Category: College of Computing

“It’s Working!” — CCISD, Michigan Tech Launch New CTE Program in Mechatronics

Michigan Tech recently launched a year-long Career and Technical Education (CTE) program for high school juniors or seniors in the area of Mechatronics. The new CTE Mechatronics program is offered through a partnership between Michigan Tech and the Copper Country Intermediate School District (CCISD). 

Teaming up to deliver the instruction are faculty in the Mechatronics, Electrical and Robotics Engineering Technology (MERET) program in the College of Computing, and faculty in the Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering Technology (MMET) Department in the College of Engineering

Michigan Tech faculty administering the CTE program include Prof. John Irwin, Chair of the Department of Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering Technology, or Prof. Alex Sergeyev in the College of Computing. 

“Students in the program will find careers in smart manufacturing fields, or they can find a pathway at Michigan Tech into undergraduate or graduate degrees in Engineering Technology, Engineering, or Mechatronics.” says Irwin.

There are 10 students enrolled this fall 2020 from the local area school districts of Houghton, Hancock, Calumet, and L’Anse. CTE Director Shawn Kolbus expects the program to only increase in popularity. “Local business owners approached us last year wanting to get more students from the area interested in Mechatronics, CADD and Engineering,” he says. “The result was the Mechatronics program which encompasses standards from each area.” 

The course is taught by two mechatronics professionals who possess both industry and teaching experience. One of those instructors is George Ochieze, who is pursuing a master’s degree in Mechatronics and a PhD in Mechanical Engineering at Michigan Tech. “Even in difficult times during the pandemic, these young scholars show overwhelming potential to conquer the mechatronics field—a glimpse into a welcoming future in engineering,” says Ochieze.

The second instructor, Chinmay Kondekar, will earn an MS in Electrical Engineering at Michigan Tech in 2021. “Teaching for local schools is an opportunity for me to give back to people in the community who welcomed me as an international student,” says Kondekar. “I hope to create a strong interest in robotics and automation in my students. People with these skills will be the future of manufacturing and will have plenty of opportunities.”

Program enrollment is closed for 2020, but will be available again starting in fall 2021. This spring there will be the opportunity for area sophomore and junior students to visit Michigan Tech to tour the labs and meet the instructors. Both the Applied Computing and MMET department labs used at Michigan Tech are equipped with state-of-the-art electronics and mechanical systems partially provided through generous startup funding from the CCISD.

Mechatronics uses electromechanical systems, typically automated for the design of products and processes. Industry 4.0—sometimes called the “fourth industrial revolution”—applies various aspects of mechatronics to manufacturing enterprises. Topics in the CTE Mechatronics program include; automation, computer integrated manufacturing, high speed manufacturing, embedded systems design and controls, industrial robotics, pneumatics, hydraulics, and computer-aided design. 

For more information please contact Shawn Kolbus, Director, Career and Technical Education, Copper Country Intermediate School District (906) 250-5353. 

Tim Havens: Warm and Fuzzy Machine Learning

What are you doing for supper this Monday night at 6? Grab a bite with Dean Janet Callahan and Associate Professor Tim Havens, director of the Michigan Tech’s Institute of Computing and Cybersystems and associate dean for research in the College of Computing. Get the full scoop and register at mtu.edu/huskybites.

“Nearly everyone has heard the term ‘Deep Learning’ at this point, whether to describe the latest artificial intelligence feat like AlphaGo, autonomous cars, facial recognition, or numerous other latest-and-greatest gadgets and gizmos,” says Havens. “But what is Deep Learning? How does it work? What can it really do—and how are Michigan Tech students advancing the state-of-the-art?”

In this session of Husky Bites, Prof. Havens will talk about everyday uses of machine learning—including the machine learning research going on in his lab: explosive hazards detection, under-ice acoustics detection and classification, social network analysis, connected vehicle distributed sensing, and other stuff.

Joining in will be one of Havens’ former students, Hanieh Deilamsalehy, who earned her PhD in electrical engineering at Michigan Tech. She’s now a machine learning researcher at Adobe. Dr. Deilamsalehy graduated from Michigan Tech in 2017 and headed to Palo Alto to work for Ford as an autonomous vehicle researcher. She left the Bay Area for Seattle to take a job at Microsoft, first as a software engineer, and then as a machine learning scientist. In April she accepted a new machine learning position at Adobe, “in the middle of the pandemic!”

Havens is a Michigan Tech alum, too. He earned his BS in ‘99 and MS in Electrical Engineering in ‘00, then went to the MIT Lincoln Laboratory, where he worked on simulation and modeling of the Airborne Laser System, among other defense-related projects. From there it was the University of Missouri for a PhD in Electrical and Computer Engineering, researching machine learning in ontologies and relational data.

