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Department of Electrical Engineering
271 Marshall W. Alworth Hall
1023 University Dr.
University of Minnesota Duluth
Duluth, MN 55812
Phone: (218) 726-6147
Fax: (218) 726-7267

UMD Electrical and Computer Engineering
271 MWAH, 1023 University Drive, Duluth, MN 55812
Telephone: 218-726-6147
FAX: 218-726-7267
Editor: Shey Peterson


It gives me great pleasure to update you on the recent ECE news and highlight some of the activities and accomplishments in the Department since Fall 2008 Our faculty have been active in research, teaching, and service for the university and the community. Student involvement in working with faculty on their research projects has also grown dramatically. We pride ourselves on our strong teaching and learning culture in the Department. Our near term goals include continuing to provide students with a high quality electrical and computer engineering educational opportunity, provide educational outreach opportunities, and extend the breadth and depth of our research activities consistent with our student interest and faculty expertise.

I want to share with you a few recent events in the Department. DR. DEBAO ZHOU, a 3M McKnight Visiting Professor with the ECE Department in 2008, is now with the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering at UMD as a tenure-track Assistant Professor. He taught the "Control Systems" and "Linear Systems & Signal Analysis" courses for us in Spring and Fall of 2008. Mr. TOM FERGUSON continued his second-year term as a 3M McKnight Visiting Professor teaching a new Honors Seminar course "Renewable Energy" this semester. He offered the "Energy Conversion Systems" the last two semesters. These new courses are to educate and prepare our students for life-long involvement in society's important and growing discourse on renewable energy and alternative energy and their roles in global climate change.

The major event anticipated this coming Fall is the visit by the Accreditation for Engineering and Technology (ABET). It has been six years since the last ABET visit to our department, and this is the longest accreditation period the board grants before requiring a new review. The department has been assessing its educational activities, collecting information from its current students and recent graduates, reviewing performance, continuously adjusting curricula and improving facilities. The goal is to provide the best educational experience possible to our students. The ECE ABET working group including STAN BURNS, CHRIS CARROLL, SCOTT NORR and myself meets almost once a week to compile the materials and discuss the progress. I want to thank the faculty's dedicated involvement in our ABET preparation effort. I am also very thankful of the willingness of Don Kozlovski, the ECE Industrial Advisory Board Chair, and the members on the board to review the ECE Program Self-Study accreditation documents and provide us valuable comments.

I am very delighted that this newsletter will spread the exciting news generated by our faculty, staff and students. I hope that you will enjoy learning about our department. Please keep in touch with our department. Jot us a quick note and let us know what's happening. Please send information to the Department via e-mail ( or snail-mail. I look forward to connecting with you in the next "Circuit Board" transmission.


Engineering enrollment, especially Mechanical Engineering and Civil Engineering, continues to grow. As shown in the graph, we now have over 800 (Fall 2008 statistics) undergraduate students in five engineering programs (CE, ChE, ECE, IE, and ME) with continued projected growth in Fall 2009 admissions. There have been over 100 graduates from engineering programs every year since 2006.

Duluth will again be a testing site for the NCEES Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) Exam on April 25th. Preliminary information from the State Board indicates that 70 students have signed up for the FE. Past experience has shown that our students in all disciplines perform exceptionally well on this national examination. This is another indication of the growth in number and quality of our engineering students. Let's hope that we don"t have an April blizzard like we did for last years exam!

ECE, as well as Chemical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Industrial Engineering, are working on their assessment and self study documents in preparation for a Fall 2009 visit by the ABET evaluators. In addition, Computer Science is now also under the ABET accreditation aegis and will be included in the site visit by ABET. As I review the program self studies and continue the preparation of the collegiate self-study, I am very pleased and proud of the accomplishments of our students and faculty. We are proud that all of our programs have been accredited since their inception. Civil Engineering will come up for accreditation when they have the first graduates; scheduled for 2011 or 2012. The accreditation visit will involve our faculty, students, members of the ECE Industrial Board, as well as other program advisory boards and the college external advisory board.

