In The News

This monthly summary includes excerpts from Illinois in the News, a daily service provided by the University of Illinois News Bureau and other media search tools. This collection of recent stories focuses on engineering topics and faculty contacted for their expertise by print and broadcast reporters around the world.

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July 2017 media appearances

Artificial Intelligence

Quartz (July 26) -- In 2006, Fei-Fei Li, a newly minted professor of computer science at Illinois, decided to aid artificial intelligence efforts by building a better dataset that mapped the world of objects. The resulting dataset was called ImageNet, which quickly evolved into an annual competition to see which algorithms could identify objects in the dataset’s images with the lowest error rate. Many see it as the catalyst for the AI boom the world is experiencing today.

Silicon Valley Culture

San Francisco Globe and Mail (July 22) --  When it came time to start hiring employees for their nascent startup in 1998, PayPal co-founders Max Levchin and Peter Thiel recruited heavily from their alumni networks. Mr. Levchin favoured engineering friends from his alma mater, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Mr. Thiel looked chiefly to his network of college friends, hiring several of those who had written for The Stanford Review, including his Diversity Myth co-author.

Bespoke Processors

IEEE Spectrum (July 24) -- Researchers from Illinois and the University of Minnesota have created a “bespoke processor,” a stripped-down microcontroller that only has the logic gates needed to perform, saving space and power. “Processors are overdesigned for most applications,” says Rakesh Kumar, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Illinois.


Projecting electrical grid from cyberattacks

Morning Consult (July 20) -- A national study on electric grid security released Thursday called on the United States to do more to protect its grid against high-impact attacks, highlighting large gaps in U.S. technology and infrastructure. “Much less emphasis has been placed on cyber resilience [than security measures],” says William Sanders, a co-author of the report and head of the electrical and computer engineering department at Illinois.

U of I gets $104 million research grant

Crain's Chicago Business (July 20) --￿The Urbana-Champaign campus is home to a 320-acre energy farm that's filled with test plots to grow various types of crops. U of I was one of four research centers nationally to receive the Energy grants. The money will allow the university to bring together researchers from various departments under the new Center for Advanced Bioenergy & Bioproducts Innovation.


ZME Science (July 19) -- It took two years, two supercomputers and two Illinois researchers, Juan Perilla and the late Klaus Schulten, to simulate 1.2 microseconds in the life of an HIV capsid, a protein cage that protects the viral genome. The findings, reported in the journal “Nature Communications,” indicate several properties that enhance the capsid’s adeptness at finding a path to the nucleus of a target cells, but also potential vulnerabilities that could be exploited to defeat the HIV virus. Also: Alphr (July 19), Cosmos Magazine (July 19)

Psyonic Bionic Hand

American Inno (July 19) Aadeel Akhtar believes quality bionic limbs shouldn’t have to cost thousands of dollars. In fact, the one he invented costs less than a tenth of the cost of state-of-the-art commercially available prosthetic hands. Akhtar is the cofounder of Psyonic, a startup that has created a low-cost, high tech bionic hand. Their goal is to create an affordable advanced prostheses for low-income patients and amputees in the developing countries.

Bioenergy Research Center

Northern Public Radio (July 18) If Congress approves, the U. of I. will host a center for research into new biofuels and bioproducts, funded through the U.S. Department of Energy.

Artificial Intelligence

Quartz (July 17) -- A self-driving car is theoretically able to replace a human driver because it can see and react the way a human would – or better. But artificial intelligence researchers, prompted by a paper from researchers at Illinois, are now debating whether their software could be susceptible to “hacks” of real-world objects like stop signs.

Solar Cells

Compound Semiconductor (July 13) -- Scientists at George Washington University, the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory and Illinois have built a prototype for a new solar cell that is capable of capturing nearly all of the energy in the solar spectrum, resulting in a 44.5 percent conversion efficiency.

Tovala launches Smart Oven

Chicago Tribune (July 11) -- Tovala, a cloud-connected “smart oven” by a Chicago startup that cooks pre-prepared meals with the scan of a code and the touch of a button, goes on sale to the public Tuesday. Though the $399 device looks much like a microwave, it cooks very differently — alternately baking, steaming and broiling dishes. Also: The Verge (July 11) The Daily Illini (July 11), Chicago Inno (July 11), Smile Politely (July 11), Pop Sugar (July 11), Tasting Table (July 11), WSJ (July 12 -- video), News-Gazette (July 14)

Why calculating home run distances is like measuring sea level

Quartz (July 10) -- Alan Nathan, professor emeritus at the University of Illinois, is cited on his forensic analysis a Mickey￿Mantle home run and story.

Cancer Center set to coordinate UI's effort in fight

News-Gazette (July 11) -- The new Cancer Center at Illinois is being launched to bring together more than 90 faculty members, plus graduate and postdoctoral researchers, from across the local campus to pursue advances in cancer-fighting technologies and treatments.

New class of insulating crystals hosts quantized electric multipole moments (July 7) Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Princeton University have theoretically predicted a new class of insulating phases of matter in crystalline materials, pinpointed where they might be found in nature, and in the process generalized the fundamental quantum theory of Berry phases in solid state systems. 

Engineers find way to evaluate green roofs

EurekAlert (July 5) -- Green infrastructure is an attractive concept, but there is concern surrounding its effectiveness. Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are using a mathematical technique traditionally used in earthquake engineering to determine how well green infrastructure works and to communicate with urban planners, policymakers and developers.

NCSA Grants $2.6M in Blue Waters Awards to Illinois Researchers

HPC Wire (July 6) --  The National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has awarded 3,697,000 node hours (NH) of time on the Blue Waters supercomputer to Illinois researchers from Spring 2017 proposal submissions. The combined value of these awards is over $2.6 million dollars, and through the life of the Blue Waters program, NCSA has awarded over 43 million node hours to UI researchers—a value of nearly $27 million.

Engineering at Illinois startup Serionix

Crain's Chicago Business (July 6) -- The inventors of an air filter designed for industry are finding new uses for it, from purifying the air astronauts breathe to eliminating the smell of cat urine. Serionix, a startup based in the University of Illinois Research Park, was formed by a trio from the university's materials science and engineering department: James Langer and Weihua Zheng, who earned doctoral degrees there, and their 88-year-old mentor, professor emeritus James Economy.

Detecting Sepsis

MIC (July 5) -- Sepsis has a bad reputation among doctors, and with good cause — it lurks in hospitals, springing a serious infection on patients admitted for other reasons. So researchers and doctors have been looking for a better option — and a potentially key piece of that is laid out in a paper (co-authored by professor Rashid Bashir) published this week in Nature Communications, which describes a test that can identify sepsis infections within a half-hour. Also: (July 11)

Machine Learning Offers Helping Hand To Edit Chips

Electronic Design (July 6) -- Tasked with squeezing billions of transistors onto fingernail-sized slabs of silicon, chip designers are asking whether machine learning can help. Though chip design is still a deeply creative process, engineers need tools that abstract the massive number of variables in modern chips. But these teachable tools are still rare, said Elyse Rosenbaum, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

Bio-Bot art featured on cover of Advanced Healthcare Materials

Advanced Science News (June 29) -- In this week's issue, the magazine highlights the artwork on the covers of the most recent issue of Advanced Healthcare Materials, and of course the research behind it. 

Getting Personal: Peter Schiffer

News-Gazette (July 2) --  50-year-old Champaign resident Peter Schiffer, vice chancellor for research and physics professor at the University of Illinois, chats with staff writer Melissa Merli. He will be the grand marshal in the Champaign County Freedom Celebration parade on July 4.

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