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Maseeh College News and Events

Ivan Sutherland Awarded the 2012 Kyoto Prize in Advanced Technology

Dr. Ivan Sutherland, Visiting Scientist at the Maseeh College, has been named the recipient of the 2012 Kyoto Prize in Advanced Technology for “Pioneering Achievements in the Development of Computer Graphics and Interactive Interfaces.” 

The Kyoto Prize is a prestigious prize awarded by the Inamori Foundation in Japan. Ivan's work over nearly five decades in computer graphics and its large impact on design, computing, and the arts was cited in the award announcement.

Ivan has been working as a Visiting Scientist at the Maseeh College since 2009 when he co-founded the Asynchronous Research Center with his spouse, Marly Roncken.

 

Engineering and Technology Management Celebrating Its 25th Anniversary

The Department of Engineering and Technology Management (ETM) at the Maseeh College is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. All ETM alumni are cordially invited to join the festivities June 14-15, 2012, in Portland and to complete an entry for the special 25th anniversary book.  The book will highlight the history of the department as well as ETM alumni and their accomplishments.

Dundar Kocaoglu, Chair of ETM says, "We are proud of the worldwide recognition that ETM has achieved in 25 years. Our 700+ graduates are providing leadership in research, education and implementation of engineering and technology management throughout the world now. We are looking forward to welcoming them to campus to join the other members of the “ETM Family” on this special celebration of the department."

For more information and to RSVP for the ETM anniversary events, please click here.

Diane Sawyer Retires as the Maseeh College Dean’s Executive Assistant

Diane Sawyer retired as the Dean’s Executive Assistant on April 1, 2012. During her 35-year career in service to higher education and the citizens of Oregon, Diane worked at Oregon State University, the Oregon University System (OUS) Chancellor’s Office, and Portland State. She began her tenure as the Maseeh College Executive Assistant to the Dean in 2007 under Dean Bob Dryden.

When asked what she would miss the most at the Maseeh College after retiring, Diane replied, “I will miss the people in the college most of all. Memorable for me are those "wow" moments when someone at the Maseeh College is talking about a class they are taking or the research they are conducting. Before I came to MCECS I had worked mostly with administrators and policy developers in the OUS Chancellor's Office. While the work there was interesting, I was somewhat isolated from the education mission of the university. I have really enjoyed ending my working career in a place that offered the connection with faculty and students every day.”

In retirement Diane is looking forward to the opportunity to do something new (and unplanned) each day. A marathon walker, when the spring rains stop, she will be out walking in her neighborhood and hiking with her spouse, Larry. She will return to the PSU campus for cultural and educational events and hopes to always have a trip to somewhere wonderful on the schedule.

Diane with her spouse, Larry, Maseeh College Dean, Renjeng Su, and his spouse, Nanwei.

MCECS Faculty and Staff Honored for Their Length of Service to PSU

Four Maseeh College faculty and staff were honored by PSU President Wim Wiewel at a special ceremony in Smith Memorial Student Union Ballroom on March 6th for their length of service to Portland State University.  The four were John Harris (25 years), W. Robert Daasch (25 years), Mike Gorji (30 years), and Franz Rad (40 years).

John Harris

When John Harris received his Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering (BS EE) from Oregon State University the economy was in the midst of a recession. Unemployment was high and those companies that would normally be eager to hire new BS EE graduates simply had no positions to fill. After a call to a former professor who was working at PSU, one thing led to another and Harris landed a job as the CAD Lab Manager in the School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS) at Portland State. That was twenty-five years ago.

In the mid-1980s, the Office of Information Technology (OIT) operated all main frame computers at PSU. The mechanical and civil engineering departments wanted computers with Microsoft DOS that weren’t connected to the university mainframe, but this service was not provided by OIT. The CAD Lab Manager position was thus created to manage the personal computers (PCs) at the SEAS.  Over the years Harris has maintained responsibility for all engineering and computer science PCs and is now the Windows Systems Administrator for the Computer Action Team at the Maseeh College.

W. Robert Daasch

For a university professor, a telling sign that your research has had an impact is when an idea you originally fought for becomes an industry standard. This is the case for Professor W. Robert Daasch, who joined the Electrical Engineering Department at PSU in 1986. Co-Director of the Integrated Circuits Design and Test Laboratory (ICDTL), Professor Daasch’s main area of research concerns digital and analog integrated circuit design and testing.

Integrated circuits are used ubiquitously in modern electronics, including computers, mobile phones, and other digital appliances. Integrated circuits are designed to a very fine detail. However, manufacturing integrated circuits introduces both statistical variation and random failure that design cannot easily predict.

