News & Events
ALERT Collaborates with CBP on Technology Demonstration at Los Angeles/Long Beach Seaport December 18, 2019
On Thursday, November 21, 2019, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Office of Field Operations at the Los Angeles/Long Beach Seaport headed by Chief Victor Todorov, hosted an all-day Technology Demonstration organized and led by ALERT Industrial Liaison Officer, Ms. Emel Bulat. The meeting was well-attended with six members of the ALERT researchers and staff, seven industry representatives, six senior DHS personnel and 25 CBP officers participating.
To kick-off the meeting, General Robert Newman, Executive Director for the Office of Mission and Capability Support at DHS S&T gave welcoming remarks along with Dr. Laura Parker, Program Manager for DHS S&T, Mr. David Taylor, Portfolio Manager, for DHS S&T and CBP Assistant Port Director Edward Morones. In preparation for the event, four of ALERT’s industry partners including Pendar Technologies, Rapiscan Systems, Rigaku Analytical Equipment, and Smiths Detection prepared live demonstrations of six instruments including handheld Raman Spectroscopy units and bench-top or handheld Ion Mobility Spectrometry systems.
One week prior to the event, vendors were given a list of approximately 40 compounds, mostly from a Drug Enforcement Agency list of precursors, to add to their instruments’ lookup libraries for sample identification. Ten samples consisting of 1 to 4 compounds from the aforementioned list were prepared for analysis and scanned. At the end of the meeting, six “live” shipments were scanned on the warehouse floor. A team of CBP/DHS S&T/ALERT evaluators are currently reviewing the results which will be reported to the participating vendors by the end of December.
The enthusiasm with which the CBP Officers and vendors prepared for and participated in the Technology Demonstration made this event a great success. We thank them for their partnership and teamwork.
ALERT Researchers, Dr. Jimmie Oxley and Dr. Otto Gregory featured in the Press December 18, 2019
ALERT Researcher and URI Professor, Dr. Jimmie Oxley, was recently featured on CBS News discussing TSA projects aimed at improving the security screening process for travelers. The story details new technology being developed as part of ALERT research at URI such as the desensitizing agent known as SCHMOO (Safe Control of Hazard Materials or Others Onsite) recently developed by Dr. Oxley’s team. SCHMOO is a unique gel that can be applied to hazardous materials to neutralize them and allow for safe removal and transportation for later analysis.
The CBS article also describes the “digital dog nose” being developed by ALERT Researcher and URI Professor, Otto Gregory with the goal of detecting explosives as well as or better than a bomb-sniffing dog. Dr. Gregory is featured in an additional story on ABC News during with he describes one benefit of the digital dog nose as being available around the clock, thereby not requiring breaks and reinforcement which is necessary for the dogs.
Both news items also describe the “Innovation Checkpoint” at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas which is a testing space for TSA technologies such as ID readers that will scan licenses to validate identification and flight information without the need to show a boarding pass at the security checkpoint.
Dr. Gregory’s related journal article titled, “Orthogonal Sensors for the Trace Detection of Explosives” appeared in IEEE Sensors in October 2019 and was the subject of a lead story in the IEEE Spectrum.
Watch the full CBS feature story here: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/tsa-testing-advanced-airport-security-technology-digital-dog-nose-innovation-checkpoint/
Watch the full ABC affiliate feature story here: https://youtu.be/LSqfRB5eqwc
Annual Student Pipeline Industry Roundtable Event (ASPIRE) 2020 December 18, 2019
The Annual Student Pipeline Industry Roundtable Event (ASPIRE) will be held on April 8th, 2020 from 11:30AM-5:00PM at the Cabral Center, John D. O’Bryant African American Institute on the Northeastern University, Boston Campus. The event is hosted by the ALERT (Awareness and Localization of Explosives-Related Threats) & Gordon-CenSSIS (The Bernard M. Gordon Center for Subsurface Sensing and Imaging Systems).
ASPIRE provides an optimum setting for dialogue among members of the academic, industrial and government communities and also provides networking opportunities for ALERT students looking for internships, co-op opportunities and full-time jobs. The event is targeted at undergraduate and graduate students in the fields of engineering, science, and computer & information sciences interested in careers related to homeland security.
The ASPIRE features representatives from our Gordon-CenSSIS and ALERT industry and government partners. Typical event partners expected are American Science & Engineering, Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology, Raytheon Company, U.S Customs and Border Protection and More.
If you are a student interested in attending, please reach out to Tiffany Lam: [email protected].
If you are an industry or government representative interested in attending, please reach out to Emel Bulat: [email protected].
