Miller writes on the power of computing

Eric Miller, professor and chair of electrical and computer engineering, was recently published in The Conversation.

The article provides context on recent advancements in computer-aided imaging systems, like CAT scans, MRI,  ultrasound, and beyond.

Full article: How computing power can help us look deep within our bodies, and even the Earth.

Tufts in Talloires: A study in nature

This summer, two students from the Bridge to Engineering Success at Tufts (BEST) program are blogging their experiences from Tufts in Talloires, a six-week summer program that offers students a dynamic group of courses taught by Tufts faculty. In addition to coursework, a wide variety of optional outdoor activities, weekly hikes into the Alps, field trips, and organized events offer each student the opportunity to explore the unique Haute-Savoie region of France. 

By Michelle Chan

Michelle 2 - postFrom Veyrier-du-Lac, France,  I travel a distance of 5,488 miles back to Eugene, Oregon just by hearing raindrops tapping on a window. At home in the Pacific Northwest, rain held the safety of a typical day. If I took 150 milliseconds to react to the sound, the speed it took to get home was 5.9 x 10^7 m/s. The speed of light is roughly 3.00 x 10^8 m/s, about five times faster.

Clearly, light is incredibly fast. However, I really didn’t expect home to be so close. The view outside my window depicted a rich green conifer standing against a sea of fog overlapping rolling mountains. Was it Oregon? Only the Alps in the corner suggested otherwise.

This week gave me many opportunities to reacquaint myself with nature. On Saturday, I went on a hike in Chamonix with a group in the program. Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in the Alps, was within breathtaking sight. Between a couple glaciers, a vast region of barren rock remained, black in contrast to the blinding white of ice. I was reminded of the importance of cyanobacteria, lifeforms that could somehow survive the inhospitality of living on naked rock. Someday, long after my lifetime, the same region will be lush with vegetation growing in soil made possible by these microorganisms feeding off light and inorganic nutrients.

Meanwhile, their effects can be seen in the existing wildlife, of which a minuscule fraction includes the 31 flowers whose Latin names and families I have to remember this week for my other class, Flowers of the Alps. Although it may be daunting to hear that I have more than 100 total names to commit to memory, it provides a convenient excuse for taking long hikes in search of alpine flowers all day.

Michelle Chan is a rising sophomore from Eugene, Oregon, majoring in computer engineering.

Tufts in Talloires: The hiking engineer

This summer, two students from the Bridge to Engineering Success at Tufts (BEST) program are blogging their experiences from Tufts in Talloires, a six-week summer program that offers students a dynamic group of courses taught by Tufts faculty. In addition to coursework, a wide variety of optional outdoor activities, weekly hikes into the Alps, field trips, and organized events offer each student the opportunity to explore the unique Haute-Savoie region of France. 

By Hernan Gallegos

Hernan - post 2When I heard that I would be hiking, I knew how I felt—uncertain. I’ve never hiked before, and the thought of walking over tough terrain in inclement weather made me feel uncomfortable. Once we (the students) started, I surprisingly enjoyed the somewhat difficult walk. It was a simple task, and the sound of the gravel under my feet helped me continue the hike with ease.

Once arriving at the top, we encountered a fork in the road. We first traversed onto the path that lead us to a waterfall. I did not think much of it, but once we arrived, I was shocked. I admired the waterfall’s natural beauty, how it rushed from the beginning of the drop to the end. I felt like I could have stayed all day.

After that small encounter, we walked the other path; there was a perfect view of Lake Annecy. I looked out from that viewpoint and felt the beauty emerge from the lake. I never thought to see such beautiful things throughout the hike. So we continued walking towards our final destination, St. Germain’s Cave.

Once inside the cave, I reflected on the hike. I wondered why this trip resonated so much with me. Then I made the connection between hiking and engineering, that there are many uncertainties with many of life’s problems. It makes it difficult for people to approach these problems. But if you dive into the uncertainty-filled problems with confidence, the answer will forge itself. This hike helped me view engineering as more than just something procedural. It gave me a sense of a more humane perspective.

I am glad to say that hiking is something I look forward to now with confidence!

Hernan Gallegos is a rising sophomore from Atlanta, Georgia, majoring in mechanical engineering.

Koomson awarded NSF early-concept grant

Valencia Joyner Koomson, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, has received a National Science Foundation early-concept grant for exploratory research (EAGER) to develop a 3D optical imaging device to report data on the real-time electrical activity of multi-cellular systems.

The research, conducted in collaboration with postdoctoral scholar Nurdan Ozkucur, will have broader applications for disease pathways, drug development, and bioengineering.

Tufts in Talloires: First week outside of “home”

This summer, two students from the Bridge to Engineering Success at Tufts (BEST) program will blog their experiences from Tufts in Talloires, a six-week summer program that offers students a dynamic group of courses taught by Tufts faculty. Students enrolled in this program choose two courses from a selection of undergraduate offerings. In addition to coursework, a wide variety of optional outdoor activities, weekly hikes into the Alps, field trips, and organized events offer each student the opportunity to explore the unique Haute-Savoie region of France. 

The view from Hernan's host's flat, alongside Lake Annecy in Talloires, France.

The view from Hernan’s host’s flat, alongside Lake Annecy in Talloires, France.

