Outstanding Engineering Professors Honored with Fariborz Maseeh Best Research and Teaching Awards

Payam Heydari, J. Michael McCarthy, and Ali Mohraz recognized for their numerous contributions and successes

The Henry Samueli School of Engineering was pleased to honor three exceptional faculty members at its annual dinner and awards banquet in recognition and appreciation of their numerous contributions to advancing research and enhancing the quality of teaching at UC Irvine.

Payam Heydari, Ph.D., associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science was given the Fariborz Maseeh Best Research Award, and Michael McCarthy, Ph.D., professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and Ali Mohraz, Ph.D., assistant professor of chemical engineering and materials science, were presented the Fariborz Maseeh Best Teaching Awards.

Fariborz Maseeh Best Research Award

Payam Heydari, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

Payam Heydari is a renowned researcher in the area of analog and radio-frequency (RF) integrated circuits design, and is currently directing the Nanoscale Communication Integrated Circuits (NCIC) Laboratory at UC Irvine.

His research interests include the design of ultra-high frequency analog and RF ICs, and high frequency on-chip interconnect design for high-speed ICs.  Just recently, Heydari was part of UC Irvine’s Team ZeroWatt - who won first place, the best concept paper, and $15,000 - in the 2009 Business Plan Competition at The Paul Merage School of Business.  ZeroWatt Technologies is a fabless semiconductor company proposing advanced technology in their business plan that can reduce power up to a factor of 10 compared to existing solutions used in wireless devices, while lowering product cost by half.

Heydari’s numerous outstanding research accomplishments include the prestigious 2007 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Circuits and Systems Society Guillemin-Cauer Award; the 2005 IEEE Circuits and Systems Society Darlington Award; the 2005 National Science Foundation (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award; the 2005 Henry Samueli School of Engineering Teaching Excellence Award, as part of the “Celebration of Teaching” sponsored by the Instructional Resources Center; and the 2004 Outstanding Faculty Award in the EECS Department at UC Irvine from the Engineering Student Council.

Heydari has published more than 75 papers in prominent IEEE conferences and journals.

Fariborz Maseeh Best Teaching Awards

J. Michael McCarthy, Ph.D.   
Professor, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

J. Michael McCarthy was recognized for being an exceptional teacher, mentor and researcher in The Henry Samueli School of Engineering.  McCarthy has an extensive background in mechanical design, and his research focus is in kinematics and robotics.  After working as the CTO of a medical robotics company, he returned to UC Irvine committed to directly involving students in engineering practice.  To his surprise, he found that students consistently avoided using their engineering fundamentals when faced with a realistic problem.

To address this, McCarthy began an educational experiment to teach engineering science in design through the experience of demanding, externally-evaluated, major design projects.  In the process, he significantly enhanced student access to safe fabrication methods and tools, computer-controlled machining processes, and consistent professional feedback on their designs.  Working with an increasing number of faculty in The Henry Samueli School of Engineering, he now coordinates an impressive array of interdisciplinary project experiences for students that demand quality engineering execution and instill the leadership skills necessary to successful team engineering.

In the project-supportive atmosphere that McCarthy has helped develop, UC Irvine students celebrated a 5th place finish (out of 40 entries) in the 2009 SAE International Formula Hybrid racecar competition.

Additionally, McCarthy has a tremendous professional record.  He is a fellow in the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and a senior member of Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).  He was editor of the ASME Journal of Mechanical Design and is the founding editor of the ASME Journal of Mechanisms and Robotics, and has published several books in his field of theoretical kinematics and mechanisms design.  He will receive the ASME Machine Design Award in September 2009.

Ali Mohraz, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Chemical Engineering and Materials Science

Ali Mohraz was honored for being an exceptional role model for Samueli School students, and demonstrating outstanding leadership in teaching to undergraduate and graduate students.  He has been an exemplary mentor for undergraduates – including one of his students, Katie Lynn Pickrahn, who was accepted to Stanford University for graduate school and received a 2009 UCI Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research –  and has devoted much time and energy to supervising undergraduate students who have joined his research group, which focuses on understanding and exploiting colloidal interactions, chemistry, assembly, and response to external fields to design microstructured materials with enhanced functionality for composites, biomimetic applications, alternative energy, and environmental remediation.
Mohraz also developed a new course on numerical methods that equips undergraduate students with vital skills for the numerical solution of complex engineering problems and the statistical analysis of experimental data.  He is one of the highest rated instructors in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science.

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