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Auburn philosophy professors discuss ethics of AI

8/29/2023 11:21:00 AM      

Generative artificial intelligence models such as ChatGPT and Google’s Bard raise ethical questions about property, privacy and education. Auburn University Assistant Professor of Philosophy Rachel Rudolph and Associate Professor of Philosophy Elay Shech, along with data scientist Michael Tamir, are completing a research article about bias in AI. In addition to the ethical concerns of biased AI programs, Rudolph and Shech discuss ethical questions society will need to confront about evolving artificial intelligence.

Your current research focuses on bias in AI models. How does bias enter a computer program?

Rudolph: One big worry with some of these AI tools is they’re trained on all this text from the internet that often has a lot of biased opinions and stereotypes, that are prevalent in our society, which get baked into that training data. Unless interventions are put into place, these tools are just going to spit out and perpetuate more of this unethical biased language usage. So, we’ve been thinking about how these AI tools are being trained and influenced to try to improve in that regard and maybe even try to help influence users to think about things in a less stereotypical way.

Shech: The idea is that we can get our machine learning model to pick up on patterns and correlations if we feed it with enough data. Large language models like Chat GPT have hundreds of billions to over a trillion trainable parameters and so are trained on large volumes of available existing text found, for example, on the web. This means though that whatever biases are out there in the way we use language on the internet gets sucked into these machines. In our paper, we explain how this process happens and continue to ask questions like: What do we mean by “bias” when we’re identifying it?

What did you find about de-biasing AI technology?

Shech: Something I found really interesting is that it was difficult to identify a clear articulation of what bias is supposed to be in the first place. We all kind of know what it is, until we start arguing about it, but it turns out to be tricky to define it in a way that captures a lot of exemplars while still doing the work that we want it to do. One of the things that our paper tries to push is that when we make identifications of bias, we could be talking about different things. There’s obviously the need for technical expertise in de-biasing, but you also need theorists who think about ethics and philosophy. De-biasing takes work that is normative and evaluative to really decide what it should look like.

Rudolph: Another important issue is the human labor that goes into de-biasing work. The way that has mostly worked is there are actual people who look at what samples of text we want these models to take as good, and which ones we want them to take as bad. The bad ones are often really bad, and people are poorly paid to read tons of violent, abusive material. The ethical dimension of how these things are trained is also important to be aware of and discuss. We obviously don’t want ChatGPT to spew violent and racist material, but how do we actually go about filtering that out? We want to do that in a responsible and ethical way, too.

What other ethical concerns surround generative AI?

Rudolph: One implication of AI is for intellectual property. There are a lot of interesting lawsuits that are in the pipeline about generative AI. Image generators, for example, would not be able to do the amazing things that they can do if they hadn’t been trained on all this material that was created by actual people who were not asked for their consent or compensated. So, I think there are really important ethical issues about the creation of these models in the first place.

Shech: One of the big issues that also arises in some of the other work that I do is AI being opaque. Sometimes these models have billions of parameters, and it’s hard to understand how they work, to the extent that there’s a lot of both theoretical and empirical work done to try to understand what makes a particular model work so well. When you have some sort of model, making decisions, say, that have to do with cancer diagnosis or criminal justice, there’s something worrisome about putting your trust in something you don’t fully understand.

How is AI affecting education?

Rudolph: The thing that’s gotten the most attention is probably the way that AI is affecting and will continue to affect teaching and learning. We should view the next couple of semesters with an exploratory, experimental mindset. It’s going to take time to figure out the right balance of which kinds of assignments these tools can be helpful for. I taught logic last semester, and ChatGPT was not very good at the questions that I was asking, so I would sometimes use it as an example to the students of where this goes wrong.

Shech: There’s an interesting balance to be found between stopping students from cheating as technology evolves, but also making decisions about when it's okay to use this as a tool. In the humanities, we put a lot of emphasis on writing and cultivating that as a skill that is not only useful in life but is going to be meaningful to your interaction with the world. Is that the kind of thing in the future we’re going to care less about, because anybody can have some future ChatGPT write beautifully for them? I don’t know. I think it's something we need to think critically about. What are skills that we still care about, and we want to have as a society, and which ones are we okay with letting the machines do?

About the experts:

Rachel Rudolph is an assistant professor of philosophy in the College of Liberal Arts. Her work focuses on the philosophy of language, including how people communicate and how language affects how people conceptualize the world around them.

Elay Shech is an associate professor of philosophy in the College of Liberal Arts. His research focuses on the philosophy of science, physics, biology and machine learning.


Charlotte Tuggle, Director
News and Media Services
CLA Office of Communications and Marketing

from left: Rachel Rudolph and Elay Shech

from left: Rachel Rudolph and Elay Shech

Categories: Cyber, Security, Education, Advanced Systems, Liberal Arts

Auburn University expands research footprint in Huntsville with purchase of former LogiCore facility

2/16/2022 8:48:37 AM      

Auburn University is expanding its footprint in the Huntsville area with the acquisition of a new research facility located in the Cummings Research Park.

The university reached an agreement with LogiCore Corp. to purchase two buildings with more than 40,000 square feet of space situated on a nine-acre parcel of land at 345 Voyager Way NW. Located within minutes of Redstone Arsenal’s Gate 9 entrance and near many of Auburn’s research partners in defense, aerospace, law enforcement and biotech sectors, the facility will significantly expand Auburn’s presence in the fastest-growing tech hub in the country, establishing a permanent foundation from which Auburn can leverage its regional reputation and thriving public-private partnerships into unprecedented national prestige and influence.

Designed to foster a new era of interagency and interdisciplinary collaboration necessary to secure the nation into the next century, the facility will serve as a state-of-the-art research space, collaboration engine and conference center that will focus Auburn’s expertise and next-generation resources on the defense, aerospace and law enforcement agencies that call Redstone Arsenal home.

“We are excited about the opportunities to expand our research capability in Huntsville, which is home to many members of the Auburn Family and our valued research partners,” said Auburn University President Jay Gogue. “We hope this facility will quickly become the primary connection for the Huntsville community to Auburn University and will be the go-to destination for government and industry entities around Redstone looking to meet in an unbiased, trusted location for technical interfacing.”

Plans for the facility include configurable laboratories for on-site research and development in critical technology areas; meeting spaces and engagement opportunities for government, industry and academia to allow for in-person and virtual meetings; exercises and more.

“This is a defining moment for Auburn University and the Huntsville community where today meets tomorrow,” said Jim Weyhenmeyer, university vice president for research and economic development. “This facility will fast-track connections that change the world through our valued research partnerships.”

LogiCore — a technology services company providing life cycle logistics, systems and software engineering, cybersecurity, information technology, programmatics and training services — operated the facility from 2015-22. Samples Properties acted as the university’s broker for this transaction.

“May the footprint be used to advance research excellence for students for years to come,” said Miranda Frost, LogiCore founder and CEO.

Media Contact: Austin Phillips,, 334.844.2444


Auburn University research facility at 345 Voyager Way NW in Huntsville, Alabama

The 40,000 square-foot facility is located within minutes of Redstone Arsenal.

Categories: Cyber, Security, Engineering, Manufacturing

Study finds bundling RFID with electronic data interchange increases hospital efficiency, reduces expenses

7/22/2021 8:16:23 AM      

The National Academy of Medicine estimated the U.S. healthcare system wastes an average of $765 billion per year on misplaced or expired supplies.

Research published in Production and Operations Management “The Joint Use of RFID and EDI: Implications for Hospital Performance,” which included authors Kang Bok Lee, EBSCO Associate Professor of Business Analytics at the Harbert College of Business at Auburn University, and Harbert College alum Randy V. Bradley, who is currently Associate Professor in Supply Chain Management at the Haslam College of Business at the University of Tennessee, reveals a key strategy for hospitals to track equipment and supplies and increase performance, while reducing personnel expenses and readmission rates. 

