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Saturday Is MakerDay [Since Feb. 28th, 2015]

Late post, but we have some projects here that are worth sharing.

First up, Jake Spinney’s [CSE ’16] 3D Printed Wifi-Booster holder for his laptop. He whipped up the design in Autodesk Inventor in a couple minutes, and hit print.


Next is Shamit Som [M.S. ECE ’15] with another 3D printed holder. This box is to hold his self-designed voltage regulator for USB charging in his car. After designing the printed circuit board, getting it manufactured, and soldering the components, he now has a regulator that performs better than most commercial USB chargers on the market. Ask him about unstable GND!


Lastly we have Alex Maerko’s [EE ’15] recreation of an arduino driven 3x3x3 LED Cube. He pulled up the instructables and put it together in a couple days:

Check it out

Keep making

M5 Talk :::>Prof. Isreal Koren

Processor-Level Fault Tolerance Techniques in Current Processors and Servers

Prof. Israel Koren was our guest speaker at the fifth M5 Talk of the spring semester:

Prof. Koren is a highly regarded expert in the areas of Fault-Tolerant Computing and Computer Arithmetic. Come to M5 and meet Prof. Koren and learn about how some computers are able to continue operating even after one or more failures occur. Prof. Koren’s bio is included below.

Thursday, 5 March 2015, 2:30 – 3:30 PM, M5

Students came and enjoyed some light refreshments and a great talk.

Dr. Israel Koren is a Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, a fellow of the IEEE and a Master of the DeTao Masters Academy, China.

Dr. Koren has been a consultant to companies like IBM, Analog Devices, Intel, AMD and National Semiconductors. His research interests include Fault-Tolerant systems, secure cryptographic devices, VLSI yield and reliability, Computer architecture and computer arithmetic. He publishes extensively and has over 250 publications in refereed journals and conferences. He is the author of the textbook “Computer Arithmetic Algorithms,” 2nd Edition, A.K. Peters, Ltd., 2002, and a co-author of the textbook “Fault Tolerant Systems,” Morgan-Kaufman, 2007.

Dr. Koren received the B.Sc., M.Sc. and D.Sc. degrees from the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, in 1967, 1970, and 1975, respectively, all in Electrical Engineering. He is currently a Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He is a visiting Professor at the Instituto De Informatica, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), Brazil. Previously he held positions with the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Southern California, Los Angeles and the University of California, Santa Barbara.


Saturday is Maker Day [Feb 21, 2015]

3D Printers, micromouse robotics, and robotic arms. Today was a great day for making.

Aaron Lucia [CSE ’17]  is the first to 3D print an enclosure and gears for his team’s maze-solving MicroMouse robot. Here is a video of last year’s all-freshman team taking 1st place at the MicroMouse competition:

Onlookers Walter Brown [CSE/CS ’16] (right) and Jake Spinney [CSE ’16] (left) watch the printer at work as it prints the base and walls of Aaron’s (middle) enclosure.





Walter then got to work on re-resurrecting a 1980s robotic arm, after its first (known) resurrection at last years HackUMass 14:–G

Earlier in the week, Walter and Minh Tran [CSE ’16] started reviving the arm (MiniMover) to give M5 some electronic life. It is now up and running, just in time to give a show for the early-acceptance tours coming through.



Be sure to stop by next week!

Maker Day Feb. 14th, 2015

This past Saturday, students spent the afternoon in M5 playing with arduinos, learning to solder, and brainstorming project ideas.

Walter Brown [CSE/CS ’16] introduced brother Jacob Brown [high school] to arduino. They started with a blinking LED, and adapted it to a variable tone generator. [Picture]

Jason Nguyen [EE ’17] came by to go above and beyond with his MIPS assembly code project for ECE 232, and then went through some arduino example projects.


Adish Rai [CSE/CS ’18], Anthony Chan [CSE/CS ’18], and graduate student Somnath Chakraborty [ECE ’16] brainstormed ideas for a ‘shake-to-recharge’ circuit that would harness kinetic energy via electromagnetic induction and use that to store electrical energy to be delivered to a phone. Concepts such as power and energy conservation, electromagnetic induction, rectification, inductance, capacitance, and mechanical-to-electric conversion were discussed and applied using the tools provided by M5.

We were excited to have all of these interested students, and look forward to seeing their projects in the future.



Prof. Weibo Gong was the guest speaker at our third bagel breakfast of the spring semester:

M5 Talks:::> Prof. Weibo Gong
From the Cultural Revolution to the Cyber Revolution

Thursday, 12 February 2015, 8:30 AM, M5
Marcus Hall, lower level, room 5

Bruegger’s bagels, cream cheese, coffee and loads of intelligence…

Prof. Gong was born and raised in the People’s Republic of China. In 1966, Mao Zedong (1893 – 1976), the founding father of the People’s Republic of China, began what is known as the Cultural Revolution (1966-76). Prof. Gong will share how the Cultural Revolution had a direct impact on his training and education. Prof. Gong will then proceed to discuss how his career has led him to his work in the field of automatic control and his current research interest in how the human mind works.

main-gong-photo P1030231 P1030235

M5 Saturday Arduino Workshops


Alex Maerko EE ’15
Arduino Controlled 3x3x3 LED Cube

Richard Mpanga CS ’15 and Albert Ung CS ’15
Blinking LEDs

Jose LaSalle EE ’16 will continue hosting Saturday Arduino Workshops in M5 from noon-3pm.

For those who are interested, stop by! And feel free to email Jose with any questions:

Alex_3x3x3_LED_Cube Richard_Albert_Blinking_LEDs



ECE students got up bright and early Thursday morning to meet the latest member of the faculty: Dr. Daniel Holcomb.


Thursday, January 29, 8:30 – 9:30 AM, at M5 (lower level of Marcus Hall – Room 5)

Before arriving in Amherst this winter, Dr. Holcomb was as a research fellow at the University of Michigan, where he did research on medical security, embedded systems and security, and approximate computing. His research interests also include physical unclonable functions, cyber-physical systems, applied formal methods, and VLSI design. His Ph.D. is from the University of California at Berkeley in Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences. His B.S. in Computer Systems Engineering, summa cum laude, as well as his M.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering were earned at UMass Amherst.

Students enjoyed some Bruegger’s bagels and coffee and learned about Prof. Holcomb’s engineering career and current research projects.

This event was hosted by Prof. Baird Soules, director of M5.

Nico’s Pick-Up

pickup_2 pickup_3 pickup_1

Project: Single string guitar & pick-up.
Contributors: Nico Blase [EE ’16] & Jose LaSalle [EE ’16]
Explanation: A magnet is placed in a coil of wire such that a large magnetic field is imposed within the coil. We know that fluctuations in a coil’s magnetic field induces a voltage and mutually arising current.
So how does the magnetic field in our coil change? By plucking the metal string! When we strum the string, its vibrations effect the magnetic field at the frequency to which it is tuned (around hundreds of times per second). This, in turn, is picked up by the coil. The result is an voltage across and current through the coil that represents the sound of the vibrating string. All that’s left to do after that is to plug that into an amplifier and crank up the gain!