Category: Research

Shiyan Hu Delivers Keynote in China

Shiyan Hu
Shiyan Hu

Shiyan Hu (ECE) delivered a keynote talk at the 2017 IEEE International Conference on Energy Internet in Beijing, China. Hu gave the talk “Smart Energy Cyber-Physical Systems: Big Data Analytics and Security” that builds off his work in smart energy cyber-physical systems.

He is an ACM Distinguished Speaker, an IEEE Systems Council Distinguished Lecturer, an IEEE Computer Society Distinguished Visitor, an invited participant for US National Academy of Engineering Frontiers of Engineering Symposium and a recipient of a National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Award.

Hu is a Fellow of IET and the editor-in-chief of IET Cyber-Physical Systems: Theory & Applications. He is also the chair for IEEE Technical Committee on Cyber-Physical Systems. More information about his keynote speech can be found online.

Senator Stabenow Learns About Robotics and Autonomous Vehicles


HOUGHTON — U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan) heard from Michigan Tech faculty and students about projects related to the Great Lakes during her April 1, 2017, visit to the university’s Great Lakes Research Center (GLRC) in Houghton.

Cameron Burke, Michigan Tech student in computer engineering, said he was excited to be working with the robotics program and autonomous vehicles and would probably focus on these in graduate school in the future. For example, he noted some of the experiments include sending the vehicles out into the snow or rain to determine how they could be safer than a regular car.

Read more and watch the videos at Keweenaw Now, by Michele Bourdieu.

FWF: Mobility @ Tech

FWF-image-2-20170424 The first part of this FWF double feature almost didn’t get written because there were so many events and activities in the ECE Department that I had to attend to. This second part almost didn’t get written because I was lying in bed binge-watching Season 3 of HBO’s “Silicon Valley”. This highly entertaining and astonishingly vulgar parody of start-ups in “the valley” is LOL funny, especially for electrical and computer types like us. I am not certain that all the counter-culture stereotypes and situations bear full resemblance to reality, but I do have to imagine that there is a seamy underbelly to the tech innovation culture that is usually held up as the paragon of realized human potential, even in this very blog. Season 4 starts this week!

But, back to matters closer to home. The highlight of this past week at Michigan Tech, from my point of view, was a half-day event held on Thursday in the lobby of the Rozsa Center called the “Mobility Summit.” This was an event that came together after discussions earlier in the semester involving Adrienne Minerick, Associate Dean for Research and Innovation in the College of Engineering, Pasi Lautala, faculty member in Civil and Environmental Engineering and Director of the Michigan Tech Transportation Institute, and yours truly. I have to admit, I wasn’t very much help once the ball got rolling, but Adrienne and Pasi did a fabulous job and I would consider it a big success.

“Mobility” is the new buzzword that describes everything having to do with the movement of people and things. It includes vehicles of all different kinds, transportation infrastructure, transportation automation including autonomous vehicles and vehicular communication networks, human factors and human-machine interfaces, and all the changes in society resulting from disruption in ride-sharing, alternative vehicle ownership models, and public transportation. This entire field is very important to the state of Michigan, due to our history in the automobile industry, our existing strong talent base in engineering, and our desire to leverage our advantage to remain a world leader in all things having to do with transportation. There are many people downstate in government and industry who see mobility as the key to economic development, and re-development, in our state and in the region, and I would agree with them.

Because mobility is important to the state of Michigan, it is important to Michigan Tech. Several of us decided that it would be a good idea to start pulling together all the expertise across campus, just to get a better sense of how much we actually have going on. There are two compelling reasons to do this, one internal and one external. The internal reason is that we all need to be aware of what our colleagues in other departments are doing, so that we can look for synergies and perhaps begin to develop a unified vision. The external reason is, if Michigan Tech really does have a strong collective presence in mobility, then we need to brand it and make sure the whole world knows about it.

The good news is that Michigan Tech really does have a lot to offer in mobility, and this became abundantly clear at the Summit on Thursday. The centerpiece of the Summit was a series of short (like 2-minute) presentations by some 18 researchers from 6 different departments, followed by a poster session where people could follow up with focused one-on-one technical conversations. The departments that got the most exposure were Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics, Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Civil and Environmental Engineering, but it was surprising to see the level of activity in other corners of campus as well. In this sense the primary objective of the Summit was met. I found that our biggest strengths are in controls and communications, and the expertise in those areas is absolutely not limited to one department.

