March 2015

Letter from the Editor
Alan V. Sahakian,
Northwestern University
Dear ECEDHA Members, Industry Partners, and Colleagues,

Modern communication systems are hybrids of analog and digital subsystems.  Advances rely increasingly on the digital elements and the flexibility and sophistication they enable.  This issue of the ECEDHA Source looks at recent efforts to introduce Software-Defined Radio (SDR) into the undergraduate ECE curriculum.  Three representative SDR platforms spanning a range of cost and functionality are identified.  I hope that readers find this a useful introduction to a field which ties together core areas of Electrical Engineering, Computer Engineering, and Computer Science.
Current Views
Barry Sullivan
Barry Sullivan,
The ECEDHA Cybersecurity Workshop


The Friday workshops have been an important part of the ECEDHA Annual Conference for many years. For the past few years, the traditional workshops for new department heads and those preparing for accreditation reviews have been joined by a full-day workshop on a topic of current interest to ECEDHA members.  The topic this year is cybersecurity and cyber-physical systems.

>> Read more

Featured Articles
Incorporating Software Defined Radio in ECE Teaching Labs

By Alan Sahakian, Northwestern University
Electrical and Computer Engineers of a certain age who studied communications systems will remember well the structures of classical analog AM, FM, SSB and other transmitters and receivers.  Modulation circuits included such elements as varactor-diode modulated oscillators and balanced modulators.  Receiver circuits included limiter stages and discriminators, beat-frequency oscillators and other systems.  Receiver selectivity and image rejection were often provided by double or triple conversion superheterodyne designs with tunable IF stages or even quartz crystal lattice filters on in the extreme case mechanical resonators.

On Developing a Software Defined Radio Laboratory Course for Undergraduate Wireless Engineering Curriculum

By Shiwen Mao, Yingsong Huang, and Yihan Li
Software Defined Radio (SDR) represents a modern approach to radio engineering.  In traditional wireless systems, multiple chipsets that each implements a different wireless standard are required in a wireless device to enable communications between heterogenous devices.  With SDR, there is a single piece of programmable hardware (with field programmable gate arrays (FPGA) on board); wireless communications waveforms and protocols are implemented in software, which can be uploaded to the FPGAs on-demand. As a result, SDR enables flexible reconfiguration of wireless communication systems, more efficient access to the spectrum, coexistence, and great inter-operability among heterogenous wireless systems.

Software Defined Radio Laboratory Platform for Enhancing Undergraduate Communication and Networking Curricula

By Zhiqiang Wu, Bin Wang, Chi-Hao Cheng, Deng Cao and Ashraf Yaseen
Wireless communication and networking has tremendously changed our everyday life in the past two decades.  Currently there are 292.8 million wireless subscribers in the U.S., representing 93% of the total population.  The wireless industry generates $155.8 billion dollars in avenue annually and is still growing.  WiFi networks enable the creation of a mobile workforce.  In addition to wireless notebooks, the use of cell phones and other wireless devices has become the norm rather than the exception.  In today's ever-growing mobile environment, it is essential for every mobile worker to use wireless technology.

2015 ECEDHA Annual Conference and ECExpo Overview

By Barry Sullivan, ECEDHA

The planning process that began last March at the 2014 ECEDHA Annual Conference has produced another outstanding program, thanks to the leadership of Athina Petropulu, ECEDHA Vice President and ECE Chair at Rutgers, and the ECEDHA Program Committee.  The full program is available for your perusal on the conference website. This overview will guide you through the conference highlights.


Corporate Features
Featured Video: Mouser Electronics

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ECE in the News
Radio Wrestlers Fight It Out at the DARPA Spectrum Challenge
By Tam Harbert (April 9, 2014, IEEE Spectrum)

The words engineering and sports aren't usually used in the same sentence, and the two activities usually don't happen in the same room. But they were, and they did, last week at the DARPA Spectrum Challenge, held at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency headquarters in Arlington, VA.
Vulnerable "Smart" Devices Make an Internet of Insecure Things
(September 3, 2014, IEEE Spectrum)

According to recent research, 70 percent of Americans plan to own, in the next five years, at least one smart appliance like an internet-connected refrigerator or thermostat.  That's a skyrocketing adoption rate considering the number of smart appliance owners in the United States today is just four percent.

