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Picture of Dr. Jack Dongarra and the Titan Supercomputer

Dongarra Earns Major National Computing Honor

Jack Dongarra has built his career becoming one of the foremost authorities in high-performance computing.

In recognition of his work, the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) and the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) have awarded him the SIAM/ACM Prize in Computational Science and Engineering, one of the top honors in his field.

The award cites Dongarra’s key role in the development of software and software standards, software repositories, performance and benchmarking software, and in community efforts to prepare for the challenges of exascale computing, especially in adapting linear algebra infrastructure to emerging architectures.

“This is a validation of the research and efforts that I and my coworkers have made over the last few decades,” said Dongarra. “Supercomputing and exascale computing play important roles in everything from energy to health to national security, so our work is and will continue to be of vital importance.”

A distinguished professor at UT and distinguished research member in ORNL’s Computational and Applied Mathematics Group, Dongarra is perhaps best known as the person who monitors computing performance around the world, releasing the list of the world’s fastest machines.

He also has developed algorithms, models, and computing libraries that are used by industry leaders such as Intel, IBM, Nvidia, Cray, and Hitachi, among others, and has played a key role on the evolution of supercomputing in the US since the 1970s.

As director of the joint UT‘s Innovative Computing Laboratory, he has helped transform it into an internationally-recognized source of expertise on a variety of computing topics—winning four R&D 100 awards along the way—while growing it to include 45 employees in a mix of faculty, researchers, and students.

At ORNL Dongarra pursues the development, analysis and application of efficient numerical algorithms for solving large-scale scientific and engineering problems on advanced computer architectures.

“Jack is a leading figure in one of our core areas of expertise,” said Tickle College of Engineering Interim Dean Mark Dean. “This award is a reflection of both the quality of his work and the respect he has earned from his peers.”

The accolade is the latest in a series of honors for Dongarra, including being elected to both the National Academy of Engineering and the Russian Academy of Sciences, being named a fellow of SIAM, ACM, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, from whom he also received the first Medal of Excellence in Scalable Computing.

The award will be presented at the SIAM Conference on Computational Science and Engineering in Spokane, Washington, on February 25.

C O N T A C T :

David Goddard (865-974-0683,

College Now 33rd in 2019 U.S. News and World Report Rankings

Graphic showing Tickle College is ranked 33rd among all public universities, by US News & World ReportThe Tickle College of Engineering climbed one spot and is now the 33rd-ranked undergraduate program among public universities, according to the 2019 U.S. News and World Report rankings.

The college is ranked 59th overall in the new National Universities list, which includes public and private universities that emphasize research and offer a full range of bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs.

“We’ve built tremendous momentum in the college, and that’s helping generate a great deal of excitement,” said Tickle College of Engineering Interim Dean Mark Dean. “We’re pleased that the things we are doing are getting the recognition they deserve.”

The rankings are based on data gathered in the spring and summer of 2018. Unlike graduate school and university-wide ratings, the only score used to measure colleges at the undergraduate level is a peer review score.

In the full rankings, UT as a whole is 52nd among all public universities and 115th nationally. Read more about the university’s rankings.

EECS Professor Awarded 2019 SIAM/ACM Prize in Computational Science and Engineering

Picture of Dr. Jack Dongarra

Dr. Jack Dongarra

Dr. Jack Dongarra has been selected to receive the 2019 SIAM/ACM Prize in Computational Science and Engineering.

This award is presented every two years by SIAM and the Association for Computing Machinery in the area of computational science in recognition of outstanding contributions to the development and use of mathematical and computational tools and methods for the solution of science and engineering problems.

More information about the SIAM/ACM Prize

The award will be presented at the SIAM Conference on Computational Science and Engineering (CSE19) in Spokane, WA February 25-March 1, 2019.

Jack Dongarra runs a research group called the Innovative Computing Laboratory (ICL). He is part of the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department at the University of Tennessee, is a Distinguished Research Staff at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Computer Science and Mathematics Division and is engaged in research in various areas of high-performance computing.

ICL has grown into an internationally recognized research laboratory, specializing in Numerical Linear Algebra, Distributed Computing, and Performance Evaluation and Benchmarking. The lab now employs forty-five researchers, students, and staff, and has earned many accolades, including four R&D100 awards.