In addition to us talking to ourselves, we had two distinguished visitors with two stimulating keynote addresses: Paul Rogers, Director of the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) in Warren, Michigan, and Kirk Steudle, Director of the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT). Both spent the bulk of their time talking about the development of autonomous vehicle technology. From Dr. Rogers we learned that the Army has been working on military autonomous vehicles for quite a while, and developing technologies that may have an impact on the development of commercial autonomous vehicles. From Dr. Steudle we learned that Michigan is ahead of the curve, legislatively speaking, in creating the environment for the development of autonomous vehicles, particular with regard to testing on public roads. Both speakers advocated a stronger and more visible role for Michigan Tech in mobility, and offered advice on how we might get there.

The main takeaways for me were 1) yes, Michigan Tech has a lot to offer the state in mobility, and 2) yes, we will need to work together across campus to develop a comprehensive strategy, both for collaboration and for branding. The third takeaway is more specific to the ECE Department, and which is in the eye of the storm when it comes to moving autonomous technology forward. Dr. Rogers said it best, perhaps unintentionally, when he presented a slide showing where the breakthroughs are needed to make autonomous vehicles a reality. The slide included things like artificial intelligence, big data, radar, lidar, image processing, communication networks – in fact, every single thing he showed comes from the worlds of electrical engineering, computer engineering, and computer science. Powertrain engineering was conspicuously absent from the discussion. Granted, there is a lot of powertrain work to be done if the transition to all-electric vehicles happens at the same time as the transition to autonomous vehicles, but even there, there is plenty of work for electrical engineers. My point here is that while across-campus collaboration can and must happen if Michigan Tech is to be seen as a major player in mobility, the center of gravity for mobility research and development must shift at the same time. I am happy to help make that happen, as best I can.

This coming week is Final Weeks at Michigan Tech, and commencement happens on Saturday. It is an exciting, wonderful time (commencement, not finals) and you will read all about it here. Stay tuned.

– Dan

Daniel R. Fuhrmann
Dave House Professor and Chair
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Michigan Technological University

Blue Marble Security Tours Georgia-Pacific

L-R: Matt Hargas, Victoria Fueri, Andrew Tallman, Johnathan Presti, Sandra Cvetanovic, Kyle Domas
L-R: Matt Hargas, Victoria Fueri, Andrew Tallman, Johnathan Presti, Sandra Cvetanovic, Kyle Domas

Members of Blue Marble Security Enterprise went right to the source this week to gain knowledge of their project sponsor’s operations and products.

Georgia-Pacific engineers, and Michigan Tech alumni, Mitch Edbauer (ECE) and John Cretens (MEEM) hosted the site visit and provided a tour of GP’s Green Bay-Broadway Paper Mill. The students were impressed by the company’s process automation, where they saw entire sections of the plant controlled by a single person. They were equally impressed by Georgia-Pacific’s environmental commitment including the use of 100% recycled fiber in their product production.

This year the BMS team has been researching ways to replace disposable batteries in automated soap and paper towel dispensers. The project includes finding alternative energy and methods to more efficiently disperse the products.

Blue Marble Security is a virtual company of undergraduate students focused on securing the future through thoughtful use of technology. The Enterprise is advised by Dr. Glen Archer.

Brian Flanagan Receives 2nd Place in 2017 Undergraduate Research Symposium

flanagan-PosterBrian Flanagan, a computer engineering major, was among the winners of the 2017 Undergraduate Research Symposium held on Friday, March 17 in the lobby of the Rozsa Center.

A record number of abstracts and posters were submitted this year – an astonishing 71 – representing every school or college on campus. Flanagan was awarded Second Place for his research on “The Effects of Uncertain Labels on Damage Assessment in Remotely Sensed Images”. Faculty advisor was Tim Havens, ECE and CS William and Gloria Jackson Associate Professor.

