In 2007, I sought to have Lenovo Corporation sponsor a senior capstone design team to work on technology for a developing country. A proposal subsequently submitted jointly with Kurt DeMaagd to Lenovo was funded, allowing us to attack the problem of providing computers for schools in developing countries, where no Internet infrastructure or even electric power grid was available. Lenovo's goal was to identify appropriate technology that might assist them to introduce a product well suited for such a market, as part of their very significant program of philanthropic efforts. We began by forming a team of electrical and computer engineering students, joint with two telecommunications students, as part of the Senior Capstone Design course I used to teach each semester. The teams were charged with developing a solar-powered, satellite-connected Internet capability of 4-8 seats that could be installed in a Maasai village in Tanzania. Kurt DeMaagd and I were joined by Prof. Jennifer Olson (Telecommunications) on a trip seeking possible sites in June, 2008, and in December, 2008, we took a team of four ECE students, plus the hardware they chose and built, to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, to join up with two Tanzanian faculty members and two of their EE students. Together, we went to Losirwa Village, a Maasai community near Mto wa Mbu (Arusha District) in Tanzania. A week's hard work there resulted in the Maasai's first Internetted primary school, run by solar cells and some very hefty batteries. Although Lenovo sponsorship ended after the first year, MSU stepped in and provided fundiing to found a new Study Abroad program and a new undergraduate specialization in Information and Communication Technology for Development that will help to institutionalize this program, allowing students to complete two background courses on the economic and cultural issues of development and a course on technology appropriate for developing countries, followed by a field experience installing a system in a region with such needs (initially in Tanzania). To date, the program has served three elementary schools and two secondary schools, profiding all of them computer classrooms and Internet access, and where needed, a solar power system. We have now also installed video classrooms in three of those schools. To date, more than 60 MSU students have spent a month in Tanzania under this program, under the supervision of Profs. Jennifer Olson and myself. Earlier, Professors Kurt DeMaagd and Lalita Udpa also participated in overseeingthe students' activities in Tanzania.
Professional video is here, while unedited video clips and still photos from the December, 2008 trip to Tanzania are linked from the Teaching section. Our student and faculty visits are supplemented by maintenance visits from our Tanzanian IT specialist, Alex Rutatinisibwa, who also works with us during our student visits. We now have five schools on our mini-network, sharing the feed from the satellite downlink. The schools are Baraka Primary School, Manyara Secondary School, Mto wa Mbu Primary School, Rift Valley Secondary School, and Jangwani Primary School. The primary schools' computers run on solar power systems that we installed, while the secondary schools use UPS-conditioned power purchased from Tanesco, the Tanzanian utility.
I made my first trip to China in 1988, living in Shanghai at Fudan University for the summer while continuing my study of the Chinese language, begun at MSU in 1987.
During my service as Chair of the ACM Special Interest Group for Genetic and Evolutionary Computation (SIGEVO), I decided to begin organizing our first conference in Asia, not as our regular GECCO conference, but as an additional one, to be called the International Summit on Genetic and Evolutionary Computation (GEC Summit for short). I was general co-chair (with Prof. Lihong Xu, a visiting professor in my laboratory) of this conference, which was held in Shanghai, June 12-14, 2009. We were delighted to see that more than 380 papers were submitted for this conference.
During my sabbatical leave at Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics in 1993-94, I established a Chinese GA consortium of universities working on research in genetic algorithms, including BUAA, Tsinghua University, and Zhejiang University. Both the Russian and Chinese consortia worked with and continued to develop a common set of parallel GA tools, GALOPPS, (for both PC's and workstations) that were originally developed at MSU (however, GALOPPS was frozen in the late 90s, and no further development is ongoing with that platform). In 2000, I began additional collaborative GA research with faculty members in Shanghai (East China Normal University and Shanghai Jiaotong University) and Nanjing (Nanjing University), under sponsorship of the National Natural Science Foundation (China). In 2000, I also began working with collaborators at East China Normal University (Shanghai) and Nanjing University, on several problems employing genetic algorithms for data mining and parameter estimation problems.
My collaborations with Chinese researchers and a series of lecture trips to China have resulted in my being named Advisory Professor at five Chinese universities: Tongji University, East China Normal University, Shanghai University, Shanghai Maritime University, and Shanghai Business School.
My long-term interest in Russia, beginning with three years of studying the language as an undergraduate, was strongly reinforced by my first trip there, during the "Putsch" in 1991. At that time, I met with colleagues in St. Petersburg, Moscow, and Volgograd.
