The theme of this REU program is the design and use of smart environments. We define a smart environment as one that is able to acquire and apply knowledge about an inhabitant and their physical surroundings in order to improve their experience in the environment. The desire to create smart environments has existed for decades, and recent advances in such areas as machine learning, sensor networking, mobile and pervasive computing, and communications now allow this dream to become reality.
REU students will see tangible outcomes of their research efforts in the physical testbeds set up at WSU. In fact, some REU students will live in these automated campus rooms and work in the automated lab setting. This grounded theme ensures that research in diverse areas will be interwoven toward a common goal. Immersing the students in the project in this way also builds a bond between the group members and allows them to experience the user’s perspective, as well as the engineer’s perspective, on the problem.