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Research Themes and Applications

Shipboard Power Systems & System Resiliency

Advanced electrical power conversion and management techniques, integrated with electric propulsion will play key roles in achieving goals for energy efficiency and emissions reduction. Many of the techniques developed for microgrid system analysis and power conversion technology ashore for utilities are directly relevant to shipboard environments and are the focus of our research. We are also focused on the integration of next-generation shipboard communications, sensors and dependable software systems into these systems. Our researchers are considering the latest alternative fuel propulsion systems and how to extract the cleanest, most energy efficient performance from them.

Researchers: Juri Jatskevich, José Martí, Christine Chen, Patrick Kirchen, Steven Rogak

Shipboard Communications, Sensors & EMC

Ship crews require high levels of situational awareness in order to avoid or deal with dangerous situations. Our research focuses on next-generation wireless sensor networks to monitor the integrity of the ship, its environment and its cargo. Electromagnetic compatibility becomes an issue when an increasing number of systems are deployed within a confined volume and our research will also address these effects.

Researchers: Dave Michelson, Naomi Zimmerman, Alex Bigazzi, Michael Brauer

Dependable Software Systems & Cybersecurity

Automation and communications are the keys to efficiency and reliability aboard ship but depend heavily on software-based systems. We are developing techniques for increasing the reliability, resiliency, fault-tolerance and dependability of software used in shipboard environments. Protection of software-based systems from external threat is of particular relevance to the marine sector given the consequences of successful attacks.

Researchers: Sathish Gopalakrishnan, Karthik Pattabiraman, Konstantin Beznosov, Julia Rubin

Digital Controls & High Performance Computing

Advanced digital control systems will be key to ensuring stable and efficient operation of ship’s systems. As marine technology relies increasingly on sensor integration, inter-ship communications networks, and autonomous vehicles, the efficiency of computing platforms is becoming critical for capability. Such platforms range from low-power many-core processors to accelerators such as GPUs and include low-power, high-efficiency machine learning accelerator systems.

Researchers: Mieszko Lis, Ryozo Nagamune, Rajeev Jaiman, Joshua Brinkerhoff

Designing for People

The evolution of the internet of things and the associated digital twin of the ship means that there is an unprecedented amount of information that can now be presented on the bridge of the ship, in real time. The problem is that presenting all of this information would drown the ship operator, and would no doubt lead to more, not less, ship casualties. Our research in the area of HMI is creating guidelines for how information can be parsed and cascaded, providing the right information at the right level of detail at the right time. Furthermore, time and safety critical (TASC) factors (psychology and human factors engineering, e.g. attention in distracting environments) and complex systems interfaces and communications (e.g., design issues that arise from the sheer complexity of the situation) are particularly relevant to the marine sector - we are devising effective marine strategies to cope.

Researchers: Karon MacLean, Sid Fels, Chris McKesson


Researchers: Jon Mikkelsen, Chris McKesson

Materials and Corrosion

Ships operate in a complex ocean environment. The structure is dynamically loaded in multiaxial stress regime that needs to be considered if any changes to typical structure is considered. Furthermore, the sea is corrosive to metals and also degrades other materials like composites. Composites are starting to be used as structural panels in ships but are difficult to join to the steel structure (the rest of the ship), are flammable, difficult to recycle etc. However, they are much better in allowing wireless signal to pass through. Ships also need to be much more energy efficient to comply with increasingly stringent requirements for environmental protection. Lighter structures are easier to move, saving fuel in operation, which is important for passenger ships and warships where the structure can account for 40%-60% of total weight. Our research involves designing structural panels that allow transfer of wireless signal across the panel, are lightweight (saving fuel in marine vessels), sustainable, and less susceptible to corrosion.

Researchers: Jasmin Jelovica