Powering the New Engineer https://www.eng.ufl.edu/newengineer News from Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering at the University of Florida Tue, 20 Oct 2020 20:02:58 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.5.1 UF Engineer Discovers Astronomical Patterns Can Predict Sea-Level Rise https://www.eng.ufl.edu/newengineer/carousel/uf-engineer-discovers-astronomical-patterns-can-predict-sea-level-rise/ Fri, 16 Oct 2020 19:47:00 +0000 https://www.eng.ufl.edu/newengineer/?p=29321 Originally published on news.ufl.edu

A newly discovered pattern in sunny-day flooding related to sea level rise could help coastal communities predict and plan for future high-water events.

By comparing a century of sea-level data with records of solar and lunar activity also identified in tree rings, scientists at the University of Florida found a link between sunspots, the moon’s orbit and high sea levels in the Gulf of Mexico and the U.S. Atlantic seaboard. 

Using the pattern to forecast into the future, the researchers predict anomalously high sea levels in the Southeastern United States for periods around 2028-29, 2052, 2064, 2072, and 2098.

The finding takes on additional significance as these patterns combine with global sea-level rise caused by melting ice and warmer oceans, said lead author Arnoldo Valle-Levinson, Ph.D., of UF’s Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering. He named the Louisiana and Florida coastlines as well as Galveston, Texas; Charleston, South Carolina; Norfolk, Virginia; and Annapolis, Maryland as areas that will likely feel the effects of the predicted flooding.  

“I would hope that municipalities on the Southeastern and Gulf Coasts would use this to start thinking more about how to prepare,” Valle-Levinson said. “When we see flooding like we did in 2016 and 2017 that then subsides, it’s easy to say, ‘That was just a blip; it’s not going to happen again.’ With this prediction, we can see that not only is it going to happen again, but it might be worse, because the baseline sea level is going to be higher.”

While previous studies in Europe have shown links between higher sea level and solar activity, this study — done with Jonathan Martin, Ph.D., of UF’s department of geological sciences — is the first to link lunar precessions and sunspots to coastal flooding. The scientists aren’t sure yet of the exact connection between these astronomical forces and the atmospheric and oceanic responses that influence coastal flooding. 

“We’ve shown the correlation, but we still need to find the cause,” Valle-Levinson said. 

Through UF’s emerging artificial intelligence initiative, Valle-Levinson hopes to use AI to leverage more data and create a more robust version of the prediction tool.

The study was published Wednesday in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

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Engineering Agriculture of the Future with IoT and AI Technology https://www.eng.ufl.edu/newengineer/research-innovation/engineering-agriculture-of-the-future-with-iot-and-ai-technology/ Tue, 29 Sep 2020 20:30:18 +0000 https://www.eng.ufl.edu/newengineer/?p=29301 ENGINEERING PLAYS A LEADING ROLE IN AGRICULTURE PRACTICES OF THE FUTURE

Through the IoT4Ag Engineering Research Center, faculty from the Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering will play a pivotal role in providing data communications via IoT and application of AI to problems facing the agricultural sector. David Arnold, George Kirkland Engineering Leadership Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) is a co-principal investigator for the ERC and director of the UF site. Alina Zare, professor of electrical and computer engineering in ECE, heads up the Machine Learning & Sensing Lab at UF. They recently got together to answer twelve questions about the resources engineering brings to precision agriculture and how it will impact the society of the future.

Q: What is the current state of affairs in engineering for agriculture?

A: We find that sensor networks, artificial intelligence and machine learning are being used to make systems smarter, more efficient, and more customized to the user; and there’s a push to move these kinds of ideas into agricultural applications to improve farming. 

Q: What is the Engineering Research Center’s vision for agriculture in the future?

A: Our aim is to help farmers minimize the use of energy, water and fertilizers while producing to the maximum amount of crops.

Q: What kinds of challenges are engineers and farmers facing?

A: Population ground, a shrinking amount of arable land and climate change are three major factors affecting farmers. If farmers can produce more crops with less water, fuel, and fertilizer, farming can be made more economically profitable with lower environmental impact. 

Q: What aspect of the ERC’s research will you be addressing here at UF?

A: Dr. Arnold: I will be concentrating on providing power sources to run everything from a micro sensor to a fleet of aerial drones. Dr. Zare: I will be developing algorithms that can be applied to the mountains of data the sensors and drones produce to analyze the many questions to which farmers are seeking answers.

Q: How will farmers play a role in the ERC?

A: Representatives of farmers’ and growers’ associations sit on different oversight committees within the center. Farmers who are interested in joining the center can engage through a formal partnership, attend meetings, share their problems and vote on everything down to what projects will be pursued or what specific field or crop should be addressed. They’re an important part of the decision making guidance.