Specifically, the research shows the bundling of radio frequency identification (RFID) with electronic data interchange (EDI) provides a streamlined, all-in-one, technological database that yields greater organizational efficiency. RFID is the use of radio-frequency identification methods to tag and track items while electronic data interchange enhances visibility and communication through the use of electronically transferring information between organizations.Research published in Production and Operations Management “The Joint Use of RFID and EDI: Implications for Hospital Performance,” which included authors Kang Bok Lee, EBSCO Associate Professor of Business Analytics at the Harbert College of Business at Auburn University, and Harbert College alum Randy V. Bradley, who is currently Associate Professor in Supply Chain Management at the Haslam College of Business at the University of Tennessee, reveals a key strategy for hospitals to track equipment and supplies and increase performance, while reducing personnel expenses and readmission rates. 

The best way to understand the benefits is to picture the technologies as bookends around the revenue cycle. RFID sits at the front end, where it can be used to track supplies and equipment. The result is a clean record of resource utilization in care delivery, which is useful on the backend when hospitals transmit claims to government and private insurance payers via EDI.

After examining 3,300 hospitals nationwide, the researchers conducting this study realized RFID/EDI bundles that capture the utilization of supplies, resources, and equipment at the point of care both aids in inventory visibility and creates a clean data stream that facilitates more efficient billing of third parties.

With an organized inventory and streamlined billing process, researchers believe this not only improves an organization’s bottom line by reducing expenditures, but overall patient care as well. Ensuring supplies are readily available – not misplaced – and tracked in real time, facilitates faster diagnostics and ensures timely medical interventions. These factors increase both the efficiency and expediency in which care can be delivered.After examining 3,300 hospitals nationwide, the researchers conducting this study realized RFID/EDI bundles that capture the utilization of supplies, resources, and equipment at the point of care both aids in inventory visibility and creates a clean data stream that facilitates more efficient billing of third parties.

Value-Based Purchasing, a federal program, recently shifted hospital reimbursements to a value-based model, placing a stronger emphasis on healthcare facilities to accurately track and document resources/supplies used in the delivery of care with note that supplies are a hospital’s second-largest expense, accounting for 35 to 45 percent of their operating budget, according to researchers.

The results of the research also led the researchers to conclude hospital administrators should not take a slow, piecemeal, or phased in approach when utilizing RFID and EDI simultaneously. Instead, they should go all in. “We found that hospitals that use RFID alone, or EDI alone, perform worse than hospitals that have neither solution in place,” researchers wrote—but like many good things, the real savings come to those who successfully combine the technologies together for maximum benefit.

Other authors in this study included Terry Esper of Ohio State University, Joonhwan In of Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology, Bogdan C. Bichescu of the University of Tennessee and Terry A. Byrd (Retired Bray Professor Emeritus) from the Harbert College.

Kang Bok Lee is EBSCO Associate Professor of Business Analytics within Harbert College’s Department of Systems and Technology. He has published in journals such as the Academy of Management, International Journal of Research in Marketing, Physica A and Strategic Management Journal.

Randy V. Bradley is an Associate Professor of Information Systems and Supply Chain Management in the Haslam College of Business at the University of Tennessee. He holds a Ph.D. in Management of Information Technology and Innovation, an M.S. in Management Information Systems, and a B.S. in Computer Engineering, all from Auburn University. As a supply chain and IT strategist and researcher, Bradley's expertise includes digital business transformation, supply chain digitalization, and the strategic application of business analytics and IT in the supply chain.


from left: Kang Bok Lee and Randy Bradley

from left: Kang Bok Lee and Randy Bradley

Categories: Cyber, Health Sciences, Advanced Systems

Auburn study: Hospital annual net patient care revenue increases by $1.7 million, on average per unit, through new IT implementation

6/4/2021 10:10:36 AM      

Recently published research from Auburn University’s Harbert College of Business found information technology plays a vital role in enhancing hospital revenue. In their paper, “Does IT Improve Revenue Management in Hospitals?” published in the Journal of the Association for Information Systems, Kangkang Qi and Sumin Han, assistant professors in the college’s Department of Systems and Technology, show implementations of new IT systems not only increase net patient revenue, but also reduce money lost in uncompensated care.

Using data from more than 5,300 health care providers, Qi and Han studied the relationships between clinical and business IT investments and revenue management performance. According to their findings, clinical and business IT implementations lead to short-term and long-term higher revenue generation. The combination of one additional unit of clinical IT implementation and one additional unit of business IT implementation increased a hospital’s annual net patient care revenue by $1.73 million on average.

Another mechanism through which hospitals manage revenue is via controlling uncompensated care for indigent patients who cannot be turned away, or patients who have not fully paid their medical bills. Why is this important? The American Hospital Association stated that hospitals have provided more than $660 billion in uncompensated care to patients since 2000. In contrast, the paper revealed that one more unit of clinical IT and one more unit of business IT adoption decreased uncompensated care ratios by 27.9% and 19.1%, respectively.

Improved information technology services were found to play an integral role in allowing hospitals to identify mechanisms to enhance revenues via billing, budget, scheduling, utilization management, debt collection, human resource and property management systems through improved efficiencies.

With note that U.S. hospitals will spend approximately $120 billion on information technology in the coming years, this Harbert College research finds such investments to be a wise business decision.



from left: Kangkang Qi and Sumin Han

From left:  Kangkang Qi is an assistant professor of information systems management and Sumin Han is an assistant professor in the Department of Systems and Technology in Auburn’s Raymond J. Harbert College of Business.

Categories: Cyber, Health Sciences, Advanced Systems

Auburn’s McCrary Institute, Air University join forces in strategic partnership

7/14/2020 11:23:02 AM      

Auburn University’s McCrary Institute is partnering with Air University to examine challenges related to cyber and critical infrastructure security, for the purpose of advancing U.S. national security. The two entities will combine their extensive expertise on national security issues to spur dialogue and action on pressing problems and practical solutions.

As part of this joint endeavor, the partners today published a paper on protecting critical infrastructure during the coronavirus pandemic. The paper lays out a multilayered action plan for protecting shared airspace, which will simultaneously support both public health and economic reopening across the nation.

"Our partnership with Air University is an exciting and strategic step forward,” said Frank Cilluffo, McCrary Institute director. “Together, our networks and capabilities will be greater than the sum of the two parts. Each side will significantly extend its reach and impact."

Today’s publication is the first in a series which will continue to address the national security implications of the pandemic and other critical issues of national concern.

"Air University looks forward to working together with Auburn’s McCrary Institute," said Lt. Gen. James Hecker, President and Commander of Air University. "This partnership will enable both sides to expand and deepen their efforts to provide thought leadership and serve the national interest."

Air University, based at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, is the intellectual and leadership center of the U.S. Air Force, providing full-spectrum education, research and outreach, through professional military education, professional continuing education and academic degree granting.

The McCrary Institute, based in Auburn but with additional centers in Washington D.C., and Huntsville, seeks practical solutions to pressing challenges in the areas of cyber and critical infrastructure security. Through its three hubs, the institute offers end-to-end capability – policy, technology, research and education – on all things cyber.


Categories: Cyber, Security

Nearly 600 Auburn students showcasing their research and creativity April 9 at Auburn Research Student Symposium

3/21/2019 9:40:30 AM      

Nearly 600 Auburn University students with a flair for research and creativity will showcase their talents when they gather for the annual Auburn Research Student Symposium.