Jack Dongarra specializes in numerical algorithms in linear algebra, parallel computing, the use of advanced-computer architectures, programming methodology, and tools for parallel computers. His research includes the development, testing and documentation of high quality mathematical software. He has contributed to the design and implementation of the following open source software packages and systems: EISPACK, LINPACK, the BLAS, LAPACK, ScaLAPACK, Netlib, PVM, MPI, NetSolve, Linpack Benchmark, Top500, ATLAS, and PAPI.

He was awarded the IEEE Sid Fernbach Award in 2004 for his contributions in the application of high performance computers using innovative approaches; in 2008 he was the recipient of the first IEEE Medal of Excellence in Scalable Computing; in 2010 he was the first recipient of the SIAM Special Interest Group on Supercomputing’s award for Career Achievement; in 2011 he was the recipient of the IEEE Charles Babbage Award; and in 2013 he was the received of the ACM/IEEE Ken Kennedy Award for his leadership in designing and promoting standards for mathematical software used to solve numerical problems common to high performance computing. He is a Fellow of the AAAS, ACM, IEEE, and SIAM and a foreign member of the Russian Academy of Sciences and a member of the US National Academy of Engineering.

UT School of Art Graduate Student Contributes Artwork to the Min H. Kao Building

When you’re in the Min H. Kao building and walking down the 4th floor atrium hallway, take a moment to stop and have a look at the artwork on the wall near room 429. It was created by artist Dana Potter, who is a graduate student in printmaking here at UT.

Artist Statement


My artistic interest cultivates in the exponential integration of technology into mundane, daily life. The information gathered by online advertising organizations is used to create data-driven layouts for all users and file individualized profiles for selling merchandise. The possibility for a truly collaborative or truly individual digital experience is limited by corporate use of computer programming as a means for monetary gain. My artistic practice seeks to destabilize that model by questioning my daily, digital interactions through analog tools. Between the computer and the studio, I investigate my actions as intuitive or programmatic, passive or active, incidental or planned. Screen-printing, relief-printing, and photo-print processes are a natural way for me to trace, replicate, and modify images into variations and multiples. My artworks ask viewers to both question and celebrate the digital tools which define their daily rhythms.




In rural Iowa, just a few miles south of the Minnesota border, Dana Potter grew up in a small, tourist town called Okoboji. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Printmaking with a minor in Interactive Digital Studies from the University of Northern Iowa in 2015. Upon graduating, Potter’s major artistic accomplishments included the 2016 Southern Graphics Council International Undergraduate Fellowship Award and participation in Syracuse University’s 2014 Salt City Dozen national portfolio exchange. Following graduation Potter moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota, where she took on a printmaking education internship at Highpoint Center for Printmaking and an art gallery assistant internship at The Soap Factory. Recently Potter’s work has been in both national and international exhibitions including the “2017 3rd Global Print,” Douro, Portugal; “2017 Beyond Printmaking 5,” Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas; and “Stand Out Prints 2016,” Highpoint Center for Printmaking, Minneapolis, MN.

Picture of Gabriel Bolas

Engineering Alumnus to Lead KUB

Tickle College of Engineering alumnus Gabriel “Gabe” Bolas II will be the new president and CEO of the Knoxville Utilities Board (KUB), taking over in October 2018 from retiring CEO Mintha Roach.

Bolas earned two degrees at UT—his BS in electrical engineering in 1994 and his MS in engineering and industrial management in 2001.

Bolas joined KUB in 1995 as an engineer and has held his current position of senior vice president and chief engineer since 2017. He has served as manager of engineering systems, environmental programs, and overhead construction, and assistant to the chief operating officer. He is a member and past president and state director of the Tennessee Society of Professional Engineers, receiving the Young Engineer of the Year award in 2001 and the Engineer of the Year award in 2013.

Bolas is a member of the Leadership Knoxville class of 2018 and currently serves on the boards of Habitat for Humanity and the Sertoma Center. He is a founding member of the United Way of Greater Knoxville’s 1922 Society. He has worked closely with various environmental and development groups to create relationships between KUB and the environmental community, as well as attracting new industrial employers to the area. He served on the team that was instrumental in securing a $15 million grant for weatherization of Knoxville’s low-income homes.

