All posts by karenjoh

John Cheney-Lippold to Present Algorithmic Culture Series Lecture November 18

John Cheney-Lippold

The Institute for Policy, Ethics, and Culture’s Algorithmic Culture series continues with “Algorithms, Accidents, and the Imposition of a World of Calculation,” a keynote lecture from John Cheney-Lippold, on Monday, Nov. 18, at 7 p.m. in EERC 0103. A Q&A will follow.

Cheney-Lippold is an associate professor of american culture and digital studies at the University of Michigan. He is the author of We Are Data: Algorithms and the Making of our Digital Selves (NYU Press, 2017).

Algorithms are everywhere, organizing the near limitless data that exists in our world. Derived from our every search, like, click, and purchase, algorithms determine the news we get, the ads we see, the information accessible to us and even who our friends are. These complex configurations not only form knowledge and social relationships in the digital and physical world, but also determine who we are and who we can be, both on and offline.

The book, We Are Data by John Cheney-Lippold

The explosive, sometimes accidental transformations performed by statistics and algorithms alter our world to produce “someone else,” no longer the beings we thought we were. To demonstrate how statistics and algorithms are fundamentally transformative, Cheney-Lippold explores the use of statistics to invalidate the signature of a multimillion-dollar will and to objectify racial categories in the case of People vs. Collins. He also examines the accidental algorithmics that led to the lethal collision of a Tesla autonomous vehicle. This lecture reorients many of the pressing questions of contemporary culture of algorithmic bias, ethics, and ideas of justice.

The Algorithmic Culture series will conclude in December with a presentation from Meredith Broussard entitled “Artificial UnIntelligence.” Broussard’s lecture will be held Thursday, Dec. 5 at 7 p.m. in the Memorial Union Building, Ballroom B.

The mission of the Institute for Policy, Ethics, and Culture is to promote research, policy engagement, and teaching that address the ethical and cultural challenges, implications, and strategies unique to the emerging technocultural environment. Its goals are to promote innovative research and collaboration on policy, ethics, and culture; contribute to policy making in Michigan and beyond; and provide students with tools to work proactively in the emerging environment.


Weihua Zhou to Present Friday Seminar Talk

Weihua Zhou

The College of Computing (CC) will present a Friday Seminar Talk on November 15, at 3:00 p.m. in Rekhi 214. Featured this week is Weihua Zhou, assistant professor of Health Informatics. He will present his research titled: “Information retrieval and knowledge discovery from cardiovascular images to improve the treatment of heart failure.” Refreshments will be provided.

Abstract: More than 5 million Americans live with heart failure, and the annual new incidence is about 670,000. Once diagnosed, around 50% of patients with heart failure will die within 5 years. Cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) is a standard treatment for heart failure. However, based on the current guidelines, 30-40% of patients who have CRT do not benefit from CRT. One of Zhou’s research projects is to improve CRT favorable response by information retrieval and knowledge discovery from clinical records and cardiovascular images. By applying statistical analysis, machine learning, and computer vision to his unique CRT patient database, Zhou has made a number of innovations to select appropriate patients and navigate the real-time surgery. His CRT software toolkit is being validated by 17 hospitals in a large prospective clinical trial.


Mechatronics Engineering Lab Spotlighted in Donald Engineering Newsletter

Michigan Tech faculty and students at Donald Engineering

An article about the future Mechatronics Engineering Lab was included in the November 2019 issue of The Pilothouse, published by Donald Engineering, an engineering and distribution company headquartered in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The article is reproduced below.

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Michigan Tech University is currently making space for a new Mechatronics Engineering Lab that we refer to as The Mechatronics Playground. Donald Engineering is proud to be playing a big role in this Playground development. MTU Professor Alex Sergeyev, MTU Lecturer/ME Advisor Kevin Johnson, and  MTU Mechatronics students visited Donald Engineering in October to view demonstrations and to continue the process of fine-tuning these units. Several modules that DE is currently working on will be ready and delivered before the end of 2019!

