Building Tools to Improve Nuclear Facility Safety

Xin Zhang first joined Illinois Institute of Technology as a master’s student, receiving his degree in 2015. He says the main draw was “the prestigious reputation of the engineering programs and the high-quality faculty,” as well as Chicago’s reputation as an international industry hub.

He worked with Walter and Harriet Filmer Endowed Chair in Electrical and Computer Engineering Jafar Saniie in the Embedded Computing and Signal Processing Research Laboratory on projects in computer vision and artificial intelligence, writing his thesis on algorithms for detecting faces in real-time in images with complex backgrounds.

After graduating he worked at Intel, developing artificial intelligence applications for next-generation parallel computing and deep learning Intel Xeon Phi processors.

Xin returned to Illinois Tech in 2017 to pursue his doctoral degree. He continues to work in ECASP and also collaborates with researchers at Argonne National Laboratory. 

“The multidisciplinary degree programs and cooperative education experience not only enrich my professional knowledge but also elevate my research work,” says Xin.

He is working to develop tools to help nuclear facilities assess the structural integrity of large metal structures through a process called nondestructive evaluation (NDE) that uses infrared thermography and ultrasonic imaging in combination with AI to find material defects that could impact safety. 

“I’m developing state-of-the-art artificial intelligence software tools and hardware accelerators for structural health monitoring of metal additive manufacturing non-destructively to overcome NDE barriers for nuclear facilities,” he says.

He has proven himself to be a high achiever. 

Xin has published more than 30 journal and conference papers and has published technical reports in the field of the nuclear industry and thermography/ultrasonic NDE. His research papers have received more than 190 citations.

Most recently, Xin was the recipient of a 2022 Sigma Xi/IIT Award for Excellence in Research and a 2022 Starr/Fieldhouse Research Fellowship.

“After graduation, I plan to pursue a research career in industry to continuously explore innovative technology in computer engineering and artificial intelligence,” says Xin.

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