Bolas and his wife, Tarah, are parents of three sons, Gabriel III, Zander, and Avery.

KUB is a municipal utility serving Knox County and parts of seven adjacent counties and provides electric, gas, water, and wastewater services to more than 457,000 customers.

Read more about Gabe Bolas II.

Picture of Dr. Fran Li with Go board and chess board

Fran Li Games the Power Grid

Professor Fran Li’s friends know him as an enthusiastic fan of board games. He competitively played Go, a strategic board game popular in East Asian countries, while in high school and college. At the time, he never thought that he would someday link his hobby with his research.

Now his Go hobby has grown into the territory of a research proposal funded by the National Science Foundation at $330,000 for three years, beginning August 2018. His project, “From AlphaGo to Power System Artificial Intelligence,” uses game-based artificial intelligence (AI) technology to investigate power-grid issues.

Picture of Dr. Fangxing "Fran" Li

Dr. Fran Li

Go, also called Weiqi or Baduk, originated in ancient China some 2,500 years ago. It is played by two people alternately placing black and white stones on a board marked with a 19-by19 square grid. The goal is to surround more territory on the board than one’s opponent, so it is sometimes literally translated as “the surrounding game.”

While Go is often compared with chess, it has a higher measure of complexity—10^170 in state space, while chess is merely 10^47. Go’s popularity has increased throughout Europe and North America in recent years, especially in academia. Mathematicians and computer scientists found that Go is one of the best targets for testing AI algorithms.

AI has made many significant achievements in gameplay in the past a few decades. The chess software DeepBlue beat the legendary chess champion Garry Kasparov in 1997. But the best Go AI still could not beat an average amateur Go player, let alone any professional player, because of the difficulty of mimicking a human brain’s logical reasoning ability in this complex game.

That situation changed between 2015 and 2017 when Google DeepMind’s AI program called AlphaGo defeated several world professional Go champions. This was considered such an epic milestone in both the AI and Go communities that the AI triumph was featured on the cover of Nature.

Li was immediately attracted by the success of AlphaGo. Since then, he has examined the reasons that AlphaGo can achieve what past AI efforts could not, and investigated ways to use the strategies and algorithms in AlphaGo to solve some complex problems in the field of electric power systems.

After laying out a detailed comparison of Go, AlphaGo, and some power system problems, Li proposed ideas to address a number of emerging problems in the modernized power systems under the smart-grid era, such as strategic market bidding with renewables, security assessment under multi-scenario and multi-period paradigm, and other aspects.

Li is the James W. McConnell Professor in electrical engineering and computer science and serves as the UT Campus Director for CURENT.

Read more about Li’s recently funded project.

2018 EECS Welcome Back Celebration- Video Recap

On August 22, 2018, Systers: Women in EECS @ UTK hosted the EECS Welcome Back Celebration, in the Min Kao building. It’s our way of welcoming all of our students back for a great fall semester!  Thanks to all of you who came out and participated. Here are some highlights from the day…

Parker Taking New Role at Office of Science and Technology Policy

Lynne Parker is stepping down as interim dean of UT’s Tickle College of Engineering to serve as assistant director for artificial intelligence for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Picture of Dr. Lynne Parker

Lynne Parker

Mark Dean, the John Fisher Distinguished Professor in the Min H. Kao Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, will serve as interim dean of the college, Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor David Manderscheid has announced.

Parker’s final day as interim dean is Wednesday. Dean will take over on Thursday.

“I want to thank Lynne for her outstanding service as interim dean and congratulate her on this tremendous opportunity to work in the Office of Science and Technology Policy,” Manderscheid said. “I’m pleased that Mark agreed to step in and assume the reins as interim dean. After a history-making career in the private sector, Mark brought his pioneering knowledge of computing back to his alma mater. His research and teaching have been—and will continue to be—of great benefit to the Tickle College of Engineering.”

Picture of Dr. Mark Dean

Mark Dean

A pioneering computer scientist who holds three of the nine patents in the earliest development of the personal computer, Dean received his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from UT in 1979, then completed a master’s degree from Florida Atlantic University and a doctorate from Stanford University, both also in electrical engineering.

Prior to coming to work at UT in 2013, Dean served in Dubai as chief technology officer for IBM Middle East and Africa. Before that, he was vice president at IBM’s Almaden Research Center in San Jose, California.

