CECS Seminar Series

In support of CECS’ teaching, research, and service mission, the College continues our Seminar Series for 2017-18.  As a further  outreach commitment to students, faculty, and the extended community, the Speaker Series is open to the public. The presentations in the Speaker Series provide opportunities for sharing both cutting-edge  information from noted researcher in various fields as well as experience and timely insights from community leaders. 

Fall 2017 Seminars:

Dr. David AkopianNovember 17th, SimCenter Auditorium*, 10 a.m.

Topic: "Indoor Positioning Advances Exploiting GPS and WLAN Infrastructures"

Dr. David Akopian, Professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering,  Department of the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), San Antonio, TX

Location-based services (LBS) gained popularity exploiting localization receivers operating according to requirements of U.S. Global Positioning System (GPS) and/or other Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS). Localization of mobile devices is nowadays mandated by U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC: E-911) for emergency services and similar mandates are available in other countries as well. Conventional GPS receivers perform well in open sky environments, typically outdoors, while their operation deteriorates or denied in urban canyon and indoor environments, is deteriorated or even denied due to strong signal attenuations and multipath degradations.

Enhanced GPS receiver techniques are proposed for more sensitivity in acquiring satellite signals in such weak-signal conditions. In particular, terrestrial communication channels may assist GPS units in mobile devices by providing GPS navigation data and other information from unobstructed GPS receivers. Receivers are then relieved from the task of demodulating all navigation data from attenuated satellite signals. This concept is referred to as Assisted GPS (A-GPS) and is being supported by many cellular modern communication standards.

While A-GPS enhances operation of GPS receivers, most of the indoor areas are not covered by GPS operation due to signal blockages. An alternative approach exploits WLAN signals for accurate indoor positioning. WLAN signals are nor designed for localization, but their propagation features are peculiar to the receiver locations and signal propagation paths, which is exploited for indoor positioning. 

There are many challenges in both A-GPS and WLAN indoor localization, and an intensive research is underway to bring positioning indoors, so one day it will become a commonly deployed technology similar to outdoor navigation.

The presentation reviews principles of A-GPS and WLAN-based positioning methods, their potential performances and challenges, and related industry trends.

*UTC SimCenter, Auditorium, 701 E. M.L. King Blvd., Chattanooga TN, 37403,  (423) 425-5497

Dr. Richard BrooksDecember 1st, UTC SimCenter Auditorium*, 10 a.m.

Topic: "Crypto-currency Status and Future Perspectives"

Dr. Richard Brooks, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Clemson University

With the advent of e-commerce, the development of a virtual on-line currency became inevitable. This speech discusses the current status of crypto-currency systems, their social impact, how their data-structures can be applied to securing other applications, their perceived/actual privacy, and probable evolution.

First we will discuss the precursors of current crypto-currencies and their perceived limitations. This includes credit cards, e-gold, PayPal, and on-line gaming economies (including gold farming). We then describe the innovations that enabled Bitcoin. Special care will be taken to explain the block-chain data-structure and mining; together with how they enable the creation of a stable on-line currency.
We will then discuss the societal impact of Bitcoin. This will include an explanation of some of the most important alt-coin currencies: Ethereum, Monero, zcoin, and Dash. This will include a description of the use of crypto-currencies in the shadow economy. An important aspect of this discussion is the perceived privacy of crypto-currency transactions and how privacy is maintained. We then consider whether or not the approaches currently being used really provide privacy.
The speech ends with a brief conversation considering current trends and the most likely trajectory for crypto-currency technologies.

Dr. Brooks has in the past been PI on research programs funded by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, National Institute of Standards, Army Research Office, Office of Naval Research and BMW Corporation. These research projects include coordination of combat missions among autonomous combat vehicles (ARO), situation and threat assessment for combat command and control (ONR), detection of protocol tunneling through encrypted channels (AFOSR), security of intellignet building technologies (NIST), experimental analysis of Denial of Service vulnerabilities (NSF), mobile code security (ONR), and security analysis of cellular networks used for vehicle remote diagnostics (BMW).

Dr. Brooks’ current research interests include game theory, strategic reasoning, and information assurance. He was PI of the Mobile Ubiquitous Security Environment (MUSE) Project sponsored by ONR as a Critical Infrastructure Protection University Research Initiative (CIP/URI). It concentrated on creating distributed countermeasures to overcome large-scale network attacks like distributed denial of service and worms. Dr. Brooks was co-PI of a NIST project defining the security standards and protection profiles for the ISO BACNET networked building control systems standard. Dr. Brooks was co-PI of a DARPA ISO program coordinating air campaign command and control and PI of the Reactive Sensor Networks (RSN) Project sponsored by DARPA IXO. RSN explored collaborative signal processing to aggregate information moving through the network, and the use of mobile code for coordination among intelligent sensor nodes. He has received DURIP awards from ONR and ARO that support the study of networked systems interacting with the real world. Current projects include authentication and authorization of exa-scale computing systems and establishing Internet freedom in West Africa. His Ph. D. dissertation received an exemplary achievement certificate from the Louisiana State University graduate school. He has a B.A. from The Johns Hopkins University in Mathematical Sciences.