Fifty students were enrolled in the freshman Introduction to Civil Engineering course Fall 2008. The new CE building construction started in July 2008 and is scheduled for completion in the first quarter of 2010. Progress has been phenomenal with work continuing during the most difficult winter days. The WEB CAM photograph was taken on March 12th. The WEB CAM URL is I like to use .1 second steps; furthermore, I can see if there are any parking places in my parking lot! We have the Swenson family and the State of Minnesota for this excellent addition to our engineering infrastructure.
I continue to work in areas important to our students including industrial liaison. In these challenging economic times, it is very important that our students have internship and coop opportunities and the ability to participate in collaborative research projects with the private and public sectors.

There are many other exciting projects under study at the College level with an impact on engineering. As you know there are very successful Master of Science in Electrical and Computer Engineering, Master of Science in Engineering Management, and Master of Environmental Health and Safety programs. The Swenson College of Science and Engineering is in the preliminary planning for a Master of Engineering degree program. This will be a 30-credit primarily course work degree targeting the practicing engineer. More on this in upcoming ECE Circuit Board issues as the planning process proceeds.

Oh yes, I am still holding a piece of chalk, which morphs into a laptop, as I taught the Introduction to ECE course (ECE 1001) Fall 2008 and am scheduled to do the same Fall 2009.


Dr. Christopher Carroll, Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, is teaching the Design Workshop course, ECE 4951, Spring semester, 2009. The workshop is focused on a book written by Dr. John Peatman of Georgia Tech titled "Coin-Cell-Powered Embedded Design." In the workshop, students are designing application projects using a PIC microcontroller that is optimized for very-low-power operation. Dr. Carroll visited Dr. Peatman in Atlanta in January in preparation for this workshop class. Dr. Peatman was the professor who taught Dr. Carroll his very first course on digital system design during 1973-74 when Dr. Carroll was a Georgia Tech student, so the visit renewed an old friendship in addition to laying a foundation for the current workshop course. And, the trip to the southeast allowed Dr. Carroll and his wife to add three more states (Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina) on their quest to visit all 50 states together since they met in 2000. Their current total is 37 states!

Dr. Carroll, Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, has had a paper accepted for publication and presentation at the 2009 American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) Annual Conference in Austin, TX, in June, 2009. The paper, titled "Bit-mapped Graphics on a Budget Using the Freescale S10 Microcontoller," details an extension that Dr. Carroll plans to implement in the laboratory exercises for ECE 2325, Microcomputer System Design, when he teaches the course again in the Fall, to add graphics capability to the lab stations for that class.

Dr. Kwon at the UMD ECE Dept. and Dr. Brent Auvermann at the Texas A&M University (TAMU) recently received a research grant ($174,404) from the National Research Initiative (NRI) Competitive Grants Program for a collaborative project entitled "Visibility-Based Measurement of Fugitive Dust from Open-Lot Livestock Operations." In this project, Dr. Kwon and his students will be developing wireless nephelometers for measuring fugitive dust densities from agricultural operations, which will be tested in Texas. This research project with TAMU is expected to bring a new collaborative inter-University relationship between UMD and TAMU and would allow exchange of graduate students. In addition to this project, the principle investigators are examining a new approach of measuring air quality using tethered arrays of sensors to develop a new Integrated Horizontal Flux (IHF) method and are in the process of submitting a new proposal to NRI.


A 5.8 KW photovoltaic array was included as part of the Stadium renovation project. Under the direction of Scott Norr, a team of ECE students, Dave Halberg, Andrew Bentley, and Brandon Eberle, are developing associated meteorological instrumentation and a real-time updated web page to study performance in the "Northland". The web page will be linked to the SCSE web page at A CIP Grant through Minnesota Power provides funding for instrumentation and ECE students.


Professor Marian S. Stachowicz delivered a new course, ECE 8831 Soft Computing, for graduate students from ECE, CSC, Mech., Math-Stat. Departments during Fall 2008.

He also participated in the International Educators Workshop in Copenhagen, Denmark, November 18 - 22, 2008 sponsored by the Danish Institute for Study Abroad (DIS) and Study Abroad Curriculum Integration from University of Minnesota.

This semester he teaches ECE 3151 Control Systems and conducts a senior project for four students about the Intelligent Helmet.


