At the College and Other News

Protecting your smartphone data

Upset about damaging your phone and losing your contacts, notes from meetings and Angry Birds high score? Fear not, engineering Professor Qing “Ken” Yang recently patented a process to recover data from damaged flash memory, the storage component of most portable devices. Relying on an innovative algorithm and hardware-software interface, Yang’s techniques will bring enhanced data recovery options to consumers and criminal investigators searching for evidence.

Predicting failure to build faster computers

Want faster computers? Talk to engineering Associate Professor Resit Sendag, who recently patented a technique to improve microprocessors. Sendag found that microprocessors using a process called branch prediction sometimes fail in their predictions, slowing down processing speed. Sendag’s complementary device utilizes the patterns of failures to identify predictions likely to fail and sends them back for further processing. That avoids precious time wasted analyzing a likely incorrect solution.

Helping people hug

Professor Helen Huang wants to give people without arms the chance to hug a loved one, pick up a glass of water or simply open a door. Now she’s one step closer thanks to a $600,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research. The grant will fund research to develop upper-limb prostheses that respond to the electrical activity produced by skeletal muscles. These “smart” prostheses will provide better dexterity and performance than prostheses currently in use.

A breakfast for scholars 

Recipients of the John E. Gray Family Engineering Scholarship
Recipients of the John E. Gray Family Engineering Scholarship with the Gray family at the Scholarship Breakfast. Photo courtesy Michael Salerno

This October, the College of Engineering honored 149 students at the 9th annual Scholarship Breakfast. The students received more than $359,000 in scholarships supported by alumni, corporations and friends of the college. The awards add to the more than $1.9 million in engineering scholarships provided during the last six years alone. University President David M. Dooley said the scholarships position University students for careers solving humanity’s most vexing challenges.

Better transportation

Academics, industry executives and public servants gathered on Oct. 26 to find ways to improve the nation’s transportation system. The College of Engineering’s 25th Rhode Island Transportation Forum brought together experts in ground, air and sea transportation who discussed topics from better asphalt and effective roundabouts to embedding solar panels in highways. Organized by engineering Professor K. Wayne Lee, the forum also displayed pioneering transportation research by University students.

The entrepreneurship spirit  

Jay Blazensky
Jay Blazensky

Succeeding in business is all about making the needle move. Or so said University of Rhode Island electrical engineering alumnus Jay Blazensky to more than 150 students at the Anthony J. Risica Lecture Series on Innovation & Entrepreneurship in October. The serial entrepreneur said that while he is no longer a practicing engineer, his engineering training positioned him to identify innovative business development opportunities. He helped grow phone provider RingCentral from a few thousand customers to a few million and is presently growing Voice-Base, a cloud-based voice-indexing system designed to make audio and video content instantly searchable. His lecture, and a demonstration of his company’s technology, is available online.

Big awards for small research

Their research may focus on the tiny, but two chemical engineering students came home with big prizes from the 2012 American Institute of Chemical Engineers Undergraduate Student Poster Competition in October. Eily Cournoyer took first place in the Food Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology II category for researching lipid-coated magnetic nanoparticles that deliver siRNA into cells. Her work holds promise for smarter drug delivery. Separately, Christopher Bobba won third place in the Environmental Science and Engineering I category for exploring the potentially toxic effect of nanoparticles interacting with lipid molecules. The issue is important for the development of safe and sustainable nanotechnologies. Held as part of the institute’s 2012 annual conference in Pittsburgh, Penn., the poster competition featured more than 230 posters from across the country.

Dimitrios Karamanlidis mourned

Dimitrios Karamanlidis
Dimitrios Karamanlidis

In November 2012, the College of Engineering mourned the unexpected passing of civil engineering Associate Professor Dimitrios Karamanlidis. A 28-year-long member of the faculty, Professor Karamanlidis was well known for his rigorous academic standards, expertise in computational mechanics, computer-aided design skills and contributions to online trade publications. An avid outdoorsman, Karamanlidis enjoyed running and rowing and scaled nearly all the footers in the White Mountains and National Parks. He leaves behind his wife, Hilde Gesch, a computer programmer at the University, and two daughters, Melina Lodge and Eleni Gesch-Karamanlidis.