Speaker series

Seminar Series

  • Time: Thursday, 12:50PM – 1:50 PM
  • Location: NWSE 100 (unless otherwise noted)
  • Food: Lunch is served at 12:20 pm
  • The Winter 2014 seminar series is supervised by Prof. Robert Smith

 Winter 2014 Schedule

  • Mar 06
  • Feb 27
  • Feb 20
  • Feb 13
  • Feb 06
  • Jan 30
  • Jan 23
  • Jan 16 The future of the Smart Grid

Vince Forte – National Grid (retired)

Abstract: Mr. Forte will speak about the utility of the future commonly called the Smart Grid. He will describe what technologies compose the Smart Grid and how it is a system of systems. He will also describe why this technological advance is occurring now, the current state of the electric industry related to Smart, and his perspective on trends.

Bio: Mr. Forte is a licensed professional engineer in New York State. He has extensive experience developing the grid of the future, commonly called the Smart Grid. He has also directed and managed multi-disciplined engineering departments involved in substation design, underground cable system design,long range distribution and transmission system planning, project management, large customer interconnections, and distributed generation interconnections.


Fall 2013 Schedule

  • Nov 01 ECE 498 Presentations


  • Oct 25 ECE 498 Presentations


  • Oct 18 Ultrahigh-Speed OCT with Microsurgical Applications

Dr. Kang Zhang, GE Global Research

Abstract: Microsurgeries, such as ophthalmologic surgery, neurological surgery, and otolaryngologic surgery, require both optical and physical access to perform surgical task on delicate tissue with micrometer accuracy. During the microsurgery, a surgeon performs activities such as visualizing targets, guiding microsurgical tools and executing on surgical targets, subject to human’s sensory and motion limits. Conventionally, visualization during the microsurgery is realized by surgical microscopes with limited depth perception of tissue microstructures, which makes the operation extremely challenging. This talk presents an interdisciplinary project involving optical imaging, optical sensing and high-performance computing conducted during the speaker’s research in Johns Hopkins University and Johns Hopkins Medical School. Here the ultrahigh speed real-time optical coherence tomography (OCT), a novel non-invasive multi-dimensional imaging modality with micrometer resolution, is utilized for microsurgical intervention.

Bio: Kang Zhang is currently a Lead Research Scientist in GE Global Research, New York. He received his Ph.D. degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from The Johns Hopkins University in 2011. From 2009 to 2010, he was appointed as an ORISE Research Fellow by the U. S. Department of Energy to work on medical device evaluation in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. He is an active researcher and inventor in biomedical engineering, optical engineering, and IT fields, with more than 50 scientific publications, and 6 patents.

  • Oct 11 Insights into Diagnostic Ultrasound: A Look Inside the Physics and Engineering that Underpins the Medical Imaging Technology and Enables Ongoing Innovations

Dr. Kirk Wallace, GE Global Research

Abstract: After the standard x-ray, diagnostic ultrasound is the most prevalent medical imaging modality worldwide and within the United States. A recent estimate of the number ultrasound exams performed annually in the USA is 150 million, and that number is growing as the systems become smaller, less expensive, and more capable. This seminar will relate some of the history and developments leading to today’s imaging systems, provide an overview of the imaging process, detail some interesting nonlinear physics that is the basis for how images are formed on modern high-end systems, and describe new applications that may improve our healthcare in the future.

Bio: Kirk Wallace is a physicist with GE Global Research. He graduated from Ithaca College (Ithaca, NY) in 1992 with a B.A. degree in Mathematics and Physics; he earned his M.A. and Ph.D. in Physics from Washington University in St. Louis (Saint Louis, MO) in 1994 and 2001, respectively. Prior to joining GE in 2010, he held research faculty appointments in the Department of Physics at Wash U. and as a Senior Scientist in the Department of Internal Medicine, Cardiology Division at the Washington University School of Medicine. His research interests include nonlinear acoustics, signal processing for quantitative tissue characterization, and applications of contrast agents for both diagnostics and therapy.

  • Oct 04 Bringing GPS Indoors (Wold 128)

Prof. John Orr, Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Abstract: It is not an exaggeration to say that the Global Positioning System has brought revolutionary changes to the science of navigation, as well as to everyday life. GPS is fundamentally designed and implemented for outdoor navigation. Would not a similar indoor navigation system also be useful and even lifesaving? Why does the GPS system not work indoors? What are the fundamental technical approaches to a solution? What is the current state of the art? This seminar will provide the context and design approaches for a solution to the indoor navigation problem, and will describe the current state of the art based on work at WPI as well as at universities and corporations worldwide. This work was instigated by a warehouse fire in Worcester MA in 2009 in which six firefighters died after become lost inside a windowless warehouse. Since then a team of faculty and student researchers at WPI has been working to develop a “Precision Personnel Locator” system to prevent such tragedies.

