Category: In the News

Soner Onder and Dave Whalley Investigate Instruction-level Parallelism

From Florida State University News

A Florida State University researcher is working to make computer processors execute applications in a more energy-efficient manner with the help of a new $1.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation.

Professor Dave Whalley, Florida State University

“The general goal is to increase performance but to do it in a manner that is more energy efficient than the dominant computer processors that are in use today,” Professor of Computer Science David Whalley said.

To do that, Whalley and his colleague Soner Onder, a professor at Michigan Technological University, hope to more efficiently exploit what’s called instruction-level parallelism, or the ability of a computer to simultaneously execute multiple machine instructions.

Professor Soner Onder, Michigan Tech Department of Computer Science
Professor Soner Onder, Michigan Tech Department of Computer Science

“In general, VLIW processors are more energy efficient but cannot approach the performance of OoO processors except in limited domains, such as digital signal processing,” Whalley said.

Whalley’s project, called SCALE for Statically Controlled Asynchronous Lane Execution, is designed to overcome these current limitations. SCALE supports separate execution lanes, so that instructions in separate lanes can execute in parallel and dependencies between instructions in different lanes are identified by the compiler to synchronize these lanes when necessary.

“Providing distinct lanes of instructions allows the compiler to generate code for different modes of execution to adapt to the type of parallelism that is available at each point within an application,” Whalley said.

The grant began this fall and will run through August 2023. Half of the funding will come to Florida State, with the other half supporting Onder’s part of the work at Michigan Technological University. The FSU portion will support two graduate students in computer science.

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College of Computing Media Coverage: July-December 2019

The College of Computing is grateful to Michigan Tech’s University Marketing and Communications for the excellent marketing and communications efforts they’ve undertaken on behalf of the  College, which include a digital marketing campaign, a recruitment website, media outreach, and print materials.

Ongoing digital marketing began in September, and College of Computing ads resulted in 5,700+ new users to our webpage: 225 users requested more information, 24 people clicked on Apply Now to begin an application, and 39 scheduled visits. The digital  ads also received more than 500 reactions on social media, including likes, comments, and shares.

A Tomorrow Needs Computing website was also launched. To direct traffic to the site, UMC has run 205 digital ads in Google and 19 ads in Facebook, across all formats and variations.

Media outreach to announce the College’s launch resulted in  20 unique news stories featuring the College and its faculty. These stories were shared on social media by 34 journalists, resulting in a reach of more than 305,000 social media users and more than 140 million unique visitors to the news stories.

Print marketing publications included udates to undergraduate degree info sheets and a mailer sent to peer institutions to elevate awareness and generate buzz within the industry.

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BASIC Program Featured on TV 6-WLUC UPSide

Kelly Steelman

Building Adult Skills in Computing, or BASIC, is a program where anyone in the community who has questions about computers, smart phones, or tablets, can receive individual instruction. The BASIC program tutors, all Michigan Tech students, and faculty mentor Kelly Steelman, associate professor, Cognitive and Learning Sciences, were featured on the TV6 feature UPsiders on November 25, 2019.

View the video on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/uppermichiganssource/videos/2669673899926711/.

More about BASIC:

Since 2011, Michigan Tech students and faculty have been helping Copper Country community members improve their basic computer skills through the free tutoring program Building Adult Skills in Computing (BASIC).

The sessions take place every Saturday morning from 10:00 to 11:00 at the Portage Lake District Library, Houghton, when Michigan Tech classes are in session. Up to 15 tutors are available this semester and all community members are welcome. Computer experience is not necessary and an appointment is not required.

“As the digital revolution continues to transform our society, many older adults and other groups are being left behind,” said Charles Wallace, associate professor of computer science. “Using computers, smartphones and other digital devices remains unfamiliar territory for many and it can be a source of great anxiety.”

Wallace explains that through this free tutoring, the BASIC program aims to overcome this anxiety and build the computer skills and digital literacy needed for participants to effectively operate digital devices and technology and safely find the information they need.

