By Center For Information And Systems Engineering
Professors W. Clem Karl (ECE, BME, SE), Theodore Moustakas (ECE, MSE) and Yannis Paschalidis (ECE, SE) have been named as 2014 IEEE Fellows, the highest grade of membership in the world’s leading professional association for advancing technology for the benefit of society.
The IEEE confers the grade of Fellow upon individuals with outstanding records of accomplishment in any of the organization’s fields of interest, which range from aerospace systems, computers and telecommunications to biomedical engineering, electric power and consumer electronics. Less than 0.1 percent of voting members—the IEEE currently has 400,000 members in 160 countries—are selected annually for this member grade elevation, considered a major career achievement and prestigious honor across the technical community.
W. Clem Karl
Karl was recognized for his contributions to “statistical signal processing and image reconstruction.” He hasdeveloped several statistical models for the extraction of information from diverse data sources in the presence of uncertainty, and applied them in projects that include automatic target detection and recognition for synthetic aperture radar; locating oil deposits and analyzing the earth’s atmosphere; and monitoring medical conditions using tomography and MRI.
“This is a great honor, and I’m humbled that my peers would confer it on me,” said Karl.
A member of the BU faculty since 1995, Karl has assumed many leadership roles for the IEEE. Currently editor-in-chief of IEEE Transactions on Image Processing, he is a member of the Board of Governors and Conference Board of the Signal Processing Society; the Transactions on Medical Imaging Steering Committee; the Biomedical Image and Signal Processing Technical Committee; and the Technical Committee Review Board. He has co-organized IEEE workshops on statistical signal processing and bioinformatics, and was general chair of the 2009 IEEE International Symposium on Biomedical Imaging.
Among other things, Karl is developing methods to improve the detection of explosives in luggage. The technology could increase passenger safety while reducing delays and other inconveniences for air travelers, such as having to remove laptops and other electronic devices from bags.
Moustakas was recognized for his contributions to “the epitaxial growth of nitride semiconductors.” He is a trailblazer in molecular beam epitaxy, a versatile and advanced thin-film growth technique used to make high-precision, nitride (nitrogen compound-based) semiconductor materials used in fiber-optic, cellular, satellite and other applications.
His most notable achievements include pioneering the nucleation steps for the growth of gallium nitride on sapphire and other substrates, an essential process for the manufacture of blue LEDs, which are widely used in solid state lighting applications; and developing highly-efficient, deep ultraviolet (UV) LEDs, which are expected to provide environmentally friendly water and air purification.
“I am delighted to receive this prestigious award and I am very grateful to many of my collaborators at BU and other institutions, as well the outstanding past and current students that I have had the fortune of mentoring,” said Moustakas.
A member of the ENG faculty for more than 30 years and ENG Distinguished Scholar who helped shape the Materials Science & Engineering Division, Moustakas has had a broad impact on his field, through 25 patents, hundreds of invited talks and journal papers and 10,000 citations in research literature. Recently selected as the recipient of the Molecular Beam Epitaxy (MBE) Innovator Award, he is also a Fellow of the American Physical Society and Electrochemical Society, and Charter Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors. In 2013 he was named the Boston University Innovator of the Year.
Moustakas is currently working to create visible and UV LEDs and lasers for solid-state white lighting, water and air sterilization, and identification of biological and chemical agents; investigating indium gallium nitride “quantum dots” that boost solar cell efficiency; and, in collaboration with Associate Professor Roberto Paiella (ECE, MSE), studying the use of nitride semiconductor structures for green LED applications and for emitters and detectors operating in the far infrared.
Paschalidis was recognized for his contributions to “the control and optimization of communication and sensor networks, manufacturing systems and biological systems.” Since joining the College of Engineering faculty in 1996, he has developed sophisticated algorithms for everything from a homeland security early warning sensor network to a next-generation electronic healthcare management system.
“I am elated to have been named an IEEE Fellow,” said Paschalidis. “Much credit is due to all my students and postdoctoral associates, past and present, who have contributed to the work being recognized, and all my collaborators, many of them here at Boston University.”
