Category: Awards

Leo Ureel Receives 2020-21 CTL Award for Innovative Teaching

The 2020-2021 CTL Instructional Award for Innovative or Out of Class Teaching is being presented to two instructors, and Assistant Professor Leo Ureel, Computer Science, and Libby Meyer, senior lecturer, Visual and Performing Arts.

Ureel was nominated in recognition of his “student-centric efforts which have increased retention and diversified the cohort of first-year computing students.”

Ureel’s presentation, “Three course innovations to support communication,” will be presented at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, February 18, 2021, as part of the CTL Instructional Award Presentation Series.

Link here to register for the event.

Ureel is a member of the Institute of Computing and Cybersystems’s (ICC) Computing Education Center.

Meyer’s presentation, “Beyond Carrots and Sticks: Mastery Based Grading and Narrative Assessment” will also be presented on February 18.

During spring 2017, academic deans were asked to begin recognizing instructors making contributions in these areas as part of the Deans’ Teaching Showcase, effectively nominating them for instructional awards.

CTL and Provost’s office members along with previous awardees then select one individual in each category from a pool composed of the Showcase and those nominated to the Academy of Teaching Excellence.

Ureel Lecture Abstract

Three course innovations to support communication Introductory courses present many communication challenges between faculty and first year students. In this context, we discuss three innovations used in our introductory computer science courses.

The first is the use of Snap, a high-level, visual programming language, as a form of pseudocode during the first five weeks of the course to build student vocabulary and problem solving skills before tackling programming in Java.

The second is a Code Critiquer developed as a Canvas plugin to provide immediate guidance and feedback to students when they submit their programming assignments.

The third is a grade visualization tool that helps students understand their current performance in the course and project a range that will contain their final grade. While not everyone teaches introductory computer science, we discuss how these or similar innovations and tools might apply to your course.

Leo Ureel, Computer Science

Sidike Paheding Wins MDPI Electronics Best Paper Award

A scholarly paper co-authored by Assistant Professor Sidike Paheding, Applied Computing, is one of two papers to receive the 2020 Best Paper Award from the open-access journal Electronics, published by MDPI.

The paper presents a brief survey on the advances that have occurred in the area of Deep Learning.

Paheding is a member of the Institute of Computing and Cybersystems’ (ICC) Center for Data Sciences (DataS).

Co-authors of the article, “A State-of-the-Art Survey on Deep Learning Theory and Architectures,” are Md Zahangir Alom, Tarek M. Taha, Chris Yakopcic, Stefan Westberg, Mst Shamima Nasrin, Mahmudul Hasan, Brian C. Van Essen, Abdul A. S. Awwal, and Vijayan K. Asari. The paper was published March 5, 2019, appearing in volume 8, issue 3, page 292, of the journal.

View and download the paper here.

Papers were evaluated for originality and significance, citations, and downloads. The authors receive a monetary award , a certificate, and an opportunity to publish one paper free of charge before December 31, 2021, after the normal peer review procedure.

Electronics is an international peer-reviewed open access journal on the science of electronics and its applications. It is published online semimonthly by MDPI.

MDPI, a scholarly open access publishing venue founded in 1996, publishes 310 diverse, peer-reviewed, open access journals.

Paper Abstract

In recent years, deep learning has garnered tremendous success in a variety of application domains. This new field of machine learning has been growing rapidly and has been applied to most traditional application domains, as well as some new areas that present more opportunities. Different methods have been proposed based on different categories of learning, including supervised, semi-supervised, and un-supervised learning. Experimental results show state-of-the-art performance using deep learning when compared to traditional machine learning approaches in the fields of image processing, computer vision, speech recognition, machine translation, art, medical imaging, medical information processing, robotics and control, bioinformatics, natural language processing, cybersecurity, and many others.

This survey presents a brief survey on the advances that have occurred in the area of Deep Learning (DL), starting with the Deep Neural Network (DNN). The survey goes on to cover Convolutional Neural Network (CNN), Recurrent Neural Network (RNN), including Long Short-Term Memory (LSTM) and Gated Recurrent Units (GRU), Auto-Encoder (AE), Deep Belief Network (DBN), Generative Adversarial Network (GAN), and Deep Reinforcement Learning (DRL). Additionally, we have discussed recent developments, such as advanced variant DL techniques based on these DL approaches. This work considers most of the papers published after 2012 from when the history of deep learning began.

