Category Archives: News

International Conference on Complex Systems Engineering (ICCSE 2015) Held in UConn

The University of Connecticut (UCONN) organized a two-day international conference on complex systems engineering (ICCSE 2015) on November 9-10, 2015 at the UConn’s main campus in Storrs, CT. The conference organization committee was led by Dr. Krishna Pattipati as the general chair and Dr. Shalabh Gupta as the program chair. The conference was focused on latest developments in analysis and modeling of complex systems that are built from, and depend upon, the synergy of computational and physical components, the so-called cyber physical systems. The conference featured talks by plenary speakers from industry and academia, panel discussions, technical paper sessions, student poster sessions and industry exhibits. The conference was a 2nd year initiative by the recently established UTC Institute for Advanced Systems Engineering (UTC-IASE). The conference was financially co-sponsored by UTC and Aptima and technically sponsored by IEEE-Systems Man and Cybernetics Society. The conference served one of the institute’s goals of making it a hub for world-class research, project-based learning by globally-distributed teams of researchers, and industrial outreach activities.UTCmeeting3_1

There were four plenary speakers, viz., Dr. Michael McQuade (Senior Vice President of Science and Technology at UTC), Dr. Edward Lee (Robert S. Pepper Distinguished Professor in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences (EECS) department at U.C. Berkeley), Dr. George Pappas (Joseph Moore Professor in the Department of Electrical and Systems Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania), and Dr. Chris Paredis (Program Director for the Engineering and Systems Design (ESD) and Systems Science (SYS) programs at the National Science Foundation). Dr. Michael McQuade outlined the mega-trends that are impacting systems engineering and highlighted technology and talent needs of the industry and more specifically of UTC. Dr. Edward Lee provided an overview of the need for models with time and concurrency requirements, model-based design and analysis, domain-specific languages, architectures for real-time computing, schedulability analysis, and modeling and programming of distributed real-time systems. Dr. George Pappas gave a talk on formal synthesis and analysis for supervisory control of hierarchical hybrid systems using linear temporal logic. Dr. Chris Paredis spoke about the theoretical foundations for Systems Engineering, the role of modeling in Systems Engineering  and gave the audience a glimpse of opportunities for research in Systems Engineering and model based systems engineering (MBSE) being sponsored by NSF.

In addition to the plenary speakers, many representatives from industry and academia presented their latest research along three tracks of embedded systems, complex networked systems: control and inference, and model based systems engineering and applications. There was an education panel where educators from UConn, Stevens Institute of Technology, and Worcester Polytechnic Institute and UTC exchanged lessons learned and discussed the standardization of Systems Engineering education. The conference was truly international with representation from Asia, Europe and North America. More than 80 people participated in the conference which led to a healthy exchange of ideas. Planning for next year’s conference on the Avery Point campus of the University of Connecticut is already underway.

 

Bahram Javidi Wins Prestigious EPS Prize

Bahram Javidi, Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering, has been awarded the prestigious European Physical Society for Applied Aspects of Quantum Electronics and Optics.

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These prizes, awarded only once every two years, recognize the highest level of achievements in fundamental and applied research in optical physics. Prof. Javidi’s prize was awarded specifically for his “pioneering contributions to information optics, including 3D imaging, 3D displays, and 3D imaging of photon starved scenes.”

Prof. Javidi’s interests are in a broad range of transformative imaging approaches that use optics and photonics, and he has made seminal contributions to passive and active multi-dimensional imaging from nano- to micro- and macroscales. His recent research activities include 3D visualization and recognition of objects in photon-starved environments using passive imaging; automated disease identification using biophotonics with low cost compact sensors to be used in developing countries; information security, encryption, and authentication using quantum imaging; non-planar flexible 3D image sensing, and bio-inspired imaging.

Prof. Javidi recently received international attention for his work with QR codes and their potential to increase the security of computer microchips.
   
Prof. Javidi has been recognized for his outstanding achievements in many other ways. He has been named Fellow of eight societies, including IEEE, OSA, SPIE, EOS, and IoP. Early in his career, the National Science Foundation named him a Presidential Young Investigator. Prof. Javidi has received the SPIE Dennis Gabor Award in Diffractive Wave Technologies (2005) and the SPIE Technology Achievement Award (2008). In 2008, he was awarded the IEEE Donald G. Fink Paper Prize (2008), and the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellow Award. In 2007, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (Germany) awarded Prof. Javidi the Humboldt Prize

IEEE Honors UConn Alum Marshall Greenspan

Marshall Greenspan, who received his Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the University of Connecticut in 1969, has been awarded by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (I.E.E.E.) the Dennis J. Picard Medal for Radar Technologies and Applications.

