OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

college of engineering

OSU researcher part of DARPA grant for autonomous drone swarms

CORVALLIS, Ore. – An Oregon State University computer science professor is part of a team that will receive up to $7.1 million to develop a drone swarm infrastructure to help the U.S. military in urban combat.

The contract is part of the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency’s OFFSET program, short for Offensive Swarm-Enabled Tactics. The program’s goal, according to DARPA’s website, is “to empower … troops with technology to control scores of unmanned air and ground vehicles at a time.”

Julie A. Adams of OSU’s College of Engineering is on one of two teams of “swarm systems integrators” whose job is to develop the system infrastructure and integrate the work of the “sprint” teams that will focus on swarm tactics, swarm autonomy, human-swarm teaming, physical experimentation and virtual environments.

Raytheon BBN, a key research and development arm of the Raytheon Company, a major defense contractor, leads Adams’ team. The team also includes Smart Information Flow Technologies, a research and development firm. Northrop Grumman, an aerospace and defense technology company, heads the other team of integrators.

Adams, the associate director for deployed systems and policy at the college’s Collaborative Robotics and Intelligent Systems Institute, is the only university-based principal investigator on either team of integrators.

Researchers envision swarms of more than 250 autonomous vehicles – multi-rotor aerial drones, and ground rovers – to gather information and assist troops in “concrete canyon” surroundings where line-of-sight, satellite-based communication is impaired by buildings.

The information the swarms collect can help keep U.S. troops more safe, and civilians in the battle areas more safe as well.

“I specifically will work on swarm interaction grammar – how we take things like flanking or establishing a perimeter and create a system of translations that will allow someone to use those tactics,” Adams said. “We want to be able to identify algorithms to go with the tactics and tie those things together, and also identify how operators interact with the use of a particular tactic.

“Our focus is on the individuals who will be deployed with the swarms, and our intent is to develop enhanced interactive capabilities: speech, gestures, a head tilt, tactile interaction. If a person is receiving information from a swarm, he might have a belt that vibrates. We want to make the interaction immersive and more understandable for humans and enable them to interact with the swarm.”

Adams noted that China last summer launched a record swarm of 119 fixed-wing unmanned aerial vehicles.

“Right now we don’t have the infrastructure available for testing the capabilities of large swarms,” Adams said. “Advances have been made with indoor systems, including accurately tracking individual swarm members and by using simulations. Those are good first steps but they don’t match what will happen in the real world. Those approaches allow for testing and validation of some system aspects but they don’t allow for full system validation.”

The integrators’ objective is for operators to interact with the swarm as a whole, or subgroups of the swarm, and not individual agents – like a football coach orchestrating his entire offense as it runs a play.

“What the agents do individually is simple; what they do as a whole is much more interesting,” said Adams, likening a drone swarm to a school of fish acting in concert in response to a predator. “We’ve got these ‘primitives’” – basic actions a swarm can execute – “and we’ll map these primitives to algorithms for the individual agents in the swarm, and determine how humans can interact with the swarm based on all of these things. We want to advance and accelerate enabling swarm technologies that focus on swarm autonomy and how humans can interact and team with the swarm.” 

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Steve Lundeberg, 541-737-4039

Traffic signal countdown timers lead to improved driver responses

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Countdown timers that let motorists know when a traffic light will go from green to yellow lead to safer responses from drivers, research at Oregon State University suggests.

The findings are important because of mistakes made in what traffic engineers call the “dilemma zone” – the area in which a driver isn’t sure whether to stop or keep going when the light turns yellow.

A traffic signal countdown timer, or TSCT, is a clock that digitally displays the time remaining for the current stoplight indication – i.e., red, yellow or green. 

Widely adopted by roughly two dozen countries around the world, traffic signal countdown timers are not used in the U.S. Crosswalk timers for pedestrians are allowed, but TSCTs are prohibited by the Department of Transportation.

“When you introduce inconsistencies – sometimes you give drivers certain information, sometimes you don’t – that has the potential to cause confusion,” said David Hurwitz, transportation engineering researcher in OSU’s College of Engineering and corresponding author on the study.

There were more than 37,000 traffic fatalities in the United States in 2016. Around 20 percent of those occurred at intersections, he said.

It’s not known exactly how many U.S. intersections are signalized because no agency does a comprehensive count, but the National Transportation Operations Coalition estimates the number to be greater than 300,000.

