Pitt | Swanson Engineering

Join With Us In Celebrating Our 2020 Graduating Class! 

Since its founding in 1893 by two legends, George Westinghouse and Reginald Fessenden, the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Pitt has excelled in education, research, and service.  Today, the department features innovative undergraduate and graduate programs and world-class research centers and labs, combining theory with practice at the nexus of computer and electrical engineering, for our students to learn, develop, and lead lives of impact.


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Nov
19
2020

University of Pittsburgh Joins New DOE Cybersecurity Manufacturing Innovation Institute

Electrical & Computer, Industrial, MEMS, Nuclear

SAN ANTONIO, TX (November 19, 2020) ... The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) today formally launched the Cybersecurity Manufacturing Innovation Institute (CyManII), a $111 million public-private partnership. Led by UTSA, the university will enter into a five-year cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to lead a consortium of 59 proposed member institutions in introducing a cybersecure energy-ROI that drives American manufacturers and supply chains to further adopt secure, energy-efficient approaches, ultimately securing and sustaining the nation’s leadership in global manufacturing competitiveness.U.S. manufacturers are one of the top targets for cyber criminals and nation-state adversaries, impacting the production of energy technologies such as electric vehicles, solar panels and wind turbines. Integration across the supply chain network and an increased use of automation applied in manufacturing processes can make industrial infrastructures vulnerable to cyber-attacks. To protect American manufacturing jobs and workers, CyManII will transform U.S. advanced manufacturing and make manufacturers more energy efficient, resilient and globally competitive against our nation’s adversaries.“The University of Pittsburgh is proud to be among the inaugural member institutions of this national effort to develop cyber security and energy research to benefit U.S. manufacturing expertise,” noted Rob A. Rutenbar,Senior Vice Chancellor for Research at Pitt. “Both our Swanson School of Engineering and School of Computing and Information at the forefront of innovations in advanced manufacturing, cyber infrastructure and security, sustainable energy, materials science and supply chain management. Our faculty are looking forward to participating in this groundbreaking institute.”“The exploitation of advanced materials and computing can provide us with a more holistic approach to secure the nation’s manufacturing infrastructure, from communication networks and assembly lines to intricate computer code and distribution systems,” added Daniel Cole, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science and co-director of the Swanson School’s Hacking for Defense program. “Just as our personal computers and cell phones are vulnerable to cyber-attacks, so too is our complex manufacturing industry. But thanks to this national effort through CyManII, we will not only be able to develop defenses but also create more sustainable and energy efficient technologies for industry.”