Weekly Memo

April 20, 2015

Dear members of the Hajim School community:

     The spring and fall meetings of the Industrial Associates are always special occasions at The Institute of Optics, but this spring's meeting was particularly memorable because of the opportunity it presented to celebrate the retirement of Nicholas George, our Wilson Professor of Electronic Imaging and Professor of Optics -- and also to celebrate the endowed professorship that has been created in his name. Nick joined the Institute in 1977 and served as its director until 1981. His impact on the field of optics has been felt throughout the world. For example, he pioneered basic research in holography and was the first to develop a theory for the space and wavelength dependence of speckle -- a theory applied to remote sensing of satellites and space debris. Thanks to generous gifts from Milton Chang, a friend and colleague from Cal Tech, and Joseph Goodman of Stanford University, the Nicholas George Endowed Professorship in Optics will help us continue to attract and retain high quality faculty, which has been a hallmark of The Institute.

      Albert Simon, who recently celebrated his 90th birthday, has also contributed much to our university over the years, as a Professor and Chair of Mechanical Engineering, and as a Senior Scientist at the Laboratory for Laser Energetics. His research in plasma physics has advanced our understanding of direct-drive laser fusion; he has inspired many graduate students to follow in his footsteps. So it was gratifying indeed when his family celebrated his 90th birthday with a donation to LLE that will be used to support its high school summer program. It is a fitting way to honor Al’s many contributions. You can read more here.

    Our student engineering society chapters have stepped up in a big way this school year. After successfully organizing last fall's first student-run e-social on Halloween (including a pumpkin launch and a pumpkin carving contest) representatives of the various chapters and engineering organizations formed an official e-social committee, which organized the recent spring Engineering Olympics e-social. Click here to read more and here to see a video. E-board president Koji Muto, '15 MechE, says "we will be continuing this exciting new tradition of student-run E-Socials under  the leadership of Vito Martino ('17 ChemE), the elected president of the E-Social Committee for the next academic year." This has taken a big load off our Hajim School advisors and administrative staff at a time of increasing enrollments.

    Our University chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers has not only been pitching in to help with the e-socials (sponsoring the fall pumpkin carving, for example) but has taken over organizing study halls to support our STEM Gems program, which helps retain underrepresented minority students, a key goal of the Hajim School. Eight members of the chapter recently attended the national NSBE conference in Anaheim, Calif.,  benefiting from leadership workshops and opportunities to talk to employers about internships and job opportunities and to graduate school representatives about their programs. Aurelie Roche '16 ChemE said the  opportunity to learn about careers, coming in the middle of spring semester, helped motivate her for the big push to finish classes and final exams. "I can see where I'm headed," she said. Farid Adenuja '16 MechE was impressed by the role models he met -- minorities representing various businesses, "all of whom have graduated and succeeded in achieving high positions.  This convention reminded me that I'm not alone; that a lot of people who also look like me are striving for the same things -- and succeeding." Other members who attended the conference are Hamed Kone '15 of ChemE, Chiamaka Alozie '17 of ChemE, Kenneth Imade '16 of ECE, Kian Jones '17 of Computer Science, Maria Gonzalez '16 of Economics/Math, and Christopher Marsh '15 of Optical Engineering. To find out more about our NSBE chapter, email nsbeuofr@gmail.com

      Twenty-two members of the University's Baja SAE team had a very successful trip to the SAE Baja Competition held in Auburn, Ala., coming in 29th out of  about 100 teams. Nick Van Swol made an impressive run through the Suspension and Traction Course. James Powers and Connor Haddix kept the UR car in 14th place through much of the 4-hour Endurance Race with the help of Adalberto Perez’s pit team. The team is now preparing for their next SAE Baja Competition in Oregon at the end of May. Click here to see a story about the team's preparations.

    Congratulations to:

    Eby Friedman, Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, who will receive the 2015 IEEE Circuits and Systems Society Guillemin-Cauer Best Paper Award for "TEAM -- ThrEshold Adaptive Memristor Model," which he co-authored with colleagues at Technion,  The Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa. The award recognizes the best paper published during the three prior calendar years in Transactions on Circuits and Systems.

     David Heid, a masters student in Audio and Music Engineering, who has received a $2,000 prize from The Center for Music Innovation and Engagement at the Eastman School's Institute for Music Leadership as winner of the 2015 New Venture Challenge. David was awarded the prize for the “Laptop Orchestra Live (LOL)” startup, which was recently featured on Discovery Channel’s Daily Planet Show. The prize will help David produce a new Arts Leadership Program course planned for Spring 2016 that will build another bridge between the Eastman School of Music and the Hajim School. Read more here

     Marlen Mahendraratnam and Allison Stiller, both juniors in Biomedical Engineering, for receiving the President's Choice award at the Undergraduate Research Exposition for their project "Experimental Analysis of Superlooping in Polymer Line and its Application to Mathematical Models of DNA." Their faculty mentor is Stephen Burns, Professor of Mechanical Engineering.

    Pedro Vallejo-Ramirez '16 of Optics, who has been elected to the Keidaeans honor society, one of the highest honors available to University seniors in recognition of their academic performance, leadership and service. It is also an indication of the high esteem in which they are held by members of the faculty and administration.

    Be sure to cast your ballot here for this year's Dottie Welch award, given annually to a Hajim School faculty or staff member "whose performance and dedication enriches the student experience."  Voting ends at 2 pm on Friday.

    Today is the deadline for:

    Full-time undergraduate engineering or applied sciences students to submit plans for a technical business, in order to compete in the Charles and Janet Forbes Entrepreneurial Competition. Cash prizes will be awarded to top teams. Send plans electronically to susanna.virgilio@rochester.edu by 4 p.m. today. For more information, email the Center for Entrepreneurship or call 276-3500.

    And for students,  faculty, staff and alumni to apply for Cohort I of the University's National Science Foundation (NSF) I-Corps Site program, which provides entrepreneurial training and funding  of $1,000 to $3,000 to enable teams to transition their technical ideas into the marketplace. Cohort I will take place during the 2015 fall semester. Application materials, including an Itemized Financial Plan on how the funds will be used can be emailed by noon to natalie.antal@rochester.edu. Learn more about the program details and eligibility and guidelines online.

     For our faculty: A free webinar on creating an inclusive learning environment -- such as anonymous posting options within a controlled social learning platform -- will be offered at noon Wednesday. For registration and more information, click here.

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


Robert L. Clark
Professor and Dean