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    Human Factors Grad Student Wins Hackathon, Cites Pandemic for Opportunity

    One Michigan Tech graduate student found a silver lining of the pandemic-driven shift to remote study: the ability to gain experiences previously prevented by distance. And “gained experience” is an understatement, as Brooke Poyhonen recently was on the winning team in the Texas Health Care Challenge, an online hackathon that sought solutions to problems in health care.

    The winning project, from Team WatsonCares, focused on women’s postpartum health and proposed a suite of services for new mothers:

    • A natural-language chatbot, powered by IBM Watson’s AI, to answer patient questions about both mental and physical health
    • A community feature allowing postpartum women to support one another
    • Deep informational and support resources

    Poyhonen said the team came together because after hearing initial “problem pitches,” in which existing teams outline the projects they want to tackle, some were uninterested in the originally pitched ideas. So they created their own team. “Ideally, we want the chatbot to be personalized to the patient’s history,” she said. “And we wanted to create a safe space for women to talk to each other.”

    Poyhonen will complete her accelerated M.S. in applied cognitive science and human factors this spring. She earned a B.S. in psychology from Michigan Tech in 2020. Both degrees are offered by the Cognitive and Learning Sciences department in the University’s College of Sciences and Arts.

    The Texas challenge is normally on-site only, and she appreciated the chance to participate and urges other students to seek out similar opportunities. “It was great to meet people from around the country and work with a team on a real-world goal,” Poyhonen said. “It’s a great networking opportunity and gives me a concrete project to discuss in interviews. It was just so rewarding.”

    The team’s prize included $120,000 in credits toward IBM products and services, a smaller cash award, and temporary office space with a Dallas venture capital firm. Poyhonen is working with team members on the project as a start-up while also pursuing other opportunities.

    She got her first taste of hackathons over the winter in the Work Related Musculoskeletal Disorders Grand Challenge, run by the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography. The challenge was to help the up to 90% of sonographers who develop disorders such as occupational overuse syndrome. Her team, which included a sonography mentor, an engineering student and two sonography students, created the Air Buddy, a device to help sonographers apply pressure to a probe with reduced physical stress. Poyhonen’s team won first place after judges deliberated for an entire week after the month-long window for teams to work on the problem.

    Kelly Steelman, interim chair of the Cognitive and Learning Sciences Department, said hackathons are great supplements to classroom experiences. “I commend Brooke for taking the initiative to seek out design challenges as a way to build her portfolio of experiences and hone the skills she’s learned in our program,” Steelman said. “Brooke took advantage of opportunities through outside organizations, but we also offer hack-a-thons right here on campus.”

    She said Husky Innovate is currently planning their inaugural hack-a-thon as part of an initiative to grow the human-centered design community at Michigan Tech. For more information on this, contact Lisa Casper.

    Dr. Steelman is a member of the Human-Centered Computing research group of the Institute of Computing and Cybersystems (ICC).

    Michigan Tech’s graduate program in Applied Cognitive Science and Human Factors teaches students how to apply principles of psychology to the design and evaluation of human-technological systems. Steelman said Beth Veinott, director of the Center for Human-Centered Computing, frequently reinforces for students that, “If you get the psychology right first, you design the right system, it is easier to train, and people are more likely to adopt it.”


    PhD Defense: Jinxiang Liu, Monday, April 2, 1-3 pm

    PhD candidate Jinxiang Liu, Computer Science, will present his PhD Defense on Monday, April 12, 2021, from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m.

    The title of Liu’s dissertation is, “Prediction of Coincident Peak Days in Electricity System: A Case Study for Classification on Imbalanced Data.”

    Dissertation Abstract

    To guarantee sufficient electricity supply for its highest demands, many regional organizations surcharge their customers during coincident peaks (CPs), a time of highest demand across the system or region of interest. Therefore, the accurate prediction of these coincident peaks would be helpful not only for companies to ensure sufficient generation is available, but also for customers who may try to avoid electricity consumption and consequent additional cost.

    This dissertation focuses on the prediction of the top five coincident peak days (5CPs) in a year. We used classification models to solve this imbalanced prediction problem (around 1.3\% for positive cases) by classifying the next day as 5CP days or non-5CP days.

    We analyze six sets of actual historical data from different regions of Canada and the United States. We explore the effect of forecast accuracy on 5CP days prediction through four cases: I – knowing tomorrow’s power demand and weather condition exactly (an oracle), II & III – knowing some information about tomorrow (an oracle + increasing noise), and IV – no knowledge of future.

    We proposed a three-phase model to predict 5CP days: first, clustering is applied to filter some negative cases, second, an all convolutional neural network that estimates the probability of being a 5CP day for the remaining cases is learned, and third, an adaptive method is used determines thresholds.

    This three-phase model exhibits promising performances with the highest mean recall of 1.00, mean precision of 0.56, and mean F1 score of 0.72. Finally, we explored the use of a few-short learning framework to this problem. A triplet network is implemented for the 2-way-5-shot classifications. The prediction results have the highest mean recall of 1.00, mean precision of 0.67, and mean F1 score of 0.79.


