UWF engineering students develop software to improve military intelligence gathering

Students in the UWF Dr. Muhammad Harunur Rashid Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering are working with the Air Force Research Laboratory to improve battlefield intelligence gathering by creating a machine-learning algorithm. As part of their capstone project, seniors Nathan Harris and Bradley Edgar, are analyzing and training an algorithm to automatically identify military equipment such as trucks, aircraft, tanks and artillery in images captured by an AFRL camera.

“We’re using a form of artificial intelligence,” Harris said. “We’re taking data of an image to tune and train the algorithm so if it got a new image it could say I’ve seen that in the past. Then it could say with certainty what’s in the new picture and identify things such as military vehicles. Our software is even capable of identifying objects in environments obscured by foliage or camouflage.” 

Harris is the project lead and spent six years in the U.S. Air Force. He receives technical mentorship from a team of scientists and engineers at AFRL. Dr. Jeff McGuirk, a lecturer, who served in the Air Force for 21 years as a developmental engineer, is the project’s liaison between UWF and AFRL. 

“The technical knowledge and experience our students gain doing a real-world project while still in school is an incredible opportunity for them,” McGuirk said. “Our department is also thrilled to team with AFRL and we are looking forward to future collaborations.”

The project will be complete at the end of the year and the algorithm will then be provided to the AFRL. The students hope the tool will be useful to the AFRL and the military can continue to use and improve it over the long term.

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