Engineering Systems and Environment Briefs

Welcome to Engineering Systems and Environment Briefs, a place to find quick notes and posts from our department faculty, students, staff and alumni.

    Hyunglok Kim’s Soil Moisture Proposal Earns Selection to NASA’s ‘Future Investigator’ Program

    July 12, 2019
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    Hyunglok Kim, a second-year Ph.D. student in the Department of Engineering Systems and Environment, has been selected for NASA’s first class of Future Investigators in NASA Earth and Space Science and Technology. His research proposal was one of only 59 accepted for the new Future Investigators program in the earth science funding division. The maximum award is $135,000 over three years.

    Kim is working with Professor Venkat Lakshmi, who joined the Engineering Systems and Environment faculty in 2019, as his principal investigator. The project is “Diurnal Soil Moisture Using Satellite Observations and Data Assimilation.” Kim said he wanted to investigate the topic because he believes it offers critical — and surprising — insight to improving our knowledge of Earth’s climate systems.

    NASA peer-reviewed 428 earth science proposals and a total of 966 proposals that were submitted in response to the inaugural Future Investigators in NASA Earth and Space Science and Technology solicitation, according to the website. Four funding divisions in the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters — earth science, heliophysics, planetary science and astrophysics — provided oversight for the peer review process.

    The solicitation invited proposals for graduate student-designed research projects that contribute to the Science Mission Directorate’s science, technology and exploration goals.

    Read more about this research in UVA Today.

    Systems Engineering Student Makes Case at Harvard Law School for Electronic Research Assistant

    June 28, 2019

    Faraz Dadgostari, who is working on his Ph.D. in systems engineering at the University of Virginia, gave a talk at Harvard Law School titled “Learning Knowledge Search Techniques in the Law.” The project is a collaboration with Michael Livermore, a UVA Law professor and Peter Beling, professor and associate chair for research in the Department of Engineering Systems and Environment at UVA.

    Their work combines natural language processing and reinforcement learning to replicate how attorneys search and select from legal cases when they are developing arguments for given legal questions. The team’s approach learns from the in-text citations in U.S. Supreme Court opinions, leading to algorithms that search for the smallest set of relevant cases required for the legal arguments the lawyer is trying to make, Faraz said.

    The work introduces a novel theory of legal search and new reinforcement learning formulations. The project is supported in part by the Center for Visual and Decision Informatics, a National Science Foundation Industry/University Cooperative Research Center. Professor Beling is the center’s UVA site director.

    Learn more about Farazs work on his website.

    Wenjian Jia Wins Awards at 2019 ASCE International Conference

    June 14, 2019

    Civil engineering Ph.D. student Wenjian Jia won the Best Paper Award at the 2019 American Society of Civil Engineers International Conference on Transportation & Development for his paper, “Evaluating Fuel Tax Revenue Impacts of Electric Vehicle Adoption in Virginia Counties: Applications of a Bivariate Linear Mixed Count Model.” Wenjian also won the Younger Member 3-Minute Pitch contest at the conference, pitching new research at UVA on the energy and emissions impacts of autonomous electric vehicles. The paper was recently published in Transportation Research Record.

    Video Highlights of the Spring 2019 UVA F1/10 Autonomous Racing Undergraduate Course

    May 24, 2019

    Professor Madhur Behl’s course in autonomous racing allows students working in teams to build, drive and race 1/10th-scale autonomous cars, while learning about the principles of perception, planning and control. They learn to use a robot operating system (ROS); integrate various sensors such as an inertial measurement unit (IMU), cameras, and light detection and ranging (LIDAR) on an embedded computer; and implement algorithms for localization, mapping, path planning and control. The course culminates in a F1/10 “battle of algorithms” race among the teams.

    See this video for this semester’s highlights. 

    For more information about the course, please visit the autonomous racing website.

    Systems Engineering Student Tyler Cody Wins Best Student Paper Award at IEEE SysCon 2019

    April 12, 2019

    Tyler Cody, a Ph.D. student in systems engineering, won the Best Student Paper award at IEEE SysCon 2019, the flagship conference of the IEEE Systems Council.

    ESE Students Win Prestigious NSF Graduate Research Fellowships

    April 12, 2019

    Congratulations to Engineering Systems and Environment students Matthew Dean, Bethany Gordon and Erica Loudermilk for being named NSF Graduate Research Fellows. The National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees at accredited United States institutions.

    ESE Students Present at Engineering Sustainability 2019

    April 12, 2019

    Graduate Students from Engineering Systems and Environment and the Convergent Behavioral Science Initiative (CBSI) lab presented their research at Engineering Sustainability 2019 in Pittsburgh this week. Student attendees include Allen Townsend, Patrick Hancock, Catherine Owsik, Bethany Gordon, Leon Yacubian, Kaetlyn Stenger, Shraddha Praharaj, Michaela Barnett and Wenjian Jia.


    Assistant Professor Donna Chen’s Article Appears in Eno Transportation Weekly

    April 05, 2019

    Eno Transportation Weekly featured a “Women Takeover“ edition for Women’s History Month. In it, Donna Chen, an assistant professor UVA’s Department of Engineering Systems and Environment, writes about strategies to speed up electric vehicle adoption in the U.S. Both federal and state tax incentives positively impact preference for electric vehicles, and the provision of public fast-charging infrastructure is especially key for increasing adoption of battery electric vehicles. 

    F1/10 Autonomous Racing at 2019 Nvidia GPU Technology Conference

    April 05, 2019

    Madhur Behl, an assistant professor in computer science and engineering systems and environment, and his Ph.D. student Varundev Sukhil gave a talk and tutorial on F1/10 Autonomous Racing at the 2019 Nvidia GTC Conference, held in San Jose, Calif. They were invited by the Nvidia Deep Learning Institute for an instructor-led tutorial, which was attended by more than 150 participants. Nvidia GTC has become the premier artificial intelligence and deep learning conference series featuring multiple autonomous vehicles technologies, which are premiered at the venue every year. The tutorial focused on the new F1/10 Autonomous Racing Docker Simulator. Behl’s team developed the simulator, which allows anyone to develop perception, planning and control algorithms for autonomous racing. The simulator is open source and available here.


    Chen Research Lab Participates in Mobility Talks International

    April 05, 2019

    Civil engineering assistant professor Donna Chen and Ph.D. students Wenjian Jia and Erin Robartes exhibited research about electric vehicle adoption and shared autonomous electric vehicle operations at Mobility Talks International on April 3 in Washington, DC. Professor Chen participated in a panel on preparing cities for the arrival of autonomous vehicles.