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University of Tennessee Silicon Valley Experience Tour

On Tuesday, May 14, University of Tennessee, Knoxville computer science and engineering students visited HP Inc. in Palo Alto, California for a tour of the Customer Welcome Center and then to the HP Garage as part of the 3rd annual Silicon Valley Experience Tour.

On Thursday, May 16, they held a UT Alumni and Student Networking Event- An evening in San Francisco with students & alumni meeting each other & getting an update on UT changes from EECS Department Head Dr. Greg Peterson.

The students who attended this year’s Silicon Valley Experience Tour were Gary Burns, Spencer Howell, Samuel Jones, Yaw Mensah, Lydia San George, Daniel Troutman, Michael Wermert and Samantha Zimmerman.


Two UT Engineering Students Win Goldwater Scholarships

Two UT engineering students have been named 2019–2020 Goldwater Scholars.

The Goldwater Scholarship Program was established by Congress in 1986 to honor US Senator Barry M. Goldwater. The most prestigious undergraduate STEM scholarships in the United States, Goldwater Scholarships are awarded to college sophomores and juniors who intend to pursue research careers in the natural sciences, mathematics, and engineering. The scholarships provide up to $7,500 annually to cover tuition, fees, books, and room and board. An estimated 5,000 sophomores and juniors nationwide applied this year for the Goldwater.

Since 2010, UT has had 16 students named Goldwater Scholars.

This year’s recipients, both rising seniors, are Carl Edwards, who is majoring in honors computer science and honors mathematics, and Ian Greeley, who is majoring in materials science and engineering.

“To be named Goldwater Scholars, Carl and Ian had to compete with the finest undergraduate STEM students in the country,” said Andrew Seidler, director of UT’s Office of National Scholarships and Fellowships. “Recognition as Goldwater Scholars is an indication of their tremendous efforts and potential and also of the outstanding support they’ve received at UT to pursue undergraduate research—on and off campus.”

Picture of Goldwater Scholar Carl Edwards

Carl Edwards

Edwards, of Knoxville, said he plans to attend graduate school after completing his bachelor’s degree at UT. He wants to earn a PhD in machine learning and artificial intelligence.

“Receiving this award will provide me the chance to further develop my scientific and research abilities and will create new opportunities in the future,” he said.

At UT, Edwards has worked with Bamin Khomani, who is the Granger and Beaman Distinguished University Professor, head of the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, and director of the Sustainable Energy Education and Research Center, and with Professor Brian Edwards, who is associate head of the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.

He’s done research at both Oak Ridge National Laboratory and through EuroScholars the University of Zurich in Switzerland.

Picture of Goldwater Scholar Ian Greely

Ian Greely

Greeley, also of Knoxville, also plans to attend graduate school and earn a PhD in materials science after completing his bachelor’s degree. He wants to conduct research in functional materials for energy storage applications.

He has worked for two years at the Scintillation Materials Research Center studying novel scintillators (materials that exhibit luminescence triggered by ionizing radiation) for radiation sensors and imaging systems. Greeley’s research mentors at UT are Charles Melcher, research professor in the Department of Nuclear Engineering, and Yuntao Wu, research assistant professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering.

Greeley also had an internship last summer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory working on polymer binders for use in silicon-graphite anodes for lithium-ion batteries.

Greeley described the Goldwater application process as “an invaluable reflection that helped me identify my research interests, motivations, and ambitions.”

UT can nominate up to four undergraduates each year for the Goldwater Scholarship. This year 496 Goldwater Scholars were named from the 1,223 students nationwide nominated by 443 colleges and universities.

At UT, the Office of National Scholarships and Fellowships facilitates the application process and its UT Goldwater Selection Committee chooses the final nominees. This year’s committee members were Remus Nicoara, associate professor of mathematics and director of the Math Honors program; Masood Parang, associate dean and professor of engineering; Gina Pighetti, associate professor of animal science; and Albrecht von Arnim, professor of biochemistry and cellular and molecular biology and director of the Genome Science and Technology program.

UT students who would like more information about the Goldwater Scholarship and other nationally competitive awards can visit the ONSF website and set up an appointment to meet with ONSF staff.


Amy Blakely (865-974-5034,

Andrew Seidler, UT Office of National Scholarships and Fellowships (865-974-3518,

Dr. Garrett Rose and Students Earn 3rd Place in Best Paper Contest at GLSVLSI

Picture of Dr. Garrett Rose

Dr. Garrett Rose

Dr. Garrett Rose and his students received 3rd Place in the Best Paper Award Contest at the ACM Great Lakes Symposium on VLSI (GLSVLSI). This was presented Friday night at the conference banquet.

Md Badruddoja Majumder, Md Sakib Hasan, Aysha Shanta, Mesbah Uddin, and Garrett Rose, “Design for Eliminating Operation Specific Power Signatures from Digital Logic,” in Proceedings of the ACM Great Lakes Symposium on VLSI (GLSVLSI), Washington DC, May 2019.


The following paper was also a nominee for the same best paper contest:
Mesbah Uddin, Md Sakib Hasan, and Garrett S. Rose, “On the Theoretical Analysis of Memristor based True Random Number Generator,” in Proceedings of the ACM Great Lakes Symposium on VLSI (GLSVLSI), Washington DC, May 2019.

Congratulations to Dr. Rose and his students!

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.

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