CLEVELAND – 22 June 11
Bowling Green Student to Artificial Intelligence Architect
By: Heather L. Ogletree
Artificial Intelligence seems like some far off space-age technology that can only be found in the movies. But is it? What do you think of when you think of space and technology? NASA, of course! And the Networks and Architectures Branch at Glenn Research Center in Cleveland has been in the works to develop cognitive networks, also known as artificial network intelligence, by 2025.
This spring, the Undergraduate Student Research Program (USRP) joined Matthew Andres, a Bowling Green State University senior, with NASA Mentor Lynn Anderson to be part of the on-going project to create cognitive engines for space communications networking. Anderson explained, “Cognitive networking is about adding intelligence to space communications networks to reduce operational costs, increase network performance, to offer tailored user services, and increase communications resiliency.”
Andres added, “Cognitive science is a field that refers to integrating human cognition into a machine. Cognitive engines are software that have the ability to make decisions and perform learning.” During his 15 week internship, Andres worked with his mentor to understand three academic freeware systems, and he was tasked to develop simulations to evaluate the benefits each system.
Knowledge on how cognition is performed in machines is a relatively new field of study, however Andres indicated, “The semester before I started my internship, an idea called Artificial Neural Network was introduced to me.”
Now, Andres has knowledge of operating system kernels, parallel processing, and how to program hardware. He said, “Several new software and hardware technologies were introduced to me to tinker around with, all of which will be used in future simulation and implementation of cognitive engines in the NASA network.”
Outside of gaining knowledge in this innovative field, Andres also gained invaluable knowledge of NASA’s work culture. In the beginning, he was unaware of NASA protocol, policies, or acronyms. “NASA has strong IT security in place, and it took me time to adjust to having to get permission to put a program on my computer,” said the computer programming major. “However, after a few weeks it became second nature to call the ODIN help desk.... I am surprised they didn’t know me by name.” Yet, NASA acronyms were another story for Andres. He had some difficulty getting used to the long list of acronyms used around his center.After graduation, Andres hopes to go out into the STEM workforce and find a position writing COBOL code. As for his time with USRP at Glenn, he revealed, “I have always been interested in artificial intelligence and to have the opportunity to work in it has been very rewarding. The people that have worked with me...have been very supportive of me and my project — I have had the opportunity to offer my ideas, write code in the cognitive engines, and help with the budget and presentation for cognitive engines in the NASA network. It’s a good feeling to see my research being used.”