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Picture of Electrical Engineering student Jordan Sangid in a lab in the Min H. Kao Building, with his amplifier, amplifier circuit and other equipment

Amplified Frequencies: Jordan Sangid rocks the analog road from power chords to power research

By Randall Brown

Jordan Sangid’s path to analog signal processing research began in a different kind of “lab” from those in the Min Kao building, but just a few blocks away.

Sangid earned his first bachelor’s degree, in history with a religious studies minor, while also working as the live-sound engineer/bartender/manager at the Longbranch Saloon. This legendary, now-defunct bar and music venue was near campus on Cumberland Avenue, a.k.a. “The Strip.”

“I really liked working around music and meeting interesting people every night,” he said. “I thought that’s what I was going to do for a living, and that the history degree was just something I had on my résumé for when I was ready for the next level—whatever that was.”

The next level sneaked up on him via infrastructure needs specific to music halls. After many a weekend of rowdy rock’n’roll shows, he was left with a pile of broken microphone and speaker cables.

“The first couple of times we took the cables to Rik’s Music to be fixed, but it was too expensive and took too much time to get them back,” said Sangid. “I was gifted a $10 Radio Shack soldering iron by the owner of the bar, John Stockman, and my life was changed.”

He worked with electronics wiz John Stembridge, known around Knoxville as “The Sound Doctor,” to beef up the venue’s sound system, but grew more frustrated as ongoing problems grew bigger than he could fix on his own.

“I started taking night classes at Pellissippi State Community College to learn more about electronics and hoped to save the bar some money,” said Sangid.

He soon found himself at UT working towards a second bachelor’s degree. He gravitated toward the field of analog electronics and took classes with Benjamin Blalock, the Blalock-Kennedy-Pierce Professor in the Min H. Kao Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

“Professor Blalock recruited me as an undergraduate research assistant to assist with printed circuit board (PCB) design and assembly,” said Sangid. “PCB design became my specialty and I’ve given direct assistance on nearly every PCB that has come through our lab since I’ve been here.”

Picture of an analog amplifier circuit, made by Electrical Engineering graduate student Jordan Sangid

Close-up of an analog amplifier circuit made by Jordan Sanger.

He forged ahead into graduate studies. Blalock invited him to join his research team and pointed him toward the CURENT research center and the Department of Energy’s Wide Bandgap Traineeship, a fellowship for graduate students in power electronics. Sangid designed a GaN Class D Audio Amplifier as a Master’s thesis project within that traineeship.

“I participated as much as I could in CURENT activities to show the appreciation I had for the generous fellowship,” said Sangid. “For my two years, I served as the Chief of Professional Development in the CURENT Student Leadership Council and organized multiple events and seminars.”

His ongoing participation earned him notice as a 2019 Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant and his scholarship earned him a Bodenheimer Fellowship—a pair of accolades that a younger Sangid would not have expected.

“I was a big joker in high school and didn’t really try that hard,” he recalled. “I was always told that I wasn’t very good at math and science and I should probably study something else, so I did.”

He overcame those doubts, though, and has no regrets for his pre-engineering years.

“History was awesome,” he said. “It was like constant story time and I learned tons of Jeopardy facts.”

Sangid ultimately hopes that a career in analog electronics engineering helps him retain portions of his “rock’n’roll lifestyle.”

“My end goal has always been to have a job where I don’t have to wear a tie,” he said. “The more advanced degree you have in analog electronics, the less formal you have to dress. I’m targeting Crocs-with-socks now.”

Systers Members Reflect on Their Experiences at the 2019 Grace Hopper Celebration

Picture of Lydia San George, Farnaz Foroughian and Ava Hedayatipour at the 2019 Grace Hopper Celebration in Orlando

Lydia San George, Farnaz Foroughian and Ava Hedayatipour at the 2019 Grace Hopper Celebration in Orlando, Florida.

Ria Patel at the 2019 Grace Hopper Celebration in Orlando

Ria Patel at the 2019 Grace Hopper Celebration in Orlando, Florida.

