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Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute - 2016

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Research Description

Research Description By Graduate Engineering Department

Biomedical Engineering

Biomedical engineers work with cutting-edge technologies to tackle grand challenges related to the application of engineering principles to human physiology. They advance human health, engineer better medicines, and create the tools of innovation and scientific discovery by designing solutions to problems at the interface of biology, medicine, and engineering.

From the wheelchair that helps people stay mobile to the pain-relievers in their medicine cabinets to the x-ray that tells them whether they can play in the next big game, the products developed by biomedical engineers fit seamlessly into humam’s everyday modern lives. Some biomedical engineers design innovative tools and devices (such as prosthetics and imaging machines) to aid medical care, while others work to improve the processes of health care delivery (through new drug therapies, for example). Biomedical engineers also study signals generated by organs such as the heart and brain in order to understand how the body functions and how biological systems work. Many build artificial organs, limbs, and valves to replace failing tissues. Biomedical engineers are involved in rehabilitation by improving the designs of therapeutic devices to increase performance.

Whether designing and evaluating new technologies, developing new methods of patient care, or studying biological processes, biomedical engineers are focused on improving the quality of people’s lives.

At Rensselaer, the BME curriculum combines significant life science content with engineering and basic science courses. Undergraduate BME students can select one of three offered concentrations (biomaterials, biomechanics, bioimaging/instrumentation) and also have the option of combining these with a pre-med or a management minor as well as the standard BME curriculum. Graduate studies include a significant research component under the direction of a faculty supervisor.

Research Innovations and Initiatives
Biomolecular Science and Engineering

Biomolecular science is one area in the life sciences which focuses on the understanding of cellular processes at the molecular level and modifications of extracellular matrix (ECM). Developing an understanding and using this knowledge for manipulating cell and matrix processes in order to predict, prevent or ameliorate medical conditions are key components of biomolecular science and engineering. Research in biomolecular science deals with applications including drug development and delivery, proteomics, and tissue engineering.

Biomedical Imaging
Biomedical imaging produces internal images of patients, animals or tissue samples for basic research, preclinical and clinical applications. The focuses are on x-ray and optical tomographic imaging, multi-modality techniques, and their utilities of fundamental, translational and healthcare significance. Research and training involve the entire process from innovation, instrumentation, to validation for real-world impact. We have close collaborative ties with medical schools, and are in strong academic-industrial partnerships such as with the GE Global Research Center.

Musculoskeletal Engineering
The musculoskeletal well-being of aging individuals is a key factor affecting quality of life. As medical advances continue to extend people’s lifespans, the need for musculoskeletal engineering becomes paramount. In response to this critical need, Rensselaer faculty are investigating, modeling and/or regenerating bone, cartilage, intervertebral discs, muscle, tendon, ligament and skin. This program promotes musculoskeletal research and discovery from molecules to mice to humans. We bring together and prepare future musculoskeletal engineers with expertise in multiscale biomechanics, biomaterials, cell and tissue engineering, in vivo matrix injury models, stem cells and regenerative medicine, and proteomics.

Neural Engineering
Injuries and disease to the nervous system affect all age groups and cost billions of dollars every year in medical expenses and reduced quality of life. Using neurological engineering " a combination of neuroscience and engineering " faculty and students are developing new approaches to address the functional repair of both large-gap peripheral nerve and spinal cord injuries. This program prepares engineers with training in the areas of cell and tissue engineering, molecular control of neurite guidance, complex multi-cellular models of injury and repair, proteomics, neural stem cells and rational biomaterial design.

Systems Biology and Biocomputation
Systems biology is the coordinated study of biological systems, at the cellular, organ, or whole body level, which aims at achieving a systems-level understanding of biological processes. Systems biology lies at the interface of engineering, computer science, and molecular/cell biology and involves sophisticated computational and high-throughput experimental approaches. One of the key outcomes of systems biology is the development of biomedical models describing the system. These models can be used to test hypotheses in silico, or to design drug targets or intervention strategies.

Vascular Engineering
Vascular disease is the leading cause of heart attack and stroke worldwide. Our researchers are dedicated to development of novel diagnostic and therapeutic agents needed to alleviate the pain and suffering associated with these diseases. Faculty and their students are integrating bioengineering tools with vascular biology to understand the pathophysiological mechanisms of vascular disease, and they are developing methods to guide blood vessel regeneration. Researchers apply multidisciplinary approaches from biomechanics, biomaterials, molecular imaging, cell and tissue engineering to study vascular development and disease at the molecular, cellular, and organ levels.

Chemical and Biological Engineering

The chemical conversion of resources into new, more useful forms has been the traditional concern of chemical engineering. In recent years, chemical engineering has played a major role in high technology advances in biotechnology, sustainable energy, and novel materials processing. In addition, a critical concern with the depletion of resources has developed, leading to increased efforts to conserve, recycle, and find environmentally friendly alternatives.

The major educational objective in the Howard P. Isermann Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering is to prepare students to enter their engineering practice dealing with chemical as well as physical processes to meet the challenges of the future. The curriculum, which builds on chemistry, biology, mathematics, basic sciences, and engineering science, culminates in professional applications in which theory is tempered by engineering art and economic principles. Through this curriculum, graduates are prepared equally well for professional practice or for advanced study.

Opportunities for creative and satisfying practice in chemical and biological engineering can be found in conception, design, control, or management of processes involving chemical and/or biochemical transformations. These processes range from the more conventional conversion of crude oil into petrochemicals and plastics, to the microbiological transformation of hardwood chips into specialty alcohols, or to the creation of semiconductor devices from silicon wafers. Diverse career choices exist not only in the chemical industry, but in virtually all processing industries, including agricultural, biotechnology, chemical, food, nuclear, semiconductor processing, and environmental operations. By emphasizing basic principles, the program prepares its graduates for positions spanning the spectrum of activities from research and development, to process and project engineering, to production, or to technical marketing.

Research Innovations and Initiatives
Biochemical and Biomedical Engineering
Research projects in biochemical engineering emphasize biocatalysis, bioseparations, and metabolic engineering. Fundamental and applied aspects of enzyme technology, mammalian cell culture, membrane sorption and separation, displacement chromatography, and salt-induced precipitation are important areas of focus. New designs involving aqueous and nonaqueous enzyme technology are being developed, as are new types of membrane-entrapped-enzyme and animal-cell-suspension reactors, which are being built, tested, and analyzed. Metabolic engineering processes are being used to develop high-rate bacterial fermentations and overproducing hybridoma cultures for producing chemical intermediates and monoclonal antibodies, respectively. Control theory of biological processes and an optical biosensor for metal detection are also being pursued. Projects in biomedical engineering involve the design of polymeric inhibitors of bacterial toxins and viruses, and the use of microfabrication tools to modulate the interaction of mammalian cells with their environment for applications in tissue engineering.

Separation and Bioseparation Processes
Research projects in separation and bioseparations employ fundamental concepts for solving applied problems in the biological and environmental fields. Current projects emphasize interactions of proteins with synthetic membranes and chromatographic media, high throughput screening, combinatorial and computational chemistry, spectroscopy, chip technology, proteomics, modification of polymeric surfaces for bioseparations and environmental applications, and the recovery of proteins from complex biological solutions using fusion affinity adsorption, pressure-driven membrane processes, displacement chromatography, and expanded-bed adsorption. Other projects focus on the design and synthesis of high-performance artificial membranes inspired by biological membranes, for environmental processes and chemical production.

Molecular Modeling and Simulations
Monte Carlo and molecular dynamics simulations are being used in combination with statistical mechanical theories to understand thermodynamics, structure, and kinetics of biomolecules in aqueous solutions. Special emphasis is placed on understanding and relating water structure near different solutes and in different environments to resulting interactions (e.g., hydrophilic and hydrophobic interactions). Theory and molecular simulations are also used to study the effects of geometrical and chemical heterogeneity on molecular transport and reaction in porous catalysts, sorbents and membranes, and to apply this knowledge to their rational design.

Advanced Materials
Research area includes two dimensional materials such as graphene, MoS2, etc. It also involves other low dimensional materials where quantum effects are important. Material synthesis will be explored, while the research will also include nanofabrication of optoelectronic devices based on these materials. Also novel optical and electrical measurement setups to better characterize these materials. These setups include confocal scanning microscope, photocurrent microscope, photoluminescence and Raman microscopy as well as ultrafast optical spectroscopy.

Interfacial Phenomena
Problems under investigation include interfacial resistance to mass transfer and the interaction between surface forces and interfacial convection. Work in the interfacial area is concerned with heat, mass, and momentum transfer in multicomponent, ultrathin, liquid films. Research includes studies on condensation and evaporation in the contact line region, distillation from ultrathin films, lubrication, surface-tension-driven instabilities in atomically clean liquid metals, pattern formation in dendritic growth, protein-solid interaction, and the design of biocompatible surfaces.

The polymer research program focuses on understanding fundamental properties of nanostructured polymers and their applications on various energy problems. Current research focuses are thermodynamics of polymer mixtures, rational design of nanostructured polymers for ion-transporting membranes, and long-range ordered structures by self-aggregated block copolymers in melts and solutions. Along with advanced polymer synthesis capabilities, rheology, small angle X-ray/light scattering, and electron microscopy techniques are used as primary characterization tools in the polymer research program.

