University of Colorado
Electrical, Computer, and Energy Engineering
ECEE Update
Fall 2013
Greetings from the Chair, Michael Lightner

Is Heisenberg the End of Moore's Law? Certainly Not.
Capstone Expands to Two-Semester Course
Alumni Feature: Scott Donnelly (ECE '84)
Alumni Class Notes
Greetings from the Chair, Michael Lightner
Welcome to the new Electrical, Computer, and Energy Engineering department newsletter. We will be sending the newsletter out two times per year with stories on student activities, research innovations, and department and alumni updates. We would appreciate your input on stories you would like to see and, of course, updates and highlights from your careers that we can share with the department's extended family.

Our department has seen a number of important changes of late, including several retirements. Professor Howard Wachtel, who you may remember from the courses he taught in our biomedical track, retired this year. We are currently searching for a new faculty member in the bio area. The department also bid farewell to Tom Brown, who retired from CU after 20 years of leading the ECEE Capstone program. Tom's devotion to Capstone over the past 20 years has impacted the lives of thousands of students. Starting this fall, Dave Meyer will be taking the helm of Capstone, which we recently transitioned to be a one-year sequence rather than a single-semester course. You can read about this exciting change below.

Another big change for the department will be the retirement of Pam Wheeler (now Pam Aguila) in September. Pam has served the department as graduate advisor, undergraduate advisor and office manager. She has made tremendous contributions to the department serving students, faculty and staff alike and will be missed! Please feel free to email her remembrances at

With these departures we've had two new faculty join the department last year: Eric Keller, whose research focuses on secure and reliable networked systems and software defined networks, and Pavol Cerny, who studies computer-aided verification and program synthesis. Professor Khurram Afridi, who specializes in power electronics, and Professor Sean Shaheen, who specializes in organic photovoltaics, will join us this coming year. Our faculty continue their exciting research with new discoveries every day.

While we hope to keep you connected to the department through this newsletter, nothing beats a visit back to campus and the department. We are always happy to provide tours of our teaching and research facilities to alums, potential students and their families, and those simply interested in the department. We look forward to sharing the accomplishments of our amazing students, faculty, and staff and to seeing you in the future.

Wishing you all the best,
Michael Lightner
Professor and Chair

Is Heisenberg the End of Moore's Law? Certainly Not.
The exponential advance of modern electronic capability was predicted in 1965 by Gordon Moore, the co-founder of Intel. Moore's Law states that the size of transistors on a chip will continue to decrease exponentially over time, leading to exponential growth in computing speed and memory density. Transistor size is determined by the optical printing process, which transfers a chip design to a silicon wafer. The minimum resolution that can be achieved in this process turns out to be the Heisenberg uncertainty of the photon position when it strikes the chip. Printing processes have now reached this limit, about 35 nm, which would suggest that Moore's law - and the growth in computer power that we have all come to enjoy - is about to end.

Researchers worldwide, including the Robert McLeod group in ECEE, are thus looking for ways to sidestep the Heisenberg limit on resolution. McLeod's group has added a second light source to the printing process in order to suppress the fuzziness at the edge of the features that limit resolution, thus allowing finer feature sizes. Using two colors is analogous to the pen and eraser on a typical white-board: The pen is limited in resolution to the width of its tip, but a careful use of the eraser can "trim" the line to be thinner. McLeod's research, funded in part by Intel, is now focused on developing the custom "photoresist" - the printing material used in the chip fabrication process - to optimize its resolution and sensitivity.


Capstone Expands to Two-Semester Course
Undergraduate alumni will likely remember the rigor of the department's Capstone Lab, a one-semester required course in which students divide into teams, select a project, and then undergo preliminary and critical design reviews, build and test cycles, writing of significant documentation, and a public demonstration or expo - all within 15 weeks!