Two weeks ago, five members of Systers: Women In EECS@UTK attended the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing- Ava Hedayatipour, Farnaz Foroughian, Ria Patel, Lydia San George and Sirajum Munira.  The conference was held at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida and more than 25,000 people were in attendance.  Ria Patel, Ava Hedayatipour and Farnaz Foroughian share their thoughts on the experience.

Ria Patel

GHC was nothing like I have ever experienced before! This is an experience that every woman in technology should have the chance to have. I spoke to several companies about what they did and what internships they have for undergrads in computer science. Although most companies were looking for juniors and seniors to fulfill their roles, I still managed to get an offer! I am currently going to work as a Software Engineer Intern. As well as speaking to many companies at the career fair, I attended some guest speaker sessions that featured topics such as being a minority woman in tech leadership, being a CEO of your own company, etc. I managed to gain many contacts with influential women in the field of computer science as well as other students from schools around the world! Overall, I would definitely recommend going to GHC in order to network with many people in the industry as well as get your name out there!

Ava Hedayatipour

In the first week of October, I went to Grace Hopper Celebration 2019 by Systers sponsorship. I was exhilarated that I got the chance to attend the best conferences that focus on providing professional development for women in engineering, with more than 20 thousand attendees. The highlight of Grace Hopper is always the opening keynote. With a few thousands of women cheering and hearing inspiring stories from the inspiring women, there is an incredible vibe going on. During the conference, there was a career fair going on in the main hall, where I experienced the latest technologies, tools, and services from the top companies in the industry. I was able to talk to representatives from big names in electrical engineering like Xilin, Cisco, IBM, Qualcomm, Apple, Amazon, Texas Instrument and Oracle. Among many useful sessions and talks in course of three days, I enjoyed the most the two sessions that I chaired, one about using technology in fashion and the other one a panel of experts in academia and industry that talked about the future of Artificial Intelligence. The after-hours of the conference are always comforting and chill, connecting with different people in company parties and catching up with friends that you have not seen for a long time, make every day of Grace Hopper pretty unforgettable. It was wonderful to talk to the people at both the Science & Technology. I am sure I benefited from the diverse perspective I witnessed at the conference. I will practices exchanging new ideas and methods that I learn, share my experience and try to empower women in my department. Most importantly, I encourage everyone to experience Grace Hopper 2020!

Farnaz Foroughian

It was the first time I was attending GHC and it was amazing to see over 25,000 women in tech from all over the world gathering in one place. Of course there were long lines everywhere and in those lines I could talk to many girls in EE or CS. This great event gave me the opportunity to see many pioneer women in different fields in technology and computing and they inspired me. I also attended several great sessions I had registered for.

Moreover, by visiting the career fair and talking to the people from many companies, research labs, and universities I could distribute my resume and also got updated on the latest technologies.

To me the most important part was networking and talking to incredible people who had lots of great ideas. I also could make friends from other universities like Oxford.

Besides, I had lots of fun with other girls by attending the events and parties of big companies like Google, Intel, and etc. at nights.

Picture of UT Engineering students at Greenwich Observatory during the Engineering In London Experience

Come to the Study Abroad Fair and Learn About the Engineering In London Program

The Fall 2019 CIE Study Abroad Fair will be on Wednesday, October 2 from 1pm to 4pm in the Student Union, Ballrooms A, B, and C.

Stop by the Tickle College of Engineering table to find out more about the 2020 Engineering in London (EIL) study abroad program directed by Dr. Mike Berry.

In past years, students in the EIL program have toured the City of London, as well as visiting such places as the Royal Maritime Museum, Westminster Abbey, the Royal Observatory, the London Eye, the Royal Institution and Michael Faraday Laboratory, the Globe Theater, Buckingham Palace, the London Water and Steam Museum, and Bletchley Park, where Alan Turing and his colleagues broke the naval Enigma code during World War II.

All EIL students take ECE 301, Circuits, and ME 331, Thermodynamics in London and earn 6 credit hours of technical elective credits toward their major. They also work on various projects, such as building a prototype crosswalk emulator using an Arduino kit.

