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    Snehamoy Chatterjee Awarded R and D Contract from US DHHS

    Dr. Snehamoy Chatterjee (GMES/ICC-DataS) is the principal investigator (PI) on a project that has received a $288,343 research and development contract from the Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

    The project is titled “Mine Health and Safety Big Data Analysis and Text Mining by Machine Learning Algorithms.”

    Aref Majdara (ECE/ICC) is a co-PI on this potential two-year project.


    Mechatronics Machining System Topic of New Video


    Michigan Tech Professor Alex Sergeyev and Chinmay Kondekar, ’21 (M.S. in ECE/Mechatronics) discuss the Mechatronics degree programs and Kondekar’s final system design project, in a new video produced by the Applied Computing department. Watch the video below.

    The system machines patterns on blocks of foam using various robotic attachments, a tricky manufacturing process to program and one of the more challenging applications for an industrial robot.

    The interconnected system is flexible, reconfigurable, and controlled from a central control interface to emulate a production process. Correct dimensions are assured using machine vision, and by transporting the workpiece between different stations.

    A number of industrial applications are employed by the system, and most industrial robotic work cells have similar control and communication layouts. Manufacturing system layouts like this one are commonly found in the automotive, pharmaceutical, and food industries. Other potential applications include use in data acquisition and analytics, cybersecurity, and future projects requiring interconnected systems.

    Read a blog article about Kondekar’s final master’s program project.

    Watch the video.

    Mechatronics at Michigan Tech

    Learn more about Mechatronics.


    Michigan Tech Joins PSERC

    By Kimberly Geiger, College of Engineering, June 8, 2021

    Michigan Technological University has joined the Power Systems Engineering Research Center (PSERC) — a collaboration of university and industry members.

    “We are very pleased to be members of PSERC, where our researchers can combine efforts with other members to creatively address key challenges in creating a modern electric energy infrastructure,” stated Janet Callahan, dean of Michigan Tech’s College of Engineering. “Michigan Tech will be the 13th university in the partnership, and will bring three new industry partners into PSERC,” she added.

    Those partners are DTE, Consumers Energy and Hubbell. The full list of member universities is available on the PSERC website.

    “The overall goal of joining PSERC is to catalyze transdisciplinary research by teaming up with other institutions and relevant industry partners for national grant competition,” said Chee-Wooi Ten, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at Michigan Tech. Ten will serve as Michigan Tech’s PSERC site director.

    Started as a National Science Foundation (NSF) Industry-University Cooperative Research Center (IUCRC), PSERC began in 1996 and was first led by Cornell professor Robert J. Thomas, and then Vijay Vittal of Arizona State University. Today PSERC is directed by Kory W. Hedman, professor of electrical and computer engineering at Arizona State University. 

    PSERC member expertise includes power systems, applied mathematics, complex systems, computing, control theory, power electronics, operations research, nonlinear systems, economics, industrial organization and public policy. 

    Michigan Tech brings much to the research collaborative, said Callahan, particularly in key areas of power systems engineering, social sciences and, most importantly, computing involved heavily in data science and cybersecurity. Cross-disciplinary interaction will be encouraged and expected, for example, with the University’s Department of Applied Computing where Ten holds an affiliated faculty position and where Hubbell is a member of the departmental industrial advisory board.

    Membership in PSERC will enable Michigan Tech to apply for seed grants together with other PSERC universities. Ten envisions Michigan Tech faculty members submitting seed grant proposals annually. “PSERC membership will enable Michigan Tech to go beyond its traditional research boundaries,” he said. “Historically, power area research at Michigan Tech focuses on the metering of electrical loads met by generation. We’ll see more opportunities that involve the intersection of new cross-disciplinary areas.”

    PSERC grants can also fund graduate student research, noted Callahan. “Any faculty member at Michigan Tech can submit proposals, but this is especially good news for assistant professors and other new faculty members seeking to establish a research program,” she said. “This aligns with our institutional Tech Forward initiatives and University vision to grow to 10,000 students, especially our graduate student population.”

    Members of PSERC typically meet in person three times per year with the PSERC  Industrial Advisory Board (IAB). This meeting provides a regular opportunity to build new and productive partnerships among faculty and students from other PSERC universities as well as with industrial partners.

    “These meetings are unparalleled, a regular opportunity to meet and mingle with energy researchers from other PSERC institutions. We’ll be able to brainstorm and discuss possible collaborations,” said Ten. “I am also very pleased to work with Kory Hedman, the new director of PSERC.”

