Assistant professor Tucker receives Air Force fellowship

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Conrad Tucker, assistant professor of engineering design and industrial engineering, has been selected to participate in the U.S. Air Force Summer Faculty Fellowship Program (AF SFFP).

The program offers hands-on exposure to Air Force research challenges through eight- to 12-week residencies at participating Air Force facilities for full-time science, mathematics and engineering faculty in the U.S.

Tucker will spend eight weeks at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base working with Kenneth Hopkinson, associate professor of computer science at the Air Force Institute of Technology, on a proposal titled, "Quantifying the Veracity of Social Media Networks in Predicting Real World Phenomena."

He said, "Specifically, our goal is to figure out how to keep the structural integrity of the electric grid. How can we make it more efficient?"

Using home heating as an example, Tucker explained that the potential exists for consumers to waste a lot of energy. "Sometimes we set our thermostats too high when temperatures are warmer. What can we do to understand energy requirements at different periods of time?"

He added that large-scale events in a community can also have an impact. "If a concert comes to the Bryce Jordan Center, energy use will spike. Even though these events aren't frequent, we'd still like to be aware that they are happening, so we can allocate resources more efficiently."

To address these issues, Tucker and Hopkinson will focus on utilizing publicly available social media data to model and predict resource requirements and threats to the U.S. electric power grid.

Tucker said, "We collected one billion tweets. The information will help us develop a conceptual map to make our predictions."

The pair's proposed methodologies for capturing, acquiring and mining large scale social media data have the potential to solve problems in other areas such as disaster response and health care.

The AF SFFP also allows faculty members to select one graduate student to assist with their research. Tucker is in the process of choosing a student. He explained, "The AF SFFP program further emphasizes the need for us to get more students involved in science, technology, engineering and math fields. We don’t have enough graduate students in the pipeline to take advantage of these types of opportunities."

Tucker hopes his fellowship will help establish a strong partnership between Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and Penn State. He noted, "Our work this summer could result in future opportunities for engineering students and faculty to collaborate with Air Force experts."

Last Updated April 07, 2014