ISE Insider Fall 2022: Message from the Chair

David Kaber, Ph.D.

Dear Friends and Colleagues:

Once again, the autumn season in north central Florida has brought mild temperatures and early sunsets for beautiful evening skies. This time has been particularly busy for our department with the development of a new degree program for the new UF West Palm Beach Graduate Campus. In collaboration with UF’s Finance Department, ISE has designed and proposed a new master’s degree in financial engineering. To support this program, our department will undergo further expansion in the next two years with four new tenured/tenure-track faculty hires. We look forward to enrolling the first students in the master’s program in Fall 2024.

UF continues to pursue its vision of being the “AI University,” which has had a major impact across colleges and departments. Our early career members in ISE are making important contributions to foundational advances in AI theory and specific application areas. Alex Semenov, Ph.D., and colleagues have recently demonstrated the use of deep learning (Siamese neural networks) for the analysis of synthetic aperture radar (aerial and satellite imagery) data for highly accurate geolocation and target identification. Hongcheng Liu, Ph.D., has published research providing tools to enable deep learning neural networks to be sufficiently generalizable even under data scarcity. One of our newest faculty members, Hamed Amini, Ph.D., has published research on using machine learning techniques for modeling and approximating the optimal financial network to reduce systemic risk in the event of market threats/crashes.

Grant funding is often necessary to generate these types of scholarly outcomes and our faculty have continued to make strides with new funding sources. Xiaochen Xian, Ph.D., recently received the department’s first ISE principal investigator-led NIH R21 grant for the study of, “Knowledge-Informed Deep Learning for Apnea Detection with Limited Annotations,” in partnership with UF College of Medicine faculty. Yongpei Guan, Ph.D., received our department’s first Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy Program (ARPA-E) grant for research on, “Computational Algorithms for Unit Commitment with AC Power Flows.” In addition, Boyi Hu, Ph.D., and Wayne Giang, Ph.D., received our first education research grant from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) focused on, “Integration of Robotics Codes and Standards into the Occupational Safety Engineering Curriculum.” Our current active research awards level is $5.53 million, the highest level in the past five years.

Our students also continue to make important accomplishments. Recently, a third-year ISE student team, led by Anushka Radhakrishnan, won the Raytheon Tech Business Case competition hosted by Texas Christian University. To further encourage students to continue on to graduate school, ISE recently created a “Masters Student Acceptance Scholarship” program. With substantial support from the Harold Haldeman Endowment, we are offering 16 scholarships to admitted master’s program applicants each year. We have also introduced a “First Year Ph.D. Student Fellowship” to recruit highly qualified Ph.D. applicants. With substantial support from the Harbert S. Gregory ISE Endowment, we will offer multiple fellowships with each fall admissions cycle.

These efforts of our faculty and students are key to further advancing the department and its reputation in the ISE community. We have recently returned to our vision and reaffirmed as a department that we seek to be a leader in providing cutting-edge ISE education and research to develop future leaders of industry and academia. We also seek to promote creative and critical systems thinking that transforms work and society. We expect to achieve this vision through innovative applications of the latest technologies and digital tools in extensive partnerships with industry, research labs, and Federal agencies. We believe this vision is obtainable through a faculty and student body that is diverse in backgrounds and lived experiences. We are now just realizing the impact of the major investments our college has made in the expansion of the ISE program, including 12 new assistant professor hires in a four-year period, and we look forward to what future autumns in Florida will bring.

As always we appreciate your interest and support of our progress. Please reach out to ADMINISTRATION@ISE.UFL.EDU if you would like further information on department activities.

Happy Holidays and GO GATORS!!

Dave Kaber
ISE Department Chair