ESE Colloquia & Events

Fall 2014-Summer 2015

ESE colloquia are held on Tuesdays from 11-12:00pm in Towne 337, unless otherwise noted. For all Penn Engineering events, visit the Penn Calendar.

To be added to the ESE Events mailing list (which sends notifications regarding all departmental colloquia, seminars, and events) please email us at

Fall 2014

September 11
Giorgio Franceschetti
Professor Emeritus, University Federico II of Napoli
"The 150th birthday of Maxwell Equations"
10:00am, Towne 337
Read the Abstract and Bio

Abstract: In this Colloquium the 150th birthday anniversary of Maxwell Equations is celebrated, and their accomplishments over these 150 years commented. The presentation has been designed for a scientific audience, but not necessarily familiar with electromagnetic phenomena.

In the late seventeenth and eighteenth century, mysterious electric and magnetic different phenomena were exciting curiosity of people, and also interest of some scientists. Their investigation, essentially performed in France and UK, was formalised by two laws, Biot & Savart and Faraday equations.

And then James Clerk Maxwell entered in the arena: a dark penumbra suddenly changed to brilliant light, theoretical results from his new equations were experimentally confirmed, and successive applications implemented.

This Colloquium presents the romance of Maxwell equations, created and not derived from preliminary experiments, and the successive steps of their usage for a number of applications that changed, and are still changing our physical and social life. At the end of the Colloquium, a just one minute additional comment is added: no detail is given here, to hide a thrilling conclusion!

Bio:Giorgio Franceschetti is Professor Emeritus (University Federico II of Napoli, Italy), Honorary Professor (University of Trento, Italy), and Distinguished Visiting Scientist (Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA, USA). He has been Adjunct Professor at UCLA (1992-2008), Lecturer (Top-Tech Master, Delft University) till 2010, Visiting Professor in Europe, USA, Somalia, and Lecturer in China and India. He is author of about 200 (peer reviewed) papers, 14 books, and recipient of several awards, culminated with the gold medal from the President of Italy (2000), and elevation to the grade of Officer of Italy Republic (2001).

He got the Mountbatten premium for the best published paper (1995/1996 session) on the Proc. IEE (London), and the IEEE Schelkunoff Prize (1999 and 2008) for the best published paper in the two years on IEEE Antennas Propagation Transactions. In addition, he received the prestigious 2007 IEEE GRS-S Distinguished Achievement Award "For outstanding research in Electromagnetics, Propagation, Remote Sensing and Information Data Processing;" and the 2010 IEEE AP-S Distinguished Achievement Award "For outstanding contributions to fundamental electromagnetic theory, including pulsed antennas and arrays, innovative propagation and scattering models, and exploration of new emerging application areas." He was also included in the 2009 NASA Group Achievement Award, Cassini Radar Team, for "Outstanding accomplishment in the acquisition and analysis of Cassini Radar data, contributing to a better understanding of Titan and the Saturn system."

September 30
Rob Nowak
Professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Talk title forthcoming.
Read the Abstract and Bio

Abstract: TBD

Bio: Rob is the McFarland-Bascom Professor in Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where his research focuses on signal processing, machine learning, optimization, and statistics. He is a professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering, as well as being affiliated with the departments of Computer Sciences and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Wisconsin.  He is also a Fellow of the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery and co-organizer of the SILO seminar series.

  October 7
Marius Vassiliou
Institute for Defense Analyses
"How Complex Endeavors go Wrong"
Read the Abstract and Bio

Abstract:Why was Admiral Nelson able to win at Trafalgar, while, almost two hundred years later, the United States was unable to rescue its hostages from Iran? An important part of the answer to this question lies in the management, or “Command and Control,” of complex endeavors. We examine 20 situations, from the First World War to the present time, including military operations and responses to natural disasters and terrorist attacks. All have been characterized as experiencing ‘Command and Control failures.’ We identify three categories of failures: (1) failures attributable to a priori structural defects in enterprise approach, or a mismatch between the enterprise approach and the mission; (2) failures attributable to an inability to communicate, because of shortfalls in technology and system design, or because of physical impossibility; and, (3) behavioral failures to communicate or interact. Different enterprise approaches, of varying degrees of centralization, have different failure propensities. For example, a collective that is distributed, but not properly integrated, may sometimes be more adversely affected by communication failures than a traditional hierarchy. Traditional hierarchies, on the other hand, may be stymied by overly constrained information flows and patterns of interaction. Enterprise agility, meaning the ability to reconfigure the enterprise and its approach to meet the needs of the problem at hand, is paramount.

