Introduction to Projects for the 2014/2015 Academic Year

This year’s collection of topics focuses on specific industries, products and applications that embed electrical and computer engineering (ECE)-driven technologies, common technologically based protocols, and standards that are important to ECE engineers and the societal impact of all the technology work products.

The role of standards especially is becoming more and more critical as the technology increases global interaction and commerce.  Engineering standards serve to document specifications, rules, procedures, or guidelines in an organized fashion for adherence by industry.  While some standards are optional or open to interpretation, others are precise and rigid with no freedom in latitude at all.  The application determines the level of adherence. Most standards come into existence through the development by engineers with the voluntary collaboration and consensus approach by industry.  Their impact on standard of living, product quality, and globalization is enormous.  As such, teaching standards and standardization to engineering students is fast becoming another criteria to evaluate academic programs and now plays a role in academic accreditation.

The preparation of a handbook article by seniors is two-fold.  First, and for most, it is an exercise in articulation and expression. The ability to communicate one’s ideas to others, especially those without a technological or engineering perspective, is essential for career success as well as for the introduction and acceptance of innovated products and services to society.  Second, the process followed by the seniors to produce their article involves tasks, approvals, and standards they must meet.  The standards are not just technical.  There are legal ramifications of publishing information on the web.  These standards must be learned and realized.

This year’s topics were drawn from the industries listed in the Global Industry Classification Standard (GICS) system developed by MSCI and Standard & Poor’s.  The final selection of industries was made with a view to diversifying among different sectors, from consumer products to health and medicine to transportation and energy.  The protocols and standards were inspired by hot topics that IEEE has identified or that, based on recent citation metrics, reflect core trends in ECE research.

The Handbook is an evolving amalgamation of topics, articles, and connections.  At this publication date, Spring 2015, the articles reflect four themes:  design process, management, technologies, and communications and life skills.  This year’s articles are found in the section labeled technologies.  Although the stated focus of these additions comprises industries, product groups, and applications, these labels mask the larger intent—namely, to show the contribution and connection of electrical and computer engineers to society.

Finally, the Senior Handbook Project does not happen without the hard work of many people.  First and for most there are the senior ECE students.  They listen, absorb, learn, research, iterate, write, iterate, integrate words, concepts, images, tables, and other media while they juggle all their other courses and activities. Second are the Writing Style Editors from the Tufts Academic Resources Center.  These are graduate students taken courses and doing research, and reaching out to undergraduates to help then improve their skills of articulation and expression.  Thank you to Anna Christine (PhD candidate, English), Bryn Gravitt (PhD candidate, English), Derrick Huang (MS candidate, Occupational Therapy), Julia Kahn (A candidate, Art History), Nishanth Krishnamurthy (PhD candidate, Biomedical Engineering), Satia Marotta (PhD candidate, Psychology), Amy Meyer, (PhD candidate, Drama), Katie Swimm (PhD candidate, Drama), Lara Vujovic (PhD candidate, Psychology).  The varied perspective from all these students makes a huge difference in how the senior explain their topics to the rest of the world.  A most sincere thank you to David Grogan (Senior Solutions Specialist) at Tufts Technical Services for his help with the web site end of things and Kristina Aikens (Associate Director – Writing Resources) at Tufts Academic Resources Center for her mentorship, planning expertise, and coordination of the aforementioned graduate students cum Writing Style Editors under her care.  And lastly, to Karen Vagts (Engineering Reference Librarian) at Tisch Library and co-Editor of this site.  She is phenomenal with the students in the classroom, meeting with them at the library, providing mentorship and guidance throughout the entire process, beginning in September and ending in May.  She is awesome putting this site together and maintaining it.  And most important, for her creativity and innovation, her willingness to task risks in all aspects of this endeavor.  This has made all the difference.

To the reader:  enjoy and learn.

Ron Lasser
Professor of the Practice
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Tufts University
Spring 2015