Process Control and Design
A major focus of this research is the development of realistic, robust control strategies for multivariable chemical processes having parameter and process uncertainties. Such strategies are created to exploit the dynamic properties inherent in the systems. Integration of the modeling, design, and control of specialty chemical and pharmaceutical processes is of particular interest.

Heat Transfer
Topics of interest include free convection stability, forced convection (particularly in laminar flow systems), fluid-to-particle heat transfer in fluidized and spouted beds, and boiling. Studies on heat and mass transfer at interfaces are also under way.

Activities include molecular simulation, the analysis and correlation of phase-equilibrium data, the development and evaluation of fluid-phase equations of state, and the study of topics in solution thermodynamics.

Mass Transport
Research is in progress on simultaneous heat and mass transfer in porous media; effects of surface roughness and chemical heterogeneity on diffusion; the effects of interfacial phenomena on mass transfer; diffusion and mixing in laminar flow systems; transient dispersion processes in capillaries, porous media and open channels; and crystal growth phenomena.

Fluid Mechanics
Projects in this area involve low Reynolds number hydrodynamics, non-Newtonian fluids, two-phase flow, and interfacial flows.

Interdepartmental Research
Several research areas involve participation and cooperation with other departments. Such areas include polymer studies with the Materials Science and Engineering and Chemistry Departments, fermentation and other biochemical research with the Biology Department, studies in fluid mechanics with the Mathematics Department, polymer membrane fabrication with the Chemistry Department, and research on lubrication and other interfacial phenomena with the Mechanical Engineering Department. Additional information on research in these areas is found in the catalog sections for those departments.

Research Related Facilities
The department maintains extensive research and instructional laboratories which house myriad special and unique equipment developed for specific studies, as well as extensive analytical and optical instrumentation and computers. Major instrumentation such as a GC/mass spectrometer, an X-ray fluorescence analyzer, an ion chromatograph, HPLC systems, and a laser zee particle characterization system make Rensselaer’s laboratories one of the most comprehensively equipped university centers for research in the areas described above. Many faculty in the Chemical and Biological Engineering Department have their research labs located in the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies, which is equipped with an impressive array of core imaging, analytical, and spectroscopy tools. The department research programs also use a number of major university facilities including the electron optics laboratory and the polymer laboratories in the Materials Research Center.

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Civil and Environmental Engineering
The department is currently engaged in research on topics such as earthquake engineering, structural engineering, geotechnical engineering, transportation engineering, computational mechanics, pollutant fate and transport, water treatment, waste treatment, site remediation and bioremediation, and environmental systems.

See for more information.

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Transportation Engineering - This area of research includes design, analysis, maintenance, and operation of transportation systems and facilities; intelligent transportation systems, especially highway networks, goods distribution systems, and transit systems; real-time, multiobjective network management and control, including route guidance and dynamic traffic assignment; signal control systems; network management strategies; multiobjective routing and scheduling; and logistics decision making under uncertainty.

Computer Science

Computer science is the study of the design, analysis, communication, implementation, and application of computational processes. Core subjects of this discipline include software systems (such as operating systems and networks) and programming languages (including design and other language translation tools). They also include computer hardware systems, the design and analysis of data structures and algorithms, and the theoretical basis of computation, in particular the complexity of computation. In addition to these core subjects, various application areas are open to students, including artificial intelligence, computer graphics, databases, semantic web, knowledge representation and reasoning, scientific and numeric computation, computer vision, cyberinfrastructure, computer and network security, data mining, robotics, computational finance, parallel and distributed systems, and social networking.

At Rensselaer, education in computer science prepares students for solving applied real-world problems and for conducting research in computer science. The program provides students with a solid grounding in both theory and practice. The undergraduate program also provides a rigorous background in mathematics and science.

Research Innovations and Initiatives
Bioinformatics is the science of managing, retrieving, analyzing, and interpreting biological data. Research is being carried out on such topics as multiple sequence alignment, sequence assembly, protein and RNA structure prediction, and regulatory networks. Research also spans emerging areas, including microarray data analysis, high-dimensional indexing, database support, information integration, and data mining.

Computational Geometry
Current research in computational geometry concentrates on algorithms for the reconstruction of smooth geometric objects from their samples. Problems of interest include characterizing the conditions on sampling density, which allows a curve to be reconstructed from its samples. The reconstruction is homeomorphic and sufficiently close to the original and the algorithms developed to achieve the reconstruction. Also involved are the dependence of such algorithms on the dimension of the embedding space, related algorithms for the reconstruction of surfaces and manifolds, and finding the most concise representation of a manifold in terms of its samples. A second research track focuses on applications of computational geometry, particularly in robotic motion planning.

Computer Graphics
The faculty and students in the Computer Graphics Research Group are interested in a wide variety of rendering, geometry, simulation, and visualization problems motivated by computer games, special effects in movies, architectural design and pre-visualization, and many other exciting applications. Research topics include physically-based digital sculpting, efficient high-quality photo-realistic rendering, new data representations and algorithms, and the use of modern graphics hardware for interactive applications.

Computational Finance
The Computational Finance group applies its research to diverse areas, including computational finance, bioinformatics, networks of social and selfish agents, and design of multi-agent systems.

Computational Science and Engineering
Students and faculty work on computational approaches and algorithms to solve large-scale problems that arise in natural science and engineering. Current research includes adaptive methods for solving partial differential equations, scientific software libraries, algorithms for medical imaging and tomography, high-performance matrix algorithms, computational biology, and algorithms for high-performance, parallel, and distributed computation.

Computer Vision
Computer vision research in the Computer Science Department focuses on developing and applying computer vision techniques to address problems in image-based environmental monitoring. Applications include determining the distribution of species and individual animals, identifying the presence of invasive species, and monitoring ecosystem health. Within the context of this important application domain, a range methods is studied, including illumination modeling, segmentation, tracking, and, most importantly, recognition.

Data Mining; Machine and Computational Learning; Algorithms for Massive Data Sets
This research area focuses on the theoretical and applied aspects of automated information extraction (knowledge discovery) from data. For large data sets, emphasis is placed on developing efficient, scalable, and parallel algorithms for various data mining techniques in addition to the data management itself. Examples include association rules, classification, clustering, and sequence mining. For small data sets, the emphasis is on robust computational learning systems (supervised, unsupervised, and reinforcement) and their theoretical properties. Application areas include combinatorial optimization, computational biology (bioinformatics, computational genomics), web mining, geographic information systems, and computational finance.

Data Science
Researchers from diverse domains work together to take complex data and transform it in ways that make it usable to a wide variety of scientists, protect it for the long term, and enable it to provide as much knowledge as possible to the scientific community as well as the general public. This is accomplished by adding semantics to data where possible to make it usable to a variety of machines and programs; storing the data in intelligent ways; mining the data to extract as much knowledge as possible from it; building models to represent the structure of the data; and using those models to build simulations and visualizations of the data to display the data in a usable way and predict how the data will change over time.

Database Systems
This research area focuses on efficient and effective methods for storing, querying, analyzing, mining, and maintaining data from possibly disparate and heterogeneous resources. Data is used in many different applications, from scientific data sets, sensor data, images, video, and audio to hypertext documents, biological data, and data on stock market behavior. Research focuses on methods for caching data, querying large and distributed databases, database mining, and supporting such applications as computer-aided design and manufacturing, bioinformatics, and collaborative engineering.

Pervasive and Network Computing
Pervasive computing foresees a world in the not-so-distant future in which computer systems are embedded in everything, from personal digital assistants to implanted biological devices, to bridge-monitoring systems, and to teams of robots deployed into a collapsed building to locate survivors. Untethered"wireless"communication is constant and, in many cases, so automated that human intervention is not needed. Wireless broadband community systems inexpensively bring people together for virtual town meetings, video doctor-patient conferences, and online business transactions. Computers in automobiles share information on congestion, quickly computing alternate routes. The promises are immense, but the challenges are formidable. Computer science faculty cover the broad area of pervasive and network computing. This research includes investigation of computer networks and their protocols, security of computers and networks, and distributed and parallel system optimization and simulations.

Programming Languages and Software Engineering
The Programming Languages and Software Engineering research group investigates programming models, languages, concepts, methodologies, and tools to enable the development of correct, efficient, reliable, and maintainable software.

The primary goal in the field of robotics is to create machines that are physically capable, either alone or in groups, of performing useful tasks, such as the assembly of a car or the picking and washing of fruit. To build such robots, robotics research focuses on robot mobility, environmental sensing and perception, the mechanics of manipulation, motion planning and control, and both physical and social aspects of human-robot interaction. The robotics research group studies these problems from theoretical and computational perspectives, and also experimentally in the Computer Science Robotics Lab that is fully equipped with state-of-the-art equipment.

Semantic Web
As semantic technologies have been gaining momentum in various e-Science areas (for example, W3C’s interest group for semantic web health care and life science), it is important to offer semantic-based methodologies, tools, and middleware to facilitate scientific knowledge modeling, logical-based hypothesis checking, semantic data integration and application composition, integrated knowledge discovery and data analyzing for different e-Science applications. Partially influenced by the Artificial Intelligence community, Semantic Web researchers have largely focused on formal aspects of semantic representation languages or general-purpose semantic application development, with inadequate consideration of requirements from specific science areas. What is required is the development of a multi-disciplinary field to foster the growth and development of e-Science applications based on the semantic technologies and related knowledge-based approaches.

