Category: Research

Christopher Middlebrook Awarded Device from Gentec-EO Laser Lab

Device with laser beam and software display.

Chris Middlebook (ECE) was one of the winners of the Gentec-EO Laser Lab Awards. Middlebrook won a Beamage-4M laser beam profiler.

The Gentec-EO Laser Lab Awards contest aims to support optics laboratories in universities and colleges in the United States. Its goal is to ensure students have access to the same quality measurement instruments that are used today in the industry.


MTU Team Among Winners of TiM$10K Challenge

Group of five team members.
L-R: Brian Parvin, Paul Allen, David Brushaber, Alex Kirchner, and Kurtis Alessi

A Michigan Tech team is among the winners of the SICK Inc. TiM$10K Challenge. For the second year, students from universities around the country were invited to participate in the challenge, designed to support innovation and student achievement in automation and technology.

For the competition, teams were supplied with a 270-foot SICK LiDAR sensor and accessories, and challenged to solve a problem, create a solution or bring a new application to any industry that utilizes the SICK LiDAR.

The Tech team members — Brian Parvin, Kurtis Alessi, Alex Kirchner, David Brushaber and Paul Allen — earned Honorable Mention (fourth place overall) for their project, Evaluating Road Markings (the Road Stripe Evaluator). The innovative product aims to help resolve issues caused by poor road markings while reducing maintenance costs and improving motorist safety.

Each team was asked to submit a video and paper for judging upon completion of its project. A panel of judges decided the winning submissions based on creativity and innovation, ability to solve a customer problem, commercial potential, entrepreneurship of the team, and reporting.

“This was a unique project in that the team was required to identify a problem and develop a solution to it that is based on SICK’s TiM LiDAR — most teams are handed a problem and asked to create a solution,” said team advisor Tony Pinar, senior design coordinator in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. “I think this format allowed the team to exercise even more innovation than a ‘typical’ project.”

Pinar said the team was well organized and demonstrated an excellent work ethic from day one. “It was exciting to watch them identify a salient problem and develop a functional proof-of-concept solution despite the setbacks that affected us all after spring break,” he said.

SICK is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of sensors, safety systems, machine vision, encoders and automatic identification products for industrial applications.


Soft Community Detection

Sakineh “Audrey” Yazdanparast (ECE), Timothy C. Havens (CC), and Mohsen Jamalabdollahi have authored “Soft Overlapping Community Detection in Large-Scale Networks via Fast Fuzzy Modularity Maximization,” which is available under the “Early Access” area on IEEE Xplore.

Extract

Soft overlapping clustering is one of the notable problems of community detection. Extensive research has been conducted to develop efficient methods for non-overlapping and crisp-overlapping community detection in large-scale networks. In this paper, Fast Fuzzy Modularity Maximization (FFMM) for soft overlapping community detection is proposed. FFMM exploits novel iterative equations to calculate the modularity gain associated with changing the fuzzy membership values of network vertices. The simplicity of the proposed scheme enables efficient modifications, reducing computational complexity to a linear function of the network size and the number of communities.

Citation

S. Yazdanparast, T. C. Havens and M. Jamalabdollahi, “Soft Overlapping Community Detection in Large-Scale Networks via Fast Fuzzy Modularity Maximization,” in IEEE Transactions on Fuzzy Systems.

DOI: 10.1109/TFUZZ.2020.2980502


Jeremy Bos on the Wild West of Automotive Lidar

Photonics Focus cover with infrared photo of a car.

THE CITY OF HOUGHTON is in the far north of Michigan’s upper peninsula, along the southern shore of Lake Superior. It’s famous for two things: the notable engineering school, Michigan Technical[sic] University, and being two miles past the end of the Earth. It’s more than 200 miles away from the closest freeway, and averages 250 inches of snowfall per year.

Jeremy Bos, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at Michigan Tech, finds this environment ideal for research on autonomous vehicles (AV).

Read more at SPIE Photonics Focus, by Gwen Weerts.


