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Picture of the IEEE Robotics UT Student Chapter

Recap- IEEE Robotics Spring ’19 Activities

Build a Bot Event
Each year, the IEEE Student Chapter hosts a major event as a benefit for registered IEEE student members. This year, on March 13, 25 students were given build their own robot buggy. The chapter assembled and prototyped kits from scratch. The kits cost approximately $60 apiece, but registered IEEE members were given a kit for free! The robots were controlled from students’ laptops using Bluetooth, powered with 9V batteries, and used an Arduino and Ardumoto motor shield.

IEEE SoutheastCon Robotics Competition
The 2019 IEEE SoutheastCon (Southeastern Conference) took place from April 11-14 in Huntsville, AL. The event was space-themed, as homage to the Huntsville Space and Rocket Center. The UTK IEEE Robotics Team attended IEEE SoutheastCon 2019 to participate in the hardware competition. The team meets weekly year-round (even in the summer) to build a fully autonomous robot that meets the annual competition specification while also meeting the given objective.

In this year’s competition, robots were asked to clear “space debris” (in the form of cubes and balls) while completing laps through an arena and avoiding obstacles. Points were earned based on number of laps completed and space debris cleared. The UTK IEEE Robotics Team placed 14th out of 45 teams! On the trip, we had 13 electrical engineering, computer science, and mechanical engineering students attend. The conference was a great opportunity for students to not only learn more about robotics and meet other university teams, but also learn more about their respective field and learn what they are interested in.

2019 Gonzalez Family Awards Banquet


On Thursday, April 25, the Min H. Kao Department of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science held its annual Gonzalez Family Awards Banquet.  Department Head Dr. Greg Peterson hosted the event and presented awards to outstanding students, undergraduate teaching assistants, graduate research assistants and graduate teaching assistants.  He also presented the Gonzalez Family Awards for excellence in teaching, excellence in research and for staff excellence.  Retired professor Asa O. Bishop was honored as an EECS emeritus faculty member, as well.


2019 Award Winners:

  • The Gonzalez Family Award for Excellence in Teaching- Dr. Michael W. Berry
  • The Gonzalez Family Award for Excellence in Research- Dr. Fred Wang
  • The Gonzalez Family Award for Staff Excellence- Dana Bryson and Melanie Kelley


Outstanding Student Awards:

  • Electrical Engineering Sophomore- Gary Burns
  • Electrical Engineering Junior- Yaw Mensah
  • Electrical Engineering Senior- Kendra Anderson
  • Computer Engineering Sophomore- Samantha Zimmermann
  • Computer Engineering Junior- Samuel Jones
  • Computer Engineering Senior- Jonathan Ambrose
  • Computer Science Sophomore- Michael Wermert
  • Computer Science Junior- Austin Park
  • Computer Science Senior- Charles Rizzo


Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Assistant:

  • Adam Short


Outstanding Graduate Research Assistants:

  • Yan Du
  • Sherif Amer
  • Handong Gui
  • Yunhe Feng
  • Firoozeh Sepehr


Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistants:

  • Aysha Shanta
  • Rachel Offutt
  • Jordan Sangid
  • Farnaz Foroughian


Congratulations to all of our fantastic EECS faculty, staff and student winners!



HPCwire: Interview with 2019 Person to Watch Michela Taufer

HPCwire interviewed Michela Taufer, Dongarra Professor in the Min H. Kao Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, as part of their ongoing People to Watch focus series. As part of the interview, Taufer discusses chairing the SC19 conference, the future of high-performance computing, and potential perils.

Read the full interview. 

EECS Students Recognized at Chancellor’s Honors Banquet

EECS students were among those recognized at the Chancellor’s Honors banquet on Tuesday evening, in the Pilot Flying J Ballroom in the Student Union. This campus-wide event recognizes the outstanding service and achievements of students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends of the university. Congratulations!

Extraordinary academic achievement: Kelsey Veca

Extraordinary professional promise:
Shaghayegh Aslanzadeh
Chandler Bauder
Farnaz Foroughian
Ava Hedayatipour
Shahram Hatefi Hesari
Farshid Tamjid

Top collegiate scholars: Kendra Anderson

Picture of UT Distinguished Professor Jack Dongarra at Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Dongarra Named a Foreign Fellow of the Royal Society

UT Distinguished Professor Jack Dongarra has been named a Foreign Fellow of the Royal Society, joining previously inducted icons of science such as Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, and Stephen Hawking.

“This honor is both humbling because of others who have been so recognized and gratifying for the acknowledgement of the research and work I have done,” Dongarra said. “I’m deeply grateful for this recognition.”

Dongarra is perhaps best known for his work helping to compile the annual list of the world’s fastest, most powerful supercomputers.

That list, the TOP500, has been used as the global standard for more than 25 years, helping spread knowledge of Dongarra and his work along with it.