A significant percentage of those feature fixed-time signals, which are recommended in areas with low vehicle speed and heavy pedestrian traffic.

Traffic signal countdown timers work well at fixed-time signals, Hurwitz said, but they may not be practical for actuated signals; at those intersections, he said, a light typically changes only one to four seconds after the decision to change it is made – not enough time for a countdown timer to be of value.

In this study, which used a green signal countdown timer, or GSCT, in Oregon State’s driving simulator, the clock counted down the final 10 seconds of a green indication.

A subject pool of 55 drivers ranging in age from 19 to 73 produced a data set of 1,100 intersection interactions, half of which involved a GSCT. The presence of the countdown timer increased the probability that a driver in the dilemma zone would stop by an average of just over 13 percent and decreased deceleration rates by an average of 1.50 feet per second.

“These results suggest that the information provided to drivers by GSCTs may contribute to improved intersection safety in the U.S.,” Hurwitz said. “When looking at driver response, deceleration rates were more gentle when presented with the countdown timers, and we did not find that drivers accelerated to try to beat the light – those are positives for safety. Drivers were significantly more likely to slow down and stop when caught in the dilemma zone. The results in the lab were really consistent and statistically convincing.”

The findings, published recently in Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour, build on a 2016 paper in Transportation Research Part C: Emerging Technologies.

The earlier results, which arose from a related research project, showed drivers were more ready to go when the light turned green at intersections with a red signal countdown timer, which indicates how much time remains until the light goes from red to green. The first vehicle in line got moving an average of 0.82 seconds more quickly in the presence of a timer, suggesting an intersection efficiency improvement thanks to reduction in time lost to startups.

The papers comprised dissertation work by then Ph.D. student Mohammad Islam, who now works for a Beaverton, Oregon-based company, Traffic Technology Services. Amy Wyman, an OSU Honors College undergraduate who completed her degree in 2017, collaborated on the publication.

TTS, whose chief executive officer, Thomas Bauer, is also an OSU College of Engineering alumnus, has developed a cloud-computer-connected countdown timer for the automotive industry.

Several cars in the German luxury carmaker Audi’s 2017 lineup already feature the timer, which can be viewed both on the instrument panel and via a heads-up display. The system is currently operational in several U.S. cities including Portland.

Unlike the traffic-signal-mounted timers, the onboard clocks are allowed in the U.S. 

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Steve Lundeberg, 541-737-4039

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The "dilemma zone"

Oregon State to host grid energy storage symposium

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Leaders in energy storage technology will converge on the Oregon State University campus Nov. 5-6 for a symposium to discuss opportunities and challenges for next-generation, large-scale grid energy storage systems in the Pacific Northwest and nationwide.

The meeting, expected to draw 100 to 150 participants, is intended to serve as a forum for industry representatives, utility companies, academic and government researchers, and policymakers to discuss energy storage and potential major applications in the region.

 “This meeting brings together the thought leaders who are driving the implementation of novel energy storage systems for the grid, wave power, and other sustainable energy technologies,” said conference chair Zhenxing Feng, assistant professor of chemical engineering in OSU’s College of Engineering. “These are the enabling technologies that can make the dream of 100 percent renewable energy into a reality.”

The symposium is being organized by Oregon State with assistance from the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research, a public/private partnership established by the U.S. Department of Energy in 2012. Topics for discussion include the status of current battery technology, challenges and opportunities in the emerging sectors of transportation and the energy grid, energy resilience in the electrical grid, special needs in Oregon, and commercialization and manufacturing opportunities throughout the region.

Invited presenters include researchers from Argonne National Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Idaho National Laboratory, as well as representatives from industry, such as Lebanon, Oregon-based Entek International LLC.

The agenda includes keynote speakers, panel discussions, breakout sessions and a poster session networking event. Also planned are tours to a local utility company and Oregon State’s state-of-the-art facility for energy storage and materials characterization research.

More information and registration are available online at cbee.oregonstate.edu/energy-storage-symposium. 

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Keith Hautala, 541-737-1478

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Ocean Sentinel

Testing wave energy

Oregon State University students receive almost $40 million in scholarships

CORVALLIS, Ore. – More than $39.5 million in scholarship money has been awarded to students at Oregon State University for the 2017-18 academic year, a key component of OSU President Ed Ray’s Student Success Initiative.

