ISSACS rising

ISSACS rising

One of the newest engineering institutes at CWRU is leading the region into the Internet of Things.

Is there a Ring doorbell on your home? Do you wear an activity tracker that counts your steps and your heartbeats? Does the manufacturing plant where you work use sensors to monitor key systems and machines?

 

Examples of the Internet of Things are all around in a world where routine devices are increasingly connected to larger networks, enhancing their impact and importance. So promising is IoT in manufacturing alone that some experts see a new industrial revolution on the horizon.

 

The newest institute at the Case School of Engineering is posed to seize the moment. ISSACS, the Institute for Smart, Secure and Connected Systems, hopes to make CWRU a research leader in the interconnected world.

 

“Developing new courses and labs is a priority for ISSACS, because preparing our students for a connected, digital future, regardless of their major, is critical,” said Nick Barendt ’95, MS ’98, an adjunct professor in the Case School of Engineering and the executive director of ISSACS.

 

The institute was born in 2016 at Case to develop expertise in the emerging Internet of Things, often defined as the array of  Internet-connected objects and systems of everyday life.  IoT is expected to impact both industries and communities as it opens up new sources of data and ways to act upon that data. Some experts expect connected machines and objects in factories to fuel a “fourth industrial revolution.”

 

In 2018, ISSACS was promoted to a university-wide institute to better coordinate efforts across campus and with regional partners. For example, ISSACS is a charter member of the IoT Collaborative, a partnership with Cleveland State University that aims to use IoT to enhance the economy and the quality of life in Northeast Ohio.

 

Since its inception, ISSACS has attracted about $15 million in research funding. Additionally, the Cleveland Foundation has invested significantly in capacity building – providing money for new engineering courses, recruiting and hiring faculty with IoT expertise, and supporting student and faculty projects that aim to apply IoT to solve problems and create jobs. For example:

 

  • Working with Internet provider DigitalC, a Case visiting scholar is trying to close the digital divide in Cleveland by building out a low-cost broadband network. The pandemic showed this to be a critical need as urban children were thrown into remote learning.
  • With the support of the National Science Foundation, Case students and researchers are planning to deploy air quality sensors around the region to illuminate connections between particulate pollution and diseases like COVID-19
  • In collaboration with Cuyahoga County and the Fund for Our Economic Future,  Case researches will apply technology to address the “spatial mismatch” separating city residents from job centers


The early success of ISSACS is gratifying to Ken Loparo, PhD ’77, the
academic director of the institute. Loparo helped to create ISSACS while chair of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

 

He brought Barendt to campus from the software industry in 2015 to begin teaching Introduction to Connected Devices and to marshal expertise. Six years later, that class is part of an IoT ecosystem spreading beyond campus.

 

“ISSACS builds on the foundational technologies of IoT–sensing, networking and communications, data analytics, security, control and decision-making– to fuel the digital transformation in communities and industry,” Loparo said. “New courses and interdisciplinary projects with community and industry partners provides unique opportunities for our students and faculty.”

 

The university sought to attract more alumni and community support for ISACCS during its “Think Big: Institutes and Centers Campaign” in February. The crowdfunding appeal showcased ISSACS and seven other centers and institutes at CWRU, including the Great Lakes Energy Institute, the Human Fusions Institute, the Veale Center for Entrepreneurship, Sears think[box], Interactive Commons and Xlabs.

 

To learn more about ISAACS and the other institutes at CWRU, visit the campaign website.

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Nick Barendt, executive director of ISSACS

“Developing new courses and labs is a priority for ISSACS, because preparing our students for a connected, digital future, regardless of their major, is critical.”

— Nick Barendt

Ken Loparo, Academic Director of ISSACS

“ISSACS builds on the foundational technologies of IoT—sensing, networking and communications, data analytics, security, control and decision-making—to fuel the digital transformation in communities and industry. New courses and interdisciplinary projects with community and industry partners provides unique opportunities for our students and faculty.”

— Ken Loparo