UMRB Awards Jump Start SCE Faculty Research

Several SCE faculty are conducting research funded by the University of Missouri Research Board (UMRB).  The goal of UMRB awards are to “help promising new faculty initiate their research” and to fund “high quality new initiatives of senior faculty”.   Across the world faculty researchers are working to create new knowledge, solve challenges and advance the quality of human life.  Here’s how our recent SCE UMRB Awardees are contributing to these efforts:

Dr. Baek-Young Choi’s Optical Wireless Communication as an NFC Alternative project investigates the use of visible lights and light sensors of smartphones for communication purpose, thus diversifying the smartphones’ communication channels. The Internet-of-Things is attracting huge interest from both academia and industry, and most of the things in our life are likely to get connected in the near future. At the core of current the Internet-of-Things technologies, is communication through radio frequency (RF) such as WiFi and Bluetooth. With the prevalence of connected devices, our reliance on RF communication is becoming significant. This may cause environmental and health problems due to e-smog, and communication paralysis under disturbance in electro-magnetic field, e.g., electro-magnetic pulse attack.  Project duration:  January 2015 – December 2015.

Dr. Megan Hart’s Waste High Fly Ash as a Novel Soil Mixing Remedial Technique project aims to provide an enhanced methodology for treating phenol contaminated soil thus improving the health of the community, while beneficially utilizing a near endless supply of low-cost, waste materials. Uncontained phenol contamination causes significant, irreparable damage to human health and the environmental due to their acute toxicity at low dose and persistence in natural ecosystems. The EPA has identified phenol contamination in at least 595 of the 1,678 hazardous waste sites on the EPA’s National Priorities List.   In addition, the implementation of the research would enhance economic development by creating value in a currently landfilled product (waste valorization) and stimulating additional sustainability research efforts in such areas as diverting materials from the waste stream, promoting the reduction of initial energy investment in processing virgin materials, conserving virgin materials, and alleviating pollution. Products that enhance soil mixing techniques would affect the entire source control industry and can reduce the cost of treatment of an average per cubic yard of contaminated soil from $265 to $110, an approximate 58% reduction. Phenol toxicity disproportionately affects minorities and childrenProject duration:  January 2015 – December 2015.

Dr. Praveen Rao’s Learning and Reasoning via Bayesian Networks  project develops a generic framework for scalable learning and reasoning using Bayesian Networks (BNs) over data stored and processing by popular big data ecosystems like Apache Hadoop and Spark.  Results will help data scientists gain actionable insights from massive, heterogeneous datasets, enhancing the capability for timely and effective decision making. Project duration:  June 2015 – May 2016.

Dr. Sejun Song’s DCA: Data-centric Collaboration Architecture for Mission-oriented Mobile Computing project is designing and developing a Component-Oriented Data Deduplication and Encryption (CODE) mobile application that achieves both fast and effective data encryption and reduction for MCC services.  Advances in these areas will allow smartphone users to perform resource intensive tasks at anywhere and anytime as conveniently as using their static computers.  Project duration:  June 2014 – May 2015.

Dr. Yongjie Zheng’s Maintaining Architecture-Implementation Conformance project is developing an architecture-implementation mapping technique to support architecture-centric development.  It will can automatically map incremental development changes made to the architecture to code. The goal is to make software architecture a centerpiece in software development and evolution. It can potentially increase software productivity and quality given that software architecture is at a higher level of abstraction than source code, and is more amenable to human being’s manual manipulation. Project duration:  June 2014 – May 2015.

Our hats are off to our hardworking UMRB awardees!  Thank you for dedicating your time, intellect and energy to making our just a little world better. 

IDIC research grants sparking new collaborative research at SCE

Two UMKC SCE faculty, Dr. Deb Chatterjee and Dr. Ganesh Thiagarajan, are completing research funded by UM System Interdisciplinary and Intercampus (IDIC) research grants.   These competitive awards are helping faculty from across the University of Missouri (UM) System conduct significant research projects with collaborators from different UM campuses and are a welcome research funding tool.  

Dr. Deb Chatterjee from UMKC SCE is the PI and Dr. Allison Kabel and Dr. Carla Allen from the University of Missouri-Columbia (MU) are co-PIs on the Ultrawideband Microwave Imaging for Early Detection of Breast Cancer Tumors project.  According to the project abstract, they are investigating microwave imaging as a suitable alternative for the detection of breast cancer. Currently, this research is working on simulations using commercial Electromagnetic Software called FEKO.  The main aim is to build a more contact-less, non-invasive and an affordable microwave imaging system for the early detection of breast cancer.  Their IDIC project, garnered attention when the project’s GRA and SCE EE graduate student, Spandana Vemulapalli, won 1st place at the 2015 SWE Region I Conference graduate poster competition.

Dr. Ganesh Thiagarajan from UMKC SCE is one of six Co-PIs, 2 from UMKC, 2 from Missouri Science &Technology (MS&T) and 2 from MU, on the Healing Chronic Bone Infection Using Bioactive Glass project which is headed by PI Dr. Bhajanjit Bal from MU.  According to the project abstract, this collaborative effort brings together a research team from MS&T, MU and UMKC with a unique combination of expertise to address the challenging problem of curing bone infection and regenerating bone and soft tissue. Their novel approach relies on the use of low-cost biomaterials alone and does not require the use of drugs. The bioactive glass serves as a carrier for inorganic ions and, as the glass reacts with the body fluid in vivo, those ions are released to cure the infection and promote tissue healing. This type of effective low-cost treatment is needed because millions of people worldwide suffer from chronic bone infection which is difficult and expensive to treat.

