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ALERT presents the first installment of ALERT 101: Airport Screening Technologies December 1, 2012

We invite you to watch the first episode of ALERT 101 which focuses on the applications of Millimeter Wave Scanning and Backscatter X-ray in Airport Security Screening.

 

For users without YouTube access: ALERT 101: Airport Screening Tecnologies
 

Inspired by the success of TED (www.ted.com) and other educational media forums, ALERT has developed the ALERT 101 video series. Each video short will feature different technologies and research areas that the ALERT Center engages in. We hope that these productions help educate and inform the global community on these topics in an accessible and enjoyable way.

ALERT welcomes United States Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano November 19, 2012

Awareness and Localization of Explosives-Related Threats was pleased to host U.S. Sec­re­tary of Home­land Secu­rity, Janet Napoli­tano on Monday, November 12th following her keynote address at Northeastern University’s Veteran’s Day Ceremony.

To kick off the visit, ALERT’s Director, Professor Michael B. Silevitch, provided Secretary Napolitano with an overview of the ALERT Center of Excellence. Prof. Silevitch then introduced undergraduate and graduate students involved with ALERT research and gave a summary of the demonstrations in video analytics and advanced imaging technologies that were prepared for her briefing.  Michael described Napolitano’s visit as a significant opportunity for ALERT and its homeland security research, saying,

“It was very important to get validation from Secretary Napolitano about the relevance of our research and its transition to the field in the areas of video tracking of threats and passenger screening. This acknowledgement inspires us.”

Professor Octavia Camps led the first demonstration featuring ALERT’s Engage to Excel (E2E) Video Analytic Surveillance Transition project, VAST. VAST is a program developed in partnership with Siemens and the Cleveland Transportation Security Administration. The live demonstration exhibited the video analytic counter-flow program developed by Dr. Camps and her team and its ability to automatically detect when a person is proceeding the wrong way in an identified traffic pattern (for example, trying to enter through an exit). The resulting detections enable quick identification of an incident and minimize the impact on TSA resources.  This project is currently installed within the Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.

Following the video analytics demonstration, Professor Carey Rappaport showed Secretary Napolitano the capabilities of the ALERT Advanced Imaging Technologies (AIT) laboratory.  This laboratory fuses together various scanning tools to create next-generation security scanning systems. Professor Rappaport, Assistant Professor Jose Martinez and graduate student Spiros Mantzavinos demonstrated the operation and data acquisition capabilities of ALERT’s advanced portal-based millimeter-wave imaging radar.  During the demo, the system scanned a mannequin wrapped in a skin simulant with various representative objects attached for detection. These types of AIT systems can be used to detect illicit items that passengers may be attempting to carry on their person.

“As a DHS-supported researcher, I found Secretary Napolitano’s visit very satisfying,” Prof. Rappaport commented.  “She was of course quite knowledgeable about the science and technology we are pursuing, but she seemed keenly interested in how we were improving the state of the art. She was completely supportive and she motivated the students with her passion to keeping Americans safe.”

Spiros Mantzavinos, currently a Northeastern University Doctoral Candidate in Electrical and Computer Engineering  and Gordon Engineering Leadership Fellow, had the opportunity to meet Secretary Napolitano.  Mantzavinos said, “It was an honor to host Secretary Napolitano for a visit to our ALERT whole-body imaging lab. Receiving attention and recognition from such a prominent figure in the national security arena assures the relevance of the advances we are making.”

Transition Task at CLE: The Student Perspective November 6, 2012

The ALERT project VAST (Video Analytic Surveillance Transition) is an effort that addresses the needs of the TSA to monitor and mitigate threats by individuals to airport security. ALERT and the TSA Ohio Senior Federal Security Director put together a team of researchers from three COE partner universities (NEU, BU and RPI) and TSA practitioners to develop and transition solutions to “in-the-exit” and “tag and track” issues at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport (CLE). The VAST team also has an industrial partner, Siemens Corporate Research, to guide the technology transition into markets, and to lead the design and development of a testbed at CLE.

In an effort to educate the next generation of researchers, the COE partner universities have also brought on students to the teams. Tom Hebble, a student participating from Northeastern University explains, “We travel to Cleveland every week in order to install the software and collect results. Currently there are three universities working on this, and every week someone from one of the three is in Cleveland. Their job is to install the latest revision of their code, as well as collect the results from the previous week’s test, so every few weeks we’re getting a new revision out there and a few weeks of data to look at and analyze.” As stated by Post-doctoral researcher Mohamed Elgharib of Boston University, “Even though I’ve been in research for almost 4 years, ALERT was the first industry-like experience that I’ve been through. I’ve learned how to create a product that satisfies a wider community of end-users, rather than just satisfying a narrow community.” Ziyan Wu of Renssellaer Polytechnic Institute explains, “before this project, I wrote my code just to implement specific functions and make things work. This is the first time I’ve needed to seriously think about user experience, that is, I need to make my software user friendly and easy to understand. This software will be used for security surveillance, so I really need to ensure its reliability and robustness”.

