Engineering and Computing Annual Report 2014


Jessica Ramella-Roman Ph.D.JESSICA RAMELLA-ROMAN

Jessica C. Ramella-Roman received a degree in electrical engineering (Laurea) from the University of Pavia in Italy in 1993 and worked for five years in the semiconductor industry. She returned to academia in 1999 to pursue a Ph.D. degree in bio-optics with Steve Jacques, Ph.D., at the Oregon Medical Laser Center in Portland, Oregon. She received her master’s and Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Oregon Health Science University in Portland, Oregon in 2004.

She was a post-doctoral fellow at the Applied Physics Laboratory of The Johns Hopkins University from 2004 to 2005 where she developed models of light scattering from rough surfaces. She was then recruited by The Catholic University of America where she became an assistant professor in 2005 and an associate professor in 2010. She is a senior research scientist at the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Washington D.C., and an adjunct professor in the School of Medicine at The Johns Hopkins University. In 2013, she joined Florida International University where she is an associate professor with tenure in the Biomedical Engineering Department and an associate professor on the research scientist track in the Department of Cellular Biology and in the Department of Ophthalmology. Her current research interests include the use of spectroscopic methodologies for retinal oximetry and flow for the detection of early signs of eye disease. She is also pursuing research on skin damage and recovery including skin burns, pressure wounds, and damage associated to spinal cord injury.


Alexander Perez-Pons joined Florida International University’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in 2013. Recognized for his teaching, use of technology in the classroom and research, Pons brings over 15 years of experience in academia to FIU. He has published numerous transaction articles in multiple journals on subjects including real-time system, security, biometrics and semantic link associations. As a consultant, he has worked in the private, public and government sectors and advised in areas such as business intelligence, mobile technologies and network security. His concentration on cybersecurity and real-time embedded systems make him an invaluable member of the department. Since joining FIU, Pons has taught courses onsite and online and is actively engaged with students to ensure they become cybersecurity experts through research, professionally prepared and certified. Pons holds a Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Miami and has been a senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) since 2005 and conducts research in the areas of real-time embedded systems, biometrics and cybersecurity, with a focus on wearable sensor security, software-defined networks, mobile malware and reverse engineering, and digital forensics.


Karen Schmahl is a professor of practice in the engineering management program. She holds a Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering from the University of Cincinnati. Her bachelor’s and master’s degrees, also in industrial engineering, are from Texas A&M University. Schmahl brings over twenty years of industry experience to the classroom. Her primary areas of expertise are in quality engineering and management. She holds certifications as a Six Sigma Black Belt and as an ISO 9001 and AS9100 quality systems assessor. Schmahl was awarded an Outstanding Teaching Award by the American Society for Engineering Education while on the faculty at Miami University. She has published numerous papers and given presentations at both technical conferences and engineering education conferences


Zhe Cheng is currently an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering in Florida International University. Before that, he worked in the area of advanced metallization materials for silicon solar cells at the Central Research & Development Department of E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company (DuPont) in Wilmington, Delaware. Cheng’s expertise is in the design, synthesis, processing, and characterizations of advanced functional ceramic and ceramic-metal hybrid materials for solid-state energy conversion and application under extreme conditions. During his Ph.D. study, he revealed the fundamental behaviors and underlying mechanism for sulfur poisoning of solid oxide fuel cells using a combination of advanced experimental and theoretical tools. In addition, he developed multiple sulfur-tolerant anode materials, which eventually led to the discovery of a new class of SOFC materials combining high electrochemical performance with significantly improved sulfur and coking tolerance. Cheng’s current research focuses on advanced ceramic electrode and electrolyte materials for solid-state electrochemical energy conversion including solid oxide fuel cells, advanced ceramic materials and processing for electronic applications including photovoltaics (solar cells), nano high temperature and ultra high temperature ceramics, and continued development of advanced high-temperature in situ characterizations tools for materials research.


Yu (Michael) Zhong joined the Mechanical And Materials Engineering Department as an assistant professor in August 2013. After obtaining his M.S. degree from Sichuan University in China in 2000, he went to Pennsylvania State University at University Park in Pennsylvania and obtained his Ph.D. degree in Materials Science and Engineering in 2005. After working as research associate, Zhong joined Saint-Gobain (a fortune 200 company) and worked as a senior internal technical consultant at NWRDC at Northborough, Massachusetts for eight years. He was in charge of all the research in North America related to the application of thermodynamics and kinetics to various ceramics projects. His current research focuses on the integrated materials and process design, which is to combine the efforts of theoretical understanding and experimental verification to accelerate the development of new materials. Zhong has authored more than 18 peer reviewed journal papers. During his time with Saint-Gobain, he authored more than 30 internal technical reports, 16 invention disclosures, and 2 patents. He has been the reviewer for more than 10 international journals. He nominated for the Ilya Prigogine Prize of Thermodynamics and also serves as the committee member for ASM Alloy Phase diagram.

wei-yu-baoWEI -YU BAO

Wei-Yu Bao received his Ph.D. degree in Mechanical Engineering from Florida International University, and M.S. and B.S. degrees in Power Machinery Engineering from Shanghai Jiao Tong University. He has been teaching at FIU since 2001 and served as a department laboratory manager at FIU for 10 years. He is currently an instructor in the Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering at FIU.



