Seniors Design App for Microsoft’s New HaloLens

By Alex Maurer

Every semester at UMKC’s School of Computing and Engineering (SCE), students apply their skills and knowledge to their hands-on Capstone Senior Design Project.  For computer science seniors Eric Lytle, Zach Wolf, Jarren Back, Cameron Knight, Eric Wilson, and Alex Mammele, this capstone project afforded them the opportunity to work with the innovative technology of the HoloLens.  Teaming up with the School of Computing and Engineering’s Recruitment staff, these seniors designed an app that can be used in high school and middle school classrooms throughout the Kansas City area to showcase the exciting and cutting-edge work of SCE students.

Through the use of the programming language Unity, a language that will be introduced into computer science classes in SCE this spring, they developed an app that provides a mixed reality for users that combines augmented and virtual realities.  With this app, users can spatially map the environment they are standing in and incorporate holograms that interact with their actual environment.  In this case, UMKC’s mascot, Kasey the Kangaroo, will chase after objects that the user can “throw” into their environment.  This gives the user a fun interactive experience with the environment they live in (augmented reality) and the objects created within the app (virtual reality).

Due to the recent release of the HoloLens, these students were presented with the unique challenge of not only programming the app, but researching and discovering how to create successful programming and code through a trial-and-error process.  While this process proved tedious, Eric Lytle noted that the “exploratory programming” of this app was one of their favorite experiences with this project as it allowed them to develop new skills and knowledge, and be at the forefront of technology.  Not only did this exploratory programming provide a unique experience for this group of students, it also stands to create new opportunities for future SCE students who seek to further develop the app and create new uses for the HoloLens.

Learn more about the HaloLens at: https://www.microsoft.com/microsoft-hololens/en-us

View the HaloLens in action at SCE: https://www.facebook.com/pg/UMKCSCE/videos/?ref=page_internal

A New Center For Nanotechnology

Recent NSF Grant awarded to Masud Chowdhury, Ahmed Hassan and Mostafizur Rahman will be used to establish a new center for nanotechnology.

Remember when cell phones looks like bricks and had about enough computing power to make a call and send a text… and that was it?! Sure – by the time most of you reading this were born, Nokia offered snake and…for a very hefty price tag…you might get a very slow internet connection, but mostly phones were clunky and did very little.

So how did cell phones get smaller AND more powerful? Nanotechnology. Researchers across the globe are rushing to discover new and innovative ways to cram more computing power into smaller and more efficient devices, and it’s not just the phones you use. Nanoelectronics research supports wearable technology, circuitry and systems for your laptops and desktops, materials that are stronger and lighter than materials we use today, and applications in energy efficiency and biomedical advances that are shaping our futures.

All of this is why at UMKC’s School of Computing and Engineering (SCE) we are proud to have top researchers in nanoelectronics committed to engaging our graduate and undergraduate students in this growing field. Dr. Masud Chowdhury, Dr. Ahmed Hassan and Dr. Mostafizur Rahman have recently received a grant for $771,000 from National Science Foundation to develop a nanotechnology research facility.

This new center is named Center for Interdisciplinary Nano Technology Research (CINTR). This new center will be comprised of an equipment laboratory that will allow researchers and students for experimentation and fabrication of nanoscale devices and circuits, and a high-powered computer simulation to perform in-depth analysis and validation of nanoscale designs and applications. Additional goals for the team include ramping up K-12 STEM outreach around nanotechnology themes and welcoming high school students to utilize the facility for learning

“The types of research we are doing now are focused on the theoretical. With this new facility and centralized focus on nanotechnology, we can bring our research to next level,” shared Dr. Chowdhury. The research laboratory is already under development and we look forward to bringing you updates from the lab this Spring 2017.

About the NSF CISE Research Infrastructure Program Grant:

Grant Title: Experimental Characterization and CAD Development Testbed for Nanoscale Integrated Circuits

Agency: National Science Foundation

Approved Budget: $771,000

Project Summary: The aim of this NSF CRI-II-NEW project is to develop a testbed for computer aided design (CAD) simulations, experimental metrology, and software and hardware calibrations to support cross-layer evaluation of novel nanoscale 3D heterogeneous integration of CMOS and post-CMOS technologies. Proposed tools and equipment acquisitions and sustainment will allow bottom-up evaluations from materials, fundamental physics, and experimental metrology to device and circuits to large-scale systems. The proposed infrastructure is unique and will enable thorough evaluation of new 3D heterogeneous integration concepts with accuracy only parallel to full-scale experimental prototyping. It will directly impact the nano-electromagnetics, nano-device, circuits, 3D IC and manufacturing research directions, and will also have significant impact on the big data analytics, renewable energy, smart-city, RF and electromagnetics research initiatives in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering (CSEE) department at University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC). The testbed will not only facilitate transformative research, but will also allow broad ranging educational and outreach activities such as new undergraduate and graduate curriculum development with lab modules, training and mentoring of research students, research dissemination thorough forums and seminars, development of online repositories and online labs, and nanotechnology awareness for K-12 students through summer workshops. The boarder impact of this project is that the proposed infrastructure will provide unique opportunities for research, education and community outreach in the fields of nanomaterials, nanodevice, nanocircuit, biosensing, heterogonous integration, and nanomanufacturing.

Learning to Fly with Dr. Fields

Click here to play video via YouTube.

We’re all a little fascinated with drones now, right? A quick visit to amazon and you can find over 10,000 commercial unmanned aircrafts available for purchase. If you’ve visited a local park, headed out to a sporting event, or popped by UMKC’s campus, you’ve probably seen them in the skies taking video or photographs – but for SCE faculty member, Dr. Travis Fields, they are doing something a bit more complicated, learning to fly.

Dr. Fields is conducting a research project that is focused on the building of a quadcopter that is much cooler than the traditional ones. How so? This drone can learn. Funded by a University of Missouri Research Board grant, his project entitled “In-Flight Learning with Indirect Adaptive Control: A New Paradigm in Flight Testing and Control” explores how to build an aircraft that can adapt as it is dropped and figure out how to adjust its behavior to stay in the air and avoid crashing.

As Dr. Fields explains, “the learning-based control system invokes small oscillations to the four quadcopter motors in order to learn how each motor effects the quadcopter motion. The oscillations provide sufficient data to create a model that can be used to efficiently control the aircraft.” Graduate student, Mohammed Alabsi, has been developing and testing this control system alongside Dr. Fields in the UMKC Drone Research and Teaching Lad (The DRAT). Check out our video to see what’s happening now. When the full research is completed, the ideal quadcopter would have a “fresh-brain” of its own. It will then be tossed from a building and will teach it’s self how to fly prior to reaching the ground!