Nowadays, Havens is the William and Gloria Jackson Associate Professor and Associate Dean for Research in the College of Computing. In addition to serving as director of Michigan Tech’s ICC, he also heads up the ICC Center for Data Sciences and runs his own PRIME Lab, too (short for Pattern Recognition and Intelligent Machines Engineering).

“An important goal for many mobile platforms—terrestrial, aquatic, or airborne—is reliable, accurate, and on-time sensing of the world around them.”Tim Havens

Havens has spent the past 12 years developing methods to find explosive hazards, working with the US Army and a research team in his lab. According to a United Nations report, more than 10,000 civilians were killed or injured in armed conflict in Afghanistan in 2019, with improvised explosive devices used in 42 percent of the casualties. Havens is working to help reduce the numbers.

“Our algorithms detect and locate explosive hazards using two different systems: a vehicle-mounted multi-band ground-penetrating radar system and a handheld multimodal sensor system,” Havens explains. “Each of these systems employs multiple sensors, including different frequencies of ground penetrating radar, magnetometers and visible-spectrum cameras. We’ve created methods of integrating the sensor information to automatically find the explosive hazards.” 

As a PhD student at Michigan Tech, Deilamsalehy worked alongside Havens as a research assistant in the ECE department’s Intelligent Robotics Lab (IRLab). “My research was focused on sensor fusion, machine learning and computer vision, fusing the data from IMU, LiDAR, and a vision camera for 3D localization and mapping purposes,” she says. “I used data from a sensor platform in the IRLab, mounted on an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), to evaluate my proposed fusion algorithm.”

Havens is also co-advisor to students in the SENSE (Strategic Education through Naval Systems Experience) Enterprise team at Michigan Tech, along with ME-EM Professor Andrew Barnard. Students in SENSE design, build, and test engineering systems in all domains: space, air, land, sea, and undersea. Like all Enterprise teams, SENSE is open to students in any major. 

Prof. Havens, when did you first get into engineering? What sparked your interest?

I first became an engineer at Michigan Tech in the late 90s. What really sparked my interest in what-I-do-now was my introductory signal processing courses. The material in these courses was the first stuff that really ‘spoke’ to me. I have always been a serious musician and the mathematics of waves and filters was so intuitive because of my music knowledge. I loved that this field of study joined together the two things that I really loved: music and math. And I’ve always been a computer geek. I was doing programming work in high school to make extra money; so that side of me has always led me to want to solve problems with computers.

Hometown, Hobbies, Family?

I grew up in Traverse City, Michigan, and came to Tech as a student in the late 90s. I’ve always wanted to come back to the Copper Country; so, it’s great that I was able to return to the institution that gave me the jump start in my career. I live (and currently work from home) in Hancock with my partner, Dr. Stephanie Carpenter (an author and MTU professor), and our two fur children, Rick Slade, the cutest ginger in the entire world, and Jaco, the smartest cat in the entire world. I have a grown son, Sage, who enjoys a fast-paced life in Traverse City. Steph and I enjoy exploring the greater Keweenaw and long discussions about reality television, and I enjoy playing music with all the local talent, fishing (though catching is a challenge), and gradually working through the lumber pile in my garage.

Dr. Deilamsalehy, how did you find engineering? What sparked your interest?

I was born and raised in Tehran, Iran. I have always been into robotics. I was a member of our robotics team in high school and that led me to engineering. I decided to apply to Michigan Tech sort of by chance when a friend of mine told me about it. I looked at the programs in the ECE department, and felt they aligned with my interests. Then soon after I first learned about Michigan Tech, I found out that one of my undergraduate classmates went there. I talked to him, and he also encouraged me to apply. And that’s how I was able to join Michigan Tech for my PhD program. My degree is in electrical engineering but my focus at Michigan Tech involved computer science and designing Machine Learning solutions.

Hobbies and Interests?

I now live in Seattle, famous for outdoor activities—kind of like the UP, but without the cold—so I do lots of mountaineering, biking, rock climbing, and in the winter, skiing. I learned how to ski at Michigan Tech, up on Mont Ripley. It’s steep, and it’s cold! Once you learn skiing on Ripley, you’re good. You can ski just about anywhere.
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NSF Research to Study Household Dynamics in Pandemic

David Watkins (CEE/SFI) is the principal investigator on a project that has received a $190,764 research and development grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The project is titled “RAPID: COVID-19, Consumption, and Multi-dimensional Analysis of Risk (C-CAR)“. Chelsea Schelly (SS/SFI), Robert Handler (ChE/SFI) and Charles Wallace (CS/SFI) are co-PIs on this one-year project.

