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Check out the pictures, posters, and presentations from this April's CATS Technology Showcase! Also, check out last years CATS Technology Showcase.


CATS Seminar
Friday, April 25, 2008
11am JEC 3117

Computer Simulation of Ceramic Processing using Microwave Assist Technology
Shawn M Allan-1, Dr. Jeff Braunstein-2
Dr. Holly Shulman-1, Dr. Sheppard Salon-2

1-Ceralink Inc., Troy, NY
2-Department of ECSE – RPI, Troy, NY

Microwave heating has long been considered for its potential to save tremendous amounts of energy in the processing of ceramic materials.  Commercialization of microwave processing has been slow due in part to 1) the complicated manner in which different materials absorb microwave energy, and 2) the lack of scalable technologies.  Microwave-Assist Technology (MAT) combines microwave heating with traditional radiant electric or gas heating.  This minimizes firing difficulties due to changes of the microwave dielectric properties as a function of composition and temperature, and is scalable for production size kilns.  The dielectric properties can be measured at microwave frequencies up to at least 1400 °C using available equipment.  Process development is required in order to determine the MAT firing parameters for any given material.

While much development is performed and tested experimentally in the lab, there is a need to predict the behavior of materials in large-scale MAT kilns.  A computational model has been developed to simulate the heating of materials in the microwave and radiant heat environment. The model was used to simulate MAT heating of a dense cube of partially stabilized ZrO2 (zirconia).  The results of these simulations will be presented.  The future potential for evolving the model to accommodate the other changes in ceramic materials during sintering (shrinkage, diffusion, densification, and grain growth), will be discussed.

Shawn Allan received a BS from Alfred University in Materials Science & Engineering (2002), and an MS from Georgia Institute of Technology (2005) Materials Science & Engineering.  Shawn has been with Ceralink Inc for 3 years, in which time he has been a coinventor on a patent for microwave brazing and 2 applied patents for an RF lamination process and a ceramics related microwave process.  He has developed an expert knowledge in the interpretation of microwave dielectric data as it pertains to materials processing, and has developed successful microwave processing strategies for ceramic, carbon, and metal materials.

Dr. Jeff Braunstein is currently a member of the Electrical, Computer and Systems Engineering Department at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) where he is involved in Electromagnetics research and undergraduate education. He received his doctorate degree in electrical engineering in 2004 from RPI. His research work emphasized numerical solutions of electromagnetic problems in the high frequency range, including microwave heating and antenna radiation. Following graduation, he was a Visiting Professor at Chung Ang University in South Korea, where he continued his studies on computation electromagnetics with an emphasis in RF circuit analysis and optimization.


CATS Seminar
Friday, February 29, 2008
11 am JEC 3117
Refreshment served

Digital Microfluidic Systems (DMFS)

Megha Gupta and Lingzhi, Graduate students, CS Dept, RPI
Part I: Scheduling and Routing Algorithm with Bus-phase Addressing
Part II: Optimal Scheduling of Biochemical Analyses

Digital microfluidic systems (DMFS) are a new class of lab-on-a-chip systems for biochemical analysis. A DMFS uses electrowetting to manipulate discrete droplets on a planar array of electrodes. The biochemical analyses are performed by repeatedly moving, mixing, and splitting droplets on the electrodes.

In the first part of the talk, we present an algorithm for coordinating droplet movement in batch mode operations on ring layouts with bus-phase addressing. In bus-phase systems, each electrode is not individually addressable, instead a set of electrodes are all controlled by the same signal. This facilitates chip design but increases the complexity of droplet routing. We also present simulation results using our algorithm to coordinate droplet movements for example analyses on a ring layout.

In the second part of the talk, we focus on minimizing the completion time of biochemical analyses by exploiting the parallelism among the operations. In this talk I will introduce our work on scheduling algorithm design to minimize the completion time. Our initial work in minimizing resource requirements may also be covered, where we define a list of properties of tree structure to describe the least resource requirements for any biochemical analysis.  

Megha Gupta and Lingzhi are graduate students in the Algorithmic Robotics Laboratory in the Department of Computer Science.  They both work with Dr. Srinivas Akella.



