ECE: Electrical & Computer Engineering
ECE News

Perspectives from the
Department Head

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Photograph of Jim Thorp

After three years of hiring, we have become one of the largest ECE departments in the country. We are in the top 10 in terms of total number of faculty and in a comparable position in terms of both undergraduate and graduate students.

Since January of 2005, we have added 17 faculty members in ECE and are recruiting for three more this year. We currently have a record high of 75 tenured and tenure-track faculty members in the department.

In 2006, eight more new faculty members joined us. They are Leyla Nazhandali, assistant professor in computer engineering; Khai Ngo, professor in power electronics; Scott Bailey, assistant professor in space sciences; Bob Clauer, professor in space sciences; Brent Ledvina, assistant professor in space sciences; Ming Xu, assistant professor in power electronics; Jason Xuan, associate professor in imaging; and Yaling Yang, assistant professor in computer engineering. The eight have Ph.D.s from Caltech, Colorado, Cornell, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, UCLA, and Virginia Tech.

We have added three faculty members in the space sciences area due to the NSF grant to Wayne Scales and colleagues mentioned in previous years. The Virginia Tech Industry/University Partnership for Space Science (IUPSS) has been formed and received initial support from VPT, Inc. A Space Science Center at Virginia Tech encompassing: ground based analysis of GPS signals, development of scientific instruments for sounding rockets and satellites, and leadership of major satellite programs is planned.

Governor Timothy Kaine cut the ribbon to open the new ECE Micron Technology Semiconductor Processing Lab­or­atory on October 4th. The lab is a renovation of a teaching laboratory that opened in 2001. It has new and improved capabilities that will be used for both teaching and research. Micron Technology made a $750,000 gift that provided the final funds to complete the laboratory.

The Micro­electronics, Opto­elec­­tronics and Nano-­tech­nology (MicrON) group, which involves more than 10 faculty members in four departments, will be conducting research in the new lab, and Bob Hendricks will be teaching ECE’s semi­conductor processing course.

Notable faculty awards include: Arun Phadke was one of four professors honored with the Docteur Honoris Causa di I’INP Grenoble; Daan Van Wyck received the IEEE power Electronics Society 2006 Distinguished Service Award; Jason Lai was named a Fellow of the IEEE; Dushan Boroyevich was named the American Electric Power Professor of ECE; and Anbo Wang was named the Clayton Ayer Professor of ECE.

Our young faculty members continue to garner national recognition in research: Tom Martin received a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), and Patrick Schaumont and Yong Xu received NSF CAREER Awards. With Martin, Schaumont, and Xu, we now have three faculty members who have won PECASE awards and an even dozen CAREER awardees. Congratulations to all!

My many thanks to Dan Sable, who is the chair of the advisory board. Dan and the board have been extremely helpful in supporting the initiative in space sciences.

We had a ceremony March 9th to honor past and present ECE department heads. Oil paintings of many of the department heads are now on a stone wall in Whittemore 302. The painting of Samuel Pritchard (1892-1935) was rescued from Pritchard dormitory during a renovation. The more recent paintings are from photographs. Portraits of W.A. Murray 1935-56 and B.M. Widener (1956-58) are the only missing. If you have a good photo of either that you could part with for a while, we would appreciate your help in completing the wall. Debbie Hallstead, Jaime De La Ree, and Kathy Atkins deserve all the credit for the ceremony and the wall.

James S. Thorp
Department Head