Q: Will engineers be going out to farms as part of this ERC?

A: Yes, and farmers will visit the engineering labs to get a clearer understanding of the working environment of electronics and software research.

Q: What impact will the UF’s AI initiative have on the ERC research?

A: Everything from satellite imagery to drones, to sensors in the field giving point measurements will need to be processed to answer the farmers’ questions and do the monitoring and the management of precision agriculture. The NVIDIA upgrades to the UF HiPerGator supercomputer are excellent for a lot of the deep learning methodologies and AI methods that will be used.

Q: What are some other outcomes of developing this type of precision agriculture?

A: There are complex questions such as how to balance how much yield the farmer can get with how much irrigation/fertilizer run-off goes into the local ground water. Things like that could impact policymakers’ decisions.

Q: What impact will precision agriculture and the ERC have on the agricultural workforce?

A:  The fourth industrial revolution, marked by IoT and AI, is coming; and the ERC will help produce the agricultural students and engineering students who will meet at the interface in a new era of techno farming.

Q: What are the first steps in educating the techno-farming workforce?

A: We’re planning everything from certificate programs for university students and agriculture professionals to K-12 outreach, where high school students may come out to the research fields to help us and elementary school children may be going on field trips to the farms. UF will be producing Ph.D. students who have a history of research in applied AI for agriculture as well as other fields.

Q: Will the ERC have partnerships with industry?

A: Private companies will transition our research technology to useful products and applications. There will be many small business opportunities. Industry partners, like the farmers we spoke about earlier, can become ERC members who listen in, lean in and contribute.

Q: Final comments?

A: Agriculture intersects so many parts of our society. If we can make all the information gathered through sensors and IoT available, helpful and meaningful to the farmers and the producers, we are also helping our society and the wider community in an important way. 

To learn more details about the role of engineering in the emerging field of precision agriculture, read the full Q&A interview with Dr. Arnold & Dr. Zare.

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Tehranipoor Honored at Virtual Standing InnOvation Event (UF Innovate) https://www.eng.ufl.edu/newengineer/honors-awards/tehranipoor-honored-at-virtual-standing-innovation-event-uf-innovate/ Fri, 25 Sep 2020 18:53:46 +0000 https://www.eng.ufl.edu/newengineer/?p=29283 Mark Tehranipoor, Ph.D.

Mark Tehranipoor, Ph.D., Intel Charles E. Young Preeminence Endowed Chair Professor in Cybersecurity in the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering, and director of FICS

Mark Tehranipoor, Ph.D., Intel Charles E. Young Preeminence Endowed Chair Professor in Cybersecurity in the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering, and director of FICS, leads a team of hardware and software engineers who have developed a superior reputation for securing electronics for government and industry. Dr. Tehranipoor received recognition at the virtual Standing InnOvation Awards for his group’s work on Nimbis software security models.

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UF Researchers Find Viable Viruses in Aerosols that Cause COVID-19 https://www.eng.ufl.edu/newengineer/research-innovation/uf-researchers-find-viable-viruses-in-aerosols-that-cause-covid-19/ Wed, 23 Sep 2020 17:10:33 +0000 https://www.eng.ufl.edu/newengineer/?p=29273 Originally published on the ESSIE website.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — New research from the University of Florida provides strong evidence that aerosol transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, may be possible.

Prior to these findings, which are in pre-print and have not undergone peer review, the virus had been detected in aerosols, but there was a lack of direct evidence that the particles were actually viable (“culturable”)1, so to date the World Health Organization and other public health agencies have not emphasized aerosol transmission in their public health protection and mitigation guidance.

A team of UF researchers, led by John Lednicky, Ph.D., and Chang-Yu Wu, Ph.D., found that SARS-CoV-2 in aerosols can be cultured, sparking the need to reevaluate current safety protocols to reduce transmission in indoor spaces.

The researchers collected air samples that contained culturable SARS-CoV-2 from the air of a hospital room with COVID-19 patients. The team used a unique virus aerosol sampler, co-developed with Aerosol Dynamics Inc., that gently collects airborne viruses and preserves their viability.

The sampler uses water vapor condensation-based technology to efficiently collect virus aerosols, accomplishing a task not possible using other devices. They were able to obtain viable viruses more than 15 feet away from the patient, contained within the room, and they matched the virus in the air to that in a nasal swab from that patient. Once the samples were collected, Lednicky, an expert virologist and aerobiologist, was able to isolate the virus in cell cultures, resolving the long-standing question of whether SARS-CoV-2 can remain viable in aerosols.

“The air we breathe is full of microorganisms. A pathogen that you breathe poses no harm if it is not alive. For example, non-viable, or ‘dead,’ viruses cannot cause COVID-19, just like a dead tiger can’t eat you. By showing that viable viruses are in the air, we show there is an inhalation risk. We are the first group to show this conclusively,” Lednicky said.