Bio: John A. Orr is Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. He served as Provost of WPI from 2007 through 2010 and prior to this he held the position of Dean of Undergraduate Studies. He served as head of the Electrical and Computer Engineering department from 1988 to 2003. Dr. Orr received the BS and PhD degrees in Electrical Engineering from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and the MS degree in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University. Dr. Orr’s research interests span several aspects of digital signal processing, including applications to indoor navigation systems, and to power quality. His other professional interests are in the areas of engineering education and sustainability. Dr. Orr is a member of the Executive Committee of the ABET Engineering Accreditation Commission and an ABET-EAC team chair. He is a Fellow of the IEEE and of the American Society for Engineering Education, and President of IEEE-HKN, the ECE academic honor society.

  • Sep 27 Career Services at Union College: Internships, Scholarships, and Fellowships

Bridget Graham, Assistant Director of Internship Program, will describe the resources available for obtaining internships through the Becker Career Center. There are five events planned this Fall for internships and Bridget will give an overview of the events and how best to prepare for them. Two ECE students will describe their summer internship experiences during the summer of 2013.

Lynn Evans, Director of the Post-Baccalaureate Fellowships and Scholarships, will present the array of scholarship and fellowship opportunities available to students. Union students have been successful in obtaining high profile scholarships such as the Watson and Fulbright and there are a number of opportunities which are particularly suitable for engineering applicants.

  • Sep 20 Silicon Carbide for Next-Generation Power Electronics: How a Startup can Impact the Future

Dr. Larry Rowland, Aymont Technologies

Abstract: Future power electronic systems need to be lighter, more efficient, and operate at higher temperatures. A material called silicon carbide is making this happen. This development will make systems which depend on development of next-generation power electronics, such as electric cars, more affordable and readily available. In 2006, I started a company which is now helping to make this a reality. My talk will be broken into three segments. The first of these will discuss at high level the technology for these future power electronic systems, and what has to happen from a technology and cost perspective to make this a reality. The second segment will discuss broadly my company’s experience in surviving and ultimately growing to impact this technology. In this way I hope my experience can help others. In that vein, the final segment will offer some advice on the startup experience. In particular, I will discuss unconventional ways of making a startup successful for founders as well as discuss the difficulties in obtaining funding for a capital-intensive business such as power electronics.

Bio: Larry has extensive experience developing semiconductor components and materials both in large company and startup settings. Larry B. Rowland received a B.S. degree in Materials Science from Rice University in Houston, Texas in 1987 and a Ph.D. degree in Materials Science and Engineering from North Carolina State University in 1992. From 1992 to 1994 he worked as a postdoctoral associate at Naval Research Laboratory growing gallium nitride (GaN). His work greatly helped the understanding of GaN –based materials for microwave devices as well as LEDs. In 1995 he joined Northrop Grumman Science and Technology Center in Pittsburgh, where he worked on materials issues for electronic devices and detectors in SiC and AlGaN/GaN. Late in 1997, he joined Sterling Semiconductor (a startup) where he served as Director, Epitaxy and Devices. While there, he developed a commercial SiC epitaxial foundry capability for an emerging SiC supplier—from marketing to technology development—from scratch in 15 months. In 2001 he joined General Electric Global Research and led projects on materials and device development for a host of applications (emitters, detectors, power devices, and microwave devices) in SiC and GaN. In October 2006, he left GE to found Aymont Technology, a startup which now manufactures equipment for crystal growth of silicon carbide and similar materials. He has authored or co-authored over 100 publications on GaN and SiC, as well as over 10 US patents granted to date. He is a Senior Member of IEEE.



Spring 2013 Schedule

Dr. Eugene Cacciamani, Satellite/Telecommunications Consultant

Abstract: In this talk I will be illustrating the evolution of satellite digital communications over the past forty years. Included will be a discussion of the key developments in satellite communications that have led to the availability of the vastly increased bandwidth. Also, I will be relating some of the experiences I have had with digital communications and satellites over the years.

Bio: Dr. Eugene Cacciamani received a BS in Electrical Engineering From Union College, and well an M.E.E and Ph.D from Catholic University. He has over 30 years experience in the satelite industry at one point serving as Chief Technology Officer and Director for ProtoStar Satellite Systems. At ProtoStar he secured initial funding for, and took a leed role in, the successful development, launch, and testing of the PSI and PSII satellites. Among his many industry experiences he served as Vice President of Engineering and Operations at Satellite Corporation and held key positions at CONSTAT Laboratories and RCA. He served in the U.S. Air Force as a Captain and was involved in advanced R&D projects at NSA. He has developed several patents criutical to high speed data transmission over satelites. Currently, he is a senior advisor to several several companies including Artel and Blue Ridge as well as the U.S government.

Dr. Weina Ge, General Electrical Global Research

Abstract: Video collection devices are ubiquitous and we may not know that they are monitoring our daily life. Video surveillance has a history that can be dated back a century ago and U.S. patents in the 1960s described early forms of automated video surveillance systems. One fundamental technology behind intelligent video surveillance systems is computer vision, which is not only about the eyes (lens) that are observing the world, but also about the brain (algorithms) that is processing and analyzing the acquired visual information and making inference and decisions. This talk will introduce some of the basic computer vision methods that lead to interesting applications in entertainment, healthcare, and security. Existing challenges, future research directions, and open issues related to ethics, privacy, and legislation will be discussed.

