Student Spotlight: Matthew Tivnan

Matthew Tivnan, a senior undergraduate in Electrical Engineering and Physics at Northeastern University, is our first undergraduate student to participate in the ALERT DHS HS-STEM (Homeland Security Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Science and Engineering Workforce Development Program (SEWDP).

The Science and Engineering Workforce Development Program was previously known as the Career Development Program (CDP), and was established in 2011 with a grant to Northeastern University from the Department of Homeland Security, Science and Technology Directorate. In 2015 the program was expanded, and now awards fellowships to full-time students pursuing BS, MS or PhD degrees related to ALERT’s research. After completing their degree and other program requirements, graduates are required to obtain paid employment within the Homeland Security Enterprise for at least one year.

During his time at Northeastern, Matt has worked with Prof. Carey Rappaport on a project focused on the Microwave Radar Imaging in Biological Tissue, which can be used to detect surgically implanted explosives and breast cancer tumors. By studying the scattering of electromagnetic waves in biological tissues he designs advanced imaging algorithms for the detection and localization of dangerous targets.

Although he applied to Northeastern with the intent of studying music, Matt quickly changed majors to Electrical Engineering, and began working with Prof. Rappaport his freshmen year when he participated in the ALERT and Gordon-CenSSIS Scholars Program.  His involvement since has only increased, as he became a summer REU participant, an ALERT and Gordon-CenSSIS Mentor, and is now part of the SEWDP.  Last spring, Matt spent his co-op working for Photodiagnostic Systems Inc. (PDSI), a Massachusetts-based company founded and chaired by Bernard M. Gordon, which makes advanced imaging systems for medical and security applications. As an Apprentice Imaging Engineer, he spent his time there working on PET (Positron Emission Tomography) scatter correction algorithms, wrote a 2D projection algorithm using 3D CT (Computed Tomography) data, designed a 3D dynamic balancing procedure for a rotating CT disk, and helped build several CT scanners from the ground up.

When asked how his co-op experience shaped his career goals and what his plans are for the near future, he says, “At PDSI, I learned about a great option for a career I would really enjoy. I’m planning to take a year after I graduate in May 2017 to work in industry, and am looking for a position where I can work on advanced imaging technology. After that, I’m hoping to continue on to graduate school.”

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