Visible to the public 2015 NSF Early-Career Investigators' Workshop on Cyber-Physical Systems in Smart Cities

Visible to the public 

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2015 NSF Early-Career Investigators' Workshop on Cyber-Physical Systems in Smart Cities

Seattle, WA / April 13-17, 2015

Background on CPS and Smart Cities

Cyber-physical systems (CPS) are engineered systems that are built from, and depend upon, the seamless integration of computational algorithms and physical components. Advances in CPS will enable capabilty, adapatability, scalability, resiliency, safety, security, and usability that will far exceed the simple embedded systems of today. CPS technology will transform the way people interact with engineered systems -- just as the Internet has transformed the way people interact with information. New smart CPS will drive innovation and competition in sectors such as agriculture, energy, transportation, building design and automation, healthcare, and manufacturing.

Due to growing global needs to create more livable urban spaces, Smart Cities are emerging as a priority for research and development in the U.S. and around the world. Smart Cities require more than just technological solutions; they must be human-centric and built for the sustained, optimal livelihoods of their inhabitants. The vision of Smart Cities therefore calls for collaborations among engineers, architects, social scientists, and educators. The National Science Foundation's (NSF) Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS) program supports the research and development of smart technologies, systems, and infrastructures for the future -- and so the CPS research and education communities will play a key role in Smart Cities R&D.

Workshop Announcement

In order to coninue to grow and nurture a vibrant CPS research community, and to identify innovative research opportunities at the intersection of CPS and Smart Cities, the University of Washington (Seattle, WA), with support from NSF, announced the 2015 Early Career Investigators' Workshop on Cyber-Physical Systems in Smart Cities (ECI-CPS). The ECI-CPS workshop took place in conjunction with the 2015 CPS Week in Seattle. This workshop was implemented as a week-long activity focusing on identifying and developing compelling research ideas at the intersection of CPS and Smart Cities. Workshop activities were integrated with CPS Week activities so that attendees could benefit from both events.

The 2015 ECI-CPS workshop sought to identify, develop, and strengthen the CPS research community, particularly in the emerging areas of Smart Cities. Participation in this workshop was prioritized for early-career researchers (i.e., senior Ph.D. candidates, postdoctoral fellows, research scientists, and assistant professors). We encouraged participation and contribution from all research disciplines, including computer and information science, engineering, social, behavioral and economic sciences, and beyond. We also welcomed contributions from international researchers.

The first day (April 13) comprised a series of invited talks and selected presentations from among the workshop attendees to discuss issues, opportunities, and outlook of CPS and Smart Cities. Through the course of the first day, the attendees also self-organized into teams. The rest of the workshop focused on building collaborations and profesional development to strengthen the CPS early-career community. On April 14, 15, and 16, workshop attendees participated in CPS Week while working with their teams to further develop research ideas at the intersection of CPS and Smart Cities. On the final day (April 17), teams reconvened to present research ideas and receive feedback. As set of leading researchers from academe and industry selected first-, second-, and third-placed teams on the basis of the novelty, applicability, and likely impact of their ideas.

Potential Topics for Discussion (included, but were not limited to):

  • CPS-enabled smart technologies, systems, and infrastructures (e.g., testbeds) for Smart Cities
  • Case studies and testbeds for Smart Cities around the world
  • Distributed optimization and control for interdependent infrastructure networks (e.g., energy, communication, transportation, and water)
  • Modeling the social impact of smart technologies
  • Advances in human-in-the-loop design and human interfaces with Smart Cities systems and infrastructures
  • Closing the loop for (near) real-time control and decision making (e.g., for power and transportation networks)
  • Ubiquitous sensing and urban analytics
  • Computing for sustainable and green urban living
  • Education in CPS and Smart Cities

Call for Participation:

Interested participants should submit a short position paper (see the format specified below) discussing a research challenge/opportunity in CPS that contributes to Smart Cities research topics. The paper can reflect ongoing and/or future research interests and should contribute toward defining an agenda for Smart Cities R&D. Workshop invitations will consider innovation, broader significance, and diversity of perspectives.

