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CATS Seminars Spring 2007
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CATS Seminar, April 24, 2007, 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm, CII 3051

Air Force Research in Information Science and Technology

John S. Bay, Ph.D.
Chief Scientist
Air Force Research Laboratory, Information Directorate Rome, New York

Download Dr. Bay's Presentation

This presentation will be an overview of the Air Force Research Laboratory and, in particular, the Information Directorate (AFRL/IF). The Information Directorate focuses its efforts in seven areas: advanced computing architectures, information exploitation, information fusion & understanding, information management, command & control, connectivity, and cyber operations. Each of these will be briefly explained and example efforts will be provided. As part of its mission, AFRL/IF performs and supervises a wide range of research and development activities, from basic to applied research and even direct support to military operations. The directorate also forms partnerships with other government, non-government, academic, and international organizations to pursue science and technology of importance to national security. After an overview of AFRL and the directorate, specific research emphases and technology trends will be discussed, with information provided about opportunities for new programs.

John Bay received his Ph.D. degree from The Ohio State University in 1988. From 1989 until 1999, he taught electrical and computer engineering at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech), in Blacksburg, Virginia. In 2000, he became an Engineering Fellow for Strategic Systems at the Raytheon Company in Falls Church, Virginia, where he performed research in robotics, decision aiding systems, and military Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (C4ISR). In 2001, he became a program manager for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), where he served in the Information Exploitation Office (IXO). At DARPA, he managed four major programs, which together included research projects in control systems, real-time embedded systems, unmanned vehicles, avionics, and scalable command and control (C2). In 2005 he was named the Chief Scientist of the Information Directorate, Air Force Research Laboratory, Rome, N.Y. There, he oversees the technical efforts of more than 800 military and civilian scientists, engineers, and administrative and support people. Dr. Bay is a Senior Member of the IEEE, a former IEEE Computer Society Distinguished Visitor, and a former Associate Editor of IEEE Control Systems Magazine.

CATS Seminar, March 27, 2007, 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm, CII 3051

NYSERDA Funding Opportunities for Industry-Academia Partnerships

Dana Levy, Ph.D.
New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA)

Since 1990, NYSERDA has successfully developed and brought into use more than 170 innovative, energy-efficient, and environmentally beneficial products, processes, and services. Many of these have resulted from industry-academia partnerships where NYSERDA funding was an essential team-building catalyst. Leveraging academic talents, to support economic development within the NYS industrial sector, is integral to NYSERDA's mission. A few examples of successful projects, and the procedures for seeking NYSERDA funding, will be detailed.

Dr. Dana Levy is the Program Manager for Industrial Research at the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), where he directs a seven-member team managing over $50 million of NYSERDA funding in active contracts and leveraging an additional $240 million. NYSERDA's programs seek to improve the state's economic competitiveness and energy efficiency in an environmentally sound manner. The Industrial Research Program focuses on industrial process and productivity improvements, new product development, hydrogen and emerging technologies, electric transmission and distribution systems (including superconducting cable and transformer technologies), and end-use customer acquisition of Distributed Generation-Combined Heat and Power (DG-CHP) electric generating systems such as reciprocating engines, microturbines, combustion gas and steam turbines, and fuel cells. In his seven years at NYSERDA, Dr. Levy has reviewed approximately 600 proposals, recommending more than one-out-of-three of these be awarded funding in pursuit of long-term solutions to reducing energy costs. Prior to NYSERDA, he served as Environmental Coordinator at the Army's Watervliet Arsenal and as an environmental engineering consultant to industry and government. Dr. Levy earned his Doctorate and M.S. degrees in Environmental Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Massachusetts, and is a licensed Professional Engineer.