Co-director of the College’s Center for Information and Systems Engineering (CISE), an ENG Distinguished Faculty Fellow and affiliate of the BioMolecular Engineering Research Center, Paschalidis has a diverse research portfolio that spans the fields of systems and control, networking, applied probability, optimization, operations research, computational biology and bioinformatics. His work has resulted in new applications in communication and sensor networks, protein docking, logistics, cyber-security, robotics, the smart grid and finance.
Paschalidis has received several honors, including a CAREER award from the National Science Foundation, an invitation to participate in the National Academy of Engineering Frontiers of Engineering Symposium, two best paper awards, and best performance at a computational biology competition. He is the editor-in-chief of the IEEE Transactions on Control of Network Systems and a member of the Board of Governors of the IEEE Control Systems Society.
Visiting Professor Vivek Goyal (ECE), who will be an assistant professor in the ECE Department starting in January, was also named an IEEE Fellow.
Dedicated to the advancement of technology, the IEEE publishes 30 percent of the world’s literature in the electrical and electronics engineering and computer science fields, and has developed more than 900 active industry standards. The association also sponsors or co-sponsors nearly 400 international technical conferences each year.
By Mark Dwortzen
In a ceremony held October 25 at the Boston University Photonics Center, the College of Engineering celebrated its alumni and announced the 2013 Distinguished Alumni Awards. Presented by Dean Kenneth R. Lutchen following a buffet dinner and champagne toast, the awards recognize individuals who have made significant contributions to their alma mater, community and profession. Lutchen commended the recipients for bringing honor to the College through their careers, commitment to the highest standards of excellence, and devotion to the College.
Anton Papp (EE’90), vice president for Corporate Development at Teradata, received the Service to Alma Mater award, which honors alumni who have enhanced the College of Engineering’s stature through voluntary service to BU.
At Teradata Papp oversees, evaluates and executes investments, mergers and acquisitions, and strategy. Prior to joining Teradata, he served as vice president of Corporate Development & Global Alliances at Aprimo and held numerous investment banking positions. A graduate of the prestigious US Navy Fighter Weapons School (TOPGUN), Papp attended BU on a Naval ROTC scholarship and served as a Naval Officer and F-14 Tomcat Flight Instructor. He also earned an MBA in Finance from Columbia Business School.
Papp serves on the College of Engineering Dean’s Advisory Board, the ENG West Coast Alumni Leadership Council, and the BU West Coast Regional Campaign Committee. He has been the leading supporter for the ENG/SMG Summer Leadership Institute program, and part of the College’s efforts to recruit top undergraduates.
Dan Ryan and Aaron Ganick (both ECE’10), cofounders of the telecommunications company ByteLight, received the Distinguished Young Alumni award, which honors outstanding alumni within 10 years of graduation for outstanding service to their profession or community.
A startup that emerged out of the Smart Lighting Engineering Research Center at BU, ByteLight has produced a system that’s similar to an indoor GPS. Special LED lights provided by Bytelight enable your smartphone to determine your location and to bring up location-based information ranging from store coupons to museum exhibit descriptions.
George Savage (BME’81), Chief Medical Officer and cofounder of Proteus Digital Health, and a member of the BU College of Engineering West Coast Advisory Council, received the Service to the Profession award, which honors alumni whose work has significantly contributed to the advancement of their profession and brought them recognition within their field.
Savage has started 10 companies since 1989 as entrepreneur or founding investor, including FemRx (acquired by Johnson and Johnson), CardioRhythm (acquired by Medtronic) and QRx Pharmaceuticals. He holds an M.D. from Tufts University School of Medicine and an M.B.A. from Stanford University Graduate School of Business, and serves on the boards of Menlo Healthcare Ministry, the Pacific Research Institute and Silent Cal Productions.
At Proteus, Savage has advanced a system of small, ingestible event markers that are implanted in a patient’s medications. A monitor worn as a patch on the patient identifies each pill upon swallowing and tracks vital signs, which are uploaded to the patient’s mobile phone and transmitted to caregivers and healthcare professionals. The system allows for instantaneous and personalized treatment and promises to transform the way doctors monitor patients’ medicine.
