Focus for Dr. Shankar has always been on systems and all issues pertinent so systems.Over the years, he has built up background and expertise, always with a systems perspective, in biomedical engineering, analog and mixed signal design, VLSI and chip design, engineering design automation, concurrent and distributed processing, engineering management, engineering design productivity, software automation, cyberlearning, complex systems, and App development for smart phones, robotics, and the semantic web. Details are provided at the site for our research center, especially in the blogs of Dr. Shankar. Please click here to access the blogs. His current focus is on open source tools, health informatics, IT, and productivity enhancement in the education and health domains from an individual’s perspective.
His doctoral dissertation at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, explored a diagnostic measure in peripheral circulation as a sensitive marker of ‘systemic’ atherosclerotic disease, which leads to heart disease , strokes and peripheral vascular disease (PVD). Atherosclerosis was considered in early 1980s to be a focal disease, not a systemic disease, though there was a strong correlation among the three arterial beds (coronary, carotid, and femoral/popliteal) in terms of the degree of atherosclerosis in them. His pilot studies with human and primate subjects, followed by a large clinical validation study by a group of distinguished medical doctors and researchers, have proven the validity of this perspective. Dr. Shankar’s papers and patents may be accessed under the publications section. Here is the link to the clinical validation study published in the Circulation journal. The clinical validation study cited easrlier had to be supported by a state-of-the-art medical data acquisition and signal processing system (‘Vasogram’ ) that was easy enough to be used by medical personnel. This was a major one year project and involved about 35 computer science and engineering professionals. Overall, this was a large scale and long time-span biomedical project that involved research commercialization and royalties to the University. This gave Dr. Shankar an opportunity for, and the appreciation of, cooperation and collaboration with professionals in multiple domains, viz., engineering, medicine, business, entrepreneurship, and the legal system.
During his early tenure at Florida Atlantic University, Dr. Shankar had to diversify and build expertise in computer engineering, because of the local industrial base and focus at the university. Completion of the above biomedical prototype led to total focus on computer engineering, and building a college-level center on engineering design automation and chip design. See our research website at http://csi.fau.edu/. Several industry and NSF grants later, as hardware jobs moved to Asian countries, the focus changed to mobile system design and engineering design productivity.
Motorola’s Cell phone division supported a large six year grant during 2000s with the intent to radically increase engineering design productivity. The technological, cultural and management issues addressed changed year to year as we worked towards meeting the overall goal, which required the involvement of faculty members and students with different backgrounds. This led to much productive research and experience in system design with MDA (model driven architecture) and UML (unified modeling language), computer architectures such as NOC (network on chip), distributed and multiprocessing, software decomposition for concurrency, automated code generation, agile verification, etc. The end result was a significant improvement in engineering design productivity, as acknowledged by Motorola. The project prematurely ended in 2008 when there was a change in leadership at Motorola. We decided to reflect on what had been achieved and how we could leverage the lessons learned elsewhere.
Experiences from that has led to innovation in academics. Over the past three years, we have developed six team project oriented courses that seamlessly integrate the work at high school, undergraduate, and graduate level. The key thing is that these are team-oriented courses with students and faculty members from various colleges actively involved in these courses. These are potentially self-sustaining. Our focus so far has been in the ares of smart phones, robotics, and semantic web. We wish to build Apps in these areas that address the needs of various disciplines that are our university’s strengths and research focus areas (such as climate change, ocean engineering, healthy aging, etc). We expect that this process will not only train students in areas of critical need, but in the process, we, the faculty members, will also understand each others’ domains better, and thus will be able to collaborate better with regard to teaching, research, grants, and publications. This objectives are described in a presentation on building a consortium on smart phones, mobile and web systems (CUSP).
As described under ‘Approach’ our teaching and research focus has leveraged and contributed to synergistic activities spearheaded by Mr. Jaime Borras and Dr. Borko Furht, in establishing respectively the mobile technology consortium (MTC) and the NSF I/UCRC entitled Center for Advanced Knowledge Enablement (CAKE).
At present, Dr. Shankar has strong background in many areas of biomedical engineering, electrical engineering, computer engineering, computer science, and information technology (IT). This is coupled with proven strengths in leadership, management, innovation, automation, and industrial and academic collaborations. The past three years have also crystallized his strategy in developing multi-college collaborations to help students at all levels gain real-world team project experience. This appears to be paying off in terms of student jobs, student-led small businesses, innovative courses, graduate theses and doctoral dissertations, and academic publications. Several multidisciplinary research proposals have been submitted. We appear to be closer to getting funded on our research initiatives.
Dr. Shankar has averaged about $150 K/year in research funding during his 28+ years at FAU; however, this has come in spurts as he has tried to adapt and address evolving needs that are considered technologically challenging and require broad-based systems approaches. Dr. Shankar, during his current Sabbatical leave, is focusing on Health and Education IT (Information Technology) needs. The goal is to bring cross-disciplinary approaches to enhance automation, productivity and innovation to improve the experiences of the participants and the outcomes for the institutions.