For more information, please contact Charles Wallace (906-487-3431, wallace@mtu.edu) or Kelly Steelman, associate professor of cognitive and learning sciences (906-487-2792, steelman@mtu.edu).

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SnowBots Qualify for State Championship

States bound: SnowBots qualify for state championship

from The Daily Mining Gazette, December 6, 2019

(Front, from left) Peter Rudnicki, Maddie Minerick, Elizabeth Bergstrom, Rachel Bergstrom, Daniel Xie, Kyle Hubert. (Middle, from left) Joshua You, Tyler Gregersen, Zhi Tao Yap, Mason Heldt, Yamato Tajiri. (Back, from left) Nathanael Strome, Ben Manchester, Kayleigh Matson, Joel Brubaker, Nelson Monte, Collin Damsteegt. Not shown: Evan Hill, Edward Liu, Evan Massaway, Colton Sam, Anna Wu.

The SnowBots Middle School Robotics teams reached a first-ever milestone at the Pellston regional FIRST Tech Challenge qualifier on Nov 23rd. All three teams, identified by the colors Blue, Red, and Silver, have now qualified to compete at the state championship Dec. 13-14 in Battle Creek. SnowBots Blue and Silver qualified on Nov. 9 and the Red team will be joining them after their great performance in Pellston.

At Pellston, 29 teams from the Upper Peninsula and across the Northern Lower competed in 2.5-minute matches. All three SnowBots teams made it into the semi-finals. Team Blue was on the number four alliance in the semi-finals. In addition to receiving an invitation to the state championships, Team Red was a member of the winning alliance and took second place for both the Collins Aerospace Innovate Award and the Think Award. Team Silver was undefeated in the qualifying matches, captain of the winning alliance, and winner of the Connect Award. The Pellston event was sponsored in part by Michigan Technological University’s College of Computing.

SnowBots teams are open to area sixth-eighth grade students. The teams are led by Melody Doig and Chris Doig and mentored by the Houghton High School FIRST team, Superior Roboworks. Anyone interested in seeing FIRST Tech Challenge in action is welcome to attend the Mini Scrimmage on Dec. 7 from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. at Houghton Middle School; enter near the cafeteria (Door No. 8). The robots will be scrambling to lift, transport and assemble “skyscraper blocks” in 2.5-minute matches.

SnowBots teams are sponsored by: Michigan Department of Education, GS Engineering, Destination Unstoppable, Minerick Logging, Boundary Labs, ThermoAnalytics, IR Telemetrics, Michigan Tech Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, Michigan Tech Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics Department, Monte Consulting, and Houghton Portage Township Schools.

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Gowtham’s UN5390 Course Receives Shoutout at GitHub Universe

Gowtham

Michigan Tech’s course, UN5390: Scientific Computing, taught by Gowtham, Director of Research Computing, Information Technology for the College of Computing, received a shoutout by alumnus Tim Carmean ’07, Ford’s Central Software Process & Tools Supervisor, at GitHub Universe 2019, which took place November 13-14, 2019, in San Francisco, CA.

GitHub Universe is an annual two-day event that brings together a global interconnected community of over 1700 developers, industry thought leaders, and executives to hear what’s next from GitHub, and learn about the tools and concepts that are pushing the software industry forward. The conference featured over 50 insightful sessions and a dozen workshops from people who are defining the state of open source and the future of software development.

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Alex Sergeyev Quoted in Grand Rapids Business Journal Article

Student working with robotic arm

Alex Sergeyev, College of Computing professor and dirtector of the Mechatronics graduate degree program, was quoted in the article “Robotics key to Michigan’s economy,” published in the Grand Rapids Business Journal on November 22, 2019.

The article also mentions Michigan Tech’s 2018 partnership with Bay De Noc Community College to create a robotics and software development program, which offers a hands-on training program and an easy path for transferring from the community college to the university.