Bio: Dr. Weina Ge is a computer scientist in the Computer Vision lab at GE Global Research. She received her Ph.D. degree in Computer Science and Engineering from Pennsylvania State University, University Park in 2010, with a minor in Applied Statistics, and a B.S. degree from Zhejiang University, China in 2005. Her doctorate study was in tracking and behavioral analysis for pedestrians and crowds, funded by NSF’s Human and Social Dynamics Program. She held visiting scholar positions at Microsoft Research Asia, Beijing, China and IDIAP Research Institute, Martigny, Switzerland. Since joining GE, her research efforts have been focused on developing efficient solutions to intelligent event recognition for video surveillance applications.

Dr. Adam Halverson, General Electrical Global Research

Abstract: The current dominant solar photovoltaic technology is based on silicon.  Due to its indirect band gap, silicon requires thick wafers for full absorption of the incident solar irradiance, and also requires extreme purity to avoid non-radiative recombination pathways which are detrimental to performance.  Such extreme purity requirements significantly increase the cost to produce silicon-based photovoltaics.  Several new thin-film material systems are being developed that attempt to circumvent the costs due to the purity and thickness requirements of silicon. I will discuss the roles of defects and disorder on the performance and electron dynamics in these devices.  During the talk I’ll also discuss my background, education, and career.

Bio: Dr. Adam Halverson received his undergraduate degree in physics from Reed College in Portland, OR, writing a theoretical thesis on a method to linearize a particularly difficult non-linear differential equation.  He then worked in the semiconductor capital equipment industry for a year before heading to the University of Oregon for graduate school in physics.  There he worked on the characterization of defects in thin-film photovoltaics, receiving his Ph.D. in 2007.  His next stop was a post-doctoral position in the Chemical and Materials Science group at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, CO.  There he worked on basic research on the electron dynamics in nanostructured PV and other energy devices.  Dr. Halverson has been at the GE Global Research Center since 2010 contributing to multiple solar-related projects.

Dr. Jixu Chen, General Electrical Global Research

Abstract: Emotions determine the quality of our lives. They play important roles in human interaction, and even in the communication between human and computers. In this talk, I will give an introduction to automatic human emotion analysis and its applications to human computer interaction (HCI), health care, education, entertainment and security.  I will emphasize the use of advanced computer vision techniques for reading and understanding facial expressions of emotions. This camera-based human sensing technique opens the way to a more natural human-computer interface.

Bio: Dr. Jixu Chen is an electrical engineer in the Computer Vision Lab at GE Global Research. He received his Ph.D. degree in Electrical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), Troy, NY in 2011. His Ph.D. thesis research was focused on human behavior modeling and understanding through the integration of a probabilistic graphical model and computer vision techniques. Since joining GE research, his work has been focused on face modeling and facial expression recognition. He has worked with GE Health Care (GEHC) to develop the first software user experience/emotion recognition and logging system, which was the Global Winner of GEHC Hack Week in 2011. Dr. Chen has authored over 15 peer-reviewed publications in top computer vision journals and conferences and three book chapters on facial expression recognition, gaze estimation and human body tracking.

Shaun P. Montana, Osram Sylvania Inc.

Abstract: If you are an engineering student and you want to go to law school, there is only one circumstance in which you should: if you plan to practice patent law when you graduate.  This discussion will focus on: the current landscape of legal work; skills an engineering student needs before attending law school; the transition from studying engineering/CS to studying law; how a law school classroom is unlike any other classroom you have ever been in before; and what it is like to practice patent law, at a firm and at a company.

Bio: Shaun holds a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering (with a Math Minor) from Union College and a JD, Law degree from the Boston University School of Law. He has been a practicing patent attorney for over 10 years, with prior non-attorney patent experience going back longer. He currently works as in-house intellectual property (IP) counsel at OSRAM SYLVANIA, the number 2 lighting manufacturer in North America and US subsidiary of OSRAM GmbH, a subsidiary of Siemens.  He advises his internal clients in all aspects and areas of IP law. His expertise is in the areas of lighting R&D that involve electronics, hardware, and software, which is most everything these days.  He serves as the liaison between the OSRAM intellectual property (IP) group and the general legal group, bridging the gap between those two distinct areas by connecting IP advice, legal advice, and business advice.

Winter 2013 Schedule

Ari Epstein, PhD

Abstract: Terrascope Radio is a class offered to second-semester freshmen at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Through intensive critical listening sessions and writing assignments, students develop a deep understanding of radio as a medium for the communication and expression of ideas. They explore radio-specific techniques—such as the use of sound to evoke a physical setting and the effective interweaving of interviews and ambient sound—as well as techniques common to a variety of media, such as the use and development of story arcs and pacing. At the same time, in laboratory and field sessions they develop proficiency in the technical aspects of radio production, such as gathering high-quality sound, audio editing and the use of digital audio effects. The class culminates in a major team project, in which students develop and produce a radio documentary on the social, economic, political and technical aspects of a complex environmental issue.