Social and Cognitive Networks
In studying social and cognitive networks, in which people interact over a variety of means, research is focused on identifying fundamental properties of networks, the processes underlying their evolution, and the paradigms for network engineering to enhance their efficiency, reliability, robustness, and other desirable properties. In particular, the research concentrates on models and algorithms of community creation and evolution, building and measuring trust in social networks, impact of mobility on network formation, dependencies between social, information, and communication networks, spread of opinions and ideologies among network nodes, and cognitive models of net-centric interactions.

Theory of computation provides the foundation needed for effective applications in computer science. The theory group brings together researchers in many different areas to develop novel approaches and solutions to problems in information technology. The theory group research is characterized by close collaboration with researchers in diverse application areas, including networking, bioinformatics, visualization, pattern recognition in physics and astronomy, digital library, data mining, distributed computing, and experimental algorithmics.

Web Science
Since its inception, the World Wide Web has fundamentally changed the ways in which people work, play, communicate, collaborate, and educate. There is, however, a growing realization among researchers across a number of disciplines that without new research aimed at understanding the current evolving and potential Web, opportunities for new and revolutionary capabilities may be missing or delayed. To model the Web, it is necessary to understand the architectural principles that have provided for its growth. Looking into the future, to be sure that it supports the basic social values of trustworthiness, personal control over information, and respect for social boundaries, a research agenda must be pursued that targets the Web and its use as a primary focus of attention. This research requires powerful scientific and mathematical techniques from many disciplines to explore the modeling of the Web from network- and information-centric views.

Electrical, Computer, and Systems

The following area descriptions capture activities in research and education across a set of fairly broad technical areas. Individual research groups reside within these broad curricular areas, overlap to sometimes significant degrees, and are highly dynamic and fluid in size and composition as new research initiatives and opportunities arise. These descriptions are therefore best taken as a snapshot of the Department’s research and curricular profile, and the lists of topics and areas are not necessarily exhaustive. Prospective graduate students are encouraged to visit faculty listings and Web pages, and to contact individual faculty with whom they may share technical interests to learn more.

Communications, Information, and Signal Processing
Advanced study and research in this field deals with the encoding, transmission, retrieval, and interpretation of information in many forms. Students may pursue programs of study focusing on mathematical foundations, improved algorithms, and hardware/software implementation. Communications research focuses on the transmission of information over wireless, optical, and wired channels. Telecommunications engineering creates wired and wireless systems that satisfy desirable societal, bandwidth, and hardware constraints. Research in statistical communications aims at reducing adverse effects on signal transmission in such systems through probabilistic modeling. The channels considered range from subminiature networks inside a computer chip, through broadband cable and communications satellites.

Information processing addresses the theory and engineering design associated with interpreting and manipulating received data, primarily in discrete form. Information theory and rate-distortion theory provide the foundation for a quantitative understanding of the nature and meaning of information. These theories treat the fundamental limits and algorithms for saving memory and bandwidth and protecting against transmission errors. Special research emphases at Rensselaer are the applications to image and video compression and transmission. A current exciting application area is network coding.

Signal processing considers the application of digital processing techniques to problems encountered in many areas, including biomedical instrumentation, remote sensing, subsurface sensing and imaging systems, control systems, and audio processing. Special laboratories are available for speech processing, video and image processing, networking, communications, and document image analysis.

There is significant overlap with research activities in computer networking, image processing, geographic information sciences, and computer vision.

Computer Vision, Image Processing, Digital Media, and Computational Geometry
Research in this area covers a range of technologies and applications. Rensselaer has a number of specialized laboratories in which this work is undertaken. These include the Center for Subsurface Sensing and Imaging Systems (CenSSIS), the Center for Image Processing Research (CIPR), the Computational Geometry and Document Analysis Laboratory (DocLab), the Computational Imaging Laboratory, Advanced Imaging Systems Laboratory, and the Intelligent Systems Laboratory.

Research areas include image reconstruction, pattern recognition, computer vision, image and video processing, artificial intelligence, computer graphics, machine learning, computational geometry, geographic information science and computational cartography, probabilistic reasoning and decision making under uncertainty, optical scanning systems, and Internet image analysis services.

Primary application areas include systems biology, computer-assisted surgery, radiation treatment planning, diffuse optical and optical coherence tomography, synthetic aperture imaging, distributed RF imaging, automatic target recognition, camera networks, range data processing, document image analysis, large geometric datasets, image and video processing for human viewers, image analysis aids to neurobiology, and multimodality imaging and analysis. Additional application areas include bioinformatics, human fatigue monitoring, activity monitoring and situational awareness, human computer interaction, eye and gaze tracking, video imagery activity interpretation, robot localization, robotic devices for automated scoring of assays for the biotechnology industry, biotech assay automation, and biological multidimensional microscopy.

Work related to digital media includes such topics as image and video compression for networks, camera networks and video analysis for large performance spaces, advanced image and video compression, image and video transmission, retrieval, and visualization, and methods for indexing video by content. Multimedia work also includes graphics courseware development for the World Wide Web using HTML, Java, PHP, my SQL, and VRML.

Computer Engineering, Hardware, Architecture, and Networks
The development of advanced computer systems and their interconnection to facilitate ubiquitous and pervasive computing capabilities is the primary focus of this group. Research topics related to the design, implementation, layout, and testing of hardware systems include the design and testing of digital and mixed-signal chips in CMOS and BiCMOS and the development of computer-aided design tools for such designs. Specific topics include the development of high-speed computer chips using SiGe BiCMOS technology, the design and testing of mixed-signal chips for communications applications, the influence of 3-D integration on computer design, and the development of techniques for the design and reliable operation of digital chips fabricated in deep submicron CMOS.

Other ongoing research activities include error correcting coding system design and VLSI implementation for magnetic and holographic storage, and fiber and wireless communication; algorithm/architecture co-design for wireless multi-antenna signal processing; fault tolerance for semiconductor memories and molecular nanoelectronic memory; signal processing algorithm/architecture co-design for defect/variation tolerance in end-of-the-roadmap CMOS and post-silicon nanoelectronics regimes; silicon-based radio-frequency power amplifiers; multi-Gb/s broadband communications circuits; wafer-level 3-D integration for millimeter-wave smart antenna transceivers; RF-powered wireless communication circuits for bio-implantable microsystems; devices, circuits, systems, algorithms, and methodologies to enable inexpensive portable platforms for environmental and biomedical diagnostics; detection and quantification of low levels of biological signals reliably, conveniently, safely, and quickly.

The computer networking research group works on the development of protocols and architectures for both wired and wireless networks and their modeling for performance evaluation. Emerging technologies for wireless and optical last mile access, wireless sensors networks, network management, traffic management, congestion control, traffic engineering, and quality-of-service (QoS) architectures form the basic areas of current research. The networking group also participates in interdisciplinary research in control theory, economics, scalable simulation technologies, and video compression

Electrical, Computer, and Systems

Control, Robotics, and Automation
Current research projects address both control theory and a variety of applications. Faculty interests include advanced control algorithms development in the areas of nonlinear control, adaptive control, multivariable control, robust control, distributed control, and optimal control. These algorithms are applied to robotics, automation systems, robotic multi-vehicle coordination, power generation and transmission systems, power electronics, networked systems, micro and nano-systems, biomedical and biological systems, and discrete-event systems.

Research in robotics and automation is inherently interdisciplinary. ECSE faculty in this area coordinates closely with the Mechanical, Aerospace, and Nuclear Engineering; Computer Science; and Cognitive Science departments for joint research and curriculum development. Current projects include planning and control for advanced manufacturing systems, multi-robot actuator and sensor networks for coordinated monitoring and manipulation, and precision motion and force control with vision guidance in micro and nano assembly manufacturing and distributed robotics for environmental observation and monitoring. Extensive experimental and computational facilities, as well as undergraduate and graduate research opportunities, are available in the New York State Center for Automation and Technology Systems.

Current research topics in nonlinear control include the development of robust and adaptive design tools which systematically account for model uncertainty and unavailable state information. Another area of interest is nonlinear control of large-scale interconnected systems (communication and power networks, vehicle formations, etc.) with limited, local information available to each component of the system. New design techniques are being developed that exploit the input/output properties of these components and achieve the design objectives of stability, decentralization, and robustness.

Discrete-event systems theory is a modeling and control discipline relevant to computer-communication systems, transportation systems, as well as the modeling and control of automated manufacturing systems. These systems are characterized by concurrent and asynchronous operations, resource allocation issues, deadlock detection and avoidance, all in a random environment. Petri nets, multi-agent systems, and holonic control systems techniques are being developed to design, model, analyze, control, and evaluate the performance of such interconnected systems.

Electrical, Computer, and Systems engineering

Electric Power, Power Electronics, Plasma Science, and Electromagnetics
Research in energy sources and systems is becoming critically important to meet the world’s increasing energy needs and demands within the environmental, economic, and national security constraints today. Department faculty are conducting active research programs and projects in electric and magnetic field computation, electrical transients and switching technology, dielectrics and insulation systems, power system analysis and optimization, energy harvesting electromechanical devices, photovoltaic devices and systems, semiconductor power devices and electronics, and fusion plasma diagnostics.

