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Innovating Engineering Education

Two Swanson School Faculty Members Receive Pitt’s Innovation in Education Award

The University of Pittsburgh has awarded the Innovation in Education Award to two professors at the Swanson School of Engineering, Inhee Lee and Mai Abdelhakim, for outstanding contributions to the field of engineering education. The honor recognizes their innovative efforts to enhance the learning experience of undergraduate students in electrical and computer engineering and prepare them for future careers.

Inhee Lee203

Semiconductor research and manufacturing has been recognized as a key part of U.S. national security, with nearly $280 billion in funding from the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022. Inhee Lee, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, plans to enhance the circuit design courses at the University by creating new lab tutorials and team projects to provide students with hands-on experience in designing semiconductor circuits using commercial design tools.

“The semiconductor manufacturing industry evolves rapidly, so our existing courses haven’t kept up with the demands and don’t provide enough experience in semiconductor circuit design with the commercial models and chip design tools they’d encounter in the real world,” said Lee. “My proposed program will provide experiential, discipline-based, and technology-enhanced lab activities where students can get real experience with commercial models and design tools and collaborate on a semiconductor circuit design project.”

The new lab activities will be integrated into existing courses to enhance students' learning and skill development in critical thinking and data analysis, using existing equipment and resources in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the Center for Research Computing (CRC). Lee also plans to develop a new course and a new certificate program in semiconductor circuit design for graduate students. 


Mai Abdelhakim, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, was recognized for her project to provide hands-on cybersecurity education to undergraduate students in the Swanson School. The project will develop educational modules on cybersecurity with tailored hands-on components that combine cybersecurity, engineering systems, and data science/artificial intelligence. The modules will expose students to principles and requirements of security in different domains, various types of attacks, and countermeasures. 

“Our engineering students are studying highly complex systems used in our nation’s most critical infrastructure,” said Abdelhakim. “Increasingly, those systems are adopting Internet of Things and cyber-physical systems that integrate physical assets with cyber elements to process, compute and exchange data, and that introduces new and evolving cybersecurity vulnerabilities.”

 The project will develop hands-on activities that demonstrate cyber attacks and assess the effectiveness and limitations of various defense methods. The approach allows for the content to evolve alongside technology and cybersecurity risks, ensuring they will provide up-to-date experience. In addition to using these modules in existing courses in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Abdelhakim is developing a new course and leading the development of a new undergraduate certificate program in cybersecurity.

The Innovation in Education Award recognizes the efforts of full- and part-time faculty across the University in enhancing the teaching mission of Pitt and fostering new instructional approaches and techniques to advance student learning. You can find all the 2023 winners here.

"I am delighted to offer my congratulations to Dr. Lee and Dr. Abdelhakim for this well-deserved recognition,” said Sanjeev Shroff, Interim U.S. Steel Dean of Engineering. “Their tireless efforts to create engaging and impactful educational experiences for our students embodies the creativity and passion that defines the faculty at the Swanson School of Engineering. This award is a testament to the transformative impact they have made on the lives of our students, and it underscores our unwavering commitment to excellence in engineering education."