Officials from I.E.E.E., the largest technical society in the world, honored Greenspan for his “contributions to the development of multiple phase-center airborne surface surveillance and targeting radars.”

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Greenspan, an IEEE Fellow, received the award at the IEEE Honors Ceremony Gala June 20th at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York.

Recently retired from Northrop Grumman Corporation, where he worked as a senior consulting systems engineer, Greenspan began his 50-year career developing modes for the radars on the Navy’s A6-E aircraft. Originally designed for navigation, targeting and terrain avoidance, the A-6E radar was upgraded under Dr. Greenspan’s guidance to become the Radar Guided Weapon System (RGWS). The RGWS was a groundbreaking system that generated high resolution images of the beam area and pinpointed the location of moving targets. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) adopted the RGWS technology into the Pave Mover program, which put side-looking radar into the EF-111 aircraft to detect and track armored surface vehicles at long range, while simultaneously guiding precision munitions to a target.

This technology became part of the U.S. Air Force/Army E-8 Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS), which provides ground surveillance to military commanders to support attack operations. With Dr. Greenspan’s expertise, JSTARS enabled US forces to map the position of the retreating Iraqi army during Operation Desert Storm. This work helped demonstrate the feasibility of GMTI space-time adaptive processing (STAP) for air-to-surface moving target radars at a time when computing technology was inferior to what is currently available. STAP’s importance to the radar community continues to grow as computing technology and radar hardware improve.

Besides getting his Ph.D. at UConn (he received his bachelor’s and master’s at MIT), Greenspan said UConn played a role in his role his IEEE award in another way: UConn’s Prof. Peter Willett was the one who nominated him as an IEEE Fellow.

QR Codes Engineered Into Cybersecurity Protection

QR, or Quick Response, codes – those commonly black and white boxes that people scan with a smartphone to learn more about something – have been used to convey information about everything from cereals to cars and new homes.

But, University of Connecticut (UConn) researchers think the codes have a greater potential: protecting national security.

Using advanced 3-D optical imaging and extremely low light photon counting encryption, Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor Bahram Javidi and his research team have taken the ordinary QR code and transformed it into a high-end cybersecurity application that can be used to protect the integrity of computer microchips. The findings were published in IEEE Photonics Journal.

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“An optical code or QR code can be manufactured in such a way that it is very difficult to duplicate,” said Javidi, whose team is part of UConn’s Center for Hardware Assurance, Security, and Engineering (CHASE) in the School of Engineering. “But if you have the right keys, not only can you authenticate the chip, but you can also learn detailed information about the chip and what its specifications are.

“And, that is important to the person using it.”

Corrupted and recycled integrated circuits or microchips posed a significant threat to the international electronics supply chain. Bogus or used computer chips may not matter much when they cause poor cell phone reception or an occasional laptop computer crash in personal use. But the problem becomes exponentially more serious when counterfeit or hacked chips turn up in the U.S. military.

The problem has been exacerbated in recent years by the fact that much of the national production of microcircuits has moved offshore, where prices are lower but ensuring quality control is more difficult.

In 2012, a Senate Armed Services Committee report found that more than 100 cases of suspected counterfeit electronics parts from China had made their way into the Department of Defense supply chain. In one notable example, officials said counterfeit circuits were used in a high-altitude missile meant to destroy incoming missiles. Fixing the problem cost the government $2.675 million, the report said.

Unlike commercial QR codes, Javidi’s little black and white boxes can be scaled as small as microns or a few millimeters and would replace the electronic part number that is currently stamped on most microchips.

Javidi says he can compress vital information about a chip – its functionality, capacity, and part number – directly into the QR code so it can be obtained by the reader without accessing the Internet. This is important in cybersecurity circles, because linking to the Internet greatly increases vulnerability to hacking or corruption. Javidi’s work with QR codes was supported in part by the National Science Foundation.

To further protect the information in the QR code, Javidi applies an optical imaging “mask” that scrambles the QR code design into a random mass of black-and-white pixels that look similar to the snowy images one might see on a broken TV. He then adds yet another layer of security through a random phase photon-based encryption that turns the snowy image into a darkened nighttime sky with just a few random stars or dots of pixilated light.

The end result is a self-contained, highly secure, information-laden microscopic design that is nearly impossible to duplicate. Only individuals who have the special corresponding codes could decrypt the QR image.

And that is important to all of us.

 

Prof. Park wins an NSF CAREER Award

Four Engineering faculty members have won CAREER awards, each receiving $500,000 from the National Science Foundation (NSF). One of them is Prof. Sung Yeul Park, from our department.

