s proud award winners. Let’s get to know them a little better:
Regina Eckert is studying for a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering with a focus in optoelectronics. Over the past two years, she has worked as a student intern at Sandia National Laboratories, researching the use of waveform correlation techniques for seismic signal processing. She is currently working with a group involved in developing state-of-the-art focal plane array technology. She plans to pursue a master's degree after graduating in Spring 2015, and hopes to continue to do research throughout her future career.
Regina is an avid reader, black & white film photographer, and aspiring writer. One of her short stories was published in the 2011-2012 edition of Conceptions Southwest, a UNM student magazine.
“I have enjoyed the innumerable hours I have spent in the ECE department, and I am looking forward to another year full of interesting projects and new topics.” said Regina.
Artem Kuskov is a senior undergraduate Electrical Engineering student with an Electromagnetics track. For the past 15 months he has been a research assistant in the beams physics laboratory working on a magnetically insulated accelerator, numerical simulations of radiation transport and X-ray as well as RF diagnostic development. His current Pulsed Power project involves the design of a high voltage Marx generator for low impedance high power microwave sources.
Tem has presented his work at the 2013 International Conference of Plasma Science and has received an award to attend this year’s International Plasma and Beams Conference in Washington D.C., where he will be giving an oral presentation on his current work. His work will also be presented at the upcoming 2014 AMEREM conference. He has published in the conference proceedings as well as on the Nuclear Plasma Science Society newsletter and is working on an accelerator paper for a peer reviewed journal.
Tem will be working in the High Power Electrodynamics Group in the Accelerator Technology division at Los Alamos National Laboratory and will continue with his Graduate academic studies at the University of New Mexico’s Electrical Engineering Charged Particle Beams and Plasma Laboratories, where he will focus on radiation transport physics and radiographic sources.
—by Charles Reuben
Siva Patibandla is a Graduate electrical engineering student with an emphasis in power and energy. He worked on the Solar decathlon, which brought in collegiate teams from all around the world to design sustainable, smart housing. He helped to design and deploy the photovoltaic system and the control system of the house that the UNM team built. Siva presented his work at the 2013 American solar energy society held in Baltimore. He also conducted a test on the Microgrid at the Solar Decathlon village with a team of engineers that was lead by ECE Prof. Olga Lavrova.
“What made this a unique test is the fact that there was 100% PV penetration,” said Siva. His work was submitted to the IEEE Transactions on Smart Grid Issue on Distributed Energy Management Systems. He is also simulating the Microgrid in two different softwares: OpenDss and ETAP. Siva strives to understand the effects of electric car integration in to the grid in the near future and his aim is to work in the renewable energy industry once he graduates.
Five ECE students won second place in the UNM Business Plan Competition that recently took place at the Anderson School of Management.
The ECE students were Justin Johnston (BS EE), Conrad Woidyla (BS Comp E), Alexandria Haddad (MBA & BS Comp E), John-Mark Collins (BS Comp E), and Julian Lucero (BS Comp E). Michelle Urban (MBA from Anderson) was also part of the team.
The ECE team, which calls itself “Ground State,” competed against 12 other teams in a University-wide competition. They presented their business plans to 40+ venture capitalists and angel investors who picked the winners.
"Creating the business plan for an engineering product idea was a great learning experience," said team member Alexandria Haddad. "It reinforced everything that we have been studying over the last four years in ECE, and put a clear perspective on the business aspect that is involved in bringing a great product to market."
Ground State is a “big data company” which, according to Creighton Glenn of ECE’s Innovation Plaza is “a company that collects information from multiple users and derives useful suggestions for better living.”
Ground State’s prize-winning consumer product is Drive Pilot™ — a device that attaches to any vehicle made after 1996 and captures driving metrics such as speed, RPM, GPS location, and throttle position which users can access in real time. This information is used to encourage safe driving behaviors for new drivers, assist small business with fleet management, and more.
Ground State won a $20,000 cash prize, $3,500 that will be used for lawyers’ services and a year of virtual office space that will all be used to accelerate the growth of their business. The team was awarded their prize at a reception and banquet at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Albuquerque.
Justin Johnston, the Chief Technology Officer of Ground State said, “We would like to thank Dr. Ramiro Jordan and Dr. Kamil Agi for the mentorship during the initial phases of exploring the business idea.
“It is exciting to have world class professors that are genuinely interested in the success of their students here in the Electrical and Computer Engineering department at UNM,” said Johnston.
Ground State also won first place in the Pitch Fiesta 2.0 sponsored by Startup New Mexico, a statewide effort led by entrepreneurs to support the growth of startups throughout New Mexico.
—by Charles Reuben
Elmyra Grelle, Coordinator of the Graduate Program at ECE, has won the prestigious 2013-2014 School of Engineering Staff Award. She will receive a check for $1,000 and a handsome plaque at the Student Staff Awards Banquet on Fri., May 9 from 11 am to 1:30 pm at the Centennial Engineering Center.
“The competition this year was extraordinary, making the selection process a difficult one,” said Dr. Joseph Cecchi, Dean of the School of Engineering.
Elmyra manages the application process for incoming graduate students and the degree process for those already enrolled. She advises and assists them as they navigate their way through their individual programs. She also maintains their records and processes their contracts.
"Elmyra is one of the hardest workers I know," said co-worker Yvone' Nelson. "She is always juggling multiple responsibilities and deadlines. She gives high priority to her graduate students and takes great care of them. In fact, many lovingly refer to her as their mom."
"Outside of my children, my greatest accomplishment has been making a difference in the lives of students,” said Elmyra. “I have worked with students from kindergarten to college and that's a lot of students!"
Elmyra was born and raised in Albuquerque. "I'm a two time New Mexico State alumni, carrying on a long family tradition of attending NMSU,” she said proudly.
Elmyra taught in public and private schools for 12 years before joining ECE in 2006. "I love working with the graduate students because of their desire to pursue an advanced degree, their enthusiasm about their research and their multi-national backgrounds," she said.
—by Charles Reuben