Roughly $24.5 million of the total is spread among 7,271 scholarships to those who were students prior to this academic year. The rest is for awards to 2,532 incoming students, including 34 who received a $10,000-per-year Presidential Scholarship, OSU’s most prestigious undergraduate scholarship.

Approximately 35 percent of this year’s first-year students are receiving scholarship support.

The same percentage applies to the College of Engineering, whose students account for almost one-third of the $39.5 million total. Engineering students are receiving $12.7 million, with $7.9 million divided among 1,948 scholarships to students enrolled prior to this fall. Nineteen of the 804 incoming scholarship students are Presidential Scholars.

“Over the past decade, our total enrollment has increased by 150 percent, making us the 11th-largest engineering program in the United States,” said Scott Ashford, Kearney Professor and dean of the College of Engineering. “We need to make the OSU engineering degree financially accessible to every qualified Oregonian and underrepresented populations, and scholarships help us achieve that goal.”

More than $7.5 million in scholarship money is going to College of Science students, the college’s highest total ever, said Roy Haggerty, dean of the college. That is triple the amount awarded two years ago. Reasons for the jump include increases in university scholarships and in high-achieving students enrolling in the college.

Nearly $5 million is spread among 1,344 scholarships to students enrolled prior to fall term. The rest is for awards to 570 incoming students, including nine who received a Presidential Scholarship.

More than half of the college’s first-year students are receiving scholarship support.

“Scholarships enable the college to attract, retain and inspire top science students, most of whom go on to high-achieving careers in industry, graduate school, medical school and other professional programs after graduation,” Haggerty said. “Oregon State’s financial-need-based scholarships also help academically talented low-income and first-generation students from Oregon and elsewhere stay and excel in college.”

First-generation students typically have a greater financial need so scholarships are a crucial part of their educational equation, said Haggerty, who was the first in his family to attend college.

“In our college, the number of first-generation students has risen from 20 percent to 29 percent in the last five years,” he said. “Many scholarship students in the College of Science attest to the value of scholarships in easing the financial burden on their families and enabling them to focus on academics, research, volunteer activities and post-college career goals.”

At the College of Business, more than $3.7 million in scholarship money has been awarded, including roughly $2.3 million spread among 761 scholarships to students enrolled before fall term. The remainder is for awards to 276 incoming students, including one Presidential Scholar.

About 29 percent of this year’s first-year business students are receiving scholarship support.

“It’s very important for us to remove as many financial obstacles as possible for our students to help make their decision to attend college and return year after year easier,” said Mitzi Montoya, Sara Hart Kimball dean of the College of Business. “Our students are working hard in and outside the classroom, gaining experiences that are preparing them to be profession-ready. Scholarship support means they can focus more on being successful students and less on how they’ll pay for tuition or textbooks.”

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Steve Lundeberg, 541-737-4039

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Study shows high cost of truckers not having enough places to park and rest

CORVALLIS, Ore. – A pilot study by Oregon State University illustrates the high economic cost of having too few safe places for commercial truck drivers to park and rest.

Over a seven-year period on one 290-mile stretch of highway alone, at-fault truck crashes resulted in approximately $75 million of “crash harm,” research conducted by the OSU College of Engineering for the Oregon Department of Transportation shows.

“Current crash data collection forms don’t have an explicit section for truck-parking-related crashes, but we can operate under the assumption that specific types of at-fault truck crashes, such as those due to fatigue, may be the result of inadequate parking,” said the study’s lead author, Salvador Hernandez, a transportation safety and logistics researcher at Oregon State.

Hernandez and graduate research assistant Jason Anderson analyzed Oregon’s portion of U.S. Highway 97, which runs the entire north-south distance of the state along the eastern slope of the Cascade Range.

Highway 97 was chosen, Hernandez said, because the idea for the study originated from ODOT’s office in Bend, which is near the highway’s Oregon midpoint. An impetus for the research was the 2012 passage of “Jason’s Law,” which prioritized federal funding to address a national shortage of truck parking.

Jason’s Law is named for truck driver Jason Rivenburg, who was robbed and fatally shot in South Carolina in 2009 after pulling off to rest at an abandoned gas station.