With projects ranging from chemical engineering to plant pathology to architecture and design, the symposium on April 9 will provide Auburn and Auburn Montgomery students an opportunity to share their discoveries university-wide. The daylong event will take place in the Student Center.

Undergraduate and graduate students from almost every department have registered to participate through posters, oral presentations and creative scholarship displays. Approximately 400 of the young researchers will present posters and displays more than 180 will give 10-minute talks, all under the watchful eyes of judges who will award top honors in a variety of university-wide and college-specific categories.

An awards ceremony and reception will be held April 18 at 5 p.m. in the Student Center ballroom. The keynote speaker will be Michael Zabala, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, who earned his bachelor’s degree at Auburn in 2007.

Steve Taylor, chair of the Research Symposia Committee and associate dean for research in the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, said, “Our students’ innovative research covers many areas, from projects in STEM disciplines [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] to the arts and humanities. They are working with our world-class faculty on life-changing projects that could shape new developments in many fields.”

Following the April 9 symposium, Nobel Laureate in Chemistry George P. Smith will visit Auburn University and the College of Veterinary Medicine April 10-11. Professor Smith will present a public lecture at 2 p.m. April 10 in The Hotel at Auburn University and Dixon Conference Center auditorium, which will be followed by a reception. On April 11, he will be available to meet with faculty and students at the College of Veterinary Medicine.

A fall event, the Auburn Research Faculty Symposium, will be held in September to recognize faculty excellence in research and creative scholarship.

More information about the student symposium is available at or by contacting Taylor at


Auburn students with a flair for research and creativity will showcase their talents when they gather April 9 in the Student Center for the annual Auburn Research Student Symposium. Pictured, student Elizabeth Bankston discusses her research poster with Steve Taylor, chair of the Research Symposia Committee, at last year’s symposium.

Categories: Cyber, Security, Energy & the Environment, Health Sciences, Transportation, Food Systems, Engineering, Creative Scholarship

Auburn University achieves research milestone with ‘R1’ Carnegie classification

12/18/2018 8:23:23 AM      

In another affirmation of its drive forward to excellence, Auburn University achieved a research milestone Monday - being elevated to an “R1” institution by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education.

The announcement follows a concerted effort by Auburn to elevate its commitment to life-saving research, beginning with an announcement by Auburn President Steven Leath in December 2017 and subsequent awarding of $5 million for three years toward the Presidential Awards for Interdisciplinary Research, or PAIR. An R1 designation by Carnegie is reserved for doctoral universities with the highest levels of research activity.

Among 120 institutions to receive the R1 designation Monday, Auburn was listed in the top 100 of such universities, raising its classification from an already lofty “high research” R2 classification to Monday's “very high research activity” R1 label.

“This tremendous designation acknowledges the hard work involved in the pioneering discoveries happening at Auburn every day,” said Leath, who was recently named one of seven new members appointed by President Trump to the National Science Board, a policy-making body of the National Science Foundation. “We are grateful to the university’s faculty and staff, especially Graduate School Dean George Flowers, for their unwavering commitment to elevating Auburn’s profile as a world-class academic institution.

“Auburn is on the move, and this prestigious distinction recognizes Auburn’s critical role in creating new knowledge and helping others live better lives.”

Universities considered for the R1 designation must have awarded at least 20 research/scholarship doctoral degrees and had at least $5 million in total research expenditures, according to Carnegie’s classification website. Auburn has grown its research efforts in both STEM and non-STEM areas, furthering its institutional commitment to offer solutions to real-world problems and grow its reputation as a go-to university in providing results that transform and inspire.

“Auburn University is known for its innovative and transformational research, and receiving the R1 classification is a significant accomplishment,” said Jennifer Kerpelman, interim vice president for research. “This classification recognizes the dedication, commitment and hard work of Auburn’s faculty and student researchers across all disciplines.”


Dr. Amal Kaddoumi and graduate research assistant Sweilem Al Rihani in laboratory

Dr. Amal Kaddoumi, left, a professor in Auburn’s Department of Drug Discovery and Development, works in a lab with graduate research assistant Sweilem Al Rihani. Kaddoumi is leading a multi-disciplinary team in an investigation of oleocanthal, a molecule that appears naturally in extra-virgin olive oil, as a novel preventative treatment for such diseases as Alzheimer’s or dementia.

Categories: Cyber, Energy & the Environment, Health Sciences, Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), Transportation, Food Systems, Engineering, Auburn In the News, Creative Scholarship

Auburn University to host 2018 SEC Academic Conference: Cyber, a Shared Responsibility

11/29/2017 3:43:20 PM      

The conference, entitled Cyber Security: A Shared Responsibility, is scheduled for April 8-10, 2018, and will explore computer and communication technology; the economic and physical systems that are controlled by technology; and the policies and laws that govern and protect information stored, transmitted and processed with technology.

“This year’s SEC Academic Conference is a great opportunity for us to help enrich collaboration among SEC students, faculty and administrators in a critical area of national importance,” said Greg Sankey, SEC Commissioner. “Auburn leaders have worked tirelessly to develop a program that will challenge and encourage those in this field, and I commend them for their efforts.”

In its second year, the SEC Academic Conference provides an opportunity to showcase SEC faculty and student research in an area of significant scholarly interest to a range of academic, legislative and other stakeholders. It features keynote speakers as well as presentations from individuals representing each of the SEC’s 14 member universities.

“We welcome our SEC colleagues and cyber professionals to Auburn for dynamic, serious discussions,” said Auburn University President Steven Leath. “The nation is facing more and more data breaches that affect all facets of daily life. Strategic partnerships among universities and industry are vital in developing the technology and policies to protect private information.”

Lt. General Ronald L. Burgess, Jr. (U.S.A. retired) is leading the Auburn organizing committee. Commissioned in Military Intelligence by the Auburn ROTC Program in 1974, he’s held a variety of key staff and command positions throughout his 38 years in the military. Lt. General Burgess currently serves as the Senior Counsel for National Security Programs, Cyber Programs and Military Affairs at Auburn.

“The schools that make up the SEC are home to a tremendous array of talent in the cyber arena,” said Lt. General Burgess. “The 2018 SEC Academic Conference will showcase some of the best and brightest minds in the country. It’s a great opportunity for faculty and students from around the Conference to connect and collaborate, and for government and industry to get a sense of the resources available to them in the SEC.”

The conference will start with the SEC CyberChallenge where students from each SEC university will compete in a problem-solving activity. Other undergraduate and graduate students will also have the opportunity to showcase their research during a poster exhibition.

The SEC Academic Conference is supported by the SEC under its SECU banner. SECU serves as the primary mechanism through which the collaborative academic endeavors and achievements of SEC universities are supported and advanced.

To learn more, visit:

SEC Symposium CYBER SecurityAuburn University will host the 2018 SEC Academic Conference that will focus on cyber security, SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey announced eariler in November.

Categories: Cyber

Alabama Cyber Research Consortium Awarded National Science Foundation Grant

8/18/2017 2:51:36 PM      

A newly organized consortium of the state’s top university cyber researchers has been awarded an NSF Science, Technology, and Society grant to develop a three-day conference at the National Science Foundation in Bethesda, Maryland in May.  The conference will focus on ethics and digital forensics.

The Alabama Cyber Research Consortium (ALCRC) is a partnership of the seven PhD-granting universities in Alabama. Formed in 2013, after years of informal and formal collaborations between smaller groups of the partner Universities, the ALCRC is the culmination of individual and collective commitments to research, advanced development, education, and outreach in all areas of the cyber domain.  Member institutions include: Alabama A&M University, Auburn University, Tuskegee University, The University of Alabama, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the University of Alabama in Huntsville and the University of South Alabama.

