Erasing Boundaries: New Center Integrates Physical and Information Sciences

Science is a discovery-driven culture.  Engineering is an innovation-driven culture.  To be able to tackle the challenging issues of our times, it is imperative that different knowledge and expertise cultures integrate across academic disciplines. At Penn Engineering, the Penn Research in Embedded Computing and Integrated Systems Engineering (PRECISE) Center is pursuing broad intellectual and research agendas, at a level members expect will achieve international impact and visibility.

At the PRECISE center, research and advances in cyber-physical systems (CPS) are allowing teams to coordinate computing and communications to interact with the physical world. This is a discipline that requires reintegration of the physical and information sciences to produce technology on which people can bet their lives. Advances could transform the world with systems that respond predictably faster (collision avoidance systems in automobiles), are more precise (robotic surgery) and work in dangerous environments (autonomous search and rescue).

Members of the center sport an impressive list of credentials in computing and communications, including real-time computing, formal methods, hybrid systems, software architectures and sensor networks. “Our mission is to be a world-class center of excellence. We will leverage our members’ expertise to establish the missing theoretical and engineering foundations for cyber-physical systems,” says Insup Lee, the Cecilia Fitler Moore Professor of the Department of Computer and Information Science, and director of PRECISE.

The idea of the center came about naturally, Lee explains. “PRECISE members have a long track record of working together on many research projects over many years. We have come to see ourselves as a group in which each member is considered a ‘leading expert’ in his area of specialty. With cohesiveness provided by the center, the center becomes much more than just the sum of its individual members,” says Lee.

“This center is unique in that it is a joint program of computer science and electrical engineering,” says Lee. “The core courses teach students fundamentals in embedded systems design and implementation from two disciplines.”

Lee anticipates the PRECISE center will deliver multiple benefits to Penn, including research and development activities with industry sectors, a new master’s program in embedded systems, and potential ties to Asian industries and universities where the embedded systems industry is strong.

Credit: Penn Engineering Magazine, “Erasing Boundaries: Two New Penn Centers Integrate Science and Engineering,” by Amy Biemiller.

Interested? Learn more!

Insup Lee’s Faculty Profile
PRECISE Website
Master’s program in Embedded Systems

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