For “property-carrying drivers,” as opposed to bus operators, federal rules require drivers to get off the road after 11 hours and to park and rest for at least 10 hours before driving again.

“Around the country, commercial drivers are often unable to find safe and adequate parking to meet hours-of-service regulations,” Hernandez said. “This holds true in Oregon, where rest areas and truck stops in high-use corridors have a demand for truck parking that exceeds capacity. That means an inherent safety concern for all highway users, primarily due to trucks parking in undesignated areas or drivers exceeding the rules to find a place to park.”

Researchers looked at what other states were doing in response to the parking issue, surveyed more than 200 truck drivers, assessed current and future parking demand on Highway 97, and used historical crash data to identify trends and hot spots and to estimate crash harm.

“Crash trends in terms of time of day, day of the week, and month of the year follow the time periods drivers stated having trouble finding places to park,” Hernandez said. “In Oregon, if we do nothing to address the problem and freight-related traffic continues to grow, we’ll face greater truck parking shortages. A possible solution is finding ways to promote public-private partnerships, the state working together with industry.”

A solution is not, Hernandez said, simply waiting for the day autonomous vehicles take over the hauling of freight as some predict.

“There are many issues yet to be worked out with autonomous commercial motor vehicles,” he said, “and even if autonomous commercial motor vehicles become commonplace, we’re still going to need truck drivers in some capacity. For now and in the foreseeable future, we need truck drivers and safe and adequate places for the drivers to park and rest.” 

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Steve Lundeberg, 541-737-4039

OSU partners with ODOT on system for better transit planning

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Public transit planners throughout the nation should soon be rolling toward more informed decision making and better service thanks to a partnership between Oregon State University’s College of Engineering and the Oregon Department of Transportation.

The university and state transportation officials have teamed up on an extension to the General Transit Feed Specification, commonly known as the GTFS. The extension is called GTFS-ride.

OSU will release open-source tools for GTFS-ride data storage and analysis sometime this fall, said J. David Porter, professor of industrial engineering at Oregon State. With those tools, planners can see in general how well transit networks are functioning and also easily access specific information about where riders tend to get on and off.

In existence for just over a decade, the GTFS defines a common data format for public transportation schedules and related geographic information. Mobile developers use the publicly available data to create applications that riders can use to learn, for example, when the next bus is arriving.

The 12-month OSU-ODOT partnership resulted in the GTFS-ride extension, which defines a common format for fixed-route transit ridership. The extension will support the creation of common tools for enhancing transit planners’ ability to analyze and share ridership data.

“The main motivation for the project was ODOT and in particular their Rail and Public Transit Division didn’t feel they had enough access to ridership data to be able to make informed decisions about funding and improvement projects,” said Porter, who teamed with OSU graduate students Ben Fields, Sylvan Hoover and Phillip Carleton on the project.

“GTFS-ride extends GTFS and incorporates additional files and fields for transit agencies to reflect their ridership information. It will enable agencies at many different levels of maturity and technological capability to represent ridership in a standardized way that will facilitate information sharing and the use of common software tools. Planners will be able to better understand what a change to a single network does to the entire state network.”

At present, each transit agency in Oregon uses a mix of proprietary tools and locally developed solutions to analyze and report transit ridership data; there has been no standardized format for representing ridership.

“The old way of doing things made taking advantage of and sharing transit ridership data difficult,” said Hal Gard, administrator of ODOT’s Rail and Public Transit Division. “The GTFS-ride data standard will make it possible for organizations at all levels to get easy access to detailed ridership data.”

A description of the GTFS-ride standard is available at https://github.com/ODOT-PTS/GTFS-ride/blob/master/spec/en/reference.md, and a companion open source GTFS-ride validation tool is available at https://github.com/ODOT-PTS/transitfeed-ride.

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Steve Lundeberg, 541-737-4039

New algorithm, metrics improve autonomous underwater vehicles’ energy efficiency

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Robotics researchers have found a way for autonomous underwater vehicles to navigate strong currents with greater energy efficiency, which means the AUVs can gather data longer and better.

AUVs such as underwater gliders are valuable research tools limited primarily by their energy budget – every bit of battery power wasted via inefficient trajectories cuts into the time they can spend working.