Bio: Dr. Ari Epstein is a Lecturer in the Terrascope Program and the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He also has extensive experience in outreach and public education. He is currently Director of Terrascope Youth Radio, an NSF-funded project in which local urban teens create radio programming on environmental topics. He is particularly interested in developing ways to integrate free-choice learning (the kind of learning promoted by museums, community-based organizations, media and other outlets) into the academic curriculum, combining formal and informal educational strategies.

Christopher Bishop

Abstract: Common wisdom states that 85% of the jobs today’s learners will be doing haven’t been invented yet. They will be using technology that doesn’t exist today. And they’ll be solving problems we don’t yet know are problems. How will students prepare for successful careers when all the rules have changed and newly-minted jobs appear faster than the latest video game release Metacognition+reinvention. In the almost 40 years since graduating from college, Christopher Bishop has been successful across six distinct careers – from touring rock musician to corporate communications specialist. Come hear Chris describe “metacognition + reinvention” and share his three Secret Sauce ingredients, designed to help today’s learners have successful careers in the 21st century. Chris will have listeners pondering the exciting possibilities offered by the evolving, global borderless workplace.

Bio: Christopher Bishop has had many successful careers since graduating from college with a degree in German literature almost 40 years ago. His experiences include touring as Robert Palmer’s bass player, appearing in a TV movie with Peter O’Toole, producing the first Johnson & Johnson corporate Web site, designing a variety of events in virtual worlds and developing a major acquisition strategy for IBM, where he currently works in corporate communications. Chris defines the process he used to succeed across these many transitions as “metacognition + reinvention.” He has developed three Secret Sauce ingredients designed to help today’s learners be successful in the rapidly evolving, borderless global workplace.


Robert J. Campchero, MS

Abstract: A brief history and overview of the National Electrical Code, introduction to the NFPA 70E standard for electrical safety in the workplace, and the explosive topic of arc flash hazard.

Bio: Robert J. Campchero received his MS from RPI in Electric Power Engineering, and BS from Clarkson College of Technology in Electrical Engineering. Robert has a wide range of experience working in areas such as Naval Nuclear Power Plants, electrical construction and renovation, instrumentation and control systems, and equipment design. He retired from Knolls Atomic Power Laboratories in 2012 after spending several years doing laboratory equipment design projects, including the electrical distribution work that he will discuss in his talk.


Thomas K. Jewell, PhD, PE, F ASCE

Abstract: Come hear about the IBM Global Summer Internships, new opportunities in Turkey, Germany, Uruguay, and the Independent Study Abroad option where you can go almost anywhere! Union College is a leader in providing engineering and computer science students with an international experience. Typically 70-80% of our students study abroad, which is higher than almost all Universities in the US.

Bio: Professor Jewell has taught at Union College in Civil Engineering and is currently the director of the Environmental Science, Policy and Engineering program. He has advised engineering students about international programs for many years, and has personally led the term abroad to Vietnam, and mini-terms to Spain, Australia, and New Zealand.


Fall 2012 Schedule

Tomas Sadilek

Abstract: We have seen a rapid growth of renewable energies in the past decade: fuel cells, solar panels, and wind turbines. However, these produce energy that is inherently incompatible with the grid. Efficient power conversion is the key factor in allowing the renewable technologies to flourish. The talk will also focus on implementation of a new part in power systems: ultracapacitors. Standard ultrapacitors have capacitance measured in thousands of farads!

Bio: Tomas Sadilek is a Power Electronics Engineer at Advanced Energy Conversion and an Embedded Control Engineer at IOXUS, Inc., where he focuses on custom applications for the automotive and renewable energy industries.


  • Nov 01 Senior Design Project Presentations (ECE 498)


  • Oct 25 Senior Design Project Presentations (ECE 498)


Brian E. Clark, CPO

Abstract: The field of Prosthetics and Orthotics consists of several areas of study in a unique harmony. Electrical, computer and material science engineering, combined with health sciences make this a field that interests many individuals. All make it possible for the Clinician to provide each Patient with the appropriate high-tech device that is necessary to restore function.

Bio: Brian E. Clark, CPO has a degree in Engineering Science and Mechanics from the University of Tennessee – Knoxville as well as Orthotics and Prosthetics degrees from Northwestern University. He also served as an officer on a U.S. Navy submarine for 5 years. As a CPO (Certified Prosthetist Orthotist), Brian specializes in the fitting and fabrication of prostheses and provides braces and support systems for injured muscle/skeletal groups.

Michelle Stark, P.E.

Abstract: CHA is a full service international engineering firm with the in-house capabilities to supply all the engineering, planning, surveying, permitting, environmental, and construction inspection and administration services to complete any project. This talk examines the role of an electrical engineer in the consulting engineering world.

