FY2022 surge in external funding reflects SECS’ aim to raise research profile | Jobs Vox


Loe Chamara, dean of the Oakland University School of Engineering and Computer Science, has an established record for setting and then achieving goals to increase enrollment numbers, graduation rates and outreach efforts in engineering and computer science. More recently, he has set his sights on increasing research funding and productivity at SECS. Thanks to that strategic planning and persistence, SECS has embraced its goal, and the future looks bright thanks to the continued expansion of sponsored program research and innovation.

SECS Research Expo

SECS faculty members showcased their research at the school’s 2022 Research Expo.

For FY2022, SECS achieved a fourfold increase in federal grant funding, in large part through collaboration with industry and government, senior-level recruiting, research-active faculty and the successful pursuit of large, highly competitive awards. SECS received $9.6 million in federal grant funding in FY2022, up from $2.3 million last year. More than $6 million was research-focused, the result of a concerted effort to compete for large grants from top funding agencies such as the National Science Foundation.

Targeted efforts to raise the research profile of SECS over the years have resulted in a boom in resources. Dean Chamara began by establishing specialized resources at SECS, creating the director of research for the school, and establishing the SECS Industrial Advisory Board to help target large-scale research activities. SECS Director of Research Dr. Daniel Aloi has helped drive the school toward recruiting faculty with a competitive research agenda, increasing support for grant development, deepening engagement with the Office of Research, and active networking with industry. This leadership approach has led SECS faculty to plan large projects with colleagues outside the OU and to networking beyond traditional disciplinary boundaries. “Over the past few years, we have been committed to increasing our research activities,” said Dr. Eloi. “We have more faculty participating in the grant proposal process, and we have built a foundation for success well above where we have traditionally been.”

Several faculty received grant funding for projects in excess of $1 million for research in collaboration with government and industry. They include Dr. Geoffrey Louie in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, who received a $1.5 million defense grant to help the US military use virtual and augmented reality to develop inexpensive prototypes of ground vehicles.

Dr. Marouane Kesentini, the new professor and chair in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, brings five federal grants from his previous position at UM-Dearborn. Since arriving at OU, he has added several more for a total of over $4 million. Dr. Kesentini was the recipient of two prestigious Oakland University Awards, 2022 Researcher of the Year and 2022 Most Research Productive. His external grants include a $1 million award to establish a cyber security center for small and medium-sized makers and another large NSF grant to build an intelligent software repair framework at scale. This grant, sponsored by the US Department of Energy, also includes SECS professors Khalid Malik and Ali Malik (co-principal investigators) and is in partnership with Automation Alley, an Oakland County-based manufacturing and technology trade association. The other large NSF grant is led by OU, with SECS Assistant Professor Mehdi Bagherzadeh as co-principal investigator, and includes five R1 universities.

“As a metropolitan university, one of our advantages is that we are surrounded by many OEMs and companies. We try to meet the needs of the region,” said Dr. Aloi. “Automotive is the biggest, but we also have health care, energy and military sectors. We partner with them and also produce graduates who go into the workforce in those sectors.” Foremost, according to Dr. Aloi, is the strategic planning process that is integral to developing those industry/university networks and expanding opportunities for research productivity.

Some of the largest projects recently initiated at SECS are the Industry University Cooperative Research Centers, created through NSF grant funding. Dr. Syed Nassar, Distinguished University Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, received a $700,000 grant to support the establishment of the OU site of the Center for Composite and Hybrid Materials Interfacing (CHMI), which will spend his career leading research projects Continuing the long trend. The center focuses on materials-joining science and technology, which has wide-ranging applications in the aerospace, automotive, national security, biomedical, energy and personal protective gear sectors.

NSF IUCRC Center on the Pervasive AI Phenomena

OU researchers and industry partners come together in April 2022 for a comprehensive NSF IUCRC Center on Personalized Intelligence workshop at OU.

Dr. Kesentini directs the newly established OU site of the NSF-supported Center on Pervasive Personalized Intelligence. The new, state-of-the-art research center supports the development of artificial intelligence applications that anticipate users’ needs while saving time, energy and money. “These research centers create a collaborative environment in which people from different specialties can work together to tackle larger, more complex problems in society,” said Dr. Kesentini. “Working closely with industry not only provides insight into how to identify and solve these problems, but it also better positions us to compete for large, highly sought-after prizes.”

Although research accounts for most SECS grant funding, awards were also received in the areas of education, public service, student services, and scholarship. Dr. Huirong Fu in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering received two awards totaling more than $3 million to support nationally recognized cyber security training programs: the Cyber ​​Defense Scholarship for Service Program and the GenCyber ​​Educator Program.

Dr. Aloi said, “Academic initiatives are extremely important because teaching and research go hand in hand.” “We gain a lot of knowledge and expertise from working on our research and bring those cutting-edge ideas into the classroom. We also directly involve students in our research, so that they get hands-on experience that develops their skills and helps them in the classroom. strengthen the learning process.

Learn more about OU’s School of Engineering and Computer Science at


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