ALERT Hosts IAB Meeting and ADSA21 Workshop December 18, 2019
Last month, the Awareness and Localization of Explosives-Related Threats (ALERT) Center of Excellence held its annual Industrial Advisory Board (IAB) Meeting and ADSA21 Workshop. ALERT’s annual IAB Meeting and other members-only events provide industrial members with the opportunity to network with other industrial members, faculty from ALERT’s partner institutions, and representatives from local, state, and federal government institutions. The ADSA Workshop series is intended to encourage open discussion of the challenges and opportunities related to the development of next-generation security systems and to facilitate collaboration and innovation between researchers from academia, national labs, and industry.
Over the three days of events, more than 150+ attendees from academia, DHS, TSA, government, and ALERT’s Industrial members and more participated in presentations, panel discussions and keynote talks. The week’s events started with the IAB meeting on November 4th at the Northeastern Innovation Campus in Burlington, MA. As the most attended IAB yet, this year’s agenda included a keynote address from Len Polizzotto, Partner at the Practice of Innovation, on maximizing the Innovation Process, utilizing some interesting techniques to keep companies moving in the right direction. ALERT Researcher, Professor Matteo Rinaldi’s presentation on Near-Zero Power Sensors was extremely well received with DHS S&T requesting further information to initiate the next steps for potentially providing additional funding for the project.
IAB attendees also took an in-depth tour of the Northeastern Drone Test Facility and the ALERT Video Analytics Lab. The day concluded with a Student Poster session and networking reception. Thirteen students, both undergraduate and graduate, presented their current research projects while networking with industrial members.
The topic of practicing and supporting innovation continued throughout the week on November 5th & 6th at ADSA21, which addressed the theme of Effective Integrated Systems for Aviation Security. During the two days of workshops, subject matter experts and leaders discussed defining and developing effective integrated systems including human operators, detection versus deterrence versus displacement, and the role of interconnectivity with open architectures, amongst others. In particular, attendees highlighted the Day One Q&A session, overall TSA presence and the introduction of machine learning to projects as their favorite moments during the two days of workshops.
We’re looking forward to the next ADSA Workshop (ADSA22) which will be held at the same location on May 6-7, 2020. The theme of the next workshop will be “ Reducing Cognitive Load of Operators of Aviation Security Equipment.”
Next Monday! Industrial Advisory Board Meeting – November 4th, 2019 October 31, 2019
As part of membership to Gordon-CenSSIS and the ALERT Center of Excellence, Industrial Advisory Board (IAB) members are invited to an annual meeting every fall. This member-only event brings together ALERT industrial members, faculty from ALERT’s partner universities, as well as representatives from the local, state, and federal homeland security enterprise.
The 6th annual Industrial Advisory Board (IAB) Meeting will take place on Monday, November 4th, 2019 from 12-6 PM at the Northeastern Innovation Campus in Burlington, MA. This year’s meeting will continue to strengthen collaboration amongst members through keynote presentations, facility tours, networking and more. The day’s activities will include the following:
- Keynote Address: presented by Len Polizzotto, Partner, Practice of Innovation
- ALERT Faculty/Technology Highlight: Zero Power Sensors; presented by Matteo Rinaldi, Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, ALERT Trace and Vapor Sensors(R3) PI
- Guest Presentation: The Intersection of Research, Innovation, Education and Training; presented by Craig Gruber
- Tours: Northeastern Drone Testing Facility and ALERT Video Analytics Lab
- Student Poster Session and Networking Reception
This is an invitation-only event for ALERT industry and government members. If you are interested in learning more about center membership or how to become a member, please see our ALERT Industry Benefits of Collaboration webpage.
ALERT Researcher Matteo Rinaldi Receives $473K NSF Grant October 31, 2019
ALERT Faculty Professor Matteo Rinaldi is part of a research team awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation for “Fully Integrated Parametric Filters for Extensive Phase-Noise Reduction in Low-Power RF Front-Ends and Resonant Sensing Platforms.” Dr. Rinaldi, along with Assistant Professor Cristian Cassella (PI), and Associate Professor Marvin Onabajo, will use this award to develop next-generation micro- and nano-sensors with a longer battery lifetime and the ability to transmit a higher volume of data.
The project, executed by a multidisciplinary team of machine learning, systems, and networking researchers, aims to develop new techniques to achieve frequency stability in low-power and high-frequency integrated oscillators, addressing one of the most critical challenges that is currently limiting the performance of RF receivers and resonant sensing platforms. This research will lead to integrated wireless front-ends with longer battery lifetime and capable to transmit larger volumes of information, at higher rates. Moreover, the outcomes of the research will enable unprecedented levels of resolution and sensitivity to be attained in next-generation low-power micro- and nano-sensors.