CATS Seminar, March 20, 2007, 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm, CII 3051

New Technologies for Process Research and Development in the Pharmaceutical Industry

Joel Hawkins, Ph.D.
Pfizer Global Research and Development

Process research and development in the pharmaceutical industry requires the efficient screening and optimization of organic reactions in anticipation of scaling up to kilolab, pilot plant, and ultimately manufacturing scales. Laboratory robotics, simplified automation, in situ spectroscopy, and microfluidics based technologies increase the efficiency of this research by running reactions in parallel with greater control of reaction parameters and more information per experiment. The development and application of these technologies will be described.

Joel Hawkins received his Ph.D. in organic chemistry at MIT in 1986 with Professor Barry Sharpless, and was an NIH Postdoctoral Fellow at Caltech with Professor Robert Grubbs. As an Assistant Professor at the University of California at Berkeley from 1987 to 1993, he studied asymmetric Diels-Alder catalysts and fullerene chemistry. In 1993, he moved to Pfizer where he is a Senior Research Fellow in the Chemical Research and Development department and is particularly interested in the application of new technologies to drug development including automation, in situ spectroscopy, and microfluidics.

CATS Seminar, February 27, 2007, 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm, CII 3051

NYSERDA Transportation Research & Development Programs and Funding Opportunities

Joseph D. Tario
New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA)

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), a public benefit corporation, created in 1975 by the New York State Legislature, works to improve New York State's energy, environmental, and economic future by sponsoring energy analysis, research and development, and efficiency deployment programs. Funding for these programs comes from the State's investor-owned utilities, the federal government, substantial co-funding from project partners, and voluntary contributions from the New York Power Authority and the Long Island Power Authority.
The transportation sector poses some of the most challenging energy problems in New York State. Most vehicle fuel comes from petroleum, a resource increasingly susceptible to supply disruptions and volatile prices, and combustion of this fuel produces significant air pollution as well as greenhouse gases. To address these problems, NYSERDA sponsors development of transportation technology that improves energy efficiency, reduces environmental impacts and fosters a shift toward alternative, renewable fuels. NYSERDA's programs span a wide range of transportation modes and vehicle sizes, from cars and trucks to commuter trains and marine vessels. 
Currently, the NYSERDA transportation program is funding and actively supporting 97 innovative research projects. NYSERDA contributes in excess of 28 million dollars of statutory and SBC funds to current research projects costing a total of 60 million dollars, the balance provided by industry partners and other co-funders.

Joseph D. Tario is a Senior Project Manager with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). Working in their Transportation Research Department, he primarily manages projects focused on advanced transportation infrastructure and commercial vehicle development. A graduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, he holds an M.E. in environmental engineering, a B.S. in civil engineering, and is a licensed professional engineer in the state of New York. In addition to his duties at NYSERDA, Mr. Tario also manages a research consortium for the NYS Department of Transportation and is the Vice President of the Intelligent Transportation Society of New York.

CATS Seminar, February 27, 2007, 9:00 am to 10:00 am, CII 5003

PyCraft - A Computational Workbench for Multibody Dynamics

Abhi Jain, Ph.D.
Dynamics and Real-Time Simulation (DARTS) Laboratory
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology

The equations of motion for multibody system dynamics grow rapidly in complexity with the increase in number of degrees of freedom. The Spatial Operator Algebra (SOA) methodology uses mathematical spatial operators to provide a layer of abstraction to concisely represent and study the underlying dynamics. The operators can be used for theoretical analysis as well as for computational algorithm development. The large effort however required to implement such algorithms is a significant hurdles in their use in practice. We are developing the PyCraft computational workbench to solve this problem. PyCraft allows the easy implementation and evaluation of sophisticated algorithms developed using SOA. PyCraft provides an interactive environment where users can directly utiles high-level SOA operator expression to describe and execute various dynamics quantities and computations interactively. While PyCraft continues to evolve, it already supports a large number of dynamics algorithms for computational experiments. This talk, will describe the PyCraft interactive workbench and examples of its use. The talk will also give an overview of the ongoing planetary surface and near-surface robotics activities at JPL, and the physics-based modeling and simulation efforts at JPL's DARTS Lab.

