ECE: Electrical & Computer Engineering
ECE News

Perspectives from the
Department Head

Print Version

image of article

.pdf Print Version
64 KB

Photograph of Jim Thorp

As the world knows, 2007 was a tumultuous time at Virginia Tech. Like the rest of the university community, we in ECE were affected by the horrible events of last April. All of us in the department mourn the senseless deaths of and injuries to our students, faculty, friends, and neighbors. But it hasn’t changed who we are: a department passionate about knowledge and education in electrical and computer engineering.

This year, many of our ECE alumni have reconnected with us, reminding us of our strengths and successes. Our alumni are a strong link to both the technology community and to communities around the world. Please keep in touch!

From our alumni, we have heard that the National Science Foundation (NSF) has honored three of our alumni with CAREER awards — its highest award for young faculty leaders. In 2007, Neil Patwari (BSEE ’97, MSEE ’99) earned an award for his work at the University of Utah. The prior year, two Ph.D. graduates, Robert Adams (’98) at the University of Kentucky and Greg Durgin (’00) at Georgia Tech both received CAREER awards. This past year, Durgin was also honored with Georgia Tech’s highest teaching award.

We have a strong group of alumni who live and work in Virginia. As the state’s largest and highest ranked ECE department, we take pride in the latest news that Virginia has the highest technology worker density in the country and is the fifth largest high-tech state. Most of these jobs relate directly to our field, involving computer systems design and service and engineering services. We continue to adapt to serve the needs of the region and the field. We added three new faculty members this year, but will be constrained with the institution of budget cuts that will limit our future hiring.

In the fall, Tamal Bose joined ECE as the associate director of Wireless@VT, coming from Utah State, where he had served as department head and held an endowed chair. Majid Manteghi, an assistant professor in antennas and RF joined the faculty from UCLA. This spring, Marius Orlowski accepted a position here as the VMEC Chair in microelectronics. He came from Freescale Semiconducteur in France.

The new Center for Space Science and Engineering Research Center just completed building our new HokieDARN radar station, that for the first time enables continual mapping of the space weather plasma motions over the northern United States. This and our other space science activities are described beginning on page 16.

Our opening stories describe work being done in cognitive radio networks. This technology draws researchers from many areas and has become a significant activity in our department. Two of our student teams took top honors at the Software Defined Radio Forum’s 2007 Smart Radio Design Challenge.

Notable faculty awards include Masoud Agah (see p.13) and Jung-Min Park (see p.6) receiving NSF CAREER awards. G.Q. Lu’s development of nanoTach was listed one of the 100 most technologically significant products of 2007 by R&D Magazine. My many thanks to Dan Sable who has continued for a second term as the chair of the advisory board. Dan and the board have been extremely helpful in supporting the initiative in space sciences.

Last year I asked for help in identifying photos of W. A. Murray (1935-56) and B. M. Widener (1956-58) to complete our wall of department heads. I am happy to report we received the photos and the artist is painting both portraits.

--James S. Thorp
Department Head