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Department of Computer Science

Center for Cyber-Physical Systems

Dr. J. Cecil


Our state of the art Center is unique for its research, education and outreach activities which emphasize an Information Centric Engineering (ICE) perspective involving adoption of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) and Cyber Physical System (CPS)/IoT concepts, principles and technologies across various fields of engineering and medical systems.


The correct google scholar page for Dr. Cecil is  (GScholar)

(For some reason, multiple google scholar pages have emerged – we are in the process of rectifying this)

Labs involved in this Center

  • The Virtual Reality and Information Centric Engineering Lab (Dr. J. Cecil)
  • Robotic Cognition lab (Dr. Chris Crick)
  • Cyber Security Lab (Dr. Johnson Thomas)

We have pioneered information centric research, educational and outreach activities in traditional and emerging areas of engineering, medicine and other domains. Our Center’s unique perspective and expertise revolves around Next Generation smart technologies and related modeling, simulation and exchange approaches for a range of process contexts. 


The Virtual Reality and Information Centric Engineering Lab


Our Center’s unique perspective revolves around the theme of Information Centric Engineering (ICE). The term ICE was proposed by Dr. Cecil in 1998 upon joining academia (after working in the Electronic Commerce/ VR based simulation domain) in Greater Houston area. ICE recognizes the crucial role of data/information (and its seamless exchange) on the accomplishment of collaborative cyber-physical and virtual enterprise activities in various process contexts).  The foundational view involves a triumvirate of thrusts: 

  • modeling of information,
  • simulation of information and
  • exchange of information


Our process contexts of interest include:

  • Robotics/manufacturing (cyber manufacturing),
  • Medicine/health/rehabiltation (smart health)
  • Space Exploration Systems and Habitats
  • Next Generation Cyber Learning for K12, University and Special education communities (autistic students, individuals who stutter and those with physical disabilities)


Our research in various process domains helps us understand issues in a more holistic and detailed manner, which in turn provides a robust foundation for creating a more universal and integrated ICE perspective which is based on discovery of relationships between the 3 thrusts of ICE.


Information (and date) needs to be viewed as one of the most potent of all entities in the life-cycle of enterprises, especially involving cyber-physical-human (CPH) interactions in various domains. Information is the driver in propelling the accomplishment of such collaborative activities that rely on the harmonious accomplishment of  cyber-physical-human collaborative activities. It can also be viewed as an Integration vehicle linking various co-located or distributed CPH activities. The design of frameworks and approaches focusing on the successful realization of both product and process design and implementation activities involves understanding the interplay of several thematic elements and rcognizing the existence of system-of-systems within the CPH realm. The role of 3D Extended Reality based environments (Virtual/Augmented and Mixed Reality) assumes significance as they provide a natural bridge between cyber and physical worlds with or without human presence. The image below represents such an information centric perspective involving the foundational triumvirate of modeling, simulation and exchange of information




The work in Dr. Cecil’s lab  recognizes the importance of  Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) and Human-Centered Computing (HCC) principles and incorporates them in the study of modeling, simulation and exchange issues. 


Modeling of information:

Our research interests include: 

  • Studying the role of information intensive function/process models supporting collaborative activities in various process domains 
  • Exploring the design of such information modeling languages which can capture the complex relationships within and between processes and represent both functional relationships and temporal constraints between processes and sub-processes. 
    • investigating design of Information-rich model based abstractions as participatory design foundations for CHPI design activities 
  • Studying approaches which enable automated or semi automated creation of 3D simulation environments that reflect the complexities of target processes 

Simulation of information:

In this thrust area, our interests lie in 

  • Laying the foundations for a structured process to create engineering based 3D XR simulation environments (Virtual /Augmented / Mixed Reality VR/AR/MR) for any process context (outcome: a step-by-step process reflected in an information centric model to delineate such a process) 
  • Design of XR simulation environments and Digital Twins as links between distributed cyber and physical (C-P) worlds for various process contexts 
    • Investigation of how such Digital Twins and XR environments can in turn facilitate  innovative IoT based Cyber-Physical System of Systems (CPSS) methods and frameworks to support distributed collaboration 
    • For domains such as advanced manufacturing/robotics, space systems (NASA’s Moon Mission), and smart health (surgical training, covid training, rehab therapy) 
    • Design of 3D representation of Actors/Objects Of Interest (OOI) and layout/process abstractions in simulation environments and their impact of such 3D content on HCI/HCC aspects (such as cognition, perception) and skills/knowledge acquisition) 
  • Study of HCI issues in such 3D Extended Reality (XR) environments including perception and cognition (affordance, visual density and cognitive load) on user performance / behavior, knowledge and skills acquisition 
  • Design of XR environments that interface, incorporate as well as assess assistive and rehabilitation technologies in the context of Future of work at the Human-Technology frontier 
    • Current work underway is exploring design of VR/MR environments to support of human adaptability to manufacturing/robotics work environments of disabled individuals with reduced dexterity, and for individuals going through rehab programs as well as other who are returning to work after they have been equipped with prosthetic hands, and other modalities 

Exchange of information:

The third thrust area deals with 

  • Methods to support seamless exchange of information involving interactions between cyber and physical worlds and components in various process domains; 
    • Creation of IoT based cyber-physical frameworks that enhances collaborative sharing of data/information across distributed sites 
  • Design of Next Generation Internet frameworks and networking approaches that support semantic oriented enterprise level life-cycle activities covering the range of engineering activities (from product/process design, automation/integration of cyber-physical activities) 
  • Methods that lower latency and increase bandwidth of the data/information exchange during IoT based cyber-physical interactions (for e.g. Software Defined Networking SDN based approaches to support IoT based accomplishment of distributed cyber-physical activities) 
  • Exploring creation of Semantic frameworks and methods that will support discovery, identification and collaboration among distributed life-cycle entities in such cyber-physical accomplishment of targeted process/service life-cycle activities 


A  summary of our current projects can be found here


Notable Achievements

Developing the first cyber physical and Internet-of-Things (IoT) test bed for advanced manufacturing as part of GENI / US Ignite initiatives

Creation of the first Holistic Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) framework to support the design of Extended Reality (XR)  based training simulators

Proposed and emphasized the notion of a 3D digital twin as the link between cyber and physical components in IoT enabled cyber-physical Frameworks

Developing autonomous coordination strategies involving UAVs for weather monitoring teams (as part of the multi-university CLOUDMAP project).

Developing virtual learning environments for students with Autism.

Designing deep space habitats in collaboration with NASA.

Collaborative Goal and Policy Learning from Human Operators of Construction Co-Robots.

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