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Grainger Engineering, ZJU announce three new joint research centers


Miranda Holloway

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Grainger College of Engineering and Zhejiang University in Haining, China (ZJU) announced three new joint research center projects.
These projects are another piece of the extensive partnership between the two institutions. The goal of this collaborative research program is to initiate and expand the relationship between faculty from both colleges, especially those within engineering disciplines.
2020 projects focus on human health, flexible manufacturing, and sustainable development.
ZJU-UIUC Center for Pathogen Diagnostics
The COVID-19 pandemic swept across the world beginning in 2020, and has underscored the need for cost-effective, accurate, and quick diagnostics. The Center for Pathogen Diagnostics will create new detection systems that address limitations of current technologies, while leveraging the power of artificial intelligence and machine learning to analyze disease trends, analyze sensor data, and predict future outbreaks.
“With COVID, we’re seeing the limitations of current best practices for virus detection,” said Brian Cunningham, the Intel Alumni Endowed Chair in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Illinois’ Grainger Engineering. “It takes too long to get results, and accuracy remains a concern. Instead of chemical testing, we’re interested in using new detection modalities, like detecting intact viruses, to create faster, more cost-effective diagnostics.”
Members of the team represent five “pillars” of pathogen diagnostics technologies. Researchers will: study the interactions between pathogens and host cells at the molecular level; will develop sample pre-processing techniques that enable the breakdown of cells and extraction of DNA and RNA, so that viruses and bacteria can be identified; create biosensors that are more sensitive, which will lower false negatives and positives, and be able to detect different variations of SARS-CoV; use AI and machine learning algorithms to analyze data that is produced by the sensors, and to monitor health trends for public health officials.
The Center for Pathogen Diagnostics will be located in the Holonyak Micro & Nanotechnology Laboratory. In addition to Cunningham, the Illinois research team includes: Yang Zhao, bioengineering, HMNTL Director Xiuling Li, and Lav Varshney, electrical and computer engineering; Yi Lu, chemistry; Steven Blanke, microbiology; and Xing Wang, research associate professor at the Holonyak Micro & Nanotechnology Lab.
The ZJU team includes Shaowei Fang, Qingjun Liu, Chun Zhou, Huan Hu, and Yu Lin.
Adaptive, Resilient Cyber-Physical Manufacturing Networks (AR-CyMaN)
As the world enters the fourth industrial revolution, industry needs new capabilities, efficiencies, and flexibility in manufacturing by exploiting the connectivity, data access and analysis, and computer-driving automation made possible by modern cyber-infrastructure to make and execute timely, perceptive, data-supported manufacturing decisions.
This next generation of manufacturing infrastructure is essentially a cyber-physical system that integrates manufacturing resources with high-bandwidth communications and high-performance edge and endpoint computing.
The Center on Adaptive, Resilient Cyber-Physical Manufacturing Networks aims to define the science and technology for creating smart and highly flexible manufacturing networks. Researchers will focus on the interaction of autonomous hardware and storage to produce verifiably correct and safe behavior to achieve a common manufacturing; the collection, curation, storage and use of data on the current and past states and performance of the network/agents in evoking optimized behavior; the continuous analysis of the data to learn and train decision-making; on-the-fly adaptation to changing needs and detected errors or risks in order to ensure resilience.
The team is led by Katherine Driggs-Campbell from electrical and computer engineering with Placid Ferreira as the co-lead from mechanical science and engineering. Illinois team also includes; Narayana Aluru, mechanical science and engineering; William King, mechanical science and engineering, biomedical and translational biosciences, Carle Illinois College of Medicine; Klara Nahrstedt, computer science; Srinivas Salapaka, mechanical science and engineering;  and Chenhui Shao, mechanical science and engineering.
The team from ZJU includes; Klaus-Dieter Schewe, Hongwei Wang, Liangjing Yang, Huan Hu, Zhiqiang Ge; Hong Zhou.
CIRCLE: Center for Infrastructure Resilience in Cities as Livable Environments
The Center for Infrastructure Resilience in Cities as Livable Environments is committed to making cities resilient against natural and human-made disasters. Climate change and human activities have exacerbated the frequency, duration, and intensity of such events.
Over 80 percent of the U.S. population and 60 percent of China’s population live in urban environments and rely on their infrastructure systems for essential needs like energy, water, environment, and transportation.
To make sure these cities are livable environments where people and their livelihoods are protected, their infrastructure must be resilient against extreme events.
The researcher’s center will converge data science and engineering to assess current vulnerabilities and design strategies to develop resilient interdependent infrastructure in and to enhance overall resilience in cities as livable environments. The team will use nearby Chicago and Hangzhou as testbeds and is planning to pursue a non-traditional approach of holistic infrastructure ecology and the system of systems approach.
Using this method, they will be able incorporate intrinsic system interdependencies and leverage the rapid advancements in autonomous technology, sensors, big data and machine learning, as well as policy innovations.
The project leads at Illinois are; Billie F. Spencer Jr., Ashlynn Stillwell, Ximing Cai, Yangfeng Ouyang, and Jinhui Yan of civil and environmental engineering. The team also includes; Marcelo Garcia, Lei Zhao, civil and environmental engineering; Zhizhen Zhao, electrical and computer engineering.
The ZJU team members are Yan Xiao, Chushan Li, Tingju Zhu, Simon Hu, Cristoforo Demartino, Yueping Xu, Mark Butala, and Binbin Li.