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News from the Department of Electrical Engineering & Computer Systems at university of cincinnati, cincinnati, ohio


Distinguished Research Professor, Andrew J. Steckl, Professor, Electrical Engineering

Andrew J Steckl, PhD, is and internationally renowned scientist with over 40 years of experience as a university professor and and electrical engineering researcher. He received his BS from Princeton University in 1968 and his MS and PhD in electrical engineering from the University of Rochester in 1970 and 1973, respectively. In 1976, he joined Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where he founded the Center of Integrated Electronics in 1981. In 1988, he joined UC as an Ohio Eminent Scholar and Gieringer Professor of Solid State Electronics. Dr. Steckl established the UC Nanoelectronics Laboratory, is a fellow of the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and American Association for the Advancement of Science. He has been awarded over $17 million in research grants. Among his achievements are advising over 40 graduate PhD students, receiving 14 patents during his tenure at UC, and numerous distinguished awards.

 steckl awardheikenfeld award

Established Entrepreneurial Achievement Award, Jason Heikenfeld, Associate Professor, Electrical Engineering

Jason Heikenfeld, PhD, is an internationally recognized researcher in the field of electro-fluidics. He received his BS and PhD degrees in electrical engineering from UC in 1998 and 2001, respectively, and returned to UC as a professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in 2005. He is director of UC's Novel Devices Lab and has launched two companies, including Gamma Dynamics. Dr. Heikenfeld is a senior member of the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and a member of SPIE, MRS, and the Society for Information Display. He is also a National Science Foundation CAREER and Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) Young Investigator. He has more than 100 publications and has presented numerous invited talks. His inventions have resulted in over a dozen pending or granted patents.



By: Desiré Bennett

Computer and electrical engineering technologies intersect to take home prize in the Texas Instruments Analog Design Contest. 

Two students from the Department of Electrical Engineering & Computer Systems (EECS) won the UC leg of the Texas Instruments Analog Design Contest. Caleb Bluesummers, a computer engineering technology major, and Mark Winterink, an electrical engineering technology major, submitted their Senior Design Project which won the local prize of $1500.


Mark Winterink and Caleb Bluesummers.

Each year, through their TI University program, Texas Instruments (TI) hosts an Analog Design contest. It is designed to encourage engineering students to submit senior design projects that utilize TI technology, and UC is a partner school in this contest.  This year, Winterink’s and Bluesummers’ project was among the top 12 finalists in Dallas, Texas, so they were also invited to present their project to compete for the national TI Engibous Prize.

The students’ design, a Smartphone Footstrike Monitor, is an integrated hardware/software solution that measures pressure points in running shoes and transmits the data to an iPhone application.  

“The footstrike monitor is a system that consists of running shoes with sensors built in and an iphone application to process the data,” explains Winterink. He says that the idea to develop their project stemmed from playing an interactive video game. “There was this running game where you could sort of walk in place on a fit board – and we decided that was silly – and thought we should just put the same sensor stuff right into a pair of shoes.”

As part of the contest rules, the students were required to use at least three different TI analog parts, or two TI analog parts and a TI processor. “We used two power chips, an amplifier, and an ANT network processor, which is considered an analog device,” said Winterink.  According to TI, ANT is a device that provides a simple, low cost and low power solution for short range wireless communication in point-to-point and more complex network topologies and is an established technology for collection, automatic transfer and tracking of sensor data within sports and wellness management monitoring applications. 



Footstrike Monitor

Following these parameters, Winterink’s and Blusummers’ project measures pressure points at three different points on your feet and records this information at up to 180 times a second. It can also display and process this information in real time. “Originally, we were planning on two pressure points – one in the ball of the foot and one in the heel,” Winterink explains.  “But I was advised to add a third sensor in the front of the foot, and we used these two ‘forward’ sensors to measure pronation, which is the rotational movement of the foot.”

The students’ biggest design goal was functionality. “Our project really did always work when we were demoing it,” said Winterink. “Even though it's this little inexpensive student prototype project, we saw no reason why we couldn't make it simply work and work simply.”