“This award represents the first funding opportunity and significant national recognition for the ALCRC.  It powerfully demonstrates the validity of the consortium and how closely tied together we are as members.  It also speaks to the new ways in which higher education can organize to advance research in critical areas like cyber,” said Anthony Skjellum, COLSA cyber security and information assurance professor in the Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering, and director of the Auburn Cyber Research Center in the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering at Auburn University.

The ALCRC, along with The University of Alabama’s Cyber Institute and the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Center for Information Assurance and Joint Forensics Research have received a significant grant from the NSF to design a national conference in the spring of 2015.  The event will provide opportunities for members of the cyber community to address critical issues in digital forensics, including a lack of unifying ethical standards, procedures and guidelines for routine activities such as forensic analysis, cyber-crime case processing and data mining/surveillance.

“Auburn University is proud to be recognized as one of the founding members of the Alabama Cyber Research Consortium for our focus on and role in addressing topics of such vital importance to our state and nation.  It reflects our commitment to the primary mission of serving the people of Alabama,” said Lieutenant General (retired) Ron Burgess, senior counsel for national security programs, cyber programs and military affairs at Auburn University.

“This is the first time that the topic of ethical guidelines for digital forensic examiners has been openly discussed at such a high level forum, “ said John Sloan, director of UAB’s Center for Information Assurance and Joint Forensics Research, and principal investigator of the grant. “We hope to develop policies and ‘best practices’ as a result of this conference that will assist forensic examiners and reduce potential lawsuits and mishandled criminal cases.”

In a statement issued earlier this month, Reginald Hyde, executive director of The University of Alabama’s Cyber Institute said, “This grant is the first of many anticipated funded projects between members of the Alabama Cyber Research Consortium.  UA’s Institute is excited to begin developing cyber policy—such as that projected by this project—that benefits the citizens of Alabama.”

The Alabama Cyber Research Consortium is an active group of scientists, engineers, and affiliates committed to creating solutions with practical impact on the state, local, regional, and national economy, and to helping consumers, corporations, and the public sector solve real problems and avoid significant harm involving cybercrime and related national security issues.

To learn more about the Alabama Cyber Research Consortium, visit:   To learn more about the Auburn University Cyber Initiative, visit:


Categories: Cyber

Auburn Speaks: On Cyber and the Digital Domain Now Available with Augmented Reality

8/18/2017 2:46:34 PM      

Cyber touches all our lives, directly and indirectly. Digitized information teaches us, entertains us, keeps track of our finances, monitors our health and our food supply, facilitates rapid and open communication, allows us near instantaneous access to information, and resides at the heart of our nation’s critical infrastructure. Released April 1, 2015 (along with our new AUgmented reality app, TigerView) the latest edition of award-winning series, Auburn Speaks, focuses on the phenomenon that is “cyber”.

Written by nationally and internationally-recognized Auburn experts, a broad array of topics are featured on subjects ranging from cyber security, national security, information assurance, big data, the changing nature of news and media, as well as cyber impacts on health, literature, media, film and theatre to name a few. Highlights include:

  • Open Source Intelligence in the Cyber Age
  • Safeguarding the Wireless World
  • The Trusted Insider: A Spy in the Worst Possible Place
  • Immersive Virtual Reality: Creating Characters for The Lord of the Rings to FBI Training
  • The Future of Money: The Rise of Crypto Currency
  • Hacked Off: The Sociology of Cyber Crime
  • Agricultural Analytics: Harnessing Data to Feed a Hungry World

Featuring a special forward, “Security in the New Digital World” from Admiral Michael S. Rogers, USN Commander, US Cyber Command; Director, National Security Agency; Chief, Central Security Service- and Auburn graduate.

Tigerview AppIn conjunction with the release of Auburn Speaks: On Cyber and the Digital Domain, we are excited to unveil TigerView, our free augmented reality app. Throughout Auburn Speaks, articles have been enhanced with AUgmented reality that can be launched and enjoyed with TigerView. To sample enriched content, download TigerView to your smartphone or tablet, use the “View Now” feature to scan the cover of Auburn Speaks: On Cyber and the Digital Domain (below) and experience AUgmented reality.

Auburn Speaks Publication

Auburn Speaks is an annual publication on Auburn University research targeting issues that impact life and work in our state and beyond.  Auburn Speaks is produced by the Office the Vice President for Research and Economic Development at Auburn University. To learn more, click here.

Copies may be purchased from the Auburn Speaks Store.  

Categories: Cyber

Ronald Lee Burgess Jr., USA, Retired, Cyber Laboratory Dedicated

8/18/2017 2:23:01 PM      

Through the generosity of Auburn University Research Advisory Board Member, Leslee Belluchie and her husband, Rick Knop, on April 17, the university dedicated the Lieutenant General Ronald Lee Burgess Jr., USA, Retired, Cyber Laboratory in the Samuel Ginn college of Engineering.  Belluchie named the laboratory in Burgess’ honor as a tribute to his professional and personal service to the state and nation in the cyber security field.

The lab will be part of  the Auburn Cyber Research Center which integrates cutting-edge engineering technology with research to develop innovative methods of protecting our nation's cyber security

To learn more, visit:

Ronald L. Burgess Jr.

Categories: Cyber

Auburn University hosting forum: Additive Manufacturing – The Next Industrial Revolution

8/18/2017 2:16:55 PM      

On July 30, 2015, Auburn University will be hosting a by invitation only forum on industrialized additive manufacturing.

Experts will discuss the application of this advanced technology for industries ranging from aerospace to biotechnology.  Industry leaders from GE Aviation, GKN, NASA, Carpenter Technology, Alabama Laser, U.S. Army Aviation and faculty from Auburn University, University of Alabama, UAH and University of Memphis will describe the role their organizations are playing in developing, implementing and utilizing new processes and computer-aided hardware and software to produce components from material and composites once considered exotic.

A keynote address will be given by Greg Morris, the General Manager of Additive Technologies for GE Aviation.

To learn more about this day-long forum and networking reception to follow, or if you are interested in attending, please email forum organizers at

Additive Manufacturing Forum

Categories: Cyber, Energy & the Environment, Health Sciences, Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), Transportation, Food Systems, Engineering

Experts at Auburn University say biosecurity is crucial tool in battle against avian influenza

6/29/2015 11:23:10 AM      

While avian influenza has been confirmed in 20 states, Alabama remains free of the disease and Alabama poultry producers are doing all that they can to keep the disease at bay.

A poultry scientist with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System said poultry producers are more vigilant than ever when it comes to sanitation and other biosecurity measures.

"All our Alabama poultry growers have biosecurity measures in place," said Ken Macklin. "Biosecurity measures are the first line of defense against avian influenza and other poultry diseases."

Macklin said that more than 43 million chickens and turkeys have either died from the disease or had to be euthanized because the flock tested positive for a highly contagious form of avian influenza in the first five months of 2015. The most severely impacted states are in the upper Midwest, including Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

"These cases in commercial poultry operations in the upper Midwest have mostly been linked to a failure of biosecurity," said Macklin. "Growers may have thought they were following biosecurity guidelines fully, but it seems that there were lapses."

Macklin, who is also an associate professor of poultry science at Auburn University, said strong biosecurity measures take many forms.

- Isolating the birds from other animals

- Minimizing access to people and unsanitized equipment

- Keeping the area around the poultry buildings clean and uninviting to wild birds

- Sanitizing the facility between flocks

- Cleaning equipment entering and leaving the farm

- Having an all in, all out policy regarding the placement and removal of the birds

- Disposing properly of bedding material and any mortalities

Joseph Giambrone, an Auburn University professor of poultry science, called the losses to the national poultry industry staggering.