Importantly, virus was not located in hospital hallways or other areas, including the emergency room waiting room, showing the effectiveness of infection control practices.

The findings have stimulated fervent discussion. Virginia Tech’s Linsey Marr, Ph.D., a leading expert on airborne virus transmission, calls it the “smoking gun.”

“Our research opens a new door for analyzing outbreaks due to respiratory viruses. It is especially valuable for those involving asymptomatic individuals or those who have mild symptoms, who are often missed by current epidemiology and surveillance practices during assessments of outbreaks caused by respiratory viruses. That is because those people are typically not tested, yet may be seeding the air with infectious virus particles that pose a risk to others. Instead of relying on human specimens, aerosol sampling is a noninvasive and effective technique for collecting airborne respiratory viruses, and thus has many important and practical uses,” Wu said.

The key researchers of the multidisciplinary team include: Chang-Yu Wu, Ph.D., a professor in the Engineering School of Sustainable Infrastructure & Environment in the Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering at UF; John Lednicky, Ph.D., a professor in the department of environmental and global health at the UF College of Public Health and Health Professions and a member of the UF Emerging Pathogens Institute; Michael Lauzardo, M.D., deputy director of the Emerging Pathogens Institute and J. Glenn Morris, M.D., director of the Emerging Pathogens Institute, both of whom are faculty members in the UF College of Medicine; and Thomas B. Waltzek, Ph.D., an associate professor in the department of infectious diseases & immunology at the UF College of Veterinary Medicine and a member of the Emerging Pathogens Institute.

1Viable: In virology, the term ‘viable’ is used instead of ‘live’.  To determine if virus is viable, it must be isolated (“cultured”) in a susceptible animal or in laboratory cell cultures.  Thus, if a virus is “culturable”, it is viable virus because it can invade a cell and complete its life cycle within the cell (it can invade the cells and replicate therein to form progeny virus particles that can go on to infect additional cells).

For further information on the study, visit https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.08.03.20167395v1.

UF Engineering School of Sustainable Infrastructure & Environment
Reba Liddy Hernandez
rhernandez@eng.ufl.edu

UF College of Public Health and Health Professions
Jill Pease
jpease@phhp.ufl.edu

UF Emerging Pathogens Institute
Nicolle Michaels Roberts
nicollemr@epi.ufl.edu

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Driven to Success https://www.eng.ufl.edu/newengineer/alumni-spotlight/driven-to-success/ Tue, 01 Sep 2020 14:53:59 +0000 https://www.eng.ufl.edu/newengineer/?p=29257 Edwin Marcial (BS, ECE ’92) owns and drives a few cars, mostly Porsches. Other people loan him their cars to drive, too. When he’s driving, he is often talking to CEO’s, CTO’s, and COO’s from some of America’s top companies about how they made their companies a success. The drives and the tech talk are captured on video for Marcial’s Techrides website. He has interviewed leaders from Delta Airlines, Virgin Galactic, and Intercontinental Exchange, among other Fortune 500’s. He is interested in how they made their corporate imprint and shares the excitement with the many viewers on his site.

Edwin Marcial

Edwin Marcial

During the time of COVID-19, the rides have turned into podcasts, but Marcial looks forward to getting back on the road soon with others like himself who have accomplished the seemingly impossible to make a name for themselves and their corporate and academic brands. One of his most recent podcasts was with Cammy Abernathy, Ph.D., dean of the Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering at his alma mater, the University of Florida. In addition to discussing the future direction the college is taking with the UF artificial intelligence (AI) university initiative, the work UF is doing to improve diversity in engineering, the challenge traditional universities face from skills-based training platforms and boot camps, and how students can best prepare to study and be successful in engineering, Marcial and Abernathy found a few moments to talk lightheartedly about a 1967 Ford Mustang the dean has in storage.

Marcial is a great example of following through and driving for success. Born in New York City and growing up in Miami from the age of 12, he arrived at the University of Florida not quite sure what he wanted to do. After four years, he had enough credits to graduate, except that they were spread out across a number of different majors; and according to his recollections, he unfortunately found himself on academic probation. He actually dropped out for a year, but those months spent waiting tables in Miami made him realize how important his education and a degree from UF were to him. He went back and got his B.S., this time solidly majoring in computer science and engineering.

However, that determined focus before graduation took another turn as he experimented to find his calling. For the first four years out of college, he worked for a large defense contractor in Florida, writing code for energy control systems. There, he learned the value of corporate structure in a big enterprise and how much good mentors can help shape a young engineer’s career; but he felt he was still missing something.

