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Dr. Micah Beck Named Fulbright Scholar for 2016–17 Academic Year

Four UT professors are serving as Fulbright Scholars this academic year—Micah Beck, Sarah Eldridge, Krista Wiegand, and Songning Zhang.

The Fulbright Program is a prestigious international exchange initiative that awards about 1,100 grants to American scholars each year. Funded by the US government, Fulbright Scholars are chosen based on their leadership and their abilities to teach, conduct research and contribute to solutions for shared international concerns.

Beck_EECSMicah Beck, an associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science in UT’s College of Engineering, will head to Nairobi, Kenya, to conduct research and teach at Strathmore University.

There he will work with iLabAfrica to develop better network and data systems in the hopes of increasing connectivity between urban centers and rural schools, libraries, and research locations. The lessons learned during that work will help better connect rural areas to the modern world.

Leader of the Logistical Computing and Internetworking Laboratory, Beck’s research activities include computing and operating systems, networking, storage, and exploring the boundaries of both parallel and distributed computation.

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IBM Donates Server to UT

IBM has generously donated a Pure Application appliance system, additional storage, and several suites of software to UT. The technology provided will deliver capabilities in the areas of big data analytics, statistical analysis, business mining and information sciences. Both students and faculty in the University of Tennessee’s College of Engineering and the Haslam College of Business, will benefit from their generosity.

On August 25, 2016, EECS held a “ribbon cutting” ceremony in the Min Kao building, where the Pure Application system will be housed. Here are some photos from the event:

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College of Engineering, Haslam College of Business Work with IBM to Tackle Big Data

UT and IBM have announced a new computational lab and education initiative devoted to analytics that will enable the university to store large amounts of unstructured data in a security-rich environment while providing students and researchers the processing systems necessary to analyze it.

Established with technology donated by IBM, the “Advanced Analytics Lab, IBM Enabled” has been developed as a joint resource for the College of Engineering and the Haslam College of Business.

It will provide enterprise applications and systems processing to analyze big data from corporate partners. Students and researchers in both colleges will benefit from the new computing and analytics lab, which will be located in the university’s Min H. Kao Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Building.

“With this donation, we will be able to develop research applicable to both colleges that will ultimately help businesses such as IBM that rely on the successful development of students in those fields,” said Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek.

Approximately 3,800 undergraduate and graduate students in the business, electrical engineering, and computer science programs will work in the lab, which officially opens August 25 in an event featuring IBM executives.

“This lab will facilitate research at the crossroads of engineering and business and begin an evolution of research and education that positions UT faculty and students to be more influential and relevant in academia and industry,” said Steve Mangum, dean of the Haslam College of Business and Stokely Foundation Leadership Chair.

Both colleges will be using the lab for classes including big data and streaming data analytics, database management and design, supply chain analytics, marketing analytics, information technology (IT) audit and audit systems security, and supply chain IT.

“Any opportunity to combine learning with aspects of real-world experience is a plus for students,” said College of Engineering Dean Wayne Davis. “IBM is allowing students from both of our colleges to have the opportunity of a lifetime, to take part in something that can elevate them from their peers at other institutions.”

Students in the Advanced Analytics Lab will conduct research in the analytics of large data sets from the financial and health care sectors, including social media data, business-to-business transactions, Medicare claims data, and real-time streaming data from the Internet of Things.

Based on an IBM PureApplication® system, the technology solution incorporates servers, storage, software, network devices, and virtual machine managers that can be operated through a single console. The solution can recognize patterns even across video and audio files, and simplifies creation and reuse of applications using Bluemix, IBM’s cloud platform.

“The workforce of the future needs the skill sets to draw insights from big data that can transform businesses,” said Mike Ray, IBM’s vice president of business architect and transformation. “By working with the University of Tennessee to develop the Advanced Analytics Laboratory, we are working to bridge the skill gap when it comes to analytics and helping prepare the next generation of workers for the business challenges of the future.”


College of Engineering

David Goddard (865-974-0683,

Haslam College of Business

Katie Bahr (865-974-3589,

UT, Great Smoky Mountains National Park Release New Biodiversity Web Application

UT’s Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and School of Art have partnered with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park Inventory and Monitoring Branch to create a new web application, Species Mapper.

Everyone from park managers to school groups can use Species Mapper to explore suitable habitats for species for more than 1,800 species.

Species Mapper uses locations where species have been found to help predict additional places they may occur in the park. These predictions, or models, are based on observations made during ongoing resource monitoring as well as research studies conducted by scientists from all over the world.