Force Sensing Module

Pictured at right is the Force Sensing Module installed on a Schunk Pneumatic Gripper controlled by a Clippard Cordis closed-loop regulator. With a little math and PI calculations (as discussed in the last Pilot House issue), students will be able to measure, set, monitor, adjust, and record the force being applied by the gripper fingers to objects. This unit will help to demonstrate how much force can be or should be applied to objects in order to pick them up without damaging gripper fingers or the object itself. With this module, students will be exposed to some of the best and newest components like:


Alex Sergeyev, NMC Featured in Article about Robotics Manufacturing in Michigan

Robotics manufacturing shows Michigan’s automation leadership

In August 2019 Michigan Tech and Northwestern Michigan College (NMC) formalized a partnership and seven new articulation agreements designed to expedite degree completion for engineering students transferring to Michigan Tech from NMC. Under the 2+2 agreements, which took effect with the fall 2019 semester, engineering students are able to complete their first two years of study at NMC and then transfer to Tech with junior status. In addition to ensuring a quality undergraduate education for engineering students, the agreement is intended to create a pipeline of talented students from the Grand Traverse region to Michigan Tech and highly qualified future graduates to enhance the Grand Traverse area workforce.

November 8, 2019 | By EVAN JONES | Capital News Service of the Spartan News Service, School of Journalism, Michigan State University

LANSING — Engineering students at Northwestern Michigan College program autonomous rovers to inspect environments underwater and in the air in-real time.The rovers aren’t the only things on the move in a burgeoning robotics industry that experts say is a key to Michigan’s economy.“We’re always going to be trying to move to some new technology – and we just kind of have to be ready for it,” said Jason Slade, the director of technical academics at the Traverse City school.Automation could reshape Michigan’s workforce, experts say.  And the state is a leader in both manufacturing robots and in training employers to use them.

Michigan leads the U.S. with more than 28,000 robots mostly engineered in state, 12% of the nation’s total, according to a 2017 Brookings Institution report.The state’s aging population creates a gap in the skilled labor pool that automation could fill, said Joseph Cvengros, a vice president at FANUC America, a Rochester Hills company that recently opened a 461,000-square-foot robot factory.“The next generation isn’t as large so the way that companies are going to stay competitive is to have a balance of highly technical skilled people and automation,” he said.The change doesn’t eliminate humans from the process, said Rep. Brian Elder, D-Bay City. Elder also chairs the House labor caucus.

“I don’t think we’re ever going to reach a point in which we don’t need human beings to do manufacturing work,” Elder said. “Every once in a while people will say, ‘everything is going to go away,’ and that’s just not true. Will things be different? Undoubtedly.

”The rise in Michigan of industrial robots that are getting smaller and smarter isn’t surprising, said Drew Coleman, the director of foreign direct investment, growth and development for the Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC).

“We’ve had robots and automation since Henry Ford invented the assembly line,” Coleman said. “If you think of anything that you buy, it’s been touched by a robot likely at some point.”

And experts say rather than looking at them as worker replacements, they should be viewed as the source of highly skilled jobs.

“We believe that this is opening up opportunities for Michigan in making us more competitive,” Cvengros said.Automation has applications as diverse as more precise surgeries and self-driving semi-trucks, said Otie McKinley, the MEDC’s media and communications manager.

It requires “a transition of skill sets from the current workforce in addition to the attraction of a new workforce,” McKinley said.

Elder said the recent deal between the United Auto Workers and General Motors allowed for specific automation technology training for workers.

“The corporations and the union understand that well-trained workers will continue to make products that are good enough to demand market share,” Elder said.

Community colleges are stepping up with training programs that work with local employers, said Michael Hansen, the president of the Michigan Community College Association.Schools with FANUC-certified education programs partner with companies looking to hire graduates skilled in programming and using robots in the workplace, Cvengros said.