In 1996, he joined a small start-up of 30 people, the Continental Power Exchange (CPEX). The Atlanta based CPEX was building an electricity trading platform. When the initially struggling company was bought by California power plant builder and entrepreneur Jeff Sprecher, Marcial became one of six remaining people in the pared-down operation; and Sprecher made him the Chief Technology Officer. They started over, changed their name to Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), and the race was on to build an Internet based commodities trading platform competing with Enron, the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYME) and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange along the way (CME). Thirteen years later, ICE bought the New York Stock Exchange; and today they are worth more than $50 billion. Their success came thanks in large part to Marcial’s software development acuity and his ability to build and lead a team of 350 computer engineers and technicians who were dedicated to being the best financial market place in the industry.

When Marcial left the company in 2014 as Senior Vice President and founding CTO, ICE had grown from a small electric power trading exchange into a Fortune 500 company operating one of the largest financial marketplaces in the world. Yet he modestly says, “I felt like I had accomplished what I wanted to do at ICE, and I was ready to move on.” Today Marcial enjoys playing amateur baseball with the Atlanta Cigars, driving his cars, and flying drones. He brings balance to his life by advising and consulting with start-up companies, investing in some of them that show potential, and developing his production company for Techrides. His most rewarding investment, though, has been his involvement with the students at Year Up.

According to Year Up, a non-profit organization that helps underrepresented young adults gain access to sustainable careers, five million young adults in the U.S. actually do not have a stable career pathway to well-paid jobs, while 12 million jobs that require post-secondary education will go unfilled in the next decade. Year Up aims to close that divide by enabling these individuals aged 18-24 years old to move to meaningful careers in just one year. Marcial is a member of the Board of Directors for Year Up Atlanta, and he introduced to them the idea of adding software development and coding to their programs for training young people who have not had the traditional opportunities for higher education. For two years, he volunteered as an instructor at Year Up, and then he provided advanced training for select students while they were undergoing their internships.

“The internships are an important segment of the Year Up program, and part of what we do is to interest local businesses in taking the students on as interns during their last six months at Year Up,” Marcial said. “The response has been very favorable, and the program provides a clear and concrete path for companies to follow in promoting diversity, equity and inclusion.” He added, “The very best reward from being involved with Year Up comes when one of the students calls me up and tells me he or she has been hired by a company in a position that is making a real difference in their lives. These underrepresented young people are making good wages for the first time, and they are building their self-confidence in the business world.”

It is clear that his own journey, from wondering “What’s next?” in his younger days to the disciplined professional leading an unbeatable engineering team through the intricacies of daunting financial markets, has helped shape Marcial to become the perfect mentor for the next generation of youths who need to gain that first foothold as they step up and make their own impact in society.

“Nothing beats helping young people discover their innate abilities and seeing them follow their passions to be their best,” he said.

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Aerospace Engineering Alumna Flies High at Los Alamos National Laboratory https://www.eng.ufl.edu/newengineer/mae/aerospace-engineering-alumna-flies-high-at-los-alamos-national-laboratory/ Fri, 28 Aug 2020 15:38:21 +0000 https://www.eng.ufl.edu/newengineer/?p=29245 Marianne Francois

Marianne Francois

Marianne Francois (Ph.D., AEMES* ’02) was named the Division Leader of the Theoretical Division at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in May 2020. Achieving this position was the culmination of 18 years of increasingly more complex work and greater responsibility. Of her success, she said, “It is an honor and very humbling to be leading a large number of scientists across multiple disciplines.”

Francois began her career as a post-doctoral researcher at LANL in 2002, shortly after receiving her Ph.D. in aerospace engineering. She progressed to becoming a Scientist in the Continuum Dynamics Group, where for the next 10 years she studied computational methods for material sciences applications and hydrodynamics instability. She then began advancing in leadership positions, first becoming a deputy group leader in the Theoretical Division, overseeing 40 scientists who were working with fluid dynamics and solid mechanics. In 2015 she became a group leader in the Weapons Physics Directorate, where her team worked on methods and algorithms for the Computational Physics Division. Three years later, she was promoted to program manager for Advanced Simulation and Computing (ASC) Physics Engineering Modeling (PEM). Not quite two years after that, she was selected to become the Theoretical Division leader. Today she manages six different groups comprised of 400 researchers, including 140 postdocs. “In my case the post-doctoral program at LANL was a very strong portal for my career path,” Francois said. “I would recommend it to anyone interested in pursuing theoretical and computational research and exploring a national laboratory environment.”

Not one to rest on her laurels, Francois is looking at the next exciting thing on the horizon for her division – exascale computing. Exascale computing refers to computing systems capable of at least one exaflop or a billion x a billion (1018) calculations per second. That is 50 times faster than the most powerful supercomputers being used today. At Los Alamos, under the guidance of Francois and others, the Exascale Computing Project (ECP) aims to develop “a capable exascale ecosystem, encompassing applications, system software, hardware technologies and architectures, and workforce development to meet the scientific and national security mission needs of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) in the mid-2020s time frame,” LANL reveals.