In the early years of the ICDTL, Professor Daasch considered that the process of manufacturing integrated circuits could be improved by examining statistical variation and random failure simultaneously, which up to then, companies had examined separately. When Professor Daasch requested data for his research from integrated circuits manufacturers, however, he ran into a wall. With persistence and a little serendipity, the ICDTL was able to secure its own semiconductor tester, one of the first in an academic environment at that time. Professor Daasch was able to pursue his research and collect the data himself with the help of many graduate students, eventually proving it was advantageous to think about random defects and random variation at the same time. Today, integrated circuits manufacturers voluntarily share their data with the ICDTL, whose research results have helped improve several generations of integrated circuit design.

After achieving success with the research of the ICDTL, Professor Daasch’s goal is for his program to grow and to have a broader impact on the curriculum. A third generation academic, he is also keen to play a greater role in service to the institution of the university. After 9-10 years as a member of the PSU Faculty Senate, he will serve as its President for the next academic year Fall 2012-2013. (Photo of Professor Daasch receiving his award from PSU President, Wim Wiewel.)

M. Mike Gorji

Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, M. Mike Gorji, was honored on March 6th for 30 years of service to PSU. Originally from Iran, as a young man Professor Gorji lived in California for many years. After completing his PhD he returned to Iran, but the events of the Iranian Revolution in 1979 led him back to California.

Professor Gorji’s expertise is structural mechanics. His research deals with the theoretical prediction of the behavior of fiber-reinforced composite materials subject to various loading and environmental conditions. After returning to California from Iran, he worked in academia and the aerospace industry before securing a position at what was then the School of Engineering and Applied Science at Portland State. When Professor Gorji joined the Department of Civil Engineering in 1981, there were only a few other faculty members. At the time, the program was transitioning from structural to civil engineering and received its first accreditation from the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) for civil engineering in 1982.

Over his 30-year career, Professor Gorji has participated in and witnessed the growth of his department, the school of engineering, which became the College of Engineering and Computer Science in 2000, and PSU. He remarks, “There’s no comparison between PSU now and what it was 30 years ago!” He is delighted the university and the college’s reputations have grown and that students have more resources at their disposal. Though Professor Gorji doesn’t believe in retiring at an arbitrary age, he recognizes that after 30 years of service he may have to slow down. He would like to continue to teach, but a lighter course-load because there are so many interesting places to see in the world; he intends to make time to see those places!

Franz Rad

When Franz Rad was looking for work more than 40 years ago while completing his PhD at the University of Texas at Austin, he didn’t have the luxury of online employment search tools. In an age before the advent of the Internet, he turned to the one source that could be relied on then and now for information: the library.

As a PhD student in structural engineering with a young family that included three little boys, Franz’s employment search was motivated largely by family concerns. Franz and his wife Leecia’s first son was born deaf due to a case of rubella during Leecia’s pregnancy. The Rads wished to enroll their son at a school for deaf children that used lip reading and spoken language instruction, but at the time there were only three such schools in the United States: in St. Louis, Missouri, Northampton, Massachusetts, and Portland, Oregon. Franz used library research to identify universities in the vicinity of these three cities and contacted each one to enquire if they had any positions available.

Franz began hearing back from the universities, one-by-one, with the news there were no positions available. He had heard from nearly all of them except one: Portland State. It was then he decided to employ the trump card in his deck: a personal connection. When Franz began his PhD studies at the University of Texas at Austin he had met Chik Erzurumlu, now Dean Emeritus of the Maseeh College. At the time Chik was an Assistant Professor in the Applied Science Department at PSU who was at UT Austin completing his PhD. At UT, while writing his dissertation, Franz taught a course in Fortran programming and Chik had focused a recruiting eye on him. With Chik’s help, Franz was able to get phone interviews with the head of the Applied Science Department and the Dean of the College of Science, which led to a job offer with a starting annual salary of $9600. In 1971, that was a fine salary for an Assistant Professor at the beginning of a career.

In his 40-year career at Portland State, Professor Rad has had a tremendous impact on both the university and the college of engineering. He served as Chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering from 1979 to 2002 and was a major player along with other PSU engineering pioneers, such as Dr. Erzurumlu, in shaping the Maseeh College into what it is today. In the community, he is widely consulted by professionals, politicians and policymakers for his expertise on mitigating against earthquakes. Accustomed to teaching six courses a year, Professor Rad admits, “All good things must eventually come to an end…” However, it’s a safe bet to say there are likely several chapters left in the history of Professor Franz Rad and Portland State University.

