May 2017


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"Stephen G. Nash" <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 1 May 2017 22:30:46 +0000
"Stephen G. Nash" <[log in to unmask]>
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List of Announcements (details below):

  *   This Week at the Volgenau School
  *   VSE in the News
  *   Photo of the Week
  *   Upcoming Events at the Volgenau School
  *   Newsletter from Mason’s ITS
  *   Mechanical Engineering Capstone Day (Thu May 11)
  *   Funding Opportunity: Energy, Power, Control, and Networks  (NSF)
  *   Funding Opportunity:  Communications, Circuits, and Sensing-Systems  (NSF)
  *   Funding Opportunity: Dear Colleague Letter: Growing Convergence Research at NSF
  *   Funding Opportunity: Communications and Networking Discovery and Invention (ONR)
  *   Daniel Barbará Receives Funding from Decisive Analytics Corp. & Dept. of Defense


This Week at the Volgenau School

In the last year there has been a remarkable change in our School’s research funding.

There are various ways to report on research funding.  In my weekly news I regularly announce new awards, and this week is no exception.  When there is a major award, such as the recent $7.4M IARPA grant to the Learning Agents Center, there are news stories to let everyone know.

But if you focus only on award announcements, you can get a false sense of how we are doing. These announcements come once, when the award is made, but the research activity continues over a number of years.  Just looking at awards can make our funding look erratic. In an extreme case, we could get several major awards in one year, and go several years without any.  It might seem that we had one good year and several dreadful years, when in fact we were well funded throughout the entire period.  For this reason it makes more sense to pay attention to research expenditures, i.e., how much of the research funding is spent during a given period.

A few years ago the Volgenau School saw its annual research expenditures rising steadily, driven in part by federal investments in the aftermath of the great recession.  It looked as if our expenditures might soon top $20M a year.  But then came the federal budget sequester of 2013.  We saw many funded projects abruptly terminated, along with other funding opportunities that vanished.  Our research funding dropped, and we had several years where our annual expenditures were around $16M.

Now something different is happening.  Last summer we started to see steady increases in the research expenditures.  As of March, the total for the previous 12 months reached a record of  $20,259,460. This is a 17.7% increase in one year.  (The data were gathered by Terri Mancini, under the direction of Art Pyster.)

Why is this happening?  Some of it is because of new awards.  In the last 12 months, the funding from new awards totaled $24,992,612, which is also a record (a 57.3% increase in the past year).

But these awards are new.  It takes time for the university to receive the award, and it takes additional time for expenditures to occur.  So this doesn’t fully explain the increase in the research expenditures.

There have also been new hires, a net increase of 30 faculty members in Fall 2016, for example.   Extra faculty will generate extra funding.  But many of these are new assistant professors, and it will take time before they get proposals submitted and funded.  So there has to be more to the story.

Another factor is that our existing faculty have been more successful at getting research funding, and they are also (on average) going after larger grants.  The average award for the past year was $143,636; a year ago it was $103,822.  This is another part of the explanation.

Why do research expenditures matter?  One reason is that it enhances our reputation, with the potential to improve our rankings and make us more attractive to funding agencies, potential hires, and new students.  More directly it allows us to fund our research, support graduate students, hire post-doctoral fellows, and buy sophisticated laboratory equipment.  All of this allows us to focus our efforts on solving challenging problems that can make a difference in our community and in the nation.

The increased research funding is good news.  And it doesn’t look like we’ve heard the last of the good news in this area.  The newly-hired faculty will start to make a greater contribution to the research activity.  The large IARPA grant I mentioned will gain momentum.  And there are other potential large awards that may be the subject of news stories in the coming months.

Our research success is likely to be further enhanced by the university’s achieving R1 research status in the Carnegie classification, as well by the efforts of Deb Crawford (Mason’s VP of Research) and Art Pyster (Volgenau’s Associate Dean of Research), both of whom were hired in the past year.  Given the time it takes to write a proposal, submit it, get it reviewed, get an award, and start spending the funds, we are just beginning to see their impact.

Dare I risk saying that the future is bright?