By Hernan Gallegos

I had various amounts of emotions, both good and bad, rushing through my mind. I am not surprised since this was my first time traveling outside the country – overseas, to be exact. As an aspiring engineer, first-generation college student, and, most importantly, a young person of color, I was not aware of how I should have felt. Honestly, I was not expecting to be able to travel as far from my home city of Atlanta, Georgia, but this opportunity came to me. Thus, I began to travel outside the U.S. straight to my first destination, Turkey.

My first stop was amazing. My entire time there, I felt a different cultural atmosphere compared to Boston or Atlanta. This exposure was something that I did not know how to react to, so I just went along with this feeling of uncertainty. From walking along the stone streets of Turkey to taking the tram in Leipzig, Germany, I started to feel more at home. Which is a funny term to use since I was not native to neither of these locations. Once I reached Talloires, France, I felt like I returned “home.”

My first view of Talloires was Lake Annecy. Everyone who traveled here with me was in awe of its blue beauty and the nature surrounding it. By the time I start walking around, I met up with old and surprisingly new friends. I have had a snippet of what my courses will be like, my host’s way of living, and what France has to offer (so much cheese!!!). I am walking into a new, unknown world. As an aspiring, first-generation, person of color, engineer, I am ready to see what the next six weeks have in store for me.

Hernan Gallegos is a rising sophomore from Atlanta, Georgia, majoring in mechanical engineering.

Tufts in Talloires: To new perspectives

This summer, two students from the Bridge to Engineering Success at Tufts (BEST) program will blog their experiences from Tufts in Talloires, a six-week summer program that offers students a dynamic group of courses taught by Tufts faculty in Talloires, France. Students enrolled in this program choose two courses from a selection of undergraduate offerings. In addition to coursework, a wide variety of optional outdoor activities, weekly hikes into the Alps, field trips, and organized events offer each student the opportunity to explore the unique Haute-Savoie region of France. 

Michelle 1 -  postBy Michelle Chan

“Je ne parle pas français.” Following the robot voice of Google Translate, I tried to learn a sentence, preparing to meet my host family who spoke no English. Even if I could pronounce anything correctly, nothing could have prevented the overwhelming first day at the dinner table in which I did not understand a single word of French.

I chose to study abroad through the Tufts in Talloires program precisely to experience this growth-promoting unfamiliarity. One advantage of studying abroad is that my peers are also adjusting to the new environment, so being bad at something suddenly becomes a little less embarrassing than usual. The old adage of “Everybody has to start somewhere” starts to feel realistically applicable. I glance around the dinner table at my French major roommate, my host parents, and the carton of grapefruit juice, feeling brave enough to give it a try, to say, “Pamplemousse.” Grapefruit. The official first word I learned in French.

My hopes for these six weeks extends past learning a language, but also includes gaining an understanding for French culture and taking unique classes contributing invaluable breadth to my engineering education.

One class I am particularly excited about is Global Health Crises, which the professor designed to be interdisciplinary in a way that causes students with a science background to complain about having too much policy, and those with a social science background to complain about having too much science. As a computer engineering major, which is frankly neither science nor policy, I find importance in learning these subjects to foster an understanding of the real world before tackling its problems.

Now is a good time to take a step back from technical work to develop new perspectives.

Michelle Chan is a rising sophomore from Eugene, Oregon, majoring in computer engineering.

Souvaine appointed to NSF leadership role

Professor of Computer Science Diane Souvaine has been elected vice chair of the National Science Board (NSB), the governing body of the National Science Foundation. It’s the first time in NSF history that women hold the three top leadership positions: director, chair and vice chair.

The 24-member NSB serves as an independent advisor to both the president and Congress on policies related to science and engineering, and education in those disciplines. President Barack Obama first appointed Souvaine to the NSB in 2008 and reappointed her to a second six-year term in 2014.

Aeron wins NSF CAREER award

Shuchin Aeron, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, has received a five-year $530,000 NSF early career award for his work advancing multidimensional data science via new algebraic models and algorithms. The outcome of this research will re-invigorate interest from the applied mathematics and signal processing communities in using tools from linear and multilinear algebra that are not currently exploited.

The research involves collaboration with Tufts Department of Mathematics, Tufts Department of Neuroscience and Tufts Interactive Learning and Collaboration Environment (InterLACE) program, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and AT&T research.

Tufts Silk Lab inspires a silk poem

Professor of biomedical engineering Fiorenzo Omenetto in his lab at the Tufts Science and Technology Center. (Joanie Tobin/Tufts University)

Professor of biomedical engineering Fiorenzo Omenetto in his lab at the Tufts Science and Technology Center. (Joanie Tobin/Tufts University)

The Huffington Post covers the story of a poet and artist who, inspired by the work of Professors David Kaplan and Fiorenzo Omenetto, nano-printed a poem on a silk sensor that can be placed under a person’s skin. The Silk Lab fabricated the film from liquified silk, with the poem written in a six-character chain that corresponds to the silkworm’s filament drawing method.

Artist Jen Bervin’s “Silk Poems” will go on view as part of the group exhibition “Explode Every Day: An Inquiry into the Phenomena of Wonder,” opening on May 28 at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art.

Zenyuk researches hydrogen fuel cells

Widespread use of electric vehicles could offer relief from pollution, says Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering Iryna Zenyuk, and hydrogen fuel cells present the option for a cleaner, more efficient power source. However, the water byproduct created inside a hydrogen fuel cell compromises the cell’s efficiency.

Tufts Now covers the work being done by Zenyuk and colleagues as they develop new ways to see how water droplets form inside a fuel cell’s tiny cathode layer.