The design of equipment to minimize losses, achieve compaction, or better utilize material frequently requires a sound knowledge of the electric and magnetic field configurations involved. Several projects in the recent past have adapted finite element methods to the solution of current problems in large machines. A new approach to digital field computations is being devised, based on techniques used to solve large network problems. The objective is to develop a more efficient, computationally conservative method. In today’s energy-scarce world, there is a great emphasis on building more efficient electrical equipment.

An electrical insulation system is an essential part of all power equipment. Current research seeks to better understand the fundamental behavior of insulation under a variety of operating conditions and to develop diagnostic instrumentation, particularly for large generators. This involves both experimentation and computer modeling. Much of the effort is currently being directed at the development of nanodielectric structures for use as high-voltage insulation for which substantial enhancements have been demonstrated, in collaboration with the Materials Science and Engineering Department.

In the power system area, ongoing research includes dispatch and control of voltage-sourced converter based flexible AC transmission systems, in conjunction with the operations of actual hardware installations in power transmission companies. A new area of research is the application of high-sampling rate synchronized phasor data to improve the operation of large power grids. The research covers phasor data streaming and database management, off-line disturbance event analysis, and real-time applications in visualization and state estimation.

Optimization theory is used in the design of electric power systems to obtain high efficiency at minimum cost, particularly for systems that involve distributed generation. This has been extended to include the development of intelligent protective relaying for dealing with the problem of islanding and utilizes the department’s hybrid system simulator and Electromagnetic Transient Program (EMTP) studies.

Power electronics and electromechanics play critical roles in ensuring energy security and achieving high energy efficiency. These energy converters provide the foundation for the utilization and integration of renewable energy resources, and enable energy-efficient technologies such as solid-state lighting, variable-speed motor drives, and more-electric transportation systems. Work in these multidisciplinary fields requires an understanding of semiconductor devices, circuit theory, signal analysis, analog and digital control, magnetics, and heat transfer. Current interests and research activities include smart power semiconductor (Si, GaAs, SiC, GaN and diamond) devices and ICs; efficient ac-dc and dc-dc power conversion for IT, lighting and other electronics applications; renewable energy systems and smart grids; autonomous and mobile power systems and vibration-based energy harvesting systems enabled by power electronics; as well as multilevel modeling and analysis of complex power electronics and electromechanical systems.

High-temperature plasma research is crucial to the development of a controlled thermonuclear fusion energy source. Rensselaer’s Plasma Dynamics Laboratory has an active research program on the development of particle beam diagnostic systems and sub-system controls for magnetically confined plasma experiments. Specific techniques are developed and tested in the on-campus laboratory and then scaled up and applied on major confinement experiments located at other U.S. universities (e.g., the University of Wisconsin), at U.S. national laboratories (e.g., Oak Ridge National Lab), and foreign institutions (e.g., the Max-Planck Institute in Greifswald, Germany).

The current roadmap for photovoltaic (PV) device and system technology is based on few well established concepts from decades ago. Though theoretical predictions show that one could achieve very high efficiencies in solar to electricity conversion, breakthroughs are required in the device designs and system architectures to enable cheaper materials and manufacturing processes that can deliver the ultra-high efficiency energy converters. Mere industrial scale-up of processes is not enough for reducing the per-watt cost to make PV a sustainable mainstream energy supply source. The scope of our research activities in this area include: design and fabrication of full solar spectrum PV systems with III-V compound semiconductor devices, integrated power switching devices, non-imaging optical solar concentrator systems and nano-rod based passive optical elements.

Electrophysical Devices and Systems
The discovery of new devices and improvement of existing ones led to the modern electronic industry. These new devices are the basic building blocks of any new systems that positively impact daily life. Many department faculty work in developing such new devices using cutting edge technology and then employ them in building state of the art systems. State of the art laboratory facilities exist to carry out advanced study and research in these areas.

A common user facility accessible to all students and faculty is the microfabrication clean room (MCR) housed in the Center for Integrated Electronics (CIE). This MCR is equipped with up to 8” wafer tools for end-to-end device fabrication, characterization, metrology, and testing of silicon-based devices and integrated circuits, and an array of equipments for compound semiconductor device processing. In addition, the nanolithography tools, including nanoimprint, nano ink, and direct e-beam writer enable microelectronic and photonic device fabrication at feature size of 10 nm. This MCR is being used extensively for research in association with the Focus Center-New York (FC-NY), which is part of the national Interconnect Focus Center (IFC), addressing the discovery and invention of new electrical, optical, and thermal interconnect solutions. It also enables hyper-integration of heterogeneous components for future terascale systems.

One of the new projects involves investigation of a new regime of transistor operation in the terahertz range using the excitation and rectification of plasma waves in the transistor channel. This work is supported by modeling and parameter extraction based on our circuit simulator, AIM-Spice (with tens of thousands of users world wide) and by materials and device research on multifunctional semiconductors having pyroelectric properties. A variety of commercial design and simulation software, presently including Cadence, Mentor, TMA, and Hewlett-Packard software suites, are available for modeling integrated circuits, devices, processes, and interconnects that enable the discovery of new devices.

Several specialized laboratories are available that are equipped to meet industrial standards for advanced research techniques. The electronic materials laboratory includes several state-of-the-art bulk crystal growth systems, wafer slicing and chemical-mechanical polishing facilities, liquid phase epitaxy system for multilayer hetero-epitaxial growth, and cold wall epitaxial reactors for the growth of single crystal III-V, II-VI semiconductors. This equipment is used to grow and fabricate infrared devices, thermophotovoltaic devices and advanced solar cells. The high-voltage power device laboratory, as part of the Center for Power Electronics Systems (CPES), is used in designing and fabricating high voltage and high power semiconductor devices. Equipment to characterize these devices in wafer and package form up to 20 kV and 25A is available.

The newly established Smart Lighting Engineering Research Center (ERC) ushers in a new era in how humankind harnesses the enormous capabilities of light. The center is funded by the National Science Foundation and has a potential budget of about $50 million over 10 years. The Smart Lighting ERC develops and employs light sources based on semiconductors that exhibit very high efficiency as well as detailed controllability. The controllability, by design or by real-time tunability, includes the emission spectrum, the color temperature, the polarization, the spatial emission pattern, and the temporal modulation. The controllability of semiconductor-based smart lighting sources is a unique feature that is not shared by any other light source.

In contrast to conventional light sources, the efficiency of semiconductor-based solid-state lighting devices is not determined by fundamental limits. Instead the efficiency of solid-state lighting devices is limited only by our own creativity. Overcoming current limitations enables solid-state lighting devices to be up to 20 times more efficient than conventional light bulbs. As a result, gigantic quantities of energy and financial resources could be saved by the global introduction of solid-state lighting. In addition, solid-state lighting technology can dramatically reduce the emission of green-house gases, acid-rain gases, and highly toxic mercury.

An equally important aspect of solid-state lighting devices is their ability to be tunable, interactive, responsive, and intelligent, thereby making them truly smart devices. The Smart Lighting ERC will demonstrate revolutionary lighting systems with controllability and tunability in four system testbeds: A bio-imaging testbed based on high-luminance spectrally tunable sources, a high-efficiency display testbed based on polarized sources, and outdoor transportation testbed, and an indoor communications testbed implementing novel modes of communications.

Facilities for conducting Smart Lighting research include the 5,000 square foot ERC Central Laboratories, located in RPI’s George Low building, which include a wide array of semiconductor device fabrication and characterization tools as well as instruments for systems research and testbed implementation.

The above semiconductor devices are the building blocks of many systems, and many faculty do research in the design, implementation, layout, and testing of hardware systems. Research areas include the design and testing of digital and mixed-signal chips in CMOS and BiCMOS and the development of computer-aided design tools for such designs. Specific topics include the development of high-speed computer chips using SiGe BiCMOS technology, the design and testing of mixed signal chips for communications applications, the influence of wafer-to-wafer bonded 3-D integration on computer design, and the development of techniques for the design and reliable operation of digital chips fabricated in deep submicron CMOS.

This group has grown significantly in recent years. New faculty activities include error correcting coding system design and VLSI implementation for magnetic and holographic storage, and fiber and wireless communication; algorithm/architecture co-design for wireless multi-antenna signal processing; fault tolerance for semiconductor memories and molecular nanoelectronic memory; signal processing algorithm/architecture co-design for defect/variation tolerance in end-of-the-roadmap CMOS and exploration of possible post-silicon technology including SiGe, GaAs/GaInAs, InP, GaN, (both FET and HBT) and nanoelectroics; silicon-based radio-frequency power amplifiers; multi-Gb/s broadband communication circuits; millimeter-wave smart antenna transceivers; RF-powered wireless communication circuits for bio-implantable microsystems; devices, circuits, systems, algorithms, and methodologies to enable inexpensive portable platforms for environmental and biomedical diagnostics.

Industrial and Systems Engineering

The Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering offers degree programs at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels including the bachelor’s and master’s degree in Industrial and Management Engineering, and the doctoral degree in Decision Sciences and Engineering Systems. The common theme throughout the department’s academic programs is the use of mathematical, statistical, and computational/simulation models to better understand, predict, and optimize complex engineering, managerial, operational, and physical systems.

