Page 1

ENG ENG ENG spring 2012


ENG Student wins top inventor prize p. 3 PHD PRogram marks 20 years of Growth p. 20 White house honors pp. 22, 27

Inspired. innovative. field tested. Meet BU’s Societal Engineers • Page 12

The Year in Numbers

44 Cummington Street Boston, MA 02215 Kenneth R. Lutchen dean

The College of Engineering enjoyed another highly successful year in 2010–2011, flourishing despite challenging national and global economic climates.

Solomon R. Eisenberg associate dean for undergraduate programs

M. Selim Ünlü associate dean for research graduate programs


Donald Wroblewski

3,342 432 1345 $335,024 $40,688,015 39 18 >100

Applications Received Breaking last year’s record for largest number of applications by 17 percent Freshman Class Large applicant pool resulted in increased selectivity Average SAT Score of Matriculants A jump of nearly 30 points and a new record high Engineering Annual Fund A new record—the EAF has grown by 161 percent over the past four years Total Grant Awards Research grants and contracts awarded to ­engineering faculty U.S. News & World Report Engineering Graduate Program Ranking That’s three spots higher than the previous year and 12 spots higher than 2005. ENG is in the top 20 percent of the nation’s engineering schools. U.S. News & World Report Engineering Research Expenditures Ranking ENG faculty average $662,000 each in research spending Students Participating in Undergraduate Research Programs The College funds paid research positions for undergraduates engaged in hands-on work in faculty labs. Over the past five years, the number of undergraduates conducting such research has nearly doubled.

Stay Connected to the College of Engineering Join the ENG online community! Post, tag, tweet, ask questions, reconnect with alumni and watch ­engineering videos. Stay current on the most recent happenings, including networking opportunities, job fairs, seminars and other employment events.

associate dean for educational initiatives

Richard Lally associate dean for administration

Michael Seele editor

Mark Dwortzan managing editor

Kathrin Havrilla staff writer


Caleb Daniloff, Samantha Gordon, Rachel Harrington, Amy Laskowski, Amy Sutherland

design & production Boston University Creative Services photography

College of Engineering except where indicated

ENGineer is produced for the alumni and friends of the Boston University College of Engineering. Please direct any questions or comments to Michael Seele, Boston University College of Engineering, 64 Cummington Street, Room 200, Boston, MA 02215. Phone: 617-353-2800; email: engalum@; website:

Engineering Leadership Advisory Board John E. Abele Gregg Adkin ’86 Alan Auerbach ’91 Adam Crescenzi ’64 Roger A. Dorf  ’70 Ronald G. Garriques ’86 Norman E. Gaut Joseph Healey ’88 Jon K. Hirschtick Bill I. Huyett Amit Jain ’85, ’88 Dean L. Kamen, Hon’06 Nick Lippis ’84, ’89 Venkatesh Narayanamurti Stephen N. Oesterle Anton Papp ’90 Richard D. Reidy, SMG’82 Binoy K. Singh ’89 John Tegan ’88 John Ullo David Wormley 0312 9040011411

Please recycle


< BU startup

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Contents • spring 2012





22 24

cover Photo by melody komyerov middle Photo courtesy of the White House/Photo by Pete Souza (COM’76)



Cover story

Creating the Societal Engineer

Preparing Undergraduates to Move Society Forward


pages 22, 27

Message from the Dean



< white house Honors

FALL 2011

PhD Program Celebrates 20 Years of Growth ENG Alum Wins Presidential Award This Is Plan B

Aero Alum Advances Global Cooling Plan

Kyle Allison Wins Top Inventor Prize


Army Grant to Fund Security Algorithm Development


Singh Imagineering Lab Opens


New Method for Laser Development 6 New Research Explores Auditory ­Processing


Photonics Goes Flexible


BU Startup Receives Funding from U-Launch


BU-Wellesley Team Victorious at iGEM World Jamboree


NIH Awards BU Grant to Develop ­Diagnostic Chip


Computer Simulations Explore Cancer Progression


Long-Term, Controllable Drug Delivery May Be on the Horizon




Hatice Altug Receives Presidential Early Career Award


James Collins Wins 2011 World ­Technology Award


Castañón Named ECE Chair


Mazumder, Toffoli Become IEEE Fellows


News Bytes 30 COVER: During an outreach event at Lincoln Elementary School in Melrose, Massachusetts, College of Engineering Technology Innovation Scholar Eni Adedokun (BME’12) (right) congratulates a fifth-grade girl whose team generated more than one volt of electricity with a miniature wind turbine that she and her teammates designed and built. Also shown are Technology Innovation Scholars Patrick Koczela (BME’14) (left) and Robert Crowder (ME’13) (second from right). Serving among the College’s Inspiration Ambassadors, Technology Innovation Scholars engage K–12 students in activities that convey the excitement and societal impact of engineering.

Zaman Invited to First Arab-American Frontiers of Science, ­Engineering and Medicine Symposium 32 Cassandras Receives IEEE Control Systems Technology Award


Colburn, Paschalidis, Smith Win Faculty Awards




Distinguished Alumni Awards


Alumni Events


Class Notes


message from the dean

Society’s Technology Gap By Dean Kenneth R. Lutchen

Recently, I attended a conference of engineering educators working to advance our students’ entrepreneurial mindset. One speaker told us that in order to do that, we need to accept our “problem” and “finally” admit that teaching technical skills alone can no longer cut it in today’s world. We need to be teaching liberal arts subjects, as well, he said. It occurred to me he was dangerously proliferating an outdated stereotype of engineering education. I waited for him to finish, then replied that top engineering schools have already recognized that their graduates need to work in concert with a wide variety of people in business, law, government and other fields if technological innovations are to impact lives meaningfully. I described how creative engineering programs now ensure that engineers not only learn the powerful and quantitative skills of the trade but also embrace, if not require, courses and experiences that develop other skills and attributes that can be used to advance society through innovation and leadership. Frankly, what the nation needs is the opposite of what he



said. We need to get the liberal arts educators to look at the issue from the other side because we are not doing a good job of constructively exposing non-engineering students to the basic concepts of how science and technology work. The reaction in the room told me the audience agreed. The public’s ignorance of what scientists and engineers do is having a real and detrimental impact on our society. It does not take a psychologist to recognize that people tend to dismiss—even fear—things they don’t understand. We are seeing this play out publicly during this election year. At a time when technology is a more powerful force in people’s lives than ever before—and the key potential economic engine of our time—major public figures are dismissing substantial bodies of scientific facts as “mere theories” and finding resonance in a public that is largely undereducated in science and technology. Yet, now more than ever, we need to build a culture in which engineers and non-engineers embrace how their respective expertise can combine to advance our quality of life while dealing with society’s challenges. For example, consider the coming “smart cities” of the future, an area of emerging strength at Boston University. The world’s population is projected to increase from seven billion to nine billion by 2050, and the majority of this growth will cluster around cities. If existing cities are to be scaled up to accommodate this change, technology must play a major role. Traffic control, power supply, energy efficiency, home health care, public transportation, public

safety, waste management and virtually all other aspects of urban life will need to dramatically adapt to ensure these super-sized cities function well. Our College of Engineering and others are advancing cyber-physical sensors and systems for creating the smart cities and neighborhoods of the future. But if these innovations are to have impact, engineers need to work in tandem with politicians and policy makers, neighborhood associations, social scientists and business leaders who understand technology adoption. Our College of Engineering is already driven to create Societal Engineers who appreciate this dynamic and have the attributes and passion to engage in it. But our chances for success are amplified if the public also embraces learning about technology and understands how it not only improves lives, but spawns industries that produce jobs for people from all disciplines. We need to do a better job educating people about how technology is developed and how it benefits all of us. We cannot expect to produce the kind of technology needed to make our cities function better without intersecting with public policy, business, the media and other worlds that form the complex ecosystem of our society. Everyone needs to understand the motives and development process behind new technology and learn not to fear it, but rather to see it as a pathway to a new era of prosperity and better living. Our engineers understand that. They see how their work can impact society. Now it’s time for us to share that knowledge and excitement.


p.5 Singh imagineering lab opens.

edited by mark dwortzan

new research sheds light on auditory processing challenges.




Kyle Allison at work on persistent bacteria in the Collins Lab.


BME PhD Student Kyle Allison Wins Top Prize in Collegiate Inventors Competition Also Named One of “Tomorrow’s Brightest Stars” in Science and Innovation in Forbes Magazine’s First-Ever “30 Under 30” Listing

Photo by cydney scott


yle Allison (BME), a PhD student in Professor James Collins’ (BME, MSE, SE) lab, won the $15,000 first prize for graduate students in the Collegiate Inventors Competition for his discovery of a promising new method to obliterate bacteria that cause chronic infections. Appearing before a panel of expert judges in Washington, D.C., Allison was chosen over nine graduate finalists working on six projects based at Harvard University, the University of California-Los Angeles and the University of Pennsylvania. Since 1990 the competition has recognized, rewarded and encouraged hundreds of students from the U.S. and Canada to share their inventive ideas with the world. The judges—representing mathematics, engineer-

E n g i n ee r spring 2 01 2



ing, biology, chemistry, information technology, materials science, medicine and other fields—evaluate entries on originality, inventiveness and potential value to society. This year’s finalists were drawn from about 100 entries, with graduate inventions ranging from a centrifuge chip that isolates rare cancer cells to a brain-safe cranial drilling device. “When they announced the winner was from BU, I didn’t realize at first that they meant me,” said Allison, whose research with Collins was published in Nature last May. “This is a marvelous honor and clear, national recognition of his inventiveness and innovative work in bioengineering,” said Collins. “His approach to eradicating persistent bacterial infections has the potential to immediately enhance the treatment of infectious diseases in industrialized countries as well as the developing world.” Chronic bacterial infections are believed to be perpetuated by persisters, dormant bacterial cells that antibiotics can’t seem to wipe out. In collaboration with Collins, Allison has invented a treatment that combines selected sugars with a class of antibiotics called aminoglycosides to eliminate bacterial persisters. Effective in treating biofilms (a complex aggregation of microbes growing on a surface, as in dental plaque) and chronic urinary tract infections in mice, the invention has broad implications for treatment of chronic infections, including those caused by tuberculosis, pneumonia, and staphylococcus and streptococcus—diseases affecting millions every year.

Allison developed a cheap, effective treatment for persistent bacteria using sugar.

Pathway to Invention Persisters seem to respond initially to antibiotic treatment, then go into hiding, only to emerge weeks or months later—sometimes more aggressive than they were initially. What Allison and Collins discovered is that selected sugars “wake up” stealthy, dormant bacteria that can lie in a state of metabolic hibernation for weeks or months, and dramatically boost the effectiveness of some first-line antibiotics. “After some failed attempts trying to fully wake up persisters, I realized that I might be able to make aminoglycoside antibiotics kill persisters if I fed the bacteria high-efficiency energy sources like sugars,” said Allison. By adding sugar to antibiotics, he and Collins found that, within a few hours, they were able to obliterate 99.9 percent of cultures of persister staphylococcus and E. coli, the culprit in most urinary tract infections, which affect thousands of Americans and can lead to life-threatening complications. The researchers have also used this new combination therapy to improve treatment of bacteria in biofilms, which play a role in most bacterial infections. Allison is now working on plans to commercialize and test the new therapy on human patients. Named in Forbes “30 Under 30” In recognition of his pioneering research, he was named to Forbes’ inaugural list of 30 of the nation’s most promising young scientists and engineers. The honorees were chosen by a panel that included a cardiologist at the Scripps Research Institute, a Harvard physicist, a genomic technologist from Stanford and two Forbes reporters. “Given that I would like to continue this work, I’m thrilled I’ve been honored,” Allison said. “I’m really glad with what I’ve accomplished, but there’s still a lot more that I am looking forward to doing.” ■ —Mark Dwortzan BU Today reporters Amy Laskowski and Amy Sutherland contributed to this article. allison Photo by cydney scott



Countermeasures U.S. Army Grant to Fund Cyber Security Algorithm Development As people grow more dependent on computers for everything from accessing their bank accounts to storing their sensitive information, cyber security has become an increasingly important research area. To better safeguard computer data, Professor Ioannis Paschalidis (ECE, SE) aims to develop an effective way to detect intrusions into private networks and any exfiltration of sensitive or classified information. “Cyber attacks not only can compromise classified information—whether military, government or corporate—but also cripple the nation’s key infrastructure, including financial institutions, telecommunications, air-traffic control and the electricity grid,” said Paschalidis. “Being able to detect such attacks is an important first step to effective countermeasures.” Professor Ioannis Toward that Paschalidis (ECE, SE) end, the U.S. Army Research Office awarded $600,000 to his project, “A Coordinated Approach to CyberSituation Awareness Based on Traffic Anomaly Detection.” Paschalidis, the principal investigator (PI) on the project, will work closely with his coPIs, BU Professors Christos Cassandras (ECE, SE) and Mark Crovella (CS, SE), and Paul Barford from the University of Wisconsin. The team aims to build upon its previous research in order to develop a series of anomaly detection algorithms and tools that will monitor network traffic and operate at both local and global levels. To improve counteraction, input will be processed by a clustering/pattern recognition approach that will identify and classify specific cyber attack scenarios. Looking forward to partnering with the Army Research Office, Paschalidis said, “This collaboration will provide us with real examples of attacks we can leverage to improve our methods.” —Rachel Harrington

Dr. Binoy K. Singh buttons his official BU College of Engineering lab coat, which he received from Dean Kenneth R. Lutchen during the ribbon-cutting ceremony marking the opening of the new Singh Imagineering Lab.