VSE in the News

Here is a list of news stories about VSE that have been posted:

Beyond Mason

  *   BBC (The World): Mason students create prosthetic arm so 10-year-old can play violin.<http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p0514k6z> Also in the San Jose Mercury News<http://www.mercurynews.com/2017/04/25/a-10-year-old-virginia-girl-without-a-hand-wanted-to-play-violin-now-she-can/> (Calif.).
  *   ABC News: Mason students build prosthetic hand for 10-year-old violinist born without hand <http://abcnews.go.com/US/girl-born-left-hand-receives-3d-printed-prosthetic/story?id=46982181> .
  *   The Atlantic: Violin player’s prosthetic arm makes ‘photos of the week.’<https://www.theatlantic.com/photo/2017/04/photos-of-the-week-415421/523908/>
  *   Government Computer News: Building machine parts for intelligence analysts.<https://gcn.com/articles/2017/04/19/iarpa-intelligence-analysis-tools.aspx?m=2> Article about the IARPA’s Crowdsourcing Evidence, Argumentation, Thinking and Evaluation program, which mentions Mason’s research project.

On the Mason news site (https://www2.gmu.edu/news)

  *   Mason team, 10-year-old making beautiful music together.<https://www2.gmu.edu/news/395516> (with video)
  *   Student-developed diagnostics could change tuberculosis detection, treatment.<https://www2.gmu.edu/news/394681> Two TB detection systems developed by four bioengineering seniors at the  Center for Applied Proteomics and Molecular Medicine<http://capmm.gmu.edu/> have gained a following and netted research awards for their developers: Marissa Howard, Sameen Yusuf, Rohit Madhu and Sara Sharif.

On the Volgenau site (https://volgenau.gmu.edu/news/latest-news)

  *   Systems Engineering students get their hands wet streamlining water main repairs<https://volgenau.gmu.edu/news/395006>.
  *   Jill Nelson wins teaching excellence award<https://volgenau.gmu.edu/news/418796>.
Associate Professor Jill Nelson will be honored for teaching excellence during Mason’s commencement ceremony.

If you have suggestions for other stories, please submit them to Martha Bushong, [log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>.


Photo of the Week

Isabella Nicola plays her violin using the pink prosthetic VioArm, a senior design project of Volgenau bioengineering students. (Photo by Evan Cantwell.)


Upcoming Events at the Volgenau School

Whether you're looking for a specific event or browsing, our calendar lets you know what’s happening at Volgenau. Here is a sample of what’s coming in the next several weeks. For more information visit our calendar<https://volgenau.gmu.edu/events#/?i=1> on the web. From this page you can share the event on social media, get updates, forward to friends, or save it to your own calendar.

May 18, 8:00 a.m. – Emerging Security Challenges Workshop
May 18, 2:00 p.m. – Degree Celebration & Department Receptions
May 20, 10:00 a.m. – University Commencement
May 24, 9:00 a.m. – GMU – AFCEA Symposium

For information on getting your event posted via 25Live, please visit scheduling.gmu.edu<http://scheduling.gmu.edu/>.


Newsletter from Mason’s ITS

To foster awareness of current IT security issues, ITS (Information Technology Services) publishes a monthly newsletter on topics of interest to a general audience. The March newsletter is at:
Please contact Jonathan Goldman, the VSE Security Liaison, if you have any questions ([log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>).


Mechanical Engineering Capstone Day (Thu May 11)

The Mechanical Engineering Department is hosting is inaugural Capstone Day from 9-11am in the HUB Auditorium on Thursday, May 11.  In addition to remkars by Dean Ken Ball and  Chair Oscar Barton, student teams will give four 20-minute presentations on their Senior Capstone Design projects.  These presentations will report on the technical approach and results of each team’s 2-semester mechanical design project.

Interested faculty and students are encouraged to attend.


Funding Opportunity: Energy, Power, Control, and Networks  (NSF)

Sponsor: Directorate for Engineering/NSF
Deadline Date: 01-Nov-2017
Program URL: http://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_summ.jsp?pims_id=505249

Synopsis: The Energy, Power, Control and Networks (EPCN) Program invests in systems and control methods for analysis and design of cyber-physical systems to ensure stability, performance, robustness, and security. Topics of interest include modeling, optimization, learning, and control of networked multi-agent systems, higher-level decision making, and dynamic resource allocation as well as risk management in the presence of uncertainty, sub-system failures and stochastic disturbances. EPCN also invests in adaptive dynamic programming, brain-like networked architectures performing real-time learning, and neuromorphic engineering. EPCN supports innovative proposals dealing with systems research in such areas as energy, transportation, and nanotechnology. EPCN places emphasis on electric power systems, including generation, transmission, storage, and integration of renewables; power electronics and drives; battery management systems; hybrid and electric vehicles; and understanding of the interplay of power systems with associated regulatory and economic structures and with consumer behavior. Also of interest are interdependencies of power and energy systems with other critical infrastructures. Topics of interest also include systems analysis and design for energy scavenging and alternate energy technologies such as solar, wind, and hydrokinetic. The program also supports innovative tools and test beds, as well as curriculum development integrating research and education. In addition to single investigator projects, EPCN encourages cross-disciplinary proposals that benefit from active collaboration of researchers with complementary skills.


