CEMS Spire Newsletter - Winter 2009
A Message from Dean Grasso

CEMS alums, students, faculty, staff, and friends,

I'd like to wish you all a Happy New Year. I hope that you enjoyed our electronic holiday postcard in December, and that you will enjoy this, our 8th issue, of Spire.

Like most universities around the country, the University of Vermont is coming to terms with balancing our budget during extraordinarily challenging economic times. The administration of the College is working with the University in an effort to help resolve current and potential budget shortfalls, and this will undoubtedly result in changes to the way we approach education and research in at least the next few years. Our goal is to approach these opportunities in a thoughtful yet decisive manner, in an effort to reorganize and improve our educational and research programs. I will keep you informed on major developments as they arise.

On the bright side, the College and University undergraduate applications continue to outpace the previous record-setting levels. At the time of this writing, applications to CEMS are 12% ahead of last year (compared to the University as a whole at 6%), topping 2000 applications for only 200 openings in the first year class.

Over the last four years we have been able to build significantly the number of highly competitive national young investigator award winners in our College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences (CEMS) to a total of 10 — over 12% of CEMS faculty. This is the largest percentage of any academic unit in the University and rivals some of the top Universities in the United States.

In early December, we were notified that Dr. James Iatridis, associate professor in the School of Engineering was one of only 63 individuals selected to receive the distinguished and highly competitive Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) — the nation's highest honor given to scientists and engineers at this stage of their career. This award is presented to the cream of the cream of the crop. Dr. Iatridis traveled to Washington DC where on December 19 he received the award and met with President Bush. Dr. Iatridis is broadly and holistically educated, holding both a BA and BS as well as Ph.D. (Columbia). He is outstanding teacher and researcher and dedicated university citizen. Our College, the University, the State and the Nation are very fortunate to have James working in all of our interests. I invite you to listen to this interview with Professor Iatridis on Vermont Public Radio and read this WCAX TV-3 news story.

I would also like to welcome two of our newest faculty members who started in January 2009, Arne Bomblies (Ph.D. MIT), Assistant Professor of Engineering, and Greg Warrington (Ph.D. Harvard), Assistant Professor of Mathematics.

Again, I hope you enjoy this issue of Spire, and don't hesitate to write us with any comments, suggestions, or alumni news.

Domenico Grasso, Dean

In Memoriam: Dr. D. Dale Kleppinger

It is with great sadness that we share with you the news that the CEMS family recently lost one of our members. Dr. D. Dale Kleppinger, an adjunct professor in the School of Engineering's Electrical Engineering program, passed away on November 6, 2008 due to complications that arose from surgery.

During the past twenty-three years Professor Kleppinger taught many, many UVM engineering students the fundamentals of semiconductor physics and devices. Drawing on his previous experience as an engineer at IBM, Dale brought great knowledge and insight of the field into his teaching. His students will tell you that he was a stickler for detail, and he did not let them off easily with a shallow understanding of the concepts. He continually challenged them to explain these concepts in ways that were precise and accurate. In the long run, this was more important to Dale than simply covering the material. Dale also had a penchant for correcting his students' grammar in their written work, including on exams. Though this did not always sit well with some of the engineering students, Dale never backed down from his expectations for accurate explanations and proper grammar. He felt very strongly that these were requirements for practicing engineers. more

Computer Science After Hours

It's 6 pm on a typical Wednesday in the Fall 2008 semester. Dinnertime? Perhaps. But here in Votey, the hallways are energized with groups of bright, engaged students.

In the Computer Science study area, a cluster of seniors intently discuss the flow diagrams they've just drawn on a white board in preparation for an upcoming exam. Alison Pechenick's Matlab students are gathered, a half hour after class, comparing notes and talking shop. While a Geology student uses Matlab to reveal spatial correlations inherent in her data, her classmate from Natural Resources is adapting a statistical machine-learning algorithm to tease patterns from hyperspectral measurements for a particular species of conifer.

Meanwhile, a number of Chris Danforth's Numerical Methods students enthusiastically describe their efforts to "deblur" the compressed image he has supplied, using Matlab's matrix functions. The course, in its second year, is specifically designed for juniors, seniors, and graduate students across the disciplines. As an alternative or supplement to assigned exercises, students are encouraged to create portfolios of work related to their computational courses and research. more

Career Services in 2009

By Danielle Gallant, Career Counselor
2009 brings in a new year filled with optimism and change. While this is inspiring, Career Services has heard many concerns about the challenges students and alumni are facing with the economic downturn. In tough times, the need to be on top of your game when it comes to a job or internship search is very important. Please see the calendar of events, below, planned to provide UVM students with the tools they need to compete in a challenging market.

All semester:
Check out the Experience job/internship database.

In February:
Starting Tuesday, February 10: Resume, internship, networking and interviewing workshops at Career Services, Living and Learning Building E 140

more events and job postings

An Exemplary Lecturer: Joan Rosebush

John Hughes, Provost of the University of Vermont, commented during a presentation to a financial management class at UVM that lecturers are some of our best teachers at UVM. He spoke of one particular lecturer in the Math Department whose courses are consistently in demand, who has excellent evaluations and who is a fabulous teacher. Provost Hughes was referring to Joan Rosebush from the UVM College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences (CEMS).

"I knew exactly who he was referring to without his having to mention her name," says Marnie Owen, math student and CEMS Academic Student Services Advisor. "Rosi is simply amazing! Of all the lecturers throughout the University he might have acknowledged as exemplary, he highlighted her." more

Top IEEE Honors for Dr. William R. Tonti

Only a small number of worldwide engineers reach the level of recognition of UVM CEMS alumnus Dr. William R. Tonti who has received two distinguished honors from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). Recently elected as Fellow of the IEEE, he also has received the 2008 Engineer of the Year Award from the IEEE Reliability Society.

"Being selected as both Engineer of the Year and elected IEEE Fellow are two outstanding achievements," said Domenico Grasso, Dean of the UVM College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences (CEMS). "Our college and the university as a whole are truly proud to have Bill as an alumnus." more

In Memoriam:
Dr. D. Dale Kleppinger
Computer Science
After Hours
Career Services in 2009
An Exemplary Lecturer: Joan Rosebush
Top IEEE Honors for
Dr. William R. Tonti
Featured Alumnus:
Jean-Guy Béliveau
Featured Student:
Alex Castleton
Faculty Member:
Dr. Greg Warrington

Born in Québec, the oldest of eight children, Jean-Guy Béliveau moved with his parents to Coventry, VT, in 1955 and enrolled in a one-room schoolhouse. "My father, a construction superintendent, told me to consider becoming an engineer — he told me they get to go inside trailers when it's cold," Béliveau says. He followed that advice and applied to the University of Vermont's engineering program.

Dr. Béliveau obtained his BS in civil engineering in 1968 from UVM and found his lifelong partner and friend there as well. more


When the editors of Spire choose the subjects for our "Featured Student" articles, we try to make sure that we represent a range of students: varied academic backgrounds, gender, and students with a variety of interests. For the 8th edition of Spire we are pleased to "raise the curtain" on a Computer Science student with a strong interest in theatre. Ladies and gentlemen, Alex Castleton! more


Princeton and Harvard educated, assistant professor Greg Warrington is a member of the CEMS Mathematics and Statistics Department, and he may be the only member of the UVM community who considers juggling a form of meditation. Greg sat down recently for an interview. more

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University of Vermont
College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences
109 Votey Hall
33 Colchester Avenue
Burlington, VT 05405-0156