Furthermore, DL approaches that have been explored and evaluated in different application domains are also included in this survey. We also included recently developed frameworks, SDKs, and benchmark datasets that are used for implementing and evaluating deep learning approaches. There are some surveys that have been published on DL using neural networks and a survey on Reinforcement Learning (RL). However, those papers have not discussed individual advanced techniques for training large-scale deep learning models and the recently developed method of generative models.

Sidike Paheding

Computing Majors on Team that Takes 3rd in Lockheed CTF Competition

Two College of Computing RedTeam students are part of a five-member team that finished 3rd in last weekend’s invitation-only Lockheed Martin Advanced Technologies Laboratories (ATL) Capture the Flag cybersecurity competition.

The multi-day virtual event involved 200 students on 40 teams. It opened for answer submission Friday, January 8, at 8:00 p.m., and closed Sunday, January 10, at 8 p.m.

The 3rd Place team, GoBlue!, trailed the 2nd Place team by only 14 points. RedTeam members are Michigan Tech undergraduates Dakoda Patterson, Computer Science, and Trevor Hornsby, Cybersecurity, and three University of Michigan students from the RedTeam’s partnership with that institution.

Michigan Tech RedTeam faculty advisors are Professor Yu Cai, Applied Computing, and Assistant Professor Bo Chen, Computer Science.

“We were lucky to be one of the 40 teams invited,” said Cai. “This was no small task, as the CTF included a large number of points in Reversing and “pwning” challenges, which proved to be fairly difficult. Other challenges were Cryptography, Stegonography, Web Exploitation, and miscellaneous challenges.”

CTF competitions place hidden “flags” in various computer systems, programs, images, messages, network traffic and other computing environments. Each individual or team is tasked with finding these flags. Participants win prizes while learning how to defend against cybersecurity attacks in a competitive and safe arena.

Top Three Teams

PlacementTeam NameInstitutionTotal Points
1st PlacenullbytesGeorge Mason University3697
2nd PlaceChrisSucksGeorge Mason University3330
3rd PlaceGoBlue!Michigan Tech and University of Michigan 3316

Sun Named to Lou and Herbert Wacker Professorship in Mechanical Engineering

by Office of the Provost & Senior VP for Academic Affairs

Ye “Sarah” Sun (ME-EM) has accepted the Lou and Herbert Wacker Professorship in Mechanical Engineering, which was created to retain and attract high-quality faculty who are at the top of their profession, can excite students to think beyond the classroom material, and knows how to integrate their research into the classroom.

Sun was chosen for this position as she is recognized as a rising star and outstanding researcher in the area of wearable sensors, systems, and robotics and a respected member of the smart health community.

In recognition of her innovative research in wearable sensors, Sun’s NSF CAREER award was selected for presentation to congressional offices in April 2019.

Sun is the director of the Institute of Computing and Cybersystems’s Center for Cyber-Physical Systems.

Among her research honors is the prestigious National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Research Award on “System-on-Cloth: A Cloud Manufacturing Framework for Embroidered Wearable Electronics.”

Sun will use this recognition and support to enhance her research in wearable and soft robotics. Her goal is to develop flexible textile robotics by leveraging the physical understanding and modeling of textile materials and dynamics and the recent advances of morphological computing.

Textile robotics are not only able to enhance human capabilities via wearable design but also achieve autonomous locomotion. The controllable structures of textiles directly provide a unified platform that is capable of integrating sensing and actuating into textile robotics itself. The positioning support will be used to recruit graduate students and to set up the manufacturing platform.


Leo Ureel Receives 2020 CTL Instructional Award

by Michael R. Meyer, Director, William G. Jackson CTL

Assistant Professor Leo Ureel, Computer Science, is among the Deans’ Teaching Showcase members who have been selected to receive 2020 CTL instructional Awards.

The awardees will make presentations next spring semester to share the work that led to their nomination.

When their presentation concludes, each will be formally recognized with a certificate and $750 in additional compensation .

Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021 — Curriculum Development: Katrina Black, Senior Lecturer in Physics

Thursday Feb. 18, 2021 — Innovative or Out of Class Teaching: Libby Meyer, Lecturer in Visual and Performing Arts and Leo Ureel, Assistant Professor in Computer Science

Tuesday, March 30, 2021 — Large Class Teaching: Kette Thomas, Associate Professor of Diverse Literature in Humanities

These events will take place from 3:30-4:30 on the dates listed. Detailed titles, topics, and registration links for each presentation will be circulated in anticipation of each event.

Many thanks to the previous CTL instructional award recipients and the Provost’s office staff who were instrumental in the selection process.

Please consider suggesting instructors whom you’ve seen make exceptional contributions in Curriculum Development, Assessment, Innovative or Out-of-Class teaching or Large Class Teaching to the appropriate chair or dean so that they can be considered for the upcoming (2021) Deans’ Teaching Showcase during spring semester.


Hatti and Team Win Startup Competition

by Electrical and Computer Engineering 

Nagesh Hatti (ECE) was the lead of a startup team that took first place in a virtual entrepreneurial startup event focusing on Education, held earlier this month. The Techstars StartUp weekend was hosted virtually from São Judas University in São Paulo, Brazil. 

Hatti and team pitched “Inter-Self” a mobile-based app that focuses on the emotional health of students, combined with their interaction with fellow students, during projects and assignments. 

Hatti said the objective of their idea is to provide a feedback mechanism so instructors are aware of the overall emotional health of students, and then use that as an input to their instruction. 

Techstars Startup Weekend, in partnership with Google for Startups, is a 54-hour event created for entrepreneurs of all kinds. “It was an intense but rewarding experience,” Hatti said. “There was a lot of support and encouragement to come up with new ideas and execute on them.” 

Hatti said that many of the mentors participating in Techstars startup weekend were successful entrepreneurs who started companies at similar events.


Kanwal Rekhi to Receive Melvin Calvin Medal of Distinction

A Michigan Tech alumnus with a long history of philanthropy and support of students will receive the University’s highest honor.

At its meeting, Friday, (Oct. 8), the Michigan Tech Board of Trustees approved awarding the Melvin Calvin Medal of Distinction to Kanwal Rekhi. The native of Punjab, in what was then British India (now Pakistan), earned a master’s in electrical engineering from Michigan Tech in 1969. In the more than half a century since his time on campus, MTU has never been far from Rekhi’s thoughts … and generosity.

After leaving Michigan Tech, Rekhi worked as an engineer and manager before becoming an entrepreneur. In 1982, he co-founded Excelan a company that made Ethernet cards to connect PCs to the fledgling Internet. Excelean became the first Indian-owned company to go public in the U.S.

In the early 90s, he became a venture capitalist investing in more than 50 startups and sitting on the board of directors of more than 20 companies.

In the past few decades, Rekhi has been a tireless supporter and benefactor to Michigan Tech. He developed and funded the Rekhi Innovation Challenge a crowdfunding competition to help promote and support student innovation. He provided major funding for the Silicon Valley Experience, an immersive tour during spring break of San Francisco area companies that includes meetings with entrepreneurs and Michigan Tech alumni, and is a sponsor of the 14 Floors Entrepreneur Alumni Mentoring Sessions.

“Kanwal and his accomplishments epitomize the values we share as an institution. His passion for Michigan Tech is unparalleled and he is most deserving of this award,” said Rick Koubek, President.

While the Melvin Calvin Medal of Distinction is Michigan Tech’s highest honor, it is far from the first recognition the University has given Rekhi. He has received the Distinguished Alumni Award, the Board of Control Silver Medal, an honorary Doctorate in Business and Engineering, and was inducted into the Electrical Engineering Academy.

Additionally, every student who has walked the Michigan Tech campus in the past 15 years has passed the Kanwal and Ann Rekhi Computer Science Hall, dedicated in April of 2005.

The Melvin Calvin Medal of Distinction is bestowed on individuals associated with the University who have exhibited especially distinguished professional and personal accomplishments. It is named for 1931 Michigan Tech alumnus Melvin Calvin, who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for unraveling the biochemical secrets of photosynthesis. The series of biochemical reactions Calvin identified is known as the Calvin Cycle.


