The Winners of the "ICT Young Researcher Award" 2017

  Sebastian Junges and Miguel Anguilar with a certificate Copyright: © ICT

This year four young researchers of the profile area Information and Communication Technology (ICT) at the RWTH Aachen University received the "ICT Young Researcher Award". The award aims to offer yearly support for outstanding research carried out by Bachelor, Master and Ph.D. students in the ICT profile area. The four winners are Sebastian Junges, Andrea Bönsch, Martin Henze and Miguel Aguilar. Below we will provide a short overview of their scientific contributions.

Sebastian Junges

Considering the continuing automation in manufacturing and driving there is also a dependency between the responsible systems and their physical surrounding. So-called "Probabilistic Model Checkers" are used to insure a lower probability that these systems enter an unwanted and potentially dangerous state.

When it comes to the application of said Model Checkers, Sebastian Junges sees two difficulties. The industrial models are often too large to be analyzed. In addition, Probabilistic Model Checkers treat their results as the ground truth whereas they merely describe approximations. Junges' research hopes to help them cope better with the size of the models and the accompanying uncertainties. His contributions regarding this research area include creating algorithms for analysis, performing case studies and analyzing fault trees as part of being a core developer of parametric stochastic systems.

Andrea Bönsch

Within her research Andrea Bönsch deals with Virtual Reality and the use of virtual agents (VAs) in Communication and Information Technologies. VAs are computer-controlled characters, that ideally simulate human interaction and behavior as realistically as possible. To be perceived as authentic by users, VAs need to imitate several areas of human communication and behavior.

Bönsch's focus hereby lies on the distance concerning nonverbal and verbal communication between a single VA and the user and between a group of VAs and the user. By conducting several behavioral studies, Bönsch found, among other things, that an awareness zone surrounding the VA is required. As soon as a user enters this zone the VA reacts to the user’s presence through mutual gaze and maintenance of personal space. In addition, Bönsch developed and published a theoretical approach to automatically identify potential interaction partners in a virtual crowd with the use of an awareness zone.

Her follow-up project "Social VR: Influence of Directivity of Speech and Coverbal Gestures on the Perception of Conversational Virtual Humans in Immersive Virtual Environments" was recently accepted by the ICT Project House.

Martin Henze

Within the ICT Area it remains difficult to guarantee the safety and privacy of various actors concerning Cloud Computing. Within his field of research Martin Henze develops technical means to detect, repair and prevent safety and privacy concerns in communication systems.

For his doctoral studies Henze is working on a comprehensive approach for the cloud computing landscape. For each relevant actor in cloud computing he develops appropriate means to protect their privacy. Henze supported und initiated several research projects outside of and within the RWTH Aachen. He is also head of the Security and Privacy Group at "Communication and Distributed Systems (COMSYS)".

Miguel Aguilar

For his doctoral studies at the Institute for Communication Technologies and Embedded Systems (ICE) at RWTH Aachen University, Miguel Aguilar deals with modern information and communication systems. They form important tools in our daily lives, for example in the form of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. This is possible due to so-called "Multicore Hardware Platforms", which comply with the current demands of the information and communications market. This means they allow a high performance at low energy consumption and cost.

In order to exploit the entire potential of these multicore hardware platforms the appropriate software needs to be parallelized and distributed across the cores within the entire system. This is a challenging task for developers. Current processes rely on manual parallelizing, which are usually error-prone and slow. Aguilar's research focuses on the automation manual steps to parallelize the software. His previous research is exemplary regarding successful technology transfers to the industry.