Research Innovations and Initiatives
The department’s research is focused on core disciplinary strengths in Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISE). ISE involves the application of mathematical, computational, statistical, and information science methods to model, analyze, and solve complex decision problems in engineering, business, and social systems. ISE employs methods of mathematical programming, queuing theory, computational optimization, decision analysis, applied statistics, database systems, soft computing, and discrete event simulation for solving problems related to the design, planning, and operation of complex systems where intelligent coordination is necessary to achieve optimal performance. It is distinct from management and economics in the use of an engineering approach to design and analyze enterprise processes to optimize performance. It is distinct from computer science in its focus on the design of data and knowledge systems as the organizational nerve center where operations and enterprise systems are integrated.

The department’s faculty research aligns directly with these core strengths to exploit dynamically evolving opportunities of high relevance in such areas as Adaptive Supply Chains, Manufacturing Systems, Social and Cognitive Networks, Homeland Security, Service Systems Engineering, Energy and Environmental Systems, Health-care Systems and Robotics.

Materials Science and Engineering

Progress in modern technology is often limited by the availability of suitable solid materials. The materials engineer must produce materials to meet the demands of the designers of jet engines and rocket boosters, microelectronic devices, optical components, medical prostheses, and many other products.

The principles that govern the processing and structure of materials to produce optimum mechanical and physical properties and performance are embodied in the materials engineering curriculum. The program is designed to produce engineers and scientists whose degrees represent useful specialization coupled with a broad background in all classes of materials.

Undergraduate students wishing to extend their education can undertake specialized study in a range of fields. These include ceramics, polymers, composites, nanostructured materials, high-temperature alloys, solidification, corrosion, deformation processing, welding, high-strength high-modulus materials, biomaterials, electronic materials, surface and molecular kinetics, glass science, and the origin of mechanical and physical properties in many different types of materials. Graduate students, in addition to pursuing classroom courses, conduct research in a variety of areas described below and write their theses based on this research. Extensive laboratories containing modern and sophisticated equipment are available.

For the student who likes to innovate and who wants to apply knowledge to the real problems of a modern technological society, materials science and engineering provides a broad range of exciting opportunities.

Research and Innovation Initiatives
Materials Processing
Major research programs include fundamental studies of the solidification process and the effect of solidification under reduced gravity on the formation of dendritic structures, and practically oriented programs in the extrusion processing of aluminum alloys. In the latter program, studies of the complex interactions among stress, strain rate, and temperature during forming processes have made it possible to apply advanced software models to the control of metalworking operations. Studies of powder processing have made possible the extrusion processing of composite materials, while research on joining processes has led to synergistic coupling of adhesive bonding and spot welding technology in automotive sheet metal fabrication. Broad efforts focused on the synthesis, processing, and properties of nanostructured materials are expanding the capabilities of materials engineering and nanotechnology into additional areas including ceramics, metals, polymers, composites, and biomaterials. Novel applications of carbon nanotubes for device and chemical applications are under investigation, along with chemical, electrical, and mechanical isolation engineering using nanocomposites.

Materials for Microelectronic Systems
This research spans multiple fields including the development of epitaxial semiconductor materials for new electronic applications, exploration of new semiconductor nanostructural architectures for new nanoelectronic device concepts, development of new methods for material characterization and fabrication at the nanoscale, and materials problems associated with the interconnections between integrated circuit elements. Included are the growth of thin films of metals, semiconductors, polymer and ceramic materials, advances in the patterning and etching processes necessary for the fabrication of multilayer devices, and the application of state-of-the-art ion and electron beam lithography and microscopy methods.

Glasses and Ceramics
Research efforts focus on factors influencing the useful lifetime of glass components and the effect of environments, especially aqueous environments, on glass failure. In addition to the conventional applications such as windows and bottles, glasses are used as optical components such as optical communication fibers. Specifically, variation of the glass surface structure with time and its influence on glass properties are under investigation. Another emphasis is the development of nonoxide glasses, primarily those based on fluorides, as the transmitting medium in optical fibers for communications purposes.

Nanocomposite Materials
Composite materials are made up of at least two distinct materials that when combined yield superior properties compared to the starting materials. Traditional examples of composite materials are carbon fiber reinforced polymers, glass fiber reinforced polymers, metal matrix composites, engineered woods, etc. Nanocomposite materials are those in which one of the components has nanoscale dimensions. For example, carbon nanotubes, organoclay sheets (organically modified clay), silica nanoparticles, graphene (individual graphite layers), etc. When nanoscale materials are combined with, for example, polymers, the resulting material provides improvements and control over multiple properties such as electrical, optical, thermal, thermo-mechanical, mechanical, environmental, etc. Research at Rensselaer spans all types of nanoscale materials and their nanocomposites mainly with polymeric materials. Examples include silica, alumina, titania, zinc oxide, organoclay, graphene, single and multi walled carbon nanotube filled polymers.

Computational Materials Science
A number of MSE faculty focus on computational materials science and have expertise ranging from electronic structure calculation via classical molecular dynamics methods and mesoscale-level techniques, to continuum-level analysis and calculations. The main goal of the computational and theoretical research is to provide a framework for understanding the detailed role of individual parameters such as microstructural size, surface structure and chemistry, nature of defects and their distribution in material synthesis, processing and properties. Specific research areas include mass and heat transport, phase diagram and phase change modeling, chemical and thermal processes in energy materials, and ceramic and metallic glasses.

Nanostructured materials are being widely studied by faculty, postdoctoral, and student researchers in the Materials Science and Engineering Department at Rensselaer. For example, polymer nanocomposites containing inorganic nanoparticles or carbon nanotubes are being made that have potential applications that combine novel electrical, optical, or mechanical responses. Rensselaer’s Materials Science and Engineering investigators have put significant research effort into exploring the design of polymer nanocomposites with controlled dispersions of nanoparticle fillers and how these alter the various material properties of the host polymer. NSEC researchers in the department also investigate the conformation and activity of biopolymers (such as proteins) near (or adsorbed onto) highly curved nanoparticle surfaces and their effects on biological function as well as the ability to create new materials.

The field of biomaterials focuses on understanding the interactions of materials with biological systems, particularly within the human body, and applying this understanding to advancing human health.

Mechanical, Aerospace, and Nuclear Engineering

Mechanical engineers are engaged in a wide range of activities. At one end of the spectrum, they are concerned with fundamental engineering science, especially energetics and mechanics. At the other end, they are involved with the hardware of various technologies"the design and manufacture of mechanical components and systems. Aerospace engineering is concerned with disciplines and technologies that pertain not only to aircraft and spacecraft, but to other vehicular systems such as submarines and hydrofoils as well. Nuclear engineering focuses on the methods, devices, and systems required for the peaceful use of nuclear technology.

Research and Innovation Initiatives
Opportunities for research and innovation are delineated below. Opportunities may be theoretical, computational, and/or experimental. The Center for Flow Physics and Control, the Center for Modeling, Simulation, and Imaging in Medicine, the Gaettner LINAC Center, the New York State Center for Automation Technologies and Systems, the Scientific Computation Research Center, and the Center for Computational Innovations offer additional research opportunities for the department’s undergraduate and graduate students and their faculty advisers.

Cross-Cutting Research Areas

Energy Science and Engineering
This cross-cutting research theme is centered around clear common interests in energy efficiency, energy storage, energy harvesting, and thermal controls. It builds on the strong expertise in fundamental thermal sciences and engineering across multiscales, thermal metrology, nanostructured materials, electrochemical energy storage, and microsystem fabrication technologies.

Materials, Materials Processing and Controls
MANE faculty are engaged in high impact interdisciplinary research in materials, manufacturing, and controls as well as research that effectively links the three disciplines to come up with system level solutions to important technological problems. The research interests of the faculty includes materials for energy, nano-materials, nano-composites, nanoscale heat transfer, thermoelectrics, nano-mechanics, fiber-reinforced composites, additive manufacturing, non-linear controls, micro-machining, spaceflight control, tribology, non-linear dynamics, nuclear materials, bio-materials, smart materials, adaptive structures and computational nano and bio mechanics.

Human Health and Safety
This cross-cutting research theme is centered around common interests in biomechanics, virtual surgery, radiation dosimetry, medical robotics, biomechanical imaging, and nanoscience.

Disciplinary Research Areas

Advanced Structures/Materials
Research Areas: Active Structures, morphing structures, cellular structures, structures with integrated damping capability, energy absorption capability; advanced materials including piezoelectric materials, shape memory alloys and polymers, electrorheological and magnetrorheological fluids, nano-materials; advanced composites, bio-composites; advanced structural analysis methods, nonlinear aeroelasticity, nonlinear multi-body dynamics; and computational structural dynamics.

Applied Radiation Technologies
Research Areas: Accelerator physics; neutron, x-ray, and light scattering physics and experiments; radiation detection and measurement; novel radiation sources, nuclear cross-section data measurement and analysis; nuclear non-proliferation (monitoring of nuclear materials for nuclear security).

Research Areas: Fuel chemistry; optical diagnostics; solid propellants; spray combustion; nano-energetics; swirl-stabilized combustion; transonic combustion.

Design and Manufacturing
Research Areas: Design methodology in general and mechanical engineering design techniques in particular; tribology, metrology; rapid prototyping; flexible manufacturing; micro/nano-scale manufacturing (subtractive and additive techniques); process modeling; material design for manufacturing; sustainable manufacturing; fiber-composite processing; fuel-cell manufacturing; bio-medical manufacturing; new manufacturing techniques; operation of manufacturing facilities; CAD/CAM; diagnostics and controls; polymer matrix composites manufacturing; biocomposities Manufacturing.

