Meet Some of our EECS Students

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Undergraduate Students

Computer Science and Engineering Electrical and Computer Engineering
Ashley Issa Looks to Apply Her CS Experience to the Problem of AIDS in Africa.

A Dutch-speaking native of Paramaribo, Soriano (Suriname), Ashley Issa was encouraged by her mother—a Minnesota native—to look into completing college in the U.S. She is now deeply involved with the Society of Women Engineers, and serves as its President. Along the way, Issa also became a member of Epeians, CSE Scholars and HKN, all while being a familiar figure on the Dean’s List.

Issa clearly enjoys being with others, and wants that to be part of her future career. At her internship at Dow, she enjoyed interviewing people to figure out what they wanted from a specific program. Although she anticipates going to graduate school eventually in finance or a related field, she has been looking into the Peace Corps, where she hopes to continue the work in which she is currently involved regarding HIV education in South Africa. She looks forward to applying her programming experience to improve the efficiency of relief efforts.

Adam Barnett Excels in EE Research

EE senior Adam Barnett knew he wanted to come to a top engineering school. When his acceptance came with a significant scholarship offer, he knew his future would unfold at U-M. Barnett—a California native by way of Gulfport, Mississippi— is a member of Eta Kappa Nu, a Dean’s List regular and a recipient of Byrd-, Rogel- and Class of 1931 Scholarships. He is currently deeply committed to the engineering honor society Tau Beta Pi, for which he serves as president.

Barnett has already had significant exposure to research. He has secured internships developing software at the Naval Research Laboratory and designing circuits for Analog Devices, Inc. He recalls stumbling into a project on microneedle research, which he initially took up as a means of improving his candidacy for graduate school. The resulting research, as described in "An In Vivo Blood Microsampling Device for Pharmacokinetic Applications," was presented at an important international conference. He has applied to enter medical school in the fall of 2008.

Graduate Students

Computer Science and Engineering Electrical and Computer Engineering
Julie Weber Enjoys Work and Play at Michigan

Julie Weber shopped around for the graduate school best suited to her goals. As an undergraduate at Wellesley, she also took courses at MIT in her field of Artificial Intelligence. She began her graduate work at Tufts but found the work too exclusively rooted in theory. She wanted to be involved in a program that would have an impact on people’s lives. When she saw the research being done at U-M, she sensed the school might be a good fit. Now, she is part of an innovative graduate team working on a suite of projects in the field of intelligent interaction systems, an area encompassing assistive technology, medical diagnosis and other automated tasking systems.

“This department’s really great,” declares Weber. Pursuing rewarding research and working with accomplished faculty have only been part of the U-M experience. Weber enjoys living in  Ann Arbor, which she describes affectionately as “a little Boston.” She plays on ultimate Frisbee, softball and bowling teams, and is a longtime member of the Killer Rabbits, the indoor soccer team which she describes as “a family.” As president of the Computer Science and Engineering Graduate Student Organization (CSEG), she facilitates happy hours and weekly teas, popular gatherings for students and faculty.

Ruba Borno Follows Her Research Dreams, and Founds a Company in the Process

PhD candidate Ruba Borno has taken advantage of a number of research, mentoring and leadership opportunities available at U-M throughout her graduate and post-graduate coursework. Her effort as the President of the Student Leadership Council for the Center for Wireless Integrated MicroSystems (WIMS) has been invaluable in improving the visibility of groundbreaking research at U-M. An additional perk to her involvement in the Council has been the opportunity to serve as a research mentor for engineering undergraduates. “I get to see this student’s eyes really light up,” she exclaims.

Borno’s overwhelming passion has been her research into developing sustainable energy systems. She recently co-founded the company Potentia, based on her research. While the fundamentals of her research comprise a largely unstudied component of energy development, she notes that it has tremendous potential, particularly since evaporation is a reliable phenomenon in areas that might not be well-suited to wind, solar or hydroelectric power generation. She has taken her business plan on the road, and won several competitions already.

Mickens Lured to U-M by Collegial Environment

Georgia native James Mickens was warned to brace for his first Michigan winter. But the initial cold and the dearth of something called ‘sweet tea’ are the only difficulties he can recall in his long tenure at the University. As Mickens recalls, "I thought I could get some good mentorship and learn how to do world-class research…Also, everyone here seemed very friendly, which was important for me." The support he has received from faculty, fellow students and the University administration has more than made up for any culture- or environmental shock. 