“It is an honor to be asked to serve as interim dean of the Tickle College of Engineering,” Dean said. “My primary goal in returning to the college was to do whatever was needed to support the growth and success of the college. I will do all I can to continue the progress and momentum established by Interim Chancellor Davis and Interim Dean Parker, and to support the TCE students, faculty, and staff in achieving their goals.”

Dean is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, the National Academy of Inventors, and the National Inventors Hall of Fame. He was named an IBM Fellow, the company’s highest technical honor, and he holds 14 IBM Invention Achievement Awards and six Corporate Awards. The National Society of Black Engineers, in which he is a Distinguished Engineer, has twice selected him Black Engineer of the Year. His honors also include the US Department of Commerce Ronald H. Brown American Innovator Award and the National Institute of Science Outstanding Scientist Award.

Parker, a widely recognized leader in the field of distributed multirobot systems, will begin her new role with the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) on August 20. She will oversee interagency science and technology policy coordination efforts in artificial intelligence and provide advice to the Executive Office of the President on AI-related matters. She will encourage the development of national approaches that ensure a robust AI research ecosystem, a well-prepared workforce, and the creation of unique research partnerships across academia, industry, and the federal government.

“I have been honored to serve as interim dean of the Tickle College of Engineering and have had a terrific experience,” Parker said, “yet I am extremely excited about this new opportunity at OSTP. AI is a topic of intense national and international attention, and the world is looking to the United States to provide leadership. The opportunity to help lead the nation in an area that has such national and international importance, and which has been the focus of my career, is a once-in-a-lifetime privilege. I am honored to be asked to serve the nation in this manner.”

This appointment marks the second time Parker has worked in a federal research leadership role; she served in 2015–2016 as division director of information and intelligent systems in the Computer and Information Science and Engineering Directorate of the National Science Foundation.

During her time at OSTP, Parker will remain affiliated with UT through the Intergovernmental Personnel Act, which allows the temporary assignment of personnel to the federal government from institutions such as universities. Parker will make occasional visits to UT to continue research with her graduate students and discuss strategic research opportunities. Her appointment will be for one year, with the option to renew for up to four years.


David Goddard (865-974-0683,

EECS Faculty Begin Fall Semester with Promotions and Tenure

Congratulations to our EECS faculty members who received well-earned promotions and tenure this month!

Promoted to Full Professor

Picture of Dr. Jayne WuJayne Wu

Research: Micro-electronics, microfluidics, MEMS




Tenured and Promoted to Associate Professor

Picture of Dr. Nicole McFarlaneNicole McFarlane

Research: Mixed signal circuit design, biotechnology and bio-sensor design particularly for lab-on-chip applications, noise theory for electronic systems, energy and power trade-offs in mixed signal circuit design in particular studying the channel capacity of analog circuits, microfabrication and development of devices.

Promoted to Research Associate Professor

Chien-fei Chen, EECS

Chen serves as the director of education and diversity programs and research assistant professor for CURENT. She is also an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Sociology.

Dr. Greg Peterson Starts Term of Service as EECS Interim Department Head

Picture of Dr. Gregory Peterson

Dr. Greg Peterson, Interim EECS Department Head

Congratulations to Dr. Greg Peterson, who has begun serving as the new Interim Department Head for the Min H. Kao Department of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science.

Previous Department Head and Min H. Kao Professor Leon Tolbert is returning to the department’s faculty at that time, having served as head since January 2013.

Dr. Peterson has been a key member of the department for almost 20 years and will be a familiar face to our faculty during this time of transition. I would like to thank Dr. Tolbert for his years of leadership and for all the growth and success he has overseen during his time as head of the department.

Peterson has served in a number of leadership roles, including as a US Air Force captain at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Research Laboratory, as deputy director of the UT-ORNL Joint Institute for Computational Sciences, and as director of UT’s National Institute for Computational Sciences. He earned his bachelors, masters, and doctoral degrees at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.

He is a senior member of the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and a member of the Association for Computing Machinery, the American Society for Engineering Education, the Accellera/VHDL International Users’ Forum, and the Society for Computer Simulation.

Once again, please join us in congratulating Dr. Peterson on his new role.

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