Dynamics and Controls
Research Areas: Adaptive and smart optics systems; intelligent building systems; control of micro/nano-scale manufacturing; learning control systems; nonlinear, robust and adaptive control, human-in-the-loop control design.

Fluid Dynamics/Aerodynamics
Research Areas: Experimental, numerical, and theoretical fluid mechanics; advanced aerodynamic flow control techniques, passive and active; aerodynamics of low, moderate and high Reynolds number flows; manned and unmanned aerial vehicle aerodynamics; acoustics and vibrations; compressible flows; wind energy.

Mechanics and Materials
Research Areas: Acoustics; multi-body dynamics; fatigue and fracture processes; friction and wear; biomechanics; plasticity; composites; microelectronic materials; materials under extreme loading conditions; irradiation hardening; nanomechanics of materials; multiscale computational methods.

Nuclear Materials
Research Areas: Radiation interaction and radiation effects; advanced nuclear fuels and structural materials; aging management; materials for nuclear waste management; nanostructured materials for nuclear applications.

Nuclear Power Systems
Research Areas: Novel reactor design concepts; nuclear safety / risk analysis / emergency preparedness; nuclear thermal hydraulics; fuel cycle (spent fuel storage, geological repository, re-processing); fuel design and performance; nuclear data instrumentation and detector development; computational methods (neutronics analysis, multi-physics and multi-scale modeling); nuclear fusion and energy policy.

Research Areas: Multidisciplinary design optimization; aerodynamic shape optimization; trajectory optimization; optimization under uncertainty; inverse problems and model reduction.

Radiation Protection, Medical and Industrial Uses of Radiation
Research Areas: Radiation dosimetry; imaging and radiotherapy of cancer; medical isotope production, non-destructive testing (civil engineering, materials, oil exploration).

Research Areas: Spacecraft trajectory control optimization; spacecraft relative motion optimization; alternative ways to optimize propellant consumption relying on atmospheric differential drag; large flexible spacecraft dynamics and control, space vehicle control.

Thermal and Fluids Engineering
Research Areas: Energy efficiency and sustainability; advanced microfluidics for thermal management; system level thermal management, heat conduction and solid-state thermoelectric energy conversion in nanostructured materials; nanoscale thermal metrology; interfacial heat transfer; convection and phase-change in microchannels; structured surfaces for enhanced heat transfer; nanostructured thermal interface materials; thermal energy storage materials; heat generation and dissipation in radio frequency heated magnetic nanoparticles; microsystems for energy harvesting; plasmonic nanoparticles spectrally coupled with luminescent solar concentrators; loop heat pipes; and combustion.

Research Description By Engineering Research Center

Automation Technologies

The Center for Automation Technologies and Systems (CATS) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute serves as a focal point for a broad range of industrially relevant research and development in practical and theoretical aspects of advanced manufacturing, automation and robotics. Advanced manufacturing is a critical component of the U.S. economy as it helps sustain our global competitiveness across a wide range of industries, from biomedical and renewable energy to aerospace. Automation (processes and devices that improve efficiency, increase productivity, or enhance functionality) and industrial robotics (programmable machines capable of automatically carrying out complex series of actions) are key enabling technologies for advanced manufacturing. Nearly 40 faculty members from multiple departments throughout Rensselaer participate in the research and educational programs of the Center. With annual base funding from the State of New York as a NYSTAR-designated Center for Advanced Technology, the CATS pursues a mission of research excellence and service to industry, and focuses on bridging the “laboratory-to-market” chasm across a broad range of domains and high-impact applications. The CATS leverages RPI’s rich ecosystem and domain expertise to help its industrial partner companies pursue both detail- and systems-level approaches to solving real-world problems, advancing model-based methods and applying them to design, optimization, control, and monitoring of industrial processes and systems. Current research thrust areas include: Industrial Automation and Control, Advanced Robotics and Control Systems, Continuous Processing and Control, Additive and Bioadditive Manufacturing, Smart Manufacturing, Metal and Ceramics Processing, Micromanufacturing, and Advanced Composites and Biocomposites Manufacturing.

Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies

The Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies (CBIS) is a 218,000-square-foot facility on the Rensselaer campus. With its high-tech laboratories, it provides a platform for collaboration among many diverse academic and research disciplines to enhance discovery and encourage innovation. Research and office space is available for approximately 500 faculty, staff, and students, and the Bruggeman Conference Center and Auditorium host world-class programs and symposia.

CBIS facilitates groundbreaking discoveries by Rensselaer faculty at the intersection of the basic life sciences, physical and computational sciences, humanities and social sciences, architecture, and engineering sciences, which leads to new biotechnology breakthroughs. By maximizing core strengths and collaborations, CBIS ensures the impact of Rensselaer’s financial, organizational, and intellectual investment to society.

Center faculty and researchers are engaged in interdisciplinary research, focused on the application of engineering and the physical and information sciences to the life sciences. Residents include members of several academic departments including Biological Sciences; Biomedical Engineering; Chemical and Biological Engineering; Chemistry and Chemical Biology; Mechanical, Aerospace, and Nuclear Engineering; and Physics.

The Center is home to nine state-of-the-art Research Core facilities, which permit investigators to address fundamental research questions from the atomic and molecular level through cellular and advanced tissue systems, and finally in live animal platforms. The Research Cores include Proteomics, Microbiology and Fermentation, Analytical Biochemistry and Nanotechnology, BioResearch, Cell and Molecular Biology, Microscopy and Cellular Imaging, BioImaging, Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR), and Stem Cell Research.

Rensselaer has supported the creation of four research Constellation areas in CBIS that build on existing Rensselaer research strengths: Biocatalysis and Metabolic Engineering; Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine; Systems Biology and Microbiomics; and Biocomputation and Bioinformatics. Each Constellation contains a mix of senior and junior faculty, and students and postdoctoral scientists from multiple backgrounds and departments.

Biotechnology is an inherently multidisciplinary pursuit. Students interested in studying Biotechnology at Rensselaer may apply for degrees through several existing departments and programs and create a truly interdisciplinary program with consultation and approval from faculty advisers who represent at least 12 different university departments.

Center for Computational Innovations

The Center for Computational Innovations (CCI) is housed in a 22,000-square-foot facility at the Rensselaer Technology Park. It includes a 4,500-square-foot machine room, offices, and space for industry visitors. The CCI operates heterogeneous supercomputing systems consisting of massively parallel IBM Blue Gene supercomputer and AMD Opteron and Intel Xeon processor-based clusters. The computational power of the current hardware configuration is rated at over 1 petaflop peak. The CCI system is supported by over a petabyte of disk storage. The CCI has dedicated high-speed connections to the main campus with up to 32 fiber lines available for growth as well as a direct connection to the NYSERNet optical infrastructure and Internet2 that provides access to the national and international high-speed networks.

The CCI Computational Facilities:

1. “AMOS” Blue Gene/Q: 5 racks (5K nodes, 80K cores) with 80 TB of RAM
total and 160 I/O nodes.
2. Intel Xeon Cluster: 32, 8-way Xeon processors with 256 GB of RAM
3. Intel Xeon Cluster: 64, 16-way Xeon processors with 128 GB of RAM each.
4. Parallel Storage: 1.2 Petabytes disk storage over GPFS parallel
file system.
5. Network: 324-port non-blocking 56Gbps/FDR Infiniband interconnect.

A key feature of our flagship Blue Gene/Q system (named “AMOS”) is its balance of compute with I/O capabilities. In particular, this Blue Gene/Q system has four times the I/O capacity on a per-rack basis than any other Blue Gene/Q system currently fielded. Thus, we have the capability to provide a 1.28 TB RAM cache pool by leveraging the 160 I/O nodes. For many data intensive jobs, their datasets can fit within that cache structure. For larger dataset jobs, we will offer an 8TB RAM Storage Accelerator (RSA) cluster that can pre-stage data prior to the start of the job on AMOS. Data can be moved between AMOS and the RSA at a rate of 50 GB/sec. This RSA cluster is created by an in memory parallel filesystem that runs across our existing Intel Xeon cluster.

Currently, the center provides computational resource to external funded research activities in excess of $42M. These research activities cut across a number of massively parallel and data analytic topics. Examples include: protein folding, micro-structure materials modeling, fundamental properties of graphene, co-design of future exascale supercomputers, massively parallel adaptive methods for multi-scale simulation, high-performance computing workflows for industrial applications, and advanced computational fluid dynamics, to name a few.

One of our central strengths is the flexibility in terms of how we engage with our industry partners. First, the CCI has the ability to work with software from third-party vendors like ANSYS, Polyflow, and CD-adapco, as well as leverage the center’s own research software tools and other “open source” software systems. The CCI currently has active engagements with Boeing, Corning, GNS, IBM, Kitware, P&G, and Simmetrix, to name a few. Export controlled and corporate confidential software is able to execute at the CCI.

Center for Earthquake Engineering Simulation

The Center for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (CEES) is a multi-disciplinary research center committed to providing researchers a state-of-the-art facility to conduct analytical, experimental, and multi-disciplinary research. The facility is a multi-hazard mitigation site with a capability to support research for mitigation of other natural hazards. The facility is now a home to tele-participation tools, including state-of-the-art telecontrol and teleconference rooms. The CEES center is also home to a 2-directional earthquake simulator, 2-degrees of freedom and 4-degrees of freedom in-flight robots and state-of-the-art Data Acquisition (DAQ) software.

