Weekly Memo

Oct. 14, 2013

Dear members of the Hajim School community:

     There are two very important reasons to celebrate Govind Agrawal's installment as the inaugural Dr. James C. Wyant Professor in Optics on Oct. 28. The first reason is a truly worthy recipient. Govind, you will recall, was honored earlier this year with the William H. Riker University Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching, and last year with the IEEE Photonics Society's prestigious Quantum Electronics Award. His students describe their time in his research group as one of the great experiences of their lives; his peers recognize him as a giant in his field, whose research in quantum electronics, nonlinear photonics and fiber-optic communications has led to more than 400 research papers and eight books.

    The second reason to celebrate is the steadfast support of Jim Wyant '67 (MS), '69 (PhD) Optics. Jim, who is a University trustee and member of the Hajim School Dean's Advisory Committee, has also endowed the M. Parker Givens Professorship in Optics, currently held by Xi-Cheng Zhang, the Institute's director.

     I am delighted that a team of students from our new Center for Medical Technology and Innovation program and from the Department of Biomedical Engineering, took third place at the Coulter College workshop recently, held in conjunction with the annual meeting of the Biomedical Engineering Society. Student teams from 14 schools worked with physicians to identify clinical needs, then came up with ideas to pitch as possible business ventures to a panel of judges. CMTI students Spencer Klubben, Laura Hobbs, Erin Keegan, and BME undergrads Amanda Chen, Tiffany Kobee, and Matthew Levasseur, focused their pitch on rehabilitative systems for the physical therapy market. Ankur Chandra, CMTI’s clinical director, and Greg Gdowski, CMTI’s executive director, led the student team.

      Richard Waugh, BME’s department chair, received the society’s 2013 BMES Distinguished Service Award for extraordinary contributions to the society. Rick served as the BMES President-elect during the 2009-2010 term, and was the BMES President from 2010-2012.
     Congratulations to Jeremy Warner '15, a member of Prof. Wendi Heinzelman's Wireless  Communications and Networking Group in Electrical and Computer Engineering, for being named a recipient of an IEEE Power and Energy Society Scholarship Plus Initiative award.  These awards are given to high-achieving undergraduates in electrical engineering programs who are committed to exploring the power and energy engineering field through both coursework and career experiences. Winners of this award receive up to three years of financial support and gain career experience through internships and co-op work.

     Our Baja SAE Team is off and running, after entering two of its all-terrain vehicles from prior years in a recent competition in Indiana. New recruits refurbished the vehicles as a way to get fully involved. This is a great hands-on experience for students from any discipline, not just engineering; the team is also a good ambassador for our school and university. Read more here; students interested in participating can contact team president Nick Brown.

  I would like to encourage faculty, staff and students to attend an important unveiling on Oct. 21 when the university's Office of Technology Transfer becomes URVentures. Believe me, this is not a cosmetic name change. Our tech transfer leader Scott Catlin, an Optics alum, has been working hard since he arrived earlier this year to identify bottlenecks in our technology commercialization efforts, and has come up with not only a new look, but a new structure and focus. You can learn more about the changes -- and the importance of tech transfer to our university -- at a F.I.R.E. Series presentation starting at 9 a.m. that day in the Class of '62 Auditorium at the Med Center. It is free and open to the public, but preregistration is required -- by Wednesday -- by contacting Karen Grabowski. Hope to see you there.

As always, keep me updated and have a great week.


Robert L. Clark
Professor and Dean