Singh Imagineering Lab Opens


n October 28, dozens of College of Engineering students, faculty and staff attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony (see p. 34) to mark the opening of the new Singh Imagineering Laboratory, a 1,343-square-foot facility on the first floor of 44 Cummington Street where up to 40 engineering students at a time may pursue their own solutions to critical problems in health care, energy and other domains. The lab was made possible by a generous donation from clinical cardiologist Dr. Binoy K. Singh (BME‘89), an assistant professor of clinical medicine at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and director of clinical business development at Columbia University Medical Center/New York-Presbyterian Hospital. “In order to create Societal Engineers, we’ve provided all kinds of programmatic enhancements and experiences for our students to help them develop a passion for entrepreneurship and innovation,” said Dean Kenneth

R. Lutchen. “But we also need to provide them with a sandbox—a place to play, a place where they can fulfill their innovative and creative spirits outside of a required class or lab.” “I’m privileged to be here at the opening, as this is a key component of the infrastructure, the curriculum and the culture that’s necessary to achieve Dean Lutchen’s vision of Boston University’s College of Engineering being the generator of a cadre of Societal Engineers empowered to address the global challenges we face,” said Singh, whose career as a cardiologist was inspired by an explosion of innovations enabling more effective treatment of the globe’s leading cause of mortality. “This lab really serves as that playground—as that sandbox—for those ideas that will change the world.” During the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Dean Lutchen summed up his expectations with a toast to all College of Engineering students: “May you create fantastic new innovations that impact society!” ■ —Mark Dwortzan

Photo by Vernon Doucette E n g i n ee r spring 2 01 2



The Power of Germanium Paiella Research Group Devises New Method for Laser Development Improving the efficiency of light emission to allow for the development of lasers from group-IV semiconductors—which provide the leading materials platform of microelectronics—is a goal many photonics researchers are pursuing. Such lasers could lead to improvements in everything from on-chip data transmission to biochemical sensing to wireless optical communications. Associate Professor Roberto Paiella (ECE, MSE), Cicek Boztug (ECE PhD’14) and Faisal Sudradjat (ECE PhD’12) are collaborating with researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison to overcome challenges associated with the radiative properties of silicon, germanium and related alloys, all of which are excellent materials for electronics but don’t emit light very efficiently. However, they discovered that germanium nanomembranes— single-crystal sheets no more than a few tens of nanometers thick—can serve as great light emitters when mechanically stressed, particularly for the mid-infrared spectral region. “There have been a lot of efforts to make silicon and germanium efficient photonic-active materials,” Paiella said. “Our



Associate Professor Roberto Paiella (ECE, MSE), Cicek Boztug (ECE PhD’14) and Faisal Sudradjat (ECE PhD’12) work to improve the efficiency of light emission to allow for laser development from group-IV semiconductors.

method has proven to be highly effective.” The research team published a paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on their work titled “Direct-Bandgap Light-Emitting Germanium in Tensilely Strained Nanomembranes.” “We were able to demonstrate that germanium can be a good candidate for chip-level integration of electronics and photonics for mid-infrared applications,” said Boztug. “Potentially, this new development could lead to biochemical sensors as well as secure communication devices integrated on silicon chips.” Paiella said that using germanium nanomembranes to emit light is a unique idea in photonics research, and one that could enable the development of silicon-compatible diode lasers, which represent the “missing link” for the full integration of electronic and photonic functionalities on the same materials platform. “If you can make a laser this way, you can integrate laser sources directly on electronic chips,” said Paiella. Potential results include improved on-chip data transfer and optical sensing. “I believe that our studies could lead to a new era for on-chip biochemical sensing applications by combining well-established silicon microelectronics with our light-emitting germanium membranes,” added Boztug. ■ —Rachel Harrington

In the short term, the study may enable audiologists to diagnose auditory processing New Research Sheds Light on deficiencies and thus advise patients on how Auditory Processing Challenges to compensate for them in complex social Overexposure to loud music from iPods and settings, from sports stadiums to corporate other sound systems is known to cause permaboardrooms. In the long term, it may also lead nent hearing loss, but new research suggests to more effective hearing aid technologies. that even before an audiologist can detect Shinn-Cunningham and her collaborators the damage, such exposure may interfere with arrived at their findings by evaluating subjects’ everyday communication. Someone may have ability to discriminate simple properties of “normal hearing” based on standard tests that audible sound, and subsequently obtaining measure the quietest sound they can hear, yet physiological measures of early sensory coding still have trouble understanding what their in subcortical regions of their brains. friend is telling them at a crowded bar. They first tested 42 normal-hearing adults According to a study led by Professor Baraged 18–55 on their ability to report digits bara Shinn-Cunningham (BME) in the August (1, 2, 3, etc.) spoken by a recorded male voice. 15 online edition of Proceedings of the National While listening to a central sound stream, two Academy of Sciences (PNAS), the problem may others consisting of simultaneous digits spoken lie in the “first-responder” portion of the by the same male speaker played from the left auditory system, which encodes the detailed and right. The subjects’ ability to understand structure of incoming sounds before the brain the central sounds differed considerably, and processes them further. decreased when echoes and Shinn-Cunningham and reverberation were added to the her coauthors, BME PhD sturecordings. Selected listeners sound dents Dorea Ruggles and Hari next watched a silent movie Bharadwaj—all members of while presented with repeated the Boston University Hearbeeps that they were instructed ing Research Center—reveal to ignore. Meanwhile, the significant variations in how researchers used electrodes well listeners with normal attached to subjects’ scalps to hearing filter out distracting record electrical activity from sound sources and focus on a early, subcortical portions of the desired one in complex auditory voltage auditory pathway in response to environments. The researchers the easily audible beeps. correlate these variations with The result: Those listeners 0.4 undiagnosed differences in how who were best at understanding 0.3 the most peripheral part of the speech in the earlier test also auditory system encodes sound produced the strongest scalp 0.2 voltage that in the brain, and speculate voltage responses. In fact, their 0.1 defective encoding may be due peripheral auditory systems to nerve fiber loss resulting responded most strongly to 0 Best Worst Best Worst from overexposure to common sound even when they were not listeners Listeners high-volume noise sources. paying attention to it. “Up to now, we didn’t With ongoing funding from In a recent study in PNAS Prof. Barbara Shinnknow if such problems were due the National Institutes of Health Cunningham (BME) and to impairments in the cortex, and Department of Defense, the coauthors explored where decision-making and researchers next aim to deterhearing in complex auditory environments. language processing take place, mine how peripheral (subcortior even earlier in the auditory cal) and central (cortical) deficits system, where basic sensory information is first contribute to communication impairments— encoded,” Shinn-Cunningham explained. “Our knowledge that could generate new approaches results suggest that the fidelity of early sensory to combating the social isolation that often encoding in the subcortical brain determines the ensues from auditory deficiencies. ■ —Mark Dwortzan ability to communicate in challenging settings.” response Responsestrength Strength


Can You Repeat That?

Photonics Goes Flexible Nanofabrication Method Could Enable New Generation of Optical Devices Integrating electronic and photonic components into curved, flexible, biocompatible surfaces could usher in a new generation of technology, from implantable medical monitoring devices to materials that shield people from radiation to invisibility cloaks. We’re only halfway there: While

■ Despite recent innovations in nanofabrication techniques, producing photonics devices on flexible surfaces has proven to be a complex, laborious process. the last decade has seen a dramatic increase in flexible electronics applications such as electronic paper-like display devices, researchers have made only limited progress in adapting photonics technologies to non-rigid materials—particularly those with features sized at the nanoscale. Despite recent innovations in nanofabrication techniques, producing photonics devices on flexible surfaces has proven to be a complex, laborious process requiring multiple steps and a restricted range of material choices. But a new method developed by Assistant Professor Hatice Altug (ECE, MSE)—with PhD students Serap Aksu (MSE), Min Huang (ECE) and Alp Artar (ECE) and two researchers from Northeastern University’s ECE Department—enables the patterning of nanoscale fea-

E n g i n ee r spring 2 01 2



tures on a wide range of flexible surfaces in a single fabrication step. The method, which is based on a lithography technique that uses stencils to pattern surfaces, is described in the frontispiece cover story of the October 11 edition of Advanced Materials. “We demonstrated single-step fabrication of plasmonics (metallic structures that confine and manipulate light at the nanoscale) on a variety of flexible, stretchable and unconventional substrates using stencils,” said Altug. Aksu added, “These substrates included PDMS, a widely used polymer in micro and nanofluidics; parylene C, a biocompatible polymer; and even a plastic food storage roll film purchased from a convenience store.” In the paper, the researchers proved that their new method quickly and accurately produces plasmonic features on stretchable, polymer film surfaces. The metallic, bow-tie-shaped features they fabricated on a PDMS surface were sized below 100 nanometers and spaced below 50 nanometers apart, all within a 10-nanometer error tolerance. The researchers also showed that their method is advantageous for transferring nanostructures onto highly curved surfaces such as small radius optical fibers, which could function as optical sensor probes to monitor processes or detect substances in hard-to-access places. The method’s enabling technology, nanostencil lithography (NSL), applies the same principle as stenciling in arts and crafts, but at the nanoscale. After fabricating a silicon nitride stencil with a desired pattern of apertures, the researchers placed the stencil on a polymeric substrate. To create plasmonic structures, they deposited gold at the apertures. When they removed the reusable stencil, they obtained a nearly perfect transfer of the nanoparticle pat-


tern with geometries complementing the stencil apertures. The researchers thus demonstrated for the first time that NSL can enable single-step, highthroughput, large-area fabrication of nanostructures on flexible materials at the nanoscale. “Existing approaches for device fabrication on polymeric surfaces are either complex, specific to certain materials, involve multistep fabrication, or are more suitable to process structures with micronscale dimensions as opposed to nanoscale,” Huang explained. “In contrast,” said Artar, “our fabricaA new method developed by Assistant Professor Hatice Altug (ECE, MSE) and researchers in her lab and at Northeastern University enables the patterning of nanoscale features on a wide range of flexible surfaces in a single fabrication step.

tion method is much simpler and involves only a single fabrication step, and, as a result, provides better resolution. And unlike any other method, we can easily clean and reuse our mechanically robust nanostencils many times, which is essential for high-throughput fabrication.” The researchers next aim to optimize the NSL fabrication technique further on flexible substrates for novel applications including biosensing. ■ —Mark Dwortzan

This research is supported by the National Science Foundation, Office of Naval Research, Massachusetts Life Science Center, BU Photonics Center and Army Research Laboratory.


BU Startup, Bytelight, Receives Funding from U-Launch Bytelight, a company founded by College of Engineering alums Aaron Ganick, Dan Ryan and Travis Rich (all ECE’10), received $10,000 in funding from U-Launch, a U.S. Department of Energy-funded grant program that awards promising clean energy startups. Spun off from the NSF Smart Lighting Engineering Research Center (ERC) at Boston University and supported by the BU Photonics Center, Bytelight is developing intelligent systems capable of supporting digital data communications and superior indoor navigation through general purpose lighting. Longlasting, energy-efficient LED bulbs designed by Bytelight could direct interested smartphone users in stores, museums and other domains to desired items, including those on sale. With the additional funding from U-Launch, Ganick and Ryan will continue to develop Bytelight as they explore business opportunities for visible light communication. (Rich left Bytelight to pursue a PhD at the MIT Media Lab.) As undergraduates, both Ganick and Ryan knew they wanted to be engineers but weren’t sure what direction they wanted to take in their careers. Then they discovered an opportunity to engage in smart lighting research at BU. “We thought the idea of sending information through lighting was fascinating, and we’ve been working on that research ever since,” said Ganick, who remained at BU to pursue a master’s degree in electrical & computer engineering. In the past, many of BU’s engineering alumni possessed the skillset to come up with a new technology but didn’t necessarily have the entrepreneurial background to turn it into a profitable business. Then a new School of Management (SMG) course, The Business of Technology Innovation, was introduced into the curriculum, and Ganick and Ryan were among the first students to take it. “There’s been a recent push at BU to encourage engineers to learn more about the business opportunities available to them,” said Ganick. “Gaining a background in business has been an asset to us, and it’s great to see engineers at SMG.” Led by SMG Lecturer Paul Levine, the class was designed for engineers in order to create a deeper understanding of the business challenges associated with bringing technological innovations to the marketplace. “My goal is to grow appreciation and change perspective,” said Levine. “I’m trying to give these engineers the insight to be active contributors to the decision-making process for both the technology and business decisions their companies will face—whether those companies are wellestablished large businesses or ‘in the garage’ startups.” While Levine has served as a mentor to Ganick and Ryan on the business side, Professor Thomas Little (ECE, SE) has provided expert guidance in engineering.

“He has been an excellent mentor throughout the entire process,” said Ryan. Ganick added, “He doesn’t reveal the whole picture but gives us enough information to learn by discovery.” Little said that Bytelight is both representative of the “transformative impact” intended by the NSF ERC concept and a wonderful example of the entrepreneurial network at BU, which, in addition to the School of Management and the College of Engineering, includes diverse groups such as the NSF Smart Lighting ERC, the Photonics Center Incubator, the Office of Technology Development, the

■ Bytelight is both representative of the “transformative impact” intended by the National Science Foundation ERC concept and a wonderful example of the entrepreneurial network at BU. Kindle Mentoring Program and the Institute for Technology Entrepreneurship & Commercialization. “Aaron and Dan have done a great job of immersing themselves in the entrepreneurial network at BU,” said Little. “Through this networking, Bytelight has gained access to many, many avenues for jump-starting a new business.” Previously accepted into the Summer@Highland program, Bytelight is currently operating out of Dogpatch Labs in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The company was recently featured in a Technology Review article and a Mashable YouTube video. More information about the company is available at —Rachel Harrington

BU-Wellesley Team Wins “Best Software Tool” Award at iGEM World Jamboree BU-Wellesley Software, a multidisciplinary research team focused on challenges in synthetic biology and comprised largely of undergraduates from Boston University’s College of Engineering and Wellesley College, edged out teams from the U.S., Europe and Asia to win in the “Best Software Tool” category at the International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) World Jamboree at MIT in November. The team earlier won a gold medal for overall performance at the iGEM Americas Regional Jamboree in Indianapolis. “They did great,” said Assistant Professor Douglas Densmore (ECE), who co-organized the team with Wellesley College Computer Science Assistant Professor Orit Shaer. “We had a large team of 19 students and six advisors spread over the two campuses, and the collaboration went very well.” In addition to BU and Wellesley College, the team included members from the University of California, Berkeley; Olin College; Suffolk University; Tufts University; and Framingham High School. This year’s iGEM competition was BU’s first since 2006, though Densmore had competed previously with UC Berkeley in 2008 and 2009.

