SoE News

Anima Anandkumar Feb 18, 2014
Anandkumar Receives ‘Early-Career’ Sloan Research Fellowship for her Work in Machine Learning

Anima Anandkumar, an assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science, has been awarded a 2014 Sloan Research Fellowship for her work at the interface of theory and practice of large-scale machine learning and high-dimensional statistics. Bestowed annually since 1955 by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the two-year fellowships go to 126 early-career scientists and scholars in the U.S. and Canada whose achievements and potential identify them as the next generation of scientific leaders. Fellows – who are nominated by their peers – receive $50,000 to further their work. “It’s a great honor to join the prestigious ranks of Sloan Fellows,” Anandkumar says. “The support from the Sloan Foundation will enable me to continue my research on large-scale machine learning.”


Her work, broadly speaking, involves building intelligent computers that can learn from the world around them, said her colleague Padhraic Smyth, a professor of computer science and statistics in the Donald Bren School of Information & Computer Sciences. “This field is very hot right now, both in academic research and in the commercial world,” he said. “Companies such as Google and Microsoft and many others are using machine learning to develop self-driving cars, intelligent speech recognition, smart cameras, search engines that can better understand what you type, and more.” Machine learning also is helping biologists better understand cancer data and climate scientists to interpret patterns in vast quantities of climate data, said Smyth.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman Feb 14, 2014
Department of Energy Makes Solar Decathlon Official at UCI

On a clear and appropriately sunny Southern California day, the Calit2 courtyard yesterday provided a picturesque setting for a formal announcement that many at UC Irvine had been anticipating eagerly.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman Feb 13, 2014
UC Irvine to lead “Team Orange” at Solar Decathlon 2015

Deputy Energy Secretary announces contestants, decathlon site in campus visit

UC Irvine and three fellow Orange County campuses will compete in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon 2015, the international student competition to design and build the best solar-powered home. Chapman University, Irvine Valley College and Saddleback College will join UC Irvine as “Team Orange” to create a residence that reflects the traits of the drought-resistant, sun-loving California poppy.

“I’m thrilled that Team Orange has been selected to compete in this world-class event,” said Gregory Washington, dean of UC Irvine’s Samueli School of Engineering, who will lead the effort. His research specialty is “smart” materials that harvest energy. “We and our partners will show California and the nation that our campuses and Orange County lead the way on innovative, affordable solar power and other clean energy advances. The home team can definitely win.”

U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman will visit UC Irvine today to announce the 20 teams selected to compete in Solar Decathlon 2015, which will be held at the Orange County Great Park. (The event will be live streamed at www.energy.gov/live.) Teams, from colleges and universities across the country and around the world, will now begin the nearly two-year process of building solar-powered houses that are affordable, innovative and highly energy-efficient.

“As President Obama made clear in the State of the Union address, we need an all-of-the-above energy strategy that creates a safer and more sustainable planet, while ensuring American students and workers have the skills they need for the challenging jobs of today and tomorrow,” Poneman said. “The Solar Decathlon provides the next generation of America’s architects, engineers and entrepreneurs with the real-world experience and training they need to strengthen U.S. innovation and support new, clean sources of energy.”

Dr. Arash Kheradvar holds a model of a heart valve used in his research to advance cardiovascular science. Feb 7, 2014
The Children’s Heart Foundation and American Heart Association Sponsor Two Cardiovascular Science Projects in Biomedical Engineering

Dr. Arash Kheradvar, an associate professor of biomedical engineering, has received two prestigious grants to advance research and development in cardiovascular science.

The Children’s Heart Foundation has awarded Kheradvar $200,000 over two years to support a hybrid tissue-engineered heart valve. Kheradvar and his research team are developing a patient-specific heart valve prosthesis with self-regenerating capacity. “This approach to engineering heart valves holds promise for combining the mechanical valves’ long-term durability advantages with biological valves’ self-regenerating capacity and improved biocompatibility and hemodynamics,” explains Kheradvar, a Fellow of the American Heart Association.