Pearce Group on Solar Systems

Renewable EnergyECE student Trevor Peffley co-authored an article with Joshua Pearce (MSE/ECE) titled: “The Potential for Grid Defection of Small and Medium Sized Enterprises Using Solar Photovoltaic, Battery and Generator Hybrid Systems“, which was published in Renewable Energy.

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.renene.2019.12.039

Based on the results of this study it is clear that it is already technically and economically viable for all scales of commercial utility customers to install a solar, battery and natural gas hybrid electricity generation system.

In the News

Joshua Pearce’s (MSE/ECE) research on bifacial solar photovoltaic (PV) performance in the snow was covered by PV Magazine.

Joshua Pearce (MSE/ECE) is quoted in “2020 energy trends affecting consumers” published in Save.

In Print

Joshua Pearce (MSE/ECE) coauthored a study “Performance of Bifacial Photovoltaic Modules on a Dual-Axis Tracker in a High-Latitude, High-Albedo Environment” published in the Conference Proceedings of the IEEE Photovoltiac Specialists Conference (PVSC). 

New Funding

Joshua Pearce (MSE/ECE/IMP) is the principal investigator on a project that has received a $182,580 research and development cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy.

The project is entitled, “The Energizer Bunny: Dual-Use Photovoltaic and Pasture-Raised Rabbit Farms.”

Chelsea Schelly (SS/IMP )is the Co-PI on this potential 15-month project.


Synchrophasor Data Project Funding for Chee-Wooi Ten

Chee-Wooi Ten
Chee-Wooi Ten

Chee-Wooi Ten (ECE/AIM) is the principal investigator on a project that has received a $99,732 research and development cooperative agreement with the University of California Riverside. The project is entitled, “Discovery of Signatures, Anomalies, and Precursors in Synchrophasor Data with Matrix Profile and Deep Recurrent Neural Networks.” This is a 17-month project.

By Sponsored Programs.


Havens Discusses Artificial Intelligence in Plain Terms

Timothy Havens
Timothy Havens

Cognitive scientist and Dartmouth professor John McCarthy coined the term artificial intelligence (AI) in 1955 when he began his exploration of whether machines could learn and develop formal reasoning like humans. More than 60 years later, AI is the hottest tech topic of the day, from the boardroom to the breakroom.

“AI is a mathematical and algorithmic model that allows computers to learn to do tasks without being explicitly programmed to do those tasks.” –Timothy Havens, the William and Gloria Jackson Associate Professor of Computer Systems in the College of Computing at Michigan Technological University and director of the Institute of Computing and Cybersystems.

For those who prefer analogies, Havens likens the way AI works to learning to ride a bike: “You don’t tell a child to move their left foot in a circle on the left pedal in the forward direction while moving your right foot in a circle… You give them a push and tell them to keep the bike upright and pointed forward: the overall objective. They fall a few times, honing their skills each time they fail,” Havens says. “That’s AI in a nutshell.”

Read more at The Enterprisers Project, by Stephanie Overby.


Ultrasound-Sensing Based Navigational Support for the Visually Impaired

Ultrasound Sensing-Based Navigational SupportECE graduate student Aliaksei Petsiuk coauthored an article with Joshua Pearce (MSE/ECE) titled, “Low-cost open source ultrasound-sensing based navigational support for visually impaired,” published in the journal Sensors.
https://doi.org/10.3390/s19173783

Low-Cost Open Source Ultrasound-Sensing Based Navigational Support for the Visually Impaired

Abstract

Nineteen million Americans have significant vision loss.

Over 70% of these are not employed full-time, and more than a quarter live below the poverty line. Globally, there are 36 million blind people, but less than half use white canes or more costly commercial sensory substitutions. The quality of life for visually impaired people is hampered by the resultant lack of independence.

To help alleviate these challenges this study reports on the development of a low-cost, open-source ultrasound-based navigational support system in the form of a wearable bracelet to allow people with the lost vision to navigate, orient themselves in their surroundings and avoid obstacles when moving.

