Heath claims Professional Award in Computer Engineering

October 26, 2018

Shari Heath, 2018 Professional Award in Computer Engineering Award WinnerShari Heath was presented with the 2018 Professional Award in Computer Engineering during the annual Speed School homecoming dinner held October 26 at the Brown Hotel.

Heath is on a mission to change healthcare. Specifically, by using data to change how insurance companies and healthcare providers work together to provide better care to their patients, and family members. The skills and confidence provided by her degree from the J.B. Speed School of Engineering provided the footing for her lofty life goal. She’s using her background to create products that provide predictions about patients’ outcomes to establish a foundation of trust between insurance companies, the healthcare providers and, ultimately, the patients that they serve. Through these products, insurance carriers and healthcare providers can provide patients with the absolute best care available for their specific needs.

In 2002, Heath was the seventh person hired by a small tech startup company that was focused on the home health industry.  During the 12 years there, she was given the opportunity to take on varied roles culminating in the role as Vice President of Product Management. Throughout her tenure, she played an integral part in the growth of the company from seven employees to over 250. In 2013, the company sold for over half a billion dollars. 

Next up was an opportunity for Heath to get back to her small company/tech startup roots and joined Medalogix in Nashville, TN. She’s currently their Senior Vice President of Product Management and also oversees the data science work. She works closely with her clients and internal teams to build products that save the healthcare system millions of dollars every year. In 2016, Shari was invited to present at the Future of Health Technology Institute Summit at MIT. The presentation was about end of life care and using data to predict death. We all know we’re going to die. Knowing when it’ll happen is the mystery.

On a personal note, Heath has been married for 21 years to UofL Law School Alumni, Keith D. Heath. They live in Nashville, TN with their two Great Pyrenees dogs Duncan and Allie.

New book by Yampolskiy hit number one on Amazon charts

September 28, 2018

Dr. Roman Yampolskiy“Artificial Intelligence Safety and Security” recently was the number one book on Amazon in the AI category. Edited by Dr. Roman Yampolskiy of the Department of Computer Engineering and Computer Science (CECS), the book serves as a textbook for all levels on the new field of Artificial Intelligence Safety.

“For years, researchers worked on making capable artificial intelligence and now that we are starting to succeed, it is very important to make sure that our intelligent systems work as intended,” said Yampolskiy.

A pioneer in his field, Yampolskiy is vigilant in his research of AI, which he believes can be employed to the benefit or detriment of humanity. He attributes his philosophy to pragmatism, manifested in his book by a critical analysis of the subject by leading experts in the field. 

“As of right now, no one in the world has a working AI safety mechanisms, while unprecedented improvements in our ability to make intelligent software continue,” said Yampolskiy. “Fear can cloud your mind, but a healthy amount of concern should be present in anyone who considers future developments in artificial intelligence.”

The book features contributions from Ray Kurzweil, Ian Goodfellow, and David Brin among many others, each a respected researcher contributing solutions towards solving the AI control problem. 

 “The first section of the book presents chapters in the chronological order of their writing and informs the reader about development of concerns for uncontrolled capabilities of AI as the field developed,” said Yampolskiy. “While editing the book I was exposed to a number of novel problems I had not considered before such as tools for manipulation of the human mind, which are becoming a prominent feature of social media.”

Not only has the book done well on Amazon, but it’s receiving positive critical feedback.

“If AI turns out to be like the Terminator then Prof. Roman Yampolskiy may turn out to be like John Connor – but better,” said author Nikola Danaylov in a review on the site. “Because instead of fighting by using guns and brawn he is utilizing computer science, human intelligence and code."

Released July 27, 2018, Artificial Intelligence Safety and Security is available on Amazon.

Analyzing Big Data quicker and more energy efficient

November 14, 2018

Headshot of Nihata AliparmakDigging into Big Data takes a lot of computing power and features a lot of moving parts. One issue researchers face is the presence of input/output (I//O) bottlenecks, which involves how information is transferred from the storage device to the other processing unit. The recipient of a new grant for more than $478K from the National Science Foundation, Dr. Nihat Altiparmak looks to help resolve just that.  

“By Big Data, we generally mean that the amount of data is very large that it can’t fit into a single drive, it is commonly unstructured, and it generally arrives at a very high pace. As a result, it takes very long to process and extract knowledge out of it using traditional techniques,” said Altiparmak. 

To put that into perspective, the amount of data that Altiparmak and his collaborators are dealing with far exceeds a petabyte, which is approximately the content of the largest library in the world multiplied by 50.

Extracting knowledge from that much data requires two operations: frequent access to the storage units to bring the data to the processing units, and then processing it. While much research has gone into processing techniques, Altiparmak is part of a team dedicated that seeks to improve upon lower data access latency, saving time and energy in the entire Big Data analysis process.

