Category: News

MEDC Cyber and Mobility Division Visits Michigan Tech

MEDC Logo

Michigan Tech’s ICC Center for Cybersecurity and the MTEC SmartZone hosted members of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s (MEDC’s) Cyber and Mobility division in Houghton, MI, on December 2, 2019.

The group’s visit included presentations by several Michigan Tech faculty who are conducting research in the cyber and mobility space, strategic economic development discussions highlighting Michigan Tech and the local community, and tours of selected Michigan Tech cyber and mobility labs, including GLRC, APS Labs, and the KRC.

The tour concluded with a talk to Michigan Tech students by Karl Heimer of the MEDC regarding information and student opportunities with MEDC-affiliated CyberAuto and CyberTruck competitions.

For more information, contact Associate Professor Guy Hembroff, director of the ICC Center for Cybersecurity and the Health Informatics graduate program.

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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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Health Informatics MS Program Is Among Top 20 in Nation

Health Informatics Graphic

The website OnlineSchoolsCenter.com has released the “Top 20 Online Schools for Master’s of Health Informatics Degree Programs for 2020.” The ranking provides readers with the twenty finest online colleges and universities offering graduate degrees in health informatics.

Michigan Tech was listed among the top 20 programs and was the only school from Michigan to make the list.

Find the full list here.

OnlineSchoolsCenter.com identified the following Michigan Tech Health Informatics program standouts: Michigan Tech is an excellent university that is well-decorated with glowing recognition. Namely for students’ professional success, the best online graduate programs, and one of the finest online Masters in Health Informatics in the nation! What makes this degree most exciting are the eleven different areas of focus in which students can concentrate their coursework. No other school on this ranking has as many specialization options. Online students learn from expert faculty members in the areas of healthcare systems analysts and design, cybersecurity, and much more. Graduates from Michigan Tech often go on to earn six-figure incomes, and the school has been recognized for this achievement in education, according to Money Magazine.

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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.

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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.

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Yooper Lights: Blue Marble Security Enterprise mentors 7th graders on an eCYBERMISSION

Students attending Lake Linden-Hubbell schools who live within one mile of their school are not eligible to take the school bus. Many walk to school, often in the dark, early morning hours. The same is true for students in another nearby school district, Calumet-Laurium-Keweenaw.

The Yooper Lights eCybermission team, L to R: Olivia Shank, Rebecca Lyons, Chloe Daniels, and Jenna Beaudoin

A small group of 7th grade students from Lake Linden-Hubbell High School in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula—Jenna Beaudoin, Chloe Daniels, Rebecca Lyons, and Olivia Shank—decided to do something to help improve safety for students who walk to school. Each was highly motivated, for personal reasons.

“I have three younger siblings who walk to school, and they aren’t always aware of their surroundings,” said Daniels.

“My uncle was biking one night and didn’t have a helmet or a reflector and he got hit by a car. He had brain trauma and now has trouble remembering certain things,” said Beaudoin.

“I want to be able to walk safely by myself or with my dogs in the early morning or in the evening when it gets dark,” said Shank.

“We live in a really snowy area, and kids can get hit,” said Lyons.

Helping kids and others walk safely in the dark is their mission, but it was more than that—it is their eCYBERMISSION, a national science competition sponsored by the Army Educational Outreach Program. Nationwide, students in grades 6-9 work in small teams for over a year to develop a process or product that will benefit their community. Locally, the Lake Linden Middle School eCYBERMISSION team is advised by Michigan Tech Engineering Fundamentals instructor Gretchen Hein, and chemical engineering senior Ryan Knoll.

Because none of them knew anything about circuits, the team contacted Glen Archer, interim chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Michigan Tech. Archer introduced the seventh graders to electrical engineering student John Robinault, outreach manager of Blue Marble Security.

Born out of the Michigan Tech Enterprise program, Blue Marble Security is a virtual company comprised undergraduate students focused on securing the future through thoughtful use of technology.

Yooper Lights team tested their LED reflectors at night, with help from volunteers.

Twice a week, Beaudoin, Daniels, Lyons and Shank met with Robinault and computer science major Tyler Arthur in the Blue Marble Security lab, located in the EERC building on campus.

The girls modeled the casing of their LED reflector using Siemens NX software, created their circuit using National Instruments Multisim™ software, and modeled their circuitboard using Eagle PCB design software. They had never used the software or soldered. The Blue Marble students demonstrated how to model and solder, but the girls did the work.

Arthur was a brand new member of Blue Marble Security Enterprise when he began working with the girls. “It gave me an opportunity to teach some of the material that I was already familiar with, while also learning new things along the way,” he said. “We worked together to get familiar with CAD modeling, for instance.

