John Conley working in his lab.
Professor John Conley and Ph.D. student Dustin Austin use a technique called atomic layer deposition (ALD) to synthesize a nanolaminate dielectric film.

John F. Conley, Jr., professor of electrical engineering at Oregon State, has been named the only 2015 IEEE Fellow in Oregon. He is being recognized for “contributions to semiconductor process technology to improve radiation hardening of MOS devices,” according to the IEEE awards committee. Conley’s work has had direct impact on earth orbiting satellites, military applications, and the robotic exploration of deep space, as well as the reliability and lifetime of everyday electronic devices.

“I have been a member of IEEE since I was a student at Penn State and I feel greatly honored and humbled to have achieved this level of distinction within this organization,” Conley said.

The IEEE Grade of Fellow is conferred by the IEEE Board of Directors upon a person with an outstanding record of accomplishments in any of the IEEE fields of interest. The total number selected in any one year cannot exceed one-tenth of one- percent of the total voting membership. IEEE Fellow is the highest grade of membership and is recognized by the technical community as a prestigious honor and an important career achievement.

One of Conley’s key contributions to improve the radiation hardening of CMOS devices was to the understanding of the reactions between hydrogen and radiation damage centers in MOS devices (with Patrick Lenahan). Another was the first experimental confirmation of the Lelis Model for switching (border) traps (with Lenahan, Aivars Lelis, and Tim Oldham). This work provided fundamental insight into the way in which oxygen vacancy defects, the most important oxide traps, change structure and electronic properties in response to charge capture. Although this work dealt specifically with radiation damage problems near Si/SiO2 interface, the experimentally demonstrated Lelis model now forms the basis for understanding of the negative bias temperature instability (NBTI) — one of the most important MOS reliability problems.

Conley has also made significant contributions to the atomic layer deposition (ALD) of dielectrics and nanotechnology (the selective growth of nanowires). His research group at Oregon State is focused on materials development using ALD, metal/insulator/metal devices, internal photoemission, and thin film transistors.

Conley’s career includes positions at Dynamics Research Corporation, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), and Sharp Laboratories of America (SLA). Since 2007 he has been at Oregon State where he is a professor in the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, and the Intercollege Materials Science Program. He is an ONAMI Signature Faculty Fellow, and co-director of the Materials Synthesis and Characterization (MASC) facility.

Conley has authored or co-authored over 120 technical papers, over 130 additional conference presentations (including tutorial short courses on high-k dielectrics and 15 invited talks), and 20 U.S. patents.

The first peer-reviewed paper Christopher Scaffidi wrote 10 years ago has just been named the Most Influential Paper at the IEEE Symposium on Visual Languages and Human-Centric Computing, (VL/HCC) in Melbourne, Australia, July 28-Aug 1.

Chris Scaffidi and Brad Meyers accept award.
Chris Scaffidi (center) and Brad Meyers (left) accept the Most Influential Paper award.

“It’s surprising because my first attempt at something usually isn’t my best …but this paper won the award because it helps to establish the scope of impact for a research area,” said Scaffidi, assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science at Oregon State University.

The research area the paper impacts is end-user programming — a type of programming such as website or spreadsheet authoring that is performed by people who are not trained programmers. The 2005 paper, “Estimating the Number of End-Users and End-User Programmers,” predicted that 90 million end users would be in American workplaces by 2012, and that 55 million of those would potentially be programming spreadsheets and databases. They also predicted that 13 million end users would describe themselves as programmers, which far exceeds an estimated 3 million professional programmers.

“Those were astonishing numbers, which, along with the detailed analyses presented in the paper, has resulted in this paper being highly cited, and highly influential in getting more researchers to focus on this class of programmers, which generally has received little attention,” said Brad Meyers, Scaffidi’s co-author and professor at Carnegie Mellon University.

Scaffidi started the research as a first-year graduate student at Carnegie Mellon University with his other co-author and advisor, Mary Shaw, when he became intrigued by an often cited, but unsupported estimate of the number of end-user programmers.

Beyond estimating the number of end-user programmers, Scaffidi made predictions based on his method and validated the results with real data from 2001 and 2003.

