Michigan Tech Professor Presents Defense Research on the Hill

Tim Havens smiling
Tim Havens smiling
Tim Havens, Associate Professor of Computer Systems at Michigan Tech to present defense research on Sensor-fused Explosive Hazard Detection at the U.S. Capitol this week.

A computer engineer from Michigan Technological University is helping find bombs—before they go off.

Tim Havens, William and Gloria Jackson Associate Professor of Computer Systems, Director of both the Center for Data Sciences and the Data Science Graduate Program at Michigan Tech, will present his research on Sensor-fused Explosive Hazard Detection at the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C. this week at "STIx on the Hill."

STIx stands for science, technology and innovation exchange and the event, boosted as a "congressional briefing," brings together leading experts in the defense research community to discuss innovative areas for research and development for the Department of Defense. The event is not your average research symposium because its location; something Havens expressed excitement over, the opportunity to talk directly to congressional staffers and congress people.

"Because they are driving budgets and the allocation to research dollars," he says, "if I can get them excited about one little thing I do, that influences where research dollars go."

Currently, Havens works with the U.S. Army Night Vision and Electronic Sensors Directorate out of Fort Belvoir, Virginia. He has been working in the defense research community on explosive hazard detection for the last ten years, resulting in dozens of referred articles and conference presentations. His defense research began as a graduate student at the University of Missouri, thanks to his advisor Jim Keller.

"I started working on problems with him and then talked with people with money and [started] writing my own proposals with and without him," Havens says.

At the Capitol, Havens hopes to spark interest in his work on automatic algorithms for detection of dangerous items buried in the road. Haven's innovations with Sensor-fused Explosive Hazard Detection provides lifesaving technology for both civilians and U.S. military personnel in conflict zones like the Middle East, whose daily routine involves driving along roads scattered with Improvised Explosive Devices or IEDs. According to the Department of Defense, between the months of April and June last year, about 3,043 people were killed or injured by IEDs in Afghanistan. Work like Havens' seeks to prevent such deaths and injuries by detecting IEDs and other explosives from greater distances.

Michigan Technological University is a public research university founded in 1885 in Houghton, Michigan, and is home to more than 7,000 students from 55 countries around the world. Consistently ranked among the best universities in the country for return on investment, Michigan’s flagship technological university offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, computing, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, social sciences, and the arts. The rural campus is situated just miles from Lake Superior in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, offering year-round opportunities for outdoor adventure.