The facility is used for innovative research, including use by Rensselaer faculty and outside researchers working on campus, or via tele-participation tools. Since 2004, the CEES facility has participated in over 35 major research projects for both NSF and industrial users, which focus on:

the seismic response of pile foundations to liquefaction,
the effect of blasting on tunnels and earth embankments,
the centrifuge modeling of levees, retaining walls, tailings dams, slopes, and offshore structures,
the development of advanced sensors and tools for centrifuge and existing in-flight robots,
the numerical modeling and analysis of buildings subjected to seismic loads, and
field monitoring and assessing of levee and flood-control infrastructure system.

Center for Modeling, Simulation and Imaging in Medicine.


The goal of the Center for Modeling, Simulation and Imaging in Medicine (CeMSIM) is to actively develop advanced modeling, simulation and imaging (MSI) technology for health-care through interdisciplinary collaborations with the aim of transitioning the technology to clinical practice.

Situated at the intersection of medicine and engineering, the CeMSIM develops novel MSI solutions for a variety of challenges in the health-care enterprise. To accomplish its objectives, the CeMSIM engages in fundamental research related to computational science and engineering, imaging science and engineering, biomedical science and engineering, biorobotics, medical visualization, haptics, networking science and technology, virtual reality, and cognitive science. Application projects encompass all aspects of clinical medicine including image-based diagnostic tools (e.g., radiology, ultrasound, CT, MRI, and X-ray), image analysis methods, elastographic techniques, and noninvasive clinical therapy, as well as surgical planning and training, tele-medicine, and robotic surgery. The CeMSIM partners with premier medical schools, hospitals, industries, and academic institutions across the country, as well as many of the research platforms within Rensselaer. Research at the CeMSIM is aimed at rapid translation of technology from the bench to the bedside and to the greater community.

Data Exploration and Applications


The vision of The New Polytechnic is supported by The Rensselaer Institute for Data Exploration and Applications or IDEA. This breakthrough initiative brings together key research areas and advanced technologies to revolutionize the way we use data in science, engineering, and virtually every other research and educational discipline. By bridging the gaps between analytics, modeling and simulation we continue the Rensselaer tradition as a leader in applying critical technologies to improving everyday life and meeting the challenges of the future. The Rensselaer IDEA enables research across the campus to access such technologies via the development of critical computational methodologies including data-intensive supercomputing, large-scale agent-based simulation, and cognitive computing technologies.


Data-Driven Medical and Health-Care Applications: Research explores areas including personalized and mobile medical care, improved health-care analytics, and new data-based approaches to driving down the cost of medical care.

Business Analytics: Critical infrastructure challenges arise in areas such as supply-chain network analysis and predictive analytics for modeling markets and other dynamic systems.

Built and Natural Environments/Smart Cities: Increasing capabilities for monitoring both natural and built ecologies can lead to significant environmental advances for society. Projects scale in range from studying the molecular “biomes” that arise in urban environments to modeling large-scale environments and ecological climate effects.

Agents in Virtual and Augmented Reality: New computational technologies are needed not just for modeling built and natural systems, but also the social systems that result from how people live and work in both the cyber and physical worlds. Additionally the visualization and analysis of very large datasets requires new approaches to multi-user, multimodal data interaction technologies. New and scalable agent-based technologies using both cognitive and supercomputing techniques are also a focus of this research.

Data-Centric Engineering: Engineering design is based on the modeling of processes, devices, and systems. Increasingly, large-scale data analysis and predictive data technologies are being used to inform the engineering models. Bridging the gap between analytics and modeling is thus a crucial capability to the future of rapidly developing and improving engineered systems.

Cybersecurity and Network Analysis: Increasingly threats to society are growing where the networked systems of modern cyberspace come into contact with physical control systems and the social systems of people.

Data-Driven Basic Science: The use of data-driven techniques for helping scientists with their basic research has grown to the point where some now refer to this as the “Fourth Paradigm” of science. The growing area of “Semantic eScience” is another key area of research.

Policy, Ethics, and Open Data: The big-data and supercomputing revolution has the power to change the world for the better. However, it also comes with a dark side. This sub-thrust focuses on how the benefits are achieved while controlling for the threats posed by ill-informed policy creation, unethical collection and use of data, and the tension between open data and privacy protections.

Flow Physics and Control Research Center

The mission of the Center for Flow Physics and Control (CeFPaC) is to conduct research in flow physics, prediction, modeling, and control. The center focuses on a combination of basic research aimed at verifying or developing theories for fluid dynamic behavior and the application of these theories towards controlling flows. The research involves a large variety of macro and micro flow fields including laminar and turbulent boundary layers, jets, shear layers, wakes, airfoils, finite wings/blades, inlets and UAVs.

The center’s main three thrusts are: Aerodynamics (aerial and underwater vehicles), Wind Energy (smart wind turbine blades, and the building of integrated wind), and two-phase flows.

The research in Aerodynamics has four main objectives: (1) to understand the flow mechanisms associated with the interaction between the flow and the actuators, (2) to explore, experimentally and numerically, the feasibility of using active flow control for flight control, (3) to develop low order models of the flow, and (4) to develop closed loop control schemes.

Wind energy focuses on topics such as smart wind turbine blades and building integrated wind. As the desire to harvest energy from the wind increases, industrial manufacturers seek to implement techniques that improve wind turbine efficiency and longevity. The use of variable-speed rotors (used in most modern large-scale turbines) offers an efficiency increase by allowing turbines to operate closer to the wind. The development of larger, more efficient turbines mandates a fundamental study of the interaction between the wind and the blade so that these effects can be considered and exploited in the design of larger turbines.

CeFPaC is poised to make an important impact in the rapidly emerging field of active flow control. The Center focuses on the important fields of both aerospace engineering and energy systems. It works to advance the state-of-the-art in wind turbine blades, green airplanes, smart buildings, and more.

Future Energy Systems


The Center for Future Energy Systems (CFES) is one of the 15 New York State-designated Centers for Advanced Technology (CAT) funded by Empire State Development through its Division for Science, Technology and Innovation (NYSTAR). The center’s mission is to connect novel energy materials, devices, systems research, knowledge, and technology in academia with the needs of industry to solve problems and spur economic development.

Energy is one of the most pressing issues facing society. Achieving energy security, combating global warming, and developing a new green energy economy will require harvesting more energy from renewable sources such as solar and wind, as well as using energy more efficiently across different sectors of the industry and in all aspects of daily life. CFES addresses these challenges through cutting-edge research and industry collaboration in a wide range of areas including photovoltaic materials and cells, advanced wind turbine design and control, solid-state lighting and smart lighting sources, intelligent and energy-efficient building systems, fuel cells, advanced materials for energy storage and thermoelectric energy conversion, distributed generation and control, grid integration of wind and solar power, and power conversion for transportation systems.

Gaerttner Linear Accelerator Center

The Gaerttner Linear Accelerator (LINAC) Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) is a major research facility used to conduct basic and applied research. This facility is one of two unique facilities available in the Nuclear Engineering program at RPI and has been engaged in active research continuously for over 50 years. The center plays a vital role in providing valuable resources for undergraduates, graduates, and post-doctoral researchers. In addition, industrial contacts, outside researchers, and an experienced technical staff provide added attributes that provide opportunity, diversity, and specialized capabilities. The Gaerttner Linear Accelerator Center has been designated as a Nuclear Historic Landmark by the American Nuclear Society. Research with electrons, photons and neutrons has applications to nuclear engineering, nuclear physics, radiation effects in electronics, radiation production, radiation processing of materials, conventional radiography, computed tomography, and other industrial processes. Enhancement of materials and chemical properties and processing by high energy radiation is a growing industrial tool applicable to both environmental and commercial applications. Radiation testing of electronic materials, components and systems is of major importance for reliability and survivability in diverse environments. Current areas of research at the LINAC include thermal reactor physics, photoneutron reactions, neutron cross sections, radiation effects in electronics, and production of medical isotopes. This laboratory has well served government and industry in numerous applications where it has provided a unique and highly intense radiation environment.

Infrastructure, Transportation and the Environment

CITE Home Page:

The Center for Infrastructure, Transportation, and the Environment (CITE) is a national and international leader in research, education, outreach, and technology transfer in the areas of infrastructure, transportation, and their links to the environment. CITE was formerly the Center for Infrastructure and Transportation Studies, originally established in 1993 as a collaborative environment in which interdisciplinary transportation research could be conducted. A member of the Council for University Transportation Centers, CITE is known for research in freight transportation, humanitarian logistics, intelligent transportation systems, transportation systems planning, network modeling, traffic simulation, advanced econometrics, and traffic operations.

CITE’s mission is to investigate complex transportation and infrastructure problems and to assist in developing solutions or approaches for dealing with these problems. The Center either directly provides solutions to the owners, operators, or users of civil infrastructure systems or delivers educational technologies that allow the owners, operators, or users to develop and implement their own solutions. CITE focuses on:

providing a forum for complex transportation issues, identifying the parameters of the issues and cooperatively develop solutions or approaches for dealing with the issues.
conducting studies in systems operation and facilities management.
developing policies and methodologies to increase the sustainability of transportation activity.
developing analytical techniques that help identify and prioritize investments in transportation infrastructure.
CITE is the host of the Center of Excellence for Sustainable Urban Freight Systems (CoE-SUFS) funded by the Volvo Research and Education Foundations (VREF). This important international consortium is intended to lead a transformation of urban freight systems throughout the world so that they are more sustainable, contribute to the economy, and to increase quality of life of the local communities.

