College of Engineering

Tennessee Tech wins awards, presents research at Florida artificial intelligence conference

Katie Brown and Bill Eberle with FLAIRS awardsTennessee Tech’s Department of Computer Science collected awards and presented research papers at the 36th International Florida Artificial Intelligence Research Society conference.

FLAIRS, held May 14-17 at Sheraton Sandy Key Resort in Clearwater Beach, Fla., is the second-longest-running artificial intelligence conference in the U.S. Participants from Tech included computer science professors Doug Talbert and William (Bill) Eberle, master’s candidate Mateo Gannod and undergraduate students Kate Phillips, Matthew Beech and Ethan Owens.

“It is a great conference for introducing students to AI research,” said Talbert, who also serves as FLAIRS’s chair of special tracks and co-chair of tracks on healthcare and XAI (Explainable Artificial Intelligence). “I believe it was a wonderful experience for the students.”

Attendees from Tech met with faculty and students from across the country and world, broadening their perspectives while learning about opportunities in AI.

“FLAIRS provided a welcoming community for students to participate without being too intimidated,” Talbert said. “Our students’ favorite things were getting to talk to all the different people and being exposed to the variety of AI topics covered at the conference.”

Phillips received the Best Student Paper Award for her research paper titled “The Complexity/Accuracy Tradeoff and Group Bias in Machine Learning-Based Trauma Triage Models,” which she presented at the conference. Collaborators included Talbert, Tennessee Tech Ph.D. candidate Katie Brown and University of Central Florida nursing professor and Tech alum Steven Talbert.

“I am very proud of Kate and the whole team that helped with the research for that paper,” Talbert said. “Katie Brown (who won the same award in 2020) was a significant mentor for Kate on this work. Matthew Beech and Ethan Owens contributed to the research as well.”

Phillips’ paper described research that was part of a National Institutes of Health grant on trustworthy AI in trauma triage. It explored the inherent trade-offs between trust-related metrics in AI, specifically in accuracy, understandability and fairness.

Gannod presented his paper, “Semantic Segmentation with Multispectral Satellite Images of Waterfowl Habitat,” covering research done with Tennessee Tech biology Ph.D. candidate Nick Masto and biology professor Brad Cohen, Ph.D.

“The project looked at how to use artificial neural networks to assist in the management of the environment to better support the duck population,” Talbert said.

Eberle received the Douglas D. Dankel II Award for his leadership and support of FLAIRS since 2008.

“He has contributed significantly to the success of the conference and to the growth of the FLAIRS community,” the FLAIRS event program said. “For 11 years (2008-2018), Bill co-chaired the special track in Data Mining. Since 2019, he has been co-chairing the special track in Neural Networks and Data Mining.”

Additionally, Eberle is co-chair of the track on XAI, along with Talbert, and served as special tracks chair in 2013, program co-chair in 2014 and 2015 and as conference chair in 2016.

FLAIRS features some of the world’s leading researchers and speakers, special tracks, tutorials and paper and poster presentations, continuing its tradition of discussing state-of-the-art AI and related research in a sociable atmosphere.

“Dr. Eberle and I would love to see students attend with us every year,” Talbert said.

Computer science is Tennessee Tech’s second-largest program of study with approximately 800 undergraduate and graduate students. To learn more, visit or call 931-372-3691.

College of Engineering Newsroom