Event set for current, prospective graduate students

Western Carolina University will host a reception in Asheville for current and prospective graduate students on Wednesday, May 25, in honor of North Carolina Graduate Education Week.

The event will be held in the Laurel Forum in Karpen Hall on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Asheville from 5 to 7 p.m.

Those who plan to attend are asked to send an email to miller@wcu.edu or call WCU’s Asheville office at 828-251-6642.

In addition, Scott Higgins, dean of the Graduate School and Research, and Jason and Matthew Proffitt, brothers from Burnsville who recently completed the WCU’s master’s degree program in technology, will participate in statewide activities being held at the state Capitol.

The Proffitts will meet with legislators and share their research projects during a poster session. Matthew Proffitt will present a project based on his thesis work titled “Optimizing the Detection, Recognition and Monitoring of Large-Scale Events Through Swarm Robotics.”

“My work is an approach to use a swarm of robots to detect and recognize large scale ‘meta’ events such as oil spills, radiation leaks and tsunamis,” he said. “Through this approach, each robot communicates with its nearest neighbors and decides its course of action through an artificial neural network, a trainable network that functions much like a human brain and can generalize information from incomplete data. This is a problem that has gained much notoriety during the recent Gulf oil spill because there was no autonomous real-time detection and recognition entity. Much of the recognition was done by single vehicles or human operators. ”

Jason Profitt will present “Automated Loading and Detection of Brachytherapy Elements Using Non-Mechanical Methods for Prostate Cancer Treatment.” The goal of the project was to reduce the moving parts, which can get jammed, used when automatically loading radiation sources into the prostate using a needle device, said Jason Proffitt, who partnered on the project with the University of Florida’s Shands Cancer Center. The process is often done by hand, which can be time-consuming. “I hope to see the device used to increase accuracy and decrease time it takes to conduct the prostate brachytheraphy treatment, ultimately helping save lives,” he said.

The Proffitts also will meet with legislators.

For more information, contact the Graduate School at 828-227-7398 or gradsch@wcu.edu.