The system can be largely made with digitally distributed manufacturing using low-cost 3-D printing/milling. It conveys point-distance information by utilizing the natural active sensing approach and modulates measurements into haptic feedback with various vibration patterns within the four-meter range. It does not require complex calibrations and training, consists of the small number of available and inexpensive components, and can be used as an independent addition to traditional tools.

Sighted blindfolded participants successfully demonstrated the device for nine primary everyday navigation and guidance tasks including indoor and outdoor navigation and avoiding collisions with other pedestrians.

Read the Open Access article at Sensors.


Joshua Pearce on Solar Energy

Joshua Pearce
Joshua Pearce

West Baton Rouge solar plant with 197,000 panels begins construction: Entergy Louisiana to purchase its power

Some 197,000 solar panels capable of powering thousands of homes are going into one of the largest solar plants to be built in Louisiana on a 560-acre site near Port Allen.

“The economies of scale has finally kicked in,” said Joshua Pearce, director of the Michigan Tech Open Sustainability Technology lab. “Utilities are actively putting in large-scale solar farms because it’s now a low enough cost. When costs first came down, large industry jumped on it first and now utilities are catching up.”

Read more at The Advocate, by Kristen Mosbrucker.

Floating Solar Panels Are Helping This Mining Company Save Water

Las Tórtolas is a 4.1 square mile reservoir nestled in the sunny, arid mountains of Chile, about 40 miles north of the capital city of Santiago. But it’s not the kind of place you’d want to go swimming. The water in the reservoir is actually the waste (also known as tailings) from the nearby Los Bronces copper mine, and floating on top are 256 photovoltaic solar panels, each one capable of producing about 330 watts of electricity.

“It’s like putting a plastic sheet over the whole lake, or the whole tailings pond,” explains Joshua Pearce, a Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Michigan Tech. Pearce has worked extensively in the emerging field of floatovoltaic technology (FVT), or the overlap of solar energy systems and water use. He says that the presence of solar panels over a body of water can provide enough shade to consistently reduce evaporation by 70-80%. That’s precisely what Anglo-American has achieved since the Las Tórtolas array went online in March 2019.

Read more at The Weather Channel, by Thom Dunn.

America’s richest could afford this important investment to help fight climate change, scientist says

The technology exists to “green” America’s electricity grid to fight climate change — and together, the country’s richest people have enough money to pay for it. In fact, they could even make a profit on the investment.

That’s according to a 2019 research paper on solar energy led by Joshua Pearce, a professor of materials science and engineering at Michigan Technological University.

Read more at CNBC Make It, by Catherine Clifford.

Amid energy transition in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, what is solar’s role?

The Upper Peninsula Power Co., which has some of the highest electric rates in the continental U.S., is looking to buy power from a large-scale solar project it says would help reduce costs for its customers.

UPPCO’s case reflects trends elsewhere in Michigan where utilities are pursuing large-scale projects while at the same time being accused of limiting small, customer-owned projects.

“It’s much more acute and much more divisive here than it is downstate,” said Joshua Pearce, an engineering professor at Michigan Technological University in Houghton. “[UPPCO] hates distributed generation, but they love making money.”

Read more at Energy News Network, by Andy Balaskovitz.


Timothy Havens at IEEE International Conference on Fuzzy Systems

Timothy Havens
Timothy Havens

Timothy Havens (CC/ICC) was General Co-Chair of the 2019 IEEE International Conference on Fuzzy Systems in New Orleans, LA, June 23 to 26. At the conference, Havens presented his paper, “Machine Learning of Choquet Integral Regression with Respect to a Bounded Capacity (or Non-monotonic Fuzzy Measure),” and served on the panel, “Publishing in IEEE Transactions on Fuzzy Systems.” Three additional papers authored by Havens were published in the conference’s proceedings: “Transfer Learning for the Choquet Integral,” “The Choquet Integral Neuron, Its PyTorch Implementation and Application to Decision Fusion,” and “Measuring Similarity Between Discontinuous Intervals – Challenges and Solutions.”