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Three teams featuring faculty and students from the College of Engineering were recently selected for inclusion in the Innovation Challenge Final on April 5, when $65,000 in seed money will be distributed. During the Semifinal on Wednesday, February 28, a panel of four judges listened to 12 student-led teams each give a five-minute pitch describing its venture and participate in a 10-minute Q&A session.

Recap and photos »
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Mechanical engineering alumna DeAnna Robear ’15, a partner enablement engineer at PTC, has been named as one of the 10 Pioneers 2018 by Connected World magazine. As Connected World describes this honor, the recipients are trailblazers, innovators, and pioneers representing “10 technology leaders under 40 who help pave the way for a more connected society.” Robear’s interest in industrial consumer products such as cars and airplanes evolved into a mechanical engineering degree and, eventually, a career in the Internet of Things, all fueled by a weekend wearable electronics tutorial offered by Professor David McLaughlin of our Electrical and Computer Engineering Department.

An article co-authored by Zlatan Aksamija, an assistant professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department and the principal investigator in the Nanoelectronics Theory and Simulation Lab (NET Lab), was included in the 2017 highlights of the scientific journal Nanotechnology. As the journal described its prestigious highlights: “This collection includes outstanding articles and topical reviews published in the journal during 2017. These articles were selected on the basis of a range of criteria including referee endorsements, presentation of outstanding research, and popularity with our online readership.”

Pancreatic cancer remains one of the most deadly cancers in the world, with a five-year survival rate of only 8 percent. This high mortality rate is mainly due to a lack of early symptoms in patients and the absence of specific biomarkers and diagnostic platforms for early detection. Now Professors Yubing Sun and Byung Kim of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department have conducted a groundbreaking new study that demonstrates a novel system for multiplex detection of pancreatic biomarkers as an early warning diagnostic system for the initial stages of pancreatic cancer.

Daniel Holcomb of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department says, there is a burgeoning danger in how companies currently manage their semiconductor supply chains. “Supply-chain threats such as counterfeits and hardware Trojans can compromise reliability of integrated circuits and lead to unexpected or malicious functionalities embedded within them,” says Holcomb.  This growing national security threat explains why he was recently awarded a five-year, $596,160 CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to study supply-chain security for integrated circuits.

ECE Graduate student Natesh Ganesh will be one of 10 finalists presenting in the third annual Three Minute Thesis Competition on March 2, from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m., in the Campus Center Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public, and refreshments will be served.

According to industry estimates, there could be as many as three-million drones in the skies globally. As the number of drones mushrooms, so will the chances that they will pose a danger to public safety; in Massachusetts alone, at least 80 near-collisions between drones and aircraft have been reported to date. Now, according to the UMass News Office, researchers in the UMass Electrical and Computer Engineering Department are continuing to develop a multi-purpose radar system that can detect very small drone aircraft and also serve as a severe-weather warning system for airports and urban settings. Read News Office release or article on

Professor Jae-Hwang Lee and his graduate students in our Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) Department have collaborated with other researchers at Washington University in St. Louis to further develop pioneering work on promising new nanocomposites that can be tailored as revolutionary ballistic armor significantly stronger and lighter than current armor materials. Lee and his collaborators authored a January 9 paper on their work in the high-profile materials science journal Nano Letters.

It is with heavy hearts that we post this in memoriam tribute to Cheryl Snead, the first African-American alumna of the UMass Amherst Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department. During her storied career, Ms. Snead was the founder, CEO, and president of Banneker Industries Inc. and an inspirational leader in business, women’s issues, and civil rights. Banneker is a world-class provider of supply chain management solutions, including logistics, headquartered in North Smithfield, Rhode Island, with operations across the United States.

As a 2013 article on in The Economist said about neuromorphic computing (meaning microprocessors configured more like human brains than like traditional chips): “Computers will help people to understand brains better. And understanding brains will help people to build better computers.” In that general context, Professors Joshua Yang and Qiangfei Xia of our Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department led a 24-person international team of researchers that has just published the second of two defining papers on neuromorphic computing, which mimics neuro-biological architectures present in the nervous system in order to build better computing systems.