Abhi Jain leads the Dynamics and Real-Time Simulation (DARTS) Laboratory at JPL which develops advanced high-fidelity modeling and simulation capabilities including algorithms and tools for use by NASA's space missions. His research interests include the areas of computational multibody dynamics and space system modeling and simulation. He is the author of the DARTS simulation software which received the 1997 NASA Software of the Year Award. He has led the development and adaptation of high-fidelity simulation tools that are in use by several NASA missions including Cassini, Galileo, Deep Space I, Mars Pathfinder, Mars Science Laboratory and Phoenix.

CATS Seminar, February 13, 2007, 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm, CII 3051

Wind Energy Systems - Challenges for the Future

Corneliu Barbu, Ph.D.
General Electric Global Research Center

Wind is a clean energy source that can generate enough electricity to power millions of homes and businesses and its exponential growth reflects the nation's increasing demand for clean, safe and domestic energy. Currently, in the United States there are more then 10GW of electricity from the wind, enough to power 2.5 million homes. Industry experts predict that, with proper development, wind energy could provide 20% of this nations' energy needs in a few decades. Wind power generating capacity increased by 27% in 2006 and is expected to increase an additional 25% in 2007. Much of the industry's success can be attributed to the research conducted in numerous academic, government and industrial sponsored research centers, which has led to the development of multimegawatt wind turbines, producing electricity at low cost and starting to compete with conventional energy sources in the marketplace. To make wind energy more cost competitive and increase wind energy development, several technological aspects have to be addressed in the near future. This talk examines the current state-of-the-art in wind turbine development and research and technological issues that have to be addressed to make this energy source more profitable.

Corneliu Barbu is a Control Engineer at the Global Research Center (GRC) of General Electric, where he is leading research in the area of control systems for large scale wind turbines. He received a M.S. and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the University of California at Santa Barbara (2001). Since joining GRC in 2002, Dr. Barbu has led and contributed to several projects including Wind Turbine Controls, Active Combustor Control and Fuel Cell. His research interests and activities at GRC include development of robust and fault tolerant control systems and systems engineering for large scale systems. Dr. Barbu holds 10 patents or patent pending applications in the areas of tunable lasers and wind turbines.

CATS Seminar, February 6, 2007, 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm, CII 3051

CATS Today and the Road Ahead

John T. Wen, Ph.D.
Director, Center for Automation Technologies and Systems
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

The Center for Automation Technologies & Systems (CATS) is an interdisciplinary research center at Rensselaer which focuses on cutting edge research in automation. Over 40 faculty in 12 departments are now affiliated with the CATS. The CATS also has 7 full time staff, including 5 research staff. Current research areas include advanced manufacturing, smart optics, and unmanned systems. CATS also has specialized research laboratories in fuel cell manufacturing, smart optics, microsystem assembly, and industrial automation.
The principal funding source for the CATS is the New York State Office of Science, Technology & Academic Research (NYSTAR), based on industrial matching fund. The Center actively engages in industrially driven research and involves and supports the participation of faculty, research staff, and students.
This talk will describe the current state of the CATS and our plan for the future, including major research initiatives and projects, the Center's operation, NYSTAR matching fund, how CATS works with companies, and the various mechanisms in which faculty and students can participate.

John Ting-Yung Wen received his B.Eng. from McGill University in 1979, M.S. from University of Illinois in 1981, and Ph.D. from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1985, all in Electrical Engineering. From 1981-1982, he was a system engineer at Fisher Controls where he developed a plant-wide coordination control system for pulp and paper plants. From 1985-1988, he was a member of technical staff at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory where he developed new modeling and control algorithms for large space structures and space robots. Since 1988, he has been with Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute where he is currently a professor in the Department of Electrical, Computer, and Systems Engineering with a joint appointment in the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Nuclear Engineering. He is also the director of a New York State sponsored interdisciplinary center, Center for Automation Technologies and Systems (CATS). He was an ASEE/NASA Summer Faculty Fellow in 1993, a Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) Senior Visiting Scientist in 1997, and a Chinese Academy of Sciences Oversea Assessor from 2005-2009. His research interest lies in the general area of dynamical systems modeling, control and optimization. Dr. Wen is a Fellow of IEEE.