Bio: Michelle Stark, P.E. is the Electrical Section Manager at CHA. She holds a degree in electrical engineering, and has over 19 years of engineering experience which includes a wide range of design projects for institutional, government and commercial facilities, as well as municipal and industrial sectors domestic and international.

J. Keith Nelson, Ph.D.

Abstract: The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers bills itself as the “world’s largest professional association for the advancement of technology.” Born of the merger between the Institute of Radio Engineers and the American Institute of Electrical Engineers, the IEEE continues its tradition of research and scholarly excellence by joining together the knowledge base of engineers from many sub-disciplines, such as communications, dielectrics, rotating machinery, computers, and engineering education, to name but a few. Moreover, the Institute provides a networking platform for its members to share the latest technical discoveries (and job opportunities)! Come and learn why you should consider making the IEEE part of your professional future.

Bio: J. Keith Nelson, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus and the former Philip Sporn Professor of Electric Power Engineering at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy. A graduate of the University of London, Professor Nelson has served as Research Manager at General Electric’s research and development facility in Schenectady. He is an IEEE Fellow and the Division II Director on the IEEE Board of Directors.

Jerry Selvaggi, PhD

Abstract: Electrical machines play an essential role in many commerical and industrial products. A solid understanding of  both the theory and the application is essential to advance the improvement of such machinery. Today’s seminar will illustrate the role that modeling plays in understanding some of the more esoteric properties exhibited by rotating machines not normally discussed in a standard electric power curriculum. The talk will include the design of a new motor called the Rotating-Core Motor. This motor exhibits both a low magnetic and low acoustic signature. In some respects, one could consider this a “silent” motor.

Bio: Jerry Selvaggi, PhD is a consulting electric power engineering and a former research professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He has over 20 years of experience in the electric power industry. He holds bachelor degrees in elecrical and mechanical engineering and master degrees in mechanical engineering, electrical power engineering and applied mathematics. He also has a PhD in electrical power engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Rob Smith, PhD, PE (Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow, Union College)

Abstract: Today’s ECE curricula at colleges and universities have mirrored the broader societal developments of electrical and computer engineering since the latter part of the 19th century.  This talk examines the effect that early pioneers (many of whom were not engineers by training), wars, and consumer demand have had on the content of modern Electrical and Computer Engineering programs.

Bio: Rob Smith, Ph.D., P.E. is the Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow / Visiting Teaching Scholar in the ECE Department at Union College.  He holds degrees in electrical and electric power engineering, and has several years of engineering experience in the pulp and paper and electric power industries.


Spring 2012 Schedule

Lawrence J. Hollander, PE (Dean of Engineering Emeritus, Union College)

Abstract: Throughout his career Dean Hollander has been a successful investor and has regularly traded stocks on the New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ. This activity has provided the funds that have established the Hollander Bicentennial Scholarship at Union College (the largest scholarship fund from a living donor at Union College, which since 1996 has supported thirteen engineering students), the Hollander Convocation Music Prize at Union, support of his alma mater (New York University), and support of The Salvation Army (for which he held the position as a member of the Advisory Board for Albany County). He will discuss the many minefields in the financial world, and how students can avoid them.

Bio: Dean Hollander served in the U.S. Navy in WWII, where he received training in aviation radar. After the war he received B.S. and M.S. degrees in from NYU and began a career in the electric power industry. One of his publications was the featured cover story in The Nation, January 10, 1966 (The Big Blackout, Whooping Cranes & Power Failures). He served for seven years as the Secretary of the NYS Board for Engineering and Land Surveying. In academia, he served as a faculty member and dean at NYU, The Cooper Union, and Union College, from which he retired as Dean of Engineering in 1993. Throughout his career has had numerous consulting assignments as a professional engineer specializing in electric power, and was also featured in two national TV commercials of the General Electric Company.

May 03 Programmable Fabrication of Smart Robots

Michael Tolley, Harvard University

Abstract: Engineered systems traditionally require highly specialized fabrication and assembly processes that are expensive and not easily adaptable. This places a large overhead burden on the development of new systems or the adaptation of existing systems to new conditions. My work addresses this challenge through the development of programmable fabrication approaches for mesoscale robotic systems. In this talk, I will describe three related research thrusts: The first is an approach to achieving programmable matter (i.e. a substance the shape and properties of which can be tuned to achieve a variety of tasks) through the stochastic fluidic assembly of mesoscale and microscale components. The second thrust, Printable Programmable Machines, is a means to achieving the rapid development and fabrication of low-cost printable robots using origami-inspired folding techniques. Finally, I will discuss recent work in the design and fabrication of soft robots which employ embodied AI to achieve complex locomotion gaits. These three examples represent a paradigm shift in robotics manufacturing towards the programmable fabrication of smart robots.

Bio: Michael T. Tolley is a Postdoctoral Associate in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University, and the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His research topics with Professor Robert J. Wood (Harvard Microrobotics Lab) and Professor Daniela Rus (Distributed Robotics Lab) include printable programmable machines, soft robotics, and mesoscale actuation. He received his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in the Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Cornell University where he worked on stochastic fluidic assembly for programmable matter. Dr. Tolley was awarded a Doctoral Postgraduate Fellowship from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). For more information on his research, please visitwww.michaeltolley.com.