>> Read more

Securing the IoT
By Ed Sperling (October 2, 2014,

Semiconductor Engineering sat down to discuss whether the Internet of Things will be secure enough, or whether it will create new security issues, with Sami Nassar, general manager of NXP Semiconductor; Oleg Logvinov, director for special assignments at STMicroelectronics; and Lawrence Loh, application engineering group director at Cadence.  What follow are excerpt of that conversation, which was held in front of a live audience at the IEEE Standards Association IoT Workshop.
Making Smart Grids Safe
By Ernest Worthman (October 2, 2014,

There is little doubt that an intelligent power grid is not only desirable, but necessary in today's power hungry world.  As the global power grid veins its electric tentacles into the farthest reaches of the ecosystem, being able to allocate and monitor what power is needed, where and when will be the model going forward.

>> Read more

10 Top Challenges Industrial IoT Must Overcome in 2015
By Rich Quinnell (December 24, 2014,

A lot of the excitement and press surrounding the Internet of Things (IoT) centers on home automation, wearable electronics, and other consumer applications.  But industrial applications of the IoT, such as predictive maintenance and integration of the supply chain are likely to be the more compelling use cases, at least in terms of ROI.  For Industrial IoT (IIoT) to realize its potential, however, it must overcome some substantial challenges.
>> Read more


Cybersecurity and the Electric Grid
By Marvin T. Griff (February 3, 2015,

A computer storing operating cost data for the Midcontinent Independent System Operator Inc., power network extending from the Midwest to the Gulf Coast was compromised this summer.  Within the past two years, sophisticated cyber-attacks, whose colorful names "Dragonfly" and "Energetic Bear" belie their disruptive capability, gained access to the U.S. and European power networks.  These and other recent cyber intrusions highlight the persistent risk confronting the U.S. electricity grid.
>> Read more


Special Announcements
Last Chance to Register for the
2015 ECEDHA 
Annual Conference and ECE xpo!

Join us this month for the 2015 ECEDHA Annual Conference and ECE
xpo, the largest gathering of ECE department heads from the United States and Canada.
The meeting will take place March 13-17, 2015 at the Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa in Hilton Head, South Carolina.  This year's prgoram is hosted by The Citadel, Georgia Institute of Technology, and North Carolina State University.

ECEDHA members will enjoy a world-class educational program focusing on the most pressing issues facing academia and ECE today.

Upcoming ECE Webinar
Creating Equation-Based Simulation Apps

April 16, 2015     2:00pm EDT

Customize your multiphysics simulations using equation-based modeling in the COMSOL environment.  Readily couple your custom equations with other built-in physics interfaces for a powerful approach to modeling that eliminates the need for user-written subroutines.  Applications of equation-based modeling will be demonstrated, including a PDE model analyzing compression seal behavior.



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In This Issue
Calendar of Events
March 13, 2015
Presented at the ECEDHA Annual Conference and ECExpo
March 13, 2015
Presented at the ECEDHA Annual Conference and ECExpo
March 13-17, 2015
The Westin Hilton Head Island
Hilton Head, South Carolina
April 16, 2015
Sponsored by COMSOL
On Demand Webinar
Sponsored by Quanser
On Demand Webinar
Sponsored by ANSYS
On Demand Webinar
Sponsored by Piazza
On Demand Webinar
Sponsored by Quanser
On Demand Webinar
Sponsored by COMSOL
It's time to renew your 2015 ECEDHA Membership!

2015 ECEDHA membership renewal for ECEDHA department heads is now underway.  Membership runs on a calendar year beginning January 1st through December 31st.

Renew your membership today to keep receiving ECEDHA membership benefits, including:
  • Access to the ECEDHA Annual Conference and ECExpo
  • Complimentary registration for ECEDHA's ECE Webinars
  • The opportunity to participate in the ECEDHA Annual Survey, a valuable tool in benchmarking your organization in lab and office space, faculty and department head salaries, research budgets, student retention, graduation rates, and much more.
  • Complimentary job posting service via the ECEDHA website
  • And much more!

For questions, please contact Megan Bekolay at or 312.559.3724


Save the Date!


2015 ECEDHA Annual Conference and ECExpo


March 13-17, 2015

The Westin Hilton Head Island

Hilton Head, South Carolina


ECEDHA Member and
Partner News
NSF-NAE Sponsored Workshop

Reforming Electric Energy Systems Curriculum with Emphasis on Sustainability

April 9-10, 2015 in Washington, DC at the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Building

>> Agenda
2015 IEEE Educational Activities Board Awards

Please consider nominating a colleague or deserving individual for one of EAB's prestigious awards.

Deadline: April 30, 2015

2015 African Engineering Deans Council Annual Conference

September 17-18, 2015 in  Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Hosted by the Addis Ababa Institute of Technology