Khaligh, Rudnick-Cohen win 2019 ISR awards

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Top, Eliot Rudnick-Cohen receives the George Harhalakis Outstanding Systems Engineering Graduate Student Award. Bottom, Alireza Khaligh receives the ISR Outstanding Faculty Award.

ISR Director Annkur Srivastava presented two annual awards at ISR’s Welcome Back Reception and Awards Ceremony on Sept. 10, 2019. Congratulations to the winners!

ISR Outstanding Faculty Award: Alireza Khaligh

Alireza Khaligh is this year’s winner of the ISR Outstanding Faculty Award. He was nominated by Sennur Ulukus, with support from Rama Chellappa, Neil Goldsman, David Perreault of MIT and Kamiar Karimi of Boeing.

Alireza has a joint appointment in ISR and the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and directs the Maryland Power Electronics Laboratory.

In her nominating letter, Dr. Ulukus points out that Alireza has been a unique addition to the ISR, establishing an unprecedented and well-respected integrated research and education program in power electronic systems from the ground up.

His research already has had tremendous impact in several areas. First, he has done extensive work in integrated power electronic converters for plug-in electric vehicles. Second, his work includes hybrid energy storage systems and power electronics for transportation electrification, including with Boeing on more electric aircraft. And finally, he has done creative and cross-disciplinary work in introducing and advancing milligram scale and ultra-light power electronic interfaces for biologically inspired microrobots, in collaboration with Sarah Bergbreiter.

Alireza has received many awards and recognitions, including the Clark School’s 2016 E. Robert Kent Junior Faculty Teaching Award and Junior Faculty Outstanding Research Award, the 2017 Outstanding Young Alumnus Award from the Illinois Institute of Technology, three Best Vehicular Electronics Awards from IEEE Vehicular Electronics Society, and the 2010 Ralph R. Teetor Educational Award from the Society of Automotive Engineers. He is an author/co-author of more than 170 journal and conference papers and two books.

Alireza has been active in leading academic conferences, including Program Chair of the IEEE Applied Power Electronic Conference and Expo, the most prestigious conference in Applied Power Electronics. He is a Distinguished Lecturer of the IEEE Vehicular Technology Society.

His student evaluations are always at the top of the college range; students appreciate his enthusiasm, his ability to engage them in critical thinking, his preparation for class, and his ability to provide real-life examples and insights from his and his student’s research. He is currently advising 9 graduate students, and has graduated 10 M.S. and 7 Ph.D. students.

Every semester he mentors more than 15 undergraduate students. His students have gone on to leading positions in prestigious companies and R&D research groups such as Oak Ridge National Laboratory, GE Global Research, Tesla Motors, Texas Instruments, Infineon Technologies, Solectria Renewables, Maxim Integrated, Qualcomm Inc, and Regal Beloit.

Dr. Ulukus writes that Alireza is “a brilliant, top notch power electronics scholar who has made groundbreaking contributions to systems engineering, establishing one of the nation’s well-respected research programs in power electronic systems. His pioneering research and leadership, coupled with his impressive teaching and mentoring record are testaments to a brilliant and impactful future career. It is very rare to find these attributes in someone in such an early stage of their career and with so much passion for their work.”


George Harhalakis Outstanding Systems Engineering Graduate Student Award: Eliot Rudnick-Cohen

Dr. Eliot Rudnick-Cohen (ME Ph.D. 2019) is the winner of this year’s George Harhalakis Outstanding Systems Engineering Graduate Student Award. At the time of his nomination, Eliot was a Ph.D. candidate in Mechanical Engineering, advised by Jeffrey Herrmann and Shapour Azarm. Eliot defended his dissertation in July and is currently a Research Associate in the National Research Council Research Associate Program. He is completing this postdoctoral appointment at the Air Force Research Laboratory.

Drs. Herrmann and Azarm nominated Eliot, noting that he was one of the best Ph.D. students in their program.

Eliot’s research cuts across multiple areas, including design optimization, controls, robotics, and risk analysis. As a student, Eliot developed and tested novel techniques for solving risk-based path optimization problems for unmanned aerial vehicles operating in domestic airspace. He also developed innovative techniques for solving robust optimization problems and combined design and planning problems for UAVs.

Eliot served as the teaching assistant for number of mechanical engineering courses and was part of the Clark School’s future faculty program. After he completes his postdoc, he is interested to become a faculty member in a leading U.S. institution.

Eliot has worked on the problems of robotic vehicle design and planning as a practical matter as a member of the Clark School’s AUVSI RoboSub competition and as a research activity in the risk-based path planning problems for UAVs project. He has a passionate interest in autonomous systems and advanced optimization techniques to solve design and planning problems.

Drs. Herrmann and Azarm wrote that Eliot “is not only technically outstanding and creative but also responsible and thoughtful. He has been an indispensable and effective member of our research team, he has mentored undergraduate students, and he has given technical presentations at scientific conferences. He is overflowing with ideas with future research. We have no doubt that Eliot will become a very successful system engineer and make significant contributions in engineering and to society at large.”

Published September 11, 2019