Coogan Receives NSF CAREER Award



Sam Coogan

Sam Coogan has received a National Science Foundation CAREER Award for his research project entitled “Correct-By-Design Control of Traffic Flow Networks.”

Coogan is an assistant professor in the Georgia Tech School of Electrical and Computer Engineering and holds a joint appointment in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering. He joined Georgia Tech in August 2017 after serving as an assistant professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Today's cities accommodate more people than ever before, leading to transportation networks that operate at or near capacity. In addition, the next generation of transportation systems will include connected vehicles, connected infrastructure, and increased automation, and these advances must coexist with legacy technology into the foreseeable future. Accommodating these rapidly developing advancements requires smarter and more efficient use of existing infrastructure with guarantees of performance, safety, and interoperability.

The goal of Coogan’s project is to develop fundamental theory and domain-driven techniques for controlling traffic flow in large-scale transportation networks. Recent advances in inexpensive sensors, wireless technology, and the Internet of Things (IoT) enable real-time connectivity of vehicles and infrastructure that offers abundant data and unprecedented opportunities for efficient and optimized transportation systems.

The main technical goal of the project is to develop techniques and algorithms that are correct-by-design, ensuring that these transportation systems satisfy required operating specifications. In pursuit of this goal, the project will first develop models of traffic flow from rich data streams and then will leverage these models to enable scalable control approaches.

In addition, this project will integrate a forward-looking education plan that will introduce a Control Grand Challenge design competition in the introductory course in control theory for undergraduates. For this competition, students will design a controller for an autonomous, scale-model car and then compete with their design.

Vela Receives ASCE Best Paper Award



Patricio Vela

Patricio A. Vela received the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) 2018 John O. Bickel Award for a paper co-authored with colleagues from the University of Cambridge. The award was presented at the Construction Research Congress, held April 2-4 in New Orleans, Louisiana, and recognizes the best original article or paper published in an ASCE journal during a specified year. 

The title of the award-winning paper is “Optimized Parameters for Over-Height Vehicle Detection under Variable Weather Conditions,” published in the September 2017 issue of the Journal of Computing in Civil Engineering. Vela’s coauthors are Ioannis Brilakis, the Laing O Rourke Reader in Construction Engineering at the University of Cambridge, and his Ph.D. student Bella Nguyen, who conducted the research for this project at Georgia Tech through the Marie Curie International Research Staff Exchange Scheme.

Over-height vehicle drivers continuously ignore warning signs and strike onto bridges despite the number of preventative methods installed at low clearance bridges. In this paper, the authors present a new method for over-height vehicle strike prevention with a single calibrated camera mounted on the side of the roadway. The camera is installed at the height of the over-height plane formed by the average of the maximum allowable heights across all lanes in a given traffic direction; the error caused by the road gradient is assumed to be negligible and absorbed through the calibration process. 

At that height, the over-height plane can be safely approximated as a line in the camera view. Any vehicle exceeding this line is consequently over-height. The camera position and orientation are determined through a calibration process proposed. Instances of over-height vehicles are detected through optical flow monitoring. Evaluation of the system resulted in a height accuracy of ±2.875mm; outperforming the target accuracy of ±5cm, OH detection accuracy of 68.9%, and classification performance of 83.3%. Although its accuracy is comparable to existing laser beam systems, it outperforms them on cost which is an order of magnitude less because of eliminating the need for new permanent infrastructure.


Atlanta, GA



Jackie Nemeth

School of Electrical and Computer Engineering


Coogan Tapped for AFOSR Young Investigator Award



Sam Coogan

Sam Coogan has been chosen for an Air Force Office of Scientific Research Young Investigator Award for his research project entitled "Scalable Analysis and Control of Dynamic Flow Networks.” Coogan is an assistant professor in the Georgia Tech School of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE).

Coogan’s project will develop fundamental theory for controlling and designing networks that model the flow of physical material among interconnected components. These systems are called physical flow networks and are used to model, for example, vehicular transportation networks, air traffic networks, and civil infrastructure. The fundamental commonalities of such flow networks suggest a unified approach for modeling, while domain-specific features point towards a full understanding of their rich behavior. 

In physical flow networks, nonlinearities in each component compound due to the network interactions. For example, congestion in one link of a road network can impact traffic flow in other parts of the network over time. In applications, such networks are becoming larger, more complex, and increasingly distributed, and there is an urgent need to study the mathematical models that underlie many of these systems. The proposed research will focus on using and extending tools from nonlinear system analysis to study and control these physical flow networks.

Coogan holds a joint faculty appointment with Georgia Tech’s School of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Prior to joining Georgia Tech in 2017, he was an assistant professor in the Electrical Engineering Department at the University of California, Los Angeles from 2015-2017. 

In January 2018, Coogan received an NSF CAREER Award to study the control of traffic networks with an emphasis on autonomy, and in December 2017, he received the IEEE Transactions on Control of Network Systems Best Paper Award at the 56th IEEE Conference on Decision and Control. 

Coogan Named as Demetrius T. Paris Junior Professor



Sam Coogan has been appointed to the Demetrius T. Paris Junior Professorship, effective December 1, 2018. A professorship for untenured faculty members in the Georgia Tech School of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE), this position was previously held by Hua Wang. 

Coogan joined the ECE faculty in July 2017 after two years on the faculty at UCLA. He is a member of the systems and controls technical interest group and holds a joint appointment in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering. 

Coogan’s research is in dynamical systems and autonomy and focuses on developing scalable tools for verification and control of networked, cyber-physical systems. He and his team of nine graduate students are interested in applying these tools to create efficient, intelligent, and autonomous transportation systems. He is a member of the Institute for Robotics and Intelligent Machines and the Supply Chain and Logistics Institute. 

Coogan received the B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from Georgia Tech and the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley. Before joining Tech as a faculty member, he was an assistant professor in the Electrical Engineering Department at UCLA from 2015-2017.

Coogan has published almost 40 refereed journal and conference papers. Since arriving at Tech last year, he has won a National Science Foundation CAREER Award and an Air Force Office of Scientific Research Young Investigator Award. Coogan also received the IEEE Transactions on Control of Network Systems Outstanding Paper Award in 2017.

Tentzeris Receives Humboldt Research Award



Manos Tentzeris has received the Humboldt Research Award. Tentzeris is the Ken Byers Professor in Flexible Electronics in the Georgia Tech School of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE), where he has been on the faculty since 1998.

This award recognizes a researcher's entire record of achievements in academics and whose fundamental discoveries, new theories, or insights have had a very significant impact on their own discipline and who are expected to continue producing cutting-edge achievements in the future.

Tentzeris will use this award to conduct research on combining additive manufacturing, RF, nanotechnology, and origami principles for the development of ambiently-cognitive, shape-reconfigurable “zero-power” RF modules for Internet of Things, Smart Agriculture, Quality of Life, and Smart Cities applications. He will conduct part of this research in collaboration with Robert Weigel, a professor in the School of ECE at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, and his team. The university is located in Erlangen, Germany.

The Humboldt Research Award is presented by the Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung/Foundation, which promotes academic cooperation between excellent scientists and scholars from abroad and from Germany. For more information about its award programs, visit

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