Daniel P. Siewiorek Formally Named QoLT Center Director-Quality of Life Technology Center - Carnegie Mellon University

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Daniel P. Siewiorek Formally Named QoLT Center Director

Following a nine-month national search process, Daniel P. Siewiorek has formally been named the Director of the Quality of Life Technology (QoLT) Center – a National Science Foundation (NSF) Engineering Research Center (ERC) at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) and the University of Pittsburgh (PITT) focused on creating intelligent systems that improve quality of life for everyone while enabling older adults and people with disabilities. Siewiorek, the Buhl University Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Computer Science at CMU, is a world-leading expert in computer system architecture and design of intelligent human-computer interfaces.

During the Fall of 2011, Siewiorek assumed the position of Acting Director of the QoLT Center at the request of Takeo Kanade, Director Emeritus, who then sought a temporary leave of absence. Siewiorek remained Acting Director since then, leading the QoLT Center through a successful NSF Grant Renewal period and further establishing the Center’s legacy through a series of milestone publications in 2012 spanning academic, science and industry contexts.

“I am honored to take up leadership of the Quality of Life Technology Center as I have long been enthusiastic about the personal opportunities QoLT provides to help our older adults retain their dignity and independence," said Siewiorek. “The challenges of aging and disability are inspiring a whole cadre of interdisciplinary-minded researchers – engineers, scientists, and clinicians – who are highly collaborative, well-integrated, and driven to produce QoLTs – an exciting new field of intelligent systems that will ultimately enable better quality of life for all."

The National Science Foundation requested the completion of a national search for a Center Director in September 2012. University and departmental officials at CMU jointly agreed to complete the search as a testament to the University’s support of the QoLT Center’s mission and its unique contributions to science and humanity.

Reid Simmons, Research Professor in CMU’s School of Computer Science, Robotics Institute and Co-Director of the QoLT Center’s Education, Outreach and Diversity team, formed and chaired a director search committee which consisted of faculty from CMU and PITT along with members of QoLT’s science and industry advisory boards. Several external candidates were interviewed before the committee finally decided on Siewiorek.

Siewiorek is abundantly qualified to take up the responsibilities of Center Director. He formerly served as co-founder and Associate Director for the Institute for Complex Engineered Systems (ICES), which began as the Engineering Design Research Center (itself a former NSF ERC); he was also the Director of CMU’s Human Computer Interaction Institute (HCII); and, he currently remains a founding Chairman of the IEEE Technical Committee on Wearable Information Systems.  Siewiorek has lead interdisciplinary teams that designed and constructed over 20 generations of mobile computing systems. His achievements span four decades of experience in parallel processing, computer architecture, reliable computing, design automation, and more. His publications include nine textbooks and over 475 papers.

Said Siewiorek, "My wife and I watched our own parents age in assisted living and nursing homes. We saw their health and capabilities decline firsthand; we witnessed their efforts to help each other compensate for individual shortcomings; and we observed directly the enormous toll that is often placed on caregivers. Their enduring, human spirit is what originally motivated me to focus my research on creating a new breed of assistive technologies.”

Siewiorek will continue to oversee the QoLT Center’s Virtual Coach (VC) Testbed Systems, a new generation of attentive, personalized systems that provide cognitive assistance based on an awareness of a user’s activities, contexts and abilities. Virtual Coaches continuously monitor the user’s activities and surroundings, detect situations where intervention is desirable, offer prompt assistance and provide appropriate feedback and encouragement. Example Virtual Coach systems include a Stroke Rehabilitation Therapy Coach that motivates users to comply with prescribed rehabilitation exercises through virtual gaming elements; a MemExerciser device that facilitates memory recall among people with dementia; and an Exercise Coach that detects and guides users to correct physical form using helpful visual and audio cues during exercise.

Dr. Rory A. Cooper, Co-Director of the QoLT Center and FISA and Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) Chair and Distinguished Professor of the Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology at the University of Pittsburgh, remarked,“I am very pleased with the decision to appoint Dan as the Director of the NSF-ERC QoLT Center. He has the experience, expertise, and demeanor to lead the ERC. We have an excellent working relationship; and, I have complete confidence that together we will ensure the long term success of the QoLT Center."

The Quality of Life Technology Center was founded in 2006 to explore the development of intelligent systems that augment body and mind functions, maintain health and well-being, prevent or slow decline, compensate for diminished human capabilities and enhance intact ones. In contrast to other smart devices, QoLT’s are uniquely marked by emphasis on human-system symbiosis – an emerging approach to universal design that seeks to assure human and engineered components are mutually dependent and working together collaboratively towards task completion. QoLT leverages state-of-the-art expertise in computation, sensing, robotics, machine learning, communication, social sciences, design and more to enable its disruptive paradigm. Originally conceived with older adults and people with disabilities in mind, the QoLT Center now enables intelligent technologies that better the everyday lives of all people.

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About the QoLT Center:
The Quality of Life Technology Center is a National Science Foundation (NSF) Engineering Research Center (ERC) focused on the development of intelligent systems that improve quality of life for everyone while enabling older adults and people with disabilities.  The QoLT Center addresses the needs and activities of everyday living by prototyping personal and assistive robots, cognitive and behavioral virtual coaches, safe mobility and driver assistance technologies, and human health and wellness monitoring, awareness and assistance solutions for home or community. QoLT Research emphasizes human-system interaction with attention to social, clinical and policy factors for consumer deployment and user adoption.  In addition to R&D, the Center offers educational programs, commercialization initiatives and unique partnership opportunities. The QoLT Center is a collaborative partnership of Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh. (www.qolt.org)

About the National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center (NSF ERC) Program:
The National Science Foundation’s Engineering Research Centers are interdisciplinary, multi-institutional centers that join academia, industry, and government in partnership to produce transformational engineered systems along with engineering graduates who are adept at innovation and primed for leadership in the global economy.ERCs operate at the interface between the discovery-driven culture of science and innovation-driven culture of engineering.At the ERCs, academe and industry collaborate in the pursuit of advances in complex engineered systems and systems-level technologies that could spawn whole new industries or radically transform the product lines, practices and processes of current industries.(www.erc-assoc.org.)

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. EEEC-0540865.

By: Kristen Sabol, ksabol@cs.cmu.edu, 412-268-3795