Scaffidi said the importance of the paper is that is highlights an area of research that is becoming more critical in our society. The research aims to make end-user programming easier and more accessible to a broader range of people.

“I really think end-user programming is absolutely essential for the health of a middle class workforce. There are lots of jobs which are being automated away and being given to intelligent software or robots, and end-user programming gives people a way to be more secure in their jobs — they are the automators, not the automated,” Scaffidi said.

–by Rachel Robertson

Flanked by conference officials, Danny Dig and students accept their award
Flanked by conference organizers, Danny Dig (in black) and collaborators (left to right) Semih Okur, David Hartveld, and Arie van Deursen, accept the ACM SIGSOFT Distignguisted Paper Award.

Danny Dig and his Ph.D. student Semih Okur, along with international collaborators David Hartveld and Arie van Deursen, presented a paper at the prestigious International Conference on Software Engineering (ICSE’14) in Hyderabad, India last week, which won the ACM SIGSOFT Distinguished Paper Award. The companion website to the paper “A Study and Toolkit for Asynchronous Programming in C#” is an educational resource with examples from real code on how to use async constructs. The winning paper was one of three that Dig’s Ph.D. students presented at the conference which he said is more selective than the top journals in the field of software engineering. Oregon State students Caius Brindescu, Mihai Codoban, and Sergey Shmarkatiuk collaborated with him on the other projects presented at the conference.

Oregon State was also represented at the conference by Rahul Gopinath, Carlos Jensen, and Alex Groce who presented a paper, and by Margaret Burnett who gave an invited presentation.

“I am happy that OSU is so well represented at the top event in the field of software engineering,” Dig said.

Abstract of winning paper: A Study and Toolkit for Asynchronous Programming in C#

Semih Okur, David L. Hartveld, Danny Dig, and Arie van Deursen
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA; Delft University of Technology, Netherlands; Oregon State University, USA

Asynchronous programming is in demand today, because responsiveness is increasingly important on all modern devices. Yet, we know little about how developers use asynchronous programming in practice. Without such knowledge, developers, researchers, language and library designers, and tool vendors can make wrong assumptions. We present the first study that analyzes the usage of asynchronous programming in a large experiment. We analyzed 1378 open source Windows Phone (WP) apps, comprising 12M SLOC, produced by 3376 developers. Using this data, we answer 2 research questions about use and misuse of asynchronous constructs. Inspired by these findings, we developed (i) Asyncifier, an automated refactoring tool that converts callback-based asynchronous code to the new async/await; (ii) Corrector, a tool that finds and corrects common misuses of async/await. Our empirical evaluation shows that these tools are (i) applicable and (ii) efficient. Developers accepted 313 patches generated by our tools.

 

Intellicycle-team
Brian Benavidez, Arron Bellini, and Kamil Agrawala win the People’s Choice Award at Oregon State’s Engineering Expo.

The whirring sound of bike tires spinning on stationary stand could be heard throughout the Kelley Engineering Center as one after another Engineering Expo visitors tested out the Intellicycle. Based on the number of people flocking to get on the bike it was not surprising the senior design project won the People’s Choice Award. But it was more than senior Arron Bellini had anticipated.

“I wasn’t expecting more than passing glances, but then the interest in it blew up. It was pretty crazy,” Bellini said.

The Intellicycle is a device that can be added to any bike to measure speed, distance, cadence and temperature. The information is sent to a smartphone where it is displayed on a mobile application which can also bring up a map of your location. There are no worries about the phone running out of battery life, because the system harvests energy from the front wheel. In addition to recharging a phone, the power system runs the lights on the bike. But they are not just ordinary lights — these “smart” lights automatically turn on when it gets dark, and can also be controlled manually.

Brian Benavidez said he thought their project did well at Expo because it was very hands-on, it was easy for people to understand and useful to many types of bike riders. Having a bike situated in the atrium of Kelley was an amazing hook to get people interested. “We had a five-year-old riding it and an 82-year-old riding it, and they both had huge smiles on their faces,” he said.

Beyond seeing how fast they could get the bike to go, the visitors also had questions.

Benny-on-bike
Benny Beaver tries out the Intellicycle.