Economy of Resources

“My part in this research is to make Big Data analysis more efficient. In terms of performance and energy,” said Altiparmak. “I have two goals: one is making automatic storage system optimizations leading to self-optimizing Big Data analysis platforms. The other one is making this infrastructure more energy efficient.”

Last year, Altiparmak received a prestigious NSF Pre-CAREER awardto help self-optimize high performance data storage systems. This current funding will allow him to perform that investigation in a large-scale distributed Big Data analysis platform.

“Data mining and machine learning comes in there, with my research,” said Altiparmak. “I need to predict what datasets will be frequently used in the future, so that I can optimize for them.”

Currently, the University of Louisville utilizes an internal system called the Cardinal Research Cluster. This NSF grant will also possibly allow updating that technology, an upgrade that will benefit researchers campus wide. The funding will include increased storage and processing power as well as updates like power meters, which can help to quantify the amount of power used. Identifying how much power will provide a valuable resource in Altiparmak's efforts to improve the energy efficiency of the infrastructure.

Additionally, the available storage devices and their interfaces to transfer data will be enhanced to include newer technologies, including the use of non-volatile memory devices. Altiparmak believes that updating the data storage technology is a critical step for satisfying his and his collaborators’ research goals.

Data Equality

Not all data is created equally. Altiparmak is part of a team that includes a variety of researchers from different fields, including biomedicine, metagenomics, public health, and multimedia. The datasets associated with each are very large, and they vary in type, adding extra complexity to the process.

“Some data can fit in a certain structure or table, but most of our datasets cannot. For example, Big Biomedical Data includes various unstructured data such as biomedical images, genomic information, chemical test results (e.g., pathology report), and observational patient data. It is very challenging to integrate these and extract knowledge in a timely manner for improved healthcare services,” said Altiparmak. “The common point to everyone involved in this project is that they have a lot of complex data to analyze.”

Altiparmak is the primary investigator for this grant, which houses five more projects under the Big Data umbrella: (i) Efficient Management and Analysis of Big Data; (ii) Big Multimedia Data Analysis; (iii) Big Biomedical Data Analysis; (iv) Big Metagenomics Data Analysis; and (v) Big Public Health Data Analysis. He is joined by Drs. Ayman El-Baz and Robert Keynton from the Department of Bioengineering; Olfa Nasraoui and Hichem Frigui from the Department of Computer Engineering and Computer Sciences; Nejat Egilmez from the School of Medicine; and Bert Little, Richard Kerber, and Karunarathna Kulasekera from the School of Public Health and Information Sciences.

“Each of my colleagues need this infrastructure so that we can perform interdisciplinary collaboration, enable new technological innovations in Big Data integration, analysis and interpretation, and accelerate the innovation process in the fields of bioengineering, medicine, public health, and computer science, " said Altiparmak. “We all work in Big Data, which is one of the 2020 strategic missions of the University.”

Their grant was a ranked #1 in the NSF panel for funding among all proposals submitted to the same division. It begins on October 1, 2018 and ends on September 30, 2020.

CECS Senior Awarded Fulbright Scholarship

May 17, 2018

 This summer, senior Adam Vest will complete his undergraduate studies with a bachelor’s in Computer Engineering and Computer Science (CECS) before relocating to Vancouver, Canada to attend Simon Fraser University. Vest is among the select and distinguished students awarded a Fulbright Scholarship, which he was granted to continue his research pursuits in the field of computer vision. It’s through that research that he hopes to develop a more effective methods for translating raw data, in this case building scans pulled from sensors, to create 3D plans to help model new structures.

Throughout his childhood, Vest liked to explore his environment both through his inquisitive nature and his predilection to survey the land around him. Developing an affinity for math and puzzles, Vest was drawn to STEM in middle school, which he further refined as a high school student in the DuPont Manual Magnet Program.

“I was just kind of the kid that liked everything. One of the interests that I had growing up was a little more abstract," he said. " I started reading more about knowledge, the study of knowledge, epistemology. I really enjoyed thinking about those types of problems.”

For Vest, the fulcrum of his epistemological studies, math, and his appreciation of puzzles and problem solving rested firmly in CECS, which married each of his strengths into one cohesive whole. Once at Speed School, Vest joined both the Association of Computer Machinery and Tau Beta Pi, balancing his time between his extracurricular interests and his academic pursuits, including a minor in Political Science. It was through these experiences and his prior studies that led to his research into artificial intelligence and machine learning.

