Honors Day recognizes excellence of students, alumni

The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) recognized outstanding alumni and students at ECE Research Day on May 1, 2019.

“At ECE Research Day, we celebrate the innovative projects and research our students have been working on all year,” said Ken Barner, Charles Black Evans Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and chair of the department. “We are also honored to recognize the accomplishments of a few of our highly successful alumni.”

four alumni are pictured

Edward J. Coyle received the Distinguished Achievement award, the department’s most prestigious alumni award. Individuals receiving this award have distinguished themselves through significant contributions in engineering research, practice, education or business.

Coyle is the John B. Peatman Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology and a Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar. He is the Founder and Director of the Vertically Integrated Projects (VIP) Program, which integrates research and education by embedding large-scale, long-term teams of undergraduates in the research efforts of faculty and graduate students. He is also the Director of the VIP Consortium, which includes 28 universities. Coyle received a B.S. in electrical engineering at UD in 1978, followed by a master’s and Ph.D. from Princeton University in 1980 and 1982. Coyle was a co-recipient of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering’s 2005 Bernard M. Gordon Prize for Innovation in Engineering and Technology Education, and in 1998, Coyle was elected a Fellow of IEEE for his contributions to the theory of nonlinear signal processing. He has received many other awards, including the 1997 Chester F. Carlson Award from the American Society for Engineering Education and the 1986 Paper Award from IEEE Signal Processing Society. His research interests include systemic reform of higher education, signal and information processing, and wireless and sensor networks.

Richard Martin received the Outstanding Service Award, which acknowledges alumni who, through dedication and exemplary volunteer service, illustrate broad leadership in support of the aims and objectives of the department.

Martin is an Associate Professor of Practice in UD’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. He holds a B.S. degree in physics from Millersville University of Pennsylvania and M.B.A., M.S.E.E. and Ph.D. degrees from UD. His doctoral work on photonic devices was conducted at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) under a NASA Graduate Student Research Fellowship. After working at JPL for a year on Micro-electromechanical systems, Martin moved to Delaware to work at W.L. Gore and Associates.  After nine years at Gore, he taught as an adjunct professor at multiple universities while working with technology-based startups. Martin has over 25 years of industrial experience designing low-noise amplifier circuits and photonics-based sensors and has led the design, characterization, and fabrication of numerous high-speed devices and embedded systems.  In 2017, Rick became a full-time UD faculty member, teaching microcontroller systems, analog circuits, and classes covering design, prototyping, entrepreneurship, and IoT devices.  He holds an affiliated faculty position in UD’s Horn Entrepreneurship Program and serves as Chief Technology Officer of Resonate Forward LLC, a start-up developing wearable therapeutic devices for people with Parkinson’s Disease.

Kurt Akeley, received the Entrepreneurial Innovation Award, which is conferred upon alumni who have created an innovative business, developed a new product, brought to market a new venture or expanded an existing business.

Akeley is a distinguished engineer at Google, where he works in the areas of virtual and augmented reality.  A pioneer in the field of computer graphics and a co-founder of Silicon Graphics (later known as SGI), Kurt led the development of innovative products such as RealityEngine and the industry-standard OpenGL graphics system.  After leaving SGI in 2001, Kurt completed his long-deferred PhD work at Stanford, working in the areas of stereo 3-D display and human perception.  He then joined Microsoft Research, where he was assistant managing director of Microsoft’s research lab in Beijing, and, after returning to the US in 2007, developed a prototype light-field display with resolution sufficient to stimulate focus cues in human viewers. Prior to joining Google, Kurt was CTO at Lytro, where he guided system and software development for Lytro’s computational photography and virtual reality platforms.

Akeley earned a BEE degree from the University of Delaware in 1980, an MSEE degree from Stanford in 1982, and a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Stanford in 2004.  He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, a fellow of the ACM, and in 1995 was awarded ACM’s SIGGRAPH computer graphics achievement award.  He is a named inventor on over 30 patents.

Nicole Wells received the Young Alumni Achievement Award, which recognizes alumni who have graduated within the past 15 years and have excelled in their chosen professions.

Wells graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Delaware in 2013, attaining a 4.0 GPA while pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering and minors in both Computer Science and Mathematics. During her time at UD, Nicole performed undergraduate research with the CVORG research group led by Fouad Kiamilev. She contributed to the V2G (vehicle to grid) project, in which custom charging hardware enables electric vehicles to flow energy back into the grid during times of peak demand.

Following graduation, Nicole accepted a position with Apple. She works as a sensor algorithm engineer in the Human Interface Device group, joining fellow UD ECE alumnus Wayne Westerman. Nicole leads a small team of algorithm engineers to solve the signal processing and gesture recognition challenges of developing Apple’s latest input devices. Her work has been issued seven US patents, ranging from calibration methodology to user interface design for touch and force sensors.

A group of students is pictured with a research poster.

This group won the Senior Capstone Design award.

Student awards included:

The undergraduate research award went to “Thermal Investigation of Photodiode Flip-Chip Bonding” by Adam Dadey, Mathew R. Konkol, Victoria A. Carey and Dennis W. Prather.

The Vertically Integrated Projects (VIP) award went to “TRIC Robotics” by Derek Betancourt, Joseph Lockard, Andrew Slomski, Vishnu Somasundaram, Jaob Lubsen and Sri Venkatesh.

The Senior Capstone Design award went to “HART: Radar Data Visualization with Augmented Reality” by Kolby Kuratnick, Jason Reynolds, Vinay Vazir and Samuel Romano. 

The computer engineering award went to “Charger-Surfing: Cracking Smartphone Passcodes via Power Line Snooping” by Patrick Cronin, Chengmo Yang, Xing Gao and Haining Wang.

The nanoelectronics, electromagnetics and photonics award went to “High Performance Ultra thin body TiO2 thin film transistors with record on/off current ratio and subthreshold swing” by Jie Zhang, Guangyang Lin, Peng Cui, Yuying Zhang, Maria Gabriela Sales, Chaoying Ni, Stephan McDonnell and Yuping Zeng.

The signal processing award went to “Hybrid Prevoding for Millimeter Wave MIMO Systems with Finite-size Codebooks” by Bohan Zhang and Len Cimini.


Students, faculty and alumni celebrate in the iSuite, a facility that includes a cyber range, makerspace, and collaboration hub.

Students, faculty and alumni celebrate in the iSuite, a facility that includes a cyber range, makerspace, and collaboration hub.