University of Rochester Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Paul Ampadu has won the Special Recognition Award from the Black Engineer of the Year Awards Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Global Competitiveness Conference, the conference's organizers announced today.

Along with his research in reliable energy-efficient integrated nanoscale circuits, systems, and architectures, he has worked on several initiatives to help encourage low-income, first-generation, and underrepresented minority students to pursue careers in engineering and science.

Over the past three years, Ampadu has mentored incoming University of Rochester freshmen through the college's Early Connection Opportunity (ECO) program, which provides at-risk admitted students a chance to get preliminary instruction in certain disciplines so that they have a better chance of keeping up with the rigorous curriculum of college-level courses.

Ampadu has not only taught mathematics to students in the program, but also helped design a more effective curriculum and method of instruction. Since he became involved with the program, the University has noticed a steady increase in retention of ECO students in science and technology-related areas, and Ampadu's efforts have been a factor in that success, according to Assistant Dean for Diversity Initiatives Beth Olivares.

In addition to teaching students directly through ECO, Ampadu also works with high school teachers through the National Science Foundation-funded Research Experience for Teachers program. Each summer, he hosts a local high school teacher, who joins his research group at the University. The teachers can then take their research experience back to their secondary school classrooms.

Ampadu also serves as the faculty advisor to the University of Rochester's chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), which has increased its size and scope under his guidance.

"Paul has developed an engaging and effective teaching style that brings his practical experience at IBM and other major industrial laboratories into the classroom to the benefit of the students. This is part of the reason that his courses are heavily attended and well received by the students. He also has been active in outreach programs, having attended several national and local meetings to promote our department to minority students," said Chair of Electrical and Computer Engineering Mark Bocko.

Ampadu was born in Ghana and educated in China and Taiwan before coming to the United States. He earned his doctorate in electrical and computer engineering from Cornell University in 2004 and was appointed an assistant professor at the University of Rochester that same year. Ampadu's research in nanoscale systems is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Office of Naval Research (ONR), the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR), the Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC), and the New York State Foundation for Science Technology and Innovation (NYSTAR).

Ampadu will receive the Special Recognition Award at a ceremony in Baltimore, Md., on Feb. 20.