Taking on TB Drawing more than 160 teams and 2,000 participants from 30 countries this year, the iGEM competition is the premier undergraduate synthetic biology competition. Each team spends one summer developing simple biological systems from standard, interchangeable parts and operating them in living cells, with an eye toward advancing solutions to health care, energy and other critical societal problems. BU-Wellesley Software designed five software tools to support a joint BU-Wellesley College research collaboration focused on better understanding the bacterium that causes tuberculosis, a lung disease that infects one-third of the world’s population and causes up to three million deaths each year. Built using Densmore’s Clotho synthetic biology software platform, the team’s highly collaborative synthetic biology tools could help accelerate BU-Wellesley’s

the bu-wellesley team is pictured in Indianapolis, where they won a gold medal for overall performance at the iGEM Americas Regional Jamboree.

efforts to systematically assemble specific DNA sequences used to model “circuits” of gene interactions within the regulatory networks of the bacterium—information that could yield more effective diagnostics and drugs for TB. “Our software lets you make a reconfigurable DNA circuit—producing it once and reconfiguring it for multiple experiments, either in computer simulations or in the lab,” said Densmore. “By isolating genes suspected of transforming the TB bacterium to a pathogenic state and studying their interactions, we hope to better understand this process and how to inhibit it.”

A Fruitful Collaboration Led by Densmore, ECE postdoctoral research associates Swapnil Bhatia and Traci Haddock and BME graduate student Suma Jaini, the team’s BUbased members developed automated design software for configuring sequences of DNA that take specific biological building blocks and assemble them automatically using liquid-handling robots in the laboratory environment. Guided by Shaer, the Wellesley participants utilized advances in human-computer interaction such as interactive surfaces, multi-touch and gesture-based interaction to enhance collaboration and productivity in synthetic biological teams. “I’ve learned a great deal about the usercentered software design process from our collaborators at Wellesley College who specialize in human-computer interaction,” said teammate Craig LaBoda (ECE’11), a 2010 Lutchen Fellow who is now an electrical engineering PhD student at Duke University. LaBoda, who helped develop one of the team’s five software tools, explained, “This helped us tailor our synthetic biology software for end users through feedback at different stages in the design process.” —Mark Dwortzan Rachel Harrington contributed to this article.

E n g i n ee r spring 2 01 2



Boston University Wins NIH Grant to Develop Point-of-Care Viral Diagnostic Chip The National Institutes of Health has awarded $4.8 million to a team of Boston University engineering and microbiology researchers to advance a chip-sized, low-cost, easy-to-use virus detection platform capable of rapidly detecting, at the point of care, the most lethal viral pathogens—particularly those, such as Ebola and Marburg, known to cause hemorrhagic fever. The technology developed at BU will be tested at a biosafety facility in Texas. Led by BU School of Medicine Assistant Professor and principal investigator John Connor, BU College of Engineering Professor M. Selim

tation and laboratory analysis that’s typical of conventional virus detection technology, these platforms promise to provide fast, point-of-care, fully integrated diagnostics in clinical and field settings—dramatically improving our capability to confine viral outbreaks and pandemics.

Two Pathways to an Integrated Virus Detection Platform In separate research collaborations with Connor, Ünlü’s and Altug’s streamlined biosensor platforms have already shown great promise in pathogen detection capability.

The NIH grant enables Assistant Professor Hatice Altug (ECE, MSE) (left) and Professor M. Selim Ünlü (ECE, MSE) (right) to advance leading-edge pathogen detection platforms.

Ünlü (ECE, MSE) and Assistant Professor Hatice Altug (ECE, MSE) will refine virus detection platforms they have developed independently. BU Engineering Associate Professor Catherine Klapperich (BME, MSE) and Research Assistant Professor Mario Cabodi (BME) will further advance microfluidics technology they’ve designed to integrate sample preparation in each of the two platforms. The BU researchers will partner with Becton Dickinson, a leading global medical technology company, to transform one of the virus diagnostic platforms into a working prototype, and enlist University of Texas Medical Branch Professor Thomas Geisbert, an internationally recognized expert on viral hemorrhagic fever diseases, to test it in his lab in Texas. Overcoming the extensive and costly training, sample preparation, refrigerated transpor-

Ünlü’s research group is developing a sensor that can pinpoint single virus and other pathogen particles quickly, accurately and affordably. The shoebox-sized, battery-operated device uses LEDs to detect up to a million particles at a time and is the first not only to provide rapid detection of nanoparticles of interest, but also to measure their size—an important factor in confirming the identity of a suspected pathogen. Altug’s platform rapidly detects live viruses from biological media with little to no sample preparation. Also light-based, it detects shifts in the resonance frequency of light shone through nanometer-scale holes when virus particles are present, the first such method to do so. It can also determine the concentration of a virus in the solution.

■ These platforms promise to provide fast, point-of-care, fully integrated diagnostics in clinical and field settings—dramatically improving our capability to confine viral outbreaks and pandemics.

“Both of these techniques promise to overcome the limitations of conventional virus detection methods that require expensive equipment, relatively long process times and extensive training to use,” said Ünlü. “Our goal is to produce a highly sensitive, user-friendly, commercially viable virus detection system that can be deployed at the point of care and detect viruses in about 30 minutes.” To produce a fully integrated, point-of-care system, the researchers plan to incorporate a microfluidic sample preparation chip to work with Ünlü’s and Altug’s virus detection platforms. The goal is to improve the quality of the sample by purifying and concentrating it. “By leveraging Klapperich’s work in lowcost, disposable diagnostics and our collective expertise in microfluidic separation and purification techniques, we’ll seek to improve the overall performance of the diagnostic platforms while retaining speed of analysis and a compact format,” said Cabodi. The researchers plan to have a prototype— tested with multiple harmless viruses before being validated with pathogens at Geisbert’s ultra-secure Texas facility—ready within five years. —mark dwortzan Photos by Kalman zabarsky



Computer Simulations Suggest New Pathways for Cancer Progression Observing that certain cancer cells may exhibit greater flexibility than normal cells, some scientists believe that this capability promotes rapid tumor growth. Now computer simulations developed by Assistant Professor Muhammad Zaman (BME) and collaborators at the University of Texas at Austin appear to support this view. A 3D model of healthy and cancer cells they’ve created indicates that the softening of cancer cells not only accelerates their proliferation but also extends their lifetime—a one-two punch that may trigger the rapid growth of malignant tumors. The team’s simulations and findings, described in the January 11 online edition of the American Physical Society’s journal Physical Review Letters and funded by the National Institutes of Health, herald a new, quantitative approach to understanding tumor development centered on a small number of mechanical properties rather than multiple biochemical factors. “Our study is unique in that it takes into account in vivo data on the mechanical properties of cancer cells,” said Zaman, a cancer and cell migration expert. “Our novel computer simulation provides a platform to examine how stiffness of cancer cells influences their growth, and could lead to the development of early interventions.” Based on data from real-time, in vivo tumor cell experiments, the researchers produced a 3D computer model that systematically traces the impact of cell softness and other mechanical factors on cell behavior within a tissue. To emulate tumor growth, they established a baseline simulation of tissue composed exclusively of hard-shelled, healthy cells, and then introduced a small number of soft-shelled, mutant cancer cells. When that number reached eight, the mutants began to multiply at a much higher rate than normal cells, and the more mutants introduced, the higher the rate. Interpreting this phenomenon as the emergence of a tumor, the researchers speculated that a cluster of at least eight soft mutant cells is needed to overcome the resistance of neighboring stiff, normal cells so that the mutants can stretch and divide rapidly. The team also modeled the strength at which cancer cells stick to one another, and varied both cell softness and stickiness in several simulations. They found that increasing softness, rather than varying stickiness, led to the most substantial increase in tumor growth. —mark dwortzan

The results of this study suggest that mechanical property changes in cells might be the mechanistic pathway by which various biochemical factors drive cancer progression. image courtesy of the university of texas at Austin

The Power of Air: Novel Material Could Enable LongTerm, Controllable Drug Delivery Long-duration, controllable drug delivery is of wide interest to medical researchers and clinicians, particularly those seeking to improve treatment for patients with chronic pain or to prevent cancer tumor recurrence after surgical resection. Now a team of researchers led by Professor Mark Grinstaff (BME, MSE) has developed a unique material and drug delivery mechanism that could pave the way for implants that release a drug at a designated rate for months. Grinstaff, BME PhD student Stefan Yohe and Dr. Yolanda Colson, a Brigham and Women’s Hospital thoracic surgeon and lung cancer specialist, reported on their novel drug delivery system in the January 16 online edition of the Journal of the American Chemical Society. The system consists of a biocompatible, highly porous, threedimensional polymer material containing a selected drug and a volume of air that slows infiltration from surrounding water. As water seeps into the material, it displaces the air, thereby gradually releasing the drug. To prevent water from flooding the structure and causing an immediate release of the drug, Grinstaff and his colleagues designed the air-filled, mesh-like material to be “superhydrophobic”—so waterresistant that droplets of water barely touch the surface, forming beads similar to those that appear on a freshly waxed car or on plant leaves. To control the rate of drug release, they adjusted chemical and physical properties of the material so that the entrapped air is loosely or tightly held. The more tightly held the air is within the structure, the harder it is for water to displace it, the slower the release and the longer the treatment duration. Loaded with a widely used anti-cancer drug called SN-38 in in vitro experiments, the polymer mesh and internal air pocket proved to be robust and effective against lung cancer cells in solution for more than 60 days, indicating its suitability for long-term drug delivery. This research is supported by the National Institutes of Health, the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation, the Center for Integration of Medicine & Innovative Technology and Boston University. —mark dwortzan

A team of researchers led by Professor Mark Grinstaff (BME, MSE) has developed a unique material and drug delivery mechanism that could pave the way for implants that release a drug at a designated rate for months. The 3D material has polymer fibers throughout and air trapped within that slows the penetration of water into the structure, thereby slowing the release of the drug.

E n g i n ee r spring 2 01 2


BME seniors Imaly Nanayakkara, Cassidy Blundell and Joe Pirrello rehydrating simulated protein (green, water-based ink) with a microfluidic pump (right). Photo by Kalman zabarsky

creating the

Societal Engineer 12


Preparing Undergraduates to Move Society Forward by Mark dwortzan E n g i n ee r spring 2 01 2


Creating the Societal Engineer

Perched on a blue oval rug in a sunlit classroom at Lincoln Elementary School in Melrose, Massachusetts, 20 animated fifth-grade students look up to senior biomedical engineering major Eni Adedokun as she answers questions about what it’s like to be an engineer.


What kind of research are you doing in college? A: In my research lab, I make really tiny bubbles and dissolve a drug along the outside layer of the bubbles. We use ultrasound to pop the bubbles and release the drug to target cancer. It’s very effective, and you don’t have side effects. Q: That’s really cool! Can you do this on real people? A: That’s definitely the long-term goal, but first we need to test the system in vitro and in animals.

cal technology, but also well prepared to apply that expertise throughout her career to upgrade health care in Nigeria and other countries. Adedokun is one of a new breed of undergraduates that the College is educating to become “Societal Engineers” who appreciate how the substantial skills of the engineer [see sidebar] can be used to improve the quality of life for individuals and entire populations.

Q: Do you want to cure cancer? A: I want to take the research I’ve been doing at Boston University and use it to develop better treatments for dementia, Alzheimer’s and other neurological diseases.

The concept of the Societal Engineer is now at the heart of the College of Engineering undergraduate experience.

Sharply dressed for the December morning in a black sweater and bright-blue scarf, Adedokun is one of seven College of Engineering “Inspiration Ambassadors” charged with introducing the fifth-graders to the excitement of engineering and its potential to bring about a better world. The message captures the essence of her own life journey. The daughter of a nurse and a computer engineer, Adedokun came to the College of Engineering from a small town near Atlanta to pursue her interests in technology and medicine, and ultimately, to improve the quality of life for people like her grandfather— who has diabetes and dementia—and the citizens of Nigeria, where her parents were raised. “People are suffering from so many diseases in Nigeria,” she says. “They have access to medical technology, but often don’t know how to use it to serve their needs.” When she graduates in May, she’ll emerge not only with substantial expertise in medi-

In a nutshell, Societal Engineers combine technological and problem-solving expertise with social consciousness and global awareness, teamwork and communication skills, and entrepreneurial savvy. The brainchild of Dean Kenneth R. Lutchen, the concept of the Societal Engineer is now at the heart of the College of Engineering undergraduate experience. “The Societal Engineer has a sense of purpose and appreciation for how an engineering education and its experiences are a superior foundation for improving society,” says Lutchen, who developed the Societal Engineer concept in meetings with the Dean’s Leadership Advisory Board, faculty and engineering-educated societal leaders. “Our program is holistically designed to ensure that our engineers have a set of key attributes that will enable them to impact society.” Through a set of carefully designed learning experiences, the College aims to do no less than prepare its freshmen, sophomores, juniors and



seniors to engineer a healthier, safer, more energy-efficient, better-connected and prosperous world.

Freshman Year: A Taste of Engineering As engineers come, Adrian Tanner is right out of central casting. He grew up playing with K’NEX and Lego Mindstorms construction sets and working on projects in his basement woodshop, and today gets around on an electric scooter he built for fun last summer. “I love making things and learning how things work,” the freshman mechanical engineering major says. Tanner’s dream is to help create small, highly efficient electric cars or bikes, either as part of a team of engineers in an existing company or in his own startup. “The world is eventually going to run out of oil if we keep using it like we do,” he warns, “and I want to be a part of the movement that keeps things going.” Toward that end, Tanner chose the semester-long EK 130: Introduction to Materials Processing/Product Development, in which students learn about materials processing methods such as welding, casting and machining, and use sophisticated computer-aided design and manufacturing (CAD/CAM) tools to fabricate a prototype of a product and market it to the class to assess its commercial potential. EK 130 is one of 10 Introduction to Engineering courses designed to familiarize freshmen with pioneering advances in a variety of fields, from wireless networking and security to biologically inspired aircraft design. For Tanner and other College of Engineering freshmen, these intro courses provide a highly appetizing “first taste” of engineering. On the day Tanner presents his class project—a BU insignia clock face and stand

Creating the Societal Engineer

INspiring the next Generation

Technology Innovation Scholar Eni Adedokun (BME’12) (top center) guides a team of fifthgraders as they design their own mini wind turbines to produce at least one volt while balancing material costs.

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Key Attributes for Societal Engineers:

freshman year Freshman mechanical engineer Adrian Tanner shows his EK 130 class project—a BU insignia clock face and stand designed with CAD/CAM tools and fabricated in a nearby machining lab—to the class before delivering a PowerPoint presentation on how he would mass-produce and market the clock.