 

Alex Bigazzi wins prestigious 2011 Milton Pikarsky Memorial Award 

Civil and Environmental Engineering graduate student Alex Bigazzi (advisor Dr. Miguel Figliozzi) has won the prestigious 2011 Milton Pikarsky Memorial Award in the Science & Technology-MS category. These national awards are given annually by the Council of University Transportation Centers (CUTC) to two graduate students in Transportation for the best PhD Dissertation and MS Thesis in Science and Technology. Alex’s thesis was titled, "Traffic Congestion Mitigation as an Emissions Reduction Strategy." His research analyzed the potential for long-term pollution emissions reductions through congestion mitigation, illuminating both the many drawbacks of this approach and the areas of greatest potential.  Alex was presented the award in Washington, DC, at the CUTC Awards Banquet on January 21, 2012, immediately preceding the 91st Annual Meeting of the Transportation Research Board.

 

Maseeh Professor Lisa Zurk honored

Lisa M. Zurk, Maseeh Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, presented her inaugural Maseeh professorship lecture "Cracking the Code of Underwater Sound" on Thursday, September 22, 2011. Zurk’s talk addressed the impact of acoustic noise in underwater environments and presented some of the acoustic sensing techniques she uses to monitor and decipher sounds of marine/freshwater habitats in places as diverse as the Columbia River, Oregon and Ahihi-Kinau Bay, Maui.

Zurk is the founder and director of the Northwest Electromagnetic and Acoustics Research Lab (NEAR-Lab), a Fellow of the Acoustical Society of America, and a Senior Member of the IEEE. Her research is in physics-based sensing of acoustic signal noise, with application to problems such as underwater habitat monitoring using acoustics, terahertz detection of explosives or bio-agents, and remote sensing of the earth’s surface.

The Maseeh professorship was awarded to Zurk in February 2011 by the The Massiah Foundation. The professorship as well as our college is named after Fariborz Maseeh, Sc.D., founder and president of the The Massiah Foundation, and a member of the Maseeh College Academy of Distinguished Alumni.

Experiments in Outer Space: The kick-off

Professor Mark Weislogel and a team of researchers are conducting experiments on the International Space Station (ISS) from a new ground station in the Surface Tension Laboratory at Maseeh College. On September 13, NASA astronaut Mike Fossum (see photo) successfully installed the hardware into the U.S. Lab Module’s Microgravity Science Glovebox. Since then, “all hands are on deck” conducting studies on the capillary flow of fluids in very low gravity. The goal is to improve the transportation, storage and handling of liquids such as fuels, cryogens  and water in microgravity.  The researchers are working “24/7” alongside teams in ground stations based in ZARM, University of Bremen, Germany and at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center Live video, telescience data, and realtime commanding will stream to and from ISS and the three ground stations for the next month.

Dean Su participates in White House forum

The President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness brought together academics, scientists, and industry leaders on August 31 at Portland State University for a "Listening and Action Session" on public and private-sector responses to a shortage of engineers in America. Intel CEO Paul Otellini and U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu first discussed topics such as why more students are not choosing engineering, followed by a panel discussion on steps to take in curbing our engineering shortage. In addition to Dean Su, panelists included Job Council members Intel President and CEO Paul Otellini, Permac Industries President and CEO Darlene Miller, and Don Graves as well as Georgia Tech engineering dean Gary May, Overbrooke Entertainment COO Guy Primus, UC Berkeley engineering dean Shankar Sastry, Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology President and CEO Telle Whitney, and Purdue engineering dean Leah Jamieson. The panel was moderated by USA Today technology writer Jon Swartz.

Aerospace president and CEO Wanda M. Austin to be inducted

into the Denice Dee Denton Women Engineers Hall of Fame 

The Denice Dee Denton Women Engineers Hall of Fame honors women in technology and engineering who have made significant impact on our lives through their dedication to the engineering profession. 

On November 10, 2011, Dr. Wanda M. Austin, president and chief executive officer of The Aerospace Corporation, and electrical engineering student Kjersten Criss will be inducted into the Denice Dee Denton Women Engineers Hall of Fame at Maseeh College of Engineering and Computer Science.  "Dr. Austin and Ms. Criss serve as important role models for others, particularly female students, who are pursuing careers in engineering," states Dr. Renjeng Su, dean of Maseeh College. "Recognizing their career accomplishments highlights the importance and success of women in engineering."

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