In the process, Arthur learned a lot about working with younger students, something he hadn’t ever done. “The fact that the team members are all good friends made for an interesting group dynamic, because was easy for them to distract each other while working on the project.” Even so, the girls persevered. Throughout the fall, the team completed their research and designed their reflector. They took their preliminary design to their 7th grade science classes for feedback. Based on that, they updated the design, completed the circuit board and went back to the school for more feedback, this time visiting both 7th and 10th grade science classes, asking the students to compare their LED reflector to a plain reflector. After receiving more valuable feedback, the team modified their design.

At that point, they began testing their LED reflector—calling it the “Yooper Light”, and themselves, the Yooper Lights.

Outdoor testing was completed on a straight, flat road near their school, over a distance of 170 feet. Pedestrians (students grades 7-9), and drivers (students grades 10-12, plus college students and adults) were asked to report when they could see a person walking and wearing either the plain reflector or the Yooper light LED reflector.

Due to weather conditions, only the college students and adults tested outside. The remaining tests were completed inside the school, in a dark hallway lit only by security lights. The Yooper Lights found that everyone could both see the LED reflector and the person wearing it over the entire testing distance.

They decided to conduct another, independent test to see just how far their LED reflector was visible. The maximum visibility was found to be 91.3 meters—over twice the previous testing distance.

Yooper Lights submitted their report to eCYBERMISSION, learning in March that they had made it to the virtual regional competition. Once again, Michigan Tech helped them out. The girls presented to judges at the Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning with help from Associate Director Jeff Toorangian.

In late April, Yooper Lights became the first place 7th grade team in Michigan—and a finalist in the North Central Region. In a word: Success! They were going to compete in Washington, DC at the national competition.

During the weeklong event in DC last June, the Yooper Lights team bonded with their eCYBERMISSION mentor, Michigan Tech alumna Sasha Teymorian, now a chemist in the US Army Research Laboratory. Teymorian graduated with her doctorate in Chemistry from Michigan Tech in 2015. Together they enjoyed a bevvy of cool activities, including one called “Houston, We Have a Problem,” that tasked the girls with engineering a solution to the Apollo 13 mission. They worked with radio-controlled cars and conducted ballistics on balloons, and even designed autonomous vehicles at the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

While in DC, Beaudoin, Daniels, Lyons and Shank also visited their Congressional representatives. They first met with Representative Jack Bergman, and then with Robert Curis, a staff member in Senator Debbie Stabenow’s office, sharing just how they used engineering to develop their LED light.

Finally, the Yooper lights presented their project to a team of eCybermission judges. “Although the team did not win the national competition, they gained a great deal from the experience,” said advisor Gretchen Hein.

What’s next for the team? Something they’re calling “Yooper Power”. Collaborating again with students from the Blue Marble Security Enterprise, as well as Michigan Tech student chapter of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), the girls, now in 8th grade, will develop outreach activity kits for fifth and sixth graders. Their new mission: introduce more young students to the field of electrical and computer engineering.

Chloe Daniels and Rebecca Lyons learn how to solder, with help from electrical engineering major John Robinault, a member of the Blue Marble Security Enterprise at Michigan Tech.
With more help from volunteers, the Yooper Lights team also tested their LED reflectors in a long, dimly lit hallway at Lake Linden-Hubbell High School.
Yooper Lights team member Olivia Shank models the casing of the LED reflector using Siemens NX software.
The Yooper Lights team used the Design Thinking process to develop their Yooper Lights. Design Thinking training is offered on campus through the Pavlis Honors College.
The team created two sizes and colors of 3D printed cases to test with their LED reflectors.

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Charles Wallace is Associate Dean for Curriculum and Instruction

Charles Wallace

Charles Wallace, Associate Professor of Computer Science, has been appointed Associate Dean for Curriculum and  Instruction for the College of Computing, effective immediately. Wallace has been teaching in the Department of Computer Science for 19 years, and he has a long track record of education research and building collaboration with Cognitive & Learning Sciences, Engineering, Humanities, and Social Sciences.

“Chuck brings to his new role an extensive breadth of experience that spans from outreach to curricular development to collaborations with multiple units across campus,” says Adrienne Minerick, dean of the College of Computing. “In this new role, he will help build campus collaborations to create additional pathways for Michigan Tech students to engage with computing curricula, and facilitate conversations within the College of Computing that enable creative, agile options for our students.”

“Barriers between computing and other disciplines are artificial and unproductive,” Wallace says. “Computing competencies are essential for Michigan Tech graduates in all fields, and the College and University should commit to building educational options housed in the College of Computing but available and accessible to all students.”

Wallace adds that students in the College of Computing should be free – and actively encouraged – to explore application areas where their skills can be used. He also wants to explore ways to build flexibility into Computing academic programs, maintaining the solid technical core that Michigan Tech graduates are known for, but also allowing students to pursue applications of their computing competencies in other disciplines.