• A grounding in engineering fundamentals and depth in a well-known discipline • Inter- and multidisciplinary • Quantitative/statistical problem-solving skills • Communication skills • Systems thinking • Global awareness • Entrepreneurial mindset and passion for innovation • Understanding of the relationship between public policy and ­technology • Social consciousness and desire to improve society’s quality of life

top: PHOTO BY melody komyerov. Bottom: photo by Kalman zabarsky E n g i n ee r spring 2 01 2


Creating the Societal Engineer

sophomore year

Nora Tgavalekos (BME’00, MS’03, PhD’06), a senior principal systems engineer for Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems, discusses career options with ECE sophomore Ryan Lagoy before delivering her presentation to an EK 307 (Electric Circuits Theory) class.

designed with CAD/CAM tools and fabricated in a nearby machining lab—he scoots into the classroom, sleeves rolled up and prototype in hand. Facing six rows of students and the course instructor, Professor Vinod Sarin (ME), he delivers a PowerPoint presentation on how he would mass-produce his clock and what it would cost ($12.54 per unit). After the presentation, Sarin peppers Tanner with the kinds of questions he might be subjected to in an industrial setting. “You’ve chosen permanent mold casting,” Sarin observes. “How long will the molds last?” Without missing a beat, Tanner proclaims, “I used an online estimator designed for 10,000 parts and used that number for my cost analysis, but depending on melting temperature of the metal used, the mold could be used up to 120,000 times.” Sarin pauses. “Why did you choose permanent mold casting over sand casting? It’s much more expensive.” “With sand casting, you have to take the time to make a new mold every time you need to make a part. This allows room for casting errors and inconsistency of part quality.” For Tanner, the end product of the course is not only a clock prototype, but also a set of design, problem-solving, communication and entrepreneurial skills that he’ll need to realize his dream of creating more sustainable ways for people to get around.

Sophomore Year: Real-World Encounters Like Tanner, Ryan Lagoy played with K’NEX and Lego sets from an early age, and began engineering his own creations before he set foot on the BU campus. While attending an accelerated high school program in math and science, he made a solar concentrator panel with 1,400 mirrors for his state science project, and modified it to generate steam, mechanical energy, hydrogen and clean ­drinking water.

“Our goal is to show our sophomores a variety of ways that a BU undergraduate engineering degree can be useful in solving real-world problems.” Now a sophomore double-majoring in electrical and computer engineering, Lagoy hopes to become an astronaut, but if that doesn’t pan out, his backup plan is to develop automation, robotics and control systems for unmanned surveillance aircraft and other military vehicles.

As he considers his future role on the world stage, it doesn’t hurt to get a reality check. That’s exactly what the new Engineers in the Real World program provides: a series of in-class sessions with highly accomplished, engineering-educated professionals—many of them College of Engineering alums—designed to help sophomores better understand how engineering can uniquely position them to impact society. Made possible by the Joseph P. Healey (ENG’88) Fund for Engineers in the Real World, the program brought 12 speakers into EK 301 (Mechanics I) and EK 307 (Electric Circuits Theory) classrooms this fall representing information systems, defense, financial services, health care, entertainment and other industries. “Our goal is to show our sophomores a variety of ways that a BU undergraduate engineering degree can be useful in solving real-world problems,” says Donald Wroblewski, associate dean for Educational Initiatives. “The fundamental skill they will leave with—the ability to solve problems—can be applied to a wide range of endeavors and is in great demand.” When the first speaker, Bulger Capital Founder/Managing Director Chris Bulger (ME’82), a venture capitalist focused on technology and services industries, visited an EK 307 class in September, he told students that the engineering mindset he developed at BU equipped him Photos by Kalman zabarsky



Creating the Societal Engineer

junior year Computer

engineering junior Samir Ahmed is shown developing a durable, nanoscale pressure sensor that could help advance U.S. efforts to become more energy-independent and slow or reverse global warming. Ahmed’s project was one of 10 societyenhancing projects sponsored last summer by the Kenneth R. Lutchen Distinguished Fellowship Program.

The Making of the Societal Engineer: Selected Programs and Resources Societal Engineer Overview


• Introduction to Engineering Courses • Engineers in the Real World • Undergraduate Research Experiences (including Lutchen Fellowship) • Senior Design Project • Technology Innovation Scholars • ENG Outreach Program • Global Health • Engineers Without Borders


• Singh Imagineering Laboratory • Learning Through Innovation • Lab for Engineering Education & Development

to solve problems and speak the language of the technology companies he’s advised. “Bulger shared a story about winning a litigation that involved fraud,” says Lagoy, who was surprised to learn how widely engineering skills could be applied. “He studied the paperwork thoroughly and applied his problem-solving skills to make great arguments.” Appearing before EK 307 students in November, Nora Tgavalekos (BME’00, MS’03, PhD’06), a senior principal systems engineer for Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems, traced her path from BU to designing an electromagnetic surgical tracking device as a systems engineer for GE Healthcare, to directing Raytheon engineering teams and flight tests for sea-based radar tracking of ballistic missile targets. Lagoy was excited to learn that in her work for GE, Tgavalekos routinely solved problems using Maxwell’s equations, which he had recently studied in a senior-level electromagnetic systems course. “This shows the relevancy of what we’re studying,” he says. “It’s also motivating to meet successful BU graduates and to learn how they got to where they are in their careers.” Junior Year: First Impact Even before they graduate, College of Engineering students have the opportunity to impact society under the guidance of accomplished faculty members in a wide range of alumnisupported undergraduate research programs. Working in Professor Anna Swan’s (ECE) lab, computer engineering junior Samir Ahmed spent three months exploiting graphene—a one-atom-thick layer of carbon that’s 100 times stronger than steel—to develop a durable, nanoscale pressure sensor. He and his collaborators designed the sensor to measure the pressure in underground rock structures, yielding information about the likelihood of oil deposits below. Ultimately, their research could lead to more efficient oil extraction and large-scale capture and underground storage of carbon dioxide emissions— thereby advancing U.S. efforts to become more energy-independent and slow or reverse global warming. Ahmed’s project was one of 10 sponsored last summer by the Kenneth R. Lutchen Distinguished Fellowship Program, which was launched in 2010 to fund transformative graduate summer research experiences before or after the junior year. Drawing on their

E n g i n ee r spring 2 01 2


Creating the Societal Engineer

senior year

Mechanical engineering seniors Trung Desa, Soogon Yoo, Sang Wook Lim and Stephen Cheng meet with their advisor, BU Disability Services Assistant Director Lorraine Norwich, to advance a user-friendly, height-adjustable desk for wheelchair-bound and other disabled students.

engineering knowledge and skills to improve society, the 2011 Fellows’ projects targeted innovations ranging from clean energy generation to whale monitoring. Ahmed’s project extended research he had begun in Swan’s lab in his freshman and sophomore years through the ENG Scholars, Undergraduate Research Opportunities and Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship programs. During his summer as a Lutchen Fellow, he worked in a dust-free lab in the Photonics Center, where he used optical tools to fabricate nanoscale sensors that are 100 times smaller than a grain of sand and consist of a silicon wafer and small cylindrical chambers with graphene membranes stretched over them like a sheet of Saran Wrap. In the process, Ahmed developed and honed skills in systems thinking, iterative problem-solving, and interdisciplinary teamwork and communication with researchers in chemical, mechanical, electrical and ­computer engineering. “Samir was super-organized and did very sophisticated research in the clean room,” says Swan. “He learned a lot of fabrication skills and made very good presentations.” “When you complete months of planning and testing and you make something that comes out similar to your plan, that’s rewarding,” notes Ahmed, who now looks forward to a high-impact entrepreneurial career. “Once you make one thing, you feel that you can make anything.”



Senior Year: Finishing Touches All College of Engineering seniors embark on a capstone Senior Design Project that integrates and applies their four years of study. During the yearlong course, the students work in small, often interdisciplinary teams to analyze a real-world engineering problem, design a viable solution, develop a prototype and present their solution to an engineering community of faculty, peers and industry professionals. In effect, the Senior Design Project puts the

Blundell’s project has “the potential of making a huge impact on our efforts to decrease the burden of disease and save millions of lives.” finishing touches on the College’s four-year project to transform incoming freshmen into prototypical Societal Engineers who, even before they graduate, can apply their skills to boost the quality of people’s lives in venues ranging from the classroom to the clinic. In the classroom, Soogon Yoo’s senior project could make life easier for disabled students. Tapping an abiding interest in mechanical engineering—while serving in the South Korean

navy, he became fascinated with the inner workings of his ship’s engine—and previous training in architecture and space optimization, Yoo seeks to provide wheelchair-bound and other disabled students with a user-friendly, height-adjustable desk that can be easily transported, assembled, disassembled and stored. “Current models tend to be heavy and bulky and hard to move, put together and collapse,” says BU Disability Services Office Assistant Director Lorraine Norwich, a mechanical engineer who submitted the idea for the project and is advising Yoo’s four-person design team. “It can also take a long time to adjust some of these tables.” To overcome these drawbacks, Yoo’s team has investigated customer requirements with Norwich and potential users in the Boston area. “Since September, we have contacted several disabled students at BU, Boston College and Tufts University who use wheelchairs in order to determine what they really need in the classroom,” says Yoo. “We also plan to borrow a wheelchair from Disability Services to better understand their needs, and consult with an architect at the Institute for Human Centered Design.” Yoo’s team will conduct feasibility studies on different design concepts and evaluate whether cranks, hydraulic cylinders or other components will provide the most effective way to adjust the height of their proposed desk. Upon selecting a design, they will refine it using CAD software, manufacture a prototype and test it out on potential customers. In the clinic, Cassidy Blundell’s senior

Creating the Societal Engineer

moving society forward At the College’s new Binoy K. Singh Imagineering Lab, undergraduates design, build and test their own innovative ideas for moving society forward. Here, lead advisor Ian Shoales (ME’12) demonstrates a mill drill for ENG students attending the lab’s first of a series of workshops on how to use selected equipment.

design project seeks to reduce the incidence of disease in remote areas through more affordable and portable diagnostic tools. Interested in health care and medicine since growing up in Red Hook, New York, Blundell was drawn to BU by its top-10-ranked biomedical engineering program, and to the project by its focus on global health challenges. Guided by Assistant Professor Muhammad Zaman (BME)—director of the Laboratory for Engineering Education & Development, which advances appropriate technologies for the developing world, and one of six Kern Entrepreneurship Education Network Faculty Fellows at the College engaged in developing innovative ways to stimulate the entrepreneurial mindset among undergraduates—Blundell and her two teammates are developing a novel, low-cost, microfluidic system to store materials needed for disease diagnosis in remote, resourcelimited settings. Health care workers in such settings are unable to use a number of key assays and technologies because the biological agents need to be refrigerated. “Our proposed system uses cheap, ubiquitous filter paper to dry and store at room temperature various antibodies and proteins that are commonly used as reagents in diagnostic devices, and directs a fluid to these reagents to reconstitute them when needed,” says Blundell. “We’re modifying existing technology and testing it at high temperatures to see if it will withstand very warm and arid climates.” According to Zaman, Blundell’s project is parPHOTOs BY Kalman Zabarsky

ticularly promising in that it makes it possible to store reagents for an extended period at room temperature or in harsh environments—and do so affordably. “Both of these developments have the potential of making a huge impact on our efforts to decrease the burden of disease and save millions of lives,” he maintains. And that’s music to Blundell’s ears. “I’d like to stay in the field of global health and disease diagnosis because you can make such an impact on the world,” she says. Inspiring the Next Generation Another core Societal Engineer offering, the Technology Innovation Scholars (TIS) Program, awards $1,200 stipends to sophomores, juniors and seniors selected to serve among the College’s corps of Inspiration Ambassadors. They mentor FIRST® robotics teams at local high schools, design K–12 curriculum modules focused on engineering Grand Challenges, and visit K–12 schools in greater Boston and in their home communities to give interactive, engaging presentations and facilitate design challenges that illustrate the excitement and impact of engineering. “By teaching others, Technology Innovation Scholars hone their Societal Engineering skills while experiencing firsthand how they can impact society,” observes TIS program director and Assistant Dean for Outreach & Diversity Gretchen Fougere. “These current Societal Engineers inspire the next generation to become leaders equipped to use their own engineering

‘superpowers’ to improve our quality of life.” One such Technology Innovation Scholar is Eni Adedokun, who not only shares her career path with Lincoln Elementary’s fifth-graders but also helps guide seven 3-student teams to design, build and test their own mini wind turbines to produce at least one volt while balancing material costs. First on paper and then for real, the fifth-graders choose their blade material—balsa wood, cardboard or paper, each with an assigned cost; the number of blades to use; and how to angle their blades along a round plastic hub. To test each turbine, Adedokun and the TIS students mount it on a tabletop pedestal, adjust the speed of an electric fan to simulate different wind speeds, and ask the fifth-graders to measure the turbine’s electrical output on a voltmeter. After a turbine designed by three boys fails to produce one volt, Adedokun says, “You’re close. Can anyone tell me what kinds of improvements you can make? Try looking at how the blades are tilted toward the wind.” When the boys return with a new design, Adedokun adjusts the fan speed from low to high. “Wow, look at it go,” she beams. “You guys are good—1.71 to 1.77 volts. These are our future engineers!” Technology Innovation Scholars like Adedokun embody the technological, entrepreneurial and social capabilities that it takes to transform an innovative idea into reality. They are poised to make their mark on the world and to leave it a better place.

