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


By: Ashley Duvelius

UPDATE: UC’s first Hackathon, RevolutionUC, was a great success with over 150 participants from across the country working tirelessly around-the-clock to spur the best hack.
RevolutionUC was a major success! The competition was primarily about experiential learning—making it fun to experiment with novel technologies. We achieved that goal, and all of our participants greatly enjoyed the event,” reflects event co-organizer and CEAS computer science student, Jonah Back.
First place was awarded to Matthew Corbett, Nathan Triplett, Aaron Triplett, and Anthony Vella for creating the “Campus Alert System,” a cross-platform mobile and web based application to increase the safety of UC's campus acting as, essentially, a mobile version of the blue help phones that have been around campus for years.
Second place went to Madhavun Candadai, Sameeha Jahangir, Baargav Raghavan, and Haritha Kalyanaraman for their“QuickPick” app. QuickPick is a recommender system for users to quickly pick restaurants, simply by making binary choices from a set of random food images.
Third place was awarded to Mike Perry for his “TourUC” app. The app, using a Bluetooth low energy transmitter (iBeacon) and a client application that responds to notifications from the iBeacon, receives a welcome notification when a user is in range and shows him/her an introductory video about the UC building and the departments within it. The client app also sends out a tweet to Twitter.
Congratulations to all of the RevolutionUC winners and participants!

The University of Cincinnati Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) student chapter and the College of Engineering and Applied Science are hosting UC’s first hackathon, “Revolution UC,” on April 5 and April 6, 2014.

Revolution UC

UC’s first hackathon, hosted by the University of Cincinnati Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) student chapter and the College of Engineering and Applied Science (CEAS), will be held in the UC CEAS Learning Center from April 5 to April 6, 2014. The hackathon, appropriately named “Revolution UC,” begins at 3 pm on Saturday and will draw to a close with an award ceremony at 6 pm on Sunday.

What is a hackathon you ask? Jonah Back, head of UC’s ACM student chapter and co-organizer of Revolution UC, explains:

“A hack is applying your knowledge about computing in an effort to solve a problem that someone else may not even know they have. Ahackathon is a continuous 24-hour period in which the brightest minds in the computer science field come together to give it all they’ve got to create the best hack possible.”

During a hackathon, students are continuously supplied with caffeine and food as they build unique websites, mobile apps, or hardware hacks over 24 hours. At the end of the programming period, participants present their resulting hacks to a panel of judges (often organizers and sponsors) who then select winners for various prizes. Winners of these computer science competitions are awarded anything from t-shirts and hardware credits to substantial cash amounts.

Hackathons have taken the country by storm lately, as an event niche that gives programmers the rare opportunity to meet to do collaborative computer programming. As a testament to their ever-growing popularity, two of the largest student hackathons,PennApps and MHacks, brought together over 1,000 hack-generating individuals from universities worldwide!

And students aren’t the only ones who are displaying a vast interest in these events—numerous well-known companies such asGoogleLinked In, and Apple attend hackathons in search of future employees. Therefore, these events are increasingly being considered as a “Career Fair 2.0,” allowing students the chance to showcase their innovative handiwork to potential employers.

Jonah Back and Ken Addison showcase their mobile app Snippet, at McHacks.

Jonah Back and Ken Addison showcase their mobile app Snippet, at McHacks.

UC is now joining the renowned hackfest ranks with their first hackathon, Revolution UC. Over 150 participants are expected to make UC their home for the productive weekend. Deep IndiaJenco Brothers’ CandyMio’s, and Taste of Belgium have volunteered to keep the troops well-nourished and various UC professors are set to students thinking with “Tech Talks” about the latest and greatest computer science technologies.

Revolution UC—organized by CEAS computer science students Jonah Back and Shyamal Ruparel, along with the support of computer science faculty—is being sponsored by: CEASUCITzipsceneThe BranderyCardinal SolutionsDifferentialLobRoadtrippersGaslight,sparkfunGitHubstickermuleWolframAsus, and namecheap.

Is your team ready to join Revolution UC?


For more information about Revolution UC, please visit:

For more information about ACM, please visit:

For more information about the UC College of Engineering and Applied Science, please visit:


By: Liz Daubenmire

Jason Heikenfeld’s passion for technology is contagious.  From exciting students in the classroom, to starting three companies, Heikenfeld continues to embody innovation.


Professor Heikenfeld, PhD

It is Professor Heikenfeld’s success both in and outside the classroom that landed him a spot on NerdScholar’s 40 Under 40 list of “Professors Who Inspire.”  As a representative of the University of Cincinnati, he is one of many educators from all over the country recognized for their impact on students.

Heikenfeld accepted his nomination with honor and humility, crediting his students and the university as he states, “…From research discoveries to teaching innovations, the momentum puts a bit of wind at a professor's back."

University of Cincinnati students in the College of Engineering and Applied Science rave of Professor Heikenfeld’s ability to make electrical engineering come alive.  His practical applications of science and technology through personal experiences spark interest, which explains his ranking in Ohio’s Top 25 STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Professors.

Paper e-reader

Paper e-reader

Outside the classroom, Heikenfeld is impacting the world of technology with his focus on electrofluidics which he uses for alternative display methods, vastly expanding marketing and commercial capabilities. 

Electrofluidic display technology (EFD) aims to compete with standard LCD screens but with increased clarity and brightness- even in direct sunlight.  While the science is complex, the results of EFD are groundbreaking in the world of display technologies.  EFD has the potential to revolutionize e-readers, window displays, and eventually even your phone case.

In a previous article, Heikenfeld explained, “(Your phone case) will be able to change color either automatically by reading the color of your outfit that day or by means of a downloaded app. It’s possible because of low-power, reflective technology.”

Heikenfeld recently started his third company, Eccrine Systems LLC, to commercialize recent research for real-time monitoring of bodily functions through skin.

As a Cincinnati native, Heikenfeld continues to boost his hometown, bringing recognition and pride to the university and business sector.  Last year he was selected as the Sigma Xi Young Investigator at UC for his research accomplishments.  Heikenfeld has been recognized globally for his research, and co-authored many published papers.

Jason Heikenkfeld may be recognized for his many awards, businesses, and published works, but his passion truly lies in teaching where, as he says, "You can't beat the impact you can have."



To read more on Jason Heikenfeld’s selection as a 40 Under 40, please visit:




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

Andrew J Steckl, PhD, is an 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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