Dr. Brook’s research concentrates on information assurance, battlespace coordination, behavior pattern extraction/detection and game theory. His battlespace coordination work has been funded by DARPA (distributed coordination of air combat campaigns), ARO (game theoretic coordination of combat missions for teams of autonomous combat vehicles) and ONR (maritime domain awareness). Results from the ONR work is being used by the Fleet and NATO for learning, tracking, and predicting shipping patterns.

His network security research projects have included funding from NSF (analyzing wired and wireless denial of service vulnerabilities), DoE (authentication and authorization of exa-scale storage systems), BMW Corporation (controlling dissemination of intellectual property), and the US State Department (creating anonymous communications tools for civil society groups). It frequently looks at attacks that disable security measures by working at a different level of the protocol
stack. His Internet freedom work involves interactions with at risk populations working for freedom of expression.

*UTC SimCenter, Auditorium, 701 E. M.L. King Blvd., Chattanooga TN, 37403,  (423) 425-5497

Previous Seminars (2017-18)

John McNeelyOctober 30th, 5:30 p.m., Card Auditorium, EMCS 201*

Topic: "From Classroom to Corporation: Adventures of a Tech CEO"

John P. McNeelyPresident/CEO, Principal & Co-Founder of Sword & Shield Enterprise Security, Inc., and Principal & Co-Founder – Affenix, LLC

John McNeely is President/CEO, Principal & Co-Founder of Sword & Shield Enterprise Security, Inc. – a national provider of information security solutions. Launched in 1997 with a focus on network security in the regional area, Sword & Shield has become an established company in the fast growing cybersecurity market and is called on by a global clientele from companies in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. John is responsible for the vision, strategic direction, culture, and overall business growth of the company. As a principal of Sword & Shield, John has focused the company on delivering effective solutions to secure and manage information technology systems and data for both public and private sector organizations. John has assembled an impressive team of highly skilled and certified security professionals to innovate and deliver managed security solutions, risk & compliance assessments, security testing, incident response, digital forensics, e-discovery, and enterprise security consulting.

Nationally recognized for dynamic growth, Sword & Shield was named to the Inc. 500/5000 list of fast growth companies for eight years in a row from 2006-2013, as well as ranking on the CRN Solution Provider 500 list every year since 2007 for being one of the largest solution providers by revenue in North America. As an industry leader, Sword & Shield has received numerous business and industry awards, including the Knoxville Chamber of Commerce Pinnacle Award for Small Business Excellence in 2011, as well as recognized in the Cybersecurity 500 list each quarter by Cybersecurity Ventures as a global leading cybersecurity solutions services company. Sword & Shield is the only Tennessee-based company recognized in the Managed Security 100 category of the 2017 Managed Service Provider 500.

John is a native of Tennessee and places a high priority on giving back to his state and community. He is a passionate supporter of mentoring and advising the next generation of cyber security professionals through involvement with organizations such as the Career Magnet Academy, Pellissippi State Community College, the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga.   He is also heavily involved in the entrepreneurial community both locally and nationally.  As member of the global Entrepreneurs’ Organization, John has served on the local EO board for 6 years in multiple roles including President of the chapter. He serves as an advisor and mentor to young startup companies through the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center (KEC) and CodeWorks Accelerator program.  John is also a member of the Angel Capital Group – an organization helping to connect startup business ventures with needed capital.

John has over 25 years of experience in the technology industry and holds the CISSP industry certification. With his vast industry experience, he saw a growing need for cyber liability and data breach insurance programs designed to cover the modern risks of doing business in a digital age.  In 2013, John launched an insurance agency, Affenix, LLC, to address this need of protecting data, reputations and the bottom line through cyber liability insurance. 

John is a graduate of Leadership Knoxville, class of 2014, and currently serves as a member of the University of Tennessee EE/CS Industry Advisory Board. John holds an MS in Computer Science from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and a BS in Computer Science from the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga where he graduated Cum Laude and was a scholarship athlete on the cross-country and track teams.

*UTC Engineering, Math, Computer Science Building, Room 201, 735 Vine St., Chattanooga TN, 37403,  (423) 425-2256


Dr. Ryan BrewerOctober 2nd, 5:30 p.m., Card Auditorium, EMCS 201*

Topic: "For Engineers, Does Career Advancement come from Hard Skills or Soft Skills?"

Dr. Ryan M. Brewer, Associate Professor of Finance, Indiana University

In today’s world, employers demand and value critical thinking, problem solving, and computer capabilities among graduates of technical disciplines. Does this mean focusing on engineering skills development at the expense of social development is the right idea? What skills will get you noticed?, promoted?, or prevent you from being let go during downturns in the business cycle? While mastery of engineering skills is critical to performing well as an engineer or applied scientist, the “soft skills” are those that will get you noticed, retained, and even promoted when they are mastered. Dr. Brewer presents the case for emotional intelligence and other salient soft skills: what are they? Why are they important? How do soft skills relate to career success? And how does one improve their emotional intelligence?