Assessing, revamping energy use at Roxbury’s Madison Park Village
The next time you walk into an office lobby that’s freezing on an August afternoon or an apartment that’s sweltering on a January morning, consider this: buildings are energy hogs, responsible for more than 40 percent of all of the energy consumed and the carbon emitted in the United States. So, improving buildings’ heating, cooling, and electrical systems would seem a no-brainer. But curbing a building’s energy consumption isn’t as simple as flipping a switch; better technology must align with building occupants’ attitudes and behaviors to ensure the highest level of efficiency.
Four Boston University professors have recently taken on that challenge, teaming up with BU’s Sustainable Neighborhood Lab (SNL) to see how they can improve energy efficiency at Madison Park Village, a low-income housing complex in Roxbury, Mass. City councilor Tito Jackson, who represents Roxbury, first connected BU staff and faculty with representatives from theMadison Park Development Corporation nearly two years ago to discuss how to improve the complex’s energy use. The team was able to tackle the project thanks to grant funding from IBM and Wells Fargo.
Jim Quirk, a Wells Fargo vice president, says the project fit nicely with the bank’s philanthropic mission of supporting basic clean technology solutions. “We’re really not interested in a solar panel on a $10 million townhome in Louisburg Square,” he says. “That’s nice, but that’s not really what we want to do. We’re looking for a significant impact for someone, not a feel-good project.”
The timing of the project works well for Madison Park Village, which is undergoing an extensive renovation. Russell Tanner, the corporation’s director of real estate, says the energy project also “gets residents more engaged in the process and more cognizant of the impact on their lives.”
The BU team is taking an interdisciplinary approach by drawing on each of the members’ field of expertise. Robert Kaufmann, a College of Arts & Sciences professor of earth and environment, will crunch the numbers to determine variations in energy consumption among the village’s four buildings. Michael Gevelber, a College of Engineering associate professor of mechanical engineering, is determining which energy systems are already in place and whether they are delivering the promised results. Based on his findings, he will make suggestions for ecofriendly technology upgrades. Nalin Kulatilaka, the School of Management Wing Tat Lee Family Professor in Management, will propose financial incentives that could encourage landlords to invest in technology improvements and tenants to use energy wisely. And Enrique Silva, a Metropolitan College assistant professor of city planning and urban affairs, will examine residents’ energy consumption habits to better understand how they could be influenced toward conservation.
What’s neat about this project, Gevelber says, is that “it’s bringing together these four totally different people with different perspectives to work on this…real problem for the city of Boston and for the people who live here.” Gevelber used to meet weekly for coffee with Kaufmann and Kulatilaka to discuss how to translate energy conservation theory into practice. This project now gives them, and Silva, who joined the team at the suggestion of SNL’s administrative director Linda Grosser, a chance to do just that.
Work on the project began in May when the BU team and research assistants designed a survey to assess Madison Park Village residents’ energy consumption and conservation. They recruited and trained a handful of local high school students to conduct the door-to-door surveys, with the goal of collecting 100 by summer’s end. Only 40 were returned completed.
The teenagers ran into unexpected challenges in administering the survey, says SNL project manager Marta Marello (GRS’13), who supervised the youth. Some residents were not available because they worked full-time or had young children who demanded their attention. Others spoke only Spanish or were reluctant to share personal information with relative strangers. Still, the BU professors think they received enough information from the surveys that were returned to compare to utility bills paid by property management and arrive at a baseline for the village’s energy consumption.
Madison Park Village is in many ways the perfect project to study how technology and occupants’ attitudes shape energy conservation, because the landlord pays for electricity and gas in two of the buildings and tenants pay in the other two. The property management team has given BU access to the bills it pays, but the residents who pay their own utilities have been more hesitant to share that information for privacy reasons or out of fear of being judged in the event they have overdue accounts.
“We’re asking for the privilege to go into their homes and poke around with questions and issues that could be embarrassing or incriminating,” Silva says. “You have to be sensitive to the residents’ life situations…without stigmatizing, without making assumptions.” There is a history of researchers swooping in to conduct studies without benefitting the local communities in which they work. The professors’ goal is to “change that paradigm,” he says.
Silva is now in the process of identifying families willing to participate in more in-depth interviews and in-home observations so that he and his colleagues can link residents’ attitudes regarding energy consumption with their actions. What he discovers will help determine which incentives might push residents toward energy conservation. “Technology itself does not nudge people” to change, he says. “It’s how people relate to technology.”
