April 2016 Newsletter

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Greetings from West Lafayette

We take great pride in our undergraduate programs. The consistently high rankings enjoyed by both our electrical engineering and computer engineering programs are a reflection of the care we take in our students’ learning, their research, and their development as leaders and entrepreneurs. Our students, in turn, have continued to respond.  A team from Purdue ECE finished second world-wide in this year’s IEEE Signal Processing Cup competition. The SpaceX Hyperloop pod competition this summer will include a Purdue team that includes several ECE students as the contest continues with a test-run of human-scale pods.
Head of ECE Ragu Balakrishnan
There is no shortage of opportunity for undergraduate students to participate in a project, faculty research, or entrepreneurial endeavor outside of the classroom. ECE undergrad Sahil Sanghani and his startup team secured funding in a campus-wide entrepreneurial pitch competition to continue work on a medical device aimed at improving patient care, an idea that began during his senior design experience.

Another example is ECE’s senior design course, which now includes an industry-sponsored project option, where students have the chance to tackle current industry problems and receive mentorship from company representatives. The school recently added a staff position to coordinate these partnerships as interest from industry continues to grow.

I invite you to explore the work and accomplishments of our undergraduate program. As always we welcome your feedback and appreciate your continued interest in Electrical and Computer Engineering at Purdue.


V. Ragu Balakrishnan
Michael and Katherine Birck Head
Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Purdue team earns a top spot in Signal Processing Cup

Led by ECE Professor Stanley Chan, Purdue’s IEEE Signal Processing team secured a second place finish in this year’s Signal Processing Cup competition, “Exploring Power Signatures for Location Forensics of Media Recordings.” 

Held in Shanghai alongside the International Conference on Acoustics, Speech, and Signal Processing (ICASSP), the Signal Processing Cup is an international undergraduate competition that explores using a time-varying signature embedded in media recordings to determine the location-of-recording. 

Throughout the competition, the teams were given several data sets with several hours of recordings. The data sets were separated into power data sets and audio data sets. According to the team, the audio sets were muddled, loud, and required pragmatic exploratory analysis. 

Purdue’s team chose to tackle this competition by delegating three groups. Group A was to analyze the power data while Group B explored the audio, and Group C built circuits and programs to run the algorithm. In addition to their second place finish, the team was recognized for most original approach.

Purdue Hyperloop team advancing in SpaceX competition

The Purdue Hyperloop team is one of just 23 teams selected from a group of more than 1,200 to advance to the building stage of the SpaceX competition with prototypes to be tested this summer in California at the world’s first Hyperloop test track. The multidisciplinary team comprises mostly undergraduate students from several schools and departments, including ECE.

ECE students play an integral role in a critical component: safety. It’s important that ECE students’ data analysis and packaging technology is airtight. The pod needs accurate data to track speed and other conditions. 

“We are creating technology that has a viable future, and that’s exciting,” says Hyperloop project manager, Paul Witsberger. 

SpaceX and the Hyperloop teams will come together this August to prove that expedited travel is possible. In a competition where competitors are challenged and encouraged to “break a pod,” teams are asked to stretch their imaginations and technical abilities, to push limits and see how far they can fly (or levitate).
Purdue Hyperloop Design Team Video

ECE student-led startup wins funding to further medical device work

HemoTherm, a noninvasive esophageal tube that allows for both hemodynamic monitoring and temperature control, started as a multidisciplinary senior design project.ECE undergraduate student, Sahil Sanghani and teammates, Tori Clift and Stephanie Eichman, put their idea to the test with a first place finish in a campus-wide innovation design competition. 

Although unusual, their business plan includes becoming acquired by a larger, more prominent company in the oligopolistic medical device market. Hemodynamic monitoring devices and temperature control devices have separate markets, creating a unique challenge for the team. 

The team will use their winnings to cover startup costs and to advance the goal of HemoTherm becoming a hospital staple. With this noninvasive esophageal tube, doctors can cut down infection and recovery time while increasing data accuracy by collecting data at the core of the body, revolutionizing critical care.

ECE offers inventiveness and industry in senior design

In 2013 ECE had one company participating in senior design; today the program has grown to include eight industry partnerships. 

Industry demand and student interest in joining sponsored project teams allowed for the addition of a staff position dedicated to growing and supporting the program. The industrial project manager oversees the technical aspects of the projects, but also helps to facilitate meaningful interaction between engineers from the sponsoring companies and ECE students.

This year’s projects are varied: students are conceptualizing cars with fewer wires, wireless glucose meters, new GPS systems, and rodent control systems. Hands-on industry experience as a part of the department’s capstone course increases preparedness as students step out of the classroom to begin their careers.