Postcards from IST: Summer travels broaden faculty reach among global community

Faculty teaching in the College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST) have conducted and participated in international projects and research over the past several years, and continue this summer to explore global opportunities and venues for learning and research. Among those engaged in international collaborative projects is Sandeep Purao, professor of IST and coordinator for international programs for the college.

Over the course of the 2014 summer semester, Purao visited Aguascalientes, Mexico, attended the Digital Government Conference and visited el Centro de Investigacion y Docencia Economicas (CIDE). In Lanzhou, China, he presented research and connected with city officials. Purao also met with executive master of business administration students in Lanzhou, laying the groundwork for possible future connections with Lanzhou University. In Shanghai, Purao presented research and explored how to further the existing connection between Penn State and Shanghai Jiao Tong University. Additionally, Purao visited Hong Kong, presented research in Singapore and explored a new student exchange program in Seoul, Korea.

Chao-Hsien Chu, professor of IST, and director of professional master’s degrees for IST, also spent significant time involved in international efforts over the summer. Among Chu’s many international engagements are collaborative projects with major universities in China and Singapore. These projects include involvement in cyber physical systems research with the School of Software and Microelectronics at Peking University in China. Chu’s group has already published several papers, one of which received the best paper award from the IEEE International Conference on RFID Technologies and Applications in 2013.

Other international projects in which Chu is involved include collaboration with Chinese universities, such as the School of Management at Hebei University of Technology, researching health care informatics and management; the School of Management at Xiaman University, studying green supply chain network design research; and the School of Management at Hebei University of Technology, where he is studying the forecast of short life cycle products/spare parts research. Additionally, Chu is involved in research and development for a major apartment building for elders with iCity Lab in Singapore Management University in Singapore.

International opportunities, writes Chu, “Allow interaction with major global corporations to identify and understand the real world, challenging problems they are facing. It provides access to real world scenarios and data to formulate the problem, develop the model and test the performance of our proposed solutions. And it allows access and work with talent, technically proficient and hard-working graduate students who can analyze and solve problems and gain real world experience … for use in classroom teaching.”

On July 7 to 11, David Hall, former dean of the College of IST, attended Fusion 2014, the 17th International Conference on Information Fusion in Salamanca, Spain, where he served as a technical co-chair and organizer of the event. Hall was involved in the review and selection of technical papers for the conference, organizing and chairing a special session on progress in hard and soft fusion, and introducing a plenary speaker. The conference involved approximately 500 papers, which were presented by authors from around the world. Topics ranged from target tracking to sensor registration, data association, video surveillance, situation assessment, uncertainty management and data for assimilation for big data. Other topics included data mining and machine learning, trust in fused information, and signal and image processing. “It was useful to see the diversity of topics and applications presented by speakers from around the world,” Hall said.

Andrea Tapia, associate professor of IST, provides another example of Penn State IST faculty pursuing opportunities abroad. During the spring semester of 2012, Tapia was on sabbatical leave from Penn State, and served as a visiting professor with the program in risk management and emergency response within the Central American School of Geology, Department of Seismology, Volcanology and Geophysical Research at the University of Costa Rica. She was also selected as a Fulbright grantee to Costa Rica by the J. William Fulbright Scholarship Board and the Council for International Exchange of Scholars.

As part of Tapia’s Fulbright, she taught a graduate course titled “Information Technologies and Risk Management and Emergency Response” in a new interdisciplinary master’s program at the University of Costa Rica. Since returning from sabbatical, Tapia has accepted an adviser position for the thesis research of one of the graduate students in the above mentioned program, has participated in an National Science Foundation-funded workshop in 2013 and was invited back to the University of Costa Rica to teach the same course during the summer of 2014.

Of her decision to study in Costa Rica, Tapia has said, “It is a ‘perfect storm of change’ that, as a scholar of technologies emergency management, there is no better place to study.”

Last Updated August 21, 2014