Some of the agencies that CITE collaborates with include the United States Department of Transportation, New York State Department of Transportation, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, the National Science Foundation and the National Academy of Science. This reflects the national stature and leadership role played by the faculty associated with the Center. Work on pavement management systems, bridge management systems, hazardous materials logistics, and traffic signal systems has given way to projects focused on freight transportation modeling, economics, sustainable systems, and urban traffic systems. Current research funding stands at between $1.5-$2 million/year.

Civil and environmental engineers (CEE) have a crucial role to play in the solution of mankind’s challenges, both current and future. CITE also cuts across other disciplines including the computer sciences and industrial engineering. The nature of this role is being shaped by a conjunction of emerging challenges and societal/technological trends. Among them:

the important role played by CEE towards achieving energy and environmental goals.
the CEE research needs associated with unmanaged urbanization and the rise of megacities.
the increase in natural and man-made disasters and the need to develop new paradigms of resilient and sustainable CEE systems.
the pervasive role of information technology, sensors, and wireless technologies that can enhance CEE decision making.
the deplorable state of the nation’s infrastructure and the need to create new paradigms of design and operation that lead to sustainable and resilient CEE systems.
climate change and its impacts on coastal areas where the share of the world population is increasing.
Projects recently completed or presently underway include:

sustainable Urban Freight Systems (VREF, UTRC, NCFRP, NCHRP)
humanitarian logistics (NSF)
implementation of off-hour deliveries (USDOT, NYSERDA, NYSDOT)
traffic modeling and dynamic transportation network modeling (NSF)
advanced econometrics (NSF, UTRC)

Materials, Devices and Integrated Systems


The Center for Materials, Devices, and Integrated Systems, or cMDIS, provides the platform for researchers in diverse disciplines across the physical and chemical sciences and engineering to establish cross-disciplinary collaborations and develop teams to tackle some of the most pressing challenges that face our society in the 21st century. The cMDIS leads strategic research efforts in advanced materials and devices, and the integration of these technologies into complex systems. This is achieved by fostering interdisciplinary research that employs advanced computational tools, testbeds, and characterization facilities.

Located primarily on the Rensselaer campus, the center’s activities range from basic and applied research, to the exploration of new technologies through partnerships with industry. Major activities include pioneering research into advanced electronic interconnect structures, wideband gap semiconductors and devices, carbon-based materials and devices, power electronic devices and systems, new nanostructured materials architectures, harnessing of spectral control and sensing of light, development of new materials and systems for renewable energy, advanced composite materials and devices, solutions for the built environment, and new manufacturing methods. The center is responsible for major state-of-the-art facilities that support the Institute’s research mission, including: a Class 100 Micro and Nanofabrication Clean Room with processing and characterization capabilities for silicon, compound semiconductors, energy storage materials biological, and a broad range of other material systems; an extensive nanoscale characterization core; and numerous state-of-the-art processing design, testing, and characterization facilities in individual centers and laboratories.

The cMDIS is the organizational home for the New York Focus Center for Interconnects for Gigascale Integration and for multiple other research programs. The cMDIS also interacts closely with and serves as a comprehensive research platform for other Rensselaer centers, including the Center for Architecture Science and Ecology (CASE), Center for Automation Technologies and Systems (CATS), Center for Future Energy Systems (CFES), National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center on Lighting Enabled Systems and Applications (LESA), and the Scientific Computation Research Center (SCOREC). Formation of additional centers, especially those that promote interdisciplinary research, are developing as the number of new cMDIS projects grows.

Nanotechnology Research Center

The Rensselaer Nanotechnology Center provides a major resource to advance the scientific promise represented by the nanotechnology chair and provides interdisciplinary research programs to educate new generations of students. Research areas of the Center include advanced materials and coatings, biosciences and biotechnology, nanoelectronics, and nanosystems. Nanotechnology uses clusters of molecules and atoms to make nanometer (billionth of a meter) size building blocks for new materials. These blocks have different properties than larger sizes of the same materials, such as electrical conductivity, optical properties, and mechanical strength. These materials can therefore be used for many new applications. The Center focuses on creating novel materials and devices that could create more effective drug delivery systems in the human body, result in stronger and more durable plastics, enable high capacity energy and information storage devices, and produce flame-retardant plastics for planes and automobiles, as well as other important applications.

Network Science and Technology Center

The Network Science and Technology (NEST) Center conducts the fundamental science and engineering research on natural and technological networks, ranging from social and cognitive networks to computer networks. The growing understanding of network structures and dynamic processes arising in them combined with the novel designs of protocols for communication and algorithms for applications enable experts in the fields ranging from sociology to biology, medicine, physics, computer science, and engineering to apply the results of the center’s research in their specific disciplines.

NEST researchers study fundamental properties of networks, the processes underlying their evolution, and the paradigms for network engineering to enhance their desirable properties such as efficiency, reliability, and robustness. Research on natural networks focuses on cognitive models of net-centric interactions, on models for community creation and evolution, on the impact of mobility on network formation, on discovering dependencies between social, information, and communication networks, and on understanding the spread of opinions and ideologies among network nodes. Research on technological networks, such as computer, transportation and energy distribution networks, focuses on their optimal design from the point of view of flow maximization, fault tolerance, graceful degradation in case of partial damage, etc. In communication networks, NEST develops and studies network protocols and algorithms, especially for wireless and sensor networks, and studies interoperability of communication networks and computer systems. NEST actively transitions the developed protocols and algorithms to industrial practice and commercialization.

NEST partners with universities, national laboratories, and industry in large scientific programs targeting interdisciplinary research. NEST is the primary member of the Social Cognitive Network Academic Research Center (SCNARC), a part of the Network Science Collaborative Technology Alliance (NS-CTA), funded by collaborative agreements with ARL. Other supporters include NSF, DARPA, DTRA, IARPA, ARO, ONR, and MIT Lincoln Laboratory.

NSF ERC Current

The interdisciplinary center, named CURENT (Center for Ultra-wide-area Resilient Electric Energy Transmission Networks), brings together a consortium of academia, industry, and national laboratories to tackle the grand challenge of enabling a more intelligent, resilient electrical grid that accepts more renewable energy sources. CURENT is jointly funded by NSF and the U.S. Department of Energy. It is the first ERC dedicated to power system transmission.

NSF ERC Smart Lighting Center

The ERC is building Smart Lighting Systems that will be a tightly knit interaction of lighting sources, light sensors, and controls that mediate system level performance and interface to smart building and smart grid platforms.

The research program of the ERC is therefore organized into three primary research thrusts with Test-Beds and Translational Projects: (click each thrust for more detail)


Fundamental research to address barriers (optical, thermal and electronic) in solid-state luminaire design.


To address the challenges in opto-electronics/nano-photonics integration, and overcome barriers (limited spectral resolution, low bandwidth responsivity, lack of dynamic range sensor arrays) that impede the use of sensors for future Smart Lighting Systems.


This thrust governs the interaction of light sources and sensors, and interfaces to external systems.


Combines sources, sensors and controls to demonstrate transformative engineered systems to create the immersive Smart Lighting environment.


Projects to enable commercialization are classified as Translational. The ERC also supports critical activities that focus on analyzing the rapidly changing dynamics of the solid state and Smart Lighting marketplace.

An example of the Systems thrust is a new way to observe live cell mitosis with multiple-color fluorophores over long periods to gain unprecedented amount of information on cellular processes under various environmental conditions. This is achieved by optimally adjusting the light spectra and dosage based on the cell image feedback to avoid photo-damage of the cells and photo-bleaching of the fluorophores. An example of the Device thrust is the focus on efficiency droop, which is the single most important problem in solid-state lighting technology. New approaches have made the SMART LIGHTING ERC team the leading force in low-droop devices. Finally, an example of the Materials thrust is a nano-column emitter which promises low defect densities as well as high light-extraction efficiency.

The Lighting Research Center (LRC) at Rensselaer is a close partner with the SMART LIGHTING ERC. It provides unique resources and capabilities in lighting research, education, and industrial outreach. The LRC participates in the ERC research related to lighting and health and supports ERC in technology innovation and commercialization

Scientific Computation Research Center


The Scientific Computation Research Center (SCOREC) is focused on the development of reliable simulation technologies for engineers, scientists, medical professionals, and other practitioners. These advancements enable experts in their fields to appraise and evaluate the behavior of physical, chemical, and biological systems of interest.

SCOREC research is focused on the development of the technologies necessary to enable simulation-based engineering. Simulation-based engineering will introduce a new paradigm in which all interacting scales important to the behavior of materials, devices, and systems are accurately modeled and accounted for in the design of optimized products and processes. SCOREC research includes the development of adaptive methods for reliable simulations, methods to do all computation on massively parallel computers, multiscale computational methods and interoperable technologies that will speed simulation system development. Application areas for simulation technologies being developed include fluid mechanics, solid mechanics, electromagnetics, nanomaterials, and nanoelectronics. As part of this research SCOREC partners with universities, national laboratories, and industry on the construction of simulation systems for specific applications in multiple areas. SCOREC actively transitions the simulation technologies developed to industrial practice and commercialization by software companies.