TSU professor wins federal defense grant

The U.S. Army Research Office has awarded Dr. Amir Shirkhodaie, a professor in the Tennessee State University College of Engineering, a $334,000 research grant. Shirkhodaie, director of the college's Center of Excellence for Battlefield Sensor Fusion, will use the grant monies to investigate the possibility of developing an advanced technology that improves the capability of automated surveillance systems.

Relatedly, Dr. S. Keith Hargrove, dean of the TSU College of Engineering, announced three new research projects with Boeing, valued at approximately $500,000. The Boeing projects include using artificial intelligence for the development of aircraft propulsion controls, the development of resilient control mechanisms to mitigate cyber attack in engineering embedded systems and the development of mathematical models for energy harvesting and storage.

The faculty members involved in these projects are Drs. Sachin Shetty, Mohammed Saleh Zein-Sabatto, both professors of electrical engineering; and Dr. Landon Onyebueke, professor of mechanical engineering.

“The ultimate goal of this project is to develop a robust information-theoretic framework with supportive techniques that can detect obscure group activities in areas such as inside a vehicle, boat, airplanes or corner alleys of urban areas,” said Dr. Shirkhodaie.

He said this could greatly reduce the false alarm rates in surveillance operations that frequently occur as a result of miscalculation of enemy intent, and help shift the “balance of power” in peacekeeping operations.

"If we can deliver this kind of technology to the battlefield, this is a game-changer," said Maj. Jay Deason, an aviator with the Tennessee Army National Guard, who has served two tours in Iraq, flying Black Hawk Helicopters.

He said while this technology would have limited application for air reconnaissance operations, it would be greatly useful to ground forces and civil affairs specialists, who identify critical requirements needed by local citizens in combat or crisis situations.

Civilians would also greatly benefit from this technology in homeland security, crowd control, and anti-drug and anti-crime operations, Dr. Shirkhodaie said.