“Bala” Balachandar, Ph.D., William F. Powers Professor and Distinguished Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (MAE) at UF commented, “Exascale computing is the cutting edge now, and it will become common place in a decade or so. Marianne, by leading the T-division at LANL, is truly at the forefront of this cutting edge technology. This is particularly timely, as UF has just announced its incredible investment in data-driven science, thus ensuring even more seamless collaboration between our faculty and Los Alamos and other DOE laboratories under Marianne’s leadership.”

The MAE Department honored Francois with its 2019-2020 Outstanding MAE Alumna Award earlier this spring. The Outstanding Alumni Award is the highest honor the MAE Department bestows upon an alumnus/a, and is in recognition of a particular achievement of noteworthy value, a series of such achievements, or a career of noteworthy accomplishments.

Marianne Francois

Marianne Francois, June 2011

When she has any downtime, Francois loves to fly. She has been a licensed pilot since she graduated from high school in France. Today she pilots a single-engine Mooney aircraft, and enjoys cross-country flying. Francois is a member of the Civil Air Patrol and was a mission pilot for search-and-rescue efforts on several occasions as part of the New Mexico squadron. She flew a Cessna 182 at that time. She also served as an aerospace officer in CAP, providing aerospace education for cadets between the ages of 12 and 18.

It was actually this passion for flying, starting at a very early age, along with the desire to be an inventor that led to her pursuit of an aerospace engineering degree. She received her B.S. degree from EPF Ecole d’Ingénieures in France and her M.S. degree from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida. While she was at Embry-Riddle, her advisor introduced her to Dr. Wei Shyy, who was then the chair of the Aerospace Engineering, Mechanics Engineering & Science Department at the University of Florida. Professor Shyy invited Francois to join his department as an assistant and served as her mentor while she pursued her Ph.D. “The training and experience I received at the University of Florida by working with Dr. Shyy prepared me extremely well for tackling challenges in my work throughout my career at LANL,” Francois said.

Francois’ aspirations for the future encompass a truly high-flying goal – leading the LANL Theoretical Division to make contributions in the area of theoretical physics to benefit AI and quantum computing.

*Aerospace Engineering, Mechanics & Engineering Science – Later in 2002 the department was merged with Mechanical Engineering and renamed Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering (MAE).

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UF partners on $26M grant to produce more crops with less water and energy https://www.eng.ufl.edu/newengineer/carousel/uf-partners-on-26m-grant-to-produce-more-crops-with-less-water-and-energy/ Fri, 21 Aug 2020 17:19:59 +0000 https://www.eng.ufl.edu/newengineer/?p=29233 GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida is partnering on a $26 million National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to develop new technologies and systems that will help farmers produce more food with less water and energy. The grant is the latest development in UF’s artificial intelligence (AI) initiative, which will expand the use of AI across academic degrees and programs and accelerate the research that can help address society’s most pressing challenges.

University of Pennsylvania is the lead institution on the grant, which also includes Purdue University and University of California Merced. Research will be headquartered at the University of Pennsylvania, the Center for the Internet of Things for Precision Agriculture (IoT4Ag), which is one of four NSF Engineering Research Centers established this month. The other research centers focus on quantum networks, sustainable roadway electrification and cryogenic technologies.

The research will help position U.S. farmers to produce healthy amounts of crops and remain internationally competitive, even as the global population expands and resources become scarcer.

In addition to developing new technologies, the Center will educate students, engineers, agriculture professionals and other members of farming communities through audience-specific lessons and hands-on, classroom, laboratory and field activities. Bringing together academic, government and industry partners with the farming community, the Center will create an innovation ecosystem that rapidly translates practices and technologies into commercial products and economic impact.

UF will be represented by at least a dozen faculty members and graduate students from the Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) and the College of Education.

David Arnold, George Kirkland Engineering Leadership Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, is co-principal investigator on the NSF grant and site director for the UF site.

He outlined UF’s role in the multi-institution engineering research center. “UF is a major partner in all facets of this initiative. We will leverage our diverse resources, ranging from the recently announced NVIDIA AI supercomputer and our nanotechnology facilities to the agricultural research and Extension centers located throughout the state. I am excited to help synergize expertise and innovation from multiple departments and colleges,” he said.

Cammy Abernathy, Dean of the Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering, commented on the importance of the engineering research center to UF’s vision, saying, “As a 21st century land-grant university, and with UF’s groundbreaking AI university initiative, we are in the optimal position to contribute to food, energy and water security for the society of the future. I am very proud of the role our multidisciplinary team is playing in this effort.”