Bio: MARIUS S. VASSILIOU is a project leader and analyst at the Institute for Defense Analyses, where he has worked on conceptual aspects of command, control, communications, and networking. He is the author, with David Alberts and Jonathan Agre, of the book “C2 Re-envisioned: the Future of the Enterprise,” to be published in autumn 2014 by CRC Press. Previously he had a long career in the energy and aerospace industries, including positions as Executive Director, program manager, and scientist at the Rockwell Science Center (now part of Teledyne). He also led the U.S. Army Research Laboratory’s Advanced Displays Federated Laboratory consortium, developing new technologies for multimodal interaction, augmented reality, and sensor networks. He has published widely in geophysics, computational physics, information sciences, and R&D management and policy. Apart from his more recent work in command, control, and communications, he is known for his earlier advances in seismology, and for introducing the fast multipole method to computational electromagnetics. He received his PhD in Geophysics with minor in Electrical Engineering from Caltech, MS in Computer Science from USC, MBA from UCLA, and AB from Harvard.

October 28
John Long
Electronics Research Laboratory/DIMES, Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands
"Future Directions for Silicon Radio Frequency Electronics"
Read the Abstract and Bio

Abstract: Growth in mobile communication and computing technologies over the past two decades has been driven by innovations in system architectures, software technology, and silicon integration. Analog/RF circuit innovations relevant to developing more efficient infrastructure, conserving energy, and delivering better health care are described in this talk.

Advanced CMOS is the enabling technology for radio frequency circuits designed into almost all low-cost electronic products sold today. The feat of doubling the number of transistors on a silicon IC every 18 months is projected to continue until we reach a gate length approaching 5nm (projected in ~ 2020-2030 by the ITRS). However, continued scaling presents the designer with different transistor behavior with each generation, as the transistor’s electrical characteristics are affected by evolutionary changes in fabrication. Circuit and systems designers must therefore develop scalable designs that can adapt to a dynamic technology platform.

Three examples from recent research into the design of adaptive, wideband, and scalable high-frequency electronics aimed at emerging applications are described in this talk. Wireless silicon sensors capable of measuring position and velocity accurately are needed for intelligent traffic managment schemes. A recently developed mm-wave FMCW radar transmitter IC incorporates the phase-locked loop, digitally controlled oscillator, PA, and calibration circuits in 65nm CMOS. The ADPLL performs autonomous calibration and closed-loop DCO gain linearization in order to output a GHz-speed triangular chirp with high sweep linearity. The transmitter achieves excellent in-band/ out-of-band phase noise performance, ultra-low reference spur levels (-74 dBc), and is scalable to future technology nodes. Scenarios for improving health care often require low-power radios to monitor patients remotely. In the second example, a low-power, autonomous FM ultrawideband transceiver and power management unit that transfers data reliably at 100kbit/s and includes full on-chip digital calibration of the transceiver is described. Finally, fiber-optic technologies in the internet backbone are migrating towards coherent modulation schemes to increase data throughput. A silicon electronic driver capable of producing the 6Vp-p output required to drive a Mach-Zehnder optical modulator is presented. Based on a distributed amplifier architecture, the novel input interface enables performance competitive with III-V semiconductor technologies (i.e., 15ps rise-fall times at 10Gb/s) but on a silicon IC platform capable of full transceiver integration.

