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    Michigan Tech Submits Record Number of Concept Papers to Federal Railroad Administration

    by Pasi Lautala

    Thomas Oommen (GMES, ICC), Ricardo Eiris, (CEGE, ICC), and Beth Veinott (CLS, ICC) are among eight Michigan Tech researchers who have submitted a a record number of eight concept papers for proposed research projects with the Federal Railroad Administration.

    The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) requested that Michigan Tech submit a record number of eight concept papers for proposed research projects as part of their 2021 Broad Agency Announcement.

    In addition, Tech is a subcontractor for two more concept paper proposals. The paper submittal was coordinated by the Rail Transportation Program and the range of topics speaks to the diversity of Michigan Tech’s expertise applicable to the rail transportation. The PIs are looking forward to FRA decisions on how many of these papers advance to full proposals.

    Each of the 10 projects had a different principal investigator (PI), representing six university departments/institutes and several more co-PIs.

    The project titles and their PIs include:

    • Hyper- and Multi-spectral Sensing and Deep Learning for Automated Identification of Roadbed Condition, (PI, Thomas Oommen, GMES).
    • Wire Arc Additive Manufacturing (WAAM) for Weld Enhanced Cast Steel Coupler Knuckles (PI, Paul Sanders, MSE).
    • IoT Assisted Data-analytics Framework Enables Assessment of Location Based Ride Quality (LBRQ) (PI, Sriram Malladi, MEEM).
    • RailStory: Using Web-based Immersive Storytelling to Attract the Next Generation of Young Women in Rail (PI, Ricardo Eiris, CEGE).
    • A Risk Informed Decision-Making Framework for Coastal Railroad System Subjected to Storm Hazards and Sea Level Rise (PI, Yousef Darestani, CEGE).
    • Rail Corridor Life-Cycle Assessment (LCA) Framework, Factors and Models to Support Project Evaluation and Multi-Modal Comparisons (PI, Pasi Lautala, CEGE).
    • Development of Infrared Thermography for Effective Rail Weld Inspection (PI, Qingli Dai, CEGE).
    • Enabling Longer-distance, AI-enabled Drone-based Grade Crossing Assessment in Potentially GPS Denied Environments (PI, Colin Brooks).
    • Multi-Site Simulation to Examine Driver Behavior Impact of Integrated Rail Crossing Violation Warning (RCVW) and In-Vehicle Auditory/Visual Alert (IVAA) System (PI, Elizabeth Veinott, subcontract with Virginia Tech).
    • Evaluation of Non-traditional Methods of Reducing Emissions in Short Line Railroad Operations (PI, Jeremy Worm, subcontract with ASLRRA).



    Beth Veinott to Present Lecture February 12, 3 pm

    The Department of Computer Science will present a lecture by Dr. Elizabeth Veinott on Friday, February 12, 2021, at 3:00 p.m.

    Veinott is an associate professor in the Cognitive and Learning Sciences department. She will present, “Beyond the system interface: Using human-centered design to support better collaborative forecasting.”


    Speaker Biography

    Elizabeth Veinott is a cognitive psychologist working in technology-mediated environments to improve decision making, problem solving and collaboration. She directs Michigan Tech’s Games, Learning and Decision Lab and is the lead for the Human-Centered Computing group of Michigan Tech’s Institute of Computing and Cybersystems (ICC).

    She has been active in the ACM’s SIGCHI and on the conference organizing committees for CHI Play and CSCW. Prior to joining Michigan Tech in 2016, she worked as a principal scientist in an industry research and development lab and as a contractor at NASA Ames Research Center. Her research has been funded by NIH, Army Research Institute, Army Research Lab, Air Force Research Laboratory, and IARPA.

    Lecture Abstract

    Teams use technology to help them make judgments in a variety of operational environments. Collaborative forecasting is one type of judgment performed by analyst teams in weather, business, epidemiology, and intelligence analysis. Research related to collaborative forecasting has produced mixed results.