Kheradvar has also received a Grant-in-Aid from the American Heart Association to study patients with right-sided heart failure, using UC Irvine’s state-of-the-art 4-D-flow echocardiography technology. Despite the fact that right-sided heart failure may carry a worse prognosis than left-sided heart failure, almost no quantitative information is available on flow patterns inside the right ventricle. The main reasons for this lack of knowledge are the highly 3-D flow within the right side of the heart, and the inability of current imaging modalities to quantitatively map such 3-D blood flow patterns.

“This study should help us better understand the blood flow features in failing right hearts and devise more efficient therapies for these patients,” says Kheradvar.

From left: Gregory Washington, Said Elghobashi, Derek Dunn-Rankin Feb 6, 2014
Said Elghobashi Elected to National Academy of Engineering

The celebratory events started early as colleagues gathered to congratulate Said Elghobashi on his election to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE). Election to the NAE is among the highest professional distinctions accorded to an engineer. Elghobashi is one of 67 new U.S. members and 11 new foreign associates announced today by the academy.

A professor in the Samueli School’s Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (MAE), Elghobashi has spent his career at UC Irvine. His research over the decades has involved challenging and important areas of fluid dynamics: turbulent flows, multiphase flows, and computational fluid dynamics (CFD). His leadership in each of these areas has been well recognized, and his early works have impacted the standard commercial CFD computer codes in the field. His more recent works are setting future trends.

“It’s a good feeling to know that your peers have read your work and then voted to bestow this honor,” says Elghobashi.  “I woke up this morning to about 50 emails from around the world.”

UCI Chancellor Michael Drake, Provost Howard Gillman and Samueli School Dean Gregory Washington were on hand at a morning event to recognize Elghobashi. The chancellor noted that this was a great and much deserved honor. “Very few people rise to the top of this list. The nomination is extraordinarily competitive,” he said. “Then to get through the ballot takes the acknowledgement from peers that your work is truly invaluable.”

“What I’m most proud of with this recognition is that Said is organic to UCI,” said Washington. “He exemplifies what this university is all about. He took a chance when coming here 35 years ago, and he is as much responsible for its success as any senior administrator.”

Michelle Digman angles a laser beam into a special microscope to excite the flourescent molecules in tissue Jan 31, 2014
Biomedical Engineer Receives Grant from Allergan

Allergan has awarded Michelle Digman a $787,000 grant to study how a subunit of botulinum neuro-toxin affects cells and tissue on a molecular level. An assistant professor of biomedical engineering, Digman’s research expertise involves using optical microscopy tools to track molecules and microscopic particles in living cells and tissues. She is a co-investigator of UC Irvine’s Laboratory for Fluorescence Dynamics, an NIH Biotechnology Resource for the development of fluorescence microscopy.

With this grant, she will be using fluorescent imaging to track the transport and diffusion of the toxin in living cells, to better understand any biochemical and physiological changes that occur. She will also study metabolic changes in tissue at the point of injection.

“Botulinum neuro-toxin is used in a variety of clinical treatments including neuromuscular diseases, epilepsy and pain-related illnesses,” says Digman. “This study is important on a clinical level and will provide valuable information in the development of future therapies for pain-related disorders.”

From lef: Payam Heydari, Hamid Jafarkhani, Syed Jafar Jan 30, 2014
Samueli School Engineers Named IEEE Distinguished Lecturers

The IEEE has selected two Samueli School professors to serve as 2014-2015 Distinguished Lecturers: Professor Payam Heydari for its Solid-State Circuits Society and Chancellor’s Professor Hamid Jafarkhani for its Communications Society.

IEEE Distinguished Lecturers are engineering professionals who lead their fields in new technical developments that shape the global community. They serve two-year terms and deliver lectures at chapter meetings and regional seminars around the world.

Heydari’s research expertise involves the design and analysis of novel terahertz, millimeter-wave and radio-frequency integrated circuits. His group at the Nanoscale Communication Integrated Circuits Labs recently showcased the world’s highest frequency wireless transceiver, operating at a record breaking 210 GHz in complementary metal oxide semiconductor process, at the 2013 International Solid-State Circuits Conference and is slated to present the world’s highest frequency synthesizer at 300 GHz at next year’s conference. “I am honored and privileged to be recognized as part of this selected group of scientists/researchers within the IEEE society,” says Heydari.

Jafarkhani’s expertise is in distributed beam-forming in wireless relay-interference networks, cooperative communications, limited feedback beam-forming in MIMO, and distributed space-time coding.

