About Me


Simple Facts

My name is Salem Cherenet. I am a recent graduate (May 2013) from Carnegie Mellon University with a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering specializing in Robotics and interdisciplinary research in machine learning, data analysis and perception. I finished my undergraduate study in the Mechanical Science and Engineering department in May of 2011 at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign.

Research and Project Interest

CAD Design, Manufacturing, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, Computational Neuroscience, Robotics, Controls/Dynamics, Astrophysics: Cosmology, HCI, Mechatronics, Nano, Particle Astrophysics

Current and Past Involvement

    Here are a list of some of current and past projects/research I have been involved in at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), SLAC National lab (SLAC), The National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), Fermi National lab (Fermilab), and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). Papers, videos, and/or presentations related to some of the projects listed below can be found under Here.

  • Region of Interest and Saliency Based Image Compression (CMU: Python, Matlab)
  • Graphical User Interface Development (CMU: Python)
  • Lunar XPrize Challenge: Firefleye - Mechanical - (CMU: CAD design and machining)
  • Lunar XPrize Challenge: Firefleye - Software - Image Fusion and 3D scene reconstruction (CMU: Matlab)
  • Lunar XPrize Challenge: Firefleye - Electrical - Light Source build and integration (CMU)
  • Analysis of DC6B data quality (SLAC: C++, Python)
  • Joint Fitting technique for generating Astronomical catalogue for DEcam images (SLAC: C++/Python)
  • Saliency/ROI Based Image Compression (CMU: Python, Matlab)
  • Reactive Balance Controller Based on BLIP (CMU: Matlab, Simulink)
  • Development of dynamical system simulation for the JDEM attitude control testbed (SLAC: Python)
  • The focus-and-alignment system, measuring out-of focus stars (“doughnuts”) to optimize the Dark Energy Survey images in real time (SLAC: Python, C/C++, Controls)
  • Star/Galaxy Classification via decision tree and Neural Networks (SLAC: Matlab, C/C++)
  • Design and build of abrasive/impact wear machine for John Deere (UIUC: Mechanical Design and Manufacturing)
  • Developed PID controller for micro-actuator (UIUC: LabView – Controls/Robotics)
  • Design and manufacture of Silicon wafer transferring unit for Nano-wire fabrication (UIUC: Mechanical design and manufacturing)
  • Implementation of multiple overscan fitting techniques used for basic pre-processing and calibration codes for community pipeline (NCSA: C/C++, Astronomy)
  • Removal of outlier pixels due to bright stars (NCSA: C/C++, Astronomy)
  • Data quality checks of CP1 data challenge datasets (NCSA: C/C++, Astronomy)
  • Graphical User Interface Development for Image Processing (Fermilab: Python, Tkinter)
  • Dark Energy Survey Via Technique of Counts of Galaxy Cluster (Fermilab: Mathematica)

Resume available upon Request.

Graduate Activities
  • Mechanical Engineering Graduate Student Organization (MEGSO)
    Undergraduate Activities
  • Pi Tau Sigma Mechanical Engineering Honorary Society (PTS)
  • Formula SAE (FSAE)
  • American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME)
  • National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE)
  • Illini Taekwondo (HMD)
  • Habesha Student Association (HSA)

  • Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society(PTK)
  • Music


    Research and Projects

    Carnegie Mellon University - Robotic Institute (RI)

    Paper   Slides    

    In areas that are unsafe for humans to directly study, robotic exploration is an excellent method for collecting and interpreting data. Robots can be used for exploration; but, they require operator input about what tasks to accomplish. In order for operators to plan out optimal tasking, information about the state of the rover is required. Panoramic imaging of the rover’s last position is useful information; however, each panorama is made up of over a hundred high resolution images, and sending this information is hard due to bandwidth limits. In this paper, we explore a way to effectively decrease the size of panoramas without losing mission important information.