    Register for Michigan Tech’s Design Expo, Thursday, April 15

    by Pavlis Honor College

    Now’s the time to register to attend Virtual Design Expo, the annual Enterprise and Senior Design project showcase at Michigan Tech.

    Once again, for the second time ever in its 21-year history, Design Expo will take place virtually. We’ve excitedly taken lessons learned from last year’s first virtual Expo and fused it with new ways of connecting to make the 2021 Design Expo more engaging and safe to attend in real-time!

    Design Expo puts our undergraduate student innovators and their corporate and community sponsors and faculty advisors front and center.

    Every year, teams showcase their solutions to complex, real-world and life-changing challenges. Teams compete for thousands of dollars in cash awards—and receive priceless, well-deserved recognition. 

    Guests and judges will need to register in order to attend by April 9. 

    This year’s event will happen in multiple segments online via Zoom and Gatherly. 

    Monday, April 12

    • Noon — Remote, asynchronous viewing and judging of team videos opens on the Design Expo website, mtu.edu/expo.

    Thursday, April 15

    • 11 to 11:30 a.m. — Opening remarks via live Zoom webinar
    • 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. — Synchronous event with student teams begins: take part in real-time interaction/Q&A with students using Gatherly
    • 3 to 3:30 p.m. — Presentation of Awards via Zoom live webinar
    • 3:30 p.m. — Virtual Design Expo 2021 concludes

    Physics Colloquium Today, March 18, 4 pm

    The next Physics Colloquium will be held at 4 p.m. today (March 18) via Zoom. Alice Allen will present “Schrödinger’s code: Opening the computational box.”

    Allen is a faculty specialist in the Astronomy Department at the University of Maryland (College Park) and editor-in-chief of the Astrophysics Source Code Library (ASCL). Her abstract and bio can be viewed here.

    If you haven’t registered for the weekly Physics Colloquium series in the past, please register in advance for this event.


    Spend 1010 Minutes with Gorkem Asilioglu


    You are invited to spend one-zero-one-zero—that is, ten—minutes with Gorkem Asilioglu, Computer Science, on Thurday, March 18, from 5:30 to 5:40 p.m. EST.

    Asilioglu is a lecturer in the Department of Computer Science. His research interests include computer architecture, high-performance computing, programming languages, and CS education.

    Join the Zoom meeting here.

    We look forward to spending 1010 minutes with you!

    Visit the 1010 with … webpage here.


    CS Lecture: Kelly Steelman, CLS, March 19, 3 pm

    The Department of Computer Science will present a lecture by Dr. Kelly Steelman, Cognitive and Learning Sciences, on Friday, March 19, 2021, at 3:00 p.m.

    The title of the lecture is, “Keeping Up with Tech.”

    Join the virtual lecture here.

    Steelman is interim department chair and associate professor in the Department of Cognitive and Learning Sciences. Her research interests include basic and applied attention, models of attention, human performance in aviation, display design, tech adoption, and technology training.

    Lecture Title

    “Keeping Up with Tech”

    Lecture Abstract

    COVID has revealed much in the past year, including our dependence on technology and the challenges that many of us experience trying to keep up with it. Dr. Kelly Steelman has spent the past 15 years studying human attention and applying it to support the introduction of new technologies in contexts ranging from aviation to education.

    In her presentation, Steelman will provide an overview of her research, using examples from Next Gen Aviation and the BASIC Digital Literacy Training Program to illustrate how understanding human attention can help us predict the consequences of introducing new technology, improve the design of technology, and support training to help people keep up with the rapid pace of technological change.



    CS Dept. Lecture: Tim Frick, Mightybytes

    The Department of Computer Science will present a lecture by Tim Frick, founder and president of Mightybytes, on Friday, April 9, 2021, at 3:00 p.m.

    In his talk, “People, Planet, Pixels: Toward Sustainable Digital Products and Practices,” Frick will discuss how sustainable web design and responsible digital practices can help create an internet that is clean, efficient, open, honest, regenerative, and resilient.

    Lecture Title

    “People, Planet, Pixels: Toward Sustainable Digital Products and Practices”

    Speaker Bio

    Tim Frick started his digital agency Mightybytes in 1998 to help purpose-driven companies, social enterprises, and large nonprofits solve problems, amplify their impact, and drive measurable results. He is the author of four books, including Designing for Sustainability: A Guide to Building Greener Digital Products and Services. Tim regularly presents at conferences and offers workshops on sustainable design, measuring impact, and problem solving in the digital economy.

    Lecture Abstract

    The internet has a larger environmental impact than the commercial airline industry. It currently produces approximately 3.8% of global carbon emissions, which are rising in line with our hunger to consume more data. Increasingly, web technologies are also being used to sow discontent, erode privacy, prompt unethical decisions, and, in some countries, undermine personal freedoms and the well-being of society. Web technology has the potential to bring huge benefits to society and the environment, but only if we use it wisely.