Starting last fall, ECEE has expanded the lab into a two-semester course that allows students to conduct a complete design analysis, incorporating financial analyses, ethical considerations, social impacts, and project management. Not only does the change allow students more time to develop such a significant project, it also is better aligned with capstone courses in aerospace and mechanical engineering, thus offering more opportunities for interdisciplinary design collaboration.

The Capstone Lab space has been significantly renovated to handle the new 90-student course enrollment, and to upgrade the equipment to fit within the Common Lab Environment developed for our core digital and analog courses. Thanks go to the Engineering Excellence Fund and a generous donation from alumnus Geoff Green (EE '56).


Alumni Feature: Scott Donnelly (ECE '84)
Scott Donnelly's commitment to CU is like everything he puts his mind to. Whether it's work, family, or his daily exercise regimen, this ECE alum is motivated by the pursuit of excellence and he doesn't stop until he finishes the marathon.

A 1984 graduate of CU-Boulder with a BS in electrical and computer engineering, Donnelly is chairman, president and chief executive officer of Textron, Inc., which owns and operates a number of companies, including Bell Helicopter and Cessna Aircraft Company. Scott joined Textron in 2008 following a career of nearly two decades with General Electric (GE), where at the age of 43, he became one of the youngest CEOs ever to lead GE Aviation.

Throughout his rapid climb to success as a global business leader, Donnelly has stayed closely connected to his alma mater. He has served as an advisor and leader on the College of Engineering and Applied Science's Engineering Advisory Council and has been a strong advocate who has generated corporate support and forged new partnerships in the areas of nanotechnology and K-12 engineering education. His volunteer involvement is backed up by his deep and consistent financial commitment to CU. The University of Colorado Boulder Alumni Association will honor Donnelly this October for his extraordinary service to CU by presenting him with the Alumni Recognition Award at its 84th Annual Alumni Association Awards Ceremony during Back to Boulder Homecoming Weekend October 24-27. Congratulations, Scott, on this well-deserved recognition!


Alumni Class Notes
John Brennand (ME/EE '57) is currently retired and living in Santa Barbara, California.

Linda Seltzer (EE '78) is active as a consultant in audio digital signal processing algorithms and algorithm software.

Mark McHenry (MS EE '82) is the founder, president and CTO of Shared Spectrum Co., which he founded 10 years ago with the goal of developing a technology that would enable multiple networks and applications to dynamically share a single RF spectrum band. In 2000, Mark became the first person to file comments at the Federal Communications Commission proposing the shared use of "white spaces" in the television band for broadband Internet access. His company went on to pioneer dynamic spectrum access technology R&D for the United States Department of Defense.

Scott Warner (ECE '89) is serving as a colonel in the U.S. Air Force.

Thomas Miller (EE '97) is celebrating the 15th anniversary of his company, Technology Consulting of Boulder, where he works as an engineering consultant. The firm currently contracts with ASE/NREL at the National Wind Technology Center.

Shreenivas Suvarna (MS EE '99) is a senior software engineer at Boeing. He reports utilizing his education in signal processing for mobile development - both embedded and as an application layer.

Sammit Adhya (BS/MS ECE '06) plans to begin graduate studies toward an MBA this fall at the University of California Berkeley's Haas School of Business.

Abhijeet Badrike (MS EE '12) is working as a system validation engineer at Intel.

Singer, songwriter, and guitarist Jake O'Neal (EE '12) and drummer Max Grossman are nearing one year playing together as indie rock band Summa. The duo is readying an EP and has been playing gigs around Boulder and Denver, including a recent concert at The Sink. O'Neal was recently featured in a Q&A with the Colorado Daily.

Lucas Portelli (PhD EE '12) recently patented a solution to address varying magnetic fields in biological incubators, which was featured in a recent CU news story.

Got an update of your own? We'd love to hear from you! Submit your Class Notes update today and we'll include it in an upcoming edition.
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Department of Electrical, Computer, and Energy Engineering
College of Engineering and Applied Science | 303-492-7327
425 UCB, Boulder, CO 80309-0425

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