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Electrical and Computer Engineering

Graduate Students Honored for First-Year Research

Congratulations to Bo Fan, Yash Mehta and Amruta Pai, graduate students in the department of electrical and computer engineering (ECE), on receiving the Best First-Year Research award! The students received the award because they tied for the highest grade in ELEC 599: First Year Research.

Fan, Mehta and Pai come from widely different areas within the field of electrical and computer engineering.

2017.Fan.Bo.599Fan’s work lies in the Photonics, Electronics and Nanodevices (PEN) research area and revolves around Nano-SPEARS – the nanoelectrodes developed in the Robinson lab that simplify the process of measuring electrical activity in individual muscle cells of small living animals. The high-throughput technique allows a single animal like a worm to be tested rapidly, and could revolutionize data-gathering for disease characterization and drug interactions.

“My work focuses on improving the system,” she said. “The nano-SPEAR platform is a great invention, but the signal-to-noise ratio is relatively low and the waveform is a bit unstable. By changing the layout of the device, we can find a better way to immobilize the worm to get a better recording.”

“It’s super fun,” she explained. “I fabricate a device and use it to change something in the world.”

2017.Mehta.Yash.599Mehta’s work in the Babakhani lab is focused on designing a broadband amplifier to amplify picosecond pulses.

“My lab is working on developing Gigabit per second communication links, and the idea is to use transmitter chips capable of transmitting broadband pulses with frequencies reaching up to terahertz domain,” he said.

Mehta’s role was to design an efficient receiver to help increase the data rates in multi-gigabit-per-second transmission.

“My work was to receive the pulses and amplify them so they can be detected with very high signal-to-noise ratio,” he explained.

Pai’s work focuses on healthcare, and the treasure-trove of data that image processing can provide.

2017.Pai.Amruta.599“My project was about using a video-recording of a person’s face to capture heart-rate variability. Even when you are seated, there is a significant amount of variation from heartbeat to heartbeat. It is challenging to obtain the heart rate variability by non contact methods like the camera due to the low signal quality,” she said.

“Doctors can use the heart-rate data as a tool to learn more about your overall health,” she added. “Heart rate is linked to depression, diabetes, and certain cardiac diseases.”

“I really enjoyed that ELEC 599 let us plug into research right away,” Pai said. “We got to meet all the professors and talk about their research and their research process. It exposed us to a lot of things.”

“ELEC 599 gave me a broader perspective, and allowed me to explore subtopics in my research area,” Mehta said. “By doing extensive literature review, I was able to find my interest and come up with my own project.”

 -Jennifer Hunter