“Historically, a lot of oceanography data sets and sampling came from using ships, which are expensive and can only really be out for a few days at a time,” said Dylan Jones, a third-year Ph.D. student in Oregon State University’s robotics program and lead author on the study. “With autonomous underwater vehicles, you can get months-long monitoring. And a way to extend those vehicles’ missions is through smarter planning for how they get from one point of interest to another.”

Jones and Ph.D. advisor Geoff Hollinger, assistant professor of mechanical engineering in OSU’s College of Engineering, have built a framework for the vehicles to plan energy-efficient trajectories through disturbances that are strong and uncertain, like ocean currents and wind fields.

The framework involves an algorithm that samples alternate paths, as well as comparison metrics that let a vehicle decide when it makes sense to switch paths based on new information collected about environmental disturbances.

The researchers tested the framework in a simulated environment – a data set of currents from the Regional Ocean Modeling System – and also on a windy lake with an autonomous boat.

The results, recently published in IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters, show that the algorithm can plan vehicle paths that are more energy efficient than ones planned by existing methods, and that it’s robust enough to deal with environments for which not much data is available.

Findings also indicate that three of the framework’s five path comparison metrics can be used to plan more efficient routes compared to planning based solely on the ocean current forecast.

“We generalized past trajectory optimization techniques and also removed the assumption that trajectory waypoints are equally spaced in time,” Jones said. “Removing that assumption improves on the state of the art in energy-efficient path planning. 

“These are under-actuated vehicles – they don’t go fast in relation to the strong ocean currents, so one way to get them to travel more efficiently is to go with the flow, to coast and not use energy,” he added. “We’re building more intelligence into these vehicles so they can more reliably accomplish their missions.”

Jones notes that overcoming strong disturbances is a critical component of putting any kind of robot in a real-life environment. Past planning algorithms haven’t always considered the dynamics of the vehicle they were planning for, he said.

“Sometimes we make assumptions in the lab or do simulations that don’t translate in the real world,” Jones said. “Sometimes a disturbance is too strong to be overcome, or sometimes it can be overcome but the path deviates so significantly that it would put the robot in a danger area. We have to consider all the possible locations of a robot. There are smarter ways of considering these various disturbances, and this gives us a better way of planning paths that are least affected by disturbances.”

Any disconnect between the controller and the planner can be dangerous, Jones said.

“The way we see this work going is to bridge that gap – how do we look at paths that are easier for controllers to follow, and how do we make controllers follow paths better?” he said. “We can be more energy efficient when we consider the whole environment, planning paths so that the controller of the vehicle doesn’t have to work as hard.”

Future research will also deal with “informative path planning” – planning paths that initially gather information about the environment and disturbances that the algorithm can use later to plan more energy-efficient routes.

“How do we combine these two ideas – planning a path for energy efficiency while also trying to gather information that will inform efficient path planning?” Jones said. “There will be tradeoffs and it might come down to, do I pay five hours now to save six hours later on? Another possible research direction is to look at a multivehicle situation where one vehicle can scout ahead and relay information to one or more others – they could possibly have a low shared energy cost by intelligently assigning goals and sharing information.”

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Steve Lundeberg, 541-737-4039

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AUV paths planned by framework

OSU researcher studies cross-laminated timber as seismic retrofit tool

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Safer historic buildings and more jobs for the timber industry are the goals of a partnership between an Oregon State University structural engineering researcher and a newly formed nonprofit group in Corvallis, Oregon.

Andre Barbosa of the OSU College of Engineering is collaborating with Cascadia Seismic Strategies on a $150,000 project to study the use of cross-laminated timber panels for seismic retrofits on unreinforced masonry buildings. 

A grant coordinated through the Downtown Corvallis Association and Oregon Main Street is covering roughly two-thirds of the cost of the project, which will result in mockups of CLT retrofit systems at the 107-year-old Harding Building at Third Street and Madison Street in Corvallis.

“We’ll build prototypes that will provide details that will let engineers and construction folks see how things go together,” said Barbosa, a volunteer with Cascadia Seismic Strategies.

Barbosa is one of the original members of the group, named after the subduction zone that lies off the coast of Oregon. The major Cascadia earthquake that experts say is on the horizon would be particularly damaging to vintage masonry structures like the Harding Building, the cornerstone of the original Third Street business district.