"The losses are in the hundreds of millions of dollars," said Giambrone. "We can expect a reduction of at least 10 percent in egg laying production and a similar drop in turkey production nationally."

Macklin said the potential production loss is why Alabama producers are working hard to keep their flocks free of the disease. According to Auburn University research done in 2012, poultry and egg production and processing contributed more than $15 billion to the state's economy and employed more than 86,000 people.

Giambrone, whose research focuses on viral diseases of poultry, said the disease is spread by migrating water fowl such as ducks and geese.

"This outbreak began in Canada, and water fowl spread it south along the migratory bird flyways," he said. "It was brought into the Midwest by birds using the Mississippi flyway. It has persisted so long there because of the heavy concentration of poultry producers in that region of the country."

Giambrone said ducks and geese shed the virus in fecal material.

"Infected water fowl shed the virus into ponds and lakes as well as onto the land they are grazing."

Macklin said that warmer weather may slow the disease's spread.

"The virus can survive for days, especially if it is in water. In water, the virus can survive up to 100 days with a water temperature of 63 degrees Fahrenheit. But when water temperatures reach the 80s, the virus can survive for less than a month."

He said the virus has a reduced ability to survive on land.

"On land, the virus can survive for 30 days at 40 degrees Fahrenheit and 7 days at 68 degrees Fahrenheit," said Macklin. "Once the outside temperature hits the 80s the virus breaks down in hours."

While warmer weather may halt the disease's progress in the United States, Giambrone emphasized that the disease can return next year.

"Even if we get control of the disease this year, wild water fowl in Alaska and Canada remain carriers of the disease and are a threat to bring it back to the United States when they migrate again next year."

By Maggie Lawrence

Ken Macklin

Categories: Security, Energy & the Environment, Health Sciences, Food Systems

Auburn researchers using ‘awake-dog’ MRI scanning to seek neural marker that would predict a dog’s detection ability

1/19/2016 11:45:57 AM      

A dog's remarkable nose has helped mankind for ages, from the hunting of game animals to more recently sniffing out explosives and contraband.

However, the field of neuroscience knows very little about how the canine brain works, particularly when it is using the sense of smell. Auburn University researchers are shedding light on this aspect through functional MRI brain scans of awake, non-anesthetized dogs.

"We are the first group in the world to use functional MRI of awake dogs to study how their brains process odorant information," said Assistant Professor Gopikrishna "Gopi" Deshpande of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering.

"This lets us see their brains in action when they are smelling odors. Best of all, the dogs don't have to be anesthetized."

Auburn's College of Veterinary Medicine developed the unique awake-dog training system that Deshpande is using in his research to establish an MRI baseline test, which would determine a dog's ability to become a good detector before it goes through training.

"The dogs are not restrained in any way," said Paul Waggoner, co- director of Canine Performance Sciences in the veterinary college. "We trained them to get up on the scanner; place their head in the correct position; and then remain still while the scanning occurs. We're really the first ones to have dogs scanned in this awake fashion. Previously dogs had to be scanned while anesthetized."

Deshpande's project, "Functional Imaging for Developing Outstanding Service Dogs," is being conducted in collaboration with the iK9 company, the College of Veterinary Medicine and the Department of Psychology in the College of Liberal Arts.

Auburn and iK9 are using a $1 million grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, to do the study. iK9, which has an office in the Auburn Research Park, is providing the dogs and training while Auburn researchers conduct the MRI scans at Auburn's Magnetic Resonance Imaging Research Center.

"The dogs are undergoing the awake-dog MRI brain scans before and after they are trained so we can look for baseline neural features that would predict the dogs' future detection performance," Deshpande said. "This would enable us to scan a prospective dog's brain and determine the likelihood of its success."

Forty dogs are undergoing the scans and training during the two-year project.

"After a dog gets its initial scan, we train that dog to be a detection dog," iK9 President Roland Beason said. "After four to six weeks, we scan it again. At two other time points we will again scan the dog."

During the MRI scanning, various odors are presented to the dog's nose, with the idea that researchers can determine a specific neural marker in the brain image—to determine if a dog has the makings of a detector dog.

Current methods of finding and training suitable dogs are time consuming and costly for agencies around the globe.

"If we can pinpoint a specific neural marker on the scan, this could result in tremendous financial savings for the government and private companies since they would not use training resources on unsuitable dogs," said Deshpande, who adds that cost of training a highly specialized detector dog can cost up to $30,000.

The researchers hope their findings will result in a test that can used by agencies nationwide. "Auburn is known around the world for its canine programs," Deshpande said. "We have an excellent team working on this project."

by Charles Martin

Categories: Security, Health Sciences, Engineering

Auburn College of Veterinary Medicine awarded $24 million Homeland Security contract to advance detection canine science; research contract largest in Auburn history

3/11/2022 8:11:10 AM      

The Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine has been awarded a five-year, $24 million contract by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) to advance detection canine sciences and enhance operational threat detection capabilities.

The award is the single largest research contract awarded to Auburn University.

“Auburn has long been recognized for its world-class detection canine sciences research, and this funding from the Department of Homeland Security will allow significant enhancement and expansion of this critically important work,” said James Weyhenmeyer, Auburn vice president for research and economic development.

The contract will support initiatives in Auburn’s recently established, transdisciplinary Detection Canine Sciences, Innovation, Technology and Education (DCSITE) program, which will serve as the primary academic resource to the DHS S&T for expertise in all areas of detection canine sciences.

“Our DCSITE program will promote continual improvement and best practices for domestic production of detection canines to respond to evolving Homeland Security priorities,” said Frank “Skip” Bartol, College of Veterinary Medicine associate dean for research and graduate studies and DCSITE program project investigator.

“It will foster technological innovation, sharpen responsiveness to emerging threats, create formal educational programs and provide a centralized hub for expertise and knowledge in the field of canine detection.”

Canines are proven to be an important counterterrorism tool to prevent and respond to national security threats. Detector dogs are widely deployed for real-time, advanced threat detection to help deter acts of terrorism against infrastructure, military, political and civilian targets.

“No other detection option currently available can locate and track-to-source small-quantity odors in real time, providing law enforcement with critical threat intelligence and enabling immediate deployment of countermeasures to reduce the risk of successful attacks,” Bartol said.

Responding to calls for a large-scale, cooperative government and academic effort to advance detection canine sciences, Auburn University created DCSITE to define and deploy science-based and science-driven standards of practice, according to College of Veterinary Medicine Dean Calvin Johnson.

“DCSITE will leverage the almost 30 years of research expertise of the Canine Performance Sciences program, which is an internationally recognized leader in detection canine research, breeding, development and technological innovation,” Johnson said.

Ultimately, the program will integrate the best scientific practices in analytical chemistry, genetics, genomics, reproduction, veterinary and sports medicine, olfactory neuroscience, behavior and cognition, metrology and engineering to advance detection canine sciences.

Anchored in Auburn’s College of Veterinary Medicine, the endeavor represents a collaborative effort involving subject-matter experts from multiple colleges and allied supporting educational and technical units. Capabilities will be further leveraged through targeted external partnerships involving experts at other academic institutions, national laboratories and private research and development enterprises.

DCSITE also will promote interdepartmental, interagency and multi-institutional collaboration to drive development of scientifically validated procedures, training and canine mobile sensing technologies with broad applications to the Homeland Security mission.

More information about the DCSITE program is available at


A dog is trained outdoors as part of the Detection Canine Sciences, Innovation, Technology and Education (DCSITE) program.

The Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine has been awarded a five-year, $24 million contract by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate to advance detection canine sciences and enhance operational threat detection capabilities.

Categories: Security

Auburn statistician receives award from the Office of Naval Research to develop algorithms to help optimize naval navigation

9/15/2022 3:44:42 PM      

Elvan Ceyhan, associate professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, is the recipient of an award sponsored by the Department of the Navy, Office of Naval Research (ONR) under award number N00014-22-1-2572 for the project Adversarial Risk Analysis for Optimal Obstacle Evasion. The project, a collaboration with David Banks of Duke University, received an award of $358,000 with Auburn receiving $214,000 and Duke receiving $144,000.

The overall goal of the research project is to create procedures that avoid adversarial threats for continuous paths such as ships navigating the ocean. It will result in algorithms and methodology in Adversarial Risk Analysis (ARA).

“Imagine a grid over the ocean with traversable edges and diagonals,” said Ceyhan. “This network grid superimposed on the ocean’s surface helps us to unlock approximate paths for naval ships to safely navigate.”

“Adversarial Risk Analysis looks at a navigating agent and an adversarial agent, which would be capable of putting obstacles in the path,” said Ceyhan. “With this work, we can minimize the potential damage and expense on the path of the navigating agent to reach its required destination.”

The proposed approach is a combination of two concepts: Canadian traveler’s problem (CTP) in optimization and ARA. CTP was motivated by the traversal strategies in harsh winter conditions in Canada. “Think of a traveler who needs to reach a target, say, a pharmacy or a supermarket from her home in a vehicle,” Ceyhan explained. “However, some streets may be blocked (due to heavy snow), and she needs to navigate through the street which forms the traversal grid.”

The current project, which proposes a relatively new concept for finding feasible solutions to problems through both basic and applied research, is an adaptation of CTP to weighted and partially blocked spatial networks with adversarial agents on the network.

“We will first define the problem specification and complete the Adversarial Risk Analysis,” he said. “In the next phase of the project, we will use reinforcement learning to find the policy that is nearly optimal.”

In addition to life-saving research in naval navigation, this work also has real-world applications in both robotics and inventory allocation.

“Operations research is filled with finding solutions to traversal problems hindered with obstacles,” he added. “This work can help operations management find more successful solutions to overcome such challenges.”

Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Office of Naval Research.

Elvan Ceyhan

Elvan Ceyhan

Categories: Security, Transportation

Auburn University announces official Vapor Wake designation program

7/3/2023 4:28:54 PM      

Auburn University’s Intellectual Property Exchange (IPX) in coordination with the College of Veterinary Medicine is rolling out an official designation program for entities that have licensed Auburn’s patented Vapor Wake technology.

Vapor Wake is a unique approach to canine detection developed by researchers and canine training experts in the College of Veterinary Medicine’s Canine Performance Sciences program. It is a scientifically based method for selecting, training and employing dogs to detect hand-carried and body-worn hazardous materials such as improvised explosive devices.

With Vapor Wake detection, a dog samples vapors emanating from people in public spaces. When a target odor, such as explosives, is detected, the dog leads the handler to the individual who is the source of that odor. These dogs are purpose-bred and prepared from an early age to perform Vapor Wake detection in high-intensity settings, such as large events and mass transit venues. Simultaneously, handlers receive training on how to partner with these remarkable dogs to create effective detection teams.

Today, Vapor Wake teams are used around the world and can be found everywhere — from train stations, to airports, to stadiums and even major theme parks. The successful implementation of Vapor Wake detection has garnered recognition worldwide, leading to partnerships with law enforcement agencies, transportation authorities and security organizations. 

Given the reliability and effectiveness of this advanced detection technology, Vapor Wake is in demand to safeguard public spaces. To help meet this need, Auburn University is providing access to patented Vapor Wake technology by licensing professionals to provide a range of related services — from training Vapor Wake dogs and handlers to providing certified dogs and handlers who are ready to get to work. Only these designated entities will be licensed to provide Vapor Wake technology and to use the Vapor Wake name.

The first three members of the Vapor Wake designation program include K9 Guild, LLC of Edgewater, Florida, Global K9 Protection Group of Opelika, Alabama, and The Parker K9 Group, LLC of Woodbridge, Virginia.

“The development of Vapor Wake detection technology by Auburn University showcases the institution’s commitment to research and innovation, emphasizing the profound impact that can be achieved through collaboration between academia and industry. This new designation program will serve to broaden those impacts while preserving the unique methodology and practice at the core of genuine Vapor Wake detection services,” said Troy Brady, director of commercialization for Auburn’s Intellectual Property Exchange.

“The Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine, home to Canine Performance Sciences, is looking forward to advancement of this important technology in the private sector through the Vapor Wake designation program. Program members will make material contributions to public safety and national security,” said Frank Bartol, associate dean for research and graduate studies.

A list of current providers is available online and can be identified by the official Vapor Wake name and seal reserved for licensed and certified businesses. If you are interested in learning more about licensing Vapor Wake technology, please contact Auburn University’s Director of Commercialization, Troy Brady at 334-844 0878 or by email at

Vapor Wake dog in a crowd of people indoors

Auburn University has announced an official Vapor Wake designation program for entities that have licensed Auburn’s patented Vapor Wake technology.


Categories: Security, External Engagement

Army invests another $4.35M in Auburn additive manufacturing qualification research

10/19/2023 8:23:14 AM      


The U.S. Army is again asking Auburn University's National Center for Additive Manufacturing Excellence (NCAME) to help keep its caissons rolling toward the cutting edge.

In March 2022, NCAME initiated a $4.3 million Army project focused on the materials, parts and process qualification necessary for furthering implementation of additive manufacturing (AM) in Army operations, specifically those conducted by the Army’s Combat Capabilities Development Command Ground Vehicle Systems Center (DEVCOM GVSC). Few use-case scenarios for next-generation AM adoption illustrate the necessity of NCAME's qualification efforts better.

"The research being conducted here at Auburn is important to the Army because additive manufacturing is going to provide two different capabilities," Maj. Gen. Darren L. Werner, Special Assistant to the Commanding General for the United States Army Materiel Command, said during the Army Additive Manufacturing Summit hosted by the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering in 2021. "It's going to give us capability in our organic industrial base to integrate advanced manufacturing techniques, and it's also going to provide deployability of advanced manufacturing that we can potentially move into a forward location to produce and repair parts for our combat systems."

The Army's latest investment, a $4.35 million grant awarded this summer, will go toward establishing equivalency across multiple laser powder bed fusion (LPBF) printers — no easy task.  

"Ensuring output consistency in a single AM machine is challenging enough," said NCAME director and project principal investigator Nima Shamsaei, Philpott-WestPoint Stevens Distinguished Professor of mechanical engineering. "Ensuring consistency and transferability of process output among different machines is something else. Though they may be utilized to produce the same part, different machines have different lasers, different powder delivery systems and different cooling characteristics, which may affect the part's performance."

For the Army's purposes, the equivalency challenges are even greater, Shamsaei said.

"Yes, the push towards integrating AM into the repair and maintenance of Army ground vehicles depends on consistency, repeatability, transferability and quality of manufactured parts, same as it does in other industries," he said. "But the scenarios we are talking about involve not just different machines but different depots across the globe. The idea is to be able to fabricate the same quality part regardless of location and regardless of the machine utilized."

Partnering on the project is the ASTM International Additive Manufacturing Center of Excellence (AM CoE), which will offer advisory services encompassing an assessment of the industry's current state of qualification and equivalency. The collaboration aims to produce an in-depth landscape analysis culminating in a strategic roadmap derived from the project's findings.