“I am excited for the potential collaborations between our faculty and the innovations they will develop,” said David Vorp, Associate Dean for Research at the Swanson School. “We already have a healthy collaboration with faculty in the School of Computing and Information, and sustainability informs our research, academics, and operations. CyManII presents a new opportunity for us to engage in transformative, trans-disciplinary research.”As part of its national strategy, CyManII will focus on three high priority areas where collaborative research and development can help U.S. manufacturers: securing automation, securing the supply chain network, and building a national program for education and workforce development. “As U.S. manufacturers increasingly deploy automation tools in their daily work, those technologies must be embedded with powerful cybersecurity protections,” said Howard Grimes, CyManII Chief Executive Officer and UTSA Associate Vice President and Associate Vice Provost for Institutional Initiatives. “UTSA has assembled a team of best-in-class national laboratories, industry, nonprofit and academic organizations to cybersecure the U.S. manufacturing enterprise. Together, we will share the mission to protect the nation’s supply chain, preserve its critical infrastructure and boost its economy.”CyManII’s research objectives will focus on understanding the evolving cybersecurity threats to greater energy efficiency in manufacturing industries, developing new cybersecurity technologies and methods, and sharing information and knowledge with the broader community of U.S. manufacturers.CyManII aims to revolutionize cybersecurity in manufacturing by designing and building a secure manufacturing architecture that is pervasive, unobtrusive and enables energy efficiency. Grimes says this industry-driven approach is essential, allowing manufacturers of all sizes to invest in cybersecurity and achieve an energy ROI rather than continually spending money on cyber patches.These efforts will result in a suite of methods, standards and tools rooted in the concept that everything in the manufacturing supply chain has a unique authentic identity. These solutions will address the comprehensive landscape of complex vulnerabilities and be economically implemented in a wide array of machines and environments.“CyManII leverages the unique research capabilities of the Idaho, Oak Ridge and Sandia National Laboratories as well as critical expertise across our partner cyber manufacturing ecosystem,” said UTSA President Taylor Eighmy. “UTSA is proud and honored to partner with the DOE to advance cybersecurity in energy-efficient manufacturing for the nation.”CyManII has 59 proposed members including three Department of Energy National Laboratories (Idaho National Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and Sandia National Laboratories), four Manufacturing Innovation Institutes, 24 powerhouse universities, 18 industry leaders, and 10 nonprofits. This national network of members will drive impact across the nation and solve the biggest challenges facing cybersecurity in the U.S manufacturing industry.CyManII is funded by the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO) and co-managed with the Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response (CESER). ------ Learn more about the Cybersecurity Manufacturing Innovation Institute.
Author: EmilyGuajardo, CyManII Communications Manager
Nov
11
2020