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SnowBots Storm the Yeti Cup

(Front row, from left) Yamato Tajiri, Tyler Gregersen, Maddie Minerick, Peter Rudnicki, Mason Heldt, Daniel Xie. (Back row from left) Rachel Bergstrom, Elizabeth Bergstrom, Kayleigh Matson, Ben Manchester, Nathanael Strome, Nelson Monte, Joel Brubaker, Kyle Hubert (SnowBot), Evan Massaway. Not in photo: Collin Damsteegt, Evan Hill, Edward Liu, Colton Sam, Anna Wu, Zhi Tao Yap, Joshua You.

The SnowBots Middle School Robotics teams competed in Kingsford, Mich., last weekend for the Yeti Cup U.P. FIRST Tech Challenge robotic qualifier competition. All three teams were in the finals and brought home awards from the competition. SnowBots teams are open to area sixth-eighth grade students, and meet at Houghton Middle School. The story, “Snowbots Storm the Yeti Cup” was featured on the front page of the November 15, 2019, issue of the Daily Mining Gazette.

The Kingsford event was sponsored in part by Michigan Technological University College of Computing.

SnowBots teams are sponsored by: Michigan Department of Education, GS Engineering, Destination Unstoppable, Boundary Labs, ThermoAnalytics, IR Telemetrics, Michigan Tech Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, Michigan Tech Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics Department, Monte Consulting, and Houghton Portage Township Schools. The Copper Country was also well represented with 18 community volunteers supporting the event.

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Article by Alex Sergeyev Published in Journal of Engineering Technology (JET)

Alex Sergeyev

An article co-authored by Aleksandr Sergeyev, College of Computing professor and director of the Mechatronics graduate program, has been published in the Journal of Engineering Technology (JET).

The conclusive article, titled “A University, Community College, and Industry Partnership: Revamping Robotics Education to Meet 21st century Needs – NSF Sponsored Project Final Report,” summarizes the work funded by a $750K NSF grant received by Servgeyev in 2015 to to promote robotics education.  The paper details the achievements in curriculum and educational tools development, dissemination, and implementation at Michigan Tech and beyond.

Co-PIs on the project are  Scott A. Kuhl (Michigan Technological University), Prince Mehandiratta (Michigan Technological University), Mark Highum (Bay de Noc Community College), Mark Bradley Kinney (West Shore Community College), and Nasser Alaraje (The University of Toledo).

A related paper was presented at the 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, June 21-24, 2019, in Tampa, FL, as part of the panel “Academe/Industry Collaboration” presented by the Technical Engineering Technology Division, where it was awarded the Best Paper Award in the Engineering Technology Division. Download the conference paper here: https://www.asee.org/public/conferences/140/papers/26234/view.

Conference Paper Abstract: Recently, educators have worked to improve STEM education at all levels, but challenges remain. Capitalizing on the appeal of robotics is one strategy proposed to increase STEM interest. The interdisciplinary nature of robots, which involve motors, sensors, and programs, make robotics a useful STEM pedagogical tool. There is also a significant need for industrial certification programs in robotics. Robots are increasingly used across industry sectors to improve production throughputs while maintaining product quality. The benefits of robotics, however, depend on workers with up-to-date knowledge and skills to maintain and use existing robots, enhance future technologies, and educate users. It is critical that education efforts respond to the demand for robotics specialists by offering courses and professional certification in robotics and automation. This NSF sponsored project introduces a new approach for Industrial Robotics in electrical engineering technology (EET) programs at University and Community College. The curriculum and software developed by this collaboration of two- and four-year institutions match industry needs and provide a replicable model for programs around the US. The project also addresses the need for certified robotic training centers (CRTCs) and provides curriculum and training opportunities for students from other institutions, industry representatives, and displaced workers. Resources developed via this project were extensively disseminated through a variety of means, including workshops, conferences, and publications. In this article, authors provide final report on project outcomes, including various curriculum models and industry certification development, final stage of the “RobotRun” robotic simulation software, benefits of professional development opportunities for the faculty members from the other institutions, training workshops for K-12 teachers, and robotic one-day camps for high school students.

