The National Science Foundation’s most prestigious award for early-career faculty (CAREER) has been awarded to Fan Ye, Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering in the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences. He will receive an award of $450k over the next five years to build the foundation for a future smart environment.
“The idea of a smart environment is to embed all kinds of computing, communication, storage, and sensing resources into common objects around you,” Ye explained, sharing examples such as lights, desks, appliances, and other everyday physical objects. “Once you embed such resources into it, you’ll be surrounded by objects you can interact with and control.”
Together with a team of graduate students, Ye aims to develop the hardware and software needed for smart environments to operate with flexible and fine grained access control. For pilot studies, he’ll be teaming up with the University police to develop “smart door lock access,” a system that decides not just who has what access, but also when and to what extent.
“Fan’s futuristic research in smart environments is an excellent example of how our faculty are conducting research that makes science fiction come to life,” said Fotis Sotiropoulos, Dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences. “I could not be more proud of Fan as he joins the long and ever-growing list of CAREER award winners in our College.”
His research also aims to develop scalable management techniques for administrators and Information Technology personnel, so that they may easily view the status and make changes when every building on campus is embedded with hundreds or even thousands of smart objects. He says his background working at IBM Watson Research Center provided a unique angle to research and develop the future of smart environments.
“I truly believe that 20 years from now we’ll have the technology to control and interact with all these ‘smart’ objects around us, and they will produce not only data but also novel services and functions to make our lives very convenient,” Ye said.
Prior to winning the CAREER award, Ye published over 70 peer reviewed papers and filed 21 U.S. and international patents. He says he finds the research gratifying, to have the opportunity to make a positive impact on people’s lives.
Ye said, “I feel so fortunate and very grateful for the support and help I have received from my colleagues, my department, and the University as a whole.”