Important Details:

Workshop Date: 13th-17th April 2015

Location: Washington State Convention Center -- Seattle, Washington USA

Workshop Website:


27 February 2015: Submission of position paper

8 March 2015: Notification of invitation

10 March 2015: Workshop and CPS Week registration

Target Participation: Participation is prioritized for upper-level graduate students and recent Ph.D. graduates (postdocs, research scientists, assistant professors).

Funding: Invited attendees from outside the Seattle area will be provided with a stipend of $1,500 ($1,000 for attendees from the Seattle area) to subsidize expenses. Please note that package registration for both the ECI-CPS workshop and CPS Week will be $825, which leaves $675 to supplement expenses such as transportation and lodging. Participants are expected to leverage additional funds from their home institutions to cover remaining costs. Workshop organizers will provide invitation letters to support invitees in leveraging additional funds. We welcome contributions from international researchers. Potential support for international participants may be available based on contribution to workshop content.

Workshop Co-Chairs: Maryam Fazel (Univ. Washington) and Babak Parviz (Amazon Inc.)

Program Committee: Sairaj Dhople (Univ. Minnesota), Jay Giri (Alstom), Sertac Karaman (MIT), Ann Majewicz (UT-Dallas), Mehran Mesbahi (Univ. Washington), Meeko Oishi (Univ. NM), Desney Tan (Microsoft Corp.), Saman Zonouz (Rutgers Univ.)

Government Sponsors: David Corman (NSF), Tho Nguyen (NSF), Gurdip Singh (NSF), Sylvia Spengler (NSF)

Submission Instructions:

Position papers can be submitted at:

Submissions are 2-page maximum including figure(s), 12pt font and standard margins. Please include the following:

  • Title
  • 3-5 keywords
  • Short bio of the author (please use maximum 1/2 page out of the 2 page for this portion)
  • Paper format:
    • Background/motivation
    • Proposed research/work in CPS
    • Potential impact in advancing the Smart Cities

The workshop will comprise approximately 60 participants selected by the program committee to achieve diverse and balanced participation across sectors and disciplines. A subset of those invited to participate in the workshop will be offered the opportunity to give presentations.

Questions regarding this workshop may be addressed to Maryam Fazel ( or Tho Nguyen (

---Please consider contributing to, and participating in, this important event.


We've received some questions on several logistical issues. Please refer to the FAQ's below for clarifications:

Q: How do I register as a "Student" for CPS Week and Early-Career Investigator (ECI) workshop when I'm not a student?

A: Please go to CPS Week 2015 and register as a "Student". In filling out your information, if there are questions that do not apply to you (for example: "Name of your advisor"), please put "NSF ECI" as the answer. After you have filled out your information, in the next screen you'll see a list of workshops, the Early-Career workshop should be an option, select that option and the reduced workshop registration rate should apply.

Q: I have a paper accepted to one of the CPS Week Conferences. Can I still get the reduced rate for CPS Week registration due to my participation in the Early-Career Workshop?

A: If you have a paper accepted to one of the CPS Week Conferences, you will have to pay the full conference rate as required by CPS Week. This is the fee IEEE/ACM charges to publish your paper as well as accommodate your presentation. The ECI Workshop is organized in conjunction with CPS Week. We sponsor our workshop participants to attend CPS Week as an additional professional development activity. ECI Workshop attendees publishing in CPS Week conference(s) must cover their own costs associated with publication.

Q: I need to make travel arrangements, when is the last day of the workshop?

A: We expect the workshop to wrap up at NOON on April 17th, 2015. That is, there is a morning session on April 17th. The Workshop venue is about 30 minutes from Seatac Airport.

Q: My paper was not selected for support to the workshop. However, I am still very interested in participating. Can I still participate?

Absolutely! The workshop is open to all CPS Week attendees. Your paper not being selected simply means we do not have enough resources to provide support for your participation. If you plan to be at CPS Week, we invite and welcome your participation. However, there is a physical space constraint. So please let us know so that we can put your name on the list. (Attendance is on a first come first served until we run out of space).