New program will prepare students for smart infrastructure sector and more

A new program at York University will train students in leading technologies that enable almost anything with an embedded sensor – from the smallest personal accessory to the largest city infrastructure – to connect to the Internet.

Marin Litoiu
Marin Litoiu

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council announced $1.65 million in funding for the Dependable Internet-of-Things Applications (DITA) program, which will be led by Marin Litoiu, an associate professor in both the School of Information Technology in the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies and the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Lassonde School of Engineering. The announcement was made on Monday, July 16.

Internet-of-Things (IoT) refers to a family of technologies, protocols, software and algorithms that enable sensor-embedded city infrastructure, buildings, appliances, furniture and personal accessories to connect to the Internet. The data emitted can be archived on the cloud, where it is fused and analyzed to draw inferences used to improve everyday experiences. IoT technologies are, for example, becoming the key enablers for building context-aware applications used in autonomous vehicles, smart cities and buildings, and personalized healthcare.

“York University is delighted to see Professor Litoiu be awarded this major NSERC grant. With these funds, he will create an innovative program that will train participants in cutting-edge development and infrastructure technologies applied on Internet-of-Things platforms,” said Robert Haché, vice-president research and innovation at York University. “NSERC’s investments in research support the creation of new knowledge and scientific scholarship. At York, we appreciate their continued support and recognition of the work of our researchers.”

The new program begins in September and will provide opportunities primarily for graduate students. It is being funded over six years through the industrial stream of NSERC’s Collaborative Research and Training Experience (CREATE) program, to improve training environments in natural sciences and engineering and at the interdisciplinary frontier with other disciplines.

Designed with input from industrial partners, it will give students practical skills on software engineering, networks, data analytics, privacy and security, as well as soft skills such as collaboration, management and communication.

“We will introduce students to state-of-practice and state-of-the-art technologies,” said Litoiu. “Students will conduct software-engineering, data-science and networking research in the context of smart IoT applications. “We will be preparing them – as the leaders of tomorrow – to meet the economic, environmental, societal and health challenges in domains where IoT technologies play an increasingly important role, including smart transportation, smart buildings and assisted living.”

Industrial partners will host interns, work with the program on joint research projects, offer hands-on workshops on the latest technologies and participate on the program committee. As the lead industrial partner on the project, IBM Canada will offer York University students the opportunity to work on joint research projects through the IBM Advanced Studies collaboration.