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ECE NEWS :The Electrical & Computer Engineering Department Newsletter


Year in Review 2010-2011

Featured Articles

A matter of timing: New strategies for de-bugging electronics

Monroe manufacturer partners with WEMPEC on electric truck

Jack Ma: Record fast transistors and innovative imaging systems

Insect hearing inspires new approach to small antennas

Making waves with high-power materials

ECE grads receive college Distinguished Achievement Awards

Regular Features



STUDENT NEWS 1: Competition winners

Awards and fellowships

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Franco Cerrina

Professor Emeritus Franco Cerrina dies at age 62

An entrepreneur and pioneer in applied physics, Professor Emeritus Franco Cerrina died in July 2010. After retiring from UW-Madison in January 2010, Cerrina joined Boston University as a professor and chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

As a researcher, Cerrina applied physical sciences and engineering to manufacturing and biological challenges, focusing most recently on nanotechnology and biotechnology. Cerrina pushed the limits of photolithography for nanoscale applications ranging from fabricating devices on computer chips to DNA synthesis for biological research, drug and vaccine development, and genetic engineering. In particular, he applied semiconductor fabrication techniques to biological problems­—a pursuit that yielded the maskless array synthesizer commercialized by NimbleGen Systems Inc., his first of five spin-off companies.

Cerrina worked closely with the semiconductor industry and federal government on developing fabrication methods that will yield advanced processors and memory chips.

The Helically Symmetric eXperiment (HSX), directed by Professor David Anderson, has received a substantial U.S. Department of Energy grant, totaling $5.1 million over three years. Anderson, along with Engineering Physics Professor Chris Hegna, received an additional $900,000, three-year grant for a project to explore the future of stellarator research. HSX is one of two stellarators operating in the United States and is the only device of its shape. The Wisconsin State Journal featured Anderson and HSX in April. Read the article at

Professor B. Ross Barmish was elected a fellow of the International Federation of Automatic Control (IFAC) for his contributions to robust control theory for systems with parametric uncertainty. The ceremony will take place at the 2011 IFAC World Congress in Milan, Italy.

Professor Nigel Boston gave a keynote presentation at the 2010 IEEE IET International Symposium on Communication Systems, Networks and Digital Signal Processing. Held July 21 in Newcastle, England, the international symposium brings together engineers, scientists and young researchers to discuss progress and leading-edge information on communication systems, communication networks and DSP.

Assistant Professor Stark Draper has received a collaborative grant from the National Science Foundation tied to a second grant awarded to collaborators from the University of Southern California to analyze cooperative routing in wireless ad-hoc networks, which consist of cheap, mobile nodes that operate in the absence of expensive, fixed infrastructure, such as base stations. In advanced relaying methods, several nodes can cooperate to forward information. Draper will analyze the interconnections between two key questions usually treated separately: design of cooperative communication techniques, and routing.

Philip Dunham Reed Professor Susan Hagness has been named one of 11 winners of the 2011 Kellet Mid-Career Award, supported by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation. The award recognizes outstanding mid-career faculty members who are five to 20 years past the first promotion to a tenured position. Each winner, chosen by a Graduate School committee, receives a $60,000 flexible research award. Hagness was recognized for her work in applied electromagnetics, with an emphasis on microwave detection and treatment of breast cancer.

A team of faculty from across the College of Engineering has received a Madison Initiative for Undergraduates grant to build on the success of InterEgr 102: Introduction to Society’s Grand Challenges. Led by Philip Dunham Reed Professor Susan Hagness, the team also includes Professor Amy Wendt and Assistant Professor Stark Draper. The grant will extend the innovative introductory engineering course to students across campus, as well as develop second-year undergraduate research opportunities tied to engineering grand challenges.

Associate Professor Hongrui Jiang is one of 13 faculty members receiving a 2011 Romnes Faculty Fellowship, supported by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation. The fellowship is provided to exceptional faculty members who have earned tenure in the last four years. Winners receive $50,000 in unrestricted research funds. Jiang was recognized for his research in microscale devices and systems, with interests in biology-inspired approaches and the application of smart polymer materials for increased functionality, better performance, and simplification of devices and integrated microsystems.

Professor Luke Mawst has been named an IEEE fellow, one of the most prestigious IEEE honors. Given to a select group of recipients after a rigorous evaluation procedure, the grade of fellow recognizes significant research contributions. Mawst was recognized for his contributions to semiconductor lasers.

Professor Bill Sethares co-wrote a new undergraduate textbook that was published in early 2011. The book, Software Receiver Design: Build Your Own Digital Communication System in Five Easy Steps, aims to help students learn to use Matlab by creating a workable receiver and exploring key concepts about telecommunication systems along the way.

In recognition of his effective, innovative and inspiring teaching abilities, Professor Giri Venkataramanan has received the UW-Madison Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award. His approach is based on constructivism and authenticity in education, and he is especially motivated by issues of sustainability. Venkataramanan also is active with students beyond the classroom, serving as faculty director for the UW-Madison chapter of Engineers Without Borders. He is one of 10 faculty members to receive a 2011 Distinguished Teaching Award.



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Date last modified: Monday,8-August-2011
Date created: 8-August-2011



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