Another Samueli School electrical engineer, Professor Syed Jafar is in the midst of a two-year term as a Distinguished Lecturer for the Communications Society. “These lectures have been rewarding, as the audience tends to have broader interests than those of a typical technical conference audience,” says Jafar, who has shared his expertise in interference alignment and index coding with IEEE chapters in Cleveland, Columbus, Chicago, Pittsburgh and Iowa.

Hamid Jafarkhani (right) receives IEEE Sumner Award Jan 27, 2014
Engineering Professor Receives the IEEE Sumner Award

The IEEE presented UC Irvine Chancellor’s Professor Hamid Jafarkhani with the 2013 Eric E. Sumner Award at its Global Communications Conference in Atlanta in December. Jafarkhani is a co-recipient of the award, which recognizes researchers’ outstanding contributions to communications technology.

“It is an honor to receive such a prestigious award,” says Jafarkhani, professor of electrical engineering and computer science and director of the Center for Pervasive Communications and Computing.

The collective work of Jafarkhani and two colleagues has helped the wireless communications industry improve quality of service and increase network capacity and has been a key enabler for fourth generation OFDM/MIMO systems. The trio’s research has greatly influenced the standardization, commercialization and advancement of space-time codes. In particular the award citation called out Jafarkhani’s contributions to “block signaling for multiple antennas.”

L-R:  Robert Regue, Anna Papio, Jaime Duarte, and Yue Yu. Jan 23, 2014
Engineering Students Test their App in Local Art Center

“In the museum world, we are always looking for ways to deepen visitor’s engagement with art,” explains Kate Hoffman, executive director of the Huntington Beach Art Center (HBAC). So when a group of graduate students from the engineering and computer science departments approached her with an idea for using technology to enhance visitors’ experience, she loved it.

The students tested their idea – a mobile application called Kaleri – at the HBAC in early December. Kaleri (which stems from the Greek word for gallery) does two things. First it provides a technologically savvy way for users to delve into a piece of artwork. Using innovative indoor positioning technology, the application recognizes the art that is closest to the visitor and displays it on a mobile device. Visitors can interact with a given piece of art by rating, bookmarking, using social networks to share with their friends, and storing this interaction for future retrieval. The second objective of Kaleri is to understand visitors’ behaviors – common routes, most viewed items, time spent at each artwork, comments posted, and returning visitor information – to help museums provide more engaging experiences. During the pilot test, 40 people used Kaleri to explore HBAC’s sculpture-based exhibit of contemporary art: Reverberation.

“This was an opportunity for our visitors to instantly learn more about a piece,” says Hoffman. “We are a city owned and operated institution with a limited budget. We aren’t able to offer audio tours. This was a way to access information through a type of technology that many people are familiar with and that generates excitement.”

water jet cart testing Dec 20, 2013
Fall Design Review Showcases Senior Design Projects

Around 860 people attended the 2013 Fall Design Review, including students, faculty, staff, alumni and industry representatives.

clockwise from top left: Andrei Shkel, Syed Jafar, Nader Bagherzadeh, Franco De Flaviis Dec 17, 2013
Four Engineers Named IEEE Fellows

Four Samueli School of Engineering faculty members have been designated Fellows of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the world’s largest engineering society. Selected by the IEEE Board of Directors, Fellows are named in honor of a member’s outstanding record of accomplishments.

From the Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences Department, Professor Nader Bagherzadeh was recognized for his contributions to the design and analysis of coarse-grained reconfigurable processor architectures, Professor Franco De Flaviis for his contributions to reconfigurable antennas and tunable dielectrics for wireless communication systems, and Associate Professor Syed Jafar for his contributions to analyzing the capacity of wireless communication networks. From the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department, Professor Andrei Shkel was noted for his contributions to micro-machined gyroscopes.

Soroosh Sorooshian Dec 13, 2013
Professor Sorooshian Honored by his Alma Mater

UC Irvine Distinguished Professor Soroosh Sorooshian has been selected as an inaugural recipient of UCLA’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering Distinguished Alumnus Award.