Using a combination of hard data and behavioral observations will help the BU team analyze what Kulatilaka calls the split incentive problem—that tenants living in units with utilities included “have very little incentive to act prudently,” while those paying for their usage do. He thinks a solution lies in providing both landlords and tenants with rewards for energy conservation. For example, if the professors can determine how much money would be saved monthly by installing a new energy-efficient HVAC system within a building, then that money could be passed on through regular payments to tenants and landlords. For every dollar saved, 20 cents would go to the resident, and 80 cents to Madison Park.
Meanwhile, Gevelber is creating an inventory of engineering systems within the buildings, determining whether they are user-friendly and if further upgrades are necessary. Landlords might pass by a window cracked open in the dead of winter and envision dollar signs floating in the air. “We always blame the occupants for wasting energy,” Gevelber says, but one problem could be that “buildings are designed in such a way that there’s no temperature regulation in each room, no way to adjust it, and the system is just running.” He says that’s a mechanical, not a human, problem.
If the BU team’s approach is successful at Madison Park Village, it could become a model for other housing developments in the city. (Kulatilaka says representatives from Dorchester’s Codman Square Neighborhood Development Corp. have already contacted them about the possibility of working with the BU team.) Finding a model that works in Boston could have major global implications, considering that more than half of the world’s population currently lives in an urban area and the World Health Organization projects that 7 out of 10 people will live in a city by 2050.
“If you can solve the problems of the city, you’re going to be able to solve global problems,” Grosser says. Energy use is a big part of that equation. “Cities are a major source of global energy expenditures,” she says, “but they presumably could also be the most efficient consumers.”
By Leslie Friday
Imagining intelligent traffic lights, parking spaces, buildings, and appliances
Watch the video about Smart Parking.
Last year, the Daily Beast named Boston the country’s smartest metropolitan area. The website was referring to the people of Boston, of course, not the city itself. But what if the city itself were smart? What if technology, designed by the smart people who work in Boston, could help us save time and energy and spare us from daily frustrations? We talked to some BU researchers who are studying, designing, and building the technology for a more enlightened city.
Because the cost of electricity fluctuates throughout the day, depending on demand, smart meters that are currently available tell homeowners exactly how much energy they use and at what cost, encouraging them to delay energy-intensive activities until a time of day when demand and costs are low. Supported by a $2 million National Science Foundation grant, Michael Caramanis, a College of Engineering professor of mechanical and systems engineering, John Baillieul, an ENG professor of mechanical engineering, and two MIT faculty members are collaborating on a study of how these and larger-scale measures could result in a smarter electricity grid. In the United States, we lose about 8 percent of energy because it travels long distances between points of generation to use. Caramanis thinks the loss could be greatly reduced if we got our energy from closer and cleaner sources. A smarter grid could help us do that.
Security officers could sort through billions of hours of video footage and spot unusual events, such as someone attempting to enter a building in the middle of the night, using specially designed cameras with embedded algorithms. Janusz Konrad and Venkatesh Saligrama, both ENG professors of electrical and computer engineering, have developed the technology, supported by more than $800,000 in funding from the National Science Foundation, the Department of Homeland Security, and other agencies.
BU engineers have designed software that, once uploaded to a building’s HVAC system, would measure airflow room by room and revise it to meet minimum standards, decreasing energy costs while keeping occupants happy. The invention earned Michael Gevelber, an ENG associate professor of mechanical engineering, Donald Wroblewski, an ENG adjunct research professor, along with ENG and School of Management students first prize and $20,000 in this year’s MIT Clean Energy Competition. The team plans to develop and market the software through its newly formed company, Aeolus Building Efficiency.
Smarter traffic lights
A smart traffic lighting system would mine GPS information from cars and smartphones and count the number of vehicles waiting at red lights. If there is no approaching traffic, it would switch lights from red to green. Christos Cassandras, an ENG professor of electrical and computer engineering and head of the Division of Systems Engineering, is testing this system on a model minicity in his lab.
By Rachel Harrington
Enhancing the functionality of cyber-physical systems—those that integrate physical processes with networked computing—could significantly improve our quality of life, from reducing car collisions to upgrading robotic surgeries to mounting more effective search and rescue missions.
