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EECS Alumni Spotlight: Computer Science MS Grad Xiaoyan Zhang

For its newest San Francisco hire, Reed Smith has reached across the Pacific. The firm announced the addition Monday of Xiaoyan Zhang as counsel in the firm’s Information Technology, Privacy and Data Security practice group.

The hire of Zhang will boost the firm’s level of expertise around tech-related laws in the U.S. and abroad, particularly in China. Zhang has a master’s degree in computer science [from the University of Tennessee] on top of her J.D. and years of experience working as an attorney in the U.S. and in China, most recently at Mayer Brown JSM, that firm’s Asian outpost.

“In addition to her deep experience in Asia and her language and cultural capabilities, which are obviously important, I regard her as a switch-hitter, capable of both traditional IP as well as data law work,” said Mark Melodia, Reed Smith’s IP, Tech & Data co-chair. “That’s exactly how we’ve set up our global team.”

With international legal frameworks changing at a steady clip, firms like Reed Smith are looking to hire counsel like Zhang who understand tech, data and cross-border laws. And Zhang’s experience working on privacy and cybersecurity in Asia looks to be especially crucial following China’s implementation of a tough new cybersecurity law in June.

Many U.S. companies operating in China or looking to expand there have been confused by the law and its implications—it uses language that doesn’t always translate perfectly to English. One of the law’s key international provisions hasn’t even been implemented yet. Starting in December 2018, any important data transferred outside of China will need to go through a security assessment.

Zhang said she feels a duty to help U.S. companies learn to comply with China’s new laws, as someone who’s lived and worked extensively in both China and the U.S. and understands both cultures.

“Coming back to help U.S. clients with what I’ve seen and learned in Asia, it’s quite satisfying,” Zhang said. “I really hope we can clarify some of the confusions and obstacles in trying to understand what’s required.”

During her nearly three years at Mayer Brown JSM in Hong Kong, she advised international clients on IP issues in cross-border M&A transactions, as well as privacy and cybersecurity, according to her LinkedIn profile. Prior to that, she worked as a senior associate for Hogan Lovells in New York. There, she also focused on technology licenses and M&A.

Before working in law, she spent four years in the technology security field, her profile said. After earning her master’s in computer science, she worked as an information security consultant. She spent two years as a senior information security engineer and ethical hacker for HSBC.

Melodia said Reed Smith was “really thrilled” to find an attorney who is “fluent in not just English and Mandarin, but also tech.”

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Welcome Back Celebration- Systers

Systers Announces Tutoring Program Schedule


Dear EECS Students,

The Systers Tutoring Program, a joint effort between Systers: Women in EECS and the EECS Department, has begun! Tutors for 100- and 200-level EECS courses can be found in Min Kao 217, at the following times:

EE Tutors:

Taylor: TR: 2:00-3:30
Varsha: WF: 1:30-3:00

CS Tutors:

Brandon: T 11:00-12:00 R: 2:00-3:00
Paul: MW: 2:30-3:30 
Kelsey: M: 2:30-4:30

Don’t wait until finals, give them a visit soon!

Photo of Systers Logo

Faculty Receive National Science Foundation Grant for Software Research

Congratulations, Dr. Mockus!

Four faculty members from the Haslam College of Business and Tickle College of Engineering have received a National Science Foundation grant totaling $1.7 million. The grant funds a joint proposal for research done with Carnegie Mellon University.

Bogdan Bichescu, Randy Bradley, Audris Mockus, and Russell Zaretzki will all contribute to a project attempting to map the use of open source code throughout modern software. Open source code can be identified, used, and modified by anyone, as opposed to commercial software, which users cannot see or modify and must wait for creators to update.

Read more here.

Experts from CURENT Discuss Issues Related to Power Outages in Puerto Rico due to Hurricane Maria

Hurricane Maria, the latest storm to devastate the Caribbean, has been particularly destructive in the US Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. The island’s power has been completely knocked out, with some estimates saying it will be six months before the grid is fully restored. President Donald Trump is set to visit the island next week to get a first-hand look at the destruction.

CURENT—the Center for Ultra-Wide-Area Resilient Electric Energy Transmission Networks, housed in the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s Tickle College of Engineering—recently had a conference in San Juan, where they met with officials from the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority.

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Engineering Expo Sets Records

The Fall 2017 Engineering Expo was a tremendous success, setting new records for attendance by both visiting companies and students. The Office of Engineering Professional Practice hosted the expo on Thursday, Sept 21, in Thompson-Boling Arena. The event offers a day for companies to connect with engineering students for their cooperative education (co-op) and internship education programs.

Ninety companies attended, the largest amount in the Professional Practice program’s 91-year history — up from the 80 that attended in the fall of 2016. The increased number of participating companies helped draw in a record number of 846 engineering students, also, up from last year’s 731.

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Students Enjoy the EECS Welcome Back Celebration

The annual EECS Welcome Back Celebration was held today in the Min Kao building, to celebrate the beginning of the fall semester.  Hosted by Systers: Women in EECS@UTK, the celebration was a great way to kick off the new school year!

This event featured lab tours, robot demonstrations, seminars for Oak Ridge National Laboratory, representatives from visiting employers, a free pizza party, a prize raffle and more.  Over 250 students visited today’s event.  Thank you to everyone who came and participated!

