Category: Students

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.


CS Ph.D. Candidate Ali Jalooli Awarded Finishing Fellowship

The Michigan Tech Graduate School has announced that Computer Science Ph.D. candidate Ali Jalooli is among the graduate students who have received a Doctoral Finishing Fellowship Award.

Jalooli’s research studies the optimization of message routing in heterogeneous wireless networks. His dissertation is titles, “Enabling Technologies for Internet of Things: Optimized Networking for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles.”

Each semester, the Graduate School awards Finishing Fellowships that provide support to Ph.D. candidates nearing completion of their degrees. The fellowships, available through the generosity of University alumni and friends, are intended to recognize outstanding Ph.D. candidates who are in need of financial support to finish their degrees, and who are also contributing to the attainment of goals outlined in The Michigan Tech Plan. Support ranges from a $2,000 stipend to full support (stipend and tuition).

Jalooli’s research focuses on vehicular “networks in smart cities. He notes that research in this area is of great importance, as it advances cutting-edge connected and autonomous vehicle technologies.

“This has far-reaching consequences for many aspects of daily life, given the expanding world of the Internet of Things,” he explains. “Connected vehicles provide various benefits, spanning from advanced driver assistance, remote diagnostics, and infotainment for consumers to road safety, improving response time for emergency vehicles, and even improving national and international economies by ameliorating traffic congestion.”

“My work at Tech on the underlying networks that drive these technologies enhances the performance and feasibility of robust wireless networks,” Jalooli says. “During my time at Tech, I have also gained teaching experience and increased responsibility in course development and assessment as a teaching assistant and lead instructor.”

“I am grateful to the Graduate School and the Graduate School Dean Awards Advisory Panel for awarding me a Finishing Fellowship,” Jalooli says. “I am also grateful to my advisors, Dr. Kuilin Zhang and Dr. Min Song, for their support and guidance.”

Read a Grad School blog post about Ali Jalooli here.

Additional recipients of graduate student awards appear below.
Doctoral Finishing Fellowship Award: Elizabeth M. Barnes, Forest Science; Shahab Bayani Ahangar, Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics; Haitao Cao, Geophysics ; Eassa Hedayati, Computational Science and Engineering; Pratik Umesh Joshi, Chemical Engineering ; Kevin C. Nevorski, Biological Sciences ; Bethel Worku Tarekegne, Environmental Energy and Policy; Hua Wang, Rhetoric, Theory and Culture
Portage Health Foundation Graduate Assistantship: Lavanya Rajesh Kumar, Applied Cognitive Science and Human Factors; Dylan G. Turpeinen, Chemical Engineering
Matwiyoff & Hogberg Endowed Graduate Fellowship: Wenkai Jia, Biomedical Engineering
The DeVlieg Foundation 2020 Summer Research Award in Biology/Wildlife: Angela M. Walczyk, Biological Sciences

Profiles of all the current recipients can be found online.


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.


GSG to Present Webinar Series in Computer Programming

The Graduate Student Government (GSG) Professional Development Committee has organized a free webinar series in Computer Programming, which begins Tuesday, July 14, 2020.

July 14: “Introduction to Machine Learning with Python,” by Timothy Havens (CC)

July 15: “Managing Data” (Data Mining)” by MS Data Science candidate Sneha Nimmagadda

July 16: “Introduction to Deep Learning,” by Timothy Havens (CC)

Seats are not limited, but participants are asked to register so webinar organizers know how many attendees to expect.

Find more information, including links to register and join Zoom meetings, visit the GSG website.


More Achievements for MTU RedTeam

The MTU RedTeam ranked 13th out of 162 teams in a recent 24-hour Cybar OSINT Capture The Flag (CTF) cybersecurity competition. The team finished tied for 5th place, having completed all the challenges presented by the competition.

Students on the team were Trevor Hornsby (Software Engineering), Shane Hoppe (Computer Science), Matthew Chau (Cybersecurity), Steven Whitaker (Electrical Engineering), and Sankalp Shastry (Electrical Engineering).

Professor Yu Cai, Applied Computing, and Assistant Professor Bo Chen, Computer Science, are advisor and co-advisor of RedTeam, respectively. Both are members of the ICC’s Center for Cybersecurity.

RedTeam promotes a security-driven mindset among Michigan Tech students and provides a community and resource for those wishing to learn more about information security. The RedTeam competes in National Cyber League (NCL) competitions, a great way for students to gain competency in cybersecurity tools and boost their resumes.

RedTeam is on Slack at mturedteam.slack.com. Interested students can sign up with a Michigan Tech email. View past RedTeam presentations here.

This OSINT CTF is non-theoretical and contestants work in teams of up to four members to crowdsource the collection of OSINT to assist law enforcement in generating new leads on missing persons.

The contest runs as a Capture the Flag (CTF) format where contestants must collect various “flags” which equate to points. Since the each flag submitted is treated as potential “net new intelligence”, Trace Labs has a team of volunteers known as “Judges” who validate each submission and award points if the flag meets the category requirements. At the end of each CTF, the team with the most points on the scoreboard wins.


Bo Chen, Grad Students Present Posters at Security Symposium

College of Computing Assistant Professor Bo Chen, Computer Science, and his graduate students presented two posters at the 41st IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy, which took place online May 18 to 21, 2020.