    “While we are now part of the PSERC ecosystem that allows us to submit proposals, the work has only just begun,” Ten concluded. “I am looking forward to working with our PSERC members and creating value with Michigan Tech’s research strengths.”

    View the original article here.

    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.


    Mechatronics Master of Science, Class of ‘21


    The Michigan Tech Master of Science in Mechatronics, launched in 2019, has congratulated its first graduates this spring: Chinmay Kondekar (EE), Chukwuemeka George Ochieze, and Ahmat Oumar. Read their stories below.


    Ahmat Oumar


    Ahmat Oumar was very interested in finding an engineering discipline combining the new engineering principles of the age of automation.

    “I was looking for a discipline that will combine principles in electrical engineering, mechanical engineering and computer science,” he explains. “And the College of Computing Mechatronics program has been the right answer.”

    “Michigan Tech Mechatronics has been a great learning experience for me,” Oumar says. “The frequent lab practices to apply the principles learned in class especially enhanced my learning. This will make it easier to make a smooth transition into industry.”

    Oumar also credits his professors as instrumental in his success. “They make themselves available to students, not only in teaching and guiding, but also through mentoring.”


    Chukwuemeka George Ochieze


    Chukwuemeka George Ochieze—now enrolled in a Ph.D. program at Michigan Tech—checked out the College of Computing Mechatronics master of science program a few years ago.

    He was intrigued by the equipment available to students and the many research projects that could be accomplished within the program. Both aligned perfectly with his interests. And he regards the location of Michigan Tech and the region’s weather conditions as a good atmosphere for study.

    “Mechatronics is important in this century because every system consists of different subsystems that require a particular mechatronics application,” says Ochieze. “For example, people who work on fluid power systems should understand automation and controls.”

    Ochieze says that working with faculty and researchers in the various fields of mechatronics helped him to think differently with respect to the subject of application.

    “I pursued so many projects while here on campus,” he adds. “My work with wearable devices shaped my interests and allowed me to apply what I’ve learned so far in the Mechatronics program. His current focus is on the robotics field, which Ochieze says stems from his exposure to robotics and programming in the Mechatronics M.S. program.

    Ochieze was a mechatronics instructor in the 2020-21 academic year for the Career Technical Education (CTE) program in Mechatronics, recently launched by Michigan Tech and the Copper Country Intermediate School District (CCISD). The 12-month Career CTE program is for high school juniors or seniors. Read the story.

    And Ochieze tried many indoor and outdoor events that includes, “skiing, indoor and outdoor soccer, skating, tubing, winter carnivals, career fairs, late nights in the library trying to figure out projects, passport to the world, to mention but a few.”

    “Personally, I think the best memories I have was the career fairs events, having the opportunity to exchange information with people who have similar interests and also sharing your thoughts to people who have worked for a long time in the industry,” Ochieze says.

    Chinmay Kondekar


    Read Chinmay Kondekar’s story.

    Graduate student Chinmay Kondekar heard about Michigan Tech during his undergraduate studies. Sometime later he read a social media post about work opportunities in the robotic and automation labs, and Michigan Tech again came to his attention.

    “At that time, I was working as a controls engineer in India,” he says. “Robotics and automation interest me, and when I saw who had written the post (a former graduate student of Sergeyev’s), I knew I had found the perfect degree program.”

    Kondekar’s final design project was to create an interconnected system that is flexible, reconfigurable, and controlled from a central control interface to emulate a production process. The system is used to machine different patterns on a block of foam.

    “I enjoy solving problems and coming up with a solution to make things work,” he shares. “When starting the [final] project, I had a lot of unknown variables but I knew how to approach them and, eventually, I came up with solutions and made the system work. It’s highly rewarding to watch the finished system come together, and then to see it work automatically after pressing just three buttons.”

    Kondekar’s project would not have been possible without generous support from Mr. Mark Gauthier and his team at Donald Engineering. “Mark has helped the department acquire the best industry-grade hardware, and his expertise in pneumatics helped the project concept become reality,” Kondekar says.

    Kondekar says he has enjoyed his learning and life experiences at Michigan Tech. Plus, he loves the outdoors. “I am an outdoors guy and I love the UP, especially the summers. It’s full of good people and great beer!”