Ali Mostafavi is an assistant professor in the OHL School of Construction and supervises the Infrastructure System-of-Systems (I-SoS) Research group at FIU. He joined the faculty at FIU in August 2013 after completing his Ph.D. studies in civil engineering at Purdue University in early August 2013. He also holds a Master of Science in Industrial Administration (one-year accelerated MBA) degree from the Krannert School of Management at Purdue University. He conducts interdisciplinary research to address the challenges at the interface between the civil infrastructure systems, environment, economy, and policy. His research interests include sustainability and resilience in civil infrastructure systems, integrated performance assessment in complex construction projects, and simulation and computational modeling for analysis of complex systems-of-systems.
Mostafavi has received many awards and honors for outstanding research, teaching, and service. Key awards include the 2012 Civil Engineering Outstanding Graduate Student Award (Purdue University,) the Excellence in Teaching Award (Purdue University), the Grand Prize Scholarship as well as the People’s Choice Award in the USDOT Data Visualization Challenge, the Construction Management Association of America (CMAA) Chicago Chapter Scholarship, and the third place poster award in the ASCE Construction Research Congress (CRC) 2012. He is the author of more than 35 journal and conference publications, and his research has been presented at more than 25 national and international conferences related to construction. He has recently been selected, along with Dr. Jaselskis of NC State University, as the PI to conduct a research project (RT #322) for the Construction Industry Institute.


Leonardo Bobadilla is currently an assistant professor in the School of Computing and Information Sciences at Florida International University. In his research, he is interested in understanding the information requirements for solving fundamental robotics tasks such as navigation, patrolling, tracking, and motion safety. Bobadilla’s research proposes techniques for tackling robotic tasks that depart from traditional approaches by avoiding system identification, geometric map building or excessive state estimation. In his most recent collaborative work, Bobadilla and his colleagues are studying algorithms and technologies to detect dangerous configurations in construction projects in the planning stage and proactively monitor activities in the construction phase. Bobadilla obtained a B.E. in Computer Engineering in 2005 and an M.Sc. in Statistics in 2008 both from the National University of Colombia. He then received his Ph.D. from the Department of Computer Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) working under Professor Steven M. LaValle in 2013. He has received several awards including an Illinois Student Undergraduate Research (ISUR) Graduate Mentor Award 2012-2013 and the Top 10 Computer Engineering in Colombia (ECAES) Award.


Michael Robinson earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Computer Science at Florida International University in August 2005 and April 2007, respectively. His is currently a Ph.D. candidate also at the FIU School of Computing and Information Sciences (SCIS). He teaches computer science and IT to undergraduate students. During the summer of 2014, Michael created the new Experimental Hardware Lab where he attracted students from it, computer science, mechanical engineering and physics. He is also very active in helping students find internships in many areas of private industry, government, Ph.D. research, and with other departments at FIU. Michael is an FIU Liaison to the Dade and Broward Counties public, charter and private high school’s dual enrollment program. He has also served as a judge for FIU SCIS senior projects and U.S. Congress STEAM competitions HouseAppChallenge.


Patricia McDermott-Wells is an instructor in the School of Computing and Information Science. She has over 35 years of experience in the computer industry, working for Burroughs Corp. (now Unisys Corp) as a top international technical support specialist on a “fly & fix” team, and as an independent consultant on mainframe system software and microcomputer application development. She has developed and marketed software to the U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps JROTC programs. She has developed and delivered training to the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), the U.S. Coast Guard, City of Miami (FL), City of Jacksonville (FL), and City of Tallahassee (FL), as well as numerous banks and insurance companies in Latin America and the Caribbean. She holds numerous Microsoft certifications and has been an instructor in IT, CS and Math at FIU since 2000.
• B.A. Mathematics, University of Miami, 1977
• M.S. Management Science/Operations Research, University of Miami, 1979
• Ph.D. Computer Information Systems (in progress – ABD) Nova Southeastern University


Abraham Kandel received a B.Sc. from Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, and an M.S. from the University of California, both in electrical engineering, and a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from University of New Mexico. Kandel, a distinguished university research emeritus professor and endowed eminent scholar in computer science and engineering at the University of South Florida (Chairman 1991-2003), is the executive director of the National Institute for Applied Computational Intelligence, founding chairman of the Computer Science Department at Florida State University (1978-1991), director of the Institute of Expert Systems and Robotics, and director of the State University System Center for Artificial Intelligence at FSU. He is editor of the Fuzzy Track-IEEE MICRO; area editor on Fuzzy Hardware for “Fuzzy Sets and Systems”, associate editor of “IEEE Transactions on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics”, “Control Engineering Practice”, and “International Journal of Pattern Recognition and Artificial Intelligence” (IJPRAI). Kandel has published over 500 research papers and is author, co-author, editor or co-editor of 46 text books and research monographs in the field. He is a fellow of: ACM, IEEE, New York Academy of Sciences, AAAS, IFSA, and a member of NAFIPS, IAPR, ASEE, and Sigma-Xi.

Kandel was awarded the College of Engineering Outstanding Research Award, USF (1993-94); Sigma-Xi Outstanding Faculty Researcher Award (1995); Theodore and Venette-Askounes Ashford Distinguished Scholar Award, USF (1995); MOISIL International Foundation Gold Medal for Lifetime Achievements (1996); Distinguished Researcher Award, USF (1997); Professional Excellence Program Award, USF (1997); Medalist of the Year, Florida Academy of Sciences (1999); Honorary Scientific Advisor, Romanian Academy of Sciences (2000); President’s Award for Faculty Excellence, USF, (2002); Fulbright Senior Research Fellow Award at Tel-Aviv University, (2003-2004); and Fulbright Senior Specialist, 2005