Funding Opportunity:  Communications, Circuits, and Sensing-Systems  (NSF)

Sponsor: Directorate for Engineering/NSF
Deadline Date: 01-Nov-2017
Program URL: http://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_summ.jsp?pims_id=505248

Synopsis: The Communications, Circuits, and Sensing-Systems (CCSS) Program is intended to spur visionary systems-oriented activities in collaborative, multidisciplinary, and integrative engineering research. CCSS supports systems research in hardware, signal processing techniques, and architectures to enable the next generation of cyber-physical systems (CPS) that leverage computation, communication, and algorithms integrated with physical domains. CCSS supports innovative research and integrated educational activities in micro- and nano- electromechanical systems (MEMS/NEMS), communications and sensing systems, and cyber-physical systems. The goal is to design, develop, and implement new complex and hybrid systems at all scales, including nano and macro, that lead to innovative engineering principles and solutions for a variety of application domains including, but not limited to, healthcare, medicine, environmental and biological monitoring, communications, disaster mitigation, homeland security, intelligent transportation, manufacturing, energy, and smart buildings. CCSS also supports integration technologies at both intra- and inter- chip levels, new and advanced radio frequency (RF), millimeter wave and optical wireless and hybrid communications systems architectures, and sensing and imaging at terahertz (THz) frequencies.


Funding Opportunity: Dear Colleague Letter: Growing Convergence Research at NSF

Sponsor: National Science Foundation
Deadline Dates: 15-May-2017, 01-Jun-2017
Program URL: https://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2017/nsf17065/nsf17065.jsp?WT.mc_id=USNSF_25&WT.mc_ev=click

Synopsis: This Dear Colleague Letter describes an initial set of opportunities to explore Convergence approaches within four of the research-focused NSF Big Ideas: Harnessing the Data Revolution for 21st Century Science and Engineering; Navigating the New Arctic; The Quantum Leap: Leading the Next Quantum Revolution; Work at the Human-Technology Frontier: Shaping the Future; and Another Big Idea, Understanding the Rules of Life: Predicting Phenotype, is actively promoting Convergence research through other mechanisms.


Funding Opportunity: Communications and Networking Discovery and Invention (ONR)

Sponsor: Office of Naval Research
Deadline Dates: 26-Jun-2017 [letter of intent / Pre-App], 25-Sep-2017
Program URL: https://www.grants.gov/custom/viewOppDetails.jsp?oppId=293464

Synopsis: Communications technology that can provide seamless, robust, connectivity is at the foundation of the Sea Power 21 and FORCEnet Vision "... to have the right information, at the right place, at the right time …" The performance of Command and Control (C2) systems and decision making at all levels of command depend critically on reliable, interoperable, survivable, secure, and timely communications and networking, and the availability of high capacity multimedia (voice, data, imagery) communication networks is fundamental to nearly all Department of Navy missions. The goal of the Communications and Networking Program within the Office of Naval Research (ONR 311) is to support the Navy's Information Warfare vision by developing measurable advances in technology that can directly enable and enhance end-to-end connectivity and quality-of-service for mission-critical information exchange among such widely dispersed naval, joint, and coalition forces. The vision is to provide high throughput robust communications and networking to ensure all warfighters from the operational command to the tactical edge have access to information, knowledge, and decision-making necessary to perform their assigned tasks.


Daniel Barbará Receives Funding from Decisive Analytics Corp. & Dept. of Defense

Daniel Barbará of the Computer Science Department received $28K from Decisive Analytics Corporation and the Department of Defense for his project, “Advanced Predictive Analysis Capabilities.”


Stephen G. Nash
Senior Associate Dean
Volgenau School of Engineering
George Mason University
Nguyen Engineering Building, Room 2500
Mailstop 5C8
Fairfax, VA 22030

[log in to unmask]
Phone: (703) 993-1505
Fax: (703) 993-1633