The Journal of Engineering Technology® (JET) is a refereed journal published semi-annually, in spring and fall, by the Engineering Technology Division (ETD) of the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE). The aim of JET is to provide a forum for the dissemination of original scholarly articles as well as review articles in all areas related to engineering technology education. engtech.org/jet

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University Research: A Multifaceted Endeavor

University Research: A Multifaceted Endeavor

The following commentary is part five of a six-part series featuring updates, national trends and personal perspectives from the University’s leadership team regarding the future of higher education and Michigan Tech. All questions or comments may be directed to the author of the article (ddreed@mtu.edu).    

Michigan Tech receives most of its research funding from the federal government. The federal research environment is challenging, with low and even declining funding rates, regulatory changes and the evolving federal budget climate, but Michigan Tech has managed to hold its own. Even in this difficult environment, in the last fiscal year Michigan Tech researchers achieved all-time highs in new sponsored awards ($63.5 million) and in research expenditures ($80.4 million). This was only possible through the outstanding creativity of our faculty and staff, a concentration on the development of outstanding proposals and a focus on areas where we can be recognized as one of the world’s leading institutions.

The campus developed these focus areas through the Tech Forward process last academic year. Several of the initiative areas include a significant research component. In particular, the Institute for Computing and Cybersystems (ICC, Tim Havens, director), the Health Research Institute (HRI, Caryn Heldt, director), and the Institute for Policy, Ethics, and Culture (IPEC, Jennifer Daryl Slack, director) were identified as highly exciting opportunities for future growth.  The Vice President for Research Office (VPR) is working with all three throughout this academic year to develop plans for continuing growth and eventual maturation as vibrant, self-supporting centers of scholarly activity.

Michigan Tech is well-positioned to reach $100 million in annual research expenditures within the next five years. To reach this will require continual work to improve the research environment on campus. There are several such initiatives underway this academic year:

  • Financial Services and Operations has removed the 3.5% annual administrative fee from all IRAD accounts, allowing all of these funds to be used to support and grow our research and graduate programs.

  • Our Shared Facilities were established five years ago. The associate vice president for research development is working with them to review their activities over the last five years and to formulate plans for their continued success and growth over the next five years.

  • Michigan Tech has made significant strides over the last few years in reducing the administrative workload associated with sponsored research activities. According to the Federal Demonstration Partnership’s 2012 and 2018 Faculty Workload Surveys, we have reduced the proportion of investigator’s research time spent on administrative tasks from more than 50% to 43%, below the national average of 44%. Many people in VPR and elsewhere on campus have worked to achieve this significant accomplishment. I think we can all agree, though, that there is still too much effort on administrative work when researcher’s efforts would be better spent on the creative activities involved in research and scholarship.  Thanks very much to all on campus who participated in the survey; the results shed light on a number of areas ripe for further process improvement, and we will prioritize and address them over the next few months and coming years.

  • Lastly, many of you may be aware that a number of cases have emerged nationally where university and other researchers have exhibited egregious behavior that has resulted in federal criminal charges of fraud and abuse. My understanding is that over 1,000 researchers across the country are under investigation. Many of these relate to failure to disclose financial conflicts of interest and also unfunded conflicts of commitment.  We expect there to be new federal requirements to change our disclosure practices at some point. In the meantime, it’s important for all to disclose any commitment and financial conflicts through our internal processes, as well as externally in technical reports and funding applications. When in doubt, the best practice is to disclose.

In closing, I would again like to recognize the outstanding efforts of all members of the University community, including researchers and the personnel who support them, both centrally and in their units, in developing and supporting a vibrant and creative environment. This improves our educational activities and strengthens our ongoing research efforts. Michigan Tech is in a great position with our outstanding strengths in areas of state, national and international significance.  Through progress in the Tech Forward initiatives and continued growth in our research and graduate programs, we will continue to increase our contributions to areas of great societal need.

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