Santa Clara University


Engineering Blog


  •  2015 Distinguished Engineering Alumni Awards

    Wednesday, May. 6, 2015

    With great pleasure, the School of Engineering announces recipients of the 2015 Distinguished Engineering Award. This award honors alumni whose accomplishments in their professions, communities, and/or service to the School of Engineering have set them apart. The two individuals receiving the award this year reflect the qualities and characteristics that best define the ideals of a Jesuit education: a passion for and commitment to excellence.

    Stephen Sifferman: B.S. Electrical Engineering, 1993; M.S. Computer Engineering, 1998
    For the past 20 years, Steve Sifferman has had a distinguished career in the wireless communications industry.  Beginning as a senior software engineer at Northrop Grumman, he moved on to ArrayComm, where he worked his way up the ranks to eventually taking on the role of President of the world leader in multi-antenna signal processing software products for wireless communications. During his time with ArrayComm, he helped develop cutting-edge technologies and holds numerous patents in recognition of his work.  Respected not only for his technical ability, Steve is also lauded for his managerial and leadership abilities. In his current capacity as President and Chief Executive Officer of Tarana Wireless, Inc., Steve is guiding the company’s evolution from its successful first phase of technology development into broad commercialization and growth. Beyond serving his company, he impacts his field as a board member of the Telecommunications Industry Association. For his contribution to the development of wireless communication technologies and outstanding leadership within his industry, Steve was selected to receive this honor.

    Sheryl Staub-French, Ph.D., P.E.: B.S. Civil Engineering, 1993
    Since obtaining her bachelor’s degree in civil engineering at Santa Clara, Sheryl Staub-French went on to earn her master’s and Ph.D. degrees from Stanford University. She is currently Associate Professor of Civil Engineering at University of British Columbia. An active proponent of the use of Building Information Modeling (BIM)—a digital process for modeling the spatial, functional, and contextual dimensions of a construction project—Sheryl researches and develops tools and techniques to better support multi-disciplinary decision processes in the increasingly complex field of construction coordination. Over the past 15 years she has contributed more than 50 papers in leading journals and conferences in BIM and topics related to the technological and organizational issues associated with its implementation. She is also the inaugural holder of the Goldcorp Professorship for Women in Engineering and Director of the eng•cite program, which develops and delivers a targeted recruitment strategy for UBC Engineering that aims to increase the number of women enrolled in its programs to 50% by 2020.  Eng•cite works with teachers, counselors, parents and high school students to promote engineering education, and provide mentorship and role models for young women who might not otherwise consider or pursue engineering careers. For her contribution to the field of civil engineering and her commitment to the education of the next generation of practitioners, Sheryl receives this award.

    Congratulations to our awardees! Presentation of the awards will be made at the Senior Engineering Awards and Honors Convocation, Friday, June 12, 1 p.m., Locatelli Student Activities Center.

  •  Spring Break in Ghana

    Thursday, Apr. 23, 2015

    Civil engineering senior Theresa McArdle writes about her alternative spring break experience, working with a village in Ghana to improve the sustainability of local construction materials and methods.

  •  Tiny House, Big Dreams

    Thursday, Apr. 23, 2015

    Engineering students are at work designing a net-zero, solar-powered Tiny House in competition with a dozen other California schools.

  •  First Place!

    Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2015

    Congratulations to computer engineering seniors Jason Dougherty, Nick Fong, and Alek Hurst on winning 1st Place and $15,000 in the Intel Security IoT Hackathon 2015 for their product, Pawpal. The team created hardware and a mobile app to monitor and interact with pets while owners are away from home. Next, the trio plans to launch a Kickstarter campaign to advance their product. Check out the demo site here:

  •  National Engineers Week!

    Monday, Feb. 23, 2015

    Feb. 22-28 is eWeek! This is the time to celebrate the profession and the engineers in your life. Read Dean Godfrey Mungal's eWeek message.

  •  Exercising the Right Brain

    Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2015

    At SCU, we pride ourselves on engineering education that stretches both the left and right sides of the brain—engineering knowledge plus good communication skills, technical ability plus creativity.... To that end, this month some of our undergrads are participating in an Entrepreneurial Thinking Pentathlon, five challenges spanning five weeks. The first task was to write a 1-3 stanza haiku capturing the essence of the entrepreneurial mindset.

    Congratulations to Dayna Obenauf and Jacob Ososke, mechanical engineering majors from the Class of '17, for their winning entry:

    Great tenacity,
    Creative innovation,
    Business emerges.

    Vital communication,
    Makes teamwork succeed.

    The intentions pure,
    Meaningful transformation-
    Help us change the world.

  •  "Colleges That Pay You Back"

    Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2015

    Santa Clara University was recognized on the TODAY show for our outstanding rankings of grads landing jobs by Rob Franek, author of Princeton Review’s new book “Colleges That Pay You Back.”

