would cause someone to take more graduate courses in Electrical Engineering
than any other student in the history of the University of Southern
``I've been in the satellite business from the beginning,'' answers
Dan Sullivan. ``The USC curriculum in Electrical Engineering has always
been oriented toward that set of technologies that are growing; communications
is one of those.''
Sullivan first attended USC on the Hughes Masters Fellowship program.
Like many of the leading firms in Southern California, Hughes Aircraft
Company offered on site work-study programs to its employees enabling
them to gain the training they need to stay abreast, and move ahead,
in a rapidly changing business environment.
Holding the record of 115 units in graduate level coursework, Dan Sullivan
is the former Vice President and General Manager in the Space Communications
Division of TRW Space and Defense. Now a Vice President at Hughes Communications,
he is providing technical leadership of new business activities for
the telecommunications services business unit of Hughes. His work includes
the preparation of business plans and synthesis of advanced systems
to provide satellite communication services world-wide.
``If you look at the big companies around here,'' Sullivan points out,
``you can literally point at the VPs and the other guys who run these
companies. Many of them came out of the USC Electrical Engineering Department.
That's certainly true of the management structure here at Hughes.''
Dr. Diana Marculescu
came here from Romania to get my PhD in computer engineering. I wanted
to do my studies at a very good university and USC is internationally
recognized in computer engineering. When I got into doing research,
I knew I had made the right choice. I really liked what I was doing
and USC offered an excellent environment for research- oriented activities.''
Diana Marculescu received an MS in Computer Science from the Polytechnic
Institute of Bucharest, Romania. As a PhD candidate in Computer Engineering
at USC, Diana was part of a DARPA-sponsored team effort to develop a
software program called Power Optimization and Synthesis Environment
(POSE). Her doctoral dissertation, Information-Theoretic and Probabilistic
Measures for Power Analysis of Digital Circuits, tackles the fundamental
estimation problems that must be solved in the implementation of POSE.
Diana successfully defended her thesis and joined the faculty of the
University of Maryland in the fall of 1998.
Over a hundred universities and companies have availed themselves of
the POSE software, which is available
free over the internet.
Dr. Fred Cohen Principal Member, Technical Staff, Sandia National Laboratories, Livermore,
are a couple of things that made studies at USC stand out. One was that
the technical content was extremely strong. That is, they told me everything
I needed to know all the way down to the bottom.''
Credited with being the first to demonstrate computer viruses and the
inventor of most of the virus defenses in use today, Fred Cohen received
his PhD in Electrical Engineering in 1986 from USC. The first person
to write scientifically about computer viruses, his discovery and thesis
work on viruses resulted from a course he took in cryptography. Dr.
Cohen has authored several widely-distributed books on computer security,
including A Short Course on Computer Viruses and Protection and Security
on the Information Superhighway, both published by Wiley and Sons.
From various positions as a university professor, Dr. Cohen moved on
to become President of a company called The Radon Project, the Chairman
of All Things Incorporated, Senior Scientist with SAIC, Inc., and Managing
Director of Fred Cohen and Associates before joining Sandia National
Laboratories in 1996.
``USC had the ability to combine quality education with a reasonable
human viewpoint on the world. And I think that is a very good thing.''
Diane Ridgley United States Airforce Pilot.
the United States Air Force, only 600 pilots qualify to fly the service's
elite A-10 fighter aircraft. Of those 600 pilots, just five are women.
And of that five, one is USC graduate Diane Ridgely.
``I went through the Air Force ROTC program at USC when I was getting
my bachelors degree. But right before I graduated I got a letter saying
they couldn't send me to pilot training for another year. So I went
to graduate school and got my masters degree during that year in Electrical
Engineering,'' Diane remembers. During that time, Diane assisted Prof.
Jonckheere in his research on thrust-only control of aircraft.
After graduation, Diane went immediately into pilot training at Reese
Air Force Base in Lubbock, TX. ``They do it like a draft pick, ranking
you out of your class on your performance. They only have so many available
aircraft and when they call your name, you stand up and pick your jet.
I ended up doing really well and picked the A-10.''
Diane underwent further training in A-10s at Davis Monthan Air Force
Base in Tucson, AZ where she ranked as the top academic performer in
her class. Now stationed at Moody Air Force Base in Remerton, GA, she
credits much of her success in an intensely competitive field to the
education she got at USC.
``Interestingly enough, what's helped me the most in my career has
not been so much the information I learned. It's been the way I learned
and the type of questions I learned to ask. And, maybe even more importantly,
I learned from my professors that you don't always get things the first
time and it's only by being persistent that you get what you want and
need in life.''
The MacCalla Family
ago with Stanford masters degrees in hand, Eric and Johnetta MacCalla
joined Hughes Aircraft Company as Hughes Doctoral Fellows and decided
to attend USC in Electrical Engineering. Eric eventually earned his
PhD with a thesis on the rapid acquisition of spread-spectrum signals,
and Johnetta completed hers with a thesis on multivariate control of
Along the way, Ayanna MacCalla was born into this engineering family.
