Category: Awards

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.


Sergeyev, Students Earn ASEE Conference Awards

Professor Aleksandr Segeyev (DataS), Applied Computing, and a group of Michigan Tech students presented two papers at the 2020 American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) Gulf-Southwest Annual conference, which was conducted online April 23-24, 2020. Both papers received conference awards.

Faculty Paper Award

“Pioneering Approach for Offering the Convergence MS Degree in Mechatronics and Associate Graduate Certificate”
by Sergeyev, Professor and Associate Chair John Irwin (MMET), and Dean Adrienne Minerick (CC).

Student Paper Award

“Efficient Way of Converting outdated Allen Bradley PLC-5 System into Modern ControlLogix 5000 suit”, by Spencer Thompson (pictured), Larry Stambeck, Andy Posa, Sergeyev, and Lecturer Paniz Hazaveh, Applied Computing.

Sergeyev is director of the Michigan Tech Mechatronics Graduate Program and FANUC Certified Industrial Robotics Training Center.

Founded in 1893, the American Society for Engineering Education is a nonprofit organization of individuals and institutions committed to furthering education in engineering and engineering technology.


ICC, ME-EM’s Bo Chen Named ASME Fellow

Bo Chen, the Michigan Tech Dave House Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Electrical Engineering, has received the designation of Fellow from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME).

The Fellow level of membership is conferred to worthy candidates by the ASME Committee of Past Presidents to recognize their outstanding engineering achievements.

Nominated by ASME Members and Fellows, an ASME Member nominee must have 10 or more years of active practice, and at least 10 years of active corporate membership in ASME.

Chen is the director of Michigan Tech’s Intelligent Mechatronics and Embedded Systems (IMES) Laboratory. She has a dual faculty appointment in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Visit Chen’s faculty webpage here.

A member of the Institute of Computing and Cybersystems (ICC)’s Center for Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS), Bo Chen conducts interdisciplinary research in the areas of mechatronics and embedded systems, agent technology, connected and autonomous vehicles, electric vehicle-smart grid integration, cyber-physical systems and automation.

William Predebon, chair of the the Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics said, “Dr. Chen has made major contributions in her field of embedded systems with application to hybrid-electric and electric autonomous systems. Her course in Model-based Embedded Control System Design is regularly in high demand by not only ME students but also EE students. This is a testament to the importance of the topic and her teaching ability.”

ASME helps the global engineering community develop solutions to real world challenges. Founded in 1880 as the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, ASME is a not-for-profit professional organization that enables collaboration, knowledge sharing and skill development across all engineering disciplines, while promoting the vital role of the engineer in society. ASME codes and standards, publications, conferences, continuing education and professional development programs provide a foundation for advancing technical knowledge and a safer world.


ROTC Cybersecurity Training for Tomorrow’s Officers

The U.S. Department of Defense, Office of Naval Research, has awarded Michigan Tech faculty researchers a $249,000 grant that supports the creation of an ROTC undergraduate science and engineering research program at Michigan Tech. The primary goal of the program is to supply prepared cadets to all military branches to serve as officers in Cyber commands.

The principal investigator (PI) of the project is Andrew Barnard, Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics. Co-PIs are Timothy Havens, College of Computing; Laura Brown , Computer Science, and Yu Cai, Applied Computing. The title of the project is, “Defending the Nation’s Digital Frontier: Cybersecurity Training for Tomorrow’s Officers.”

The curriculum will be developed over the summer, and instruction associated with the award will begin in the fall 2020 semester. Cadets interested in joining the new program are urged to contact Andrew Barnard.

Initially, the program will focus on topics in cybersecurity, machine learning and artificial intelligence, data science, and remote sensing systems, all critical to the The Naval Science and Technology (S&T) Strategic Plan and the Navy’s Force of the Future, and with equal relevance in all branches of the armed forces.

The plan of work focuses on on engaging ROTC students in current and on-going Cyber research, and supports recruitment of young ROTC engineers and scientists to serve in Navy cybersecurity and cyber-systems commands. The program will compel cadets to seek positions within Cyber commands upon graduation, or pursue graduate research in Cyber fields.

“Our approach develops paid, research-based instruction for ROTC students through the existing Michigan Tech Strategic Education Naval Systems Experiences (SENSE) program,” said principal investigator Andrew Barnard, “ROTC students will receive one academic year of instruction in four Cyber domains: cybersecurity, machine learning and artificial intelligence (ML/AI), data science, and remote sensing systems.”

Barnard says the cohort-based program will enrich student learning through deep shared research experiences. He says the program will be designed with flexibility and agility in mind to quickly adapt to new and emerging Navy science and technology needs in the Cyber domain. 