Michigan Technological University partnered with Bay De Noc Community College in the Upper Peninsula to create a robotics and software development program in 2018. The  hands-on training program offers an easy path for transferring from the community college to the university, said Aleksandr Sergeyev, a Michigan Tech electrical engineering professor.

The “mechatronics” degree path encompasses electrical and mechanical engineering, robotics, automation and cybersecurity skills.

“I have seen that need in mechatronics for a long, long time,” Sergeyev said. “It doesn’t teach you the depth, it teaches the breadth.”

Sergeyev is a FANUC-certified professor who can train students for jobs in automation. Professors with that certification can also train company professionals, ensuring that they both use the most updated software, Sergeyev said.

Internal surveys showed that 80% of Michigan Tech undergraduates are interested in taking the additional time required to complete a mechatronics degree and 85% of companies want their workers to have it, Sergeyev said.

Slade said a challenge is to prepare technology students for rapid changes.“We have the hope that they’ll be able to use technology right now, but then adapt to new technology that comes online,” Slade said.


Kevin Erkkila, ’15, Featured in Midland Daily News Article

Kevin Erkkila

Michigan Tech Computer Science and ROTC alumnus Kevin Erkkila ’15, was featured in the article “Midland Remembers First Lieutenant Kevin Erkkila, Operation Inherent Resolve in the Middle East,” in the Midland Daily News. In addition to earning a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, Erkkila completed the Army ROTC program at Michigan Tech and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Army upon graduation. Erkkila is currently deployed in the Middle East serving as an engineering officer with the 3-21 Infantry Division.

Errkila’s story is part of the “Midland Remembers” series this November in the Midland Daily News. The series shares stories of veterans with ties to Midland, Michigan.


Dependable and Secure CPS and (IoT) Course Offered Next Semester

Dependable and Secure Cyber Physical Systems (CPS) and Internet of Things (IoT)

CS 5090 | TR | 2:05-3:20 pm | Spring 2020 | CRN 12738 | Max class size: 30 students

Instructor: Dr. Ali Ebnenasir | Department of Computer Science | aebnenas@mtu.edu

A course on the theoretical and practical aspects of developing dependable and secure Cyber Physical Systems (CPS) and the Internet of Things (IoT), especially the controlling software of CPS and IoT (CPS-IoT). Students will gain a a deep knowledge of the literature on modeling, designing and verifying dependable Cyber Physical Systems, as well as the programming of IoT.  They will improve their knowledge and skills in (1) rigorous modeling of CPS-IoT; (2) design, verification and validation of CPS-IoT; (3) programming paradigms for CPS-IoT, and (4) methods for the design of fault-tolerant and secure CPS-IoT.

Course Modules

• Background on (distributed) CPS-IoT

• Background on dependability aspects, especially fault tolerance and security as well as their interplay.

• Design methodologies for CPS-IoT.

• Programming models for CPS-IoT.

• Distributed computing primitives for resource constraint systems.

Prerequisities | Discrete Math, Formal Models of Computation, Skills in a common programming language. Students from disciplines other than Computer Science (e.g., ECE) should contact Dr. Ebnenasir for approval before enrolling in this course.

Download a course flyer.



Linda Ott, Laura Brown to Join “1984” Panel

The Rozsa Center For the Performing Arts presents a powerful theatrical production of George Orwell’s “1984” — an evocative and timely cautionary tale of personal freedom against political repression.

Today, Orwell’s story resonates around the globe as individuals, systems and governments clash. Join us for “1984,” by New York City’s Aquila Theatre, followed by a post-show discussion of how Orwell’s narrative eerily predicted today’s unprecedented challenges to privacy, truth, and personal expression.

See “1984” at 7 p.m. Friday (Nov. 8) at the Rozsa Center. Panelists include guest lecturer Marika Pfefferkorn, and Michigan Tech’s Alexandra Morrison (HU), Linda Ott (CS), and Laura Brown (CS) and will be moderated by Stefka Hristova (HU). Light refreshments will be served. The discussion is expected to run approximately 45 minutes after the show.