These are but a few examples of how the IDIC funding is sparking collaborations across the University of Missouri system.  We are proud SCE researchers are participating in these exciting projects.

Travis Fields Tests Steerable Parachute System at California Army National Guard Facility

Dr. Travis Fields and mechanical engineering undergraduate student Victor Shoemaker recently traveled to Camp Roberts, CA for a two week flight testing event. Flight testing operations consisted of deploying 10 lb. payloads with cross-style parachutes from a catapult launched unmanned aircraft at approximately 2,500 ft. above ground. The work is funded through the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research Development Engineering Center (NSRDEC) with the goal of developing an extremely low-cost steerable parachute system that can produce precision cargo delivery. Over the two week period 43 aircraft sorties were performed with 78 payload deployments. Data indicates high controllability of the cross parachute and work is ongoing to develop active control systems to create an autonomous delivery system.

Watch the video online at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zJpFzpJ7Tvg&feature=youtu.be 

SCE Courses Count Toward DBIA Designation

SCE’s Project Management for Integrated Design & Construction course is now accepted as an equivalent for the “Post-award Design Build” DBIA (Design Build Institute of America) Post-award Design Build course. The course was designed and is taught by ODC Synergy’s Chuck WilliamsWith Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering Dr. Ceki Halmen’s help, the continuing education course is now available online as well.  This is one of the 4 courses students need to finish to attain DBIA designationAs our SCE Project Delivery course is qualified by the DBIA as a replacement for two of the 4 courses, SCE now offers 3 of the 4 required courses students need to take to be eligible for DBIA designation.   Interested in taking the course?  Contact SCE Director of Continuing Education Christina Davis.

SCE Hosts Google App Camps

SCE is proud to again partner with Google Fiber, by hosting Google “App Camp,” experiences this summer for 9th-12th grade students from 8 Greater Kansas City school districts – from KCK to Liberty to SMSD to KCMO.  SCE students Haya Qureini and Alex Mammele provided instruction Monday-Thursday and then on Friday students spent the day at the Google Fiber seminar space giving presentations and receiving feedback on their work from community judges.  The June 8-12 and July 13-17 beginner camps provided 33 students with the skills necessary to program an application for an Android smartphone.  The July 27-31 Advanced App Camp furthered students’ knowledge and understanding of application development and the basic app camp was a prerequisite. This is the third year SCE has partnered with Google Fiber to provide these free camps to local area high school students.  Kyler Keith, SCE Coordinator of Recruitment and Outreach, coordinated this year’s camps. 

Girls App Camp Attracts Area Students

This summer, the Kansas City Engineering Zone  (KC EZ) Girls App Camp provided the basics of coding and Smartphone app design to middle and high school girls.  Held from August 4 – August 8 on the UMKC Campus, the camp attracted over 20 participants.  The KC EZ was launched in partnership with the UMKC SCE.  See KMBC’s news coverage, App Camp Aims to Guide Girls Toward High Tech Careers, for more information about the Girls App Camp and KC Engineering Zone opens doors for students and stirs hope for more information about the KC EZ. Coverage of the Girls App Camp can also be found on KCUR.

Vinutha Nuchimaniyanda and Sravani Punyamurthula awarded GHC Scholarship Grants

Two SCE computer science graduate students, Vinutha Nuchimaniyanda and  Sravani Punyamurthula,  have been awarded Scholarship Grants to attend the 2015 Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing (GHC) Conference being held this October 14-16, 2015 in Houston, TX.   The GHC Conference is “world’s largest conference for women technologists”, according to the GHC website.  Students who are interested in attending the conference must submit an essay, resume and advisor’s recommendation.  Both students’ research is in the area of big data with Sravani’s focusing on an application that can help document open source code and Vinutha’s focusing on an application that will be help in the field of telepathology.  Dr. Yugi Lee is Sravani Punyamurthula’s faculty advisor and Dr. Praveen Rao is Vinutha Nuchimaniyanda’s faculty advisor.  Big data is an exciting new area in computer science which is transforming our knowledge and capabilities across all sectors – military, industrial, health, research and business.

Deborah O’Bannon selected for 2015 Stemmy Award

Professor of Civil Engineering Deborah (Deb) O’Bannon has been recognized for her professional and technical excellence by the Kansas City Central Exchange, an organization whose vision includes promoting “the personal and professional growth and development of women, and fostering community service and business leadership by women.”  At the annual Stemmy Awards Gala this September 24, 2015, Dr. O’Bannon will be awarded the WiSTEMM Educator Stemmy Award and recognized for her work both as an educator and as a mentor.  Dr. O’Bannon has mentored civil engineering professionals, faculty, and dozens of female engineering students as the UMKC Society of Women Engineers (SWE) student chapter advisor.  We at SCE know that she is an outstanding educator, researcher and mentor and are thrilled to learn her hard work and dedication have resulted in this honor.