Rice Engineering Innovation Conference and Workshop Fund backs six teams

Goal of fund is to enhance reputation of scholarship across the School of Engineering.

Lovett Hall at sunrise

Six teams of engineering researchers are the inaugural recipients of the Rice Engineering Innovation Conference and Workshop Fund.

“Our goal is to foster conferences and workshops that enhance the reputation and quality of scholarship across the School of Engineering. Funding, in part, is provided by philanthropic donations made to the Dean’s Fund for Engineering Excellence,” said Marcia O’Malley, associate dean for research and innovation in the George R. Brown School of Engineering.

Each team, which must include members from at least two departments, will receive $20,000 to fund its event.

“The school’s research mission of engineering a sustainable future with social responsibility,” said Luay Nakhleh, dean of the engineering school, “consists of three pillars defined by our work’s societal impact—health and well-being, resilient and adaptive communities, energy and sustainability—and two enabling foundational areas—advanced materials and future computing. A major motivation for launching the program is to bring our faculty to define the specific areas of excellence within these five broad research thrusts.”

“Conferences that address the theme of social responsibility in engineering are of particular interest. We expect these meetings to not only showcase our current strengths but to guide and shape future activities in the school over the coming decade,” O’Malley said.

The funded conferences and workshops, and their organizers are:

“Advanced Electron Microscopy Workshop”: Yimo Han, assistant professor of materials science and nanoengineering (MSNE); Geoff Wehmeyer, assistant professor of mechanical engineering (MECH); Guanhui Gao, research scientist in MSNE. The goal of the workshop is to raise awareness of, and encourage use of the Electron Microscopy Center, focusing on the first FEI Titan S/TEM in use worldwide, purchased by Rice for $10 million in 2015.

“Networks 2040: Building Tomorrow’s Internet”: Santiago Segarra, W. M. Rice Trustee Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE); Ang Chen, assistant professor of computer science (CS); Songtao Chen, Texas Instruments Assistant Professor of ECE; Kaiyuan Yang, assistant professor of ECE. The workshop will focus on development of quantum networks, security by design, AI-driven network management and programmable networks.

“InterfaceRice”: The Rice Neuroengineering Initiative will host a conference May 18-19, 2023, emphasizing research in neuroengineering and applications of neurotechnologies. Jacob Robinson, associate professor of ECE and of bioengineering is the lead organizer. The event will bring together leaders in academia, neurosurgery and corporate neurotechnology, along with patients with engineered implants, prosthetics and other technologies.

“Future-proof Distributed/Federated ML Computing”: Anastasios Kyrillidis, Noah Harding Assistant Professor of CS; Chris Jermaine, professor and chair of CS, J.S. Abercrombie Professor of Engineering; Yingyan Lin, assistant professor of ECE; César Uribe, Louis Owen Assistant Professor of ECE. Federated learning is a rapidly developing distributed learning protocol that differs from traditional distributed learning paradigms and permits integration of such small computing devices as smartphones, drones and IoT devices.

“MaterialsXrobotics”: Daniel Preston, assistant professor of MECH; Sibani Lisa Biswal, William M. McCardell Professor in Chemical Engineering. The conference will highlight development of novel materials that support or enhance conventional robotic systems, and the creation of responsive, adaptive materials that act as robots themselves.

"Texas Regional Robotics Symposium (TEROS) 2023": Vaibhav V. Unhelkar, assistant professor of CS; Kaiyu Hang, assistant professor of CS; Daniel Preston, assistant professor of MECH. In April 2023, Rice will host the second annual meeting of TEROS, with a focus on the use of robotics in medicine.

The Rice Engineering Innovation Conference and Workshop Fund is independent of the university-wide Creative Ventures Conference and Workshop Development Fund, recently announced by the Office of Research.