Written in 1944 near the end of World War II, “1984” depicts a society controlled by a perfectly totalitarian government bent on repressing all subversive tendencies. “Big Brother” is always watching and technology is wielded as a weapon to inundate citizens with propaganda and to monitor thoughts and actions. Imagined before the existence of computers, this dystopian future explores the power of technology as a mental manipulator and source of curated information.

This event is made possible with funding from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the Crane Group. Tickets to “1984” are Adult: $22.00, Youth: $10.00, and Michigan Tech Students at no charge with Experience Tech Fee, and are available by phone, (906) 487-2073, online, in person at the Central Ticketing Office in the Student Development Complex, or at the Rozsa Box office the night of the show.


“The Bit Player,” a documentary about Claude Shannon, Is Sunday, November 3

The College of Computing, the Institute of Computing and Cybersystems, and the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering are sponsors of a showing of the film, “The Bit Player,” during this week’s 41 North Film Festival at the Rozsa Center. The showing is this Sunday, November 3, at 3:30 pm. There is no charge to attend, but film-goers are encouraged to secure tickets online and at the Rozsa Center box office. (mtu.edu/rozsa/ticket/calendar/)
“The Bit Player” is a documentary about  Claude Shannon, the father of information theory and a hero to many in electrical engineering, computer engineering, and computer science. Claude Shannon was born in Gaylord, Michigan, on April 30, 1916. He attended University of Michigan, double majoring in mathematics and electrical engineering. His MIT master’s thesis was titled, “A Symbolic Analysis of Relay and Switching Circuits,” which related electric circuits and their on/off character to Boolean Algebra, the “Mathematics of Logical Thought,” laying the foundation for machines to make decisions — “to think.”
This was the first documentary film funded by the IEEE Foundation, and it was done in conjunction with the IEEE Information Theory Society (ITS). The ITS is the only IEEE society whose “basis” has a definitive starting date – the 1948 publication of Shannon’s A Mathematical Theory of Communication <http://math.harvard.edu/~ctm/home/text/others/shannon/entropy/entropy.pdf>
More information about this film can be found at http://41northfilmfest.mtu.edu/2019/the-bit-player/.
Claude Shannon

A description from the film’s official website (https://thebitplayer.com): “In a blockbuster paper in 1948, Claude Shannon introduced the notion of a “bit” and laid the foundation for the information age. His ideas ripple through nearly every aspect of modern life, influencing such diverse fields as communication, computing, cryptography, neuroscience, artificial intelligence, cosmology, linguistics, and genetics. But when interviewed in the 1980s, Shannon was more interested in showing off the gadgets he’d constructed — juggling robots, a Rubik’s Cube solving machine, a wearable computer to win at roulette, a unicycle without pedals, a flame-throwing trumpet — than rehashing the past. Mixing contemporary interviews, archival film, animation and dialogue drawn from interviews conducted with Shannon himself, The Bit Player tells the story of an overlooked genius who revolutionized the world, but never lost his childlike curiosity.”


CNSA Major Gary Tropp Named University Innovation Fellow

Gary Tropp

Gary Tropp (Computer Network and System Administration ’22), along with Abigail Kuehne (Psychology and Communication, Culture, and Media/ Applied Cognitive Science and Human Factors ’21), Sam Raber (Psychology ’22), and Lindsay Sandell (Biomedical Engineering ’21), has been named a University Innovation Fellows by Stanford University’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design.

The global UIF program trains student leaders to create new opportunities for their peers to engage with innovation, entrepreneurship, design thinking, and creativity. Michigan Tech’s team of University Innovation Fellows (UIF) support student interests, create an ecosystem for innovation, and encourage environmentally sustainable practices on campus. They aim to preserve a culture of inclusion, encourage creativity and self-authorship, and help students create lasting connections.

Current UIF proposals include a university-sanctioned gap year program, updates to campus wellness opportunities, student ambassador programs, and creating a space to reduce waste and encourage students to share and reuse common school items. Learn more about UIF here.