Paul J. Weber presented a paper entitled "Inherently Adaptable Education Through Student Presentations" at the ASEE North Midwest Conference in Platteville, WI on October 20, 2008. The educational research extended previous work on the impact of using student presentations as a motivational tool and as a manner of enhancing students' "soft skills." The presentations also introduced students to some of the more non-technical issues of engineering. A copy of the presentation can be found here.

Under the direction of Professor Weber, undergraduate students Tom Soldner, Jeron Smith, Drew Jensen, and David Buszmann are currently constructing a stand-alone multiple-source energy system. When completed, the system will integrate and dynamically control the power generated from a 400 Watt wind turbine and two 11 Watt solar panels. Furthermore, one of the solar panels will integrate the use of cutting-edge solar reflective film donated by 3M to concentrate the sunlight and increase the output of the photovoltaic panel. The wind turbine used for the system was purchased by Jay Austin of the Physics Department. Jay will later use the turbine in a similar system to provide power to remotely monitor CO2 levels in the Keweenaw Peninsula as part of his on-going research on Lake Superior. The project is funded by the Roy LaBounty Fund through SCSE and also by the local IEEE chapter.

Paul J. Weber also served as a secondary advisor for two UROP projects completed by Matt Wronski and Jordan Parrott (both from the CS Department) in the summer and fall of 2008. The primary advisor was Chris Prince from the Computer Science Department. The students implemented two different actuator sleeves to provide a pilot with tactile feedback from flight conditions instead of, or in addition to, the typical visual or audio feedback that a pilot receives. For the projects, microcontrollers were utilized to control either fans or pager motors to provide the physical sensations. A general description of the projects will be appearing in an upcoming issue of Soaring Society of America and more information can be found here.


Fall 2008


Jeffrey Anderson
Sean Anderson
Astrit Fetahi
Chris Frericks
Jake Haferman

Donald Honerbrink
Anders Mattson
Jason Staab
Brian Stangler


Zohra Tridane
Ryan Weidemann

Spring 2009


Jeffrey Adams
Craig Bristow
David Buszmann
Jonathan Forstner
Joseph Gertis
Matt Hinnenkamp
Christopher Hoss
Brett Lincoln
Buddhika Maitipe
Zach Parrott

Thomas Pielow
Richard Puhek
Matthew Roberts
Christopher Sandberg
Jeron Smith
Thomas Smith
Chike Uduku
Jon Wirtanen
Yizhao Zhuang


Summer 2009


Travis Opsdahl


Hairong Chang


Fall 08 UROP

Cody Lohse is currently working on an Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) project which encompasses both a technical and an educational component under the guidance of Paul J. Weber. For the technical project, Cody is measuring the effects of snow on photovoltaic panel output. Meanwhile, he is also trying to determine the difference in students" understanding of contemporary energy issues between students who have taken a course that specifically covers energy issues and students who have completed or will soon complete a B.S.E.C.E. (and thus will have learned the technical background and developed problem-solving skills) but have not taken such an energy course. Students in Tom Ferguson's ECE 1501 (Freshman Honors Seminar: Renewable Energy) as well as Paul's ECE 5315 (Multiprocessor System Design) are participating in the survey for the educational research.

Z. Tridane, X. Yu, M. I. Hayee, G. Nordehn, J. Fitzakerley, "Development of an Animal Model to Test an Active Noise Cancellation System for Infant Incubators", Design of Medical Devices Conference April 14-16, 2009, Minneapolis. This research paper is a result of collaboration between ECE Department and University of Minnesota Medical School.
W. Ahmad, M. I. Hayee, J. Fitzakerley, S. Burns, and G. Nordehn, "Variable Self-Optimizing Cochlear Model for Heart Murmur Detection/Classification" Design of Medical Devices Conference April 14-16, 2009, Minneapolis. This research paper is a result of collaboration between ECE Department and University of Minnesota Medical School.
Beau Roodell is working on an intelligent transportation systems research project which is funded by Northland Transportation Research (NATSRL) to develop traffic safety message system for Bluetooth enabled cell phones. The research summary was presented at the 2009 Research Day on Intelligent Transportation Systems held in Conference Room of District 1, Mn/DOT, Duluth, on March 12, by Beau and his advisor, Dr. Imran Hayee.
Nisar Ahmed is working with Prof. Hayee on enhancing the bandwidth of optical fiber by novel electrical signal processing techniques. This work is also funded by Special Research Funding by the U of M's Office of Vice President for Research.
Mr. Yi Zheng was a graduate student who started in Fall 2006 and graduated in August 2008 after successfully defending his master thesis titled "Design of a Hardware-based Vehicle Tracking System". Currently, Mr. Zheng is a Ph.D. student at Virginia Tech.
Hairong Chang Ms. Hairong Chang was a graduate student who started in Fall 2006 and is currently a 2nd-year graduate student. Since May 2008, she has been an intern with QualComm Inc. Her research work focuses on system-level simulation of clock jitter effects in continuous-time Delta-Sigma modulators. Ms. Chang will be back to UMD in March 2009 to continue her master thesis work.