Astrobotic and SHREC Partnering for Space Technologies Research

Electrical & Computer

PITTSBURGH (November 9, 2020) ... Astrobotic and the National Science Foundation (NSF) Center for Space, High-performance, and Resilient Computing (SHREC) are pleased to announce a partnership to develop new software and hardware technologies for future space applications. The SHREC consortium, led by the University of Pittsburgh, is an NSF Industry-University Cooperative Research Center (IUCRC) and will work together with Astrobotic by pairing first-class academic researchers with engineering teams to translate concepts into tangible innovations that will support lunar landings, rover missions, satellite servicing, and more. A diverse cohort of researchers, scientists, and engineers at Astrobotic and SHREC will share intellectual property, domain expertise, and practical know-how to develop space computing platforms, among other technologies. The teams have already kicked off collaboration on Astrobotic’s Phase II NASA SBIR contract to develop UltraNav, a compact smart camera for next-generation space missions. This low size, weight, and power system includes an integrated suite of hardware-accelerated computer vision algorithms that enable a wide range of in-space applications, including satellite servicing, autonomous rover navigation, and precision planetary landing. “The University of Pittsburgh’s space-focused engineering program is developing incredible technologies through a mixture of universities and companies supporting foundational and applied research,” says Chris Owens, Astrobotic Research Engineer and Principal Investigator for the UltraNav project. “In addition to research collaboration, Astrobotic is taking advantage of the partnership with SHREC to revamp our internship program. We are supporting not just SHREC students, but students in Pittsburgh and beyond who might want to give space a try.” “On behalf of all students and faculty in SHREC, we are most honored to be partnering with the leading space company in our region,” said Alan George, SHREC Center Director and R&H Mickle Endowed Chair of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering. “We look forward to many collaborations on space research, technologies, experiments, and workforce development.” SHREC has a proven track record of developing computing solutions and advanced algorithms to handle the challenging radiation and thermal environment of space. Astrobotic has most recently worked with Bosch Research to develop hardware for the SoundSee Mission to the International Space Station (ISS). SHREC also boasts hardware currently in orbit on the ISS through multiple missions with the Department of Defense’s Space Test Program. SHREC and Astrobotic will use these platforms to test technologies in space before launching. Astrobotic and SHREC, both founded in 2007, are examples of the Pittsburgh region’s renewed invigoration in the space industry – Astrobotic with its recent $199.5 million VIPER contract win from NASA and SHREC curating its dozens of partnerships with leading space companies and agencies across the nation. Both Astrobotic and SHREC are participants in the PGH Space Collaborative, a group seeking to coalesce a broader network of existing regional assets to revitalize Pittsburgh as a space robotics hub. The Astrobotic-SHREC partnership begins with a two-year-long agreement and will culminate in an enhanced UltraNav system in 2022. About AstroboticAstrobotic Technology, Inc. is a space robotics company making space accessible to the world. They develop advanced navigation, operation, and computing systems for spacecraft, and their fleet of lunar landers and rovers deliver payloads to the Moon for companies, governments, universities, non-profits, and individuals. The company has more than 50 prior and ongoing NASA and commercial technology contracts and a corporate sponsorship with DHL. Astrobotic was founded in 2007 and is headquartered in Pittsburgh, PA.
Alivia Chapla, Senior Marketing and Communications Specialist, Astrobotic
Nov
9
2020