Johnny Willis, PowerGEM

Abstract: This presentation is a brief overview of the North American power grid. It discusses generation, transmission, planning and operational concerns of a highly complex engineering system that is critical to the modern economy. It also touches on several areas of interest in power engineering, and the range of opportunities in the power industry for students that may be interested in the field.

Bio: Johnny Willis is a native of Alabama. He received a B.S. and M.S. in engineering from the University of Alabama in Birmingham, and the degree of Electrical Engineer from the University of Michigan. He has worked for 30 years in the power industry, with experience in system planning, operational studies, and field testing in power plants. Much of his work has involved simulations of system stability. He has also taught seminars on the use of power system software and related technical subjects, and co-authored a number of technical papers. He has been fortunate to often work with engineers who are smarter than him, which has been a great way stretch himself and to learn!

Jerry Ryan, Consultant

Abstract: The process of converting ideas into a smartphone, building it, and getting people to buy it takes almost a year of work by a very large number of people: electrical and mechanical engineers, radio experts, software developers, and testers. It also involves sales folks, marketers, negotiators, secret keepers, and a lot of things that you’d never expect. In this talk, I will give an overview of a year in the life of a maker of smartphones, and provide what I expect will be a few surprises.

Bio: Jerry Ryan received a B.E. in Electrical Engineering from The Cooper Union, and an M.A. in Computer Science from Rutgers University. His professional career has included long stays at AT&T Bell Labs, Lucent Technologies, Avaya and Motorola. Most of his career has been as a software developer or manager of software developers in the telecommunications industry, though he did manage to spend a few years in a sales role and as a product manager. He’s worked on real-time control software for data switches, on the design and deployment of the AT&T WorldNet service, and on systems management software for IP PBXes. Most recently, he’s managed the integration and launch of several Motorola smartphones.


Prof. Cherrice Traver, Union College

Abstract: Plan Ceibal was the first complete “one-laptop-per-child” implementation at a national level. The program aims to provide each public school student and teacher in Uruguay with a Wi-Fi connected laptop. This seminar will provide a glimpse into the vision as well as the many technical, social, political, and ethical challenges of a national deployment of this magnitude. In the spring of 2013, a new Union College term abroad to Uruguay will involve students in this initiative. This seminar is also an opportunity to learn more about this opportunity.


Winter 2012 Schedule

Nicholas P. Sardino, IBM

Abstract: Three years ago, IBM began describing the Smarter Planet that we saw emerging. It was a world in which industries were becoming more instrumented, interconnected, and intelligent, producing data that could be used to improve the quality of our lives and our work. Over this time, we also recognized that there was a pattern to the way that most successful institutions were approaching their IT infrastructure. They were thinking about computing in new ways—and using it to create formidable opportunities for growth and innovation…despite facing such challenges as tremendous demands for service, inflexible infrastructures, flat budgets and incomplete, unreliable data. Through a new approach we call Smarter Computing, enterprises can tackle these constraints. They can leverage all of the data in their enterprise, optimize systems for workloads and manage their IT infrastructure in a much more cloud-like fashion, for dramatically improved economics and performance. If an enterprise can think holistically about its IT infrastructure, it can implement a Smarter Computing model and gain the benefits we’ve seen with our own clients—double capacity for IT services, flat IT costs and the ability to implement new breakthrough services.

Bio: Nick has been with IBM for 8 years and is currently a subject matter expert and client presenter in the Poughkeepsie Executive Briefing Center covering topics such as Smarter Computing, System z Hardware, and Linux on System z. In addition to presenting at customer briefings, Nick travels to industry conferences talking to customers and giving live demonstrations of the capabilities of System z. Nick received a BS and MS in Computer Engineering from the Rochester Institute of Technology in 2002. Immediately following his degree, he worked at Sun Microsystems for 2 years as a VLSI Circuit Design Engineer on the UltraSPARC V microprocessor. Nick joined IBM in 2004 as a VLSI Circuit Design Engineer working on the IBM zSeries microprocessor, and in the fall of 2008 made the transition to the Executive Briefing Center.

Prof. Takashi Buma, Union College

Abstract: Biomedical imaging systems using light and ultrasound are attractive for their fine spatial resolution, real-time image display, and portability. This seminar describes some of the on-going efforts in the Biomedical Ultrasonics & Biophotonics Laboratory (BUBL) at Union College. Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is an emerging technology for applications in ophthalmology, dermatology, and cardiology. Cross-sectional images are obtained by laterally scanning a focused optical beam across the region of interest while using an interferometer to detect the backscattered light. Depth information is obtained by processing the interference fringes in the detected signals. Our previous work applied OCT to visualize fingertip features below the skin surface for biometric applications. A current project is a collaboration with the Department of Mechanical Engineering, where we will perform 3-D OCT imaging to help study the biomechanics of heart tube looping in a developing chick embryo. Ultrasound biomicroscopy (UBM) is a high frequency ultrasound imaging technique with applications in ophthalmology and developmental biology. Transducer arrays are required to produce fully focused images over a wide field of view. However, UBM arrays have been extremely difficult to fabricate with conventional piezoelectric technology. We are exploring highly populated sensor arrays based on optoacoustics, where ultrasound is detected with optical techniques. This project involves all aspects of the imaging system, ranging from transmitter and sensor fabrication to video-rate image reconstruction with a graphics processing unit (GPU).