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According to the NSF, CAREER awards are the “most prestigious awards in support of junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations. Such activities should build a firm foundation for a lifetime of leadership in integrating education and research.”

“This award will shape significantly the research direction of our group and lays the foundation for fruitful collaborations across various disciplines, including mechanics, chemistry, polymer-science and liberal arts,” said Dr. Kay Wille, one of the recipients. “It feels like a dream came true, and I am so grateful to the National Science Foundation for their financial support and their trust in our research.”

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–  Sung Yeul Park, Assistant Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering: “Enabling Higher-Performance Battery Charging Systems: Adaptive and Optimal Charging Algorithms Based on Dynamic Battery Characteristics”

This project aims to provide a new, innovative battery charging systems for greater efficiency and longer life in electric vehicles, renewable energy storage, and back-up power applications. The research promises a better understanding of the complex behavior occurring within high-power batteries, which will lead to significantly improving the performance and affordability of such systems.

Results of this research will not only improve the capabilities of today’s state-of-the-art energy storage technologies, but also will be applicable to all battery chemistries because of similarities in other electrochemical devices. The research will benefit energy storage system designers, regardless of their choice of materials and design. This also has the secondary benefit of improving the efficiency and lifespan of integrated renewable energy sources featuring electrochemical storage as a constituent component.

 

Prof. Tehranipoor elected to CASE

Three UConn engineering faculty members – Drs. Alexander Shvartsman, Mark Tehranipoor and Ki Chon – will be inducted into the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering (CASE). They are among the 23 members who will be inducted at a ceremony May 19 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Cromwell (invitations & RSVP forms will be e-mailed to members in early March). This year’s keynote address will be a Conversation with Dr. Edison T. Liu, President & CEO, The Jackson Laboratory. The ceremony will be hosted by Documentary Producer Christina DeFranco.

 

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Dr. Mark Tehranipoor,  Founding Director for both the Center for Hardware Assurance, Security, and Engineering (CHASE) and the Comcast Center of Excellence in Security Innovation (CSI) at UConn. 

Dr. Tehranipoor’s research has been supported by federal and industrial grants, gifts, and donations worth approximately $20 million. His groundbreaking scholarly contributions to the field have resulted in six books, 10 book chapters, 54 journal articles, and 180 conference papers.

In 2012, he established the Center for Hardware Assurance, Security, and Engineering (CHASE) to provide the University with the physical and intellectual environment necessary for interdisciplinary hardware-oriented research and to meet future challenges  in the field of assurance and security. CHASE is a research consortium with

 

 

Experts Talk Cybersecurity At CSI Panel Discussion

Given the fact that the most common password for computer users is “password,” and the second most common is “12345,” cybersecurity is an issue for everyone – not just corporations that handle personal information.

That was the message recently conveyed by a panel of cybersecurity experts hosted by the Center of Excellence for Security Innovation (CSI), a collaboration between UConn School of Engineering and Comcast.

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Donna Dodson, chief cybersecurity advisor for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), told the audience at the Wilbur Cross Building that getting companies and individuals to think about cybersecurity is the first step toward a more secure network.

“I may not understand the mechanics of my car, but I know it’s my responsibility to keep it safe,” said Dodson, the featured speaker at the event.

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Toward that end, the NIST wrote a guidebook for the public, titled “Framework for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity.” “It’s helpful because it provides a common language for people,” she said. “And it promotes concepts of resiliency and protecting your environment.”

UConn’s Mark Tehranipoor, Director of CSI, and the Center for Hardware Assurance, Security, and Engineering (CHASE), said education about cybersecurity should begin early. “We really have to take it down to the undergraduate level and even bring it down to high school level.”

Everyone is needed in the effort to prevent cyberattacks, according to Liam Randall, of Critical Stack, an Ohio-based company that specializes in network security. For every person working on preventing attacks, he said, someone else is working on new ways to  carry out such attacks.

“When you look at the impact that one person can have, that really keeps me up at night,” he said.

Steve Mace, Associate Vice President for Systems Technology in the Science & Technology Department of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA), said the sophistication of cyber-attacks is now “very high,” so raising the level of counterattacks is all the more crucial.

Panel moderator Dr. Laurent Michel, Associate Professor, UConn Dept. of Computer Science & Engineering and Associate Director of CSI, suggested that today’s cyber-attacks are a combination of ingeniously executed ones and cruder efforts that succeed because of poor security.

As recent attacks against Anthem, Target and Home Depot indicate, the size of a company is no guarantee of security.