Tracking Monarch Butterfly Migration with the World’s Smallest Computer

Electrical & Computer

Each year, monarch butterflies make their way from the U.S. and Canada to central Mexico, where they'll spend the winter. Inhee Lee, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Pittsburgh's Swanson School of Engineering, partnered with researchers at the University of Michigan to create a tiny sensor to track and monitor the environmental conditions the butterflies encounter on the way. "We had to create a sensor small enough to be glued to the butterfly, which presented challenges for how to power it," said Lee. "We created a sensor that operates on very little power, has a small battery, and contains a very small solar panel to recharge the battery." The information collected by the sensor will help researchers understand the environmental conditions along the butterflies' path and inform where to focus conservation activities. Story originally appeared on the Michigan Engineering News Center from The University of Michigan. Reposted with permission. ### In Mexico, days before the COVID-19 shutdown, a team of engineers and biologists were riding on horseback into the heart of a popular overwintering site for monarch butterflies to conduct preliminary tests on their newest iteration of the Michigan Micro Mote (M3). The project, supported in part by National Geographic, hopes to aid wildlife conservation efforts by shedding light on butterfly migration and habitat conditions. The M3, created by David Blaauw, Kensall D. Wise Collegiate Professor of EECS, and several other University of Michigan researchers, is a fully energy-autonomous computing system that acts as a smart sensing system and can be configured for a wide variety of applications. For this project, the M3 will be glued to the back of individual monarch butterflies to track and monitor environmental conditions – specifically light and temperature and eventually air pressure – they encounter during migration. “This is our most complex M3 system,” says Blaauw. “We need to capture data about the light intensity that is accurate down to a few seconds, and we need to be able to transmit that captured data a long distance because we will not be able to physically retrieve the specimens.” Blaauw and Prof. Inhee Lee, an ECE alum who is now at the University of Pittsburgh, are responsible for the chip and system design. Prof. Hun-Seok Kim designs and trains the algorithms that analyze the captured data and reconstruct the migratory path of the specimen. André Green, a professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at U-M, analyzes these paths to learn more about monarch biology and applies this knowledge to conservation efforts. Monarchs can travel as far as 3,000 miles during migration, spending the summer across the US and southern Canada to breed and the winter mostly in Mexico and along the coasts of California. The sensors have to be hardy enough to survive the long trip, as well as any inclement weather along the way, but light enough so they don’t disrupt the behavior or harm the butterflies. This iteration of the M3 is the lightest yet, weighing around 50 milligrams, which is tenfold lighter than the lightest tracking devices to date. As part of the team’s preliminary tests, they attached M3s to several butterflies and monitored their condition in a greenhouse. “All initial indications are that we’re not having strong negative effects on the butterflies,” says Green. “We found no significant difference in their metabolism whether they were carrying the sensor or not.” The conventional method to study monarch migration involves attaching a paper tag to an individual butterfly and recovering the specimen at known monarch destinations. “Using that technique, we can know only the starting point and ending point for the specimens we recover, which is a small percentage of the total,” Lee says. “But with our technique, we can actually track each individual’s complete path.” In addition to tracking the entirety of an individual monarch’s journey, this will be the first time it’s possible for conservationists to see how day-to-day environmental conditions impact their behavior. “We’ll be able to see what types of habitats they actually spend their time in,” Green says. “That will help inform where we should focus efforts for conservation activity.” Monarchs are particularly important for conservation, for they act as a sentinel species. Since monarchs travel to many different locations, they show us how the collective impact of human activities affect the wellbeing of an entire population. One of the biggest challenges has been figuring out how to pinpoint a monarch’s location, for a GPS is too large and heavy to include in the device. “We can infer the data indirectly from other primitive ultra-low power sensors using a new data-driven framework,” Kim says. The team uses deep learning algorithms and neural networks to evaluate the environmental data and infer the location based on matching conditions. The location model is created from data collected by nearly 300 volunteers who act as pseudo-butterflies. The volunteers, or citizen scientists, use sensors to collect environmental data along known monarch migration routes. “Bicyclists travel around the same speed and the same distance as monarchs do in a particular day,” Blaauw says, “so we have volunteer cyclists take larger sensors with them on multi-day trips, and we use that data to check the algorithms. It’s a bit of a role reversal, for normally we use animals to model as humans in science, but this time we’re using humans to model for animals.” “Working together with the volunteers is the most exciting part of this project,” Kim says. “It is a very rare opportunity to design an advanced machine learning algorithm using the data collected by K – 12 students and their families.” The team is hoping to do a few preliminary deployments this fall in specific local areas (COVID-19 permitting), and another deployment next fall in more distant locations. They plan to scale up gradually to full deployment that covers the entire migration range over the next year or two. This iteration of the M3 could be applied to tracking other species as well, furthering additional wildlife conservation efforts. For more information on the project or how you can volunteer, visit https://monarch.engin.umich.edu/
Hayley Hanway, ECE Communications Coordinator, University of Michigan
Oct
22
2020