Placement of officers in Cyber commands is of critical long-term importance to the Navy (and other DoD branches) in maintaining technological superiority, says the award abstract, noting that technological superiority directly influences the capability and safety of the warfighter.

Also closely involved in the project are Michigan Tech Air Force and Army ROTC officers Lt. Col. John O’Kane and LTC Christian Thompson, respectively.

“Unfortunately, many ROTC cadets are either unaware of Cyber related careers, or are unprepared for problems facing Cyber officers,” said Lt. Col. O’Kane. “This proposal aims to provide a steady flow of highly motivated and trained uniformed officers to the armed-services, capable of supporting the warfighter on day-one.”

Andrew Barnard is director of Michigan Tech’s Great Lakes Research Center, an associate professor of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics, and faculty advisor to the SENSE Enterprise.

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

Laura Brown is an associate professor, Computer Science, director of the Data Science graduate program, and a member of the ICC’s Center for Data Sciences.

Yu Cai is a professor of Applied Computing, an affiliated professor of Computational Science and Engineering, a member of the ICC’s Center for Cybersecurity, and faculty advisor for the Red Team, which competes in the National Cyber League (NCL).

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.

The Army and Air Force have active ROTC programs on Michigan Tech’s campus.

The Office of Naval Research (ONR) coordinates, executes, and promotes the science and technology programs of the United States Navy and Marine Corps.


Chee-Wooi Ten Awarded $25K Contract from Protect Our Power

Chee-Wooi Ten, associate professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering, and member of the ICC’s Center for Cyber-Physical Systems, was recently awarded a 6 month, $25K contract from the nonpartisan advisory panel, Protect Our Power. The title of the project is, “Consulting for Utilities on Cyber Risk Management.”

The activities Ten will undertake for the project include identifying security vendors for industrial harden security hardware and software, and conducting a survey of each of the identified security vendors to enumerate their strengths and weaknesses.

Ten will talk with vendors and utilities to understand their needs, identify product niches, and prepare a conclusion report that discusses the pros and cons of each vendor product and how each niche will contribute to general solutions for deploying security solutions for U.S. power utilities.

Project deliverables include a literature review, vendor discovery search, criteria identification and definition, comparative analysis matrix, and best practices conclusion paper.

Protect Our Power is a nonpartisan advisory panel with the single focus of strengthening the nation’s electrical power grid. The panel is composed of experts from industry, the physical and cyber defense communities, and finance and government. Its mission is to build consensus among key stakeholders and public policy influencers to launch a coordinated and adequately funded effort to make the nation’s electric grid and the country’s more than 3,000 utility companies prepared and protected against all cyberthreats.


Guy Hembroff Awarded CCISD Contract for CTE Cybersecurity Course

Guy Hembroff, associate professor, CMH Division, and director of the Health Informatics graduate program and the Institute of Computing and Cybersystem’s Center for Cybersecurity, is the principal investigator on a one-year project that has been awarded a $40,000 contract from the Copper Country Intermediate School District (CCISD). The project is titled “Cybersecurity Course for Career and Technical Education (CTE) Program.”

The CCISD CTE program provides courses and labs to high school-age students from Baraga, Houghton, and Keweenaw counties. It is intended to provide the academic background, technical ability, and work experience that today’s youth will need to succeed in today’s changing job market.

The contract funds instructor time, use of facilities, labs, and equipment, and materials and supplies. Student enrolled in the program meet on Michigan Tech’s campus for two hours per day, Monday through Friday, from September to May. 

The CTE Cybersecurity course covers topics including security architecture, cryptographic systems, security protocols, and security management tools. Students also learn about virus and worm propagation, malicious software scanning, cryptographic tools, intrusion detection, DoS, firewalls, best practices, and policy management.

Learn more about the CCISD CTE program at: https://www.copperisd.org/career-technical-education.


Tim Havens Receives $120K Award from Signature Research, Inc.

Timothy Havens

Tim Havens, College of Computing associate dean for research, has been awarded an 18-month, $120,000 grant by Signature Research, Inc. The project, “Machine Learning for Human-Based Visual Detection Metrics,” contributes to an effort to develop a methodology that predicts the impact to human vision due to the existence of atmospheric particles. Havens is also the director of the Institute of Computing and Cybersystems and the William and Gloria Jackson Associate Professor of Computer Systems.

Abstract: This project contributes to an effort to develop a methodology that predicts the impact to human vision due to the existence of atmospheric particles. Due to the variability of atmospheric conditions and particulate matter (dust, ice, etc.) extensive field test campaigns to characterize the impacts to human vision are impractical. As a result, a model-based approach must be developed in order to evaluate all possible conditions in a virtual environment. It is envisioned that this approach will incorporate both human in-the-loop evaluations as well as generation of machine learning algorithms to serve as an in-situ human observer.