EECS Welcome Back CelebrationEECS Welcome Back Celebration- Raffle Sign-upEECS Welcome Back CelebrationWelcome Back Celebration- SystersEECS Welcome Back Celebration- IEEE RoboticsEECS Welcome Back CelebrationEECS Welcome Back CelebrationEECS Welcome Back Celebration

EECS Professor Receives Paper Award

EECS professor Dr. Chao Tian and Jie Li, a visiting student under his supervision, have received the 2017 IEEE Jack Kiel Wolf ISIT Student Paper Award. The award was presented to Dr. Tian last Thursday, June 29 at the 2017 IEEE International Symposium on Information Theory (ISIT) in Aachen, Germany.

Their paper is called “A generic transformation for optimal repair bandwidth and rebuilding access in MDS codes.”

The IEEE Jack Keil Wolf ISIT Student Paper Award is given to up to 3 outstanding papers for which a student is the principal author and presenter. This author must be a registered student of an educational institution at the time of paper submission to be eligible. The criteria for the award includes both content and presentation. The award consists of a $500 honorarium to be divided equally between all student authors of the paper, and a plaque for each student author.

The Awards Committee is responsible for selecting the winners with the support of the ISIT TPC. The ISIT TPC recommends between 8 and 12 papers as finalists to the Awards Committee. The Awards Committee selects up to 6 papers as finalists. The Awards Committee judges the presentations, selects the winners, and announces the winners at the ISIT banquet.

EECS Faculty Members and Students Receive 2017 Chancellor’s Citation Awards

Accomplished faculty, staff, and students were honored Wednesday evening at the annual Chancellor’s Honors Banquet, the university’s largest recognition event of the year.  The Chancellor’s Honors Banquet is held each spring to recognize students, faculty, staff and friends of the University of Tennessee for their extraordinary achievements.

EECS Professor Dr. Benjamin Blalock received one of the evening’s top faculty awards, the Alexander Prize. Several other EECS faculty members and students were awardees, as well.


Campus Honors- EECS Faculty Members


2017 Alexander Prize- Dr. Benjamin Blalock

Benjamin J. Blalock, the Blalock-Kennedy-Pierce Professor of Analog Electronics in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, received the Alexander Prize.

Blalock directs the Integrated Circuits and Systems Laboratory and focuses on analog circuitry for extreme environments. He and his research students, working with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, have designed a microchip that controls robotic movement in the Mars rover Curiosity. He does similar work with the Exploration Technology Development Program, a NASA-funded team of universities and companies developing circuitry that can operate reliably on the moon. He is developing space-based avionic systems for exploring ocean worlds in the outer solar system and improving power modules for hybrid and electric vehicles.

Blalock, who is a UT alumnus, is a supporter of student scholarship programs and of the first Big Orange STEM Symposium to promote UT’s Tickle College of Engineering to high school students.

The Alexander Prize is named for former UT president and US Senator Lamar Alexander and his wife, Honey.


2017 Research and Creative Achievement- Dr. Hairong Qi

Hairong Qi, professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and Gonzalez Family Professor in Image Processing, studies advanced imaging and collaborative processing. She pioneered the application of mobile-agent-based paradigms for supporting collaborative processing in distributed environments. Qi’s instincts, leadership, and knowledge have allowed her to identify and lead highly sought-after opportunities in interdisciplinary studies. Her recent work in fast rock sample selection for NASA’s Mars rover and in nuclear source identification and tracking shows her aptitude for transferring her knowledge in image processing to tackle key issues in demanding environments. She is a productive teacher and researcher who in the past five years alone has attracted over $3 million in external funding, graduated eight PhD students, and published 23 refereed journal papers with the high h-index score of 38. She has received a National Science Foundation CAREER Award, best paper awards at two international conferences, and the Highest Impact Paper award from the IEEE Geoscience and Remote Sensing Society.


2017 Research and Creative Achievement—Professional Promise- Dr. Wei Gao

Although he has been part of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science for only a little more than four years, Assistant Professor Wei Gao has already established himself in the area of mobile computing and wireless networking systems—in particular the Internet of Things, wearable computing, and virtual reality. Gao’s research has attracted more than $2.5 million in external research funding from multiple government agencies, including the National Science Foundation. His work goes beyond civilian applications, however. The US Army Research Office currently supports two of his projects to develop adaptive mobile communications systems for the military. His long-term collaborations with other Army research agencies may help to fundamentally transform the way US troops access information in the battlefield. Gao has published more than 60 articles, most of them in top-tier journals. He also finds time to chair and serve on various committees of international research organizations.


Student Awards- EECS student awardees


2017 Extraordinary Academic Achievement

Extraordinary Academic Achievement honors are awarded to undergraduates who exhibit extraordinary scholarship.

  • Sunay Bhat


2017 Extraordinary Professional Promise

Extraordinary Professional Promise honors are awarded to undergraduate and graduate students who demonstrate professional promise in teaching, research or other contributions.

  • Mst Shamim Ara Shawkat
  • Cheng Cheng
  • Hantao Cui
  • Yong Li
  • Liu Liu
  • Haoyang Lu
  • Yiwei Ma
  • Ifana Mahbub
  • Sabikun Nahar
  • Ying Qu
  • Farhan Quaiyum
  • Alireza Rahimpour
  • Lingyun Ren
  • Samira Shamsir
  • Aysha Siddique Shanta
  • Yang Song
  • Wenxuan Yao
  • Zhifei Zhang
  • Jiecheng Zhao


2017 Scholar Athlete Awards

Scholar Athlete Awards honor students who excel exceptionally in both scholarship and athletics.

  • Sunay Bhat


2017 Top Collegiate Scholar Awards

The Top Collegiate Scholar Awards honor undergraduates who exhibit extraordinary scholarship.

  • Richard Austin McEver


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