Since 1980, the IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy has been the premier forum for presenting developments in computer security and electronic privacy, and for bringing together researchers and practitioners in the field.

Chen leads the Security and Privacy (SnP) lab at Michigan Tech. He is a member of Michigan Tech’s Institute of Computing and Cybersystems (ICC) Center for Cybersecurity (CyberS).

Chen’s research focuses on applied cryptography and data security and he investigates novel techniques to protect sensitive data in mobile devices/flash storage media and cloud infrastructures. Chen is also interested in designing novel techniques to ensure security and privacy of big data.

Chen will serve as general chair for the First EAI International Conference on Applied Cryptography in Computer and Communications (AC3), which will be held in Xiamen, China, in May 2021.

Visit Bo Chen’s faculty webpage here.

Poster: A Secure Plausibly Deniable System for Mobile Devices against Multi-snapshot Adversaries
Authors: Bo Chen, Niusen Chen
Abstract: Mobile computing devices have been used broadly to store, manage and process critical data. To protect confidentiality of stored data, major mobile operating systems provide full disk encryption, which relies on traditional encryption and requires keeping the decryption keys secret. This however, may not be true as an active attacker may coerce victims for decryption keys. Plausibly deniable encryption (PDE) can defend against such a coercive attacker by disguising the secret keys with decoy keys. Leveraging concept of PDE, various PDE systems have been built for mobile devices. However, a practical PDE system is still missing which can be compatible with mainstream mobile devices and, meanwhile, remains secure when facing a strong multi- snapshot adversary. This work fills this gap by designing the first mobile PDE system against the multi-snapshot adversaries.

Poster: Incorporating Malware Detection into Flash Translation Layer
Authors: Wen Xie, Niusen Chen, Bo Chen
Abstract: OS-level malware may compromise OS and obtain root privilege. Detecting this type of strong malware is challeng- ing, since it can easily hide its intrusion behaviors or even subvert the malware detection software (or malware detector). Having observed that flash storage devices have been used broadly by computing devices today, we propose to move the malware detector to the flash translation layer (FTL), located inside a flash storage device. Due to physical isolation provided by the FTL, the OS-level malware can neither subvert our malware detector, nor hide its access behaviors from our malware detector.

The 41st IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy was sponsored by the IEEE Computer Society Technical Committee on Security and Privacy in cooperation with the International Association for Cryptologic Research. The Symposium was May 18-20, 2020, and the Security and Privacy Workshops were May 21, 2020.


Michigan Tech Team Places 4th Overall in TiM$10K Challenge

A team of five Michigan Tech students received Honorable Mention honors in the second annual SICK Inc. TiM$10K Challenge, a national innovation and design competition. University students from around the country participated in the event designed to support innovation and student achievement in automation and technology.

The Michigan Tech team members — Brian Parvin (ME), Paul Allen (EE), David Brushaber (CompEng), Kurtis Alessi (CompEng) and Alex Kirchner (CompEng) — earned Honorable Mention (fourth place overall) for their project, “Evaluating Road Markings (the Road Stripe Evaluator). Their project was sponsored by SICK Inc. Watch a video about the project below.

SICK’s TiM$10K Challenge 2020 – Evaluating Road Markings (The Road Stripe Evaluator)


Adrienne Minerick, dean of Michigan Tech’s College of Computing, said in a June 1, 20920, Tech Today article that the accomplishments of these outstanding students illustrates Michigan Tech’s creativity and tenacity when faced with a challenge. “Our rapidly growing presence in cybersecurity is built upon our students deep knowledge of the fundamentals combined with the learning environment that promotes agility to meet (and exceed) any challenge. These hardworking and bright students deserve this recognition of their competitiveness. All of us in the College of Computing are proud.”

For the competition, teams were supplied with a 270-degree SICK LiDAR sensor and accessories, and challenged to solve a problem, create a solution, or bring a new application to any industry that utilizes the SICK LiDAR.

Each team submitted a video and paper for judging upon completion of its project. A panel of judges decided the winning submissions based on creativity and innovation, ability to solve a customer problem, commercial potential, entrepreneurship of the team, and reporting.

The Tech team developed an innovative product to help resolve issues caused by poor road markings, while reducing maintenance costs and improving motorist safety. Their new software uses reflectivity values obtained using a SICK LiDAR unit to identify deterioration of road stripes and recommend timely repainting, also aiding in the safety and reliability of self-driving vehicles on roadways.

They constructed a prototype to demonstrate functionality, in the form of a pushable cart that evaluates road markings. An intuitive user interface displays the markings being evaluated, and indicates if they meet necessary levels of reflectivity.

Pinar said the team was well organized and demonstrated an excellent work ethic from day one. “It was exciting to watch them identify a salient problem and develop a functional proof-of-concept solution despite the setbacks that affected us all after spring break,” he said.

“This was a unique project in that the team was required to identify a problem and develop a solution to it that is based on SICK’s TiM LiDAR, while most teams are handed a problem and asked to create a solution,” Pinar noted. “I think this format allowed the team to exercise even more innovation than on a ‘typical’ project.”

The same team of students was awarded Honorable Mention honors at this spring’s Design Expo Senior Design competition for their project, “Road Marking Reflectivity Evaluator.”

SICK, Inc. is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of sensors, safety systems, machine vision, encoders and automatic identification products for industrial applications.