SOSSEC / US Army ERDC Award to Study Adaptive AI

Dr. Timothy Havens, College of Computing, and Dr. Anthony Pinar, Electrical and Computer Engineering, have been awarded a two-year, $428,707 project by the SOSSEC Inc. / U.S. Army ERDC to investigate “Modeling and Algorithm Development for Adaptive Adversarial AI for Complex Autonomy.”

The project will study how autonomous systems operate in complex and unstructured environments, focusing on sensing, processing, and decision-making capabilities.

Havens and Pinar are members of the Institute of Computing and Cybersystem’s Center for Data Sciences.

Tim Havens is associate dean for research, College of Computing, the William and Gloria Jackson Associate Professor of Computer Systems, and director of the Institute of Computing and Cybersystems.

Tony Pinar is a lecturer and senior design coordinator in the Electrical and Computer Engineering department.

The SOSSEC Consortium was specifically formed to address the needs of the Department of Defense (DoD). It was founded on a simple concept: that collaboration, innovation, and cooperation among a broad spectrum of industry, academia and non-profit entities vastly improves the products and services delivered to its clients, according to the organization’s website.

The mission of the US Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC), an integral component of the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, is to help solve the nation’s most challenging problems in civil and military engineering, geospatial sciences, water resources, and environmental sciences for the benefit of the Army, the Department of Defense, civilian agencies, and the public good, according to the organizations’s website.

The Institute of Computing and Cyberersystems (ICC) promotes collaborative, cross-disciplinary research and learning experiences through six research centers in the areas of computing education, cyber-physical systems, cybersecurity, data sciences, human-centered computing, and scalable architectures and systems, for the benefit of Michigan Technological University and society at large.

The ICC’s 55 members represent more than 20 academic disciplines at Michigan Tech. Member scientists are collaborating to conduct impactful research, make valuable contributions in the field of computing, and solve problems of critical national importance.

ICC’s Center for Data Sciences (DataS) focuses on the research of data sciences education, algorithms, mathematics, and applications. DataS fosters interdisciplinary collaborations by bringing together diverse faculty and students from varied disciplines to discover new knowledge and exciting research opportunities in the field of data sciences.


$243K DURIP Award will Multiply Michigan Tech Research Capabilities

Dr. Timothy Havens (ICC), Dr. Andrew Barnard (GLRC), Dr. Guy Meadows (GLRC), and Dr. Gowtham (IT/ECE) have been awarded an Office of Naval Research DURIP grant titled, “Acoustic Sensing System and High-Throughput Computing Environment and Threat Monitoring in Naval Environments Using Machine Learning.”

The $243,169 award will fund procurement of new high throughput computing and underwater acoustic sensing systems for use by researchers at Michigan Tech.

The Defense University Research Instrumentation Program (DURIP) supports universities through awards meant to build the infrastructures necessary for relevant, high-quality Navy research.

We believe that these resources will considerably multiply our capability and productivity in assisting the U.S. Navy, and DoD at large, to move forward on numerous fronts. We have excellent resources, but lack some infrastructure capabilities to make a leap in theory and applications.

Timothy Havens, Director, Institute of Computing and Cybersystems

Havens says that the award supports two active U.S. Navy projects in particular, “ONR Graduate Traineeship Award: Multi-Modal, Near-Shore, Ice-Covered Arctic Acoustic Propagation Measurements and Analysis (ONR #N00014-18-1-2592)” and “Localization, Tracking, and Classification of On-Ice and Underwater Noise Sources Using Machine Learning (US NSWC #N00174-19-1-0004).”

“With this new equipment we can begin to conduct more detailed, realistic, and repeatable sensor/target experiments, and facilitate expansion of current research into related areas of interest to the DoD, such as deep learning with digital phased arrays and persistent, distributed sensing with sensor arrays,” Havens notes.

“The equipment will significantly enhance Michigan Tech capabilities for six other Department of Defense (DoD)-funded projects as well, including NGA, SPAWAR, and DARPA awards,” he adds.

Finally, through graduate student participation in the research, and collaboration with the undergraduate SENSE Enterprise at Michigan Tech (Strategic Education through Naval Systems Experiences), the equipment will augment Navy STEM education and future workforce development.

