Collaboration with Cisco explores frontier of data technologies

A new collaboration between University of Minnesota researchers and Cisco Systems seeks to advance cutting-edge technologies that transform the way people access, manage, and protect data.

Cisco—which develops, manufactures, and sells networking hardware, software, telecommunications equipment, and other high-technology services and products (like WebEx)—has funded six projects at the University and plans to fund more in the near future. The awards come through the company’s research arm, Cisco Research, which connects Cisco’s own engineers and researchers with academic research labs to explore technologies with potential to maximize the company’s business, technological, and societal impact.

“Our recent sponsored research awards program specifically looks at sponsoring research in universities with intellectual property sharing agreements to assist in building new ventures within Cisco, especially within areas of emerging tech where Cisco has not been traditionally well represented,” said Ramana Kompella, PhD, Cisco research head in systems and networking. “Our hope is that our collaborations with the best and brightest in academia allow us to augment our internal abilities to provide innovative and transformative solutions for our customers.”

Two of the currently-funded projects are being led by faculty in the Department of Computer Science & Engineering. Other projects represent researchers from the Carlson School of Management, College of Liberal Arts, College of Science and Engineering, and the Medical School. The projects span the subjects of technology for health care, ethics in artificial intelligence, and edge computing (bringing data processing and storage closer to the physical devices that need them, rather than sending it all to a distant data center, to cut down on the response times and bandwidth).

Brett Schreiner, corporate relations officer with the University of Minnesota Foundation, said the range of expertise Cisco was seeking made the University a good fit for the collaboration.

“Cisco is looking to be on the cutting edge of new technology and the University of Minnesota has numerous faculty and researchers that cross technology with health care, AI, security and privacy, systems and networking, and the list goes on,” Schreiner said. “All of these areas interest Cisco as they look to position themselves and their industry positively for the future.”

Funded projects

Below are the Cisco-funded projects as of May 2021, with University research leads’ names and departments.

Edge computing

Innovating Edge Computing Support over Commercial 5G Networks
Kia Bazargan (Electrical and Computer Engineering)
Aims to apply an unconventional computing method, which transforms complex computations into simpler ones without losing accuracy, to upcoming edge computing applications.

Innovating Edge Computing Support over Commercial 5G Networks
Feng Qian (Computer Science & Engineering) and Zhi-Li Zhang (Computer Science & Engineering)
Aims to innovate edge computing support over 5G to improve the overall quality of the service, decisions around proactive and adaptive content delivery, and shifting between LTE and 5G to balance the trade-off between energy usage and performance.

Ethics in AI

Ethics in AI: Privacy-Preserving Machine Learning and Decision Making
Jie Ding (Statistics), Xuan Bi (Information and Decision Sciences), Mingyi Hong (Electrical and Computer Engineering)
Aims to develop artificial intelligence methods that better preserve data privacy when multiple smart devices, clinics, and organizations are working together.

Tech for health care

Automated Imaging-Based Fracture Detection in Trauma Care
Ju Sun (Computer Science & Engineering), Chris Tignanelli (Surgery), Genevieve Melton-Meaux (Surgery)
Aims to develop an accurate and reliable automated fracture detection method based on CT scans that can be used in trauma and critical care environments to reduce the delays and errors that come along with the current practice of manually identifying fractures.

Sensing and Responding to Personalized Support Needs and Advancing Equity in Mental Health Care Delivery via Smartphone Mobile Applications
Kingshuk Sinha (Supply Chain and Operations)
Aims to explore how and when smartphone mobile applications can advance equity in mental health care delivery by providing real-time and personalized support and care referral that is both affordable and accessible to the target populations.

Understanding and Improving Federated Learning in Health Care
Mochen Yang (Information and Decision Sciences), Xuan Bi (Information and Decision Sciences)
Aims to understand the economic incentives behind partnerships among health care providers through the use of federated learning, which combines their data resources in building machine learning systems without having to share sensitive patient data.

Edited from an article written by Kevin Coss for Office of the Vice President for Research.