“The DCA is concerned about the potential devastation that a Cascadia Subduction Zone mega-quake would wreak,” said Cascadia Seismic Strategies spokeswoman Roz Keeney. “Members of the DCA’s design committee recruited structural engineers, historic architects and other building professionals to join in a conversation about earthquake preparedness and historic building preservation. This group went on to form Cascadia Seismic Strategies, which is now focused on this cutting-edge project to develop a low-cost reinforcement method using local wood products and off-the-shelf steel connectors.”

Engineering work is scheduled to start in August. The grant for the 34-month project underwrites multiple design and construction strategies for dealing with weaknesses in unreinforced masonry buildings, as well as production of a video demonstrating how to implement upgrades that can serve as a guide for other communities wanting to use similar strategies in preservation and retrofitting efforts.

“This project identifies seismic retrofits for historic buildings that improve their safety performance without compromising their historic integrity,” said project manager and historic preservation architect Sue Licht. “It also demonstrates that historic rehabilitation can create local, site-specific jobs that cannot be outsourced.”

Barbosa notes that OSU is a leader in developing new wood products such as cross-laminated timber and in growing forest-products jobs amid reduced harvest levels.

“It’s important to bring jobs back to the timber industry in Oregon and to find new applications for mass timber,” he said. “This could potentially be one of them, while improving the resiliency of downtowns and the older buildings that give us liveliness and history.”

Portland firm KPFF Consulting Engineers will handle most of the structural engineering, led by Reid Zimmerman, with Barbosa lending his expertise in cross-laminated timber and seismic retrofits.

“This comes from what we’ve been learning by visiting different earthquake sites, like Napa (California) and Nepal,” Barbosa said. “We keep learning and try to bring back that knowledge and share it with communities, including by creating a model for affordable seismic retrofits for historic buildings. This is a grass-roots, community-driven solution for a big problem, a huge Cascadia quake.” 

The primary funding organization, Oregon Main Street, is a Main Street America coordinating program administered by the State Historic Preservation Office. It works with Oregon communities to “develop comprehensive, incremental revitalization strategies based on a community’s unique assets, character and heritage.”

Its goal is to build “high-quality, livable and sustainable communities that will grow Oregon’s economy while maintaining a sense of place.”

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Steve Lundeberg, 541-737-4039

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Timber research

Cross-laminated timber

Oregon State alum, noted philanthropist to give OSU commencement address

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Hüsnü M. Özyeğin, who headed to Oregon State University in 1963 with only $100 in his pocket and graduated to become a highly successful business leader and philanthropist in Turkey and throughout Europe, will return to his alma mater to give the 2017 commencement address.

OSU’s commencement will begin at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, June 17, at Reser Stadium. Tickets are not required; more information is available at: http://commencement.oregonstate.edu//

Özyeğin, who was born in Turkey, came to the United States after graduating from Robert College, an elite academy in Istanbul. He graduated from OSU with a degree in civil engineering in 1967 after serving as president of the Associated Students of Oregon State University his senior year, and went on to earn an MBA at Harvard University.

The OSU alumnus has made significant contributions to the global community with extensive work in social entrepreneurship, education, women’s rights, equity, child and youth development, and arts and cultural preservation.

Scott Ashford, dean of OSU’s College of Engineering, said he “is thrilled” Özyeğin is returning to Corvallis.

“He’s been a gracious host to me in Turkey, and very willing to provide me with advice for the college as an industry mentor,” Ashford said. “Corvallis is still dear to his heart – in fact, he keeps a photo in his office of him and Bobby Kennedy at the Corvallis airport. Every time I’ve traveled to Turkey, he’s made time for me and asked my advice on his new university.

“Our OSU students have spent summers doing research at his university, and we have hosted his students here.”

After completing his degrees, Özyeğin returned to Turkey and began his career in banking. In 1974, he was appointed managing director of Pamukbank, and in 1987, he founded Finansbank, which quickly become one of Turkey’s most prominent and respected banks. He served as chairman of the bank between 1987 and 2010, during which it grew substantially in size and influence.

Özyeğin today is chairman of Fiba Holding A.S., Fibabanka A.S., and Credit Europe Bank (Suisse) S.A. in Geneva.

The Oregon State alumnus has not forgotten his academic origins, and in 2008 he and his foundation established Özyeğin University in Istanbul, building and fully staffing the institution from the ground up. The state-of-the-art undergraduate and graduate university is re-envisioning higher education as both highly entrepreneurial and financially accessible, and already has become Turkey’s fourth largest private university.

