Getting to Know Eric Matson
Eric Matson, assistant professor of computer and information technology, joined the Purdue faculty in 2008, the same year he completed his Ph.D. in computer science and engineering at the University of Cincinnati. Prior to his appointment in the College of Technology, Matson was a lecturer in computer science in engineering at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, and he spent 14 years in industry “doing anything from software engineer to director of information systems.”
On coming to Purdue: I was finishing my Ph.D. and wanted to get a tenure-track faculty position. I’ve grown up in an agricultural environment and around Extension. To be at the best land grant institution I could be at – Purdue is the best, in my mind – this was the best-case scenario for me. I feel very strongly about the land grant mission and service to the state. At a land grant university, no matter what department you are in, you still have the same set of expectations: research, teaching and service to the greater good of that state. The College of Technology is exceptionally well placed for doing things for the state of Indiana. It is a great place to engage in and pursue the land grant mission.
What he teaches: I primarily focus on programming and software development in my undergraduate courses. I also teach an undergraduate robotics class. My graduate classes are in intelligent systems, smart grid, robotics, and electric vehicles. I created all of the graduate classes that I teach. It’s been a busy three years.
On his teaching philosophy: I really like to have a lot of contact hours with students. I don’t like students going off-track. I spend as much time as I can with them. Students can come see me any time. I view teaching as important as research and engagement.
On his research: I am interested in integrating intelligent systems. Systems can be human, robotic, sensor-based, software agents or any kinds of different machines. The M2M lab, which was created in partnership with the School of Industrial Engineering, is something we started about a year and a half ago. The main core is on the interaction of machines and humans. We do intelligent interfaces between all sorts of different agents – humans, machines, robots, and sensors. We have current projects that change the way we can use GPS, work on security-related issues, contextual awareness, multi-robot coordination, and automatic reconfiguring of robotic-based networks and multiagent modeling and organizations. We’ve established research partnerships with Kyung Hee University in Suwon, South Korea, and Ecole des Mines de Saint-Etienne in France.
On his research projects: The M2M lab currently has partnerships with two robotics companies that have invited us to work with them on the research and development of new technology. For example, we are working with a South Korean company to allow firefighting robots to act as an organization using our current research of networking, security and machine vision. We are becoming well-enough known that organizations are asking us to do things, unsolicited by us.
On his busy 2011 summer: We hosted the IEEE Computational Intelligence Society Summer School on Computational Intelligence in Humanoid Robotics at Purdue University. The summer school was a collaboration between Purdue and Kyung Hee University. It was the first IEEE CIS Summer School that integrated high school students; they had hands-on experience with humanoid robotics. The summer school is set up as a non-credit short course so researchers can see the latest trends. Our subject matter was humanoid robotics and the spectrum of topics covered was from kinematics to how humanoid robots can be used to interact with autistic children. I also travel a lot in the summers. This year I was an International Faculty Scholar at Kyung Hee University, so I was in residence in South Korea for seven weeks while teaching a class in robotics engineering, mentoring students, working with companies and developing new relationships to further research opportunities at Purdue.
Outside of work: I’ve got three teenagers involved in sports. When I’m not on campus, I work on my house, finishing my basement, wiring, plumbing and drywalling. I build things at home when I’m not building things here. For me, there’s not a lot of free time.