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Mathematics professor wins $88,000 grant from NIST

| By Ashleigh Aldridge
Professor Mili Shah
Professor Mili Shah

Mili Shah, Ph.D., associate professor of mathematics, has been awarded a cooperative agreement from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

The $88,508 award will allow Shah to continue research for her ongoing project, “Using Mathematics to Aid in the Evaluation, Calibration, and Analysis of Industrial Mobile Systems.”

Shah’s research examines how robots are used in manufacturing and the ways metrics can be used to measure and define the quality of the robots performing the work.

“If you were to have two different robotic systems, how do you know which one is better? Are there standards? Are there methodologies that make it possible?” said Shah. “NIST is all about creating those standards.”

A guest researcher at NIST since 2009, Shah spends time in the organization’s Gaithersburg, Md., lab researching, testing, and evaluating mathematical metrics and standards. She says the organization’s works is important, not just for large-scale industry, but also for small businesses that rely on similar robotics.

“I’m hoping the research I do will be beneficial for users of robotic systems by making it easier for them to trust and know that the systems that they are using are going to work the way they are expecting them to,” said Shah. “I hope I can create metrics and ways to evaluate new robotic systems. They are becoming more advanced and we have to create new ways to measure them.”

In addition to her research in the NIST lab, Shah performs much of her analysis at Loyola, where she teaches classes such as calculus and linear algebra. She is also the principal investigator of a grant from the National Science Foundation, which funds the CPaMS Scholars Program. The program provides scholarships and mentoring to talented, low-income students pursuing degrees in computer science, physics, mathematics, or statistics.

An agency of the Department of Commerce, NIST works with the private sector, other government agencies, and universities to develop and apply the technology, measurements, and standards needed for new and improved products and services.

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