Among the most cited benefits of studying abroad are: increased self-confidence, increased maturity, enhanced interest in academic study, improved problem-solving skills, reinforced commitment to foreign language study, enhanced understanding of one’s own cultural values and biases, new career direction, and improved employability.

The EIL program cost will remain at $4,999 (excludes some meals and airfare). COSC majors can use both ECE 301 and ME 331 as upper-division technical electives for the degree and the Hope Scholarship can be used to cover tuition during Summer Session I (EIL 2020 runs from May 29 to June 27, 2020). Also, a CompEng/EE major can enroll in the program and receive COSC 493 credit (instead of ECE 301) for TAing the ECE 301 the course in London.

Deadlines for EIL applications:
#1: November 14, 2019 with notification of acceptance by November 22, 2019.
#2: February 01, 2020 with notification of acceptance by February 07, 2020.

For more information and to enroll, please visit

Visit the Engineering in London blog at:

See the Engineering in London video trailer at:

Picture of Dr. Catherine Schuman

ORNL researcher, UT EECS alumna receives DOE early career funding award

Seven Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers representing a range of scientific disciplines have received Department of Energy’s Office of Science Early Career Research Program awards.

The Early Career Research Program, now in its tenth year, supports the development of individual research programs of outstanding scientists early in their careers and stimulates research careers in the disciplines supported by the DOE Office of Science.

“Supporting our nation’s most talented and creative researchers in their early career years is crucial to building America’s scientific workforce and sustaining America’s culture of innovation,” said Secretary of Energy Rick Perry.  “We congratulate these young researchers on their significant accomplishments to date and look forward to their achievements in the years ahead.”

Catherine Schuman, who works in ORNL’s Computer Science and Mathematics Division, received funding for her proposal, “Learning to Learn: Designing Novel Neuromorphic Algorithms with Machine Learning,” from the Office of Science Advanced Scientific Computing Research program.

The project will use machine learning and high-performance computing to automatically create new algorithms that will enable real-time continuous learning for neuromorphic systems, which are novel, energy efficient computing systems inspired by biological neural networks. The work aims to provide a path forward for using neuromorphic computers for real-time adaptive machine learning-based analysis of scientific data.

Catherine Schuman is a Research Scientist in Computational Data Analytics at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.  She received her doctorate in computer science from the University of Tennessee in 2015, where she completed her dissertation on the use of evolutionary algorithms to train spiking neural networks for neuromorphic systems.  She is continuing her study of models and algorithms for neuromorphic computing, as well as other topics in artificial intelligence and machine learning, as part of her work at ORNL.  Catherine is also an adjunct assistant professor at the University of Tennessee, where she, along with four other professors at UT, leads a neuromorphic research team made up of more than 25 faculty members, graduate student researchers, and undergraduate student researchers.

Engineering In London 2019- #2

Dr. Mike Berry has shared a new blog post from the Engineering In London experience:

Tour of London

“The EIL 2019 program got off to a great start today with fantastic weather and the traditional tour of the City of London. By bus (with a few stops) students were given a good orientation of the City with chances to take photos near St. Paul’s Cathedral, The Globe Theatre, Borough Market, and the Millennium Bridge over the Thames River. Brian Harlock , our tour guide, gave the students a superb history lesson on London from the Middle Ages up to the present. He also escorted the group to The Mall for a view of the Trouping the Colours practice. This is the formal celebration of the Queen’s Birthday that will be celebrated on Saturday, June 8 this year. After the tour, the students were treated for a sandwich and crisps lunch at IES prior to their safety and housing orientation meeting.”

Engineering In London 2019

Dr. Mike Berry has shared a blog post from the Engineering In London experience:

Friday, May 31, 2019

Departure Day 2019

Fourteen of the twenty-two EIL 2019 students traveled with Prof. Berry from Nashville to London/Heathrow via British Airways. Although a little weary from jetlag, the group made it to the London Underground (Picadilly Line) enroute to Chapter Housing in King’s Cross.