Here, students realize that they are not just trying to solve a problem, they need to completely conquer it. That is to say that the algorithm developed needs to be applicable to every circumstance without exception or limitation. According to Binlong Li of Northeastern University, “it’s precious industry experience that is a big plus for newly graduated students. We are able to understand how a real project works and is developed in the industrial world. We get a good sense of how to transfer research techniques into real applications”. As Wu continues, “I understand that all research should originate from reality. It has to be rooted in the reality, serve the reality, and then enhance the reality”.

As Hebble closes, “it’s an experience of going through the design cycle of coming up with a new revision, looking at the results, making corrections, and seeing that cycle of looking at the results to find problems and coming up with new ways to solve them. This is a good experience from that standpoint, to get real hands-on design experience as well as the experience with the code.”

Undergraduates Present Summer Discoveries August 16, 2012

Twenty-One under­grad­uate stu­dents from eight col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties throughout the country pre­sented a host of inno­v­a­tive research projects over the course of a week at various locations including North­eastern University. The student presentations were the culmination of the work they performed through participation in the 2012 Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program.

The REU program, supported by both ALERT and Gordon-CenSSIS, places undergraduate students in research labs for the summer semester to work on center related research in a testbed environment.

View News@Northeastern’ s article on the REU Program and event:

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2012 Post Doctoral Research Associate Position August 7, 2012

Location:  Gordon-CenSSIS Optical Sciences Laboratory, Northeastern University

The Gordon-CenSSIS Optical Sciences Laboratory in the College of Engineering at Northeastern University, is looking for a Post Doctoral Research Associate to perform basic research, maintain the laboratory, and assist the supervisor in the interpretation and publication of results and grants.

Candidate must have a Ph.D. or equivalent, experience in Matlab, electronic test equipment, optical breadboarding, safe operation and handling of laser diodes, among other things, and must be able to undertake substantially full-time research or scholarship, working under the supervision of a senior scholar.

This position ranges in pay between $36,848 – $60,733, with a midpoint of $48,791. Qualified applicants should send their resume to Anne Magrath at a.magrath@neu.edu.

For questions and more information, contact Emel Bulat at e.bulat@neu.edu.

Be one of the first to back FoRCE – a new product for Data Recovery July 6, 2012

Keith Bertolino, CEO and co-founder of Cipher Tech Solutions, and former Gordon Engineering Leadership student, is launching the prototype of FoRCE. Using an advanced method of digital forensics called “carving,” FoRCE would give even non-savvy computer users the ability to recover large amounts of deleted images, text, and other data files from Windows computers. In order to fund this project, Keith is leveraging Indiegogo to crowdfund his prototype. Get your own copy of FoRCE and help fund the project at Indiegogo!

Gordon-CenSSIS Student awarded judges choice award in IGERT video competition June 6, 2012

Margery Hines, Gordon-CenSSIS PhD candidate, has created an online video describing her mine detection research for submission in NSF IGERT.ORG’s 2012 Video & Poster Competition.

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Northeastern Students Capture 1st Place and $10,000 prize in 6th Annual National Security Innovation Competition May 7, 2012

Northeastern captured the top prize of $10,000 for their entry “Next Generation Millimeter-Wave Body Imaging for Concealed Threat Detection” in the 2012 National Security Innovation Competition (NSIC) held at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs (UCCS).

Northeastern’s team consisted of ALERT graduate students Galia Ghazi, Luis Tirado, Kathryn Williams, and Spiros Mantzavinos with Professors Carey Rappaport and José A. Martinez-Lorenzo advising the team. Their project beat 39 other schools nationwide for the top prize.

The competition was among ten finalist teams from schools across the country and Canada, including USMA West Point who brought home the second place prize of $5,000, and the University of Calgary and UCCS, who won 3rd and 4th place, respectively.

The competition was judged by a panel of seven judges from government and industry that included representatives from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Counter Terrorism Technical Support Office (CTTSO), Boeing Phantom Works, Paladin Capital Group, Popular Science Magazine, and Dorsey & Whitney LLP.

The purpose of the NSIC is to stimulate college student interest in addressing issues of national security by exposing their university-sponsored projects to a broad audience of industry, academic, and government organizations involved in aerospace, defense, security, and first responder activities.

Website for the NSIC competition

 

Students, Apply Today! April 18, 2012

DHS HS-STEM Career Development Program at Northeastern University – ALERT is seeking applications from academically talented graduate engineering students who are interested in pursuing rewarding careers in Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) and related security threat detection fields upon graduation.

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Research-Industrial Collaboration Conference October 13, 2010

This year’s RICC on October 13,2010 focused on Research to Reality – transitioning university research to the field. Student Research Posters are currently available for viewing on the RICC website and conference presentations will be posted shortly.

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