CATS Seminar
Monday, February 25, 2008
11am JEC 3117

Getting a Leg Up:  From Walking to Leaping from Education to Search and Rescue

Haldun Komsuoglu and Joel Weingarten
University of Michigan

Sandbox Innovations: www.sandboxinnovations.com

In this talk we will discuss two applications of our dynamic legged robotic technology. We will start with a brief overview and history of the technology and detail our efforts to use this technology in two distinct settings. As a tool for search and rescue and as 21st century educational vehicle. In the first part of the talk we will discuss our novel approach to undergraduate engineering education, "A contexualized, social, self-paced, engineering education for life-long learners" through a series of two new freshman courses. Throughout the new courses, we use EduBot --- a smaller and modular version of our advanced research platform, RHex --- to integrate introductory programming material with electrical and systems engineering theory. We move away from the traditional "filing cabinet" test and drill approach (fill minds up with facts and test) as students start to become life-long learners, creators, and innovators through exposure to research level problems. In the second part of the talk we will introduce RespondBot --- a RHex inspired remote presence and payload delivery platform for first responders. As the world's fastest legged robot and smallest that can climb stairs, RespondBot can be deployed in seconds to get into ground zero. 

Haldun Komsuoglu received his B.S. with honors in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from Middle East Technical University in Ankara, Turkey, and M.S. and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Michigan in 2004. Joel D. Weingarten received his B.S in Space and Communication Science from York University, Toronto, Canada, and his M.S. And Ph.D. in Computer Science from University of Michigan in 2006. 

Joint Colloquium CATS/Computer Science
4:00-5:00pm, Wednesday, January 30, 2008, SAGE 3510

Advancing Mobile Robots to 3-D

Jizhong Xiao
City University of New York (CUNY)

Most of the mobile robots used in urban applications nowadays essentially move in 2D planes without wall-climbing capability. The robotics team at the City College of New York (CCNY) has developed several generations of mobile wall-climbing robots, named as City-Climber, which are able to move on various smooth or rough surfaces and can carry a relatively large payload. Unlike the conventional ground mobile robots operating in 2D space, and UAVs in 3D space, the City-Climber robots essentially operate in constrained 3D space, i.e., its action space is confined within planar surfaces while the sensing space is 3D, facilitated by the freedom of motion on ground, walls, and ceilings. This attribution makes planning and control a very difficult and important problem in many canonical tasks (e.g., surveillance coverage, multi-robot
formation control, target tracking) employing wall-climbing robots. This talk will present the recent progress in our research effort to advance mobile robots to 3D, including: development of novel wall-climbing robots, system-on-programmable-chip (SoPC) solution to on-board processing for ultra-small robots, and localization and coordination of a heterogeneous multi-robot team (3 ground robots and a wall-climbing robot) deployed in constrained 3D space of urban environments.

Jizhong Xiao received his Ph.D. degree from Michigan State University in 2002; Master of Engineering degree from Nanyang
Technological University, Singapore, and MS, BS degrees from East China Institute of Technology in 1999, 1993, and 1990, respectively. He joined the EE Dept. of the City College of New York (CCNY) in 2002 and currently is an associate professor and a doctoral faculty member of Ph.D. programs in Engineering and Computer Sciences at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY). Dr. Xiao started the robotics research program at City College and is the founding director of CCNY Robotics Lab (website: http://robotics. ccny.cuny.edu) and the Center for Perceptual Robotics, Intelligent
Sensors and Machines (PRISM Center). His research interests include robotics and control, embedded system design, digital signal processing, and intelligent systems. He is a recipient of National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER award in 2007. Dr. Xiao has served the robotics community in various roles of many robotics conferences, and served as guest editor and reviewer for major robotics journals and conferences. He is a senior member of IEEE, a member of Sigma Xi,
and New York Academy of Sciences.

Joint MANE/CATS Seminar
10:30am, Wednesday, September 5, 2007, DCC 308

Modeling and Control of Vapor Compression Cycles

Andrew Alleyne
Ralph & Catherine Fisher Professor of Engineering
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

This talk consists of two parts. In the first part we will discuss a modeling approach that we have taken for understanding and predicting transient dynamic phenomena in Vapor Compression Cycle systems. The most common of these are air conditioning & refrigeration systems.

The overall goal of the modeling process is to develop control-oriented models that can be used for designing multivariable controllers. The component models are developed via a combination of first principles and justifiable assumptions. These components are then connected using typical thermodynamic relationships. The system components can be separated along fast and slow time scales with the fast time scale components being reduced to static functions. The slow dynamic components are the heat exchangers. In addition to the modeling developments, a modular simulation environment using a MATLAB/Simulink platform will be presented. The modular software environment has been termed the "Thermosys" for Matlab/Simulink. It allows for a rapid model development, modification, and verification. Representative examples of the modeling approach, as well as the model validation, will be presented.

