Greetings! I’m Nate Bird! I am currently working as an algorithm/research engineer. I specialize in sensing and computer vision and have experienced the entire algorithm development cycle: conception, design, implementation, testing, and maintenance of sensing and computer vision systems.
I received my M.S. and Ph.D. in Computer Science at the beautiful University of Minnesota in 2009. My advisor was Nikos Papanikolopoulos. During my time there, I worked with the Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, and Vision Laboratory, specifically the Monitoring Human Activity subgroup. My dissertation research was in support of high-precision, vision-based human body tracking. The motivating problem was the helical tomotherapy machine, a medical device that is used to perform conformal radiation therapy. To accurately target the radiation, the patient must be where the device expects them to be to be. My thesis work focused on structured light systems, stereoscopic vision systems that use cameras and projectors for detection. Specifically, I analyzed how to place the components of these systems to achieve a desired accuracy, as well as how to precisely calibrate such systems once they have been set up.
Other research from my time in graduate school dealt with vision-based tracking and monitoring. I worked to develop a large vision-based human activities monitoring system for the Department of Homeland Security, comprising of over 100 cameras and many detected behaviors. Prior to that, I worked on a project to detect when motorists engaged in distracting behavior. Finally, I developed a system to detect loitering individuals in public transportation areas.
In summer 2008 and summer 2009, I was a program co-coordinator for the Technology Day Camp, a free day camp program put on by the lab for underprivledged local middle school students to get them interested in robotics, technology, and college in general. In 2009, we were successful in expanding the program to three weeks so more kids could benefit.
After I finished my Ph.D., I served as an assistant professor of Computer Science at Ohio Northern University, a small, rural, liberal arts institution focused on educating undergraduate students. There, I taught a wide variety of courses including introductory programming (Java and C++), algorithms, programming languages, operating systems, computer security, computer vision, and microprocessors. I like to think my courses were interesting, and focused on the fundamentals, while often incorporating large student-driven projects. This let my students explore applications of the course material that they individually find interesting, while simultaneously reinforcing the theoretical material. My research from this time focused on vision-based behavior monitoring. One system I built used vision to determine whether robots in a multi-robot team may have been compromised. Another project I worked on used the Microsoft Kinect sensors to monitor school children to automatically detect behaviors known to be indicative of autism.
I have had a varied and rewarding career thus far, and I hope that this trend will continue well into the future!