Signature Research, Inc. provides solutions to DoD and the Intelligence Community, specializing in Signature Phenomenology, Analysis, and Modeling of items of military interest covering the breadth of the electromagnetic spectrum. Signature Research, Inc. engineers and scientists have developed methodologies, tools and products to help visualize and interpret electromagnetic signatures, and Signature Research, Inc. staff are recognized experts within the various communities in which they work. SGR’s corporate headquarters is located in Calumet, Michigan, with a second operating location in Navarre, Florida near Eglin Air Force Base and Hurlburt Field. http://signatureresearchinc.com


Congratulations, RedTeam@MTU!

National Cyber League Logo

RedTeam@MTU, one of Michigan Tech’s National Cyber League (NCL) teams, placed 8th out of 689 teams in the recent NCL Fall 2019 cyber competition team game. The team consists of seven College of Computing undergraduate and graduate students: Alexander Larkin, John Claassen, Jack Bergman, Jon Preuth, Trevor Hornsby, Shane Hoppe, and Matthew Chau. In addition, two RedTeam@MTU team members ranked in the top 100 out of 4149 players in the individual game: John Claassen (67th) and Alex Larkin (70th).

“This is a breakthrough since first joining the NCL competition in Fall 2017,” said faculty coach Bo Chen, assistant professor of computer science. “Congratulations to the RedTeam and John Claasen and Alex Larkin!”

Three teams and 21 players from Michigan Tech were involved this season, most of them with the RedTeam@MTU, a student organization which exists to promote a security-driven mindset among the student population, and to provide a community and resource for those wishing to learn more about information security.  The RedTeam is co-advised by Bo Chen and Yu Cai, professor in the College of Computing.

Students from hundreds of U.S. universities participated during the Fall 2019 NCL season, which comprised a week-long Preseason placement game, followed by a weekend Individual Game, and culminating in a weekend Team Game. A total of 689 teams and 4149 players  participated.

In addition, Michigan Tech ranks 11th among the top 100 colleges and universities in the “Team” Cyber Power Rankings, 51st in the Individual Rank, and 23rd in the Participation Rank. The Cyber Power Rankings were created by Cyber Skyline in partnership with the National Cyber League (NCL). The rankings represent the ability of students from these schools to perform real-world cybersecurity tasks on the Cyber Skyline platform, such as identify hackers from forensic data, pentest and audit vulnerable websites, recover from ransomware attacks, and more. Schools are ranked based on their top team performance, their top student’s individual performance, and the aggregate individual performance of their students. View the full ranking list at https://cyberskyline.com/data/power-ranking/fall-2019-national.

Founded in 2011 to provide an ongoing virtual training ground for participants to develop, practice, and validate their cybersecurity skills, the NCL is a defensive and offensive puzzle-based, capture-the-flag style cybersecurity competition. Its virtual training ground helps high school and college students prepare and test themselves against cybersecurity challenges that they will likely face in the workforce. All participants played the games simultaneously during all of the Fall season games.

The NCL challenges are based on the CompTIA Security+™ and EC-Council Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)™ performance-based exam objectives and include the following content: Open Source Intelligence, Scanning, Enumeration and Exploitation, Password Cracking, Traffic Analysis, Log Analysis, Wireless Security, Cryptography, and Web Application Security. Players of all levels can participate in the NCL games. Through easy, medium and hard challenges, students have multiple opportunities to excel.

Learn more about the NCL at: https://www.nationalcyberleague.org/.

Cyber Skyline Logo

Cyber Skyline is an immersive cloud platform on which to practice, develop, and measure technical cybersecurity skills. It is built for Incident Response Handlers, Security & Network Engineers, SOC Analysts, Software Engineers, Pentesters, and more. Visit the Cyber Skyline website at: https://cyberskyline.com.


Jinshan Tang Receives Research Excellence Fund Award

Jinshan Tang

The Vice President for Research Office recently announced the Fall 2019 Research Excellence Fund (REF) awards. The awardees included College of Computing Professor Jinshan Tang, a member of the ICC’s Center for Cyber-Physical Systems, who was awarded a Portage Health Foundation (PHF) Infrastructure Enhancement (IE) Grants for his proposal, “High Performance Graphics Processing Units.”

The REF Infrastructure Enhancement (REF-IE) grants are designed to provide resources to develop the infrastructure necessary to support sponsored research and graduate student education. Funded projects typically focus on acquisition of equipment, enhancement of laboratory facilities, or enhancement of administrative support structure to expand the research capability of the unit.

For additional information about the Research Excellence Funds, visit the REF website.