She first started programming on her computer in third grade. After
her sophomore year in high school, she became the youngest person to
attend the Summer Research Program on the USC campus. When time came
for graduate work, Ayanna MacCalla Howard chose USC and was awarded
an All-University Pre-Doctoral Fellowship.
``I researched good institutions in order to study electrical engineering
and USC was one of the best ones. The professors here are really good.
You learn stuff. I haven't been in a class yet where I've been lost
and wondering what's going on. You can understand them. You can go talk
to them. And they're pretty flexible. So coming to USC was refreshing.
I learned new things and I can actually tell you what I learned in my
Today, Ayanna MacCalla Howard is an Information Systems Engineer at
the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena and also works as an Executive
Programmer for Axcelis, Inc., Seattle WA. She is pursuing her PhD degree
at USC in Electrical Engineering with a concentration in Artificial
Intelligence and Robotics.
``Right now robotics doesn't take into account objects that deform.
It mainly deals with rigid objects like boxes or electronic components.
But in the real world at least 50 per cent of objects actually change
shape, especially in the household. I'm working on getting robots to
learn how to grasp deformable objects like pillows and other things
As for her proud parents, Eric and Johnetta are in their eighteenth
year as founding owners of Automated Switching and Control, Inc. This
company's latest success is being pre-qualified as system integrators
for the Bay Area Rapid Transit District connections to San Francisco's
International Airport .
Peter Lai Project Manager, Industrial Technology Investment Corporation,Taiwan
job requires good comprehension of science and technology. You have
to pick up information in a short time and ask the critical questions.
Most of the time I think what matters is not how much you know but
how you get to know things. My PhD study at USC gave me excellent training
for this. My advisor showed me how to derive everything from first principles,
how to find out the reasons behind the phenomena, how to figure out
the problems, and to point out the bottom line.''
Peter Lai received his PhD in 1997, performing his thesis research
on the electromagnetic accordion. This work led to a patent on pulsed
high-power radiation (which he co-owns with his advisor and his UCLA
collaborators) and stimulated his interest in entrepreneurship. This
interest eventually led to his current position as Project Manager for
Industrial Technology Investment Corporation, Taiwan, venture capitalists
investing in high-tech start-up companies.
``My education at USC provided me a good foundation and I believe it
will become more and more valuable as time goes on.''
VLSI/IC research program with its areas of expertise in electro-optic
materials and devices, analog and digital integrated circuit design,
and micro-fabrication techniques, matched the research interests of
A PhD candidate in Electrical Engineering specializing in solid-state
and integrated electronics, Boyadzhyan also works at NASA's Jet Propulsion
Lab- oratory in Pasadena. His current research interests focus on developing
microsensors (e.g., tunneling micro-accelerometers, uncooled infrared
detectors, micro-gravimeters) with integrated on-chip control electronics
to be incorporated in flight avionics applications.
One micro- sensor that Victor is designing is an automatic tunneling-current-controlled
Golay cell which is designed specifically for sensing infrared radiation
indicative of the concentration of glucose in blood. Its low noise,
high gain, and low power consumption also make it attractive for other
infrared-sensing applications. The basic principle of Golay cell operation
is exploited to measure the gas pressure within a membrane of a micromachined
electromechanical device. Preliminary test results show that this micro-mechanical
device has considerable potential utility because of its 'uncooled'
principle of operation, unlike conventional IR detectors which must
operate at cryogenic temperatures.
``I do not think that I would have been able to find a research group
anywhere else that could offer me the capability to do this work,''
Dr. Steven DenBaars Associate Professor, Materials and Electrical Engineering Departments,
University of California, Santa Barbara.
professors. And very good facilities. That's what people should look
at. When I was looking at various campuses, USC gave me the most personal
treatment. I actually got to talk to the professors!''
Now a professor himself at UC Santa Barbara, Dr. Steven DenBaars credits
his graduate experience at USC as one of the best in his life. ``The
networks you establish in graduate school and the friendships you make
carry on into the rest of your life. They have been very beneficial
Professor DenBaars' current interests lie in metalorganic chemical
vapor deposition (MOCVD) of III-V compound semiconductor materials and
devices. His work has produced a new light emitting material that emits
blue wavelengths. ``I learned the MOCVD growth technique that I employed
in the achievement of a blue laser during graduate studies at USC. Prof.
Dapkus is the pioneer in this field. Since my days in graduate school
the MOCVD technique has gone from being primarily a research tool, to
the point where now it is the dominant technology used in the fabrication
of optoelectronic devices, such as CD player lasers, solar cells, and
``Blue has been the missing color for displays made on semiconductors.
For twenty years, we have had red LEDs or green LEDs, but never the
color blue. This gives you the ability to make full color displays because
you now have blue light. And you can also make compact discs hold much
more information, up to ten times more, just by going to blue because
blue can be focused on a very fine spot.''
The research being done by Professor DenBaars has led to the first
US university demonstration of a Blue GaN laser diode and over seven
patents pending on GaN growth and processing. Dr. DenBaars is the lead
investigator of the ARPA-funded Multi-University Nitride Consortium
which will develop and transfer GaN technology to industry.