Diane Rowland, professor of plant physiology and chair of the Agronomy Department and director of the Center for Stress Resilient Agriculture, will help lead the Agricultural Sensor Systems team. 

David Miller, professor of research and evaluation methodology, joins the interdisciplinary team to help ensure clear and meaningful results are gleaned from the project. “As our work in AI expands, having expertise in research evaluation within diverse applications is critical to our efforts to strengthen society,” said College of Education Dean Glenn Good. “Dr. Miller’s work, both as a professor and school director, have advanced the college in dynamic ways to ensure UF remains leader in all areas of research.”

The combination of diverse expertise makes the new Center unique, Rowland said.

“For this research project to work, plant scientists had to team up with engineers. Plant scientists can explain what information we need from the field and what it means. Guided by this understanding, engineers can design systems and AI that can transmit, gather and interpret that information quickly and at a large scale. Ultimately, the kinds of systems we hope to develop would not only detect a problem in the field but tell a farmer the best way to respond,” she said.

Scott Angle, UF vice president for agriculture and natural resources and leader of UF/IFAS, said integrating AI and agriculture is a top priority in the years ahead.

“America’s farmers already work hard. The science from this grant will help them work smarter. That is the only way to keep them globally competitive and able to help feed a projected 10 billion people by mid-century,” Angle said. “The support of the NSF, added to UF’s recently announced AI initiative, will accelerate us toward an era of precision agriculture in which farmers give each individual plant in a field what it needs with a minimum of water, fuel and fertilizer.”

The University of Florida is one of America’s leading research universities and is ranked as the No. 7 public university in the country by U.S. News & World Report.

The mission of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) is to develop knowledge relevant to agricultural, human and natural resources and to make that knowledge available to sustain and enhance the quality of human life. With more than a dozen research facilities, 67 county Extension offices, and award-winning students and faculty in the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, UF/IFAS brings science-based solutions to the state’s agricultural and natural resources industries, and all Florida residents.

ifas.ufl.edu  |  @UF_IFAS

The Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering at the University of Florida houses one of the largest and most dynamic engineering programs in the nation. Curriculum offered across ten departments, 15 degree programs, and more than 20 centers and institutes produces leaders and problem-solvers who take a multidisciplinary approach to innovative and human-centered solutions. Students, faculty and alumni are hailed as New Engineers who aim to transform the way we live, work and play. The college produces inventions at twice the national average – and startups at five times the national average – for every research dollar spent. Engineering is the largest professional school, the second largest college, and one of the top three research units at UF. Established in 1910, the college was named after Distinguished Alumnus Dr. Herbert Wertheim in 2015.

eng.ufl.edu@UFWertheim

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Gilbert Creates inLine Ticketing System to Lower Health Risk When Voting https://www.eng.ufl.edu/newengineer/cise/gilbert-creates-inline-ticketing-system-to-lower-health-risk-when-voting/ Wed, 05 Aug 2020 16:25:39 +0000 https://www.eng.ufl.edu/newengineer/?p=29217 As people across the country head to the polls over the next few months, a concern on many minds is how to stay safe while voting. With the COVID-19 pandemic surging nationwide, what can election officials do to ensure everyone has the ability to vote without risking their health?

Juan E. Gilbert, Ph.D., The Banks Family Preeminence Endowed Professor and chair of the UF Department of Computer & Information Science & Engineering (CISE), has created a ticketing system to help voters maintain social distancing while exercising their right to vote. Dr. Gilbert, who has been conducting research on elections for more than 15 years, saw a need down to the local level and filled it.

“Everyone wants to feel safe while they are casting their vote,” he said. “The inLine Ticketing System lowers voters’ risk of contracting COVID-19 by reducing the length of lines and reducing the amount of time people need to stand close to others.”

After identifying the concerns of sending thousands to the polls during a pandemic, Dr. Gilbert started working on an easy-to-use system that allows poll workers to hand out tickets to voters waiting in line. These tickets are printed out on an as-needed-basis and given to voters as the lines get long. Each ticket is printed with a QR code, along with a date and time to return for voting in English and Spanish. As voters return at their designated time, the QR code is scanned, and they proceed to vote.

Dr. Gilbert said he hopes this app will encourage voters to participate in this year’s election.

“The inLine Ticketing System takes the risk out of waiting in line because your ticket holds your place,” he said. “Voters can keep their distance and come back at their designated time to vote as they normally would.”

The inLine Ticketing System has many applications beyond voting, such as reducing lines at COVID-19 testing sites.

Dr. Gilbert has been working on securing elections for more than a decade. In 2003, Dr. Gilbert and his research team developed Prime lll, the “first open-source universal design” voting system that accommodates persons with and without disabilities and provides a paper printout of the ballot.