Recognizing Boston University as a key contributor to this effort, the National Science Foundation has awarded Professors Venkatesh Saligrama (ECE, SE) and David Castañón (ECE, SE), and Assistant Professor Mac Schwager (ME, SE), nearly $1 million for their project, “CPS: Synergy: Data Driven Intelligent Controlled Sensing for Cyber Physical Systems.”
Drawing on earlier work by Saligrama and Castañón investigating machine learning under cost and budget constraints, the researchers will focus on improving sensors that collect data in transportation, security and manufacturing applications. A key challenge in such applications is to choose the most effective physical sensors from the vast amount available and develop systems that can efficiently process large quantities of collected data.
“Many of these systems are energy hungry,” Saligrama explained. “The goal is to use such sensors only when they are needed by using feedback control of the sensing actions to obtain the best information possible given energy budget constraints.”
Castañón, who has developed some of the leading theories used in controlled sensing studies, sees the project as “an opportunity to extend that theory to big data environments with high-dimensional measurements.”
The team plans to validate its techniques through archaeological surveying, working with Associate Professor Chris Roosevelt (Archaeology). Determining where to deploy the sensors on a smaller scale—for example, finding where best to dig—could lead to far-reaching solutions for deep-sea exploration, firefighting and traffic monitoring.
Several SE Division faculty, including Professors Christos Cassandras (ECE, SE), Michael Gevelber (ME, SE, MSE), Michael Caramanis (ME, SE), Thomas Little (ECE, SE), and Venkatesh Saligrama (ECE, SE), are featured in the Fall 2013 Bostonia article If Boston Were Smart by Leslie Friday.
Christos Cassandras, College of Engineering professor of electrical and computer engineering and head of the Division of Systems Engineering, also narrates two videos in the Fall 2013 Bostonia. Smarter Cities: Parking and Smarter Cities: Traffic Control videos by Joe Chan may be viewed at Bostonia or the Division of Systems Engineering.
Bostonia showcases Smarter Cities.
By Leslie Friday
Follow this link for an overview of Smarter Cities research at Boston University.
New Algorithms Could Cut Costs, Add Renewables
By Mark Dwortzan
When power transmission lines reach their capacity in a particular region during high demand periods, controllers have little choice but to tap local power plants to keep the electricity flowing and prevent blackouts. This practice, which favors expensive, local generation sources such as coal and natural gas over cheaper, typically more remote, renewable sources such as wind farms and solar arrays, adds an estimated $5 billion to $10 billion per year to the cost of running the US power grid. As more and more renewable generation sources join the grid and increase transmission line congestion, that price is expected to rise substantially.
To mitigate this cost, College of Engineering researchers and collaborators at Tufts University and Northeastern University have a plan that could enable controllers to exploit cheaper, renewable generation sources when transmission lines become congested. Supported by a $1.2 million grant from the Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Programs Agency (ARPA-E) in 2012 and an additional $1 million as of September, the researchers are developing algorithms and software that can produce short-term changes in the power transmission network that redistribute power across the network and utilize renewable sources without overloading transmission lines.
They estimate that the algorithms they’re developing will save $3 billion to $7 billion annually and significantly improve the resilience of today’s power transmission network. Based on a fundamental law of physics dictating that electric current is distributed along the paths of least resistance, the algorithms are designed to discover, in real time, preferred reconfigurations of the transmission network.
“By removing a small number of critical transmission lines, you change the relative resistances across alternative network paths, and electric power redistributes itself, relieving the congestion,” said ProfessorMichael Caramanis (ME, SE), the project’s co-principal investigator along with Research Associate Professor Pablo Ruiz (ME), who is leading the research effort. “If you disconnect the right lines, you can relieve congestion, increase use of inexpensive power sources and lower congestion costs.”
Having already implemented their algorithms in reproducing real-life situations in collaboration with thePJM transmission system, the largest power market in the US covering many eastern states, the researchers—with the recent addition of Professor Yannis Paschalidis (ECE, SE)—are now fine-tuning their software. Their immediate goal is to provide new ways of integrating wind generation with lower costs while strengthening the power transmission network. But to achieve that goal entails wrestling with a lot of computational complexity. Out of tens of thousands of transmission lines, the software must select a few, perhaps four or five, whose connection or disconnection will minimize the “spilling” or waste of inexpensive wind generation that might occur during high-congestion periods.