“We had genuine questions from people who are not engineers wanting to know how it works. It was cool that we could take some complicated engineering and convert it into something that a 5-year-old kid wants to know about. It turned the competition into education,” Kamil Agrawala said.

The project, which was first hatched by the friends at a football game, split nicely into three parts they each had independent control over: the power system, the sensors, and the mobile application. The hard part, they all admitted, was getting the three separate parts to work together. And although they sometimes butted heads on how to get it to work, they left business behind them when they would hang out together as friends.

“The one thing I would tell other students doing their senior project, is pick a team that you have a good group chemistry with, because you’ll be working with these people for a year,” Agrawala said.

The many hours of work paid off in a project that captured the imaginations of those who visited, some who wondered if the group would turn it into a marketable product. For now, the success of finishing is enough.

“To come up with a plan and execute it the way we wanted to, and then to cap off with the award was a pretty monumental achievement. Right now I’m just feeling sincere gratification,” Bellini said.

–by Rachel Robertson

After participating in the App Hackathon last year, Nicole Phelps knew she wanted to bring the experience of creating an app to more students. Renamed OSU’s App Challenge, she David Meehan organized the event this year that culminated in a competition on May 10. It was the capstone senior project for the two computer science students.

Phelps and Meehan taught weekly classes in Android and iOS development to prepare students for the competition. But expanding students’ skills was not the only point to the competition.

OSU’s App Challenge organizers pose with the judges. (left to right) David Meehan,  Luke Kanies (Puppet Labs), Bryce Clemmer (Vadio), Shashi Jain (MatterCompilers), Scott Kveton (Urban Airship), and Nicole Phelps.
OSU’s App Challenge organizers pose with the judges. (left to right) David Meehan, Luke Kanies (Puppet Labs), Bryce Clemmer (Vadio), Shashi Jain (MatterCompilers), Scott Kveton (Urban Airship), and Nicole Phelps.

“The event currently has some amazing judges, which provides students with an uncommon opportunity to network with inspiring role models in the tech industry,” Phelps said. The judges this year were Scott Kveton, CEO and co-founder of Urban Airship, and co-founder of OSU’s Open Source Lab; Bryce Clemmer, CEO and co-founder of Vadio; Luke Kanies, CEO and co-founder of Puppet Labs; and Shashi Jain, CTO and co-founder of MatterCompilers and Corporate Innovations Lead at UP Global.

“Another thing we wanted to do with the classes was build a community of app developers,” said Meehan. “It’s great to have other people to talk to who are working on the same kinds of problems you are.”

Encouraging teamwork was the focus of this year’s event which Phelps said is an important skill for future jobs, but also makes the experience more fun and less pressure.

Luke Kanies, of Puppet Labs, said he could see a significant improvement in the quality of the apps this year and was impressed with partnerships that the students had with industry and research labs. “The organization has learned a lot over the year,” he said.

francis
Francis Vo shows off his app to play Texas hold ’em.

Several app developers had real clients: Three of the apps were built for the Corvallis Transportation System to help bus riders navigate the bus system, Francis Vo and Meghan Gorman competed with an app sponsored by Intel that displays a game from multiple phones on one TV screen, and the overall winning team, OccuChrome, developed an app for an Oregon State chemistry lab to read enzyme slides using a smartphone camera, and analyze the chemical reaction.

Others brought apps that they developed for their own use. Greg Luis-Ramirez competed with a quiz app that he uses as a study tool, and Michael Woffendin and Nick Piatt created an app that uses ratings that friends give restaurants to find one that everyone will agree on. “I have very indecisive friends,” Piatt said with a smile.

Thanks to a generous donation by Urban Airship, and swag by Google, the participants also received some great prizes. The overall winner received a $200 Amazon gift certificate and all other winners received $75 Amazon gift certificates.

Joe Runde helps Luke Kanies test out the OccuChrome app,
Joe Runde helps Luke Kanies test out the OccuChrome app that reads and analyzes enzyme slides.

Overall Winner

OccuChrome by Kyle Cesare, Joe Runde, and Kevin Hess
OccuChrome automates the process of calibrating statistical models to evaluate reactions on enzyme slides. This will speed up research processes in a lab setting, and may have further uses in the field as a mobile diagnostic platform for doctors.