    In her talk, Veinott will describe a case of using cognitive task analysis to develop and evaluate a new forecast process and tool. The method captured analysts’ mental models of game-based forecasting problems, and allowed the process to co-evolve with the system design. The tool was tested in a simulation environment with expert teams conducting analyses over the course of hours and compared to a control group. Challenges and lessons learned will be discussed, including implications for human-centered design of collaborative tools.


    HCC Research Expo 2020

    An Immersive Exploration of Research Across Campus

    The ICC’s Human-Centered Computing group (HCC) will host its 3rd annual HCC Research Expo, November 12-13, 2020, in conjunction with World Usability Day 2020.

    VR-Huskies, an exciting virtual social platform that leverages 360-degree panorama technology, is the venue for the 48-hour event. Projects, brief research talks, and lab tours will be available on demand for attendees to browse at leisure. The immersive experience will be available from Thurs., Nov. 12, at 9:00 a.m. too Fri., Nov. 13, at midnight.


    The HCC Expo concludes with a keynote lecture from leading accessible computing and design researcher Dr. Richard E. Ladner on Friday, November 13, at 1:00 p.m., via online meeting. Read more about Dr. Ladner here.

    The aim of the annual HCC Expo is to showcase the interdisciplinary HCC research happening across campus, and to provide a a forum for Michigan Tech students to explore HCC research opportunities, tour labs, and engage in virtual discussions.

    The Human-Centered Computing research group investigates a wide range of 21st century human-centered computing challenges, engaging faculty from computer science, psychology, engineering, and other Michigan Tech departments.

    About VR-Huskies

    VR-Huskies Virtual Social Space

    VR-Huskies is an active research project led by new faculty member, Assistant Professor Ricardo Eiris, Civil and Environmental Engineering, and sponsored by the College of Engineering. It is a custom implementation of Mozilla Hubs®, an open-source platform which creates custom dynamic representations of information.

    Participants can enter the VR-Huskies site with minimal effort, interacting with up to 25 others as they explore the latest research developments in human centered computing at Michigan Tech. Registration is not required. VR Huskies is accessible on any device, including head-mounted displays, desktop computers, laptops, tablets, and mobile devices.

    Eiris says that the goal of VR-Huskies is to deliver in-depth learning in a multitude of contexts, such as field trips, outreach events, and entrepreneurial activities, while engaging students in opportunities to apply critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and creativity.

    Expected outcomes of the project include the implementation of a virtual learning environment in which Michigan Tech students can socially interact with STEM experiences and visit remote locations that are typically impossible to reach.

    Ricardo Eiris received his Ph.D. in Design, Construction, and Planning from the University of Florida in August 2020. He is an educator and a researcher exploring the dynamics and implications of human-technology interactions within construction and engineering.


    Founded in 2015, the Institute of Computing and Cybersystems (ICC) promotes collaborative, cross-disciplinary research and learning experiences in the areas of computing education, cyber-physical systems, cybersecurity, data sciences, human-centered computing, and scalable architectures and systems.

    The Center for Human-Centered Computing (HCC) focuses on the research and development of novel interfaces for human-agent interaction, assistive technologies, intelligent health, computational modeling, and examining trust and decision making in distributed systems.

    The Center is directed by Associate Professor Elizabeth Veinott, Cognitive and Learning Sciences, a cognitive psychologist who focuses on research in decision making and learning using serious video games.


    ACSHF Forum Monday

    Beth Veinott

    One challenge affecting a variety of teams, such as software development, engineering, military, and crisis management, is overconfidence in the effectiveness of their plans.  Referred to as the planning fallacy, Buehler et al. (1994) suggests that ignoring past failures is a key cognitive element in this phenomenon. This talk summarizes recent experiments examinin the effect of counterfactual reasoning strategies, thinking about what might have happened under different circumstances, on people’s reasons, confidence and predictions.

    Leveraging a collaborative, structured analytic technique called the Premortem, this project extends research on counterfactual reasoning to estimates in planning. The results will be discussed in the context of advances in machine learning, AI, and crowdsourcing that have changed the information available to teams.