E n g i n ee r spring 2 01 2


PhD Program Celebrates 20 Years of Growth by Mark dwortzan


they joined the processional for the 40th ­ oston University College of Engineering Commencement Exercises B at the old Commonwealth Armory at 2 p.m. on May 16, 1993, thirteen graduates anticipated making some history of their own. Three talks—from then-Dean Charles DeLisi; guest speaker William M. Shepherd, a NASA astronaut on the first International Space Station crew; and the undergraduate speaker—and one awards presentation later, they were called to the podium to receive the first PhD diplomas and ceremonial hoods ever issued by the College of Engineering. This year’s PhD hooding ceremony on Saturday, May 19, will mark the 20th since the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences transferred authority over the engineering PhD program to the College of Engineering. To celebrate the occasion, the College is inviting all former PhD graduates— 565 to be exact—to a reunion luncheon to be held that afternoon prior to the hooding ceremony. DeLisi is expected to moderate a panel of renowned engineers at the luncheon, followed by a symposium featuring four distinguished faculty members. The College has grown dramatically since 1993—from 13 to 65 PhDs awarded in the May hooding ceremony; from 97 to 352 students enrolled in the PhD program; and from $3 million to $40 million per year in new external research funding. Meanwhile, the College has jumped from being unranked to 39th place (with the BME department placing eighth in the nation) in U.S. News & World Report’s annual survey of graduate engineering programs, and its BME, ECE and ME doctoral programs have vaulted to the first or second quartile in a 2010 study released by the National Research Council, far exceeding their standings from the last such study 15 years earlier. “Overall, our engineering PhD programs have grown over the last two decades from virtually nonexistent to some of the premier programs in the nation,” says Professor M. Selim Ünlü (ECE, MSE), associate dean for Research & Graduate Programs. “Combine that with our enormous forward and upward momentum, and we can look forward to an extremely bright future for the engineering doctoral programs at BU.”

“Overall, our engineering PhD programs have grown over the last two decades from virtually nonexistent to some of the premier programs in the nation.”



Two Decades of Explosive Growth The College’s growth over the past two decades can be traced to the establishment of seven discipline-specific PhD programs in the 1990s, when the College expanded beyond undergraduate education to become a full-fledged research institution. “When I arrived in 1990, we were a very good teaching college, but we had very few research-active, tenured faculty members, and almost no research infrastructure,” says DeLisi, who served as dean of the College until 2000. “We didn’t even have a laser, whereas now we are a brand name in photonics.” Throughout DeLisi’s decade as dean, the College recruited several outstanding leaders in their fields, including Professors Charles Cantor (BME), Malvin Teich (ECE) and Allan Pierce (ME), and appointed and promoted a number of promising young researchers such as James Collins (BME, MSE, SE). By 1996, College faculty members had garnered about 18 fellowships with prestigious professional societies, and their ranks continued to swell as they established new and robust programs in several focus areas. Meanwhile, admissions standards rose considerably along with new graduate student fellowships funded by organizations such as the Wallace H. Coulter and Whitaker foundations, and training grants issued by the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health. “Graduate Record Exam scores rose dramatically, to parity with MIT students,” DeLisi recalls. “We had an entrepreneurial, energetic group of PhD students.” As the College built up its faculty and student body, it also expanded and renovated along Cummington Street, providing every department with a dedicated building. Its faculty joined the Photonics Center and six other new research centers. Along with these infrastructure enhancements came several programmatic changes, including ensuring that all admitted doctoral students had a graduate fellowship or another form of financial aid; developing closer ties with the BU School of Medicine; and making teaching an essential component of the PhD experience. One major change for College of Engineering PhD students is that the College’s research agenda has become increasingly interdisciplinary. “Many of our faculty members are now appointed in multiple departments, and many PhD students work in inter­ disciplinary groups,” says Ünlü. “A case in point is my own research group, which represents all of the College’s departments and divisions.”


expected by 2012


in total as of 2011


A Brief History of the ENG PhD • January 1987—The first student graduates with an engineering PhD degree from BU via the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, Division of Engineering & Applied Sciences • June 1990—BU Trustees approve a change in the single Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering to seven distinct degrees, each reflecting a specific discipline: Aerospace, Biomedical, Computer, Electrical, Manufacturing, Mechanical and Systems • January 1991—The first students graduate with PhDs in EE, ME and BME • Spring 1993—Trustees approve autonomy for the College of Engineering’s PhD programs, ending their affiliation with the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences and dissolving the Division of Engineering & Applied Sciences

typically graduate each year

• May 1993—First College of Engineering Commencement to include PhD hooding ceremony (previously administered by Graduate School of Arts & Sciences)


• May 2008—First College of Engineering PhD hooding ceremony held separately from ENG Commencement ceremony for bachelor’s and master’s degree candidates

original PHD students

• May 2012—20th College of Engineering PhD hooding ceremony, at which 600th ENG PhD is expected to be granted

PICTURED ABOVE: Graduates O. Ugur Sezerman (BME), T. Engin Tuncer (EE) and George Vasmatzis *(BME) with Professor M. Selim Ünlü (ECE, MSE), associate dean for Research & Graduate Programs, after the first College of Engineering PhD hooding ceremony on May 16, 1993. All three graduates are now faculty members at academic institutions in the U.S. and Turkey.

ENG PhD Students, Then and Now Two of the first to receive a College of Engineering PhD diploma during the 1993 hooding ceremony, George Vasmatzis and O. Ugur Sezerman, had developed computational tools to study protein structure and interaction in the cell as part of DeLisi’s lab—research at the forefront of the nascent field of computational biology. “When we lined up with our advisor, Charles DeLisi, I remember saying how proud I was for the three of us to be celebrating the occasion,” recalls Vasmatzis, now assistant professor of laboratory medicine at the Mayo Medical School and director of the Biomarker Discovery Program at the Center for Individualized Medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, where he looks for new molecular biomarkers for early cancer diagnosis. “Professor DeLisi was like a father figure to us, and I was proud to be his student,” says Sezerman, who is now an associate professor of biomedical engineering at Sabanci University in Turkey, where he runs labs for computational biology and protein engineering for 16 graduate students and three postdoctoral fellows. Among those expecting to participate in the 20th College of Engineering PhD hooding is Philipp Spuhler (PhD’12), a member of Ünlü’s research group who has spent several months at labs in countries such as Switzerland, Germany, Italy and Turkey. “This provides exposure to many different research environments, and it is an efficient way to learn many different skills,” says Spuhler. “Such an environment is becoming increasingly important because the nature of our research is becoming very interdisciplinary.” After graduation, he plans to join a team to commercialize technology for a disease diagnostics application, and hopes to spend much of the next two decades working for small- to medium-sized companies that develop and commercialize technology for biosensing and disease diagnostics. Dorea Ruggles (PhD’12), now a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Minnesota, plans to attend the hooding ceremony. Ruggles describes her PhD experience under Professor Barbara Shinn-Cunningham (BME) as a balance between hard work and fun, not only at the lab and Hearing Research Center at BU, but also within an international, professional research network. “I gained experience and confidence and was trained in new experimental techniques,” says Ruggles, who is now managing the design and construction of a new multisensory perception laboratory while pursuing ongoing research in auditory perception. “The experience prepared me to go out and be a leader in whatever I do.”

PHOTO courtesy of M. Selim Ünlü E n g i n ee r spring 2 01 2


ENG Alum Receives Presidential Award for

Mentoring Excellence

When she graduated from Boston University over 25 years ago, Karen Panetta (EE’85) recognized two obstacles blocking young women from pursuing and completing undergraduate studies in engineering: a dearth of role models and an abundance of negative media portrayals of engineers as socially inept eggheads. So within a few years of joining the ECE faculty at Tufts University, Panetta formed “Nerd Girls,” an innovative program in which teams of female and minority engineering students build their confidence while developing solutions to critical 22


PHOTO courtesy of Karen Panetta

Left: Karen Panetta (EE’85) (front center) with students at a Nerd Girls Outreach event in a Microsoft Corp. facility in North Carolina.

societal challenges and then share their experiences with K–12 girls. Since 1999, Panetta has personally mentored more than 140 Nerd Girls, 90 percent of whom have gone on to pursue graduate degrees in engineering. Leveraging her success with Nerd Girls, Panetta has conducted outreach and mentoring activities for more than 30,000 students and educators across the globe to help youth realize their potential to positively affect the world. And now her impact on the next generation of engineers has drawn attention from the highest office in the land: Panetta was recently named as one of eight recipients of the 2010 ­Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring. The award—issued to outstanding individuals and organizations at a White House ceremony on December 12, 2011—recognizes the crucial role that mentoring plays in the academic and personal development of students studying science and engineering from elementary to graduate school, particularly those who belong to underrepresented groups in these fields. The National Science Foundation provides each recipient with $25,000 to advance his or her mentoring efforts. “This award brings national recognition to the work we’ve done in dispelling the negative, one-dimensional stereotypes of smart women and enabling a more inclusive environment for women and minorities in science and technology,” says Panetta. Toward that end, she plans to use her award money to help conduct more Nerd Girls outreach events for inner-city schools and support more community-based Nerd Girls’ engineering projects, from designing solar energy systems for a lighthouse to a wireless remote monitoring system. Panetta was selected for the award based on stellar nominating letters from students, colleagues and administrators, including Evelyn Hirt, IEEE USA President. “Karen has been recognized for over a decade as our country’s leading expert in innovating successful, low-cost methods for disseminating engineering and science to youth, parents, educators and the general public to help recruit young women to the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) disciplines,” says Hirt.

Photo courtesy of the White House/Photo by Pete Souza (COM’76)

Below: President Barack Obama greets the 2010 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring recipients in the Oval Office on Dec. 12, 2011. Panetta is fifth from left.

“This award brings national recognition to the work we’ve done in dispelling the negative, one-dimensional stereotypes of smart women and enabling a more inclusive environment for women and minorities in science and technology,” says Panetta.

Since graduating from BU, Panetta, now an Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Fellow, has supported women in engineering in several prominent positions within IEEE, including as Women in Engineering (WIE) worldwide director, WIE committee chair and WIE Magazine editor-in-chief. She has also mentored women engineering students as advisor to the Tufts University chapters of IEEE and the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), and served as keynote speaker for an SWE regional conference hosted at BU in 2010. She received the 2006 BU Outstanding Alumni Award and now serves on the BU Engineering Alumni Board. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, women received 13.5 percent of all undergraduate degrees awarded in engineering in 1985 (when Panetta earned her bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering), and 16.5 percent in 2009. This slight improvement over a quarter-century indicates that the need for mentoring programs for women in engineering remains strong. “When I was a student, there were almost no women in the College of Engineering, and I wanted camaraderie—to build confidence that I wasn’t alone in the isolation I sometimes felt as a woman in engineering,” says Panetta, the first female electrical engineer given tenure in Tufts’ ECE Department. “Mentorship has been the most enjoyable part of my job—it’s why I became a professor.” —Mark Dwortzan

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n a l P g n i l o o C l a b o l G s e c n a v Ad The year is 2059, and global warming is at a fever pitch. Greenland is melting, and climatologists are predicting that New York City will be under water in only five years. That is, unless Plan B is put into effect. Seeing no other option, the UN Security Council gives the go-ahead. The next day, 100 high-performance business jets depart from three designated air bases near the equator. Exploiting strong easterly and westerly winds in the planetâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s midsection and emulating the action of a volcano, they disperse sulfuric acid into the stratosphere, where it coalesces into small sulfate particles that reflect sunlight back into space and thereby cool the planet. The planes fly two or three sorties a day at 65,000 to 80,000 feet, where the sulfate particles have the biggest cooling impact. As they off-load one million metric tons of sulfuric acid each year, the aircraft systematically suspend or even reverse global warming, temporarily holding surface temperatures to pre-crisis levels while efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions catch up. If such a mission ever flies, Justin McClellan (AEROâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;04), an aerospace engineer at Aurora Flight Sciencesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Research & Development Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, will have laid the groundwork. In collaboration with University of Calgary climatologist David Keith and former astronaut Jay Apt, a professor at the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University, McClellan completed a yearlong study in 2010 that demonstrated the technical and economic feasibility of an aircraft-driven strategy to mitigate global warming, and explained how it would work in Earth Overhaul, a National Geographic Channel special aired last August. As program manager and principal investigator on the project, McClellan was tasked to determine if a man-made system could disperse sufficient sulfuric acid on a global scale to cool the planet efficiently and affordably.

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Re-Engineering the Globe “The questions we had to address were: (1) Is it feasible? and (2) What would it cost?” he says. “The higher the altitude, the more effective the sulfur is, because it doesn’t settle to the ground as quickly. But it costs more to build an aircraft to fly at higher altitudes.” To tackle the feasibility question, McClellan and colleagues at Aurora Flight Sciences (AFS) evaluated the lift capability, altitude ceiling (below 60,000 feet need not apply) and other performance criteria of existing aircraft from commercial airliners to fighter jets to cargo planes, modified versions of existing aircraft and entirely new aircraft design concepts. To estimate costs, McClellan built a financial model that took into account aircraft development, manufacture operations, maintenance and other expenses. “We coupled financial models with our in-house aircraft optimization software and evaluated over 230,000 airplane designs,” he says. “Those designs meeting our requirements were then ranked on acquisition and yearly operational costs, all to determine the cheapest way to lift one, three or five million metric tons per year of sulfur to altitudes of 60,000 to 100,000 feet.” The ideal choice turned out to be an aircraft design similar to a typical business jet. Equipped with powerful engines and a large payload capacity, it would lift one million metric tons to between 65,000 and 80,000 feet for $2 billion a year, assuming a 20-year amortization of development costs. According to McClellan, deploying 100 aircraft to execute the mission would be comparable to the yearly operations of a small regional airline. Such a mission would, however, be one of last resort. Sending a fleet of sulfuric acid-bearing aircraft on high-altitude sorties for years on end would amount to a form of “geoengineering,” or deliberate modification of the environment to mitigate the effects of man-made greenhouse gas emissions after the fact, rather than nipping them in the bud. “Once you’ve started doing this and the dispersed sulfur begins blocking some sunlight and cooling temperatures, you’re still not eliminating the greenhouse gases that have accumulated in the atmosphere over the years,” McClellan explains. “Our approach is at best a band-aid to be applied under extreme circumstances while long-term policies are implemented to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.” Ironically, exhaust from the aircraft dispersing the sulfuric acid would add to those emissions, but the sulfate particles would more than counteract the resulting heat added to the atmosphere. This approach may also raise



The grandson of an inventor and machinist for the New Haven Railroad and son of a Wall Street analyst, McClellan has sharpened these two core competencies over the course of his three decades. Growing up in southern Connecticut, he played with Legos, built electric circuits, flew remote-controlled airplanes and modified his first car, an Acura Integra, into “a bit of a street racer.” His passion for technological innovation eventually impressed admissions officers at Boston University’s College of Arts & Sciences, who redirected him to the College of Engineering based on the content of his application essays. McClellan majored in aerospace engineering and dabbled in economics before fusing the two in his aerospace senior design project—a five-person, multidisciplinary effort to design a short takeoff-and-landing military cargo aircraft. Justin McClellan (AERO’04)

rdle and affo n be feasib a c al—is g u in id r iv ee lthy ind geoengin ea t w a a th r o g in te v Pro consider gle sta societies to ibly by a sin d n ss a po ts — en le b a vernm getting go critical to maintains. n a ll le , McC the option levels of acid rain, which is harmful to plants, aquatic animals and infrastructure, but McClellan estimates that concentrations introduced into the atmosphere would be less than what’s found today in polluted cities such as Beijing or Mexico City. Other concerns include accelerated thinning of the ozone layer and shifting of regional climates, reducing rainfall in some regions while increasing it in others. While acknowledging potential risks, the study focused largely on demonstrating the technical and economic feasibility of aircraftassisted geoengineering and logistical considerations such as flight operations, air base locations, sulfuric acid and fuel supply chain management. Proving that geoengineering can be feasible and affordable—possibly by a single state or a wealthy individual—is critical to getting governments and societies to consider the option, McClellan maintains.