Peng Li Mr. Peng Li is a graduate student who just joined the department in Fall 2008. Mr. Li has worked on hardware acceleration of speech recognition algorithms in early 2009. Currently, he is working on FPGA implementations of vehicle tracking algorithms.
Scott Klar is continuing the thesis work performed by Ryan Weidemann entitled, "Portable Cellular Wireless Mesh Sensor Network for Vehicle Tracking in an Intersection." His objective is the same but he is using different sensor technologies for the vehicle detection. Scott is exploring inexpensive infrared components instead of magnetic sensors. Since most infrared devices are built for close-range detection, the main challenge has been increasing the detection range to operate in the distances required to detect a vehicle from the side of the roadway.

Paul J. Weber was awarded a UMD Chancellor's Faculty Small Grant entitled "Computer Architecture and Multiprocessor Based System Design Projects" for Spring 2009. With the funds, five Digilent Nexys2 development boards were purchased for the lab that is used for Computer Architecture and Multi-processor System Design. These boards will enable students to implement more complex designs than were possible with the Nexys(1) boards that were previously used due to the increase in size of the Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) at the core of the boards. The older Nexys boards will be moved to the Digital Systems Design lab in the fall to align the use of FPGA technology in ECE courses.


J. Bai, "A Generalized Modeling Strategy of Quantum-Cascade Structures with Resonance-Enhanced Harmonic Oscillations", Physica E, vol. 41, no. 5, pp. 843-847, March, 2009.

J. Bai and D. S. Citrin, "Intracavity Nonlinearities in Quantum-Cascade Lasers", Journal of Applied Physics, 2009 (Accepted).

J. Bai, "Effect of Multi-Resonance Subband Structure on the Kerr Nonlinearity of Quantum-Cascade Lasers", APS March Meeting, Pittsburgh, PA, March 16-20, 2009.

J. Bai, "Radiative and nonradiative carrier transports in quantum dot solar cells", International Workshop on Nonequilibrium Nanostructures, Dresden, Germany, December 1-6, 2008.

P. Li, H. Tang, "Design of a Co-Processor for Output Probability Calculation in Speech Recognition", Proc. of IEEE International Symposium on Circuits and Systems (ISCAS09), Taipei, Taiwan, May 24-27th, 2009

T. Ferguson, P. Weber, Paul, "Educating Engineering Students on Energy Systems Through Investor-Driven Class Projects" ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, TX, June 14-17, 2009.

Weber, Paul J., "Inherently Adaptable Education through Student Presentations" ASEE North Midwest Section Conference, Platteville, WI, Oct. 16-18, 2008.

If you would like to make a donation to support the efforts of the ECE Department and/or for scholarships , you may send your contributions to: 

Ms. Tricia Bunten                      
UMD/CSE Development Director
148 Engineering Building
1303 Ordean Court
Duluth, MN  55812-3025

Please note "ECE Department" on your check.



Dept. of Electrical and Computer Engineering
University of Minnesota Duluth
271 MWAH, 1023 University Drive
Duluth, MN  55812
Telephone:  218-726-6147
Fax:  218-726-7267
Web Site:

ECE Interim Department Head

Dr. Jiann-Shiou Yang

Information about the MSECE Degree Program

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