Graduate Students Research the Future

Shu Yi Tham is doing research that will improve the safety of bridges in New Jersey. She is one of some 50 graduate students who will present their research during Graduate Research Day.

Enhancing Bridge Safety

Shu Yi Tham's research will improve the safety of bridges.  Shu, a master's student majoring in civil and environmental engineering, developed a model to evaluate bridge scouring -- or how a bridge's foundation erodes over time.

Bridge foundations are often built beneath the soil of rivers. Over time, though, the water erodes the soil and jeopardizes a bridge's foundation.  Engineers have a calculation model they use to evaluate such erosion.  But the model is outdated and not pertinent to New Jerseys’ bridges. So Shu, working with a team of professors and students, designed a better model to evaluate bridge scouring. 

Professor John Schuring, who is Shu's adviser, said the new model will make it easier for N.J. Department of Transportation (DOT) officials to assess the structural integrity of the state’s bridges. Shu presented her research recently to DOT officials, who were impressed with the model NJIT developed.    

“The state is very pleased with this research and DOT officials intend to immediately implement our bridge scouring model,” says Schuring. “It will help them understand which bridges require immediate protective measures.”

Mustafa TorunReducing Financial Risk

Mustafa Torun is developing algorithms that will reduce portfolio risk for financial investors. Mustafa says his algorithms will evaluate complex financial information and provide risk management strategies to aid investors.

“I hope my research will contribute to a more efficient and stable financial industry,” says Mustafa, a doctoral candidate in electrical engineering, “Mine is one more tool investors can use to reduce financial risks.”

Mustafa is a passionate engineer who looks for new challenges, and developing applications for finance was for him an irresistible challenge. He’s also a talented software developer who realized that financial trading today is based on sophisticated software.  His focus in electrical engineering, moreover, is signal processing and many of the statistical tools used in finance match those used by engineers, he says. “That is why I work in financial analysis as an electrical engineer,” he adds.  

Mustafa, advised by Professor Ali Akansu, does his research in the High Performance Digital Signal Processing Research lab at NJIT. The two also collaborate with Marco Avellaneda, a financial math professor at New York University (NYU).  Mustafa has co-authored two papers on his research and presented it this spring at a conference in Prague, Czech Republic. He also visited NYU to work with Professor Avellaneda.

“This research project will help me along the path of my career,” says Mustafa. “I might work for a university or for industry.  Either way, the experience I gained through this research will be of immense help to me.”

Shuo ChenImproving Facial Recognition Software

Shuo Chen is designing automatic face recognition software that uses eye detection methods to identify a person’s face.  The software is especially helpful in identifying a face in a crowd or in from a complicated background.   

Shuo, a doctoral student majoring in computer science, has been developing the software for five years. His adviser, associate professor Chengjun Liu, received grants from the Department of Defense and the National Institute of Justice to design face recognition software. The grants sponsored research that bolsters homeland security and national security.

After he graduates next year, Shuo intends to work as a research professor, so getting research experience as a grad student is invaluable to him.

“My project has taught me to work on independent research,” Shuo says. “It also taught me to write research papers and to present my research, which I’ll do at the upcoming Graduate Research Day.”

(By Robert Florida)