Pitt to collaborate on new artificial intelligence study of Alzheimer’s

Bioengineering, Electrical & Computer

Heng Huang, John A. Jurenko Endowed Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Swanson School of Engineering, will lead the University of Pittsburgh research on a collaborative study awarded to the University of Southern California's Mark and Mary Stevens Neuroimaging Informatics Institute. “Current analytic methods have not kept pace with the vast amount and high complexity of data that is being collected on Alzheimer’s disease,” said Huang, who also holds an appointment in the Department of Biomedical Informatics at Pitt. “As a pioneer scientist with more than 15 years of experience in machine learning and biomedical data science, I am the main leader of the advanced AI and machine learning techniques developed in this project.” His award is in collaboration with Liang Zhan, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at Pitt. The joint project has six dedicated core teams that will focus on ultra-scale genomics, imaging, and cognitive data analysis. The Pitt team will lead the AI&ML core and the Genomic Sequencing Data Analysis core while also contributing to the Imaging Genetics core. # # # Reposted with permission. Click here to view the University of Southern California's original story. USC leads massive new artificial intelligence study of Alzheimer’s By Zara Greenbaum A massive problem like Alzheimer’s disease (AD)—which affects nearly 50 million people worldwide—requires bold solutions. New funding expected to total $17.8 million awarded to USC’s Mark and Mary Stevens Neuroimaging Informatics Institute and its collaborators is one key piece of that puzzle. The five-year National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded effort, “Ultrascale Machine Learning to Empower Discovery in Alzheimer’s Disease Biobanks,” known as AI4AD, will develop state-of-the-art artificial intelligence (AI) methods and apply them to giant databases of genetic, imaging and cognitive data collected from AD patients. Forty co-investigators at 11 research centers will team up to leverage AI and machine learning to bolster precision diagnostics, prognosis and the development of new treatments for AD. “Our team of experts in computer science, genetics, neuroscience and imaging sciences will create algorithms that analyze data at a previously impossible scale,” says Paul Thompson, associate director of the USC INI and project leader for the new grant. “Collectively, this will enable the discovery of new features in the genome that influence the biological processes involved in Alzheimer’s disease.” Predicting a diagnosis The project’s first objective is to identify genetic and biological markers that predict an AD diagnosis—and to distinguish between several subtypes of the disease. To accomplish this, the research team will apply sophisticated AI and machine learning methods to a variety of data types, including tens of thousands of brain images and whole genome sequences. The investigators will then relate these findings to the clinical progression of AD, including in patients who have not yet developed dementia symptoms. The researchers will train AI methods on large databases of brain scans to identify patterns that can help detect the disease as it emerges in individual patients. “As we get older, each of us has a unique mix of brain changes that occur for decades before we develop any signs of Alzheimer’s disease–changes in our blood vessels, the buildup of abnormal protein deposits and brain cell loss”, says Thompson, who also directs the USC INI’s Imaging Genetics Center. “Our new AI methods will help us determine what changes are happening in each patient, as well as drivers of these processes in their DNA, that we can target with new drugs.” The team is even creating a dedicated “Drug Repurposing Core” to identify ways to repurpose existing drugs to target newly identified segments of the genome, molecules or neurobiological processes involved in the disease. “We predict that combining AI with whole genome data and advanced brain scans will outperform methods used today to predict Alzheimer’s disease progression,” says Thompson. Advancing AI The AI4AD effort is part of the “Cognitive Systems Analysis of Alzheimer's Disease Genetic and Phenotypic Data” and “Harmonization of Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias (AD/ADRD) Genetic, Epidemiologic, and Clinical Data to Enhance Therapeutic Target Discovery” initiatives from the NIH’s National Institute on Aging. These initiatives aim to create and develop advanced AI methods, and apply them to extensive and harmonized rich genomic, imaging, and cognitive data. Collectively, the goals of AI4AD leverage the promise of machine learning to contribute to precision diagnostics, prognostication, and targeted and novel treatments. Thompson and his USC team will collaborate with four co-principal investigators at the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Pittsburgh and the Indiana University School of Medicine. The researchers will also host regular training events at major AD neuroimaging and genetics conferences to help disseminate newly developed AI tools to investigators across the field. Research reported in this publication will be supported by the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number U01AG068057. Also involved in the project are INI faculty members Neda Jahanshad, PhD, and Lauren Salminen, PhD, as well as consortium manager Sophia Thomopoulos. # # #
Zara Greenbaum
Oct
21
2020

Pitt Engineering Alumnus Dedicates Major Gift Toward Undergraduate Tuition Support

All SSoE News, Bioengineering, Chemical & Petroleum, Civil & Environmental, Electrical & Computer, Industrial, MEMS, Student Profiles, Office of Development & Alumni Affairs, Nuclear, Diversity, Investing Now