Vision Statement from Charles Wallace:

Here are a few points that I consider vital to the future of computing education, based on 19 years of experience in the Computer Science Department, a long track record of education research, and extensive collaboration with Cognitive & Learning Sciences, Engineering, Humanities, and Social Sciences.

Barriers between computing and other disciplines are artificial and unproductive.  Computing competencies are essential for Michigan Tech graduates in all fields.  The College and University should commit to building educational options housed in the College of Computing but available and accessible to all students.  This will require an earnest and focused investment in personnel – we cannot do it solely with the current cohort of instructors, who are already stretched thinly with increased enrollment in core computing programs.

Conversely, students in the College of Computing should be free and even encouraged to explore application areas where their skills can be brought to bear.  Complex degree requirements can hinder such exploration.  We should explore ways to build flexibility into our programs, maintaining the solid technical core that Michigan Tech graduates are known for, but also allowing students to pursue applications of their computing competencies in other disciplines.

Computing students are citizens, not just producers.  The degree programs in Michigan Tech’s Computer Science Department have a long and venerable tradition of preparing students who can “produce” – hit the ground running in the workplace and build high quality solutions. That is a precious gift, and we should not deprive future students of it – but the future demands more. Our world is increasingly dominated by computing – and by extension, dominated by human beings who understand computing. Michigan Tech graduates of the College of Computing must be known not only for the technical “value” that they produce, but also the ability to question and critique digital technology, to be empathetic and articulate ambassadors and leaders in the new digital order of the future.

There are two promising ways in which we can build better computing citizens. First, an awareness of the social and ethical consequences of computing must be woven into our curricula, not just taught as external service courses.  Second, service learning is a way to expose students to the human contexts of computing technology. There are many ways to get students involved in our community, but these have not been harnessed outside of ad hoc outreach efforts. Interaction with the community should be built into the academic experience of computing students.

Computing competencies include values and attitudes, not just skills and knowledge. Alumni of our degree programs acknowledge that collaboration and communication are essential components of their professional lives.  These competencies involve not only skills but also values and attitudes – willingness and even eagerness to engage with others, resilience in the face of uncertainty or ambiguity, and adaptability in the face of changing requirements.  To prepare students for the highly collaborative computing workplace, courses in the College of Computing should embrace the opportunities and challenges of working in diverse teams. As with ethics, issues of teamwork and communication must be integrated into “disciplinary” courses, not left to service courses or external experiences like internships.

These curricular pathways hold promise not only to develop competent computing professionals of the future, but also to attract a more diverse constituency to the College of Computing student body.

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College Seeking Applications for Six Faculty Positions

The Michigan Tech College of Computing is growing! We are currently seeking applications for six faculty positions. Please use the links below and visit https://www.mtu.edu/computing/about/employment/job-openings/ to learn more about the positions and to discover the many advantages of teaching at Michigan Tech and living in the Copper Country.

Assistant or Associate Professor, CNSA/MERET/HI Division

Assistant Professor, Computer Science

Assistant or Associate Professor

Download a brochure about the positions and Michigan Tech

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Keith Vertanen Is PI on $225K NSF Grant, “Improving Mobile Device Input for Users Who are Blind or Low Vision”

Keith Virtanen
Keith Vertanen

Keith Vertanen (CS/ICC-HCC) is the principal investigator on a three-year project that has received a $225,663 research and development grant from the National Science Foundation. The project is entitled, “CHS: Small: Collaborative Research: Improving Mobile Device Input for Users Who are Blind or Low Vision.”

Abstract: Smartphones are an essential part of our everyday lives. But for people with visual impairments, basic tasks like composing text messages or browsing the web can be prohibitively slow and difficult. The goal of this project is to develop accessible text entry methods that will enable people with visual impairments to enter text at rates comparable to sighted people. This project will design new algorithms and feedback methods for today’s standard text entry approaches of tapping on individual keys, gesturing across keys, or dictating via speech. The project aims to:  1) help users avoid errors by enabling more accurate input via audio and tactile feedback, 2) help users find errors by providing audio and visual annotation of uncertain portions of the text, and 3) help users correct errors by combining the probabilistic information from the original input, the correction, and approximate information about an error’s location. Improving text entry methods for people who are blind or have low vision will enable them to use their mobile devices more effectively for work and leisure. Thus, this project represents an important step to achieving equity for people with visual impairments.

This project will contribute novel interface designs to the accessibility and human-computer interaction literature. It will advance the state-of-the-art in mobile device accessibility by: 1) studying text entry accessibility for low vision in addition to blind people, 2) studying and developing accessible gesture typing input methods, and 3) studying and developing accessible speech input methods.  This project will produce design guidelines, feedback methods, input techniques, recognition algorithms, user study results, and software prototypes that will guide improvements to research and commercial input systems for users who are blind or low-vision. Further, the project’s work on the error correction and revision process will improve the usability and performance of touchscreen and speech input methods for everyone.

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