The annual Symposium is conducted by the Pavlis Honors College and highlights the amazing cutting-edge research being conducted on Michigan Tech’s campus by some of our best and brightest undergraduate students.

ECE’s Microfabrication Facility launches new website

MFF_homepage Michigan Tech’s Microfabrication Facility, housed under the Department of Electrical and Computer, has launched its new website

The Microfabrication Facility (MFF) consists of thin film, plasma etching, photolithography, and temperature processing equipment. MFF capabilities are broad and applicable to areas of biomedical engineering, chemistry, chemical engineering, electrical engineering, physics, materials science, and mechanical engineering. Deposition, sputtering, etching, and photolithography capabilities together with microcharacterization measurement systems enable precision device engineering.

The new site enables users to schedule reservations and check the live status of the MFF equipment, along with other user friendly features. MFFmenu

The MFF was also recently selected as a member of the Northern Nano Lab Alliance (NNLA), a regional network of university fabrication facilities. The mission of the NNLA is to help each member improve their support of academic research in applied nanotechnology.

MFF managing director Chito Kendrick, PhD, says “Being a member of the NNLA allows for a partnership with some of the local regional universities that have similar nano/micro fabrication facilities, and will indirectly expose Michigan Tech to the National Nanotechnology Coordinated Infrastructure (NNCI), which has replaced the National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network (NNIN). This opens up availability to systems that are currently not provided by the MFF. The partnership will also benefit the MFF staff with access to technical support and loaning equipment from the other groups; also we are exploring ways to reduce the operational costs of these facilities.”

High Resolution ToA Estimation via Optimal Waveform Design

ToA PaperThis paper introduces a novel method to improve the Time of Arrival (ToA) estimation resolution for a fixed available bandwidth in the presence of unknown multipath frequency selective (MPFS) channels. Significant desire on utilized bandwidth reduction in wireless technologies endorses exploiting this technique to increase ranging resolution and/or time synchronization while low bandwidth signal are exploited. Exploiting this method would have extensive impact on variety of technologies which enjoys ToA as ranging technique such as radar, wireless communications and etc.

By Mohsen Jamalabdollahi, Student Member, IEEE, and Seyed (Reza) Zekavat, Senior Member, IEEE.

Published in: IEEE Transactions on Communications ( Volume: PP, Issue: 99 )

DOI: 10.1109/TCOMM.2017.2654240

ToA Ranging and Layer Thickness Computation in Nonhomogeneous Media

Seyed Reza Zekavat
Seyed Reza Zekavat

This paper, by Mohsen Jamalabdollahi (WLPS), and Seyed Reza Zekavat (ECE/WLPS), introduces a novel and effective ranging approach in Non-Homogeneous (NH) media consisting of frequency dispersive submedia via time-of-arrival (ToA) and Direction-of-Arrival (DoA) merger. Exploiting this technique, sensor node can be localized with in variety of NH media such as underground layers with different water content, airborne to underwater channels or even human body.

Moreover, this technique proposes a novel approach which can be utilized for layer thickness detection which have an prominent impact on the area of geoscience and remote sensing.

This paper is published in IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing which is ranked the second journal in area of remote sensing according to Scholar google metrics.

Leonard Bohmann Quoted on the Handling of Power Outages

The Virginia Gazette quoted Leonard Bohmann, associate dean of Michigan Tech’s College of Engineering, in a lengthy article on power companies’ back-up plans for handling power outages on peninsulas caused by faults in the transmission system.

Dominion Virginia Power sets plan for emergency blackouts

Dominion Virginia Power has taken the unusual step of planning for an emergency blackout, with a plan to cut power to 150,000 customers on the Peninsula in the extremely rare event of faults at two components of its high-voltage network occurring at a time when demand for power is high.

Leonard Bohmann
Leonard Bohmann

“In an ideal world, you wouldn’t need an RAS because the system should be able to handle two faults. But it looks like their plan to deal with shutting the power plant has been taking longer than they expected,” said Leonard Bohmann, a professor of electrical engineering at Michigan Technological University, who lives in one of the few other regions of the country where a similar plan is in place, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Read more at The Virginia Gazette, by Dave Ress.