Dongarra has helped design more than a dozen well-known software systems, has authored more than 200 articles on computing, and has been awarded three different medals from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).

At UT, Dongarra also serves as the director of the Innovative Computing Laboratory (ICL), which he founded through his joint UT–Oak Ridge National Laboratory appointment in 1989. Since that time, ICL has grown to include more than 40 researchers, all working together to provide services related to supercomputing such as linear algebra and benchmarking.

In addition to his role at UT, Dongarra is an ORNL Distinguished Research Staff member, the Turing Fellow in the Computer Science and Mathematics Schools at the University of Manchester (England), and an adjunct professor in the Department of Computer Science at Rice University.

The Royal Society established the fellowship program to honor those who use science to help humanity.

“This year’s newly elected fellows and foreign members of the Royal Society embody this,” said Venki Ramakrishnan, president of the society.“It is with great honor that I welcome them as fellows of the Royal Society.”

Dongarra is a member of the National Academy of Engineering; a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Association for Computing Machinery, IEEE, and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics; and a foreign member of the Russian Academy of Sciences.


David Goddard (865-974-0683,

EECS Professor Dr. Lynne Parker in the Oval Office of the White House

On the Front Lines of the White House AI Initiative

Dr. Michela Taufer’s blog, featuring her interview with Dr. Lynne Parker on the White House AI initiative, has been posted on SC19:

Lynne Parker, Assistant Director for Artificial Intelligence at The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, has been at the forefront of artificial intelligence (AI) for more than two decades.

Hers was the first PhD dissertation ever on the topic of multi-robot systems, she is a pioneering researcher in that field, and formed the Distributed Intelligence Laboratory at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. There, she has conducted research in multi-robot systems, sensor networks, machine learning and human-robot interaction.

As AI continues to proliferate through all aspects of life, so too has Lynne’s impact on the field. In August, she put her academic work on hold to take on a groundbreaking assignment with The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Recently, Lynne took a few minutes to discuss her new role, share her insights on the state of AI in the US (and beyond), and opine on the future impact of high-performance computing (HPC) on the evolution of AI.

I encourage you to read on, as the growing convergence of AI and HPC will be one of the hot topics at SC19 this November!

Read Dr. Taufer’s full interview of Dr. Parker here.

Farnaz Foroughian and Shahram Hatefi Hesari standing with their GSS Excellence awards

Three EECS Students Honored at the Graduate Student Senate Awards Ceremony & Breakfast

Three EECS students were honored today at the Graduate Student Senate awards ceremony and breakfast at the Frieson Black Cultural Center.  This ceremony recognizes outstanding graduate and professional students as well as the faculty and staff who support them.

Farnaz Foroughian and Farshid Tamjid were awarded for Excellence in Graduate Student Teaching.  This award is presented to graduate teaching assistants and associates for extraordinary performance in teaching.

Shahram Hatefi Hesari was awarded for Excellence in Service.  This award is presented to graduate and professional students who are extraordinary campus leaders, participate in service learning or other community initiatives, and/or provide service leadership to their academic discipline through service in professional organizations.

Picture of UT students who competed in the Three Minutes Thesis competition

EECS Computer Science Graduate Student Competes in the Finals of the Three Minute Thesis Competition

John Reynolds, a PhD student in Computer Science, competed in the finals of the Three Minute Thesis Competition, held on Wednesday as part of UT’s Graduate and Professional Student Appreciation Week. Although Reynolds did not win with his presentation, entitled “Exploring Natural Patterns,” reaching the finals is a great achievement in communicating his research to a general public.

The 3MT competition cultivates students’ academic, presentation, and research communication skills.

It challenges master’s and doctoral students to communicate their unique thesis or dissertation to an audience unfamiliar with the subject. Competitors have three minutes to explain their research using only one slide or photo.  Presenting in a 3MT competition increases their capacity to effectively explain their research in three minutes, in a language appropriate to a non-specialist audience.

Logo for WomEngineers Day

WomEngineers Day is April 13. Register Now

Saturday, April 13, 8:00am to 2:30pm

Student Union, Ballroom
1502 Cumberland Ave.

Every other year, the Tickle College of Engineering and the TCE Women’s Leadership Council hosts a one-day conference for current UT students focused on leadership and professional development. Go beyond the classroom by hearing about professional and personal topics related to career and life choices. Attendees will hear from a diverse group of speakers and have the chance to network with other students, faculty, and leaders in industry! Let us help you develop personal and professional skills not taught in engineering classes, but that are necessary for success in the engineering industry.

The event is open to all UT students. Although the event is focused on the engineering industry, participants from other majors can and will still greatly benefit from hearing from these experts across a range of interesting and relevant topics.

The flagship campus of the University of Tennessee System and partner in the Tennessee Transfer Pathway.