“We’ve seen some smaller companies that are well-versed in controlling their networks, and we’ve seen the opposite with large companies,” said Matthew Scholl, Chief of the Computer Security Division, ITL at NIST. “There’s no correlation between size and cybersecurity.”

Marten Van Dijk Part Of A Team Of Researchers Securing Cloud Computing

As cloud computing becomes a more popular option, concerns about its security have come to the forefront.

MartenVanDijkUConn’s Marten van Dijk (ECE) is part of a team of researchers from Boston University, MIT, and Northeastern University working to develop a more secure form of cloud computing. Their project, a Modular Approach to Cloud Security (MACS), has received a $10 million grant from the National Science Foundation.

MACS is one of two new center-scale “Frontier” awards to support large, multi-institution projects that address grand challenges in cybersecurity science and engineering with the potential for broad economic and scientific impact.

“For many industries, the main problem of adopting the cloud for outsourcing computation and outsourcing storage is a lack of trust,” said Van Dijk.

The difficulty of developing meaningful security guarantees has plagued cloud computing from its beginning. In their grant proposal, the researchers write that their project “might be a ‘game changer’ in terms of how security of information systems is perceived and obtained.”

Most cloud computing systems use a single global firewall for its security. The MACS project, though, seeks to build a more complex system in which each of its multiple modules will be secured separately in such a way that if modules are composed into a larger system, also their security guarantees compose into a global security guarantees of the overall system.

 “A larger infrastructure is vulnerable at every single level,” Van Dijk said, “so each layer in itself can have vulnerabilities.”

To take on such a complex system the research team comprises expert focusing on different aspects of cloud computing, in both information security and cryptography.

In collaboration with MIT Van Dijk developed Ascend, an architecture for secure computation on encrypted data, that will be used in this project.

Although his focus is specifically on hardware security, Van Dijk has worked in many of the areas relevant to the project.

The project is led by Ran Canetti of Boston University and also makes use of the Massachusetts Open Cloud, an “open cloud exchange.” Completed earlier this year with a $3 million investment the MOC is a cloud computing infrastructure used for research and testing new mechanisms.

 

Quing Zhu Receives CT Bioscience Innovation Funding

Quing Zhu, professor of Electrical & Computer Engineering and Biomedical Engineering, will receive $500,000 in funding from the Connecticut Bioscience Innovation.

This project involves the development of a handheld near-infrared imager as an add-on unit to commercial ultrasound systems for use in breast imaging. The device is intended to help predict and assess neoadjuvant chemotherapy response.

Neoadjuvant chemotherapy is treatment given before primary therapy, and used in the management of locally advanced breast cancers. A woman may receive neoadjuvant chemotherapy to shrink a tumor that cannot be surgically removed in its current stage. 

Omer Khan Part Of Team Designing Faster Computer Chip

Omer Khan, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, is part of a team of researchers designing a chip that has proved faster and more efficient in simulations.

Khan and his fellow researchers have developed a computer chip that can store more information and work faster than the industry standard. George Kurian and Srinivas Devadas, both of MIT, were also part of the team.

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The new design, according to the researchers, is 15 percent faster and 25 percent more energy efficient. They did this by reconsidering the cache, which stores data to increase access to it.

Currently, caches are arranged hierarchically – that is, according to how quickly each can be accessed. Chips each contain multiple processors (or cores), and each one gets its own cache. An additional cache (the last level cache, or LLC) is there to handle overcapacity. Information that the core has already requested from the main memory – as well as information stored near it – ends up getting stored in the core’s private cache to make it more accessible for subsequent requests. If this information doesn’t get requested again anytime soon, it gets shifted to the LLC and then back to the main memory.

The system usually works well, but not always. If requested information exceeds the capacity of a private cache, then the chip expends a lot of time and energy finding space for the information. With the chip that Khan and his fellow researchers have designed, excess information is split between the private cache and the LLC. Both caches would retain the information, eliminating the need to search for space.

The design has drawn interest among computer enthusiasts, and recently received attention in Ars Technica, the popular technology news website. Yogi Patel of Ars Technica writes:

When the data being stored exceeds the capacity of the core’s private cache, the chip [designed by Khan, Kurian and Devadas] splits up the data between private cache and the LLC. This ensures that the data is stored where it can be accessed more quickly than if it were in the main memory. 

Another case addressed by the new work occurs when two cores are working on the same data and are constantly synchronizing their cached version. Here, the technique eliminates the synchronization operation and simply stores the shared data at a single location in the LLC. Then the cores take turns accessing the data, rather than clogging the on-chip network with synchronization operations.