Extract

The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed household dynamics and dramatically changed food, energy, and water consumption within the home. Stay-at-home orders and social distancing has caused U.S. households to shift to working and schooling from home, curtail outside activities, and stop eating in restaurants. Furthermore, as many households face job loss and increasing home utility and grocery bills, U.S. residents are experiencing the economic impacts of the crisis, while at the same time assessing and responding to health risks. The project team has a unique opportunity to study these shifting household consumption and behavioral responses and quantify the associated economic and environmental impacts. The team will collect household food, energy, and water consumption data as well as survey response data from 180 participating households in one Midwestern county and compare it to data collected before the stay-at-home orders were put in place.

Read more at the National Science Foundation.

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, 2020), 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.

College of Computing Welcomes Six New Faculty Members

The Michigan Tech College of Computing welcomed six new faculty members this fall to the Departments of Applied Computing and Computer Science.

College off Computing Dean Adrienne Minerick says the new hires reflect the fast growth of the new College, which was launched July 1, 2019.

“We are thrilled to welcome these six talented new faculty members,” Minerick says. “Even amid the challenges we are all facing, our proactive recruitment and retention activities are making a difference.”

Assistant Professor Briana Bettin, Computer Science, has a Ph.D. in computer science from Michigan Tech. She is also an affiliated assistant professor for the Cognitive and Learning Sciences department. Bettin’s research interests include user experience; human factors; human-computer interactions; mental models; information representation; rural digital literacy; education, engagement, and retention; and digital anthropology. Bettin is a member of the ICC’s Computing Education Center.

Assistant Professor Sidike Paheding, Applied Computing, has a Ph.D. in eelectrical engineering from University of Dayton, Ohio. Prior to joining Michigan Tech Paheding was a visiting assistant professor at Purdue University Northwest. His research interests include image/video processing, machine learning, deep learning, computer vision, and remote sensing. Paheding is a member of the ICC’s Center for Data Sciences.

Assistant Professor Junqiao Qiu, Computer Science, has a Ph.D. in computer science and engineering from University of California Riverside. His research focuses on parallel computing, programming systems, and compiler optimization. Qiu is a member of the ICC’s Center for Scalable Architectures and Systems.

Assistant Professor Ashraf Saleem, Applied Computing, has a Ph.D. in mechatronics engineering from DeMontfort University, UK. He comes to Michigan Tech from the electrical and computer engineering department at Sultan Qaboos University, where he served the mechatronics engineering program. Ashraf will be on campus starting in the spring 2021 semester.

Saleem’s research interests are in autonomous systems, vision-based unmanned vehicles, Artificial Intelligence, control of Piezoelectric actuator, and servo-pneumatic systems.

Assistant Professor Leo Ureel, Computer Science, has a Ph.D. in computer science from Michigan Tech. He has been teaching at the college level for 10 years, and has over 20 years of industry experience. Ureel is also coordinator of the College of Computing Learning Center. Ureel is a member of the ICC’s Computing Education Center.

Ureel’s research focuses on a constructionist approach to introductory computer science that leverages code critiquers to motivate students to learn computer programming. His areas of expertise include software engineering, computer science education, and intelligent tutoring systems.

Assistant Professor Brian Yuan, Applied Computing and Computer Science, has a Ph.D. in computer science from University of Florida. His areas of expertise include machine learning, security and privacy, and cloud computing. Yuan is a member of the ICC’s Center for Cybersecurity and Center for Data Sciences.

Paper by Yakov Nekrich Accepted for ACM-SIAM SODA21 Symposium

A paper by Associate Professor Yakov Nekrich, Computer Science, has been accepted for the 61st ACM-SIAM Symposium on Discrete Algorithms 2021 (SODA21), which will take place virtually January 10-13, 2021.

Nekrich is sole author of the accepted article, “New Data Structures for Orthogonal Range Reporting and Range Minima Queries.” An extended version of the paper is available for download on ArXiv.

The annual ACM-SIAM Symposium on Discrete Algorithms (SODA) is an academic conference in the fields of algorithm design and discrete mathematics. It is considered among the top conferences for research in algorithms.


Paper Abstract

In this paper we present new data structures for two extensively studied variants of the orthogonal range searching problem.
First, we describe a data structure that supports two-dimensional orthogonal range minima queries in O(n) space and O(logεn) time, where n is the number of points in the data structure and ε is an arbitrarily small positive constant. Previously known linear-space solutions for this problem require O(log1+εn) (Chazelle, 1988) or O(lognloglogn) time (Farzan et al., 2012). A modification of our data structure uses space O(nloglogn) and supports range minima queries in time O(loglogn). Both results can be extended to support three-dimensional five-sided reporting queries.

Next, we turn to the four-dimensional orthogonal range reporting problem and present a data structure that answers queries in optimal O(logn/loglogn+k) time, where k is the number of points in the answer. This is the first data structure that achieves the optimal query time for this problem. Our results are obtained by exploiting the properties of three-dimensional shallow cuttings.


The Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) is an international community of 14,500+ individual members. Almost 500 academic, manufacturing, research and development, service and consulting organizations, government, and military organizations worldwide are institutional members.

Guy Hembroff Presents Invited Talk at Bahiana Medical School, Brazil

Associate Professor Guy Hembroff, director of Michigan Tech’s Health Informatics graduate program, presented an invited virtual talk to physicians, residents, and medical students at the Bahiana Medical School, Salvador, Brazil, on September 25, 2020.

Hembroff spoke about, “The Challenges and Opportunities of Artificial Intelligence in Disease Prevention and Monitoring.”

BAHIANA (Bahia School of Medicine and Public Health) is a private, nonprofit, educational, cultural, scientific and healthcare institution. Its main purpose is “teaching, research and the spread of knowledge and special services in the fields of health, science and culture in general.” Learn more here.

College of Computing, CNSA Program Focus of HostingAdvice Article

The College of Computing and the Institute of Computing and Cybersystems (ICC) are the subjects of an article published today (Sept. 2, 2020) on HostingAdvice.com, a website and blog that educates visitors to the site about the world of web hosting.

The article, for which College of Computing Dean Adrienne Minerick was interviewed, provides a close look at the new College, its well-established Computer Science and Software Engineering degree programs (B.S., M.S., and Ph.D.), new Cybersecurity and Mechatronics undergraduate programs, as well as faculty research and the ICC.

Special emphasis is placed on the Computer Network and Systems Administration undergraduate degree program, in which students prepare for careers as network and computer systems administrators, commonly referred to as a “sysadmins.”

Read the full article here.

“Our readers know that a lot goes into finding the best providers of shared, dedicated, and virtual private servers,” said Sean Garrity, managing editor at HostingAdvice.com. “The article provides information about how to prepare if you want to to break into the industry as a professional, not just a consumer.”

College of Computing Welcomes New Dean

Dennis Livesay will become dean of Michigan Technological University’s College of Computing on Feb. 1, 2021.

Livesay comes to Michigan Tech from Wichita State University (WSU), where he is dean of the College of Engineering and a full professor in both the Department of Chemistry and Department of Biomedical Engineering. Livesay replaces outgoing dean Adrienne Minerick.

“We are pleased to welcome Dr. Livesay to the University as our next dean of the College of Computing,” said Jacqueline Huntoon, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. “The combination of Dr. Livesay’s prior experiences and his vision for the future of the College of Computing make him ideally suited to strengthen the College going forward.” 

“Digital transformation is impacting every industry, including engineering and manufacturing,” said Livesay. “Computing, data, connectivity, and security are already the cornerstones of the modern economy. I look forward to working with everyone in the College of Computing, and across campus, to strengthen our efforts in these areas.”

Livesay noted that, while he has been happy in his role at WSU, he saw the opportunity to lead Michigan’s only college of computing as one he could not pass up. “I really see this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that — given MTU’s traditional established strength in engineering — aligns perfectly with my background,” he said. 

Livesay brings more than 20 years of experience in higher education to Michigan Tech. His career began in 2000 at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, where he was assistant and then associate professor of chemistry. From there, he continued on to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNCC), where he was a founding member of the Department of Bioinformatics and Genomics and developed two of UNCC’s most visible research programs: the bioinformatics and computational biology doctoral program and the Charlotte Research Scholars undergraduate research program.

In 2016, Livesay joined WSU as dean of the Graduate School and associate vice president of research and technology transfer before becoming dean of the College of Engineering in January 2019. Livesay’s research expertise is in the area of protein family sequence, structure and function relationships, with a particular focus on understanding how physical and chemical properties vary with evolutionary divergence. He has spent his career working across disciplinary boundaries and intends to prioritize interdisciplinary work in his role as College of Computing dean.

“The University was fortunate to attract a very strong pool of candidates during this search and I am confident that we have hired the person who will be best able to lead the College of Computing in the coming years,” said Huntoon. “I want to thank Dr. Adrienne Minerick for her tenacity and commitment to Michigan Tech. She provided outstanding leadership for the College from the day it came into existence. Because of her efforts, the College is well positioned to grow in the future.”

Born and raised in Columbus, Indiana, Livesay was a first-generation university student. He will be joined in Houghton by his wife, Lauren, and son, Maxwell. “My family and I are rabid hockey fans,” Livesay said, “and we will be huge supporters of Michigan Tech hockey. In fact, I already have an MTU jersey that I’ve started wearing during rec league.”

Michigan Technological University is a public research university, home to more than 7,000 students from 54 countries. Founded in 1885, the University offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, and social sciences. Our campus in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula overlooks the Keweenaw Waterway and is just a few miles from Lake Superior.

The article was originally published on November 6, 2020.