Graduate student Blake Janes in Florida Tech’s IoT Security and Privacy Lab. (Image: Florida Tech)

The Florida Institute of Technology is a private research university in Melbourne, FL. The university was founded in 1958 as Brevard Engineering College to support NASA in providing advanced education for professionals working in the space program at what is now the Kennedy Space Center. It comprises four academic colleges: Engineering and Science, Aeronautics, Psychology and Liberal Arts, and Business.

The College of Engineering and Science (COES) is the research-intensive arm of Florida Tech. The COES includes six departments. Aerospace, Physics and Space Sciences; Biomedical and Chemical Engineering and Sciences; Computer Engineering and Sciences; Mathematical Sciences; Mechanical and Civil Engineering; Ocean Engineering and Marine Sciences.

An oceanography research team at Florida Tech is examining the use of ultraviolet-c (UVC) light on ship hulls to prevent biofouling. (Image: Florida Tech)

Programs offered at COES include aerospace engineering, applied mathematics, astrobiology, astronomy and astrophysics, biochemistry, biological oceanography, biological sciences, biomathematics, biomedical engineering, biomedical science, chemical engineering, chemical oceanography, chemistry, civil engineering, coastal zone management, computer engineering, computer information systems, computer science, conservation technology, earth remote sensing, education and interdisciplinary studies, electrical engineering, engineering management, environmental resource management, environmental science, flight test engineering, genomics and molecular genetics, geological oceanography, information assurance and cybersecurity, mathematical sciences, mechanical engineering, meteorology, ocean engineering, operations research, physical oceanography, planetary science, sustainability studies, software engineering, space sciences, systems engineering and teaching.

Smartphone Video Guidance Sensor (SVGS) is a vision-based embedded sensor developed at Marshall using an Android-based smartphone which enables proximity operations and formation flight in small satellite platforms. (Image: Florida Tech)

Design & Research

The L3Harris Student Design Center (L3HSDC) at Florida Tech provides space for students to work on all their design and manufacturing projects. This 12,000-square-foot building serves the COES students working on everything from personal projects to senior design projects.

The Center for Advanced Coatings (CAC) at Florida Institute of Technology is an interdisciplinary center integrating computational and laboratory methodologies for the improvement of the design, engineering, testing, and manufacturing of advanced coatings.

Center for Advanced Manufacturing and Innovative Design (CAMID) focuses on manufacturing approach and execution to create a new model of manufacturing for the U.S. to stay competitive in the global landscape.

Wind & Hurricane Impact Research Laboratory (WHIRL) is dedicated to the study of the effects and impact of windstorms, including hurricanes, tornadoes, and thunderstorms, and other related meteorological hazards (e.g., flooding, and storm surges) on the natural environment and man-made structures.

The Center for Corrosion and Biofouling Control specializes in education and research that promotes an understanding and improvement for the design of corrosion and biofouling control systems.

Technology Development

The Florida Tech Internet of Things (IoT) Security and Privacy Lab is a state-of-the art facility that is on the cutting edge of analyzing IoT security. In May 2020, the lab announced a major discovery, as computer science student Blake Janes found “systemic design flaws” in internet-connected doorbell and security cameras from Ring, Nest, SimpliSafe, and eight other manufacturers.

The flaw allowed a shared account that appears to have been removed to remain in place with continued access to the video feed. Blake discovered that the mechanism for removing user accounts does not work as intended on many camera systems because it does not remove active user accounts. This could allow potential “malicious actors” to exploit the flaw to retain access to the camera system indefinitely, covertly recording audio and video in a substantial invasion of privacy or instances of electronic stalking.

Florida Tech has joined a sizable cadre of universities in utilizing CubeSats in the classroom. Led by Aerospace, Physics and Space Sciences Research Professor Francis Bourne, the university is taking CubeSats’ academic focus and pushing it further.

Florida Tech and Harris are working on a technology demonstration of a CubeSat payload that consumes four times the power of a normal payload. The CubeSat development program is developing small satellites that have attitude control, an aeronautical measurement of the orientation of an object with respect to its frame of reference to another.

Another team of researchers at Florida Tech is examining a novel sustainable approach to address harmful algal blooms in Florida’s lagoons. Toufiq Reza, biomedical and chemical engineering and sciences assistant professor, and Spencer Fire, ocean engineering and marine sciences assistant professor, have collaborated in researching mitigation and control of harmful algal blooms. Their goal is to utilize locally produced low-cost sustainable biochar to control harmful algal blooms in St. Lucie Estuary, Indian River Lagoon, Tampa Bay Estuary, and Sarasota Bay.

A Florida Tech research project is exploring how to improve the clinical outcomes of ACL reconstruction. (Image: Florida Tech)

The biochar, a porous carbon material, is created using waste biomass, such as agricultural wastes, as well as sargas-sum, a floating, seaweed algae that has been in the news recently for overtaking beaches in South Florida and Mexico. Using a high-temperature retort, like a furnace, the waste is turned into biochar, which would be then spread across the lagoon water. The biochar would absorb the toxins in the water, and ultimately fall to the bottom, trapping the toxins in the process.

Florida Tech mechanical and Civil Engineering Professor Hector Gutierrez is leading a research team that has integrated a “photogrammetric embedded sensor” to achieve autonomous landing of drones. Smartphone Video Guidance Sensor (SVGS) is a vision-based embedded sensor developed at Marshall using an Android-based smartphone which enables proximity operations and formation flight in small satellite platforms.

SVGS determines the six-state relative position and orientation of a moving target relative to a coordinate system attached to the camera by capturing an image of a set of illuminated points mounted on the target in a known geometric pattern. Besides spacecraft guidance and control, SVGS can be used as relative position and attitude sensor in a variety of robotic proximity operations such as docking, landing, and cooperative maneuvers.

Over many years, Florida Tech has built an abundance of knowledge on ship hull corrosion and biofouling, the accumulation of microorganisms, plants, algae, or small animals on wet surfaces that can lead to structural or other functional deficiencies. That knowledge is now being used to help the U.S. Navy find a sustainable process for maintaining their multi-billion-dollar fleet of ships.

Florida Tech Oceanography Assistant Professor Kelli Hunsucker is leading the project, which is examining the use of ul-traviolet-c (UVC) light on ship hulls to prevent biofouling. UVC light has been commercialized as a disinfecting light dating back to the 1930s. Preliminary testing more recently yielded positive results, which led Hunsucker and researchers to examine further work.

A Florida Tech research project, “3D Printed Biomimetic Bioglass-gradient Matrices for ACL Reconstruction,” is exploring how to improve the clinical outcomes of ACL reconstruction. Vipuil Kishore, an Associate Professor in the chemical engineering program at Florida Tech, is leading the research.

ACL injuries are highly common at the “enthesis region,” where the soft ligament meets the hard bone tissue. The goal of the research is to recreate the enthesis region at the bone-ligament interface using an innovative biomimetic approach that combines advanced technologies, such as Raman spectroscopy and 3D printing.

This project is attempting to use mixtures of collagen (ligament) and Bioglass (bone) as “bio-inks” to 3D print biomimetic-gradient scaffolds that simulate the native bone-ligament interface. The ultimate goal of the research is to provide a new, potentially safer solution to ACL injuries.

Technology Transfer

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