Tim Havens is associate dean for research, College of Computing, the William and Gloria Jackson Associate Professor of Computer Systems, and director of the Institute of Computing and Cybersystems.

Andrew Barnard is director of the Great Lakes Research Center,
associate professor, Mechanical Engineering—Engineering Mechanic, and Faculty advisor to the undergraduate SENSE Enterprise.

Guy Meadows is director of the Marine Engineering Laboratory, the Robbins Professor of Sustainable Marine Engineering, and a research professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics.

Gowtham is director of research computing for Michigan Tech’s Information Technology department; an adjunct assistant professor, Physics; a research associate professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering; and an NSF XSEDE Campus Champion.

The Institute of Computing and Cyberersystems (ICC) promotes collaborative, cross-disciplinary research and learning experiences through six research centers in the areas of computing education, cyber-physical systems, cybersecurity, data sciences, human-centered computing, and scalable architectures and systems, for the benefit of Michigan Technological University and society at large.

The ICC’s 55 members represent more than 20 academic disciplines at Michigan Tech. Member scientists are collaborating to conduct impactful research, make valuable contributions in the field of computing, and solve problems of critical national importance.

The Great Lakes Research Center (GLRC) provides state-of-the-art laboratories to support research on a broad array of topics. Faculty members from many departments across Michigan Technological University’s campus collaborate on interdisciplinary research, ranging from air–water interactions to biogeochemistry to food web relationships.

One of the GLRC’s most important functions is to educate the scientists, engineers, technologists, policymakers, and stakeholders of tomorrow about the Great Lakes basin. The Center for Science and Environmental Outreach provides K–12 student, teacher, and community education/outreach programs, taking advantage of the Center’s many teaching labs.

The GLRC also contains a lake-level marine facility and convenient deep-water docking, providing a year-round home for Michigan Tech’s surface and sub-surface fleet of marine vehicles.



Signature Research, Michigan Tech win $1 Million NGA Research Award

Signature Research Inc. has partnered with Michigan Technological University to accomplish a Phase II STTR project sponsored by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. The two-year, $1 Million project is titled, “Algorithms for Look-Down Infrared Target Exploitation-Phase II.” Michigan Tech’s portion of the $1 million contract is $400K.


Principal investigator of the project is Dr. Timothy Havens, director of the Institute of Computing and Cyberystems (ICC) and associate dean of research for the College of Computing. Havens is joined by Signature Research, Inc. (SGR) Program Manager Matt Blanck, who will lead the SGR side of the project.

At Tech, Havens will be assisted in accomplishing the goals of this project by Research Scientist Adam Webb of the Michigan Tech Research Institute (MTRI) and Nicholas Hamilton, a Computer Science Ph.D. candidate.

“This project will identify physics-based novel signatures and data processing techniques to exploit overhead infrared (IR) imagery using machine learning algorithms.”

“The SGR/MTU Team will generate, collect, and label a wide body of data, implement learning algorithms, develop use cases and tests on those data, and perform a comprehensive study to determine ways in which learning algorithms can automate IR imagery recognition tasks.”

Dr. Timothy Havens

And while this effort is focused on overhead IR imagery, Havens says the methods and software developed will have applicability to other sensing modalities, leading to investigations of multi-modal fusion of all-source data.


Signature Research, Inc. (SGR) solutions to DoD and Intelligence Community customers, and specializes in in Signature Phenomenology, Analysis, and Modeling of items of military interest covering the breadth of the electromagnetic spectrum.

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) is a combat support agency under the United States Department of Defense and a member of the United States Intelligence Community, with the primary mission of collecting, analyzing, and distributing geospatial intelligence in support of national security.

The Institute of Computing and Cybersystems (ICC) promotes research and learning experiences in the areas of cyber-physical systems, cybersecurity, data sciences, human-centered computing, and scalable architectures and systems for the benefit of Michigan Tech and society at large.

The Michigan Tech Research Institute (MTRI) is an innovator in building information from data through the marriage of phenomenological understanding and implementation of mathematically rigorous algorithms. Together with University and other national and international collaborators, MTRI researchers and scientists work to solve critical problems in national security, protecting and evaluating critical infrastructure, bioinformatics, Earth sciences, and environmental processes, according to their website.