Earlier this year, Dr. Gilbert testified as an expert witness regarding election security during a hearing by the House Administration Committee. He shared his expertise in voting system security, accessibility and usability.

Dr. Gilbert concluded in his testimony in January with, “As a nation, we have the capacity to build an elections system for the future but doing so requires focused attention from citizens; federal, state, and local governments; election administrators, and innovators in the academy and industry. It also requires a commitment of appropriate resources. Representative democracy only works if all eligible citizens can participate in elections and be confident that their ballots have been accurately cast, counted, and tabulated.”

For more information on how the app works, to view a video demo and to download the app, visit the inLine Ticketing System website.

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UF Announces $70 Million Artificial Intelligence Partnership with NVIDIA https://www.eng.ufl.edu/newengineer/research-innovation/uf-announces-70-million-artificial-intelligence-partnership-with-nvidia/ Tue, 21 Jul 2020 19:14:39 +0000 https://www.eng.ufl.edu/newengineer/?p=29201 Originally posted on news.ufl.edu

The University of Florida today announced a public-private partnership with NVIDIA that will catapult UF’s research strength to address some of the world’s most formidable challenges, create unprecedented access to AI training and tools for underrepresented communities, and build momentum for transforming the future of the workforce.

The initiative is anchored by a $50 million gift — $25 million from UF alumnus Chris Malachowsky and $25 million in hardware, software, training and services from NVIDIA, the Silicon Valley-based technology company he cofounded and a world leader in AI and accelerated computing.

Along with an additional $20 million investment from UF, the initiative will create an AI-centric data center that houses the world’s fastest AI supercomputer in higher education. Working closely with NVIDIA, UF will boost the capabilities of its existing supercomputer, HiPerGator, with the recently announced NVIDIA DGX SuperPOD™ architecture. This will give faculty and students within and beyond UF the tools to apply AI across a multitude of areas to improve lives, bolster industry, and create economic growth across the state.

UF’s National AI Leadership

The partnership will be central to UF’s vision to be a national leader in the application of AI, including an expansive plan to elevate its reach and impact in research, teaching, and economic development. It provides a replicable framework for future public-private cooperation, and a model for addressing society’s grand challenges through interdisciplinary collaboration. By deploying AI across the curriculum, this powerful resource will address major challenges such as rising seas, aging populations, data security, personalized medicine, urban transportation and food insecurity.

“UF’s leadership has a bold vision for making artificial intelligence accessible across its campus,” said Malachowsky, who serves as an NVIDIA Fellow. “What really got NVIDIA and me excited was partnering with UF to go broader still, and make AI available to K-12 students, state and community colleges, and businesses. This will help address underrepresented communities and sectors across the region where the technology will have a profound positive effect.”

Extensive Collaboration with NVIDIA

NVIDIA’s technology powers two-thirds of the world’s 500 fastest supercomputers, including eight of the top 10. The third-generation HiPerGator will have access to NVIDIA’s most advanced AI software and integrate 140 NVIDIA DGX™ A100 systems with 1,120 NVIDIA A100 Tensor Core GPUs and high-performance NVIDIA Mellanox HDR 200Gb/s InfiniBand networking to deliver 700 petaflops of AI performance.

“Artificial intelligence is the most powerful technology force of our time,” said Jensen Huang, founder and CEO of NVIDIA. “Fueled by data and machine learning, AI is advancing at an exponential pace, impacting every industry from healthcare to transportation to the sciences. Through their generosity and vision, Chris and UF are providing a mighty foundation for students and faculty to harness this technology and drive discovery.”

UF is the first institution of higher learning in the U.S. to receive DGX A100 systems, which are designed to accelerate diverse workloads, including AI training, inference, and data analytics.

NVIDIA will also contribute its AI expertise to UF through ongoing support and collaboration across the following initiatives:

  • The NVIDIA Deep Learning Institute will collaborate with UF on developing new curriculum and coursework for both students and the community, including programing tuned to address the needs of young adults and teens to encourage their interest in STEM and AI, better preparing them for future educational and employment opportunities.
  • UF will become the site of the latest NVIDIA AI Technology Center, where UF Graduate Fellows and NVIDIA employees will work together to advance AI.
  • NVIDIA solution architects and product engineers will partner with UF on the installation, operation and optimization of the NVIDIA-based supercomputing resources on campus, including the latest AI software applications. 

Integrated AI Curriculum, Intelligent-Decision Support, Equitable Access

As a comprehensive institution, UF has a goal of bringing together students and faculty from across campus—and across the state. It will be among the nation’s first to integrate AI across all disciplines and make it a ubiquitous part of its academic enterprise. It will offer certificates and degree programs in AI and data science, with curriculum modules for specific technical and industry-focused domains. The initiative includes a commitment from UF to hire 100 more faculty members focused on AI. They will join 500 new faculty recently added across disciplines — many of whom will weave AI into their teaching and research.