Bio: John R. Long received the B.Sc. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Calgary in 1984, and the M.Eng. and Ph.D. degrees in Electronics from Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, in 1992 and 1996, respectively. He was employed for 10 years by Bell-Northern Research, Ottawa involved in the design of ASICs for Gbit/s fibre-optic transmission systems, and from 1996 to 2001 as an Assistant and then Associate Professor at the University of Toronto. Since January 2002 he has been chair of the Electronics Research Laboratory at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands. His current research interests include low-power and broadband/mm-wave transceiver circuitry for highly-integrated wireless applications, and electronics design for high-speed data communication systems.

Professor Long is a recipient of the NSERC Doctoral Prize, Douglas R. Colton and Governor General's Medals for research excellence, and Best Paper Awards, including: ISSCC in 2000 and 2007, IEEE-BCTM 2003, and the IEEE-RFIC Symposium in 2006 and 2011. He is a member of the ESSCIRC technical program committee and has served on the technical program committees for the ISSCC (RF subcommittee chair), BCTM, EuMW, and ICUWB conferences. He was co-chair of the European microwave IC conference in 2008 and 2012. Associate Editor of the IEEE Journal of Solid-State Circuits, and General Chair of the IEEE Bipolar/BiCMOS Circuits and Technology Meeting. He is currently a Distinguished Lecturer for the IEEE Solid-State Circuits Society and Editor-in-Chief of the new IEEE virtual journal on RFICs.

December 2
Dejan Markovic
Talk title forthcoming.
Read the Abstract and Bio

Abstract: TBD

Bio: Dejan Markovic received the Dipl Ing. degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Belgrade, Yugoslavia, in 1998. He completed the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees at the University of California, Berkeley, in 2000 and 2006, respectively, as a member of the Berkeley Wireless Research Center. He joined the faculty of the Electrical Engineering Department at the University of California, Los Angeles, in 2006, where he is currently an Assistant Professor.

December 9
Al Molnar
Cornell University
Talk title forthcoming.

Read the Abstract and Bio

Abstract: TBD

Bio: Molnar received his BS in engineering from Swarthmore college in 1997. After spending a season as a deck-hand on a commercial Tuna fishing boat, Molnar worked for Conexant systems for 3 years designing RFICs.  He was co-responsible engineer developing their first-generation direct-conversion receiver for the GSM cellular standard.  That chip, and subsequent variants, have sold in excess of 100 million parts (and are still selling), as well as yielding several highly recognized papers.

When he entered graduate school in 2001, Molnar worked on an early, ultra-low-power radio transceiver for wireless sensor networks while taking multiple classes in neurobiology.  Upon receiving his master’s degree, he changed groups and worked on dissecting the structure and function of neural circuits in the mammalian retina, using a combination of electrophysiological, anatomical and pharmacological techniques, as well as analysis techniques drawn from his Circuits background.

In 2007 he joined Cornell as an assistant professor. These days he splits his time between radios, 3-D imaging systems, optical image processing, neurobiology, parenthood, and home repair.

Spring 2015


January 20
Kerry Bernstein
Program Manager (Microsystems Technology Office), DARPA
Talk title forthcoming.

Read the Abstract and Bio

Abstract: TBD

Bio: Kerry Bernstein joined DARPA in September 2012 as a program manager in the Microsystems Technology Office. His interests are in the areas of hardware assurance and hardware-based cybersecurity capabilities, anti-counterfeit, anti-tamper and supply chain risk management. His interests also include new technologies for improving Combat ID (CID), Identify-Friend-or-Foe (IFF) and Tag-Track-Locate (TTL).

Mr. Bernstein came to DARPA from IBM’s T.J. Watson Research Center where from 2002 until 2012 he was a research staff member working in the areas of high-performance, low-power devices, circuits and architectures, emergent post-CMOS logic switch technologies and architectures, 3D chip integration and radiation-induced upset modeling. From 1978-2002, he was an electrical engineer at IBM Microelectronics working in microprocessor circuit design, high performance product development and technology development applications. During his time at IBM he supported DARPA’s IRIS and TRUST programs.

Mr. Bernstein has co-authored four textbooks, holds 155 patents and is a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).  

Mr. Bernstein received his Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from Washington University in St. Louis.