Optical transmission technique published

ECpE professor, Rana Biswas, and his PhD student were featured in Optics and Photonics News and in Nanoscale last week.
ECpE professor, Rana Biswas, and his PhD student were featured in Optics and Photonics News and in Nanoscale last week.

Research by Rana Biswas, ECpE professor, and Akshit Peer, ECpE PhD student, was featured in Optics and Photonics News and in Nanoscale last week.

Bisa and Peer’s work demonstrates a technique for achieving an optical transmission, with modeled electric-field enhancements as high as a hundredfold, using a continuous film of gold on a corrugated, “nanocupped” substrate. The technique only requires soft-lithography fabrication and can create large-area films.

According to Peer, the ability both to inexpensively create these large-area films and to straightforwardly measure their optical properties makes them a great platform for experiments and applications in plasmonics, sensing, photovoltaics, etc.

To read the full Optics and Photonics News article or for more information, visit this link.

Faculty to be featured in Discover Magazine

Dobson's research on power grids and large blackouts will be featured in the March issue of Discover Magazine.
Dobson’s research on power grids and large blackouts will be featured in the March issue of Discover Magazine.

Sandbulte professor, Ian Dobson, will be featured in Discover Magazine’s lead article for the March 2016 issue. Dobson’s research with physicists, Ben Carreras and David Newman, on the risk of large blackouts is described in detail in Discover’s article, “Averting the Blackout of the Century,” by journalist, Peter Fairley.  

Dobson and his team’s work with large grid power systems is primarily focused on the patterns of widespread blackouts and how these patterns arise. By working with a simulator that can imitate large blackouts, the trio concluded that big blackouts, although rare,  are occasionally going to happen  because of the way that the power grid evolves over the years to balance cost and reliability.  The simulator predicts the same pattern of blackout reliability as is seen in historical records of blackouts. Dobson said working with Carreras and Newman for the past 20 years has been the highlight of his career.

“It has been a close collaboration between the three of us,” Dobson said. “You can hardly tell whose work is whose. It’s been a lot of fun and I’ve learned a lot.”

Going forward, the trio plans to refine tools to advise grid operators on when and how to act to reduce blackout risk.

“We think we have a high-level approach and a model of the system that can give insight on how [power grids] regulate themselves over the time,” Dobson said.“We’d like to increase the detail of the simulator and deepen the validation of its results so we can anticipate problems in a particular area.”

The article is currently available online for those who subscribe to Discover Magazine. It will also appear in the March 2016 Discover print issue.

For more details, visit http://discovermagazine.com/2016/march/15-blackout-of-the-century.

ECpE mourns the loss of Jim Nilsson

James Nilsson 1977
James Nilsson, 1977

James W. Nilsson, Anson Marston Distinguished Professor Emeritus for the Iowa State Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, passed away December 26, 2015 at Green Hills Health Care Center. He was 91.

Nilsson, one of the most prominent and celebrated teachers in ECpE annals, earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of Iowa (1948), and his master’s (1952) and Ph.D. (1958) at Iowa State. He joined the ISU faculty as an Instructor in 1948 and was promoted to associate professor (1952), professor (1962), and Anson Marston Distinguished Professor (1984).

“His contributions to the department through the years were enormous,” said David C. Jiles, Palmer Endowed Department Chair of ECpE and Anson Marston Distinguished Professor. “The department’s legacy as an educator of successful engineers was built by faculty like Jim Nilsson.”

Nilsson was elected a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) in 1990 and earned the IEEE undergraduate teaching award for inspirational teaching in 1992. Nilsson won the student vote for ECpE’s annual professor of the year award five times. No other faculty member won more than twice.

“He was everyone’s favorite teacher,” said Thomas Scott, associate professor emeritus of ECpE. “He contracted exams which were so clearly fair that, when he gave a student a low grade, the student just accepted it.”

Scott also recalls Nilsson’s uncanny accuracy in front of a classroom.

“In that era we wrote on chalkboards. He covered the board time after time without ever needing to make a correction. That was amazing.”

Nilsson wrote several electrical and computer engineering textbooks, including Electric Circuits (1983), which gained world-wide acceptance and use. The fourth edition of Electric Circuits earned Nilsson an award for outstanding contributions to publisher, Addison-Wesley, one of the world’s leading technical publishing houses. While the book has evolved to meet diverse learning styles, the underlying pedagogical approaches remain constant and relevant. The book is currently in its 10th edition.

“[He] was a superb teacher and a person of great integrity,” said Arthur Pohm, Anson Marston Distinguished Professor Emeritus of ECpE. “His text book on circuits probably brought more recognition to the department than any other activity in the department during his tenure. If I may borrow from a movie title, he was a man for all seasons; he was a stellar faculty member who brought acclaim to Iowa State.”

James Nilsson 1969. Photographer: Perry
James Nilsson 1969. Photographer: Perry

Nilsson will be remembered as one of the important and beloved pioneers of the ECpE Department. His students, including Richard Horton, who became a fellow faculty member upon graduation, remember him as a master teacher, a mentor, and a role model who listened to his students.

Kenneth Kruempel, associate professor emeritus and ECpE alum, has fond memories of Nilsson’s receptiveness.

“He was always very open to ideas for changes, corrections, and additions to the current edition of his books,” Kruempel said. “I would routinely ask students in the class for their suggestions and concerns, and then give them to Jim. He would always consider them and often use them for revisions in the textbook.”

Although Nilsson retired from teaching in 1987, he continued to impact those around him. To date, Electric Circuits has influenced the engineering education of tens of thousands of electrical engineers worldwide and is the most widely used introductory circuits textbook of the past 25 years. Through his teaching and contributions to the field, Nilsson’s legacy at Iowa State and in the field of electrical engineering will continue to be recognized for years to come.

Alumnus helps develop equipment to bring trees to 9/11 memorial site

9/11 MemorialLiving in small-town Iowa doesn’t keep someone from impacting the world. Chris Holland (BSEE ’99), president of Holland Moving & Rigging (HMR) Supplies in Forest City, Iowa, helped bring a symbol of hope, renewal and rebirth to the families of 9/11 victims by designing equipment to plant trees to New York City’s 9/11 Memorial Plaza, which opens on September 11, 2011, the 10-year anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center.

Iowa State student attends first Google Android Camp

Taehyun ParkTaehyun Park, sophomore in computer engineering, was one of 26 students invited to Mountain View, California, for the first-ever Google Android Camp. The camp was designed to challenge computer engineering students while offering them the opportunity to meet with top professionals in the industry. Park was selected for the program based on his previous experience and academic record. Read the full story on Innovate.