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Brainy little UT robot may hold key to smart, unmanned drones and vehicles


A team of University of Tennessee students and an Oak Ridge National Laboratory researcher have created a robot with a brain. The vehicle — affectionately named Neon — looks like a cross between a Roomba and Disney-Pixar’s “Wall-E.”

It is capable of navigating a space while avoiding obstacles by sensing objects and then changing directions to avoid bumping into them.

The University’s neuromorphic research group created the bot as a step toward new drone technology for the Air Force.

Read more here.

For more information, please also visit the website for TENNLab- Neuromorphic Architectures, Learning, Applications

Min H. Kao Building Tour

Have a look around the Min H. Kao Building, home of the Electrical Engineering & Computer Science Department!

Wang Elected Fellow of National Academy of Inventors

Fred Wang, UT’s Condra Chair of Excellence in Power Electronics, has been selected for induction as a National Academy of Inventors Fellow for 2017.

Being named an NAI Fellow is one of the highest honors a researcher can receive, with the 912 NAI Fellows—including 29 Nobel laureates—accounting for more than 32,000 issued US patents and $140 billion in revenue.

For Wang, who holds a joint appointment with Oak Ridge National Laboratory and serves as technical director of the Center for Ultra-wide-area Resilient Electric Energy Transmission Networks (CURENT), his work has been mainly on high-power, high-efficiency, and high-density power electronics—technology critical to electrified transportation wind and solar energy integration, data centers, and industrial automation.

“I am deeply honored to be chosen by my fellow scientists and engineers for this award,” said Wang. “This recognition of the work that my colleagues and I have been able to do is humbling, and serves as inspiration to continue to improve our ideas.”

Wang and his colleagues are working on microgrids, systems that can operate either with the overall power grid or independently.

Microgrids can be particularly helpful in the wake of natural disasters such as the recent hurricanes that devastated Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, since they allow power to be restored far sooner than it takes to rebuild a traditional power system.

While the cost to deploy them remains prohibitively high for widespread adaptation, the concept holds enough promise that many CURENT industry partners—like TVA, the Chattanooga Electric Power Board, the Electric Power Research Institute, and Southern Company—have all taken interest, among others.

Wang joins three colleagues in the Tickle College of Engineering as an NAI Fellow: Yilu Liu, UT-ORNL Governor’s Chair for Power Electronics and CURENT deputy director; Mark Dean, John Fisher Distinguished Professor; and Doug Birdwell, professor emeritus.

Selections are made based on peer nominations for innovation and discovery that have “significant impact on society” and help enhance further research.

Wang and the other members of this year’s class will be inducted at a ceremony in Washington, DC, on April 5, 2018.


David Goddard (865-974-0683,

EECS Professor and Student Receive Best Paper Award

Dr. Husheng Li and his student, Yawen Fan, have received the best paper award of IEEE Global Communications Conference (Globecom) 2017:

  1. Fan and H. Li, “Distributed approximating global optimality with local reinforcement learning in HetNet,” IEEE Globecom, 2017.

Dr. Li said, “Globecom is one of the two flagship conferences in the area of communications (the other one is IEEE ICC; we received the best paper award of ICC in 2011). This will be a good chance to improve the visibility of UTK and our ECCS in the filed of communications.”

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.

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