The research Mickens has conducted at U-M has resulted in six papers in the areas of distributed systems, security and networking. He studies the ways in which malware spreads on mobile devices. “As cellphones, laptops and PDAs are becoming increasingly more powerful, the same attacks you can launch on your PC, you can launch on your mobile devices.” Mickens has worked with a small research team to address and combat this pernicious trend.

No matter which career path Mickens chooses, he expresses the desire to teach in some capacity. “It’s very important to inspire the next generation of young people, “ he says, “This is a really foundational science. All sectors are driven by computers.”

A music buff and amateur guitarist, Mickens takes advantage of the rich musical culture of Ann Arbor. He is also a serious competitor at the CSE graduate lounge foosball table, adding, "CS foosball players are really good!"

Scott Rudolph Pursues Groundbreaking Research, Welcomes Fellow Graduate Students

Jackson, MI, native Scott Rudolph did not have to look far for the right program. He recalls that EECS 230 made him decide to be an electrical engineer, and he didn't want to stop with just an undergraduate degree.

Rudolph is pursuing research in metamaterials, an exciting field he characterizes as only having opened up in the last eight years. He describes his work as “developing structures much smaller than a wavelength.” In his work, he has constructed materials by hand, run simulations with industry-standard software and computed a vast number of problems. The materials his group creates are applied in a periodic fashion to create artificial materials whose properties could not otherwise be realized just using natural materials. The materials are designed to adjust phasing in unusual ways, literally bending electromagnetic fields.

As chair of the Radlab Student Programs Committee, Rudolph organizes graduate student social functions such as bowling outings, or organizing celebratory dinners when someone defends their thesis. He also gives laboratory tours to prospective students. What does he present as U-M’s greatest assets? “Ann Arbor is probably the best small town that I think you can find. For its size, it has a surprising amount of activities going on.” Additionally, “some schools are very good at one particular- or a few particular things, but one of the unique things about Michigan is that we are good at pretty much everything.”

Jon Oberheide Extols Ann Arbor, Research Opportunities

“The city of Ann Arbor is really great. I think the city really makes the school,” declares Jon Oberheide. Having completed his undergraduate degree, a year of an M.S. program and now the first year of a doctoral course, Oberheide is in a position to speak with great certainty—and, as it turns out, fondness—for the “laid back,” small-town feel of Ann Arbor.

As an undergraduate, Oberheide took courses in the LS&A program, which allowed him access to a wide range of offerings in the humanities. He enjoyed the variety of courses, especially Spanish and anthropology. Oberheide also maintained a lively social life, joining a fraternity and participating in intramural sports outside of the Engineering School.

Oberheide has long been passionate about computer programming, and began his research experiences as an undergraduate student, "just for kicks.” He currently works in the area of secure coding.

Oberheide is clearly excited about the research he is doing as a PhD student. “You gotta love the CSE building,” says Oberheide of the state-of-the-art facilities. “Research is my passion. It’s not like work to me.”

Scott Hanson Lured onto Post-Graduate Track by U-M Opportunities

When Hanson was elected President of HKN as an undergraduate student, he developed a strong relationship with the society’s advisor, Professor Dennis Sylvester. Later, Hanson recalls, “Prof. Sylvester came to me and said, 'I’d like you to join my group and consider doing research. You don’t necessarily have to do a PhD. Just do the research…see if you like it, and I think you’ll enjoy it to the point where you’ll end up sticking around for a PhD.’ That’s exactly what happened.” Hanson attests that he knows of several friends who have received similarly warm welcomes from faculty members.

Hanson is pursuing important developments in the miniaturization of circuits for use in pervasive computing applications. This includes creating “smart buildings,” and embedding chips in the body for treatment purposes. He describes one project utilizing a sensor implanted in the eye to monitor pressure as a way of treating glaucoma. Specifically, Hanson works toward optimizing battery life and improving circuit efficiency. He maintains that Intel, IBM and other big-name tech companies are interested in making their processors more power-efficient for both environmental and financial reasons. Hanson greatly appreciates the the support he has received from U-M, both academically and economically, and is now considering a career in academia.