    Carnegie Mellon University - Robotic Institute (RI)

    Paper   Slides    Video

    Autonomous lunar landers estimate position and orientation to land and navigate safely on the moon by registering sensor data to pre-compiled terrain models. The sensor package contains an Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU), stereo cameras, a nodding Laser Imaging and Ranging unit (LIDAR) unit, and a micro-computer, to exhibit this principle. Testing and verification of the sensor package requires collecting sensor data in a variety of platforms and terrains so that software algorithms are subjected to alternative data scenarios. This paper presents a set of methods to generate the sensor data that will be used to characterize sensor performance for navigation and landing. Sensor data is then compared to GPS data to develop qualitative metrics for data quality and algorithm effectiveness. The implementation of these methods will yield a repository of IMU and camera data to aid in the gradual refinement of the estimation algorithms.

    Carnegie Mellon University - Robotic Institute (RI)

    Paper   Slides    Video

    Team Firefleye: Hazards and accessibility problems challenge robots to be “eyes” for humans in dark planetary skylights and caves. However, robots themselves are challenged to see and document using conventional imaging techniques. Vast distances, terrainability, and total darkness limit the view point and quantity of artificial illumination that reaches the scene. The inverse square law dictates that illumination power must be at least quadrupled for every doubling of scene scale. Current approaches for dark imaging utilize camera­centered illumination which is subject to this untenable requirement. These methods result in totally dark images with little useable information.

    A recent discovery is that 3D scene reconstruction is uniquely enabled by processing video obtained by hurling an illumination source through a dark scene versus beaming static light onto a scene from afar. An analogy would be filming into a dark train tunnel illuminated only by lobbing a glowing softball from the portal deep into the scene. It overcomes the classical inverse square falloff of illumination power by taking a light source to a scene rather than beaming light and has much greater mobility than a wheeled robot. The trajectory of the light’s motion is an additional basis for estimating the position of the light within the scene over time. Knowing what, where and when the light is in the scene enables illumination assumption for computing depth, shape, surface normals and color details not otherwise achievable. This approach is known as “Firefleye”.

    Carnegie Mellon University - Carnegie Institute of Technology (CIT)

    Slides    CAD Video    CAE Video

    In the project based introduction to CAD/CAE Tools course I worked on about 11 small projects and two major group projects that provided me hands-on learning experience on how modern CAD and CAE technologies improve the three key factors of product development: product quality, development cost, and time-to-market. The projects covered the following key topics and software packages.

    List of Software Packages used:
    • Autodesk SketchBook Designer
    • Autodesk Inventor Professional
    • Autodesk Showcase
    • Autodesk Simulation Multiphysics
    • Autodesk Inventor Publisher

    List of Topics Covered Include:
    • Conceptual Design
    • Component Design with CAD
    • Free-form Shape Design with CAD, Design for Manufacturing
    • Engineering Drawing, and Bill of Materials
    • Designing for Change via ILogic coding
    • Design Documentation
    • Visualization for Product Development
    • Linear Structural Analysis
    • Non-Linear Structural Analysis
    • Kinematics Analysis
    • Design Optimization: MES Drop Test
    • Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) Analysis

    SLAC National Accelerator Lab - Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Cosmology (KIPAC)

    As part of the GEM Fellowship program I came back to SLAC for a second summer . The main goal of the project I was involved in, under the supervision of ELi Rykoff, was to find new and better way of estimating galaxy magnitude and flux errors by developing codes and algorithms to utilized SExtractor and the newly developed LSST Data Management Software package. Please visit the Wiki for more info.

    Carnegie Mellon University - Robotic Institute (RI)

    Paper   Slides    Video

    For legged locomotion, dynamic balance is one of the most important things to consider. In this paper we considered a foot placement strategy for dynamic balance by modeling the system as bipedal linear inverted pendulum model which is based of the linear inverted pendulum model introduced by Kajita et al. Unlike the linear inverted pendulum model, this model included double support and single support phases. The results of the simulation showed the same force behavior as it would be expected from a linear inverted pendulum

    SLAC National Accelerator Lab - Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Cosmology (KIPAC)