Özyeğin is involved in numerous civic activities, including chairing the Hüsnü M. Özyeğin Foundation, serving on the board of the Mother and Child Education Foundation, and serving on the board of dean’s advisers for the Harvard Business School.

Oregon State will present Özyeğin with an honorary doctorate in civil engineering at commencement. The Oregon Stater alumni magazine profiled him in 2012: http://bit.ly/2qX33uH

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Steve Clark, 541-737-3808, steve.clark@oregonstate.edu

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Hüsnü M. Özyeğin

Hüsnü M. Özyeğin

OSU College of Engineering establishes institute for robotics, intelligent systems

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University’s College of Engineering has established a new research institute to advance the theory, design, development and deployment of robots and intelligent systems able to interact seamlessly with people.

It’s called the CoRIS Institute, short for Collaborative Robotics and Intelligent Systems.

Institute director Kagan Tumer said the new center would conduct research in robotics and artificial intelligence, as well as machine learning, vision, sensors, devices, and new materials. The institute also will explore public policy and ethical questions surrounding the deployment of robots and intelligent systems.

Tumer said the institute would enable research in oceanography, forestry, agricultural science and other fields, as well as identify and facilitate possible partnerships with companies around the globe to bring algorithms, software, hardware and integrated systems into everyday use.

“The CoRIS Institute will cement Oregon State’s position as a national leader in robotics and artificial intelligence,” said Scott Ashford, dean of the College of Engineering.

“The institute is poised to become a venue for exploring not just the technological advancement of robotics, but also all of the other dimensions of the robotics revolution. It will investigate the promise and the risks of robotics in the real world today, tomorrow and well into the future and help us plot a course through uncharted territory.”

The college offers a top-tier artificial intelligence program, as well as one of the five doctorate-granting robotics programs in the U.S. Those two programs received more than 500 student applications for the 40 openings available in fall term 2016.

“Our robotics and artificial intelligence faculty have a strong reputation for conducting cutting-edge research, holding key leadership positions in international organizations and drawing the best students from Oregon, the nation and the world,” said Tumer, a professor of mechanical engineering with a background that spans computer science and electrical engineering. “Research at Oregon State focuses on robotics and intelligent systems as a whole, exploring both the interaction between technology and human beings and the impact that technology will have on society.”

The institute’s core faculty are 25 researchers in robotics and artificial intelligence. Collaborators include more than 40 other researchers from across OSU who are looking to apply robotics and AI concepts to their own work.

“I can think of no better place than Oregon State for the home of the new CoRIS Institute,” Ashford said. “Our visionary robotics program already is recognized as one of the nation’s best and most progressive, and OSU’s deeply rooted culture of collaboration provides an ideal environment for this interdisciplinary institute to thrive and grow.”

Tumer notes that the moment a robot exits a lab and enters the everyday world, the large, complicated issue of human-robot interaction is at play in full force.

“You have to look at the big picture,” he said. “You have to think about how that robot is going to interact with people months down the road, years down the road. There are technical issues to putting robots in homes and also ethical issues. For example, what are the privacy issues of having a robot in your home 24-7? What is the emotional impact of interacting with that robot daily? It’s fair to say our emphasis on societal impact is one of the unique aspects of our institute.”

Early on in the field of robotics, Tumer said, a robot was typically a “big mechanical device on a factory floor, caged away, unpredictable and dangerous, not designed to be interacting with humans in a way that was natural to them.”

“But in the future, a robot might be sitting with you, working with you with some level of interaction,” he said. “Oregon State didn’t have a robotics program 10 years ago, which is in some ways liberating because we’re not saddled with the legacy of what a robotics program ought to be. We have a lot of young faculty who are looking at where the field is going and are not in any way stuck with how things were perceived in past. They’re looking at how robotics ought to be rather than how robotics was.”

Tumer’s leadership team includes three associate directors: Julie A. Adams, for deployment and policy; Alan Fern, for research; and Bill Smart, for academics. Adams and Fern are professors of computer science, and Smart is an associate professor of mechanical engineering.

Funding sources for research by the institute’s core faculty include federal and state grants, industry grants, and philanthropic gifts.

The institute will be located within existing research space within the College of Engineering.

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Cassie the robot

Cassie the robot