Economical Engineering “Justin’s work was a very good example of how a good aerospace firm hires bright, capable people who can pursue something that goes beyond the state of the art,” says McClellan’s collaborator, Jay Apt. “He has a good combination of engineering and economic skills that make him a great leader for Aurora Flight Sciences.”

After graduating in 2004, he worked for AeroAstro, a small spacecraft firm, and then moved on to Aurora Flight Sciences when AeroAstro’s Boston office closed in 2006. He has since contributed his engineering, economic analysis and program management skills to revolutionary designs from the Vulture solar-powered aircraft to the proposed fleet of geoengineering aircraft. He’s currently pursuing three projects aimed at placing very small spacecraft in orbit to conduct focused science experiments. Despite his demanding workload, McClellan remains involved in the Aerospace Senior Design Program each year as a reviewer of students’ final presentations; as a “client” and advisor for several AFS-inspired student projects that he suggests (e.g., design an aircraft to measure changes in the Greenland ice shelf); and as a guest lecturer. “These efforts go far beyond what any other alumni have contributed to the course,” says Associate Dean for Educational Initiatives and Associate Professor Donald Wroblewski (ME), who runs the program. “Justin brings a realworld perspective as well as an understanding of the aerospace industry. He mentors teams not only on challenges of a technical nature, but also those requiring communication and organizational skills.” More information on Justin McClellan’s work is available at PHOTO courtesy of justin Mcclellan


> 2011 World Technology Award for Biotechnology


Hatice Altug Receives Presidential Early Career Award Also Named as One of Popular Science Magazine’s “Brilliant 10” President Barack Obama named Assistant Professor Hatice Altug (ECE, MSE) as one of 94 recipients of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on science and engineering professionals who are in the early stages of their independent research careers. Selected for their pursuit of innovative research at the frontiers of science and technology and their commitment to community service, awardees receive a research grant lasting up to five years and an invitation to attend a White House ceremony with President Obama in October. One of 21 National Science Foundation-sponsored researchers to receive the prestigious award, Altug was recognized “for advancing the frontiers of proteomics to enable the discovery of protein biomarkers for detection of disease, drugs and environmental monitoring, and for innovative educational and outreach

activities that have helped students at all levels.” Altug’s group recently developed a prototype for a low-cost, portable diagnostic platform that could be used by untrained personnel to detect blood or salivabased proteins that serve as biomarkers for selected cancers, Alzheimer’s disease, allergens and other illnesses. By eliminating the need for heavy and costly lab equipment, the new biosensing platform offers unique opportunities for point-of-care diagnostics in clinical and field settings across the globe, including resource-limited countries. Altug is one of a select group of Boston University faculty members to receive the PECASE award since its inception in 1996. Other recipients include Associate Professor Venkatesh Saligrama (ECE, SE, 2004) and former Assistant Professors Paul Barber (Biology, 2005) and Joan Walker (Geography & Environment, 2007).

Photo courtesy of the White House/Photo by Pete Souza (COM’76); PHOTO of hatice altug by vernon doucette

President Barack Obama greets the 2010 PECASE recipients in the East Room of the White House, October 14, 2011. BU’s Hatice Altug is third from the left in the second row.


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faculty Popular Science Names Altug One of the “Brilliant 10” Last fall Altug was also named one of the nation’s top 10 young scientists and engineers by Popular Science magazine. She is included in the magazine’s “Brilliant 10,” researchers under 40 who made transformational contributions to their fields in 2010. The magazine’s editors chose the “Brilliant 10” after seeking input from peers and colleagues, professional organizations and experts in the nominees’ respective fields. Among their criteria were discoveries and developments that “totally uprooted their fields” and changed how researchers, doctors or engineers go about their work. “I am very excited that the work we do in my lab with my students has been recognized with such a prestigious award,” Altug said. “I am looking forward to the time when our approaches based on nanotechnologies will impact and improve human life greatly.” Altug was recognized for the revolutionary, highly portable, extremely lowcost biosensor she developed in 2010, which uses breakthrough nanotechnology that she has advanced in recent years [see p. 10]. The quarter-sized sensor can quickly and reliably identify dangerous viruses such as Ebola and Marburg in resource-limited settings, and has profound implications for identifying and containing pandemics and for assessing potential terrorist threats. Although technology currently exists to identify these viruses, it requires a large biological sample, transportation (usually refrigerated) to a laboratory, extensive sample preparation and long analysis times. Altug’s device requires only a small sample, little or no preparation and improves response time by more than two orders of magnitude. Since no laboratory or transportation is needed, the cost is also much lower. —Mike Seele Mark Dwortzan and Caleb Daniloff contributed to this report.



Collins Wins 2011 World Technology Award for Biotechnology Professor James Collins (BME, MSE, SE) was declared the winner of the World Technology Award for Biotechnology during a gala ceremony at the United Nations on October 26. Presented at the culmination of the World Technology Network’s (WTN) two-day 2011 World Technology Summit & Awards conference in New York, the Awards recognized Collins and 30 other individuals and organizations from more than 60 countries for doing the most innovative and impactful work in science and technology. “I am delighted to have our lab’s work in synthetic biology and antibiotic drug discovery recognized with the World Technology Award for Biotechnology,” said Collins. “It was a great honor to be included with so many highly innovative technologists and technology-focused companies.” The other four finalists in the Biotechnology category included two Nobel Laureates—Paul Greengard, founder and chair of the Scientific Advisory Board at Intra-Cellular Therapies, and H. Robert Horvitz, co-founder of Epizyme, Inc. Individual and corporate finalists in 20 different technology-related categories ranging from information technology hardware to entertainment were inducted as WTN Fellows during the ceremony. Nominees for the 2011 World Technology Awards were selected by the WTN Fellows (previous finalists and award winners) through an intensive, global process lasting several months. Winners were selected from among the finalists with the input of five prominent advisors including inventor/futurist/author Ray Kurzweil; the former director of Science and Policy Programs at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS); and leading technology journalists such as Technology Review editor/publisher Jason Pontin. This year’s summit was convened by the WTN in association with TIME, Fortune, CNN, Technology Review, Science, AAAS, New York Academy of Sciences and Novartis. A pioneer in both synthetic and systems biology, Collins is developing innovative ways to design and reprogram gene networks within bacteria and other organisms to attack tumors, direct stem cell development and perform other

desired tasks that could bring about cheaper drugs, more effective treatments of antibioticresistant infections, and clean energy solutions. Also a trailblazer in efforts to improve function of physiological and biological systems, he has spearheaded several new medical devices, such as vibrating insoles to improve balance in elderly people and a device to treat strokeinduced brain failure. In addition to serving BU as a William F. Warren Distinguished Professor, University Professor, and co-director of the Center for BioDynamics, Collins is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and founding core faculty member at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering. His many honors include membership in the National Academy of Engineering, a MacArthur “Genius Award,” a National Institutes of Health Director’s Pioneer Award, the Lagrange-CRT Foundation Prize, the Metcalf Cup and Prize (BU’s highest teaching honor) and being named to the Scientific American list of top 50 outstanding leaders in science and technology. Collins serves on the scientific advisory board of several biotechnology companies. —mark dwortzan

PHOTO BY kalman zabarsky

Castañón Named ECE Chair ■ A pioneer in both synthetic and systems biology, Collins is developing innovative ways to design and reprogram gene networks within bacteria and other organisms to attack tumors, direct stem cell development and perform other desired tasks that could bring about cheaper drugs, more effective treatments of antibiotic-resistant infections, and clean energy solutions. Also a trailblazer in efforts to improve function of physiological and biological systems, he has spearheaded several new medical devices, such as vibrating insoles to improve balance in elderly people and a device to treat strokeinduced brain failure.

Professor James Collins (BME, MSE, SE)

College of Engineering Dean Kenneth R. Lutchen has appointed Professor David ­Castañón (ECE, SE) the new chair of the Electrical & Computer Engineering Department. Castañón has served as chairman ad interim since the previous chair, Professor Franco Cerrina (ECE), died in July of 2010. An expert in solving problems involving dynamic decisions under uncertainty, Castañón is co-director of the Boston University Center for Information & Systems Engineering, deputy director of the National Science Foundation’s Bernard M. Gordon Center for Subsurface Sensing and Imaging Systems and associate director of the Department of Homeland Security’s Center of Excellence ALERT: Awareness and Localization of Explosives-Related Threats. “David’s selection is the result of a national search that included seven first-time visitors to the College and a pool of three finalists,” said Dean Lutchen. “His record of accomplishment as a researcher, teacher and as interim chair made him the clear choice to lead the department’s continued ascent into the ranks of the nation’s best ECE programs.” “The ECE Department is well on its way to becoming one of the top departments in the U.S., with a worldwide reputation of excellence in research and education,” said Castañón. “I’m looking forward to working with our faculty and students, along with the administrations of the College of Engineering and Boston University, to continue our growth and achieve significant recognition of our accomplishments.” In a nutshell, Castañón’s research focuses on the acquisition and processing of noisy information, and the use of processed information in support of dynamic decisions, many of which require the development of new algorithm concepts in dynamic optimization. A past recipient of the ECE Department’s Teaching Excellence Award, he teaches undergraduate and graduate courses, supervises graduate students in his lab and serves as faculty advisor for Boston University’s Society for Hispanic Professional Engineers. Castañón has authored or co-authored more than 200 refereed publications and articles, including the book Foundations and Applica-

■ “His record of accomplishment as a researcher, teacher and as interim chair made him the clear choice to lead the department’s continued ascent into the ranks of the nation’s best ECE programs.”

ECE Chair and Professor David Castañón

tions of Sensor Management. He has been very active in the Control Systems Society of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, serving as the society’s president in 2008 and receiving its Distinguished Member Award in 2006. He has also served as a member of the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board. Before arriving at BU, Castañón was chief scientist at Alphatech, Inc., a defense-related research firm, and worked at the Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he earned a PhD in applied mathematics. He joined the ECE faculty in 1990 as an associate professor and was promoted to full professor in 1999. —mark dwortzan

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faculty Professors Mazumder, Toffoli Become IEEE Fellows The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Board of Directors has named ECE Research Professors Malay Mazumder and ­Tommaso Toffoli as IEEE Fellows, effective January 1. Mazumder was selected for “contributions to self-cleaning solar panels, and particle size and charge distribution analysis”; Toffoli for “contributions to theory of computing including reversible computing, cellular automata and physics of computation.” Since 1963, IEEE has elevated members with an extraordinary record of accomplishments in any of the organization’s fields of interest to the grade of Fellow. “IEEE is the world’s largest technical professional association, and the diversity of its members fosters close connections and collaborations with colleagues in specific areas of research and scientific inquiry,” said ­Mazumder. “To become an IEEE Fellow is a fulfilling distinction and I feel honored to be recognized by my peers.” Co-editor-in-chief of Particulate Science and Technology, Mazumder received the R&D Award and the Electrostatic Society of America Lifetime Achievement Award, and earned his PhD from the University of Arkansas. His research focuses on materials engineering, solar energy systems, particle technology and electrostatic engineering. A member of the editorial boards of Complex Systems, the Journal of Cellular Automata and the International Journal of Unconventional Computing, Toffoli earned a PhD in physics from the University of Rome and an additional PhD in computer and communication sciences from the University of Michigan. His research interests include fundamental connections between physics and computation, fine-grained modeling of physics-like systems and personal knowledge structuring. “Most of my work has consisted not in trying to find an answer to questions that other people have asked,” said Toffoli, “but rather in raising questions that no one else had formulated and trying to answer them because they looked important—and fun—to me.” —Rachel Harrington



■ In a paper featured on the cover of the November 10 edition of Lab on a Chip, Assistant Professor Hatice Altug (ECE, MSE) and researchers in her group and at MIT demonstrated large-area plasmonic microarrays that can reliably enable quantitative, real-time biodetection without fluorescent labels—a capability that could enable faster, cheaper and more accurate disease detection and drug discovery.


Research Professor Malay Mazumder (ECE)

Research Professor Tommaso Toffoli (ECE)

■ “IEEE is the world’s largest technical professional association, and the diversity of its members fosters close connections and collaborations with colleagues in specific areas of research and scientific inquiry.”

■ Professor John Baillieul (ME, SE) was chosen to deliver the IEEE Control Systems Society Bode Lecture at the 50th IEEE Conference on Decision and Control. He will speak on “Fifty Years of Information-Based Control Theory.” ■ Assistant Professor Lorena Barba (ME) received an Academic Partnership Award from Nvidia Corporation for her research using graphics processing units (GPUs) to speed up simulations of complex fluid flow problems. This highly competitive, $25,000 cash award will support Barba’s research in the use of GPUs for computational fluid dynamics. Barba is also leading a yearlong collaboration among investigators at BU, Harvard University and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst to develop software infrastructure for a family of sophisticated algorithms for GPUs and other top computing systems, with $130,487 in funding from the Massachusetts Green High-Performance Computing Center.