PITTSBURGH (October 21, 2020) …  An eight-figure donation from an anonymous graduate of the Swanson School of Engineering and spouse to the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering in their estate planning to provide financial aid to undergraduate students who are enrolled in the Pitt EXCEL Program. Announced today by Pitt Chancellor Patrick Gallagher and US Steel Dean of Engineering James R. Martin II, the donors' bequest will provide tuition support for underprivileged or underrepresented engineering students who are residents of the United States of America and in need of financial aid. “I am extremely grateful for this gift, which supports the University of Pittsburgh’s efforts to tackle one of society’s greatest challenges—the inequity of opportunity,” Gallagher said. “Put into action, this commitment will help students from underrepresented groups access a world-class Pitt education and—in doing so—help elevate the entire field of engineering.” “Our dedication as engineers is to create new knowledge that benefits the human condition, and that includes educating the next generation of engineers. Our students’ success informs our mission, and I am honored and humbled that our donors are vested in helping to expand the diversity of engineering students at Pitt,” Martin noted. “Often the most successful engineers are those who have the greatest need or who lack access, and support such as this is critical to expanding our outreach and strengthening the role of engineers in society.” A Gift to Prepare the Workforce of the Future Martin noted that the gift is timely because it was made shortly after Chancellor Gallagher’s call this past summer to create a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment for all, especially for the University’s future students. The gift – and the donors’ passion for the Swanson School – show that there is untapped potential as well as significant interest in addressing unmet need for students who represent a demographic shift in the American workforce.  “By 2050, when the U.S. will have a minority-majority population, two-thirds of the American workforce will require a post-secondary education,” Martin explained. “We are already reimagining how we deliver engineering education and research, and generosity such as this will lessen the financial burden that students will face to prepare for that future workforce.” A Half-Century of IMPACT on Engineering Equity In 1969 the late Dr. Karl Lewis (1/15/1936-3/5/2019) founded the IMPACT Program at the University of Pittsburgh to encourage minority and financially and culturally disadvantaged students to enter and graduate from the field of engineering. The six-week program prepared incoming first year students through exposure to university academic life, development of study skills, academic and career counseling, and coursework to reinforce strengths or remedy weaknesses. Many Pitt alumni today still note the role that Lewis and IMPACT had on their personal and professional lives.  Under Lewis’ leadership, IMPACT sparked the creation of two award-winning initiatives within the Swanson School’s Office of Diversity: INVESTING NOW, a college preparatory program created to stimulate, support, and recognize the high academic performance of pre-college students from groups that are historically underrepresented in STEM majors. Pitt EXCEL, a comprehensive undergraduate diversity program committed to the recruitment, retention, and graduation of academically excellent engineering undergraduates, particularly individuals from groups historically underrepresented in the field. “Dr. Lewis, like so many of his generation, started a movement that grew beyond one person’s idea,” said Yvette Wisher, Director of Pitt EXCEL. “Anyone who talks to today’s EXCEL students can hear the passion of Dr. Lewis and see how exceptional these young people will be as engineers and individuals. They and the hundreds of students who preceded them are the reason why Pitt EXCEL is game-changer for so many.”  Since its inception, Pitt EXCEL has helped more than 1,500 students earn their engineering degrees and become leaders and change agents in their communities. Ms. Wisher says the most important concept she teaches students who are enrolled in the program is to give back however they can once they graduate—through mentorship, volunteerism, philanthropy, or advocacy.  Supporting the Change Agents of Tomorrow “Pitt EXCEL is a home - but more importantly, a family. The strong familial bonds within Pitt EXCEL are what attracted me to Swanson as a graduating high school senior, what kept me going throughout my time in undergrad and what keeps me energized to this very day as a PhD student,” explained Isaiah M. Spencer Williams, BSCE ’19 and currently a pre-doctoral student in the Swanson School’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. “Pitt EXCEL is a family where iron sharpens iron and where we push each other to be the best that we can be every day. Beyond that, it is a space where you are not only holistically nurtured and supported but are also groomed to pave the way for and invest into those who are coming behind you.  “Pitt EXCEL, and by extension, Dr. Lewis' legacy and movement are the reasons why I am the leader and change agent that I am today. This generous gift will ensure a bright future for underrepresented engineering students in the Pitt EXCEL Program, and will help to continue the outstanding development of the change agents of tomorrow.”  Setting a Foundation for Community Support “Next year marks the 51st anniversary of IMPACT/EXCEL as well as the 175th year of engineering at Pitt and the 50th anniversary of Benedum Hall,” Dean Martin said. “The Swanson School of Engineering represents 28,000 alumni around the world, who in many ways are life-long students of engineering beyond the walls of Benedum, but who share pride in being Pitt Engineers. “The key to our future success is working together as a global community to find within ourselves how we can best support tomorrow’s students,” Martin concluded. “We should all celebrate this as a foundational cornerstone gift for greater engagement.” ###

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