    In this talk, author and digital agency owner Tim Frick will discuss how sustainable web designand responsible digital practices can help us create an internet that is clean, efficient, open, honest, regenerative, and resilient—principles outlined in the Sustainable Web Manifesto, of which Tim is a co-author. Elements of this talk are also based on Tim’s book, Designing for Sustainability: A Guide to Building Greener Digital Products and Services. Creating an internet that works for people and planet is possible. The methods described in this talk will show you how.


    Cooperative Eco-driving Automation Improves Energy Efficiency, Safety on City Streets

    by Kelley Christensen, University Marketing and Communications

    Connected and automated vehicles, which can interact vehicle to vehicle (V2V) and between vehicles and roadway infrastructure like traffic signals and stop signs (V2I), promise to save energy and improve safety. In a new study published in Transportation Research Part B, Kuilin Zhang (CEE/CS) along with Shuaidong Zhao ’18, now a senior quantitative analyst at National Grid, propose a modeling framework for V2V and V2I cooperative driving. Cooperative driving helps cars and their drivers safely and efficiently navigate.

    The framework uses an eco-driving algorithm that prioritizes saving fuel and reducing emissions. The automated algorithm calculates location-based traffic control devices and roadway constraints using maps and geographic information. Read the full story on mtu.edu/news.

    Kuilin Zhang is a researcher with the Institute of Computing and Cybersystems’ (ICC) Center for Cyber-Physical Systems.


    2021 Design Expo Continues As Virtual Event

    by Pavlis Honors College

    The 21st Design Expo will continue virtually, but with a twist! Combining lessons learned from our first successful Virtual Design Expo and the desire to engage student teams synchronously, the Design Expo committee is excited to invite the Michigan Tech community, program friends and sponsors to register for this year’s Design Expo held via Gatherly, a platform used to simulate synchronous interactions and discussions, similar to a live MUB ballroom event.

    Similar to last year’s Virtual Design Expo, more than 1,000 students in the Enterprise and Senior Design programs will come together to put on a virtual showcase of their work and compete for awards. This year, a panel of judges, made up of distinguished corporate representatives, alumni, community members, and Michigan Tech staff and faculty will critique videos of team projects, solutions, and results. We will kick-off and close the event via Zoom. At 11:30 AM participants will transition over to Gatherly, for the live two-hour synchronous showcase for student projects.

    This event is free and open to the public. We encourage current and future students, faculty, staff, parents, alumni, families of students. etc to help us celebrate our students and their achievements—register today to virtually attend Design Expo.

    2021 Schedule of Events:

    Monday, April 12

    • Noon — Remote judging open

    Thursday, April 15

    • 11 a.m.: Opening remarks via live webinar
    • 11:30 a.m.: Gatherly event opens
    • 1:30 p.m.: Gatherly event closes
    • 3 p.m.: Presentation of Awards via live webinar
    • 3:30 p.m.: 2021 Design Expo concludes

    Interested in judging for the 21th annual Design Expo? This year, judges will have the flexibility to judge team videos anytime between noon on April 12 through 1:30 p.m. on April 15. In addition to video judging, judges will be asked to attend Design Expo between 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. during the Judging Hour on April 15 to visit assigned teams via Gatherly.

    Judges will be selected based on the availability to attend Design Expo during the synchronous event starting at 11:30 a.m. Judges will be assigned three to five teams to view and evaluate team videos over a four-day period (April 12-15) using an electronic ballot sent out via email and/or text message.

    Judges will then judge the same three to five teams during the synchronous events 11:30-1:30 p.m. There will be a designated judging hour 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. but judges may continue scoring teams until 1:30 p.m.

    Please consider serving as a judge — we welcome all Michigan Tech faculty, staff, alumni, industry representatives, community members, and anyone interested in the great work of our students!.

    Click here for more information on attending and judging Design Expo. Check out all of the details of Design Expo here. For questions, please reach out to Briana Tucker.


    GRC Registration Closes Soon

    by Graduate Student Government

    Registration for this year’s virtual Graduate Research Colloquium (GRC) will close at 11:59 PM tomorrow (March 2). The event will be held on Thursday April 1, and Friday April 2.

    GRC is a great opportunity to work on your presentation skills and prepare for upcoming conferences. Students are free to give an oral presentation, a poster talk, or both. All talks will be scored by judges from the same field as the presenter, who will give valuable insight and feedback on how you can improve your talk. Cash prizes are available for the top 3 places in both oral and poster presentations ( 1st – $300, 2nd – $200, and 3rd – $100). Registration closes Tuesday, March 2, at 11:59 PM. Only a research abstract is due at the time of registration. Register today.

    Guidelines to record a video for the poster session and to compile slides for an oral presentation are available on the event website. The video and slide submission deadline for the event is 11:59 PM, Monday March 22, 2021. Full information on the event can be found on our website.

    Feel free to contact Sarvada Chipkar if you have any questions or concerns.