The second part of this talk will focus on multivariable controller design approaches for these systems. We will illustrate the available inputs and outputs for the system along with the appropriate control goals. We will discuss decoupling strategies for MIMO control. Since the systems are inherently nonlinear a controller that is able to compensate for this is necessary. We propose a particular type of gain-scheduled approach based on local linear model networks and local linear controller networks. Demonstration of the controller benefits will be given on an experimental testbed.

Andrew Alleyne received his B.S. in Engineering from Princeton University in 1989 in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. He received his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Mechanical Engineering in 1992 and 1994, respectively, from The University of California at Berkeley.

He joined the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign in 1994 and is also appointed in the Coordinated Science Laboratory of UIUC. He currently holds the Ralph M. and Catherine V. Fisher Professorship in the College of Engineering, was awarded the ASME Dynamics Systems and Control Division’s Outstanding Young Investigator Award in 2003, and was a Fulbright Fellow to the Netherlands where he held a Visiting Professorship in Vehicle Mechatronics at TU Delft. Additionally, he is a Fellow of ASME. His research interests are a mix of theory and implementation with a broad application focus. He has been active in the ASME, the IEEE, and several other societies. Further information about the toys he and his students play with can be found at:

Joint ECSE/CATS Seminar
11am, Friday, August 31, 2007, JEC 3117

Novel electro-optic devices and systems for biomedical applications

Guoqiang Li
Associate Research Professor
College of Optical Sciences
University of Arizona

New advances in the last decade in photonics, information technology, nanotechnology, microfluidics, have created tremendous opportunities for biomedical sensing, imaging, diagnosis, and health care. In this talk, several projects will be discussed, including scanning laser confocal polarimeter for early diagnosis of glaucoma, polarized light propagation in scattering medium and optical coherence holographic imaging, wavelength-to-depth encoded interference microscopic imaging, rewritable 3D holographic image display, and integrated electro-optic lenses for vision correction.
A novel approach for correction of presbyopia will be covered in greater details. Presbyopia is an age-related loss of accommodation of the human eye that manifests itself as inability to shift focus from distant to near objects. Conventional bifocal or trifocal lenses for this correction have been around for about 200 years, but they have limited field of view. An electro-optic lens allows voltage controlled change of the focusing power across the entire aperture. Such a lens must have high light efficiency, relatively large aperture, fast switching time, low driving voltage, and power-failure-safe configuration. These requirements have not been met simultaneously in the past. New switchable, flat, thin liquid crystal diffractive lenses will be presented. The operation of these spectacle lenses is based on electrical control of the refractive index of a 5 um-thick layer of nematic liquid crystal using a circular array of photolithographically defined transparent electrodes. Modeling, design, fabrication, and characterization of the lenses will be presented. These lenses provide the capability of corrections for near-, intermediate-, and distance-vision. They could lead to significant impact in the field of vision care especially in combination with autofocus using an eye tracking sensor.

Dr. Guoqiang Li received his Ph. D degree in 1996 from Chinese Academy of Sciences and was promoted to professorship in 1998.
In 1999 he joined the Dept. of Electrical and Computer Eng., University of California at San Diego, as a postdoctoral researcher. In 2001, he worked as a research scientist at Laser Diagnostic Technologies (currently Carl Zeiss Meditec). Since 2003 he has been with College of Optical Sciences, University of Arizona, and is currently an associate research professor. His interests include biomedical optics imaging and sensing, nano-biophotonics, vision care, light-tissue interaction, bio-instrumentation, 3D image display, and signal processing. He has published two book chapters and 70 refereed international journal papers. He was awarded the Outstanding Young Scholar Prize of Hong Kong Qiu-Shi Science & Technology Foundation.


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8/31/07: Guoqiang Li (University of Arizona)

9/05/07: Andrew Alleyne (University of Illinois)

1/30/08: Jizhong Xiao (City University of New York)

2/25/08: Haldun Komsuoglu and Joel Weingarten(University of Michigan)

2/29/08:Megha Gupta an d Lingzhi (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute)

4/25/08: Shawn M Allan, Dr. Braunstein,
Dr. Shulman, Dr. Salon