ECE Student Awards

Each year five student awards are given by the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Nominations are received from ECE Faculty and Staff and voting is conducting. We are pleased to announce this year's recipients.

2013 Award Recipients

ECE Departmental Scholar

Adam Funkenbusch, BSEE, BSECP

Adam Funkenbusch is a double major in Electrical Engineering and Computer Engineering with a GPA of 3.96.  Adam is a member of the Aerospace Enterprise, an interdisciplinary enterprise hosted in the Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics, which won the AFRL University Nanostat competition in 2011 (a major point of pride for Michigan Tech), working toward launch of the Oculus ASR in 2014. Adam is a Software Team Leader, responsible for a group of ten CpE and CS students doing both software and hardware development and carrying out project management.

The morning of the Spring 2013 Career Fair, Adam delivered a polished 5-minute presentation to a group of industry recruiters on the Aerospace Enterprise as part of the "ECE Showcase" which the Department hosted in the Student Development Complex.

Adam spent two summers as an intern at 3M ESPE (Dental Products Division) working on 3M's True Definition Scanner, an electronic device for recording and creating a high-resolution 3D digital model of patient oral cavity. Adam was fortunate enough to be involved in the project from early development to product launch, contributing on both the software side and in the design of a solid calibration target housing. See http://solutions.3m.com/wps/portal/3M/en_US/3M‐ESPE‐NA/dental‐professionals/products/category/digital‐materials/true‐definition‐scanner/.

He is the Corresponding Secretary of Eta Kappa Nu (EE honor society). His other contributions of service to Michigan Tech include a presentation to the sophomore circuits class on EE areas of specialization and he is the Webmaster for the Research Scholars Program.

Adam plays mellophone in the Michigan Tech Pep Band and participates in intramural frisbockey, flag football, broomball, bowling, and floor hockey. He speaks English (native), German (intermediate) and Spanish (beginner). Adam also participates in BonzAI Brawl and ACM‐ICPC programming competitions and is a member of Tau Beta Pi and Honors Institute.

ECE Woman of Promise

Rachel Swaney, BSECP

Rachel Slabaugh (Swaney) is an Electrical Engineering major with focus in Power and a GPA of 3.96. She is also working towards a Power Certificate. Rachel is a member of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and Institute of Electrical and Electrical Engineering (IEEE). She serves as a committee head for Tau Beta Pi and as treasurer for Eta Kappa Nu (EE honor society). She acted as VP of Public Relations for Blue Marble Security Enterprise as well as project manager for the Enterprise's Heart Rate Monitor project where she managed a team of engineers who design a circuit board and corresponding instruction set as an EE lab for middle school outreach activities. She also serves on the ECE Undergraduate Advisory Board. Rachel had a controls focus internship with Paper Converting Machine Company where she organized and set up a rental replacement program for Human Machine Interface (HMI) systems and developed HMI screens. Rachel is also active in her local church where she teaches a toddler Sunday school class.

Carl S. Schjonberg Award for Outstanding Undergraduate ECE Student

Andrew Hoekstra, BSEE, BSECP

Andrew Hoekstra is a double major in Electrical Engineering and Computer Engineering with a GPA of 3.98. In addition, he has achieved an International Spanish Minor. Andrew is the president of the Honors Institute, a Student Ambassador, was on the Oculus ASR team of the Aerospace Enterprise where he has designed a circuit board and power supply for the Oculus Communication System, is an officer of Eta Kappa Nu (HKN), and is a Co-President of the Hybrid Electric Vehicle Enterprise. Andrew is also an assistant Karate instructor (black belt) and is certified as a Medical First Responder.

Andrew has been extremely helpful to the ECE department and is always willing to help when asked. He has volunteered with Preview Day, ECE annual phone campaign, and the Fall Open House. He has put together multiple initiatives as an HKN member including organizing the first ever "ECE Showcase" as part of the 2013 Spring Career Fair events, presenting information on concentrations to EE and CpE sophomores, and efforts to obtain corporate sponsorship for HKN. 

Jonathan Bara Award for Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA)

Jennifer Winikus, PhD candidate in Computer Engineering

Jenn Winikus is currently pursuing her degree PhD in Computer Engineering. Her advisor is Prof. Wayne Weaver. Jenn has been active in many aspects of our graduate program and overall success of our department. Her contributions may be best described in her nomination for the award by ECE Associate Chair Glen Archer as he states:

"[Jenn] has been a stalwart in one of our most challenging labs, EE3306, where she has shepherded many sections through the mysteries of the Motorolla HCS12 microcontroller.  In addition to her performance in the microcontroller lab, she has created and delivered our summer youth program for Women in Engineering, the Engineering Scholars Program, and both the EE and CpE week long explorations.   She has extended herself for her students by setting open lab hours on the weekends and evenings to allow them to complete their work.  She routinely receives high marks on the student surveys and glowing remarks in the written comment sections." 

Matt Wolfe Award for Outstanding Graduate Research Assistant (GRA)

Himanshu Bahirat, PhD EE

Himanshu Bahirat earned both his PhD and MSEE at Michigan Tech. In both degrees, he has distinguished himself, the ECE Department, and Michigan Tech, and drawn praise from his research sponsors and collaborators.


Himanshu entered the PhD program in Jan 2009, supported by a GRA on a $1.15M collaborative MTU-NTNU project,    http://www.doe.mtu.edu/news/2010/mork.pdf .  He took a 10-month research exchange at NTNU in 2011-12, working with two other faculty-PhD student pairs there and taking a leadership role throughout. He has advanced state of the art in computer modeling of offshore wind farms and developed new high-voltage dc collector system topologies and technologies.  Related to this work to date, he has 1 published journal paper, 1 journal paper under review, 2 journal papers being submitted, and 3 more in progress. A patent application is in progress. He has published 4 refereed conference papers (2 are IEEE PES). He successfully defended in August 2013.

Himanshu completed his MSEE in Dec 2009. He was supported as a GRA and quickly became an expert in computer simulation of transients in high-voltage power systems.  Responding to a NERC (North American Electric Reliability Council) mandate to retrofit a failure-prone high-voltage equipment installation design, Himanshu and I worked with the research sponsor to address the 72 instances in their system.  Himanshu led the effort to develop a lower-cost more robust design modification, carried out the mathematical development, implemented the simulation model, and performed an exhaustive set of performance simulations. This resulted in a conference paper, a journal paper, and a recommendation to the IEEE stds committee to modify their existing standards.  The sponsor estimates that utilizing this new approach has saved them $3.5M compared to prior common practice.

At the time of his nomination, Himanshu had published two journal papers, one journal paper under review, two journal papers being submitted and three more in preparation, four peer-reviewed conference papers, two conference papers, and is the holder of three patents with one more under review.

IProf. Mork stated in his nomination that "in addition to the capabilities Himanshu has developed as a researcher, he possesses great professional skills, is excellent at teaming, and is a good role model and mentor of younger students.  As evidence, he is continuing at MTU this academic year as a postdoctoral research fellow and instructor, teaching EE5200 and EE5220, co-advising MSEE and PhD students, and writing research proposals. He is an outstanding representative of Michigan Tech and is highly deserving of this award."