Bio: Dr. Takashi Buma received his B.S.E. in Electrical Engineering with a certificate in Engineering Physics from Princeton University in 1995. He received his Ph.D. in Applied Physics from the University of Michigan in 2002, where his research in the Biomedical Ultrasonics Laboratory explored techniques to generate and receive high frequency ultrasound. He then joined the Center for Ultrafast Optical Science at the University of Michigan to perform research in time-domain terahertz imaging systems. He was an Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Delaware before joining Union College in the fall of 2011. His research interests include photoacoustic microscopy, device and systems development for high frequency ultrasound imaging, optical coherence tomography, and time-domain terahertz imaging.


Dr. Andrew Leach, GE Global Research

Abstract: Hyperpolarization technology enables magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to expand beyond anatomical imaging to measure the metabolism within tissue. This new capability may revolutionize the detection and treatment of disease through the measurement of changes in local cellular chemistry in its early stages. Real‐time imaging of cellular metabolism will enhance diagnostic capabilities in the fields of oncology, cardiology and neurology as well as enable personalized treatment through the measurement of patient response to therapies. This technique relies on a suite of new molecular agents based on endogenous molecules that can probe the natural metabolic pathways of human physiology.

This presentation will discuss the state‐of‐the‐art in hyperpolarization technology as well as recent developments towards the production of a polarizer system that is compatible with clinical use. Primary concerns are patient and operator safety, performance of the method, as well as operator convenience. A polarizer of novel design has been successfully built and tested. The polarizer differs from those previously used in that it is designed with capabilities required for future clinical use.

Bio: Dr. Andrew Leach is originally from Rochester, New York. He holds a B.S. degree in chemistry from Union College, Ph.D. in chemistry from Indiana University, and he completed an NIH post‐doctoral fellowship at Stanford University where he focused on miniaturized chemical and biological detection systems that included microfluidics. Andrew is currently Manager of the Chemical Sensing Laboratory at GE Global Research Center, an organization that focuses on development of chemical measurement devices and methods to extend process knowledge, increase product performance and robustness, enhance customer experience, and improve patient diagnoses and treatments. Andrew has published over 30 manuscripts in peer reviewed journals and books, authored 25 internal GE reports, and been granted 10 US patents.

  • Jan 26: Digital Image Forensics: There is More to a Picture Than Meets the Eye

Dr. Siwei Lyu, University at Albany

Abstract: The past decade has witnessed remarkable advances in digital image processing and computational photography, resulting in sophisticated image-editing software systems. The ease of digital image manipulation has also posed many new challenges. In particular, digital images have become more vulnerable to malicious tampering compared to their non-digital counterparts. This circumstance galvanized rapid developments of research in digital image forensics.

In this talk, I will focus on my recent works in detecting several types of digital image tampering operations, including: a) region duplication, where regions in the same image are copied, transformed, and pasted to new locations to conceal the original image; b) image splicing, where regions from an image are pasted into a different image; and c) photographic vs. photorealistic detection, where the task is to differentiate a real photograph from an image made from computer graphics software.

The unifying theme of these techniques is to use statistical analysis of normal natural photographic image signals to show abnormalities of tampered images. I will describe the mathematical and algorithmic aspects of these methods, and demonstrate their effectiveness on realistic image forgeries.

Bio: Siwei Lyu is Assistant Professor at the Computer Science Department of the University at Albany. His scientific expertise include natural image statistics, computational visual neural science, digital image forensics, machine learning, and computer vision.


Dr. Robert C. Smith, Ph.D. and P.E.

Abstract: Many manufacturing industries that provide us with the essentials of our civilized society use chemically-intensive processes that must be carefully and precisely controlled. To that end, a host of measurements are required to continuously gauge such process variables as pressure, flow, temperature, and density. This lecture will provide an introduction to some of the measurement principles and equipment involved in these control strategies, and will briefly address the processing of this data to accomplish the control.

Bio: Dr. Robert C. Smith has worked as an electrical and instrumentation engineer in the pulp and paper, electric power, engineering forensics industries, as well as an associate professor of electronic engineering technology. He holds engineering degrees from the Universities of Maine and New Hampshire, as well as Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. His research has included the use of neural networks for structural vibration control and the introduction of nanometer-scale inorganic fillers in polyethylene for use as dielectric materials. He is active in the IEEE, especially the Dielectrics and Electrical Insulation Society, and is a registered Professional Engineer in the state of New Hampshire.

Your resume is among your most important tools for obtaining the job or internship you want. Come hear tips to help make your resume shine. Bring an electronic copy with you so that you can improve it during the workshop. We will begin with some general tips and suggestions and then walk around the room and help students with their resumes.