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CURENT’s Huang Receives Chinese Government Award

Picture of Can HuangWhen the National Science Foundation and US Department of Energy chose UT to serve as lead institution for its new engineering research center in 2011, the impact was felt far beyond the $18 million in support.

One of the key goals of the initiative, known as the Center for Ultra-wide-area Resilient Electric Energy Transmission Networks, or CURENT, was to attract top minds from around the world—and the varying perspectives they bring—to UT.

Once here, those students help researchers resolve issues surrounding the nation’s power system, including developing a high-efficiency low-cost grid that can be monitored and controlled in real time.

Under the leadership of the Tickle College of Engineering’s CTI Molecular Imaging Chair and Professor Kevin Tomsovic and Governor’s Chair for Power Electronics Yilu Liu, CURENT has brought in such visionaries in spades.

The latest example of that success is Can Huang, an electrical engineering doctoral candidate who was recently honored with the Chinese Government Award for Outstanding Self-Financed Students Abroad.

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EECS Professor Honored for Early Career Excellence in Research and Scholarship

Gu_EECSFour faculty members received Research and Creative Achievement—Professional Promise Awards at the 2016 Chancellor’s Honors Awards. The honorees are Monica Black, associate professor of history; Shawn Campagna, associate professor of chemistry; Sarah Colby, associate professor of nutrition; and Gong Gu, Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

Dr. Gu is a prodigious researcher whose h-index—27 for the Web of Science—already exceeds the average in his field. His primary interest lies in the heterostructures of two-dimensional materials. Published in the journal Science in 2014 and cited sixty-eight times, his landmark study in this area examines how the concept of heteroepitaxy in 3-D semiconductors can be extended to two dimensions, resulting in a one-dimensional interface. Gu’s other research interests include photovoltaics and organic electronics. For this work, Gu and his student, S. Das, were featured on the cover page of the journal Nanoscale. He is known for his open-mindedness, perseverance, and leadership in the discipline.

Systers: Women In EECS Award Winners at Chancellor’s Honors Banquet

Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek celebrated faculty, staff, and students for their accomplishments and service Tuesday at the annual Chancellor’s Honors Banquet. The banquet is the university’s largest recognition event of the year.  Systers: Women In EECS @ UTK was the recipient of the 2016 Charles R. Burchett Extraordinary Contributions to Campus Life Award.

The Charles R. Burchett Extraordinary Contributions to Campus Life award is named for the World War II veteran, former Knox County Schools administrator, and UT dean of students to honor students and student organizations for extraordinary contributions to campus life.

With its mission to recruit, mentor, and retain women in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, the group SYSTERS: Women in EECS has seen success—in the form of an increase in the percentage of women in the department from 6.1 to 9.6, in the growth of outreach by the group to area middle and high schools, and in the hosting of a number of camps and events designed to encourage current students and to welcome new ones. The group relies on a combination of peer mentoring and tutoring. It provides workshops in skills that are central to the discipline but not covered in the curriculum, and sponsors student life activities.

Systers was founded by Denise Koessler, who earned a doctorate in computer science in 2014. Koessler sought to create an environment for women in engineering that was welcoming and geared toward encouragement and collaboration. In just a few short years, it has become one of the most active student organizations in the College of Engineering and has garnered local and national media coverage.

EECS Ph.D. student Wins 2015 Chinese Government Award for Outstanding Self-Financed Students Abroad

Photo of EE Ph.D. student Can HuangElectrical Engineering Ph.D. student Can Huang has received the 2015 Chinese Government Award for Outstanding Self-Financed Students Abroad ($6000).  This award was established to encourage research excellence and to recognize the achievement among Chinese students abroad. It is granted across all fields of study and was presented to only 500 out of 460,000 Chinese oversea students all over the world in 2015. The final winners were selected by a review committee organized by China’s Ministry of Education.

Two CS Students Awarded Fellowships

Congratulations to two of our EECS students who have recently been awarded fellowships!

Austin McEver has been awarded a URS Engineering Study Abroad Fellowship in the amount of $1,500. This award will go toward his Fall, 2016 studies in Computer Science at the University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.

Rachel Offutt has also been awarded a URS Engineering Study Abroad Fellowship in the amount of $1,500. This award will go toward her Fall, 2016 studies in Computer Science at University College, Dublin, Ireland.

Best of luck in Australia and Ireland this fall!

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