  •  Hack for the Homeless

    Thursday, Feb. 12, 2015

    SCU students are leading the effort on the second annual 24-hour hackathon to help the homeless. February 28-March 1 students from SCU, San Jose State, and other Bay Area schools will gather to spend 24 hours coding mobile apps that the homeless can use to help find services, food, and shelter.

  •  Engineering the Perfect Children's Book

    Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015

    Carol Reiley '04 (computer engineering) is making waves with her new children's book, Making a Splash; giving kids a real-world example of how hard work can unlock potential.

  •  Engineering Education: Keeping it Real

    Friday, Nov. 7, 2014

    Application is fundamental to engineering; so, in addition to learning theory and analysis, students must apply their knowledge and skills to the real world. Several engineering education initiatives emphasize "real world" experiences, but how "real" are the opportunities SCU's School of Engineering offers? Read an article by Department of Mechanical Engineering's Christopher Kitts to find out.

  •  Mobile Mission Control Lab

    Monday, Oct. 27, 2014

    SCU’s School of Engineering added the Mobile Mission Control Lab (MMCL) to its program that monitors and controls government and industry satellites. Using the MMCL, students can communicate with these satellites for longer than ever before. Read a university press release to learn more about the MMCL.

  •  Who will fill the computer science jobs?

    Wednesday, Sep. 17, 2014

    More than 1.4 million new jobs in computing will be created this decade, yet more than half of California's public high schools don't offer a single course in computer science or programming. What difference does this make? Read an article by Department of Computer Engineering's Dan Lewis to find out.

  •  Educating the Whole Engineer

    Thursday, Sep. 4, 2014

    SCU's Chancellor William Rewak, S.J., writes about the convergence of the worlds of technology and poetry in this San Jose Mercury News report.

  •  Stranger than Fiction

    Thursday, Sep. 4, 2014

    Imagine a giant landslide on the western shore of beautiful Lake Tahoe that set off a series of tsunamis sending walls of water 30 stories high and house-sized boulders rushing down the Truckee River. Though it might sound like a far-fetched pitch for a Hollywood block-buster, the event really happened about 3 million years ago. A paper in the journal Geosphere, by SCU Mechanical Engineering Associate Professor Christopher Kitts (with James G. Moore and Richard A. Schweickert) sheds new light on the event and KQED Science Contributor Andrew Alden writes about the "terrifying picture of geologic uproar" their investigation uncovered here.

  •  Teens Get a Glimpse of Engineering

    Friday, Aug. 22, 2014

    Before heading back to school this week, some lucky high schoolers had a chance to come and live on campus at Santa Clara University, meeting new friends, living in a dorm, eating in the dining commons, attending classes, and staying up late talking, laughing, and working on group projects, while also learning about the engineering profession and the academic expectations of a university engineering program.  Celebrating its 25th anniversary, the School of Engineering’s Summer Engineering Seminar was created to motivate young, mostly underrepresented students to consider studying science and engineering in college and ultimately participate in the scientific and technical workforce.

    This year, the highly competitive program drew 530 applicants from 26 U.S. states and 5 foreign countries who vied for the 80 available spots. For five days, two groups of forty students lived and breathed Bronco engineering at no charge to them, thanks to the generosity of Flextronics and The Carl and Celia Gellert Foundation. Read more.

  •  Trindade named ASA Fellow

    Friday, Jun. 13, 2014

    David C. Trindade, Department of Engineering Management and Leadership adjunct lecturer and Fellow and Chief Officer of Best Practices at Bloom Energy, has been named a Fellow of the American Statistical Association (ASA), the nation’s preeminent professional statistical society. Trindade was honored for outstanding leadership and achievement in high technology industry, promoting the use of statistical methods to improve qual­ity and reliability; for dedicated training of engineers and managers in the application of statistical methods and statistical software using innovative teaching methods; and for service to the profession. Under ASA bylaws, the Committee on Fellows can elect up to one-third of one percent of the total membership as fellows each year. Individuals are nominated by their peers in the association membership. Read more.

  •  Spring Newsletter Online Now

    Wednesday, May. 7, 2014

    Read about some of our senior's capstone projects in the latest edition of Engineering News, available online now.

  •  Bioengineering Prof's Research Lauded

    Thursday, May. 1, 2014

    Bioengineering Assistant Professor Prashanth Asuri's recent publication, "Function, Structure, and Stability of Enzymes Confined in Agarose Gels" (published in PLOS One) was identified by Global Medical Discovery as a "Key Scientific Article," contributing to excellence in biomedical research. Global Medical Discovery alerts the scientific, clinical and industrial community to innovative papers dedicated to investigating causes and discovering cures for major diseases and debilitating illnesses and is viewed almost 685,000 times each month by an audience of academic, clinical and industrial R&D Scientists.

