Alumni Awards

2018 Alumni Awards

The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) recognized outstanding students and alumni at ECE Research Day on May 2, 2018.

“ECE Research Day demonstrates the breadth of student innovative projects and research, as well as the accomplishments of alumni,” said Ken Barner, Charles Black Evans Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and chair of the department. Awards were given to the following alumni.

Distinguished Achievement Award

This award is the most prestigious honor bestowed upon alumni of the ECE Department. Individuals receiving this award have distinguished themselves through significant contributions in engineering research, practice, education or business.

Guru Parulkar (PhD CS ’87)

Guru Parulkar is Executive Director of Open Networking Foundation, Stanford Platform Lab, and Consulting Professor of EE at Stanford, where he helped create three programs: OpenFlow / Software-Defined Networking, Programmable Open Mobile Internet 2020, and Stanford Experimental Data Center Laboratory. Prior to Stanford, he spent four years at NSF, where he received the Director’s award for Program Management excellence and worked with the broader research community to create the GENI, Future Internet Design, and Network of Sensor Systems programs. Before NSF, Guru founded several startups including Growth Networks and Sceos, and served as Entrepreneur in Residence at NEA where he received their Entrepreneurship Award. Prior to this, Guru was a Professor of Computer Science at Washington University in St. Louis. Guru received his Ph.D. in CS from Delaware in 1987, and is a recipient of the Alumni Outstanding Achievement award and the Frank A. Pehrson Graduate Student Achievement award.

Outstanding Service Award

This award acknowledges alumni who, through dedication and exemplary volunteer service, illustrate broad leadership in support of the aims and objectives of the ECE Department. Honorees recognized by this award have set a strong example to their fellow alumni through their exceptional contributions to scholarship, teaching or other improvements for ECE faculty and students.

Kenneth J. Lutz (BEE ’64)

Kenneth J. Lutz  is currently Affiliated Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at UD. He created a new course on the Smart Grid, which he has been teaching since 2014. His research interests focus on the smart grid as a complex system of systems that integrate power systems, communications systems, and information technologies to create a modern electrical infrastructure to supply reliable power.

After receiving his Ph.D. degree in electrical engineering from the Johns Hopkins University, Lutz spent most of his career in telecommunications research and development. He was a Distinguished Member of the Technical Staff at Telcordia Technologies (formerly Bell Communications Research) and at Bell Telephone Laboratories before then. In 2009 Lutz was awarded an IEEE/AAAS Congressional Fellowship and worked for United States Senator Ron Wyden, where he was instrumental in writing federal legislation for renewable energy and energy efficiency. He then founded AMR Strategies LLC to help utilities modernize their grids using smart grid technologies, renewable energy sources, energy storage, and other technological improvements. In 2014-15 he served as the faculty-member-in-residence for the Washington Internship for Students of Engineering (WISE) in Washington, DC. Lutz is a Senior Member of IEEE and a member of AAAS, Eta Kappa Nu, Tau Beta Pi, and Sigma Xi.

Entrepreneurial Innovation Award

This award 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. Honorees recognized by this award exemplify the entrepreneurial spirit central to the ECE discipline.

Rishi Khan (BS ’00, PhD ‘07)

Rishi Khan is the founder and CEO of Extreme Scale Solutions (ESS), a firm specializing at nexus of high performance computation and data analytics. On the research front, ESS works with Qualcomm and DARPA on designing the next generation of computers to solve extremely large graph analytics problems. For enterprises, ESS helps migrate large fleets of databases to public or private clouds. ESS has migrated thousands of databases at several large financial firms and has built a product, Nubrado, which automates this process. In 2017, ESS won the “Most Promising Venture” Blue Hen 17&43 award.

As an undergrad at UD, Rishi started a web development firm and a car export firm. As a post-doctoral fellow at Thomas Jefferson University, Rishi started a DNA sequencing company with funding from Delaware EPSCoR and an SBIR grant through the National Institutes of Health. After his postdoc in 2008, he worked as Vice President of Research and Development at ET Internationl, a spin-off of University of Delaware run by Professor Guang Gao. In 2014, he founded Extreme Scale Solutions.

Young Alumni Achievement Award

This award recognizes alumni who have graduated within the past 15 years and have excelled in their chosen professions. Awardees exhibit outstanding technical achievement, entrepreneurship or leadership, with achievements that distinguish them among their recent fellow graduates.

Jill Desmond (HBEE ’09)

Jill Desmond graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Delaware Honors Program in 2009, earning Honorable Mention for the Eta Kappa Nu Outstanding ECE Student Award. She went on to earn her Ph.D. from Duke University in 2014, developing statistical models and machine learning algorithms to mitigate the effects of reverberation in cochlear implants. Her work has been published and presented at conferences including the Acoustical Society of America, the International Conference on Implantable Auditory Prostheses, and the Duke ECE Graduate Student Seminar, where it was awarded Best Presentation. After earning her Ph.D., Desmond worked as the Senior Data Scientist for a startup company, leading the machine learning team in the development of a wearable device for early childhood education.

Jill Desmond is currently a Data Scientist at The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), a University Affiliated Research Center focusing on complex research and engineering problems that are critical to our nation’s security. At APL, Desmond focuses both on deep learning applied to image classification and on speech processing technologies in acoustically challenging environments.

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