Co-principal investigator Shuai Shao, associate professor of mechanical engineering, believes that NCAME's approach to addressing the sorts of material variations in question, which Shamsaei has dubbed "AM's Achilles’ heel," is unique in the AM research arena.

"While one may focus only on aesthetic representation of mechanical properties, we try to establish equivalency at the structure level," Shao said. "We look for microstructure, porosity and surface texture and how these factors affect the mechanical properties. Eventually, the established equivalency will be validated using mechanical testing. Conventional approaches operate as if locking down the process will keep the structure in question the same. However, we have seen that the structure can be very sensitive to various factors including powder specification, process parameters, geometry, location on the build plate, to name a few."

In addition to significant experimentation, Shao said the project will incorporate simulation and data analytics, or machine learning.

"We're very focused on microstructural characterization because we believe equivalency should be established at that level and then validated through mechanical testing," Shamsaei said. "This approach to qualification will avoid fabrication and testing of hundreds of test specimens for each new machine and material combination. Our objective with this project is to continue developing a rapid and reliable approach for material and process qualification across different OEMs of metal LPBF equipment."

Media Contact: Jeremy Henderson,, 334-844-3591


Nima Shamsaei and Shuai Shao

Nima Shamsaei and Shuai Shao

Categories: Security, Transportation, Engineering, External Engagement, Manufacturing

Auburn University Applied Research Institute to oversee $50M Army advanced manufacturing project — the largest research contract in university history

1/12/2024 11:56:54 AM      

How much is Auburn University's advanced manufacturing expertise worth to the U.S. Army? Up to $50 million.

That's the total of a new three-year project — the single largest prime research contract ever awarded to Auburn University —  designed to help the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center boost its increasing modernization efforts.

Titled  "Lightweight, Advanced Manufacturing of Metallic, Polymer and Composite Structures for Aviation and Missile Weapon Systems," the project will be facilitated through the Auburn University Applied Research Institute (AUARI) in Huntsville and rely extensively on research expertise from Auburn’s National Center for Additive Manufacturing Excellence (NCAME), and the Interdisciplinary Center for Advanced Manufacturing Systems (ICAMS).

"Our main objective is to enable the Army to incorporate advanced manufacturing materials and methods into existing and future aviation and missile systems," said Robert Dowling, AUARI director of research development. "To do that, we'll develop prototype advanced manufacturing processes required to analyze, design, develop, test, integrate and sustain qualified components for existing and future aviation and missile systems. The advanced manufacturing materials we're considering include alloys, polymers and composites. The methods will include everything from machine learning to material properties characterization."

Specific to the latter, $9.3 million of the award has already been designated for NCAME, which will use the funds to continue its industry-leading research into the materials, parts and process qualification necessary for furthering implementation of additive manufacturing in Army operations.

"While existing and future aviation and missile systems will be the direct beneficiaries of the project, successful results may be transferable to other government advanced manufacturing projects," Dowling said. "A lot of effort has gone into developing this opportunity. We're excited to get to work."

Steve Taylor, Auburn University's senior vice president for research and economic development, agrees.

"It goes without saying, but this is a significant accomplishment for Auburn's research enterprise and our Applied Research Institute," Taylor said. "But it also speaks volumes about how our Army partners in Huntsville, and beyond, are placing significant value on Auburn's work in advanced manufacturing, which is a key research focus area for our Samuel Ginn College of Engineering. To say it's paying off is an understatement." 

Dowling also calls the project tailor-made for fulfilling one of the AUARI administration's stated goals — creating a pipeline for real-time engagement between stakeholders in Huntsville's defense sector and Auburn University's main campus.

“With this award, we’ve demonstrated the significant opportunities that can be created for faculty and students when we combine our core research expertise with customer proximity and knowledge,” Dowling said. “AUARI’s proximity to Redstone Arsenal and familiarity with Army customers and missions enabled the AUARI team to develop a highly responsive proposal representing a broad spectrum of Auburn’s research capabilities both on-campus and in Huntsville.”

In other words, mission accomplished.

“President Roberts' vision for Auburn is built around dreaming bigger, being bolder and pushing our research endeavors to the next level,” Taylor said. “This historic award does exactly that."

Media Contact: Jeremy Henderson,, 334-844-3591

orange and blue graphic with helicopter silhouettes, Auburn University logo, and text: The LARGEST Research Contract in University History, $50 Million, War Eagle

The single largest prime research contract ever awarded to Auburn University is designed to help the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center boost its increasing modernization efforts.

Categories: Security, Engineering, External Engagement, Manufacturing, Advanced Systems

Aerospace engineering faculty earn DOD research funding to study rotor performance in adverse environments

5/7/2024 1:09:37 PM      

Nek Sharan, assistant professor in the Department of Aerospace Engineering, and Vrishank Raghav, associate professor of aerospace engineering are one of the 27 collaborative academic teams awarded research projects through the U.S. Department of Defense's Defense Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (DEPSCoR) program.

According to the DOD, DEPSCoR is a capacity-building program designed to strengthen the basic research infrastructure at higher education institutions in underutilized states and territories.

Sharan is the principal investigator for the project 'Dynamic Loads and Flow Structures on a Hovering Rotor Blade Above Inclined Ground.' Raghav, the co-PI, is collaborating with Sharan to investigate the impact of airflow on rotor blades while hovering over inclined surfaces.

“Rotorcraft, including military helicopters and modern drones, often operate in these conditions, but the amount of thrust produced and why they reduce or increase in such unique scenarios aren’t well understood,” Sharan said.

Sharan plans to develop advanced simulations to model the complex airflow around the rotor blades and understand how thrust is affected. Additionally, they plan to investigate the influence of different airflow patterns on ground forces.

Raghav’s responsibility involves conducting experiments to measure aerodynamic forces and airflow around the blades utilizing his novel Rotating Three-Dimensional Velocimetry (R3DV) methodology. This method facilitates the measurement of time-resolved 3D velocity fields within the rotating frame of reference.

"The measurements needed for understanding this problem are very challenging and our technique — R3DV — is one of the few that is capable of quantifying this flow field,” Raghav said.

Sharan will use the data gathered by Raghav to validate his code/solver.

“Once my solver is validated and we can expect accurate results, it may be scaled to simulate flow conditions experienced by the rotorcraft (helicopters or drones) at realistic scales,” Sharan said.

Sharan understands that the simulations need to be performed over a range of parameters, by varying the types of slopes, rotor height and the number of blades. This will allow him to explore how these factors influence the flow field, ground forces and the thrust experienced by the rotorcraft.

When helicopter blades hover over dusty areas, they can create a phenomenon known as a “brownout,” which significantly impairs the pilot’s visibility. Similarly, rotorcraft operating near snow-covered mountains may encounter a “whiteout” effect. These conditions pose severe safety concerns for personnel and equipment on the ground and aboard the vehicle.

“An incomplete understanding of the ground effects has led to several rotorcraft accidents in recent times, so there is considerable interest in understanding both the thrust dynamics and the overall flow field,” Sharan said.

If pilots know how fast to descend to a lower altitude and how high above the ground to hover, it will reduce risks for personnel or passengers exiting the vehicle or dropping supplies/equipment to the ground. Additionally, it could reduce the generation of dust or other environmental disturbances.

The DEPSCoR Research Collaboration competition is open to tenured and tenure-track faculty members in 37 states and territories eligible for DEPSCoR funds. The competition helps introduce potential researchers to DOD's unique research needs and supporting research ecosystem. Each collaborative team pairs a PI new to the DOD research enterprise with a mentor who has previously worked with the department.

Raghav recently secured a DOD grant for his research on implementing the R3DV technique in forward flight conditions. He said that Sharan's work complements his own because they both combine computational and experimental methods. Since Raghav's research tackles similar challenges outlined by the DOD, their collaboration makes sense.