  •  Empowering the Under-Served, One App @ a Time

    Wednesday, Apr. 30, 2014

    The School of Engineering's Frugal Innovation Lab and San Jose's Tech Museum of Innovation put on their first Social Innovation Workshop last Sunday, April 27. Sponsored by NASDAQ and Accenture, the workshops (this being the first of four to be held in 2014) focus on how technology can be harnessed to benefit humanity.

    "Empowering the Under-Served, One App @ a Time" engaged 30 middle school students for 3 hours at The Tech, where they learned how to empathize with homeless people in Santa Clara County and design mobile applications to improve their lives. Participants were quickly absorbed in the tasks of identifying and defining a problem faced by homeless people, and then designing the functionality and architecture of a mobile application to solve that problem.

    To help participants create realistic technology ideas, SCU Computer Engineering Associate Professor Silvia Figueira spoke about mobile projects that help the homeless, including several tools that were designed during the "Hack for the Homeless" event, held at Santa Clara last month. Other participants included a 2013 Tech Awards Laureate, Alejandro Maza, who discussed how his social enterprise in Mexico City (OPI) is leveraging the use of technology to support initiatives in crime prevention, public health, and education. Radha Basu, Director of the Frugal Innovation Lab, taught participants how to innovate for under-served communities, with a design innovation process that emphasizes empathy above all else. The Community Technology Alliance (CTA) in San Jose also provided first-hand narratives about homeless people living in the participants' own neighborhoods, and a young CTA client, who has experienced homelessness in the past, was brave enough to share her experiences with the group.

    Upcoming workshops this year include: 3D Bio-Printing for Public Health, Renewable Materials for Structural Stability (during seismic activity), and Pathogen Detection and Clean Water Monitoring. Check The Tech's website for more information on how to get involved.

    Submitted by Elizabeth Sweeny

  •  On a Mission to Reduce Energy Use

    Friday, Apr. 11, 2014

    When Opower, a global leader in cloud-based software for the utility industry, took their company public and started trading on the New York Stock Exchange earlier this month, two SCU alums were part of the team that helped build the company’s success.

    Agustin Fonts ’08 (electrical engineering) and Ryan Leary ’08 (computer engineering) are now both employed by the company whose software is transforming the way the world approaches household energy conservation, but their careers in the energy industry really started when they joined the 2007 Santa Clara University Solar Decathlon team as undergraduates.

    “One of the things we were exposed to as Solar Decathletes was taking a project from an idea to release over the span of two of years. To come up with the idea, put it to paper, execute and showcase it is a lengthy process. It would have taken us several years in a professional career to understand what we learned as undergraduates,” said Fonts. Leary agreed. “We learned what it means to ship a real product, how to measure and verify that our concepts worked; we had to prove our results. Having the experience of working on such a large-scale project as the Solar Decathlon, where we designed, built, and showcased a full-sized and fully functional solar-powered home in competition against 19 other international university teams, gave us a tremendous leg up as we started out after graduation,” he said.

    Before they had even graduated, the pair—along with several of their SCU Solar Decathlon teammates—had formed their own start-up, Valence Energy, where they took their engineering and project management experience to the next level, wearing many different hats as they set about designing and launching a distributed control system to maximize energy efficiency for the built environment. Valence Energy was acquired by Serious Materials (now Serious Energy) and the teammates went their separate ways professionally, but maintained a strong connection.

    Fast forward a couple of years to 2012 and Fonts, now International Product Manager for Opower, recruited Leary to join the company as Engineering Manager, accountable for promoting good engineering practices and managing software release and testing by working with engineering services and QA release management for the company’s suite of products focused on energy efficiency, customer engagement, demand response, and thermostat management. With their early “crash-course” experience in product development and project management, the two were well-rounded and had the proficiency needed to jump in and be part of the successful company. “Our product reaches more than 32 million households and businesses in 8 countries,” said Fonts, who is responsible for preparing the software to be sold across the world by managing the translation, setting standards for software internationalization, and making sure the products work culturally across the globe.

    The company’s recent successful IPO was exciting, but both Leary and Fonts claim it is the founders’ mission to lower energy use that is most gratifying. “Yes, they threw us an amazing party after the initial day of trading; it was a blast and a lot of fun, but the reason people enjoy working here so much has more to do with the company’s commitment to achieving a double bottom line of profitability and energy savings,” said Leary. Fonts added, “After the IPO dust settled, the company gave a gift to employees that can only be opened after a one-percent reduction in residential energy consumption has been met in the United States. For Opower, the IPO is only the beginning; we’re about achieving a mission.”

    Coming from Santa Clara’s School of Engineering, where “Engineering with a Mission” is the credo, the two feel right at home putting their ethics, values, and talents to work in their careers.

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