Two ECE Faculty Recognized with Dean’s Excellence Professor and Joseph Samuel Satin Distinguished Fellowship in Electrical and Computer Engineering



Ulkuhan Guler, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering (L), and Patrick Schaumont, professor of electrical and computer engineering (R)

Ulkuhan Guler, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering (L), and Patrick Schaumont, professor of electrical and computer engineering (R)

Ulkuhan Guler, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, and Patrick Schaumont, professor of electrical and computer engineering, have been named recipients of the Dean's Excellence Professors and Joseph Samuel Satin Distinguished Fellowship. Their five-year appointments began on Jan. 1, 2023.

The Dean's Excellence Professor and Joseph Samuel Satin Distinguished Fellowship was established in 1983 by Joseph Satin ’68 and his father Leonard Satin, in memory of Joseph Samuel Satin, Leonard’s father. The largest gift ever to what was then WPI’s Electrical Engineering Department, the award emphasizes “new ideas, innovative drive, and promise of future accomplishment” with a goal of having maximum positive impact on the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department and its students. Guler and Schaumont exemplify these ideals.

Guler, who earned a bachelor’s degree in electronics and communication at Istanbul Technical University, a master’s degree in electronics engineering at the University of Tokyo, and a PhD in electronics engineering at Boğaziçi University in Istanbul, joined the WPI faculty in 2018 after three years as a postdoctoral research fellow in electronics engineering at Georgia Tech. Among her other accomplishments at Georgia Tech, she developed an application-specific chip that provides wireless power and data for implantable medical devices.

She is building upon that work at WPI by developing a patch with miniaturized sensors and electronics that can continuously collect all the critical measures of respiration—something no other single device can do. Worn on the skin like a Band-Aid, the patch could be used in hospitals and clinics, and even by patients in their homes. By transmitting data to physicians wirelessly, it could provide an early warning of potentially serious complications.

Her research program has received a major boost with two awards from the National Science Foundation: a $500,000 award for developing computational models for a wearable blood gas monitor for infants, and a five-year, $500,000 CAREER award to fund work on a noninvasive miniaturized blood gas sensor for respiration monitoring. CAREER awards are the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) most prestigious awards for young faculty members seeking to establish new research programs.

Schaumont joined WPI in 2020 from Virginia Tech, where he had been an electrical and computer engineering faculty member since 2005. He earned his PhD in electrical engineering from UCLA, has a master's degree in computer science from Ghent University, and a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Ghent University College. His research interests are in hardware security related topics, a field that has gained enormous traction over the past two decades. His work focuses on cryptographic engineering, and on making systems secure and tamper resistant. His students have built numerous integrated circuit implementations of encryption algorithms, random number generators and physically unclonable functions. These chips have driven research in attacks and countermeasures against faults and side-channel analysis.

One of Schaumont’s recent projects involves creating a design tool to protect integrated circuits. This project, funded by a four-year, $750,000 grant from the NSF, is a collaboration between the University of Southern California and WPI. Supported by the Formal Methods in the Field program, the research team will create a design tool to formally demonstrate the presence of vulnerabilities in secure firmware. In the project, Schaumont will translate past experience with secure integrated circuits into vulnerability models. His collaborator at USC, Chao Wang, associate professor of computer science, is an expert in formal verification who will use these models to build a verification tool for secure firmware.

Schaumont is also the author of the textbook Practical Introduction to Hardware/Software Codesign.

“We’re deeply grateful to Joseph Satin and his father Leonard for establishing this fund and enabling us to recognize and reward such outstanding faculty as Professors Guler and Schaumont,” says John McNeill, Bernard M. Gordon Dean of Engineering and former Satin Fellow. “Professors Schaumont and Guler are creative scholars and dedicated teachers. This is a well-deserved acknowledgement of their innovative research and inspired teaching.”

Isadore Satin—grandfather to Leonard and great-grandfather to Joseph—immigrated to the United States from Russia in the late 1800s. His son, Joseph Samuel Satin, for whom the Satin Fellowship is named, was born in 1897, and Isadore settled his family in Holyoke, Mass., where he started a business selling gas lighting mantles to homeowners.

As availability of home electrical service spread, Isadore Satin saw an opportunity to shift his business to converting homes to electric operation. At age eight, Joseph Samuel Satin began his career, helping his father wire homes throughout the Holyoke area.

Joseph Samuel served in the U.S. Navy during World War I and then rejoined his father, helping the family business grow and prosper. At age 38, however, Joseph Samuel was struck by ALS, and died at age 42.

One year before Joseph Samuel’s death, his son Leonard had joined the family company. With Joseph Samuel’s illness and the Great Depression, the business had struggled. Leonard invested $1,500 of his own money to rebuild it.

During World War II, Leonard served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army, and his mother supervised day-to-day operations of the company. After the war, the electrical industry flourished, and the Joseph Satin Company was strategically positioned to take advantage of an exponentially growing market. 

Joseph—Isadore’s great-grandson—joined the family company with his WPI degree and working closely with his father Leonard helped expand its product line and continue its strong growth trajectory. Today the Satin American Corporation is a world leader in supplying industry and government with remanufactured circuit breakers, switchgear, and unit substations.

At the time of the gift to WPI, explains Joseph Satin, the notion of the expanding of education was focused only on a single annual gift to a single WPI individual. “As the decades have passed, and my family has grown, it is good to see my focus changing toward the expansion of this fellowship gift to better fit the needs of WPI and its professors, along with the continued developmental expansion of my grandchildren as they progress through grade school and university,” he says.

“The Satin family has been pioneering electrical engineering in Massachusetts for more than a century,” adds Rick Brown, professor and head of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department and also a former Satin Fellow. “We’re proud to honor their legacy and family history at WPI and in our department.”