“I was very grateful to have the opportunity to help a colleague through this process,” Raghav said. “It provided me an opportunity to share what I have learned over the past few years and I am happy that it helped Nek win the DOD grant.”

Media Contact: Dustin Duncan,, 334-844-2326

Nek Sharan (left) and Vrishank Raghav outdoors

Nek Sharan (left) and Vrishank Raghav (right), both aerospace engineering faculty members, will investigate the impact of airflow on the rotor blades of helicopters and drones hovering over inclined surfaces.

Categories: Security, Engineering

Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff tours Auburn Engineering research centers

5/7/2024 1:17:46 PM      

The Navy's "Old Salt" — a sobriquet reserved for its longest-serving surface warfare officer on active duty — just got a taste of new research.

Adm. Christopher W. Grady, who as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is the nation's second highest-ranking military officer, toured prominent Auburn University engineering research centers in advance of his Friday address at Auburn's NROTC commissioning ceremony, at which he will serve as commissioning officer.

"It's an immense honor to have Adm. Grady take the time to get an up-close look at the next-level research happening in the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering," said Mario Eden, dean of engineering. "We take great pride in our leading role in supporting the military's mission through our advanced manufacturing and cybersecurity capabilities."

Grady began his visit by meeting with Auburn University President Christopher B. Roberts to discuss Auburn's collaboration with the Department of Defense, as well as the university's multiple space industry partnerships, including the Auburn University Research and Innovation Campus' new status as a base of technical support operations for the Space Development Agency in Huntsville.

Grady later visited Auburn's National Center for Additive Manufacturing Excellence (NCAME), whose internationally renowned expertise in additive manufacturing characterization will feature heavily in a new $50 million advanced manufacturing project — the single largest prime research contract ever awarded to Auburn University — designed to boost the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center's growing modernization efforts. NCAME's integral work on NASA's Rapid Analysis and Manufacturing Propulsion Technology project, or RAMPT, is crucial to improving the performance of the liquid rocket engines that will return the U.S. to the moon — and beyond.

Other stops included the new Design and Innovation Center in the Brown-Kopel Engineering Student Achievement Center, the most hands-on campus makerspace in the country; the Auburn Cyber Research Center, which integrates cutting-edge engineering technology with research to develop innovative methods of protecting U.S. cybersecurity; the Auburn University Small Satellite Program, a space science and technology research and workforce development program; and the Interdisciplinary Center for Advanced Manufacturing Systems, whose millions in Department of Defense contracts go toward the increasingly critical mission of reducing barriers inhibiting the introduction of Industry 4.0 technologies in small and medium manufacturing operations.

Grady liked what he saw.

"Auburn University is a premier research institution with some of the best facilities in the country," Grady said. "The cutting-edge work, especially in advanced manufacturing and cybersecurity, is vital for U.S. national security and our presence in space."

Media Contact: Jeremy Henderson,, 334-844-3591

Lt. Gen. (retired) Ron Burgess, Christopher B. Roberts, Adm. Christopher W. Grady, and Steven Taylor

Pictured from the left: Lt. Gen. Ronald L. Burgess, Christopher B. Roberts, Adm. Christopher W. Grady and Steven Taylor

Categories: Security, Engineering

Auburn IPX office, innovative patents, aid continued move up NAI top 100

6/5/2024 9:32:00 AM      

Auburn University has been ranked among the top 100 U.S. universities granted utility patents in 2023, according to a report published recently by the National Academy of Inventors (NAI).

With 16 new patents issued in 2023, Auburn was ranked 87th on the list, 10 places higher than last year. The list was created to highlight and celebrate American innovation and to recognize those universities that play a large role in advancing the innovation ecosystem within the U.S. and beyond.

A sampling of Auburn’s recent patents demonstrates the wide scope of innovative research ongoing across the university. These include a new aid for use in canine detection training that allows dogs to be taught to alert on extremely hazardous substances without actual risk of exposure to those substances by the dogs or their trainers. Another patent was issued for a low-cost, extremely sensitive sensor — designed to detect a variety of substances — that can be used in a number of inexpensive diagnostic devices. 

According to Patrick Reed, who was named executive director of the AU IP Exchange (IPX) Office at the beginning of 2024, the number of patents as well as Auburn’s NAI ranking should only contin

ue to increase thanks to a renewed emphasis on encouraging and incubating innovation across the entire campus.

The IP Exchange, located in Auburn’s Research Park, supports innovation and connects AU subject matter experts with external partners to help bring new ideas and products to market. IPX also moves beyond the traditional technology transfer role by getting involved earlier in the collaborative research process.

“We bring decades of experience evaluating and cultivating early-stage innovation,” Reed said, “and work daily with faculty, staff and students; patents and copyrights; and business, industry and other external partners. Bringing Auburn innovation to the marketplace for the benefit of the public is at the core of everything we do.”

One example of a 2023 patent that is already being brought to the marketplace to benefit the public is a new method for manufacturing personalized protective gear such as pads and braces based on a body scan of the future wearer. An Auburn-based company, XO Armor, is already using this technique — along with advanced 3-D printing technology — to develop individualized athletic and medical devices for clients nationwide. The company was founded by Michael Zabala, Auburn Alumni Engineering Council Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering.

And while the university’s STEM areas have traditionally been strong centers of innovation, Reed also noted that the Auburn IPX is increasingly expanding its reach into other colleges and schools campus-wide. The IP Exchange also plans to pursue more federal grant funding opportunities to bolster and increase innovation, commercialization and entrepreneurship across the entire campus.

“We are working to grow the innovation tent at AU by approaching other colleges and schools as well as researchers outside of the usual STEM areas,” he said. “Bringing non-STEM areas into the fold will grow our core metrics while also helping to create new areas of interdisciplinary research, such as inclusion of industrial design or psychology into relevant lines of research inquiry.”

Finally, IPX is working to further improve its services to make them ever more user-friendly. The office has added several new staff members in the past 12 months to further improve the client experience. “Our goal is to make working with IPX as easy as possible,” Reed explained. “We want to be seen as a nimble, flexible, and creative research-support unit.”

All these IPX initiatives promise to continue to add to Auburn’s already strong association with the NAI. In addition to its inclusion on the Top 100 U.S. Universities list, AU has seen nine of its faculty members named as NAI fellows and one as an NAI senior member. The prestigious NAI fellows program honors academicians “who have demonstrated a spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development and the welfare of society.”

Current and emeritus Auburn faculty members who have previously been recognized as NAI fellows include Fa Foster Dai, J. David Irwin, Joseph W. Kloepper, John Weete, the late S.D. “Dave” Worley, Bruce Tatarchuk and the late Vitaly Vodyanoy. Auburn faculty member Yonhua Tzeng and Mehmet Arik were named NAI fellows in 2022 and 2023, respectively. Jin Wang, the first Auburn faculty member to be named a senior member, is the Walt and Virginia Woltosz Professor in Auburn’s Samuel Ginn College of Engineering. Wang’s research innovations center around effectively converting waste into value-added products.

Founded in 2010 to recognize and encourage inventors with patents issued from the United States Patent and Trademark Office, the NAI is a member organization of U.S. and international universities and governmental and non-profit research institutes, with more than 4,000 individual inventor members and fellows spanning more than 250 institutions worldwide.

Michael Zabala with mannequin displaying orthotic device

Michael Zabala is one of the patent holders whose innovations earned Auburn a spot in the National Academy of Inventors' ranking of top 100 universities granted utility patents in 2023.

Categories: Security, Engineering, OSVPRED, Economic Development