Dr. Ryan M. Brewer is an Associate Professor of Finance with Indiana University (IUPUI/IUPUC). Brewer has taught finance courses and conducted research at IUPUC since 2009. Brewer earned his Ph.D. from Indiana University Bloomington in 2011 on the topic of financial economics: intrinsic valuation. Prior to this experience, Brewer earned an M.B.A. in finance and statistics from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business in 2001, and he has accrued 15 years of professional valuation consulting experience. Originally trained as a mechanical engineer, Brewer has testified on several occasions as a valuation expert in the U.S. Federal and Indiana State court systems, where his undergraduate engineering program enabled him to understand technology, applied sciences, and commercial value arising from market innovations. Prior to entering professional school, Brewer worked in Detroit as a Risk Manager for a Fortune 50 (U.S.) Corporation, where he was responsible for worldwide development of policy compliance and audit programs.

Brewer’s areas of research inquiry include intellectual property valuation, sports property valuation, and economic forecasting. Brewer has been published in peer reviewed Academic journals on sixteen (16) occasions, while his work has been highlighted in the Wall Street Journal on ten (10) occasions. Brewer’s work in valuation has also been showcased in the Chicago Tribune, the Chronicles of Higher Education, CNN, MSNBC, ESPN, and a host of regional business periodicals across the United States.

Brewer has taught numerous finance and economics courses for Butler University, Indiana University-Bloomington, and Indiana University-Columbus (IUPUC). Brewer has developed and taught courses in Corporate Finance, Investments, Derivatives, and Financial Management, as well as International Finance, and Statistics. Brewer is the founding creator of the Innovation Management program at IU-Columbus, which combines academic requirements from business and engineering, as both skillsets are valued in the professional workforce.
Brewer has earned the Annual IU MBA–Columbus Outstanding MBA Faculty Award on four (4) occasions, in 2012, 2014, 2015, and 2016. Brewer earned the Division of Business Annual Research Award in 2016, and the Annual Division of Business Civic Engagement Award in 2015. Brewer has also been nominated for All-campus IUPUC awards in research, teaching and service.

*UTC Engineering, Math, Computer Science Building, Room 201, 735 Vine St., Chattanooga TN, 37403,  (423) 425-2256

Dr. Paul McConnaugheySeptember 22nd, UTC SimCenter Auditorium*, 11 a.m.

Topic: "The Future of Deep Space Human Exploration"

Dr. Paul McConnaughey, Associate Director, Technical, Office of the Center Director NASA Marshall Space Flight Center

Why explore deep space? And what technologies will it take to get there? Dr. Paul McConnaughey, Associate Director Technical, at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center will discuss the importance of engineering advanced technologies to journey to deep space – to cislunar, the Moon, Mars and beyond. From the evolvable heavy-lift capability of the Space Launch System to cutting edge lander propulsion technology, the journey to deep space will require innovation and the next generation STEM workforce to be successful.

Dr. Paul K. McConnaughey is the associate director, technical, in the Office of the Center Director at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. The Marshall Center is one of NASA’s largest field installations, with nearly 6,000 on- and near-site civil service and contractor employees and an annual budget of approximately $2.5 billion.

Named to the position in August 2015, McConnaughey is responsible for ensuring the performance of Marshall’s programs and technical activities, with respect to cost, schedule and mission success.

Originally from the Midwest, he earned his bachelor’s degree from Oregon State University in Corvallis, and his master’s degree and doctorate from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. After earning his doctorate, McConnaughey spent three years as a professor of soil physics and mathematics at Mississippi State University in Starkville.

He joined Marshall in 1986 as an engineer in the Systems Dynamics Laboratory, where he advanced quickly through supervisory positions, and in 1998 was named the chief of the Fluid Dynamics Division. In 1998, he was named NASA’s deputy manager for the Military Spaceplane Technology Office, where he worked on space vehicle technologies of joint interest to NASA and the U.S. Air Force.

McConnaughey held various leadership positions of increasing responsibility, and in 2007 was selected as Marshall’s chief engineer. He then served as the director of System Engineering and Integration and the chief engineer of the Exploration Systems Development Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington where he oversaw the integration of the Space Launch System, Orion spacecraft and Ground Support Development and Operations programs.

For his service to NASA he has received three NASA Exceptional Service Medals, a NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal, a Center Director’s Commendation and a Certificate of Appreciation. McConnaughey also received the Presidential Rank Award for Meritorious Executive in 2011, the second-highest award conferred by the president of the United States.

*UTC SimCenter, Auditorium, 701 E. M.L. King Blvd., Chattanooga TN, 37403,  (423) 425-5497

For more information, please contact Dr. Li Yang, Assistant Dean, College of Engineering and Computer Science at Li-Yang@utc.edu.