Spring 2016 Edition

From the Chair

Bob McLeodSpring has been a busy season of growth for the ECEE department. Enrollment predictions indicate we will have significant increase in the undergraduate class next year. The faculty have joined an AAU-sponsored project for teaching transformation that has identified the departmental learning culture as a key area to help students succeed - more on this to come in the future.  

At the graduate level, we just accepted our second crop of master’s students into our Embedded Systems Engineering Professional Master’s Program and our first crop of students into our brand-new Power Electronics Professional Master’s Program. We anticipate almost 100 students in these new programs next year.

Future expansion of these programs will be promoted by the first of our Coursera specializations in Power Electronics, which is soon to be joined by two other technical areas. These massive open online course (MOOC) materials are taught by our faculty to tens of thousands of students and are very high quality - the Power Electronics specialization is highlighted on the Coursera home page as one of their highest rated by students.

Finally, at the faculty level, Assistant Professors Juliet Gopinath and Khurram Afridi have both won prestigious NSF CAREER awards, recognizing the best and brightest in the nation. We are heavily recruiting new faculty to join them, aided by our growing capital campaign to attract and support new faculty and their students.  We received two donations to the campaign this year, putting us nearly 30 percent of the way to a new Endowed Professorship in Electrical Engineering.

ECEE Alum Wins Human Rights Award

Ahmed Mansoor AlabdAhmed Mansoor Alabd (ElEngr’96; MTeleCom’99) of the United Arab Emirates was named winner of the 2015 Martin Ennals Human Rights Defender Award by the Switzerland-based Martin Ennals Foundation. The award recognizes human rights defenders who have shown deep commitment to human rights at great personal risk.

“Mansoor is one of the few voices within the United Arab Emirates (UAE) who provides a credible independent assessment of human rights developments in the country,” according to the award website. “He regularly raises concerns on arbitrary detention, torture or ill or degrading treatment, failure to meet international standards for fair trials, non-independence of the judiciary, domestic laws that violate international law, and other violations of civil rights. He has been jailed for his efforts, and is currently unable to travel. 

Martin Ennals winners are selected by a coalition of 10 leading international human rights organizations, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. >> Read More

Popovic Helps Pioneer Photonics-Based Microchip

Milos Popovic poses in his lab with three graduate students and postdoctoral researchersResearchers at CU-Boulder, in collaboration with the University of California, Berkeley and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), have developed a groundbreaking microprocessor chip that uses light, rather than electricity, to transfer data at rapid speeds while consuming minute amounts of energy. 

The new technology, which also utilizes the same manufacturing processes as current electrical microprocessors, could pave the way for faster, more powerful computing systems and network infrastructure within the next five years.

“Light based integrated circuits could lead to radical changes in computing and network chip architecture in applications ranging from smartphones to supercomputers to large data centers, something computer architects have already begun work on in anticipation of the arrival of this technology,” said Miloš Popović, assistant professor in the Department of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering and a co-corresponding author of the study. The study was published in the journal Nature in late 2015, capping nearly 10 years of work by the team. >> Read More

Seniors Best CSU, Mines in Annual Design Competition

The five members of Sensors for Intelligent Networks with their faculty advisor, Zoya Popovic. Senior design team Sensors for Intelligent Networks won’t get their final capstone project grade until May. But back in December, they had already earned an A+ from members of the Denver chapter of the IEEE PES/IAS.

The team beat out teams from Colorado School of Mines and Colorado State University in the PK Sen Design Competition hosted by IEEE PES/IAS at their annual meeting. And presenting in front of a crowd of professional engineers was no easy task.

"Most of them are engineers, so they definitely had technical questions to ask," team member Andrew Wylde said. "A former (ECEE graduate) student railed me about communication protocols."

The team is creating a network of distributed sensors that would gather data on building air quality, as well as a data analytics platform that would allow building managers to more easily monitor and control HVAC systems. >> Read More

Class Notes

At age 91, wind energy pioneer Palmer Carlin (ElEngr’45; MS’52; PhD’55) can be found at the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Wind Technology Center in Golden, Colo., three days a week answering questions from the public about renewable energy. While working at CU as an electrical engineering professor, he built an early wind turbine prototype and discovered his calling. He’s been with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory ever since. “We’re trying to keep the planet’s temperature down,” Palmer says. “Wind is one way to do that.”

California formal verification services company Oski Technology, Inc. appointed Dave Perry (ElEngrCompSci’80) chief operating officer. He previously served as vice president of engineering at Arteris. He also worked for Silicon Graphics, Inc., serving in multiple development and leadership roles for multiprocessor systems. Dave has seven granted U.S. patents and one pending in microprocessor, system and SoC design.

James Eric Lupo (ElCompEngr’97; MD’08) moved back to Colorado from Los Angeles after completing his final two years of surgical training in otology, neurotology and lateral skull base surgery. He joined the practice at the Rocky Mountain Ear Center in Englewood, Colo.

From his college apartment, Nathan Seidle (ElEngr’04) built and sold his first circuit boards. Twelve years later his company, SparkFun, sells 100,000 circuit boards a month, offers 2,000 different products and has annual revenues of nearly $33 million. This summer SparkFun opened its first offline store in Niwot, Colo., catering to small-scale buyers interested in kits and parts.

The first microbrewery in Jordan, Carakale, was created by Yazan Karadsheh (ElEngr’06). [See story in this issue.] Yazan produces 40,000 bottles per month. He hopes to create brews more reflective of Jordan’s native flavors and hopes to transform local tastes.

Yuanzhe Zhang (MElEngr’14, PhD’15) recently joined Efficient Power Conversion Corp. as director of applications engineering. His focus will be designing state-of-the-art envelope tracking systems for 4G, LTE and 5G wireless infrastructure that demonstrate the benefits of using gallium nitride transistors.