CATS Seminar, January 16, 2007, 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm, CII 3051

A Plant-Friendly Multivariable System Identification Framework Based on Identification Test Monitoring

Hyunjin Lee, Ph.D.
Chemical & Biological Engineering Department, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Historically, model development for advanced process control applications has been a major consideration, demanding significant time and effort. The increased use of advanced control systems in industry creates a need for efficient methods for multivariable system identification that systematically refine process knowledge, leading to models that achieve desirable control performance.  
This talk presents a plant-friendly identification framework, aimed at developing dynamic models for multivariable systems. The components of the framework include plant-friendly multi-sine input design, frequency response estimation, control-relevant parameter estimation, and robust loop shaping. These components are implemented in a plant-friendly manner to facilitate industrial implementation. Deterministic, periodic multi-sine input signals are developed to perform plant-friendly experimental testing. The use of constrained optimization enforces requirements on manipulated and controlled variables. A control-relevant parameter estimation procedure is formulated for curve-fitting frequency responses generated from data into linear Matrix Fractional Description models with Model Predictive Control (MPC)-relevant weightings. A set of models defined by the curve-fitted model and uncertainty bounds are used in a robust loop shaping procedure, based on Structured Singular Value (m) analysis.  
A series of case studies involving distillation column control are presented to demonstrate the effectiveness of the integrated framework.

Hyunjin Lee received B.S. from University of Seoul in 1998, M.S. from Lehigh University in 2001, and Ph.D. from Arizona State University in 2006, all in Chemical Engineering. His research interest lies in the areas of dynamic modeling & advanced process control, process system technology, process optimization & development, and high-performance numerical simulation.

Refreshments served

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CATS Seminar, January 15, 2007, 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm, CII 8003

Learning Applied to Ground Robotics

Wes Huang, Ph.D.
Applied Perception, Inc.

Despite advances in perception, planning, and sensors, unmanned ground vehicles still have difficulty autonomously traversing off-road terrain.  DARPA's "learning applied to ground robotics" (LAGR) program is addressing this problem through a structured program that encourages participating teams to use a variety of learning techniques to improve the performance of off-road navigation.  Applied Perception, Inc., has been a participant in the LAGR program since its inception.  Now in phase II, we are continuing to expand the application of learning in our navigation and control software.
In this talk, I will give an overview of the LAGR program, focusing on Applied Perception's approach to perception and off-road navigation. I will then describe a simple application that learns to drive by "interacting" with its environment.  The robot starts with no knowledge of what terrain is traversable.  By driving over traversable terrain and running into obstacles, it learns a mapping from a geometric feature vector to terrain cost.

Wes Huang is a senior research scientist at Applied Perception, Inc., a small robotics company in the Pittsburgh area.  He holds a S.B. in Electrical Engineering from MIT and a Ph.D. in robotics from Carnegie Mellon University.  From 1997-1998, he was a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for Complex Engineered Systems at Carnegie Mellon.  In 1999, he became an assistant professor of computer science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and in 2006, he left to join Applied Perception, Inc.  His research has focused on manipulation, motion planning, SLAM, and mobile robotics.

Refreshments served

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1/15/07: Wes Huang (Applied Perception)

1/16/07: Hyunjin Lee (RPI)

2/6/07: John Wen (Director, CATS)

2/13/07: Corneliu Barbu (General Electric Global Research)

2/27/07: Abhi Jain (JPL)

2/27/07: Joe Tario (NYSERDA)

3/13/07: Israel Bran (Molecular Cytomics)

3/20/07: Joel Hawkins (Pfizer Global R&D )

3/27/07: Dana Levy (NYSERDA)

4/24/07:John S. Bay (AFRL Information Directorate)