“A lot of the questions asked in that field are the same as in epistemology. One of the things that came to my mind when I first started that was an old quote, you never truly can understand something until you can create it," said Vest. "It was a different way for me to view these questions, and to face some of the biggest challenges that face us in the coming century.”

A lifelong Louisvillian, Vest is making the move this Fall to Vancouver, embracing his newest challenge as a welcome opportunity. His most recent co-op rotation took him to Houston to intern for NASA, which provided a chance to learn what is possible when ideas are allowed to flourish. Vest hopes to continue beyond the completion of his Fulbright, to build a better tomorrow through his research.

“For right now, I want to go to graduate school and hopefully get my PhD in autonomous decision making in robots or something along the lines of vision or natural language representation and processing," Vest said. "I plan to stay in that subfield of Artificial Intelligence.”

Computer Engineering Computer Science Capstone Recap

April 27, 2018

Held in the evening of April 26th, the Computer Engineering Computer Science Capstone served as a platform to allow emerging and soon to graduate developers an opportunity to publicly discuss their capstone projects. While there was some obvious anxiety in speaking in front of people, each presentation saw the students, listed below as developers discussing the constituent efforts that comprised their project, a glimpse into not only how their product would work, but in the interworking of the group dynamic.

While not every project yielded the intended result, each presenter was eager to build on their findings. Each project was treated as if it were a step in an overall process, rather than a finite opportunity, undercutting the urgency of the capstone project by placing the emphasis on process, not product, and team building.


Hunter Bohannon worked as part of a team of developers on the Traffic Crash Data Visualization project. The project was an attempt to find the impact of autonomous cars on the total number of traffic related deaths and how that affects the organ donor market. Using a program named Power BI, Bohannon and his team were able to visualize the data to show the relationship between traffic deaths, self-driving vehicles, and available organ donation.

He says, “It’s a really good link between the business and engineering world. Having those together, it helped me get the job that I have now.”

Beyond that, Bohannon felt that the modular relationship of his team, each who specialized in one or another aspect of the project, benefited everyone involved. It was that teamwork that Bohannon hopes to take with him into the workforce.

“Working on a team and becoming a leader, when we were working, we all had to work together at some point, we all had to be a leader at some point, we all had to teach each other something," explains Bohannon. "It really taught you the business aspect, the leadership aspect and it even tied it all in with the engineering."

Professional Development

While every project attempted to solve a real world problem, some were less sensitive than others. Senior Bryan Evans worked on the”What’s Teddy’s Name?” app, which is an android application that stores a collection of toy animals in a database. The application is able to use the camera to identify the toy, which is hosted on the AWS mobile hub, using Amazon Dynamo DB to keep track of adding and removing things.

Built for families to track who gave a present and when, and to maintain some general idea of where things are, the project allowed Evans and his team to create and manage a database that utilizes smart technology. Evans believes that regardless of the use of his research for his project, that the experience is what matters.

“Capstone in general is a very good chance for students to get access to a lot of projects that are real life," says Evans. "My project specifically focused a lot on what I want to do as a profession, so I thought it was a good preemptor to add to a resume and list in a portfolio.”

You can read the full list of projects including the developers and clients below:


Project TitleClientDevelopers
What’s Teddy’s Name?Dr. James Lewis
  • Spencer Goff
  • John Le
  • Geordie Ayers
  • Dane Copple
  • Bryan Evans

Traffic Crash Data Visualization

Dr. Monica Gentilli
  • Hunter Bohannon
  • Akhil Warier
  • Kishan Patel
  • Daniel Graham
  • Robel Daniel


Dr. James Lewis
  • Alex Helm
  • Daniel Karem
  • Ellie McLaren
  • Ewen Cameron
  • Tyler Schreiver

Drone Swarm

Dr. Adrian Lauf
  • Alex Hinkle
  • Brandon Sparrow
  • Kennedy Bowman
  • Dennis Sturgill
  • Shyam Patel
  • Pinhao Guo
  • Nick Pond
  • Nick Zinner
The Cryptocurrency Trading BotBrandon McMillan
  • Brad Hoffman
  • Davis French
  • Samual Chesak
  • Jared Gillespie
High- throughput Sequencing Data SearchDr. Juw Won Park
  • Martin Heil
  • Grant Park
  • Samuel Furguson
  • Adam Eliasen
  • Alay Patel
IGeaOnline Diagnostics ServiceRob Toole
  • Bill Walden
  • Jon Centers
  • Logan Payton
  • Luis Suarez
Jarvis MDDr. Brandon Wuerth
  • Zack Higdon
  • Oleg Poyan
  • Thomas Scott
  • Jonathon Stout

Alumni DB

Dr. Adel Elmaghraby
  • Jacob Santana
  • Steven Cloud
  • Zachary Shumate
  • Glen Amante