“More than ever before in my lifetime, people around the country and the globe are looking to universities to expand access to higher education and technology and to level the field of opportunity for all,” UF President Kent Fuchs said. “UF intends to meet that challenge, and this partnership will help us do it.”

Within UF Health, UF’s robust academic health center, AI systems are being deployed to monitor patient conditions in real time, making it the first health system to use deep-learning technology to generate patient viability data. Through a novel system known as DeepSOFA, Dr. Azra Bihorac and her team use AI systems to collect and organize a patient’s medical data so that doctors can make better-informed decisions. DeepSOFA is but one example of how AI technology will be put to use to bolster research and improve patient care at UF Health. 

To ensure no community is left behind, UF plans to promote wide accessibility to these computing capabilities and work with other institutions to develop a talent pipeline able to harness the power of AI through several initiatives. These include:

  • Establishing UF’s Equitable AI program, led by Dr. Juan Gilbert, Department of Computer & Information Science & Engineering. The effort is convening faculty members across the university to create standards and certifications in developing tools and solutions that are cognizant of bias, unethical practice and legal and moral issues.
  • Creating partnerships with industry and other academic groups, such as the Inclusive Engineering Consortium, whose students will work with members to conduct research and recruitment to UF graduate programs. The effort is led by HWCOE faculty member Dr. Damon Woodard. UF will also partner with these institutions to provide training in AI.

“This initiative will allow us to recruit and equip a diverse, talented cadre of faculty and students across multiple disciplines and bring them together with colleagues from government and the private sector to find solutions to our most important problems,” said Dr. Cammy Abernathy, dean of UF’s Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering.

University officials expect today’s announcement will spark additional excitement among others who have significant resources and abilities related to AI, and reaffirmed their commitment to serve as a catalyst for those who wish to step up and join in this amazing adventure.

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FICS Research Receives $7.8M to Help Make On-Chip Security Pervasive https://www.eng.ufl.edu/newengineer/research-innovation/fics-research-receives-7-8m-to-help-make-on-chip-security-pervasive/ Mon, 13 Jul 2020 13:58:38 +0000 https://www.eng.ufl.edu/newengineer/?p=29191 Originally posted on the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering’s website

Florida Institute for Cybersecurity (FICS) Research has announced a collaboration with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) on a program called Automated Implementation of Secure Silicon (AISS). Leading electronic design automation company Synopsys will serve as a prime contractor on the program. The $7.8M grant, part of the DARPA Electronic Resurgence Initiative (ERI), has the broad goal of making scalable on-chip security pervasive throughout industry and military applications.

As the program description outlines,

The objective of the program is to develop a design tool and IP ecosystem – including tool vendors, chip developers, IP licensers, and the open source community – that will allow security to be inexpensively incorporated into chip designs with minimal effort and expertise, ultimately making scalable on-chip security ubiquitous.

The Team

Seven UF faculty members will be involved in the project, with Dr. Mark Tehranipoor as the lead Principal Investigator. All are members of FICS Research.

Faculty Member Affiliation
Mark Tehranipoor (Lead PI) ECE
Christophe Bobda ECE
Farimah Farahmandi ECE
Domenic Forte ECE
Yier Jin ECE
Prabhat Mishra CISE
Fahim Rahman ECE

The AISS program will be structured as a unique partnership between industry, academia, and government. Synopsys, due to its industry-leading position as an EDA tool/IP provider, will serve as a prime contractor on the AISS program. FICS Research will serve as the primary academic partner on the Synopsys lead team. Key subcontracting partners with Synopsys include: Arm, Boeing, UltraSoC, UC San Diego, Purdue University, and Texas A&M.

The Background

In June of 2017, the DARPA Microsystems Technology Office (MTO) announced a new Electronic Resurgence Initiative (ERI) to ensure far-reaching improvements in electronics performance well beyond the limits of traditional scaling. As silicon fabrication continues its move overseas, the need to create a secure, trustworthy chip fabrication supply chain for industry and military use has become more critical than ever.

DARPA kicked off the ERI with six programs aligned to three thrust areas under the first phase of ERI.

  • The Materials and Integration thrust asked whether the integration of unconventional materials could enhance conventional silicon circuits
  • The Architectures thrust asked whether the electronics community could enjoy the benefits of specialized circuitry while still relying on general programming constructs through the proper software/hardware co-design.
  • The Designs thrust asked whether the electronics community could dramatically lower the barriers to modern system-on-chip design and unleash a new era of circuit and system specialization and innovation.
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