Making it work simply involved making a few changes along the way. “At the start, we wanted to have a bunch of games to show off, like monkeyball or some other video game – like the Wii fit – so we had to cut out that stuff, keeping it simple so it would work in front of a crowd,” he explains. “It isn't too difficult to write a joystick driver, and plug in somebody else's game, but it's particularly hard to guarantee that it will always work,” he continues. “And we wanted to have everything going on the iPhone, which would have added another layer of complexity versus putting it on a Mac, just because we were more familiar with the Mac.”

In the end, their demonstration app proved to simply work and it also worked simply. “It showed what the hardware could do, and some places we could take this, whether for gamers, athletes, or medicine.”

Despite their success in winning the UC section of the TI contest, they remain modest.  “We thought there were a lot of other cooler and/or better projects at UC,” said Winterink.  “It just came down to having a polished, finished, ‘product’ that worked well, was easy to demo and understand and present, and was well-documented.”

Winterink thinks that one of the coolest things about winning this contest, along with design validation for the winners, is the possibilities it creates.  “UC is a partner school in this contest, so it always provides fantastic exposure to the other contestants,” he said. “Last year there were over 600 students registered and in 2010, two EECS students, one of whom went on to work for TI after graduation, won the national competition.”

It is Competitions like the TI Analog Design Contest that continue to showcase UC’s connection to future technology.




In a review article in a flagship technology publication, Andrew Steckl offers insight into potential unexpected products made on or from paper that promise to be less expensive and easier to use than those currently made using more sophisticated (and expensive) technology.

By: Arthur Davies

Photos By: Katie Hageman


Professor Andrew Steckl

The February issue of "IEEE Spectrum" magazine features an article by one of the University of Cincinnati's top researchers, Andrew Steckl, an authority on advanced technologies centered on paper. The astounding uses for what is clearly a material that most of us take for granted are described in the article, titled "Circuits On Cellulose – Paper Electronics Could Pave The Way To A New Generation Of Cheap, Flexible Gadgets." The online version is available at the IEEE Spectrum website.Professor Andrew Steckl 

This overview of research resulting from not only his own work but that of his many colleagues around the world offers insight into a myriad of potential unexpected products made on or from paper that promise to be less expensive and easier to use than those currently made using more sophisticated (and expensive) technology. “Since starting this article two years ago, it has gone through more than a dozen revisions to accommodate the many advances being made in the field around the world,” states Steckl.

Cellulose is a natural material that in the various forms of paper has been around for ages and, as our technology develops further, is demonstrating even more uses. The most remarkable of which may be as a substitute for silicon in electronic substrates – particularly for electronic displays. And the best part is that cellulose is readily available, renewable, biodegradable, and also combustible. Electronics built on paper can be landfilled or just compressed and burned as fuel in a power plant.


 steckl & student

 Professor Steckl reviews test results from a nanotechnology project with Hua Li, one of his graduate students.

Cellulose makes up about one-third of all organic biomass and when layered and wetted using a technology known as electro-microfluidics will produce electronic switches and gates much like those on a silicon-based circuit board. Among the advantages of a paper based electronic array are displays with that look and feel like real paper and can be folded or rolled, are easily carried and then discarded.

“Circuits On Cellulose – Paper Electronics Could Pave The Way To A New Generation Of Cheap, Flexible Gadgets” in the February issue of IEEE Spectrum provides just an overview of upcoming developments and commercial possibilities. “Developments underway using cellulose are interesting and surprising in their variety,” comments Steckl. “The number of uses is proving extraordinary.”

Nanotechnology using paper mediums may be the first commercial products to reach consumers as advances in biomedical science produce diagnostic tools placed on paper that when put in contact with saliva, urine, blood or sweat will immediately tell if a person has a virus, had bad food, major disease or a hangover. Best part – the cost is only a few cents and when the test is done, just burn the strip. These items could become a staple for doctor’s offices, third world clinics and individuals for direct use.

This abundant and simple material offers many advantages and generally low cost for the electronics of the future. 




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