New Semester Starts in A Virtual World

Fall 2020 will be for sure an unforgettable semester. SiDi has been primarily operated virtually since March. Without doubt, SiDi kicked off the new semester with a virtual lab meeting and it was a nice moment to capture. We welcomed the new PhD student Sumaiya Sultana Tanu, who recently graduated to the University of Denver with double MS degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Information and Communication Technology. It is always exciting to see new SiDi members at the beginning of a semester! Sumaiya will be working on a research project focusing on Design for Market Systems with Fairness. This project is under a recently NSF-funded EPSCoR initiative on Data Analytics that are Robust and Trusted (DART): From Smart Curation to Socially Aware Decision Making. We very much look forward to collaborating with our collaborators in Computer Engineering and Marketing Science to conduct this interdisciplinary research project which can potentially generate broad and high impacts to the diverse society we are living in today.

SiDi will Participate in the NSF’s Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR)

University of Arkansas News: “A $20 million grant to the Arkansas Economic Development Commission’s Division of Science and Technology, in partnership with the University of Arkansas and eight other colleges and universities, will build a high-performance computing network for data analytics and bring together scientists and engineers from across the state to focus on data analytics. The five-year grant, from the National Science Foundation’s Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR), will be matched by $4 million from the state. With it, researchers will establish a program titled “Data Analytics That Are Robust and Trusted,” or DART. ”

SiDi had the opportunity to participate in and contribute to the proposal development. More than 30 scientists from the U of A will focus on three major areas of data science: 1) managing data sets that are too big or complex for traditional hardware and software, 2) insuring security and privacy of that data, and 3) developing machine learning and artificial intelligence models that better inform decisions and give insight into the underlying process. In this program, we will work with other research scientists to focus on one project that aims at developing new approaches to the design of market systems with a particular emphasis on the design of marketing strategies with fairness. See the full media coverage HERE.

SiDi Uses 3D Printer to Produce Protective Masks for Rehab Clinic

We recently joined a design team led by engineering professors Raj Rao, Wenchao Zhou and Zhenghui Sha at the University of Arkansas to use 3D printers to produce protective masks in response to the COVID-19 crisis. The team printed and delivered 50 protective masks to be used by a Northwest Arkansas rehabilitation clinic. The Ph.D. student Laxmi Poudel from SiDi Lab participated in this initiative and helped print about 35 masks. Prof. Zhou has produced two short videos, one showing how the masks are made and another showing clinicians how to assemble the masks. See the full story covered by UARK NEWS.


SiDi Receives Grant from the National Science Foundation to Conduct Collaborative Research

The University of Arkansas, Northwestern University and Ford Motor Company will form a joint force to conduct collaborative research on customer preferences modeling in product design and development. The objective is to investigate what product customers consider and what they eventually purchase using a hierarchical, multidimensional network-based design approach. Motivated by the need to model socio-technical interactions in engineering design, this research combines design theory with network science to explore three interrelated topics: 1) two-stage multidimensional network models for customer preference modeling that consider product associations and social influence; 2) dynamic network models for predicting the impact of multi-competitor strategic decisions, and 3) knowledge transfer to demonstrate generalizability and creation of shared data resources to benefit research community. See the NSF website for more details about this project.

Collaborative Work Published by Journal of Mechanical Design

Our paper titled “Data-Driven Dynamic Network Modeling for Analyzing the Evolution of Product Competitions”, is recently accepted by the Journal of Mechanical Design, Transactions of the ASME. In this paper, we proposed a dynamic network-based approach to modeling the evolution of product competitions using multi-year buyer survey data based on Separate Temporal Exponential Random Graph Model. Our approach provides a pathway to gain insights into why a product maintains or loses its competitiveness over time. This study was performed in collaboration with Dr. Jian Xie from Beijing Institute of Technology and Dr. Wei Chen’s research group from Northwestern University. Congratulations.

SiDi Lab Organized “Solarized UARK Campus” Design Contest

In Fall 2109, SiDi Lab successfully organized the first design contest at the University of Arkansas campus on the topic of solar energy systems design. The motivation of this design contest is to prepare next-generation engineers to be skillful system designers and system thinkers. The contest relies on a computer-aided design (CAD) based framework to cultivate knowledge in the field of solar energy and the capability of synthesizing knowledge from different disciplines. This year, the participants were asked to engage in an authentic solar energy systems design for an on-campus architecture – Pomfret Hall on Stadium Drive. See more detail about this design contest here.

There were a total of 42 participants including undergrad students, graduate students and staff members. 35 participants successfully submitted their design solutions before the deadline. The top three winners were awarded during the awarding ceremony and two participants were recognized with special awards due to their significant time commitment in the design contest. This design contest sets forth a workable mechanism on how engineering education and design research can be synergistically integrated. SiDi Lab is looking forward to scale up the context in 2020 by collaborating industry partners, particularly local electric utility companies, such as Ozarks Electric Cooperative and Southwest Electric Cooperative.

$2.2M NSF Grant Received to Facilitate the Future of Design at Human-Technology Frontier

In this project, the University of Arkansas, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Oregon State University, and the Concord Consortium will collaborate to define, implement, and disseminate generative design tools and projects for use in undergraduate courses. Research questions from three perspectives will drive the project: 1) Theoretical perspective: What are the essential elements of generative design thinking that students must acquire so they can work effectively at the human-technology frontier in engineering? 2) Practical perspective: To what extent and in what ways can the curriculum and materials support the learning of generative design as indicated by students’ gains in generative design thinking? and 3) Affective perspective: To what extent and in what ways can artificial intelligence affect the professional formation of engineers as indicated by the changes of students’ interest and self-efficacy in engineering? This project represents a novel application of artificial intelligence to engineering that could augment the creativity and productivity of the engineering workforce of the future. See the NSF website for more details about this project.