ECE News

2003 Annual Report

Winter 2003

Fuel Cell

1574 Results

IEEE Success


Embedded Sys.


CPT Sensors

Battery Defense

Mini AUV

Head Letter

Budget Cuts

Faculty News

Alum Honored


Firefighting Robot May Get Free Trip To Jamaica

A team of about 15 undergraduate ECE students is designing 10 cm square autonomous robot that can move through a model floor plan of a house, find a fire, and extinguish it. According to the rules of the SouthEastCon IEEE Student Hardware Design competition, the fire will be represented by a red LED and will be extinguished by placing a cup over the light. The robot will then return to its starting point without re-entering any previously visited rooms. The entire trip cannot exceed five minutes.

"This robot design requires skills from controls, artificial intelligence, algorithms, and software, as well as power," said team captain, Matt Anderson (BSCPE, '04). "It's a unique experience for ECE undergraduates to begin applying what they've learned to a comprehensive, high-level design project."

If the team can successfully build the robot by April, it will be entered in the competition, which is in Jamaica this year. Virginia Tech has not recently entered a team in the annual competition. For more information, or to contribute resources for the project, please contact Anderson at

Winter 2003

IEEE Student Branch Boosts Involvement Through Web, Activities

Standing before an image of their new site are IEEE officers who have led the society in its renewed activities and successes. From the left are: Brian Knauss (BSEE, '03), social chair; Mike Schenck (MSEE, '04), chair; Dave Miller (BSEE, '03), member at large; Matthew Anderson (BSCPE, '04), hardware competition captain; Olivia Miller (MSEE, '03), secretary; Mike Gilliom (MSEE, '03), member at large; Rahul Mahajan (MSEE, '03), outreach chair; and Joel Gouker (MSEE, '04), member at large.

The Virginia Tech IEEE Student Branch has developed a new website that sports a job board, in addition to expected features such as newsletters, bulletin boards, and online IEEE registration/membership services.

The job board provides an online job source specifically for EE and CPE students and graduates. Hosted by, the center allows students to post resumes, alumni to post contact information, and employers to post job openings.

The website is one of a variety of efforts aimed at building rapport and a sense of community among ECE's large, far flung student body. "We decided early in 2002 to get as many people as possible involved," explained Mike Schenck, IEEE chair for 2002. The group quickly reinvigorated the IEEE listserve and developed a professional newsletter.

In addition to regular "Fun Fridays," where students and faculty gather for doughnuts, the group has hosted two large showcases, each attracting hundreds of students. The spring showcase focused on ECE research groups and laboratories, and the fall showcase featured the six academic areas of the department.

IEEE students have helped give presentations to upcoming sophomores, and have organized several well attended corporate information sessions by firms including GE and International Rectifier, and Booz Allen Hamilton. Plans for this semester include organizing a student research symposium, establishing a tutoring program and possibly planning a campus-wide gaming party.

The society is also sponsoring a team to compete in the SouthEastCon student hardware competition. "There are so many things that can be done, and we have so many ideas to improve the student experience," Schenck said. "Our biggest obstacle is funding. With the economy, corporate sponsorships are tight and the university budget cuts mean there is little in the department for student social and extracurricular activities."

The group sells Virginia Tech IEEE polo shirts as a fund raiser and has plans to host a campus-wide car show next fall that focuses on sound systems. The group's advisor is Sanjay Raman. For more information, please visit, or contact Schenck at

VT IEEE One of 5 Largest; Saves VT Library $10,000

The VT IEEE Student Branch has been able to secure a $10,000 discount for the Virginia Tech Library.

"The library spends about $100,000 a year for IEEE Explore and IEEE Online Resources," said Mike Schenck, IEEE president. "With the budget cutbacks, the extensive IEEE subscription and other vital subscriptions were at risk. The IEEE was willing to provide Tech with a discount if we had 345 members by December 31, 2002,"he said. "We did, and we have become one of the top five largest IEEE student groups in the country."

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Last updated: Wed, Sep 24, 2003