“Based on our understanding of power markets, in which prices can vary every five minutes at each node of the network, we can infer which lines would be beneficial to disconnect and which not,” said Caramanis. “When we disconnect a line, we also know how it will change the power flow over every other line, and how much we will gain by relieving the transmission network capacity a little bit. The idea is to optimize the network to reduce costly congestion.”
Over the next two-and-a-half years, the team plans to continue refining its algorithms in collaboration with PJM, two software companies and an energy consulting firm. It will also design tests and procedures to ensure that the dynamic reconfiguration of the transmission network causes no disruption in the security and stability of the power system. If the software is adopted across PJM or other vast transmission networks, controllers seeking to relieve congestion will have the capability to connect and disconnect selected transmission lines every half hour or hour as needed, rather than once or twice a month, as they do now—or even automate the process.
SE Faculty Search: Tenure track faculty position at the rank of Professor in the area of Network Systems
The Division of Systems Engineering (SE) at Boston University (BU) is seeking candidates for a tenured faculty position at the rank of Professor in the area of Network Systems. The Division of Systems Engineering is seeking a proven accomplished researcher to provide leadership in the area of network systems and to bring together a number of already existing related activities which span the ECE and ME Departments. The Division, in conjunction with the Center for Information and Systems Engineering (CISE), has established world-class research excellence in areas such as Sensor Networks, Multi-Agent Systems, and Mobile Robotics. These and other areas where Division faculty are active represent instances of a broader emerging class of network systems. Beyond traditional computer and communication networks, this new class is characterized by network structures whose nodes are complex dynamic systems in themselves (wireless physical devices, robots, power supply centers in a smart grid, vehicles in smart cities, factories/warehouse in supply chains, etc). Candidates with research interests that transcend the traditional boundaries of SE are strongly encouraged to apply. The candidate would be given a primary appointment in our Mechanical Engineering or Electrical and Computer Engineering departments as applicable. Additional appointments with other BU departments and the Division of Materials Science and Engineering are available for candidates with appropriate experience and interests.
Qualified candidates must possess a relevant, earned PhD, and have a demonstrable ability to teach effectively, develop funded research programs in their area of expertise, and contribute to the tradition of excellence in research that is characteristic of SE at BU. Self-motivated individuals who thrive on challenge and are eager to utilize their expertise to strengthen an ambitious program of divisional enhancement are desired. Women, minorities, and candidates from other underrepresented groups are especially encouraged to apply.
SE at BU is a world-class Division with excellent resources, including the Center for Information and Systems Engineering (CISE), that is steadily gaining national and international prominence for its exceptional research and education record. SE is part of BU’s rapidly growing and innovative College of Engineering. The College of Engineering is comprised of three departments (Biomedical, Electrical & Computer, and Mechanical) and two graduate divisions (Systems and Materials Science & Engineering) consisting of 120 faculty, 75 staff, 1350 undergraduates and 700 graduate students. The College of Engineering has risen rapidly in distinction over the past decade and is currently ranked 38th and in the top 20 in research dollars per faculty member. Significant investments in the SE area by the College and University are significant and will continue. Outstanding collaboration opportunities are available with nationally recognized medical centers and universities/colleges, nearby research centers, and industry throughout the Boston area.
Beyond its research and academic activities, BU has a lively, urban campus situated along the banks of the Charles River in Boston’s historic Fenway-Kenmore neighborhood. The campus and surrounding areas offer limitless opportunities for recreational activities, from world-class art and performances to sporting events and fine dining.
Please visit http://www.bu.edu/SE/ for more information about the SE Division. To apply, please visit and follow application instructions online at https://academicjobsonline.org/ajo/jobs/3207. Applications will be accepted until the position is filled. Preferred deadline for full consideration is December 31, 2013. Therefore, applicants are encouraged to apply early. Boston University is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.
September 16th, 2013
CISE affiliated faculty Nathan Phillips was featured on a September 11th episode of the local Boston TV News Magazine, Chronicle on Ch. 5 WCVB. Prof. Phillips explains how roof space can be utilized to measure carbon dioxide and to promote sustainability.
Prof. Phillips is the Principal Coordinator for the Pardee Center’s Urban Century Research Initiative.