Estimated 75 SBU Students to have Access to Farmingdale Program

Tomas Yago, a PhD student in Stony Brook’s Computer Science department, working on his railroad surface research. Photo by Jason Lee

By Jason Lee and Lawrence Nzuve

An estimated 75 Stony Brook students will have access to programs for security and transportation systems at a proposed center to be constructed in Farmingdale University by 2020.

Farmingdale is being awarded $6.6 million from the NYSUNY 2020 program to establish the Infrastructure Transportation and Security Center (ITSC), Lieutenant Gov. Kathleen Hochul announced on January 28. The center will take an academic focus on strengthening security at regional infrastructure and transport systems and train students in related fields of study according to the Governor’s office.

Stony Brook University, Nassau Community College and Farmingdale will contribute a combined $21 million in matching funds to the project. The three SUNY schools will also co-operate the center.

This cooperation means that once the program is open students from all three colleges will have access to the center’s academic programs and classes. An estimated 60-75 students; both graduate and undergraduate from Stony Brook University will be beneficiaries of the planned center, Prof. Arie Kaufman, Chair of Department of Computer Science, said.

According to Farmingdale officials, how this will work is still under review. Students will most likely be able to attend classes at Farmingdale, and classes will be made available at each of the campuses and online.

As for managing the center, Stony Brook will be more involved with the research side, while Nassau Community College will be working more on program development, also according to Farmingdale officials.

Since the ITSC won’t be open until 2020, the first full beneficiaries of the program are students still in high school. However Tomas Yago, a PhD student in Stony Brook’s Computer Science department, currently researching railroad surface analysis, is looking forward to what the ITSC and its resources offer him as a researcher, and for prospective students.

“For all these  projects we will need data and I hope that with the visibility that this center will bring, we can get more collaboration,” Yago said. “We can get High school students or undergraduates to collaborate, we can get help from undergrad or high school students, at the same time they are learning, and it is a valuable experience.”

“Stony Brook has projects which are funded by different sources and these projects now will become part of ITSC… It is also a great opportunity for us to collaborate with other people,” Prof. Dimitris Samaras, an associate professor from the Department of Computer Science at Stony Brook University, said. Samaras was present at Farmingdale during the Lieutenant Governor’s announcement.

“We have this project which is using cameras on trains to inspect the tracks for both foreign objects on the track as well as cracks,” Kaufman said. “This project will be substantially expanded and we believe this is a very critical one… when terrorist put a bomb on the tracks we can note the location and this is a simple way to do it.”

Other potential Stony Brook projects that could benefit from the ITSC include, human behavior research in reference to airports and train station, and eye gaze behavior research in reference to receiving pertinent information from road signs, Samaras said.

“This is how you can take basic research and customize it to questions that have to do with the center,” Samaras said. “Part of this training is to give projects to graduate and select undergraduates that is related to transport so that as part of their coursework or thesis they will do projects that are aligned with the goals of the ITSC,” added Prof. Samaras.

Farmingdale officials said that, new baccalaureate programs in computer security technology and airport and rail security management will join existing programs in security systems.

Farmingdale is currently developing a BS in transportation in security. The degree is expected to be sent to the state education department for approval in 12-18 months, well before the ITSC is completed in 2020, according to Farmingdale officials.