Winter 2015

Media Mentions
HackPSU generates technology-driven ideas at marathon MORE>>

Penn State assistant professor Xingjie Ni works on developing an invisibility cloak MORE>> 

Electronics get a power boost with the addition of simple material MORE>> 
Deep learning privacy research gets Google go-ahead MORE>>
What international students really think about life at Penn State  MORE>>  
Are datasets truly anonymized?  MORE>>

Invisibility cloak nears reality
Additional stories at:
Science MORE >>
ScienceDaily MORE>> 
The Daily Star MORE>>      
Student concept improves access to 3-D printing on campus
In the News

Exploring big data's potential for the Northeast MORE>>

Keegan McCoy: On a mission to advance space programs

Electrical engineering student helps design autonomous wheelchair for ALS patients MORE>> 

Engineering students innovate 3-D printing process to improve accessibility MORE >>    
Recognitions and Awards

Graduate student research wins runner up award at ACM International Conference MORE>>   
EECS professors write one of the most significant papers over the last 25 years MORE>> 

Giebink named Charles K. Etner Early Career Professor
Alumni News

NeptuneĀ® Software from NRL saves money across multiple rocket satellite missions MORE>>

Engineering Leadership Development Program sponsors Leaders of the Future conference MORE>>

Electrical engineering graduate starts real estate development company MORE>>

Alumni News items can be sent to
Please send alumni email updates to Cathy Schultz at

Upcoming Events
November 22-28: Thanksgiving Holiday
December 11: Classes End
December 19: Commencement

About this month's cover photo:
Students work in the Solid State Device Technology Lab, also known as the "clean room," in the Department of Electrical Engineering in EECS.   

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Learn more about this issue's cover photo.

Seven faculty and students share their thoughts on the collaboration EECS offers 
Everybody benefits when research and curriculum in electrical engineering and computer science intersect  

"One of the reasons I really like my area of research is because there's always room to learn about the new physics going on behind free carrier generation in organic solar cells."

-- Alyssa Brigeman, electrical engineering graduate student, on working in the Applied Optoelectronics & Photonics Lab with assistant professor Chris Giebink.

Professor uses nanostructures to create cloaking device
Xingjie Ni, an assistant professor of electrical engineering, is making headlines for the advances he's made with cloaking devices
Cloaking devices have had a major role in many science fiction narratives, but Xingjie Ni, assistant professor of electrical engineering, is working to make them a reality.

Ni joined the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science in August 2015, and he is already making headlines for his research.

While scientists have been working on creating this stealth technology for years, those who have come close have created bulky devices that can only hide very small objects. Using a metasurface, an artificially tailored surface consisting of nanostructures, Ni and his team created a "skin" cloak of very thin matter that can conform to the shape of an object and conceal it from detection with visible light. This technology will eventually be able to conceal bigger objects, including people.

Electronics get a power boost with the addition of a simple material
Materials scientists use vanadium oxide to make electronic devices perform even better

The tiny transistor is the heart of the electronics revolution, and Penn State materials scientists have just discovered a way to give this workhorse a big boost, using a new technique to incorporate vanadium oxide -- a functional oxide -- into the electronic devices.

"It's tough to replace current transistor technology because semiconductors do such a fantastic job," said Roman Engel-Herbert, assistant professor of materials science and engineering. "But there are some materials, like vanadium oxide, that you can add to existing devices to make them perform even better."

The researchers knew that vanadium dioxide, which is just a specific combination of the elements vanadium and oxygen, had an unusual property called the metal-to-insulator transition. In the metal state, electrons move freely, while in the insulator state, electrons cannot flow. This on/off transition, inherent to vanadium dioxide, is also the basis of computer logic and memory.
Smith receives Google grant to investigate privacy issues
Grant will allow him to investigate privacy issues in a state-of-the-art training technique called deep learning
Adam Smith, associate professor of computer science and engineering in the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer
Science, has received a grant from Google to investigate privacy issues in a state-of-the-art training technique called deep learning. The grant, which is shared with Vitaly Shmatikov at Cornell, will support investigations into what deep learning systems can leak about sensitive inputs, as well as the development of a system for privacy-preserving deep learning.

Google Faculty Research Awards support cutting-edge research in computer science, computer engineering, and related fields. Approximately 200 grants are awarded globally each year. Smith and Shmatikov will share their results with relevant research groups at Google and have opportunities to collaborate with those groups, but all the products of the research will be publicly available.

Electrical engineering graduate student receives NASA fellowship
The fellowship will offer Hackett a student stipend, funding for the research, and working at a NASA center

Timothy Hackett, who was the spring 2015 electrical engineering
student marshal and is now a graduate student in the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Penn State, has been awarded a NASA Space Technology Research Fellowship.

Hackett's fellowship is one of 53 awarded to graduate students in the U.S. and comes in the form of a training grant that pays $74,000 per year for tuition, a student stipend, funding for the research - such as equipment and conferences - and working at a NASA center.

The fellowship supports NASA's goal of creating innovative new space technologies for our nation's science, exploration, and economic future while providing the nation with a pipeline of highly-skilled scientists, technologists, engineers, and mathematicians to improve America's technological competitiveness. Recipients show the potential to contribute to this endeavor.


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