    Driving in the Snow is a Team Effort for AI Sensors

    by Allison Mills, University Marketing and Communications

    A major challenge for fully autonomous vehicles is navigating bad weather. Snow especially confounds crucial sensor data that helps a vehicle gauge depth, find obstacles and keep on the correct side of the yellow line, assuming it is visible. Averaging more than 200 inches of snow every winter, Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula is the perfect place to push autonomous vehicle tech to its limits.

    In two papers presented at SPIE Defense + Commercial Sensing 2021, researchers from Michigan Technological University discuss solutions for snowy driving scenarios that could help bring self-driving options to snowy cities like Chicago, Detroit, Minneapolis and Toronto.

    The team includes Nathir Rawashdeh and doctoral student Abu-Alrub (CC) as well as Jeremy Bos and student researchers Akhil Kurup, Derek Chopp and Zach Jeffries (ECE).

    Read more about their collaborative mobility research on mtu.edu/news.

    This MTU news story was published by Science DailyTechXploreKnowridge Science Report and other research news aggregators.


    Dr. Ali Yekkehkhany to Present Talk May 6


    Dr. Ali Yekkehkhany, a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California, Berkeley, will present a talk on Thursday, May 6, 2021, at 3:00 p.m.

    He will discuss adversarial attacks on the computation of reinforcement learning and risk-aversion in games and online learning.

    Dr. Yekkehkhany’s research interests include machine/reinforcement learning, queueing theory, applied probability theory and stochastic processes.

    Join the virtual talk here.

    Talk Title

    Adversarial Reinforcement Learning, Risk-Averse Game Theory and Online Learning with Applications to Autonomous Vehicles and Financial Investments

    Talk Abstract

    In this talk, we discuss:

    • a) Adversarial attacks on the computation of reinforcement learning: The emergence of cloud, edge, and fog computing has incentivized agents to offload the large-scale computation of reinforcement learning models to distributed servers, giving rise to edge reinforcement learning (RL). By the inherently distributed nature of edge RL, the swift shift to this technology brings a host of new adversarial attack challenges that can be catastrophic in safety-critical applications. A natural malevolent attack could be to contaminate the RL computation such that the contraction property of the Bellman operator is undermined in the value/policy iteration methods. This can result in luring the agent to search among suboptimal policies without improving the true values of policies. We prove that under certain conditions, the attacked value/policy iteration methods converge to the vicinity of the optimal policy with high probability if the number of value/policy evaluation iterations is larger than a threshold that is logarithmic in the inverse of a desired precision.
    • b) Risk-aversion in games and online learning: The fast-growing market of autonomous vehicles, unmanned aerial vehicles, and fleets in general necessitates the design of smart and automatic navigation systems considering the stochastic latency along different paths in a traffic network. To our knowledge, the existing navigation systems including Google Maps, Waze, MapQuest, Scout GPS, Apple Maps, and others are based on minimizing the expected travel time, ignoring the path delay uncertainty. To put the travel time uncertainty into perspective, we model the decision making of risk-averse travelers in a traffic network by an atomic stochastic congestion game and propose three classes of risk-averse equilibria. We show that the Braess paradox may not occur to the extent presented originally and the price of anarchy can be improved, benefiting the society, when players travel according to risk-averse equilibria rather than the Wardrop/Nash equilibrium. Furthermore, we extend the idea of risk-aversion to online learning; in particular, risk-averse explore-then-commit multi-armed-bandits. We use data from the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) to show that the classical mean-variance and conditional value at risk approaches can come short in addressing risk-aversion for financial investments. We introduce new venues to study risk-aversion by taking the probability distributions into account rather than the summarized statistics of distributions.

    Biography

    Ali Yekkehkhany is a postdoctoral scholar with the Department of Industrial Engineering and Operations Research, University of California, Berkeley. He received his PhD and MSc degrees in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) in 2020 and 2017, respectively, and BSc degree in Electrical Engineering from Sharif University of Technology in 2014.

    He is the recipient of the “best poster award in recognition of high-quality research, professional poster, and outstanding presentation” in the 15th CSL Student Conference, 2020, and the “Harold L. Olesen award for excellence in undergraduate teaching by graduate students” in the 2019-2020 academic year at UIUC. He was chosen as “teachers ranked as excellent” twice and “teachers ranked as excellent and outstanding” twice at UIUC.

    His research interests include machine/reinforcement learning, queueing theory, applied probability theory and stochastic processes.