Oklahoma State University
Electrical and Computer Engineering gains national recognition PDF  | Print |
Friday, 02 December 2011 16:20

By Stephanie Taylor

OSU’s School of Electrical and Computer Engineering has been growing its national and international recognition, thanks to several research awards and grants that the department’s professors and students recently received to further their studies.

“We’re very proud of the growth and advances that have taken place in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering during the past few years,” said Keith Teague, ECE department head.  “The ECE now has 25 full-time tenured and tenure-track faculty members and their accomplishments in research and in the classroom are outstanding.”

New research funding awards for ECE reached $4.3 million in 2010, the largest ever for the school, which is an indicator of how competitive OSU’s faculty members have become nationally, he said.  Enrollment at all levels is growing and the department recently introduced a new accredited degree program in computer engineering, which is stimulating a lot of interest among students.

ECE students are also excelling, said Teague, who offered Anand Thobbi, a graduate student studying electrical and computer engineering, as an example of the department’s premier students.  Thobbi’s paper, titled “Using Human Motion Estimation for Human-Robot Cooperative Manipulation,” won the Best Cotesys Cognition Paper Award of the IEEE International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS 2011).  

“It is a good indicator that we are at the forefront and the leading edge of research,” Teague said.  “It means that we are doing our job.”

Thobbi has a research assistantship under Weihua Sheng, an associate professor in the department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.   The two partnered, along with Ye Gu, an ECE Ph.D student, on his research that won Best Paper for the IEEE International Conference on Information and Automation.  

Sheng leads the Advanced Sensing and Computation Control research lab at OSU.  The lab currently has seven Ph.D students and six master’s students, including Thobbi.  The main areas of study for students in the lab right now are mobile robotics, wearable computing, intelligent transportation systems and human robot interaction.

The ASCC lab recently won 10 awards, two from the National Science Foundation, two from the Department of Defense and two Oklahoma Transportation Center awards, Sheng said.

“My students are working really hard and now they have been recognized by their peers and other researchers,” Sheng said.  “I am proud of that.”

The department of ECE has state of the art facilities with human robots and intelligent transportation that improve the university’s research capabilities, Sheng said.

Another ECE assistant professor gaining recognition for herself and the department is Nazanin Rahnavard, director of the Communications and Wireless Networks lab. She was awarded the National Science Foundation CAREER award for her research project titled “A Generalized Compressive Sensing Approach for Data Acquisition and Ad-Hoc Sensor Networking” in February 2011. 

The NSF sponsors the award for junior professors from all over the United States. Rahnavard received a $400,000 grant to use over the next five years to continue her research on compressive sensing.  

Rahnavard explained that her objective is to advance the emerging field of compressive sensing and broaden its scope into a multitude of new applications.  She worked on the research for the award for two to three years and spent another two to three months writing the proposal.

“I put a lot of novel ideas into the proposal,” she said.  “Winning was incredible because it means that your research stands out to faculty around the nation.”

Winning the CAREER award will not only provide Rahnavard with continued funding for research, but also it will allow her to provide more research assistantships for her students.

Rahnavard recently traveled with five of her students to the 2011 MILCOM Conference in Baltimore. MILCOM is the premier international conference for military communications and focuses on topics such as cyber security, communications systems, network protocols, cellular networks, and Department of Defense programs.

The conference usually accepts about 25 percent of the research papers it receives from students across the country and this year OSU’s ECE department had five students get papers accepted into the program, according to Rahnavard.  

“We set a record,” she said.  “That was a really big deal and a proud moment for me.”