    During the summer of 2011 I participated in an internship as part of the GEM Fellowship program at SLAC National Accelerator Lab. I worked with Dark Energy Survey group under the supervision of Aaron Roodman and Kevin Reil on several projects, which includes

    • The focus-and-alignment system, measuring out-of-focus "doughnuts" to optimize the DES images in real-time.
    • Developing Discrete PID controller in Python for multiple input single output system.
    • Star/Galaxy Classification using a method of Artificial Neural Network and Boosted Decision Making through TMVA (a root based Multi Variable Analysis software)

    Nano-photonics and Nano-manufacturing -Illinois Scholars Undergraduate Research Program (ISUR)

    Paper   Slides

    Silicon Nanowires (SiNWs) are used in several applications such as converting chemical energy and temperature gradient in to electrical energy. SiNWs could be manufactured in several different processes depending on what final product one wants to achieve. In this experiment we are interested in fabricating SiNWs that have separations of about 100nm and a diameter of about 40nm using the process of chemical wet etching. We face a real issue during the last few stages of the manufacturing process when trying to transfer an alumina template floating in buffer solution into an acetone solution then deposit it on Silicon. The purpose of this project was to create a mechanical system that would make this process easier to carry out. To achieve this goal, a simple system was designed and rapid prototyped for testing. The mechanical system behaved as originally predicted; however, there is still some stability issue that needs further investigation.

    Dark Energy Survey Data Management Group (DESDM)-The National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA)

    Working on developing and updating science codes for Community Pipeline, whose goal is to analyze data taken by community users with DECam camera. Here is a list of topics I worked with:

    • Implementation of multiple overscan fitting techniques used for basic detrending and calibration codes for Community pipeline
    • Removal of outliers pixels due to bright stars in creation of twilight skyflats.
    • Benchmarking of masking code used in DESDM (to determine bottlenecks).
    • Data quality checks of CP1 data challenge datasets (which are mosaic)
    • Investigation of some SExtractor object parameters such as FWHM for Blanco Mosaic2 data

    Design and Build of an Abrasive/Erosive Wear Test Rig-University Of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) and John Deere

    Paper   Slides

    As a Senior Design project, our team's goal was to design and build an abrasive/erosive wear test rig for John Deere. The rig will be used to test material performance against wear from multiple media such as crops, soils and other small particles. The test rig must have the capability of easily varying the media velocity/flow rate and the media/test material incident angle. A load cell should be placed on the fixture holding the 600 g material coupon so that impact forces can be measured. The fixture should be designed so that the material coupons can be easily changed. The machine will be restricted in size (5'x5'x door height) and will have to be enclosed for particle containment. Parts of the machine that handle wear media should be transparent allowing for particle interaction to be viewed. The test rig will have a hopper where the material is fed into. The hopper should be equipped with a load cell or level indicator to indicate how much material is in the hopper. Along with delivering the media there should be an easy way to remove it from the enclosure during or after testing. The outputs of the load cells will be read by a data acquisition system belonging to John Deere. The students are to coordinate the sensor output requirements with John Deere. The test stand will also incorporate a fluid delivery system that will deliver water or salt water to the rest samples to introduce corrosion. It would be desirable for the system to utilize 120 V power, but higher voltages are available.

    Dark Energy Survey via the technique of Counts of Galaxy Cluster. -Fermi National Lab

    Paper   Slides   Video

    Recently it was discovered that the universe is expanding at accelerated rate. This acceleration could be explained with a concept of Dark Energy. Dark Energy Survey is an imaging survey to make precise measurement of dark energy. The first part of this paper /presentation describes in detail the simulation done to estimate the equation of state parameter, w and its error by comparing it with a simulation bias data. All of the calculations were done using a Mathematica based tool created specifically for this project. Comparing the model bias data given sigma data = 0.3 gave w = -0.716488+-0.098. The second part of this paper focused on the method used to build a GUI that is used to analyze images from CCD cameras. The GUI is mostly stable with some bugs still to be fixed.

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    Contact Me


    Salem H. Cherenet

    Email: salemch@cmu.edu
    Email: salemch@salemch.com

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