Student Wins Best Paper Finalist Award at IEEE Conference

August 07, 2020

Portrait of Waylon Wu

Wenlong Wu won a Best Paper Finalist Award at an IEEE conference.

A Mizzou Engineering student’s paper was selected as a finalist for best paper at a top engineering conference last week. What makes it more impressive is that Wenlong Waylon Wu forgot to specify that the paper should have been entered in the student category. Instead, it received high honors among professional-level faculty members and researchers from around the world.

“I was very surprised I got this award,” Wu said. “I am very honored.”

Wu is a PhD student in electrical and computer engineering and works with Curators’ Distinguished Professor Emeritus Jim Keller.  He received the Best Paper Finalist award at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers World Congress on Computational Intelligence (IEEE WCCI). Held every other year, it’s IEEE’s largest event and includes three simultaneous conferences. This year, it was held virtually.

Wu and Keller have spent several years working together on research around image segmentation. Wu’s paper outlined a new approach to segment images by color.

If you’ve ever taken a photo outside, you’re probably familiar with “noise” in digital images. A red balloon in the sky, for instance, may appear discolored in spots where the sun hits it or in areas where it’s shaded. Wu came up with an algorithm that allows computers to detect those flaws and recognize the original color.

“Imagine a robot looking out at a scene and having to determine what’s in the scene,” Keller said. “It has to segment regions by color. If you tell it to find a magenta ball and bring it back, but the sun is shining bright, then it’s not completely magenta. So if colors change, we still want the robot to be able to cluster objects.”

A History of Academic Success

Wu has a history of academic success at Mizzou Engineering, where he also earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

He has co-authored papers that have been published and presented at IEEE conferences in the past. In 2018, the EECS department honored him with an Outstanding Student Award.

Wu currently serves as a research assistant to EECS Professor Marjorie Skubic, director of the Center for Eldercare and Rehabilitation Technology. Skubic’s research involves using monitoring systems to track the health of elderly residents.

For that work, Wu used clustering algorithms to construct an automated early warning system for potential health changes using data from those sensors.

And this summer, he is interning at Siemens Healthineers, an international medical technology company.

Wu expects to finish his PhD program next year. He hopes to find a career that allows him to solve real-world problems. His time at Mizzou Engineering has prepared him for that role.

“I definitely recommend Mizzou,” Wu said. “It’s a great place to do research and study.”