Picture of Wenxuan Yao, winner of the 2019 NASPI award for Outstanding Grad Student, with Dr. Yilu Liu and other members of CURENT

Wenxuan Yao Wins NASPI award for Outstanding Grad Student

Wenxuan Yao won the 2019 NASPI (North American Synchrophasor Initiative) award for Outstanding Grad Student. The NASPI awards are issued to recognize significant accomplishments and contributions of its members in 2018.  This marks the third year in a row that a UT student has won a NASPI award.

The North American Synchrophasor Initiative (NASPI) is an international community of electric industry members, researchers, and vendors working together to advance the understanding and adoption of synchrophasor technology to enhance power system reliability and efficiency.

Wenxuan Yao is an exemplary graduate student whose work on m-UGA has improved PMU sampling accuracy and PMU signal acquisition. M-UGA allows higher resolution PMU deployment and enhances power system observability.

The award was presented during the The North American Synchrophasor Initiative (NASPI) Work Group meeting in San Diego, California last month. The conference featured technical sessions and presentations that showcased innovative applications of synchrophasor technology, wide-area streaming applications of high-speed (so-called “point-on-wave”) time-synchronized measurements, and issues associated with inverter-based generation and the ability to maintain essential reliability services. Mr. Ali Yari, Director, Electric Grid Operations, from San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) was the keynote speaker.

College Names Kilic Associate Dean for Academic and Student Affairs

Picture of Tickle College of Engineering Associate Dean for Academic and Student Affairs Ozlem Kilic

The Tickle College of Engineering has named Professor Ozlem Kilic as the new associate dean for academic and student affairs. Kilic will start her new role on July 29.

“We’re thrilled to have someone of Professor Kilic’s caliber join us here in the college,” said Interim Dean Mark Dean. “She has a wealth of expertise in a variety of areas, and her past experiences will serve her well in this new role.”

Kilic will replace Masood Parang in the position, which oversees a variety of the college’s programs, including undergraduate and graduate curricula and the offices responsible for the college’s diversity, study abroad, advising, recruiting, and scholarship and fellowship programs, among others.

As part of the change, the Office of Engineering Professional Practice—which coordinates paid, educationally relevant co-op and internships for the college—will move from reporting to the associate dean for academic and student affairs to instead reporting to Keith Stanfill, the Edwards Assistant Dean and Director of Integrated Engineering Design. The move will allow that office to be more closely aligned with major industry-focused student experiential learning opportunities conducted through Stanfill’s role.

Parang announced his intent to retire in 2019 after 41 years with the college.

“I am very happy for the opportunity that awaits me at UT. I look forward to meeting faculty, students, and staff, and helping the college thrive.”

—Ozlem Kilic

Kilic comes to UT from The Catholic University of America (CUA) in Washington, DC, where she most recently served as associate dean in the School of Engineering.

There, she founded and served as director of both the Electromagnetics and Remote Sensing Laboratory and the school’s data analytics program. She also served as director of CUA’s Engineering Center for Care of Earth, a position that led to her being granted audiences with both Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew of the Eastern Orthodox Church to discuss climate issues.

Kilic is a member of numerous organizations. She is a fellow of the Applied Computational Electromagnetic Society and an elected council member for the Maryland Clean Energy Center. She has served as chair and vice chair of the International Union of Radio Scientists Commission A and as advisory committee member of IEEE Antennas and Propagation Society. She has authored more than 125 peer-reviewed articles.

Kilic earned her bachelor’s degree from Istanbul’s Bogazici University in 1989 and her master’s and doctorate from George Washington University in 1991, and 1996, respectively, all in electrical engineering.

Prior to joining CUA, Kilic served as an adjunct professor at Virginia Tech from 2002 through 2005 and then with George Washington University in 2003. She worked for COMSAT Laboratories, now owned by Lockheed Martin, from 1996 through 2002, served at the US Army Research Laboratory from 2002 through 2005, and as a visiting professor at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in 2006.

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