Dr. Bob Soules (Director of the Union College Becker Career Center)

Dr. Cherrice Traver (Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering)


Fall 2011 Schedule

Dr. Josh Haines (MIT Lincoln Labs)

Abstract: I will begin by describing a survivable system’s approach to countering cyber attacks. Then I will describe two active research topics: 1) “Mission mapping” in which we attempt to find automated ways to identify the critical cyber resources utilized in performing specific mission or business tasks, and 2) “Trustworthy Dynamic Systems” where we couple trustworthy systems approaches with dynamic ‘moving target’ techniques at the application and operating systems level.

Bio: Mr. Joshua W. Haines is an Assistant Group Leader in the Cyber Systems and Technology Group at MIT Lincoln Laboratory. He is responsible for managing research and development of technology and systems in support of national cyber missions including computer network defense, attack, and exploitation. Focus areas include system analysis, architecture engineering for robustness and security, development of network-centric cyber systems, automated analysis of network vulnerabilities, red-teaming of DoD programs, and development & deployment of traffic generation and test development for test range environments. Prior to that Josh was the Chief Engineer for the Transformational Satellite Communications Program at the Air Force Space and Missile System Center. Josh received his M.S. from University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 1999 and his B.S. from Union College in 1995.


Dr. Mark Skolnik (Exxon Mobil)

Bio: Mark Skolnik, BSEE Union Class of ’76 recently retired after a 35 year career with ExxonMobil. In his most recent capacity, Mark was a Senior Executive in Refining and Supply, responsible for global merger and acquisitions (M&A) activities for the Downstream, primarily sales of refining, distribution and marketing businesses around the world. Mark practiced electrical engineering for 3 years post Union College until deciding to earn an MBA from U. of Penn. Wharton School in 1981, after which he joined Mobil Oil Corporation. Post MBA, he pursued more business related opportunities within ExxonMobil, which is now the most profitable corporation in the U.S. Mark strongly believes that the knowledge and discipline developed in pursuing an engineering degree produced the requisite skills necessary to succeed in business. He is happy to share his views on where an engineering degree can and should take you.

  • Oct 27: Senior Projects (Student presentations)


  • Oct 20: Senior Projects (Student presentations)


Thomas Tongue (Zomega Terahertz Corporation)

Abstract: The “Terahertz Gap” occupies a unique place in the EM spectrum as the transition from classical electrodynamics (RF, mm-wave) to quantum mechanics for both generation and detection. Recently, techniques from both the mm-wave and far-infrared have pushed to close this gap, and commercial applications for THz waves are now being actively explored. THz Time Domain Spectroscopy (TDS) is one common technique that has been applied for both non-destructive testing and material characterization at short stand-off distances. With the advent of real-time THz TDS capabilities, imaging has become an important frontier for THz applications, especially in inspection and process control. However, software algorithms and data processing for these images is still in its infancy, and represents an opportunity for further improvement in system performance. This talk will provide an overview of THz techniques, focusing on THz TDS and its application to imaging and highlighting important areas where software needs to catch up to the challenges of such information-rich data.

Bio: Thomas Tongue is a serial entrepreneur and CEO of Zomega Terahertz Corporation. His background in Physics combined with his MBA provide him with a unique perspective that bridges the technical and management aspects of running an emerging technology company.

Becker Career Center Room 201

Abstract: Global Foundries, the world’s third largest independent semiconductor foundry, is building a major IC chip manufacturing plant less than 20 miles from Union College. Using 300 mm wafers and a feature size of less than 28 nm, it will be among the most advanced fabrication facilities in the world. Opening in 2012, the plant will eventually employ over 1500 people.

Bio: Pedro Gonzales, University Relations Manager, will present information about Global Foundries, their technological challenges, and the resulting opportunities for talented students.

Three invited guests will lead a panel discussion on options and strategies for ECE students to work toward a graduate degree. Some graduate schools have early winter deadlines, so now is the time to start planning.

Prof. Takashi Buma from ECE will discuss options for master’s and doctoral programs around the country and the world.

Dean Robert Kozik from the Union Graduate College will discuss master’s programs available here at Union.

Prof. Maggie Tongue from Union will discuss options for fellowships and scholarships to help pay for graduate school.

Abstract: Facial expression recognition remains a challenging problem especially when the face is partially corrupted or occluded. I will describe a new classification method, termed Sparse Representation based Classification (SRC), that is applied to accurately recognize expressions. A test vector is representable as a linear combination of vectors from its own class and so its representation as a linear combination of all available training vectors is sparse. Efficient methods have been developed in the area of compressed sensing to recover this sparse representation. SRC gives state of the art performance on clean and noise corrupted images matching the recognition rate obtained using Gabor based features. When test images are occluded, SRC improves significantly on the performance obtained using Gabor features.

Come to this first ECE seminar of the year to meet faculty and students, to learn about ECE student organizations, and to hear about our plans for events and seminars this year.