News Bytes

■ Professor James Collins (BME, MSE, SE) delivered the Earl Bakken Lecture, the American Institute for Medical & Biological Engineering’s most distinguished lecture, at AIMBE’s 2012 Annual Event on February 21. ■ The Rafik B. Hariri Institute for Computing and Computational Science & Engineering at Boston University named Assistant Professors Ayse Coskun (ECE) and Jason Ritt (BME) as two of its six inaugural Junior Faculty Fellows. The program recognizes outstanding BU junior faculty pursuing computational research in a range of disciplines. ■ Assistant Professor Douglas Densmore (ECE) was featured as a researcher in one of “science’s hottest disciplines,” synthetic biology, in the October issue of New Scientist. ■ In August, Assistant Professor Xue Han (BME) was named one of three recipients of the 2011–2012 Peter Paul Professorship, presented annually to promising young Boston University faculty members who have been at the University at most two years and hold no prior professorships. The award, which includes a three-year stipend, recognizes Han’s work in developing new genetic, molecular and optical neurotechnologies to understand and treat brain disorders. ■ College of Engineering Dean Kenneth R. Lutchen was featured on an American Association for the Advancement of Science podcast in November for Science Translational Medicine magazine. During the interview, Lutchen discussed biomedical engineering innovations in the health care industry and technology transfer. ■ In July, Professor Allen Tannenbaum (ECE) will deliver a plenary lecture at the 20th International Symposium on Mathematical Theory of Networks and Systems in Melbourne, Australia. One of the world’s major conferences on mathematical systems theory, the symposium explores mathematical structures and how they connect to the understanding of networks, systems and networked systems.

■ Professors Attardo Genco (MED) and Selim Ünlü (ECE, MSE) received $316,875 from the National Institutes of Health for a training program in inflammatory disorders research. The grant will create new opportunities for graduate students by providing pre- and post-doctoral training in pathogen-induced inflammation, chronic non-communicable inflammatory disorders, and therapeutics and preventive strategies.

■ In October, Michael Rahaim (ECE PhD’13) organized the first New England Workshop for Software Defined Radio (SDR) at Boston University. The conference not only brought fellow researchers together but also provided SDR exposure to individuals interested in learning more about a technology that is used widely in radio frequency communications and applied in everything from military applications to cell phones.

Paper Competition. In the paper, Lee and Associate Professor Luca Dal Negro (ECE) determined that pinwheel nanoparticle arrays can allow for intense coloration enhanced by plasmonic resonance—findings that could lead to new applications in optical technology, security, energy and other domains.

■ Professor Xin Zhang (ME, MSE) published a paper in Optics Express, “Microwave and Terahertz Wave Sensing with Metamaterials,” which was highlighted in Science magazine in November. The paper describes a new, relatively inexpensive approach to engineering sensor imaging arrays. ■ In August, BME graduate student and Biogen Idec summer intern Vivek Bhatia earned the third-place prize of $1,500 in Kelly Scientific Resources’ “Future Scientists Program” scholarship competition for his essay on biomarkers and personalized medicine. The program helps connect entry-level science and engineering students with jobs, internships and research opportunities at major U.S. chemical, pharmaceutical and biotechnology firms.

Yanfeng Geng

students + alumni

Yurt Abdulkadir

■ MSE PhD student Yurt Abdulkadir won the Outstanding Poster Award at the International Symposium for Testing and Failure Analysis in November. Abdulkadir is working with Professors Bennett Goldberg (ECE) and Selim Ünlü (ECE, MSE) on integrated circuit failure analysis research.

■ Assistant Professor Ayse Coskun (ECE), Jie Meng (ECE PhD’13) and Daniel Rossell (ECE MS’12) won the Best Paper Award at the High Performance Embedded Computing Workshop held at MIT Lincoln Laboratory in October. Their paper advances a new method to improve memory bandwidth and reduce memory access time, a long-standing performance bottleneck in computing.

■ Jeff Crowell (ECE ’13) and JohnNicholas Furst (ECE ’13) helped Boston University’s BUILDS team earn a spot in the finals in Polytechnic Institute of New York University’s CSAW Cybersecurity Competition: Capture the Flag Application Security Challenge in November. BUILDS is a student-run technology research lab at BU.

■ Yanfeng Geng (SE PhD’13) placed second in the IBM/IEEE Smarter Planet Challenge competition. Geng won the prize with a student team he organized for the “Smart Parking” work he has been pursuing with his advisor, Professor Christos Cassandras (ECE, SE). —Mark Dwortzan with Rachel Harrington, Samantha Gordon (COM’12) and Kathrin Havrilla

■ David E. Hollowell (ENG’69, ’72; GSM’74) and Peter Levine (ENG’83) joined the University’s Board of Overseers this fall. A past president of the BU Alumni Association and member of the College’s alumni board from 1971 to 1987, Hollowell is executive vice president and treasurer emeritus of the University of Delaware. Levine is a venture partner at Andreessen Horowitz, a venture capital firm specializing in social media and technology companies, and senior vice president of strategy at computing services firm Citrix Systems, Inc. ■ At the Optical Society of America Frontiers in Optics/Laser Science conference in San Jose, California, in October, Sylvanus Lee (ME PhD’12) won the Emil Wolf Outstanding Student PHOTO of yanfeng geng by vernon doucette

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faculty Zaman Invited to First Arab-American Frontiers of Science, Engineering and Medicine Symposium

Cassandras Receives IEEE Control Systems Technology Award

Assistant Professor Muhammad Zaman (BME) was invited to participate in the first ArabAmerican Frontiers of Science, Engineering and Medicine Symposium, hosted by the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research (KISR) in Kuwait last October. The event marks the first time that ■ “The research the U.S. National Academies—the opportunities, National Academy both for cancer of Engineering, National Academy and global of Science, Instihealth applica- tute of Medicine and National tions in the Research CounArab world, are cil—and KISR have brought together tremendous.” leading young scientists, engineers and medical professionals from the U.S. and Arab League nations to discuss their work and explore potential collaborations. Zaman, whose research interests range from the mechanisms of cancer tumor progression to the development of robust health care technologies for resource-limited countries, was one of 100 researchers selected to attend from a highly competitive pool of applicants.

The 2011 IEEE Control Systems Technology Award recognizing outstanding contributions to control systems technology was presented to Professor and head of the Division of Systems Engineering Christos Cassandras (ECE, SE) at the 50th-annual Conference on Decision and Control last December in Orlando, Florida. Cassandras was honored for his design and commercial development of the discrete event and hybrid system simulator, SimEvents. Cassandras and Michael Clune of The MathWorks collaborated for more than five years on SimEvents, which allows users to simulate event-driven processes along with time-driven ones such as the stages of a manufacturing process. Through these simulations, users can identify bottlenecks and determine resource requirements. The program also facilitates the design of hardware architectures, distributed control systems and sensor and communication networks for aerospace, automotive, electronics and other applications. “I’m very pleased to see a large part of my research in discrete event and hybrid systems turned into a product useful to many,” Cassandras said. “I think this collaboration between The MathWorks and myself promotes a good model for academia–industry cooperation.”

“This is a high honor,” said Zaman after receiving his invitation. “The research opportunities, both for cancer and global health applications in the Arab world, are tremendous. I look forward to learning about the challenges and developing long-lasting collaborations with my colleagues there.” At the Arab-American Frontiers symposium, Zaman discussed the primary objectives and potential impact of his work in both formal and informal settings. The conference featured scientific presentations, long breaks, a tour of KISR facilities, dinners and other opportunities for participants to meet and network with colleagues from 21 different countries. Zaman is the only participant in the U.S. National Academies’ Frontiers program to be selected to the NAE Frontiers of Engineering, U.S. Frontiers of Engineering Education, U.S.-Japan Frontiers of Engineering, and ArabAmerican Frontiers of Science, Engineering and Medicine symposia. “Having participated in any one is a significant honor; having four is definitely a huge honor for me, the BME department and the College of Engineering,” said Zaman, noting that Boston University President Robert A. Brown was the founding chairman of the Frontiers program in the early 1990s. —mark dwortzan

Assistant Professor Muhammad Zaman (BME)



PHOTO BY kalman zabarsky

—Samantha Gordon (COM‘12) and Rachel Harrington

Professor Christos Cassandras (ECE, SE), head of the Division of Systems Engineering, and Francesco Bullo, IEEE Control Systems Society vice president for Technical Activities.

PHOTO courtesy of IEEE/Photo by Lara Hart

Colburn, Paschalidis and Smith Win Faculty Awards In faculty meetings last fall, College of Engineering Associate Dean for Research & Graduate Programs Selim Ünlü announced the 2011 recipients of three prestigious annual College of Engineering awards: the Distinguished Scholar Award—Professor H. Steven Colburn (BME); the Distinguished Faculty Fellow Award—Professor Ioannis Paschalidis (ECE, SE); and the Early Career Research Excellence Award—Assistant Professor Michael Smith (BME, MSE).

■ Colburn’s research exploits experimental data and mathematical modeling tools to improve our understanding of the auditory system.

Distinguished Scholar Award The Distinguished Scholar Award honors a faculty member engaged in outstanding, high-impact research, and gives the recipient a public forum to showcase his or her research before the Boston University academic community. This year’s recipient, Professor H. Steven Colburn, has been a College of Engineering faculty member for more than 30 years, chaired the Biomedical Engineering Department in the 1980s and founded and directs the BU Hearing Research Center. Colburn is scheduled to pre­ sent the lecture “Information Processing in the Binaural Auditory System” in March. Colburn’s research exploits experimental data and mathematical modeling tools to improve our understanding of the auditory system. Much of his work aims to develop an integrated representation of binaural interaction and its role in human sound perception, including the interpretation of acoustic cues in complex sound environments. Colburn has written widely in the past 40 years on challenges faced by the binaural system in complex acoustic environments, and on issues associated with hearing impairments and aids.

Distinguished Faculty Fellow Award The Distinguished Faculty Fellow Award recognizes mid-career faculty members for making significant contributions to their field and provides $20,000 per year for five years to ­support their research. This year’s recipient, Professor Ioannis Paschalidis, conducts research in systems and control, networking, applied probability, optimization, operations research, computational biology and bioinformatics. His work could lead to new applications in communication and sensor networks, protein docking, logistics, cyberPHOTO of Michael smith by kalman zabarsky

H. Steven Colburn

Early Career Research Excellence Award

Ioannis Paschalidis

michael smith

security, robotics, the smart grid and finance. Since joining the College of Engineering faculty in 1996, Paschalidis has developed sophisticated algorithms for everything from a homeland security early warning sensor network to a next-generation electronic health care management system. He is co-director of the Center for Information & Systems Engineering (CISE), academic director of the College of Engineering’s Sensor Network Consortium and an affiliate of the BioMolecular Engineering Research Center.

The Early Career Research Excellence Award celebrates the significant, recent and highimpact research accomplishments of tenuretrack faculty less than 10 years removed from their PhD. This year’s recipient, Assistant Professor Michael Smith, has been a member of the College of Engineering faculty since 2008. Smith has authored 26 journal articles and has been cited more than 1,000 times in research literature. He is a member of the Center for Nanoscience & Nanobiotechnology and the Molecular Biology, Cell Biology & Biochemistry Program, and received his PhD in biomedical engineering from the University of Virginia in 2004. Smith’s research explores how forces change the shape, or conformation, of proteins that cells use to interrogate their surroundings— fibrous proteins known as fibronectin that may ultimately be manipulated to grow desired stem cells or halt the spread of cancer. His main goal is to use advanced tools to investigate the impact of forces on these proteins at the nanoscale level. By uncovering protein conformations at sites perturbed by force in the local cellular environment and their impact on cell signaling, Smith aims to identify new drug targets and approaches to stem cell-based therapeutics for regenerative medicine and tissue engineering. —mark dwortzan

E n g i n ee r spring 2 01 2



We want to hear from you! Send your class notes submissions to engalum@ or visit

Distinguished Alumni Awards Recognize Exemplary ENG Grads The College of Engineering announced its 2011 Distinguished Alumni Awards at a ceremony and champagne celebration held during Alumni Weekend in late October. The awards honor individuals who have made significant contributions to their profession, community and alma mater.

Joseph Healey (ENG’88), Binoy K. Singh (ENG’89), Dean Kenneth R. Lutchen and Mikhail Gurevich (ENG’07)

Mikhail Gurevich (ENG’07), managing partner at the New Yorkbased hedge fund Dominion Capital, received the Distinguished Young Alumni award, which honors outstanding alumni within ten years of graduation. An avid entrepreneur, Gurevich established his first startup, ClickFacts, a Web security and analytics company,

during his sophomore year at BU. In 2007 he cofounded ZepInvest, an information distribution platform for financial services firms that works with several Fortune 500 companies. Currently pursuing his MBA at BU, he leads and raises money for the Technology Entrepreneurs Club, which brings together students from the College of Engineering and the School of Management in the Engineering Entrepreneur Design Contest. Joseph Healey (ENG’88), cofounder and senior managing director of HealthCor Group, the largest health care hedge fund in the world, received the Service to Alma Mater award, which honors alumni

Alumni Events Imagineering Lab Becomes Real [top] Clinical cardiologist Binoy K. Singh (BME’89) and Dean Kenneth R. Lutchen just before the ribbon cutting at the Imagineering Lab opening ceremony in October. The new facility was made possible by Singh’s generous donation. (See page 5.) [bottom] Amit Jain (ENG’85, ’88), cofounder of Prysm, Inc., Binoy K. Singh (ENG’89) and Amit’s son Ayush Jain (ENG’13) beside storage bins in the Imagineering Lab.



Prepping for the Game BU Director of Development Information Services Ana Bustin & Richard Bustin (ENG’09) with BU mascot Rhett, the Boston Terrier, at BU-BC hockey pregame reception in December.

class notes Want to earn an ENG T-shirt? Send your class notes submissions to or visit Contributors of all published notes receive a red BU Engineering T-shirt!