An internationally recognized expert in water resources engineering, Sorooshian is the director of the Samueli School of Engineering’s Center for Hydrometeorology & Remote Sensing and a member of the National Academy of Engineering.

The UCLA citation states: “Sorooshian has made a significant and major impact on the research areas of watershed modeling, parameter estimation, hydro-climatic modeling, and application of remote sensing to hydrology.  He developed optimization methods for parameter estimation for physically-based watershed models in general and the Sacramento model in particular. Sorooshian’s pioneering and ground-breaking work on combining global optimization with maximum likelihood estimation to overcome the inherent difficulties in parameter estimation is well recognized. The methodology that he developed has been adopted by the U.S. Weather Service into its river-forecast system. Clearly, Professor Sorooshian has established himself as a nationally and internationally renowned scholar/research and leader in the field of hydrology. His accomplishments and contributions to research and the profession have been well recognized.”

H. Kumar Wickramasinghe Dec 12, 2013
Engineer Named a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors

Professor H. Kumar Wickramasinghe is among 143 innovators to be named a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI) for 2013. Wickramasinghe is a UC Irvine professor and the Henry Samueli Endowed Chair in electrical engineering and computer science, with joint appointments in biomedical engineering and chemical engineering and materials science.

Being named a NAI Fellow is distinction accorded to academic inventors who have demonstrated a highly prolific spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development, and the welfare of society.

Wickramasinghe, a member of the National Academy of Engineering, is a well-respected pioneer in nanotechnology. He currently holds 94 patents. Some of his most significant inventions and contributions to the nano field include the development of the vibrating mode atomic force microscope (AFM), the magnetic force microscope, the electrostatic force microscope, the Kelvin probe force microscope, the scanning thermal microscope, and the apertureless near-field optical microscope. Most of these scanning probe microscopes are standard instruments used today for nano-scale characterization.

"I am humbled and honored to be among this distinguished group of Nobel Laureates and National Medal Prize winners,” says Wickramasinghe. “The greatest thrill I get is to see some of my inventions translated to practice and in use all over the world."

Peyton Paulick Dec 10, 2013
Now Hear This

Hearing aids, as those who wear them know, have some flaws. Whistling, echoing and feedback often frustrate even the most intrepid user. Biomedical engineering graduate student Peyton Paulick seeks to give those with hearing loss a better option, and if the first human clinical trial of her research device is any indication, she may well succeed.
 
The device, a small voice coil actuator placed deep within the ear canal, responds to an electronic signal by moving the eardrum mechanically – just the right amount – to allow sound waves to enter. This eliminates the problems that occur when sound waves are amplified, as in hearing aids.
 
Currently, options available for the hearing impaired are limited. Cochlear implants require major surgery and can cost upwards of $30,000. Traditional hearing aids have advanced technologically but still present those little annoyances.

“Satisfaction rates are pretty low,” Paulick said. “A lot of people with traditional hearing aids don’t use them.”

Henry Samueli Dec 5, 2013
Henry Samueli Addresses Alumni

This fall’s joint alumni event for The Henry Samueli School of Engineering and the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences doubled as an edition of the two schools’ Top Trends in Tech speaker series. Attendees heard from one of the biggest trend-setters in any technology field: Henry Samueli, co-founder, chairman and chief technology officer of Broadcom Corporation.

Dean Hal Stern of the Bren School and Dean Gregory Washington of the Samueli School introduced Henry Samueli after a convivial reception for alumni and friends the evening of Nov. 7.

Taking to the podium on the Broadcom campus — just blocks away from UC Irvine — Samueli spoke on current technological trends and took questions from the audience. Some 120 people, most of them graduates of ICS and Engineering, attended the event.

Athina Markopoulou Nov 26, 2013
Engineering Professor Serves as an Ambitious Advocate for Calit2

In 2006, soon after arriving at UC Irvine, a new assistant professor was introduced to an engineering school administrator who asked what her major was.

“I’m not an undergrad,” the new hire said politely.

“Oh, you’re here for the graduate program?” inquired the woman.

“No,” answered Athina Markopoulou.

Was she a postdoc, then? Markopoulou explained that she was joining the electrical engineering and computer science faculty.

