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DATE: March 7, 2003

UM-Dearborn professor wins $400,000 federal grant to support young scholars early in their careers

DEARBORN---John Shen, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, has received a five-year $400,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) under a program to support young scholars.


Shen received the award from the NSF's Faculty Early Career Development Program, known as the CAREER program, which is one of the most prestigious awards available nationally for junior faculty members. About 300 of the grants are awarded nationwide each year. This is the first time that it has been awarded to a UM-Dearborn faculty member.

"The CAREER program recognizes and supports the early career-development activities of those teacher-scholars who are most likely to become the academic leaders of the 21st century," according to NSF program materials. "CAREER awardees are selected on the basis of creative career-development plans that effectively integrate research and education; such plans should build a firm foundation for a lifetime of integrated contributions to research and education."

"We are very proud of Professor Shen and know that his work will have immense benefits for our campus, for our students and for the communities we serve," according to Robert L. Simpson, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at UM-Dearborn. "This highly competitive grant is one indication of the quality of our faculty, and of their research and scholarship potential."

Shen will use the grant, which will be paid out over five years, to study super junction power semiconductor devices.

"Advances in power semiconductor technology in the past two decades have led to the rapid proliferation of power electronics into telecommunications; computers; consumer, transportation and industrial applications; and all forms of environment-friendly energy conservation," Shen said. "However the performance of state-of-the-art power semiconductor devices is quickly approaching the theoretical limits of silicon.

"My proposal aims to investigate an innovated device concept termed 'super junction' that is capable of improving the power-handling capability of conventional silicon power devices by orders of magnitude, and effectively integrate the research with education activities," Shen said.

Such research will be critical in responding to the rising need for electricity and the increasing importance of energy efficiency, he said. "The outcome of the proposed research will significantly advance knowledge in the field of power semiconductors and power electronics and provide a foundation for the next generation of high efficiency, low cost, lightweight and compact power electronics technology to meet the society's needs," Shen said.

The grant will also support some educational programs to help students gain expertise in the field. Shen plans to develop some new courses, enrich existing courses, include students in his research, and connect students, especially women and underrepresented minority students, with mentors in industry.

Shen joined the UM-Dearborn faculty in 1999, after working as a senior principal staff engineer at Motorola for five years. He earned his master's and doctoral degrees in electrical engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He received his bachelor's degree from Tsinghua University in Beijing.




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