Tech Showcase Highlights the Year in Research at CMU-SV-Silicon Valley Campus - Carnegie Mellon University

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Tech Showcase Highlights the Year in Research at CMU-SV

Nathan Martin (MS SM '13) explains his project, An Indoor Positioning System Using Infrared and Bluetooth Low Energy, at the 2013 Tech Showcase.
Nathan Martin (MS SM '13) explains his project, An Indoor Positioning System Using Infrared and Bluetooth Low Energy, at the 2013 Tech Showcase.

Visitors to Carnegie Mellon University's Silicon Valley campus for the 4th Annual Technology Showcase Saturday, August 10 were greeted by a Tesla electric car flashing its lights, a wall of smart display screens, candy dispensers full of M&M's and gleaming solar panels, all demonstrating the efforts and ingenuity of CMU faculty, students and researchers.

The 36 creative presentations at the annual event were part of the celebrations for Graduation Weekend, when the campus celebrates the newest class of graduates and welcomes friends and alumni for a special reception.

Researchers presented pitches and demos to faculty, friends and family, CMU alumni and guest judges Adam Blum of OpenEd, Tom Terrill (MS SE '08) from Nook Media and Rahul Arora, a former CMU-SV faculty member now at Yahoo! Printed posters were accompanied by working Web sites, enthusiastic speeches and, in several cases, candy rewards.

The researchers drew inspiration from a variety of sources — high-tech cars for a team from Driven Computing creating an API for developers to access data in new Teslas, Fords and Chevys, or personal habits and interests for students creating apps on the Android mobile platform. Software engineering student Aristide Niyungeko (MS SE '13), creator of the finalist Vagabond, a travel organization Web application and database that also suggests a variety of activities, said he was recalling his first trip to the San Francisco Bay Area.

"It take a lot of time to find things, to do the organization" he said. His project, created in the Real World Software Engineering for Entrepreneurs class, can create a trip itinerary, including travel times, based on different interests, budgets and recommendations from other users.

From nine finalists, their posters marked with yellow ribbons, the judges selected three outstanding entries and a "Best in Showcase" award. Yahoo! sponsored the prize money — $500 to the top project and $500 split among the outstanding entries.

The first Outstanding Entry to be recognized was Multilayer Optimized Uniform Nanomachined Diffractive Solar Wrap (MOUND), a project by CMU-SV researchers Abe Ishihara and Kevin Young and CMU-SV intern Vincent Brac de la Perriere with collaborators Bernard Kress and Shahar Ben-Menahem, along with Greg Dorais and Kalamanje Krishnakumar of NASA. MOUND is a new solar power technology using three diffractive optical layers. The rollable wrap not only has increased energy density, it can also be mass fabricated, increasing cost effectiveness as well.

The next Outstanding Entry was awarded to An Indoor Positioning System Using Infrared and Bluetooth Low Energy, by Nathan Martin (MS SM '13) and Feng-Tso Sun, a Ph.D. student in the ECE program, under the guidance of Distinguished Service Professor Bob Iannucci, the next Silicon Valley Campus Director. They designed and assembled small sensors to transmit location data via a Bluetooth low energy gateway to the cloud, and wrote the code to support its use in monitoring rooms and buildings for emergency response, attendance or security.

Senior Systems Scientist and Associate Professor of the Practice Ed Katz assisted their demo as a "model," wandering the pre-wired rooms and halls of CMU's Building 23 wearing a Star Trek badge.

Martin has a computer engineering background, but was drawn to CMU-SV's software management program because he wants to broaden his entrepreneurial skills and prepare for launching his own company some day. "I was incredibly fortunate to find an advisor in Bob Iannucci," he said. Iannucci supported the way the project could integrate the students' talents and encouraged Martin to "access my 'hardware' side," he said.

As for the Starfleet insignias covering that hardware? Martin said his classmates kept referencing the futuristic computers of the sci-fi classic, and he "got the message loud and clear."

Martin's wasn't the only interdisciplinary project to take honors; the student team behind Coco Dojo: An Online Collaborative Coding System was also recognized as an Outstanding Entry, receiving a special mention at the graduation ceremony the following day. Coco Dojo began at an April Hackathon with a team of students from the software engineering and software management programs.

The Best in Showcase award was presented to a large scale collaboration of students and faculty, Virtual Sensors and Visualization for Internet of Things. Oscar Sandoval (MS SE '13), Zhipeng Li (MS SE '13) Norman Xin (MS SE '13) Clyde Li (MS SE '13), Yuan Ren (MS SM '13), CMU-SV intern Kyle Sum and ECE faculty member Anthony Rowe from Pittsburgh, as well as Silicon Valley faculty members Jia Zhang, Bob Iannucci, Martin Griss and Steven Rosenberg have all contributed to the project to "Make buildings smarter to tell you what you want to know!" as the poster announced.

NASA Sustainability Base Smart Building Monitoring and Management (and CMU's own Building 23) serve as the motivating case study. The sensor data service platform collects data such as sound, light and environmental cues from both virtual and physical sensors, and provides a Web service interface to share the data with several other projects at the Showcase.

Following the Tech Showcase, CMU-SV also hosted a special reception to welcome alumni back to campus and honor Martin Griss, who will step down at the end of the month after five years as director of the Silicon Valley Campus. Griss will remain at CMU-SV as a principal research scientist.

Todd Sedano, head of the software engineering program, donned a rainbow wig to lead the lively send-off for Griss, which included commendations from Michael Marlaire, director of NASA Research Park, and James Garrett, the new dean of CMU's College of Engineering. Griss was joined by his family, who he said will refuse to throw him "another" retirement party — but are nevertheless looking forward to the next phase of his distinguished career.