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Department of Computer Science

NSF REU SITE: Research Experiences in Information Centric Engineering (ICE)

NSF REU SITE: Research Experiences in Information Centric Engineering (ICE)

Dr. J. Cecil

REU Duration: 2021-2024


Title for the program: NSF REU SITE: Research Experiences in Information Centric Engineering (ICE)
Name of the supporting institution: NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION
Type of institution (undergrad, comprehensive, graduate research, etc.): Comprehensive/Graduate Research (BS, MS and PhD programs)
City: Stillwater
State: Oklahoma
Fields of study covered by program: Information Centric Engineering (ICE) and Digital Manufacturing. Research areas deals with creation of Virtual Reality based engineering and simulation environments for a range of process domains (micro assembly, surgical simulation and space systems). 

Amount of stipend provided students: Please contact Dr. Cecil for more information
hours per week: 40 hours (summer)



1. All REU participants CAN ONLY be involved in the REU activities for the duration of this REU period. Participants cannot be enrolling in any courses or obtaining any course credit for your research activities during this REU period.


2. Participants also cannot be double (or multiple) dipping and also be participating in any other program while being in this REU. Participants are specifically prohibited from receiving another scholarship or stipend for the same research work they complete or are involved (during this REU). In other words, they cannot be using their REU research findings or WIP as deliverables for any other summer or other program simultaneously (this other program can be a NASA/any other federal summer or other program, summer program by any other private or state funded organization, etc).

Application: Please download application using the link at bottom of this page (please email the completed application form to Dr. Cecil)

Application deadline: For each summer program, please submit an application as early as possible beginning January 5 of each year until March 15 of that year 

Overview of the program:

The project goal is to introduce STEM undergraduate students to research activities in information centric engineering (ICE) topics in Engineering, Manufacturing and Bio Medical fields. This REU focuses on 2 of the three ICE thrusts including modeling, simulation of data/information for cyber-physical collaboration and cyber learning contexts. REU research themes include design of information centric process models using modeling languages, designing Virtual/Mixed Reality models, environments and systems with an Human Computer Interaction (HCI) emphasis for various process domains.


This Project has a specific focus to encourage students with physical and learning challenges to be exposed to ICE research areas and kindle their interest in IT oriented engineering careers. We are also encouraging autistic students enrolled in STEM program to participate in our program as well.If you don’t have software or computer skills, you are still encouraged to apply. We will work with you on an individual basis to help acquire and/or develop your computing and research skills.


We are also encouraging participation of women and minority students enrolled in STEM programs.


Point of Contact: Dr. J. Cecil (

Food/Housing/Travel Assistance: Apart from a stipend, students will be provided additional financial stipends to support Housing, travel and subsistence expenses. Please contact Dr. Cecil for other details. Please make sure to indicate the nature of your physical handicap in the application (see link below) so that we may provide appropriate assistance.

Please complete this application and email it to

Application file download



Professional communication is an important part of professional growth,

Please send a professional email to Dr. Cecil addressing these following points

-- make sure to address the person you are sending this email

-- introduce yourself in a professional manner – where are you going to school, your major, what is the objective of this email etc

-- a few lines about yourself and interests (why are you applying?)

-- where did you find this info about our REU program (if it was some other NSF website or your advisor asked you to get in touch, etc) 



REU participants have been exploring a variety of cutting edge research topics in the area of Information Centric Engineering which includes design of cyber-physical environments, creation of AR/VR based approaches and environments to support collaborative engineering and medical activities.

An overview of some of these projects are provided below.

1. Design of VR based surgical training environments

Some of the REU students have been exploring the design of advanced interactive VR based surgical simulation environments to help medical residents become proficient in advanced surgical procedures. These include designing simulation environments involving immersive and haptic based interfaces to support LISS Plating surgery which is an orthopedic surgical procedure to treat the fracture of the femur bone. Other students have been investigating the importance of creating cyber-physical frameworks based on principles relating to design of Internet-of-Medical-Training Things (IoMTT), which hold significant potential in advancing medical training and education practices that can be described as the next generation of Smart Health practices. 

2. Exploring design of VR based STEM learning environments for Autistic students

A cross-section of REU participants have been investigating the potential of creating VR/AR based cyber learning environments to support STEM learning for K-12 students. They have been exposed to the process of designing such complex learning environments and work in teams to design/build such immersive and haptic based learning environments. Through attentive mentoring, they are also being exposed to building such environments using emerging low cost platforms such as the Vive. 