Category Winners

Usability: CorBus by Cezary Wojcik and Russel Barnes
Corbus is an app that is meant to assist users of the Corvallis Transportation System. The goal of the app is to provide a quick and beautiful interface that can help users easily plan and navigate the buses of Corvallis.

Presentation: Transport by Chris Vanderschuere, Carly Farr, and Bret Lorimore
Transport app for the Corvallis Transit System, which serves to provide bus riders with real-time information about where the bus is and when it will get to your stop.

Completeness: LANREG by Charles Catino
LANREG is an event registration web application that is designed to support small to large scale LAN parties. It includes organization, event, and seating chart creation tools along with full PayPal payment integration.

People’s Choice: Profit by Soroush Ghorashi and Chadwick Swenson
Profit is a simple mobile app that solves the three biggest problems freelancers and small business owners face: taxes, audit preparation and client tracking.

–by Rachel Robertson

Of the over 500 teams that applied, two Oregon State teams were among the top 35 to make it to the finals of Intel’s 2014 Cornell Cup competition, held on May 2 and 3 at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. After three rounds of judging by Intel representatives including a floor presentation, and a formal pitch to an audience — both teams were awarded honorable mention.

The competition gives students the real-world experience of working as a team to design a product for a client. “There will be supply chain issues, there will be hobgoblins in what should be working hardware, there will be times when you absolutely lose the motivation to fix the last few issues. How you overcome these challenges dictates what kind of engineer you are,” said Kevin McGrath, advisor to the teams.

McGrath took a hands-off approach to mentoring the students, and let the teams take ownership of their projects. “I think it was a net benefit for us as a team,” said Josh Sklar, computer science student. “We got a lot more out of it because we were forced to do everything, and had free rein to be more creative.”

The two teams were multidisciplinary including members from computer science, and electrical and computer engineering. The Motion Safe Systems team also included a business major to help with marketing.

Motion Safe Systems team (left to right): Josh Sklar, Glen Nicol, Ashley Greenacre, Stefan Herrenbruck, Ryan Kalb, and Stephen Austin
Motion Safe Systems team (left to right): Josh Sklar, Glen Nicol, Ashley Greenacre, Stefan Herrenbruck, Ryan Kalb, and Stephen Austin

Motion Safe Systems

A team of six took on the radical idea of turning cars into an alert system to contact emergency responders and warn nearby drivers when an accident occurs. They created an affordable device that can plug into the on-board diagnostics port of a car.

The device can detect a crash with a combination of instruments including an accelerometer, gyroscope, and magnetometer. But he genius of the system is it how the devices connect to one another via a wireless mesh network — allowing cars to “talk” to each other. Since no centralized controller is needed, the messages can be passed from car to car, spreading the information to cars too distant from the initial accident to receive direct transmission. Motion Safe Systems could also be expanded to allow users to connect with their smartphones to access other information from their cars such as fuel economy.

Dr. Wattson: Power Inspector

Dr. Wattson team (left to right):  Berkeley Fisher, Kit Morton, Emily Raterman and Bennett Rand
Dr. Wattson team (left to right): Berkeley Fisher, Kit Morton, Emily Raterman and Bennett Rand

The four members of the Dr. Wattson team designed a product to help inform consumers about their power consumption. Their device takes energy monitoring in the home to a new level by allowing consumers to monitor several outlets at once. The data is sent wirelessly to a base station, where it is entered into a database. A web interface pulls the data from the database and displays it in a way that makes it easy for consumers to understand, and is accessible by a computer, tablet or phone. This advances current technology, such as the Kill-A-Watt, which monitors just one outlet and requires the user to look at the actual device where it is plugged in — sometimes under a desk or behind furniture. The team was also featured on the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science website.

The competition allowed the teams to connect with engineering students from all over the nation and find out about their projects. “The Cornell Cup was a lot of hard work and a lot of fun. All 35 of the teams that were there definitely deserved to be there — great projects and smart people,” said Bennett Rand, computer science student.

Both teams will have their projects on display at OSU’s Engineering Expo on May 16.

Students interested in participating in the 2015 Cornell Cup can contact Kevin McGrath.

–by Rachel Robertson