DEARBORN (WWJ) — Mind-controlled robots using only a single electrode on a headband. New techniques of analyzing “big data” that can blast through huge volumes of images quickly to find just what you’re looking for. Smartphone apps that keep you healthy. Advanced battery management systems for millions of electric cars. Sensors that give soldiers instant
information on the health of the armor in their tanks — oh, and by the way, those sensors also detect radar and harvest energy from the environment.

These were just some of the wonders presented Wednesday night at the Fall Conference of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers – Southeastern Michigan, held at the Adoba Hotel in Dearborn.

Dean Aslam, professor of electrical and computer engineering at Michigan State University, kicked things off with his research on single-electrode mind control of robots. He said he started his research playing with toys, and is now using headbands containing a single electrode to control robots. (Oh, and eventually, those headbands can be programmed to change your thinking — to give you a sense of well-being.)

Iswar Sethi, professor of computer science and engineering at Oakland University, talked about his research analyzing patterns of rankings of similarities between pictures to create “permutation distance” that sifts through huge reams of data quickly looking for patterns. Obvious applications in data mining await.

Jasprit Singh, professor of electrical engineering, computer science and applied physics at the University of Michigan, talked about his research on using smartphone-based platforms to develop mentoring technologies for wellness — based on the fact that we’ve got all this amazing technology now, but our brains are still wired for conditions on Earth 50,000 years ago.

Le Yi Wang, professor of electrical and computer engineering at Wayne State University, described his research on making large numbers of smart electric vehicles part of the electric grid.

And Thomas Meitzler, senior technical scientist in the electrified armor laboratory at the U.S. Army’s Tank-Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Command in Warren, talked about his research on electronics in armor plating that give soldiers realtime reports on how well their tank armor will stand up ot the next blast — when it’s safe to keep fighting, and when it’s time to head for the rear for repairs.

Keynote speaker Rock Marcone, director of the Maneuver Collaboration Center at General Dynamic Land Systems in Sterling heights, gave a stirring presentation on General Dynamics’ “passion for the warfighter” in building the
world’s best tanks — with plenty of help from electrical and electronics engineers.

Marcone said the new MC2 center at GDLS aims to be “quick, agile and flexible … always looking for the next big thing, and trying to predict the future. And that’s a challenge in these austere times.”

When it comes to building better tanks for America’s armed forces, Marcone said, “how can you not be motivated to come in every day and work on technology that is going to save their lives?”

The technology saved Marcone’s life more than once. He’s a retired lieutenant colonel in the Army who commanded the task force that captured a key bridge over the Euphrates and Saddam International Airport during the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

“I used to drive tanks, now I build them,” he said.

The IEEE gave special recognition to Reggie Huff, director of homeless recovery services at the Neighborhood Services Organization in Detroit, for his work in managing and alleviating homelessness, and Virinder Moudgil, president and CEO of Lawrence Technological University in Southfield, for his work in minting thousands of new engineers.

Moudgil said LTU will continue to be a strong advocate for science, technology, engineering and mathematics education, thanks in part to a $20 million gift that created the Marburger STEM Education Center at Lawrence Tech.

WWJ Technology Editor Matt Roush served as master of ceremonies for the event.


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