 3. Simulation based Design of Space habitats and automation frameworks in support of the Moon Mission

Other research experiences have focused on interacting with NASA engineers and develop engineering solutions to a range of space related problems involving NASA’s deep space mission program activities. One of them is to investigate the design of automation alternatives to support transportation of payloads from NASA’s Gateway to the lunar surface as well as studying design alternatives for robotic crane based systems that will help in transport of materials and payloads from one location to another on the lunar surface. Another recent activity involves exploring the design of AR based approaches and related cyber-physical environments to support training of astronauts abroad the proposed Gateway module as part of the Artemis mission. NASA’s Artemis mission seeks to land the first woman astronauts on the Moon in 2024. 

REU photo

Some of our past REU participants: ( left, right ) exploring design of 3D printing approaches for collaborative manufacturing; middle, designing cyber learning environments to support STEM learning using immersive VR platforms



4. IoT Frameworks and Smart Apps for collaborative manufacturing

Other REU research activities have exposed participants to design of VR based environments as a link between distributed cyber and physical components for advanced manufacturing domains such as micro assembly. Related research activities have also introduced participants to next generation Internet frameworks based on software defined networking (SDN) as part of NSF GENI and US Ignite initiatives. REU students have contributed towards tech demos and module creation for IoT test beds, which has been recognized through tech demo awards in NSF GENI conferences. Other students have explored web based 3D printing based approaches while others have designed smart apps to support collaborative manufacturing activities.

Related Publications:

Our REU participants have excelled at their research activities which have subsequently led to their presenting and publishing papers at leading conferences worldwide. Here is a partial list of some of these publications: 

Refereed Conference Publications (asterisks * indicate REU student)

Gupta, A., Cecil, J., Tapia, O*, Sweet-Darter, M. (2019), Design of Cyber-Human Frameworks for Immersive Learning, accepted for Presentation and Publication in Proceedings of the 2019 IEEE International Conference on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics (SMC), Oct 6-9, Bari, Italy (nominated for a Best Student Paper award)


Hochberg, Lynzi*; Mulino, J.*, Gupta, A., Cecil, J., Lopez-Aramburo, A. (2019), Exploring the role of Simulation-based Design principles in support of transportation and material handling activities for the Lunar Mission, accepted for Presentation and Publication in Proceedings of the 2019 IEEE International Conference on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics (SMC), Oct 6-9, 2019, Bari, Italy.


Cecil, J., Ramanathan, P., Huynh, H.*, A shape modification app and cyber-physical framework for collaborative manufacturing, Procedia Manufacturing, Proceedings of the 47th SME North American Manufacturing Research Conference, NAMRC 47, Erie, PA, June 10-14, 2019.


Cecil, J., Krishnamurthy, R., Huynh, H.*, Tapia, O*., Ahmed, T.*, and Gupta, A., Simulation based Design Approaches to Study of Transportation and Habitat Alternatives for Deep Space Missions, Proceedings of the 2018 IEEE Systems Man Cybernetics (SMC) conference, Miyazaki, Japan, Nov 7- 10, 2018 (acceptance rate: 35%)


Cecil, J., Gupta, A., & Pirela-Cruz, M. Ilidan, N*., Exploring the Role of Simulation involving Surgical Training and Virtual Reality Technologies, Proceedings of the IEEE Systems Man Cybernetics (SMC) conference, Miyazaki, Japan, Nov 7- 10, 2018. (acceptance rate: 35%)


Lu, Y., Cecil, J., Zafar, Z.* The creation of Collaborative Cyber Physical Environments for Micro Assembly, Proceedings of the ASME 2015 International Mechanical Engineering Congress & Exposition, November 13-19, 2015, Houston, Texas.


Other Poster Presentations

Hochberg, Lynzi*; Mulino, Jose*; Cecil, J. VR Design Approaches for Transportation Alternatives on Lunar Surface, Poster Paper Presentation at the 2019 Sigma Xi Annual Meeting and Student Research Conference, November 14-17, Madison, Wisconsin

Tapia, O.*, Cecil, J., Immersive Environments for habitat design and assembly in support of the Moon Mission, Poster Paper Presentation at the 2019 Sigma Xi Annual Meeting and Student Research Conference, November 14-17, Madison, Wisconsin

Tapia, O.*, Lopez-Aramburo, A.*, Gupta, A., Cecil, J., Simulation based Design Environments in support of Automated Activities for the Moon Mission, Poster Presentation at the 2019 NSF EEC Grantees Conference, Oct 21-23, 2019, Arlington, VA

Tech Demos

Cecil, J., Ramanathan, P., Zafar, Z.*, Tech Demo Award, 2nd Runner-Up Award, A Cyber-Physical Test Bed for Advanced Manufacturing, GENI GEC 24 Conference, Mar 8-9, 2016, Tempe, Arizona

Cecil, J., Gupta, A., Pirela-Cruz, M., Tyler, J*., A Network based Virtual Reality Training Simulator for Orthopedic Surgery, 3rd GENI Network Innovators Community Event (NICE), Oct 10, 2017, Toronto, Canada

Citations for research papers from our research group can be found here.

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