1962 who have enhanced the College of Engineering’s stature through voluntary activities. Healey has provided the vision and funding for the new Engineers in the Real World program, which brings realworld engineers from a variety of fields into BU classrooms to show how engineering shaped their unique career paths. He is also a member of the Dean’s Leadership Advisory Board, where his input has been invaluable to the success of the College’s vision of the Societal Engineer. Binoy K. Singh, M.D. (ENG’89), assistant professor of clinical medicine at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and clinical cardiologist and director of clinical business development at Columbia University Medical Center/New YorkPresbyterian Hospital, received this year’s Service to the Profession award, which honors alumni whose work has significantly contributed to the advancement of their profession and brought them recognition within their field. Singh has won several very prestigious awards, including the AACIO Young Investigators Award at the 52nd-Annual Meeting of the American College of Cardiology, and the First Prize Award for Oral Presentation given at the Fourth World Congress of Cardiology and Vascular Ultrasound. Singh, who joined the ENG Dean’s Leadership Advisory Board in 2010, helps shape the College’s vision and direction and is the lead donor for the Singh Imagineering Laboratory, a 1,343-square-foot flexible workspace where students can pursue extracurricular design projects to solve society’s Grand Challenges. ­—Kathrin Havrilla

Stan Berman, BS, Framingham, Massachusetts • Stan, a retiree from the electrical industry (lighting sales), met his wife at BU—they have been married for almost 50 years and have three children and six grandchildren, including a granddaughter who will graduate from BU in May 2012. Email Stan at

1964 Wayne Goldman, BS, Elmore, Vermont • Wayne recently formed Bedell Brook Mill, LLC as an engineering consulting and prototype fabrication facility to provide services to both commercial and military facilities. Email him at

1976 Harold K. Sit, BS, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada • Now retired, Harold has worked on the Mass Transit Railway Corporation and the HSBC headquarters in Hong Kong, and started his own business and factory. Rick Smith, BS, Hastings, Minnesota • Last fall, Rick published his third book, a textbook entitled Elementary Information Security. Email him at

1980 Mike Birch, BS, Methuen, Massachusetts • Mike has released his first album of original songs, writing and performing all the music. The album, 40 Years of Life, Love, and Happiness and all of those things, is available on Amazon as a CD or MP3 download. Email him at

1981 Andrew Isaacs, BS, Bedminster, New Jersey • Andrew (Drew) was recently recruited to join one of the largest global consulting firms, Cognizant, as a principal in their Life Sciences practice. Drew will be leading commercial optimization strategies and implementation projects within global medical device and pharmaceutical companies. Email him at

1982 Vincent Lauria, BS, Singapore • Vincent recently moved to Singapore from San Francisco to start a technology incubator, and would like to connect

with any BU alums in Southeast Asia. Email him at Martin Lynch, BS, Los Gatos, California • Martin recently joined Overland Storage as vice president of Operations & Program Management. Email him at

1983 Michael Martin, BS, Las Vegas, Nevada • After many years in the Department of Defense aerospace industry, Michael became president of a new startup company, Erickson International LLC, in Las Vegas, Nevada. Erickson specializes in state-of-the-art thin film manufacturing for solar control and energy-saving products. Email him at Brian Sabowitz, BS, MS’85, San Antonio, Texas • Brian was elected to the Board of Trustees of the Denver-based American Society of Bariatric Physicians (ASBP). Formed in 1950, the ASBP is the primary source for clinical education and training for the nonsurgical medical management of obesity. Board certified in internal medicine, Brian is the director of Metabolic and Bariatric Medicine at New Dimensions Weight Loss in San Antonio, Texas, and on the clinical faculty of the Department of Endocrinology at the University of Texas Health Sciences Center in San Antonio. Email him at

1984 Eric Hernandez, BS, Indianapolis, Indiana • Eric started working as a facilities area manager at Amazon Fulfillment Services in Whitestown, Indiana, last August.

1985 Khaled Kanaan, BS, Amman, Jordan • Along with his wife, Khaled recently visited the BU campus for the first time since 1985. “It brought back so many nice memories,” he writes. Email him at

1986 Mike Laiman, BS, Fontana, California • In August Mike joined Universal Trailer Corporation as executive vice president— his new job has kept him busy traveling to eight states. He will be moving to Elkhart, Indiana, in 2012. Email him at

Kecia Palmer-Cousins, BS, Peekskill, New York • Kecia received the “10 Influential Blacks in Business Award” on June 16, 2011, during the AfricanAmerican Chamber of Commerce of Westchester and Rockland Counties, Inc. Juneteenth Celebration. An ITIL®v3 Certified Senior Project Manager at VerizonBusiness in New York City with over 22 years of experience in customer service, telecommunications and project management, Kecia is also COO and founding partner of G&K Sweet Foods, LLC (, a certified Minority/Women Owned Business Enterprise food company that commercially manufactures fully baked, frozen, sweet potato pies. She lives with her husband Kevin and their two sons, Kendall and Kyle.

1987 Dan Frost, BS, Bear, Delaware • Dan is CEO at PAIR Technologies, which developed the world’s fastest infrared spectrometer. “Our PA-IR system is over 1,000 times faster than a conventional FT-IR spectrometer,” he writes. “Our system allows for IR analysis of dynamic chemical reactions and processes like combustion.” Email him at Christine Renzi, BS, Acton, Massachusetts • “Our son has been so inspired by our experience at BU that he has chosen the College of Engineering as his school of choice and will be starting in September,” writes Christine. Email her at Marc Viola, BS, Washington, D.C. • In 2008, Marc published his first book, A Spy’s Resume, a survival guide for troops coming home and reintegrating back into civilian culture. In the book, Marc, a military veteran and intelligence professional, covers issues ranging from post-traumatic stress to jump-starting creativity.

1989 Celia (Ketley) Leber, BS, Bend, Oregon • After 20 years of practicing patent law at a big firm and then inhouse, Celia started her own firm (www. last August. “It’s

E n g i n ee r spring 2 01 2


class notes

been a great move, and I’m looking forward to growing the practice in 2012,” she writes. Email her at celia@

1990 Alan Taboada, BS, Eatontown, New Jersey • In June 2011, Alan and his wife, Judy, welcomed Zoe Evangeline, their third child. That same month, Alan, already a partner at his law firm, became a named partner at the firm, which was renamed Moser Taboada. The firm provides intellectual property services to companies and solo inventors in a variety of technologies. Email Alan at

1991 Catherine Kim-Nestaas, BS, Trondheim, Norway • “Hello to BME class of 1991. Has it already been more than 20 years?” writes Catherine, now living with two kids and her “Viking husband” in Norway. Email her at David Miller, BS, Framingham, Massachusetts • In July, David and Vitesse Miller welcomed their newest addition, Aydin Scott. Around the same time, Vitesse closed their Westford office and David began working for Tilera Corporation, a startup.

1993 Jamahl Peavey, BS, Belmont, Massachusetts • Jamahl says that the College of Engineering prepared him well not only for becoming a mathematics and physics teacher, but also for solving one of the most challenging problems in physics: What does quantum structure mean on a macro scale? His solution is published in the Indian Journal of Science and Technology. Email Jamahl at

1994 Kelley (Garland) Irving, BS, Allen, Texas • Kelley and Daniel Irving announce the birth of their daughter, Katherine Ann, on November 9, 2010. Email Kelley at

1995 Jason Newquist, BS, Seattle, Washington • Jason was recently engaged and is working as a professional engineer.

Shii Tai, BS, Funabashi, Chiba, Japan • Shii is in the business of trading food, machine and electronic parts, chemical materials and other items. Email him at

1996 Dorene (Davies) Cable, BS, North Grafton, Massachusetts • Dorene and Ryan Cable announce the birth of their son, Trevor Alexander, on August 19. Trevor joins big sister Meghan, 7, and big brother Sean, 4. Email Dorene at Steffen Kaldor, BS, Hopewell Junction, New York • Steffen and his wife, Lu Ann, have two boys, Sebastian, 6, and Alexander, 3. Steffen is a process engineering manager at IBM’s advanced semiconductor fabricator in East Fishkill, NY. Email him at sk473@ Angela (Folse) Sarafin, BS, Houston, Texas • Angela recently started a private practice providing marriage and family therapy in the Clear Lake area of Houston, TX. Her website is www.sarafinfamilytherapy. com, and she can be reached at


Rachel (Kaplan) Emsley (ENG‘01), Matt Emsley (ENG‘01, ‘03), and Liza Folman (CFA‘76). Carin and Bill welcomed their first son, Noah, in April 2011. Email Carin at csiegs@

Danilo Lai (also ENG’07) were married November 29, 2010. Kelsey is a supplier quality engineer at Newport News Shipbuilding and Danilo is a program manager/design engineer at Sumitomo of America. Email them at kelsey.

Michael Frank, BS, New York, New York • Michael recently launched a kitchen gadget called The ­Spongester in Skymall. Email him at ­


2000 Larry (Loc) Bui, BS, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida • Larry and Mindy (Loc) Bui are excited to announce the birth of their first child, Leanna. Leanna was born in South Florida, where Larry recently relocated for a new assignment with Sikorsky Aircraft. Email him at

2001 Jason Dieffenbacher, BS, Nashua, New Hampshire • Jason founded Pegasus Performance in 2010 to provide cycling and other sports apparel engineered to reduce road rash injuries from crashes. Inspired by a life-threatening crash he sustained in 2008, the patentpending technology is built into a wide range of products. Email Jason at

Matthew Dawson, BS, MS’01, Somerville, Massachusetts • Matthew Dawson and Deanna Hardy were married on October 2, 2011, in Georgetown, Massachusetts, with many BU alums in attendance. The couple hopes to see many Terriers on and off the ice at men’s hockey games. Email Matthew at


Carin (Siegerman) Folman, BS, North Hills, California • In 2007, Carin received her PhD in cardiac electrophysiology from UCLA, and has been working on implantable cardiac defibrillators as a clinical-systems engineer at St. Jude Medical ever since. In August 2008, she married Bill Folman (MFA, COM’04), whom she met at a BU alumni event in Santa Monica, CA. Present at the wedding were Mandy Feiler (CFA’99), Michelle (Efros) Fox (CAS‘99), Jen Caouette (SAR‘99), Kim (Bedard) Pacheco (CAS‘00), Elease Lui (COM‘00), Greg Flick (CAS‘00), Laura (Bottoms) Mattal (CAS‘01),


Sarah (Kelley) Padilla, BS, Charlotte, North Carolina • Sarah married Luis Padilla on the beach near sunset in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, on November 5, 2011. Jessica Folster (CAS & COM‘03) and Lindsey Parenteau (COM‘03) were in attendance along with many friends and family.

Lulu (Ke Yang) Wang Curiel, BS, Caracas, Venezuela • Since 2010, Lulu has married “the love of my life,” Martin Curiel; given birth to their first child, Francisco Curiel; completed the Harvard Business School MBA program; started a job at Apple Inc.; co-founded, a career coaching and admissions consulting platform; and started Mommy blog: HarvardMother. com, focused on stories and tips of how to develop a successful child.

Joshua Friedensohn, BS, Groton, Connecticut • Joshua started a new job last July at General Dynamics Electric Boat. He is also the Technical Director for the Boston-based Vagabond Theatre Group. To learn more about Electric Boat or Vagabond, visit Carolina Save, BS, Boston, Massachusetts • Carolina is finishing her last semester at Suffolk University Law School, where she concentrates on patent law, serves as president of the Intellectual Property Law Student Association, and is a team member of the Giles Rich Patent Moot Court Team. She also works at a local intellectual property firm.

2009 Tim Durkin, BS, San Francisco, California • Tim is fluent in Chinese after living in Taiwan for two and a half years. He is now working in the SF Bay Area as a technical writer, and welcomes the chance to meet BU alums in the area. Email him at tmdurk@

PASSINGS Joseph F. Ciavardone (ENG’51) Lakeland, Florida George A. Repucci (ENG’54, ’68) Salem, New Hampshire Hubert R. Quinn (SED’50, ENG’59) Peabody, Massachusetts Joseph Pagliuca (ENG’82) Fairfax, Virginia Alfred Huang (CAS’03, ENG’12) Somerville, Massachusetts

2007 Kelsey Marie Coletti, BS, Virginia Beach, Virginia • Kelsey Coletti and All class notes are edited for space considerations.



The Engineering Annual Fund:

Providing Real-World Experiences to Engineering Students Thanks to generous gifts from alumni and parents, the Engineering Annual Fund (EAF) gives ­students exceptional hands-on experiences that develop their professional skills through student organizations, national conferences, design competitions, symposia and career fairs.

“With funds donated to us through the EAF, we attended the SWE National Conference in Chicago, which was an excellent opportunity for us to grow professionally and represent BU at an important industry event. Because of our attendance, members made great networking connections that resulted in interviews and job offers.”—Kayla Kruper (ME’12) (second from right), Society of Women Engineers SWE National Conference

“SANT used EAF funds to host a weeklong symposium at the Photonics Center, which featured presentations of innovative nanotechnology research and an art show displaying engineering at the nanoscale. The symposium attracted over 200 guests including undergraduates, graduate students and faculty from across the BU campus.”—Venkata Yelleswarapu (BME’14) (left), Students for the Advancement of Nanotechnology SANT NANOvember

“We went to the EWB Northeast Regional Conference in New York City this year, attending workshops and hearing from CEOs of nonprofits and technical advisors on water sanitation projects. We got to exchange ideas with other chapters while also getting face time with representatives at the national and regional level.”—Laura Windmuller (BME’14) (second from left), Engineers Without Borders EWB Northeast Regional Conference

To continue enhancing the undergraduate educational experience, support the Engineering Annual Fund. Visit to make your gift and join the ENG Alumni Facebook Group.

E n g i n ee r spring 2 01 2



Janusz Konrad PhD, McGill University Professor, Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering I have always enjoyed teaching, but my love for research is largely due to my PhD thesis advisor, who introduced me to the world of images and video in the late 1980s. Back then, digital cameras were very rare and expensive, but today they are cheap and ubiquitous, and produce a deluge of data. To make sense of these data, I develop algorithms that do everything from looking for urban traffic anomalies to analyzing brain or colon images to automatically annotating sports videos. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m currently using Kinect, a 3-D camera developed for gaming, to interact with computers via hand gestures. This is essential in communicating with very large screens in emergency coordination, defense and other applications. Since the use of imaging cuts across various disciplines, I have collaborated with colleagues at the BU School of Medicine and the departments of Astronomy, Earth Sciences, Biomedical Engineering and Computer Science, and even with staff at BUâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Parking & Transportation Services to advance my research. The breadth and level of expertise here is amazing, the possibilities are endless and the future for research at BU is bright.

To learn more, visit To learn more, visit /eng. 4

BU COLLEGE OF ENGINEERING Photo by cydney scott

Engineer Spring 2012  

Boston University College of Engineering Alumni Magazine

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