Masdar Institute’s Computing and Information Science Program to Further Strengthen Course Offerings from Fall 2012

Current Scope for Research Already Covers Data Mining, Artificial Intelligence and Network Science

Abu Dhabi-UAE: 23 July, 2012
– Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, an independent, research-driven graduate-level university focused on advanced energy and sustainable technologies, today announced the Computing and Information Science (CIS) program will further strengthen its course offerings for the upcoming academic year.

Currently, the CIS program contains eight courses, of which four are core courses which focus on data mining: finding the data and models that create value, software engineering, design and analysis of algorithms, and distributed computer systems engineering, complementing other programs and reiterating the status of Masdar Institute as one of the top institutions to conduct research, especially in ‘smart grid’.

Dr. Marwan K. Khraisheh, Dean of Engineering at Masdar Institute, said: “Our core focus at Masdar Institute is to facilitate research through qualified faculty that can guide the students towards innovation in cutting edge technologies. Our academic programs are interdisciplinary in nature and offer the best in clean energy and sustainable technology areas. The academic programs including the Computing and Information Science program have steadily attracted talented faculty and students and as directed by the country’s leadership, we hope to nurture students capable of leading the future energy industry.”

The depth of the CIS program has enabled the faculty and students to achieve remarkable milestones during the past academic year. Winning the international ‘Tag Challenge’ competition by a team of crowd-sourcing experts led by Dr Iyad Rahwan in April 2012 redefined the limits of technology-mediated social mobilization and rapid information gathering. In June 2012, a paper titled “Securing Advanced Metering Infrastructure Using Intrusion Detection System with Data Stream Mining” won the Best Paper Award at the 2012 Pacific Asia Workshop on Intelligence and Security Informatics (PAISI’12). The paper was authored by Masdar Institute student Mustafa Amir Faisal, together with Zeyar Aung, Assistant Professor; John Williams, Professor of Information Engineering at MIT’s Engineering Systems Division and Director of Auto-ID Lab, and Dr. Abel Sanchez, Executive Director of MIT’s Geospatial Data Center and a Lead Scientist/Software Architect of Auto-ID Lab, .

With such laurels to its credit, the program aims to further strengthen its overall offerings. A planned addition is the highly interdisciplinary course on Bioinformatics, which introduces algorithms related to genomic aspects in biotechnology. The course seeks to integrate the use of DNA sequencing data in light of the procurement of the Illumina MiSeq, one of the best bench-top high-throughput sequencers, which is unique in the region. This course will be offered in collaboration with Water and Environmental Engineering and Chemical Engineering programs. Another new planned course will focus on advanced algorithms.

Dr Iyad Rahwan said: “These days, everything we see around us involves information processing, in one way or another. Computing & Information Science (CIS) is not just about computers. It is about the science of information in the age of mobile phones and social networks. It is about how information flows in society, in what way information is encoded in genes and transmitted through protein chemical reactions, by which way knowledge can be derived from terra-bytes of data and the way social networks form and change in reaction to cultural influence.

“We work on using machine learning and data mining to detect faults in, and attacks on, smart electricity grid systems. We use computational techniques to synthesize biofuels and to predict people’s energy consumption. We also do work on computer tools for rapid disaster response. CIS is truly the science of the information age. It is hard science, but relevant.”

The program also has several more achievements to its credit. Dr Iyad Rahwan jointly with MIT researchers published a paper in the Science journal, which (along with Nature) is considered the most prestigious publication in all fields of science. Moreover, a patent application titled ‘Method For Promoting Behavior Change through Social Reward Mediation’ has been filed by Dr Rahwan jointly with Prof. Alex Pentland of MIT. In addition,    the CIS program is represented by Dr. Andreas Henschel in the TwinLabs, a collaboration – externally funded by Advanced Technology Investment Company (ATIC) – which secured 20 positions for graduate students at Masdar, Abu Dhabi, and TU Dresden, Germany.

Post-doc fellow Dr Alex Rutherford, from the Social Computing and Artificial Intelligence Lab under the supervision of Dr Iyad Rahwan, presented a talk at the International Conference on Network Science (NetSci) in Chicago, US, on the limits of social mobilization. An MSc student Abdulfatai Popoola (advisor Dr Rahwan) is spending summer on an internship at the headquarters of Microsoft Corporation, in Redmond, US.

Also, under the supervision of Dr Zeyar Aung, post-doc fellow Dr Depeng Li , from the Data and Network Analytics Group presented a talk on authentication mechanisms for smart grid security at the 2012 IEEE Power and Energy Society Conference on Innovative Smart Grid Technologies (ISGT’12) in Washington DC. Dr Depeng Li also delivered an invited talk and participated in a panel discussion on smart grid cyber security and privacy in the First International Cyber Security Forum for Energy and Utilities, Abu Dhabi, UAE in May 2012.

Established as an on-going collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Masdar Institute integrates theory and practice to incubate a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship, working to develop the critical thinkers and leaders of tomorrow.  With its world-class faculty and top-tier students, the Institute is committed to finding solutions to the challenges of clean energy and climate change through education and research.


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