Later in the 90s, and for over four years, I worked with others to try to establish a network of computing and training facilities in Russia and the former Soviet Union, aimed at providing engineering services for U.S. companies, gainful employment in Russia for underemployed Russian engineers (in particular, nuclear engineers in the closed cities), and global team training for U.S. engineering students. This effort, which was conducted under the name "NEWTeams," was organized primarily by Michigan State University, the University of Utah, and the Utah Russia Institute. I had many meetings in Washington, DC, and in Moscow (with a representative from one of the nuclear cities). However, political problems leading to funding cuts in the the Nuclear Cities Initiative Program (U.S. Department of Energy) ultimately forced the abandonment of the effort, which history has since shown would very likely have had a large impact, due to the extensive outsourcing of engineering from U.S. companies to India and other places that occurred soon after this project had to be abandoned.
For about eight years, I was part of an interdisciplinary global design teaming research group, involving engineering, telecommunications, and anthropology, that conducted research, initially sponsored by EDS Asia/Pacific Division, and later, by the National Science Foundation, on the methods and tools needed for effective use of global teams for solving engineering problems, in a series of projects. The original EDS-sponsored work was called GEMS (Global Engineering Methodology Study). Subsequent work was conducted with a large international team of researchers from MSU, the Netherlands, Germany, Spain, China, and notably, Russia, under the name "INTEnD" -- Internationally Networked Teams for Engineering Design. From September, 1998, to September, 2001, that work was conducted under a 3-year grant from the National Science Foundation. Please see our INTEnD project site for a description of some of the software, training methods, partners, etc., which we have developed. We then continued our work on globally distributed teams of design engineers through another NSF grant in partnership with the University of Texas Pan American campus and ITESM in Monterrey, MX.
Early in 1993, the GARAGe established a sister center, the AI/CAD center at Moscow State Technical University (Bauman). The photo on the right shows me touring the Kremlin during that visit. During my third visit to Russia in November, 1993, we also established the Russian/American Joint Education/Research Consortium for Intelligent CAD/CAM/CAE and Genetic Algorithms ("ICADGA Consortium"), including teams of students and faculty members at MSTU, Nizhny Novgorod State University, Moscow Aviation Institute, Taganrog State Radioengineering University, and the Institute of Radio Engineering and Electronics of the Russian Academy of Sciences. We sponsored several years of GA research at two of those universities, which comprised the "Russian GARAGe." Kharkov State Technical University (Ukraine) became an additional member of the ICAD/GA Consortium. The lower photo on the right is of one of my visits to the laboratory of Prof. Dmitry Ivanovich Batishchev, at Nizhny Novgorod State University.
As Director of the Case Center for Computer-Aided Engineering and Manufacturing (1983-2002), I founded the International Technology Incubator, a program that brought scientists and engineers (particularly from the Former Soviet Union) to the U.S. to work with MSU and American companies, utilizing their expertise to assist in solving the companies' problems. For example, pictured here is Prof. Stepan Radzevitch, of Dneprodzerzhinsk, Ukraine, about to leave Kokomo, IN with me, after working on improving gear manufacturing at Chrysler's Kokomo Transmission Plant. Prof. Radzevitch was in the U.S. through the center's International Technology Incubator, as a follow-on to our joint research supported under the CAST program of the National Research Council/National Academy of Engineering.
In June, 1996, I organized the First International Conference on Evolutionary Computation and its Applications, EvCA96, in Moscow, Presidium of the Russian Academy of Sciences, June 24-27, with about 20 Western and 50 Russian participants, with the backing of the International Society for Genetic Algorithms, organizers of the ICGA conferences in the US, and of the Case Center, which I directed.
In 1999, I was appointed Senior Scientific Advisor to the Utah Russia Institute, an organization which has initiated many projects involving Russian citizens with the U.S. and with Utah, in particular. It was established in 1993 by Utah's Governor Michael Leavitt and Russia's Prime Minister, Yegor Gaidar.
As Director of the Case Center, I also assisted the National University of Science and Technology, in Pakistan, with computer networking and related issues throughout the mid-90s. Early in 1993, I visited Pakistan and delivered a short course on networking at NUST. I had the privilege of being part of a joint Pakistani/US delegation to meet with Pakistan's President, Ghulam Ishak Khan, for a discussion about the formal chartering of NUST.