As the embarrassed administrator learned, appearances can be deceiving. Markopoulou, who still can pass for a grad student, is now a highly regarded EECS associate professor, well-funded researcher, entrepreneur, wife and mother, and an ardent and active Calit2 affiliate.
 
“In the beginning, it bothered me,” Markopoulou recalls of being mistaken repeatedly for a student. “But now I am used to it and I think it’s fun. It can be a good ice-breaker.”

Ida and William Melucci Nov 26, 2013
McDonnell Douglas Seamstress Funds UCI Graduate Fellowships in Engineering

Bequest Creates the Melucci Space Exploration & Technology Fellowship

Ida Melucci, a seamstress who worked for McDonnell Douglas and then Boeing, has left a bequest of $1.5 million to UC Irvine’s Samueli School of Engineering to create graduate fellowships.

“We are honored that Ida Melucci entrusted us with her gift to continue to support and enhance the education of graduate students working in space exploration and space technology,” says Gregory Washington, engineering school dean. “We have researchers working on the Rover guidance system for landing on Mars, on electric propulsion for space craft, as well as people looking at combustion and structures. This gift will be put to good use.”

The Meluccis were both long-standing and dedicated employees of the Huntington Beach aerospace company. The late William Melucci worked in sealing and bonding. Ida Melucci worked on space blankets for the Delta rocket, missile bags and insulation blankets for the Space Station, and slip covers for cargo boxes carrying high-tech space tools on the Endeavor space shuttle.

Chen Tsai accepts IEEE-UFFC Achievement Award Nov 25, 2013
Chancellor’s Professor Chen Tsai Accepts Lifetime Achievement Award

Chen Tsai grew up in a small village in Taiwan, where he and his older brother, without any tools, would fix things. He fondly remembers repairing the broken spring of an antique phonograph. He has turned his propensity to tinker into a formidable academic career, and it was with great pride that the UC Irvine’s Chancellor’s Professor accepted the 2013 lifetime achievement award from the IEEE-Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics and Frequency Controls Society this past summer in Prague. The award, bestowed annually, is the highest honor given by the society for research achievement.

A professor of electrical engineering and computer science, Tsai was recognized for pioneering contributions in the “science and technology of integrated acousto-optics, ultrasonic monodisperse micro-droplet generation, acoustic microscopy, and guided-wave magneto-optics.” He was honored at the plenary session of the international joint conference of three affiliated societies, with some 3,000 attendees from many countries. Tsai proudly shared with conference attendees UCI’s recent top national and high worldwide rankings as well as some of the exciting new initiatives at the Samueli School of Engineering.

from left, Noe Rodriguez, Lineker Phuong, Loong Sang Yong, and Greg Tamashiro Nov 20, 2013
UCI engineering school gets grant from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Funding will support continued development of student-designed solar stove

The Samueli School of Engineering at UC Irvine will receive a $100,000 Grand Challenges Explorations grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for developing a solar stove that enables carbon emissions-free cooking.

The Grand Challenges Explorations initiative is intended to foster outside-the-box solutions to persistent global health and development issues. More than 80 grants were announced today by the Gates Foundation in the 11th round of funding.

The stored energy solar stove was initially designed by a group of senior mechanical engineering students at UC Irvine under the guidance of former research adviser John Garman. It permits carbon emissions-free cooking indoors and at night, which not only reduces deforestation, labor time and safety concerns for women who leave their villages to gather firewood, but also pollutes indoor air far less than the traditional in-home cooking methods currently employed in developing countries.

The students developed a working model that uses a solar collector to concentrate sunlight on an energy storage device, which consists of an insulated box filled with potassium nitrate and sodium nitrate. The salts are heated to their melting point by the solar radiation. Within three hours in the sun, the stove stores 0.5 kilowatt-hours of energy, which is released as the molten salt slowly resolidifies. This provides a stable heat source indoors or after sunset with a surface temperature well-suited to making foods such as bread and rice. The technology has gone through two design iterations and, with this grant, will be further refined by a new group of senior engineering students.

 

Adrian Ortega Nov 19, 2013
Balsells Fellowship Program Reaches Milestone: 100th Fellow

Like the 99 Catalans before him, Adrián Ortega Novillo left the northeast region of Spain behind to study engineering at UC Irvine. He is the 100th Balsells Fellow.

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