Dr. Rinaldi’s research with ALERT focuses on understanding and exploiting the fundamental properties of micro/nanomechanical structures and advanced nanomaterials to engineer new classes of micro and nanoelectromechanical systems (M/NEMS) with unique and enabling features applied to the areas of chemical, physical and biological sensing and low power reconfigurable radio communication systems. These next generation trace detectors should provide near real-time detection, high sensitivity, and high specificity for a targeted group of explosives, and should result in very low false positive and false negative rates. Read more about Matteo Rinaldi’s work in Multi-Functional Nano-Electro-Opto-Mechanical (NEOM) Sensing Platform.
ALERT Technology Showcase: Inspiring Innovation October 31, 2019
For users without YouTube access: ALERT Technology Showcase: Inspiring Innovation
This past May, the ALERT Center of Excellence held its first Technology Showcase at Northeastern University. The showcase featured presentations, posters, and technology demonstrations of the Center’s research and tools, highlighting ALERT’s partnerships with industry and government.
In our latest ALERT video, ALERT Technology Showcase: Inspiring Innovation, attendees discuss the importance of bringing researchers from various backgrounds together to share their work and receive diverse viewpoints on their technical approach. Highlighting how this type of a showcase is rare, Astrophysics, Inc. CEO, François Zayek thought it was a great way to encourage researchers to step back from their interests and learn about new technology.
Not only did researchers like ALERT Video Analytics and Signature Analysis Lead, David Castañón, find sharing their work and innovative technologies amongst peers helpful, they also found the exposure to industry and government stakeholders provided a different, yet significant perspective.
“Companies get to see you, and they’re not always available while you’re doing research at a University. It’s good to get feedback from people from different viewpoints in the company and the government. They say, ‘well this is interesting,’ and this may be useful in a context that I hadn’t thought of.”
– David Castañón, ALERT Video Analytics and Signature Analysis Lead and Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Boston University.
Hear more from Professor Castañón and Astrophysics, Inc. CEO François Zayek in “ALERT Technology Showcase: Inspiring Innovation.”
REMINDER: ADSA21 November 5th & 6th October 31, 2019
We look forward to seeing you next week at ADSA21!
The twenty-first Advanced Development for Security Applications (ADSA21) Workshop will be held on November 5-6, 2019 at Northeastern University in Boston, MA. The theme of the workshop is “Effective Integrated Systems.” Presentations and panel discussions will include defining and developing effective integrated systems including human operators, detection versus deterrence versus displacement, and the role of interconnectivity with open architectures, amongst others.
These workshops are by invitation only. Please contact Tiffany Lam at [email protected] if you are interested in attending future ADSA events.
FAA Challenge – Smart Airport Student Competition October 31, 2019
The Federal Aviation Administration is hosting a Smart Airport Student Competition for undergraduate and graduate students to “develop innovative ways to use smart technology in and around airports to enhance the overall travel experience.” The competition will recognize students with the ability to demonstrate innovative thinking focused on improving the efficiency and effectiveness of smart technology in and around the airport environment while enhancing the overall traveling experience.
The FAA hopes to stimulate and advance innovation in aviation research, promote the development of a robust aviation workforce to support a growing and evolving aerospace system, develop a pipeline to fill current and projected shortages via partnerships with academia and industry, and drive a passion for aviation in today’s youth of all ages and backgrounds. Moreover, the FAA intends to incentivize university-level students at accredited US-based colleges and universities to think creatively to develop solutions to transportation technology challenges while addressing the human factors aspects of the traveler experience. and to share those innovations with the broader community.
The competition started on September 16, 2019, and ends on January 13, 2020. Visit the FAA Challenge website for more information on the submission guidelines.
ANSI Student Paper Competition 2020 – Papers Due April 30, 2020 October 31, 2019
The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) is holding a student paper competition in 2020, on the topic of STANDARDS SUPPORTING UNITED NATIONS SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS. Papers are to be submitted to ANSI by April 30, 2020.
This competition will serve as a call to action for all countries of the world to promote health, safety, and prosperity while protecting the planet. To highlight the power of standards as a tool in these efforts, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) 2020 Student Paper Competition asks students to choose one of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals and explore the ways in which standards play a role in achieving it, or could in the future. Papers should identify a relevant standard or multiple standards and discuss how they can contribute to strategies and solutions for reaching the targets set out in one of the Sustainable Development Goals. Read more about submission guidelines here.