Professor Pei Zhang Receives NSF CAREER Award-Silicon Valley Campus - Carnegie Mellon University

Professor Pei Zhang Receives NSF CAREER Award-Silicon Valley Campus - Carnegie Mellon University

Professor Pei Zhang Receives NSF CAREER Award

Pei Zhang, Assistant Research Professor at Carnegie Mellon’s Silicon Valley Campus, recently received the NSF CAREER Award. The Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program is a Foundation-wide activity that offers the National Science Foundation's 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.

Professor Zhang's research combines sensor networks and robotics to explore dangerous spaces in emergencies. In a rapidly developing emergency situation the rapid discovery of information inside a building, such as temperature during a fire, is key to a successful response. The challenge, however, is that the needed sensors are difficult to deploy and maintain in this situation. While robots can be used to gather some of this information, deployment logistics, dynamic environmental, infrastructural dependence, reliability and speed have limited their adaptation. To solve the problem, this project explores a novel approach by using groups of minimalistic controlled-mobile networks as a cloud of minimalistic sensors (SensorFly). By taking a minimalistic approach, where each device has few sensors, the SensorFly project will develop the basic understanding of these controlled-mobile networked systems through tradeoff between per device capability and system capability, and low-level collaborative techniques to counter system non-determinism.

The SensorFly project has the potential for broad social impact. Although the size and weight of sensors may decrease in the future, smaller devices will remain attractive due to their minimal intrusiveness. Therefore, the investigation into minimalistic approaches will have a lasting impact that extends beyond today’s sensing systems. Furthermore, studies that improves information gathering in emergency situations will improve safety for both the responders and occupants. Finally, the project continues the PI’s efforts for advising students in research and encouraging members of under-represented groups into science and engineering fields.

Professor Zhang offered, "I'm thrilled to receive the NSF Career Award. The work it is supporting [the SensorFly project], has really broad impact in disaster response as well as supporting students for scientific research."