Copper Country Middle & High School Students: Sign Up for Free Computer Programming Lessons

The Department of Computer Science is offering local students free, hands-on instruction in the basics of computer programming and computer science.

Starting Sept. 13, Copper Country Programmers meets from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays during the academic year at the Van Pelt and Opie Library. Computer Science faculty and students will teach the fundamentals of programming, starting with simple languages like HTML and BASIC and progressing to the well known and widely used Java language.

Beginning students use their new programming skills to create their own games and computer art. They also get exposure to physical applications of programming, such as mobile computing, microcontrollers and 3D printing.

Advanced students can get involved in competitive programming, including the American Computer Science League and Michigan Tech’s famous BonzAI Brawl competition.

CC Programmers continues through late April. Organizers also plan to schedule an additional after-school meeting during the week.

PhD student John Earnest, Lecturer Leo Ureel and Associate Professor Charles Wallace lead the CC Programmers effort. “We also appreciate the work of our volunteer assistants, and we encourage more individuals from the Michigan Tech community to get involved,” said Wallace.

To register or for more information, contact Wallace at, 487-3431.

From Tech Today

Research Grant Awarded

Xiaohua Xu

Dr. Xiaohua Xu (PI) has been awarded a research grant of $145,664 from the National Science Foundation. The project is titled “Optimal Joint Spectrum Allocation and Scheduling for Cognitive Radio Networks.” Dr. Xiaohua Xu is currently a Research Assistant Professor at Michigan Tech.

Jun Tao is an Outstanding Scholar

The Graduate School and Graduate Student Government proudly announce the 2014-2015 academic year winners.

CS graduate student Jun Tao received the Outstanding Scholarship Award. Jun was recognized among the graduate students who have exhibited academic performance in areas such as excellent GPA, originality in research, leadership and teamwork. Jun Tao is advised by Dr. Ching-Kuang Shene.

Read more at Tech Today.


View More Images of the 2015 Graduate Research Colloquium

Murat Koksal is an Outstanding Teacher

The Graduate School and Graduate Student Government proudly announce the 2014-2015 academic year winners.

CS graduate student Murat Koksal received the Outstanding Teaching Award. Murat was recognized among the graduate students who have exhibited exceptional ability as a teacher, have received excellent evaluations from students, as well as gaining the respect of faculty in their departments. Murat Koksal is advised by Dr. Soner Onder.

Read more at Tech Today.

Abhilash Kantamneni is an Exceptional Student Leader

The Graduate School and Graduate Student Government proudly announce the 2014-2015 academic year winners.

CS graduate student Abhilash Kantamneni received the Merit Award for Exceptional Student Leader. Abhilash was recognized for the ability to work well with others, participation in extracurricular activities and achievements contributing to the overall graduate student community and representing a bearer of integrity to others. Abhilash Kantamneni is advised by Dr. Laura Brown.

Read more at Tech Today.


View More Images of the 2015 Graduate Research Colloquium

Abhilash also won the (3MT) Style Research Speech Competition. The (3MT) Style Research Speech Competition is a research communication competition where Master’s and PhD students can present their thesis topic and its significance in just three minutes. The winner was selected by audience vote the night of the GRC Banquet and received $100 from the Graduate School.

Watch the 3-Minute Presentation Video by Abhilash Kantamneni

Nilufer Onder Receives High Instructor Evaluation Scores

Nilufer Onder
Nilufer Onder

Computer Science Professor Nilufer Onder was ranked in the top 10% across all university classes for student evaluation scores. Onder’s ranking for Fall 2014 was based among other classes with a similar size of 50 students. She taught CS3311, Formal Methods of Computing, last semester and earned a score of 4.85 on the Question of Excellent Teacher and her score for the average of the seven elements of the evaluation was a 4.74. Please join Max Seel, Provost and Vice-President for Academic Affairs and Computer Science Department Chair Min Song in congratulating Nilufer Onder on her scores.

Dean’s Teaching Showcase: Scott Kuhl

Scott Kuhl
Scott Kuhl

The Dean’s Teaching Showcase nominee for this week comes from the College of Sciences and Arts. Dean Bruce Seely has chosen to recognize Scott Kuhl, an assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science with an adjunct appointment in Cognitive and Learning Sciences. Dean Seely values “what Scott Kuhl attempts to accomplish as a teacher mainly for the mindset he employs, and less for the specific teaching techniques has adopted.” He notes that Scott “does not differentiate between regular classes, summer youth and support for Enterprise activities as educational venues—but approaches all with the goal of creating a fun and motivating environment.”

In his more traditional courses, Scott does attribute his teaching success to specific techniques, like providing detailed assignment descriptions with numerous tips to “help get students going in the right direction.” He also provides numerous examples, some of which he walks through in class in detail, and encourages students to share additional examples with each other. Finally, he emphasizes prompt feedback for his students. He has accomplished this by creating an automatic grading program which provides a “provides a transparent, well-defined set of expectations for assignments” and a score that can be adjusted by an instructor or grader as necessary. He’s even willing to share this tool with those interested.

Kuhl is also focused on continual improvement. Though the Husky Game Development (HGD) Enterprise he leads is focused on games, he attributes its dramatic growth under his leadership to a careful cycle of feedback, change and evaluation. He sees the value of interdisciplinary teamwork, communication, development and management for students in HGD, and has led the group in both publishing academic papers and receiving sponsorship from both Chrysler and the Department of Labor.

Scott will be formally recognized with the 11 other Dean’s Teaching Showcase nominees at a luncheon near the end of spring term. Please join Dean Seely, computer science chair Min Song and the Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning in thanking Scott for his outstanding contributions to the teaching mission of the College of Sciences and Arts.

From Tech Today, by Mike Meyer, director, William G. Jackson CTL.

Kantamneni Involved in Energy Prize Semifinals

Abhi Kantamneni Interviewed by ABC10 UP
Abhi Kantamneni Interviewed by ABC10 UP

Houghton Makes Energy Prize Semifinals

by Jennifer Donovan, director of news and media relations

Tomorrow, Houghton County is hosting a community-wide celebration as Georgetown University announces that the county has advanced to the semifinals in the national Georgetown University Energy Prize. Many Michigan Tech faculty, staff and students are helping promote Houghton County’s entry, an initiative launched and led by Michigan Tech computer science graduate student Abhilash Kantamneni.

“We have a visionary local government that’s willing to work with Michigan Tech and help educate the community,” Kantamneni said. “We have one of the best engineering schools in the US, with huge expertise in green energy. Together, we could be a model community, an example for everyone.”

Read more at Tech Today.

Houghton County Dems to host Solar Power presentation TONIGHT, Jan. 7, at Super 8

The meeting will feature a presentation by Abhilash “Abhi” Kantamnemi, a research engineer at the Keweenaw Research Center. He has done extensive research into the viability of solar power in the Upper Peninsula and has helped several area residents install solar power for themselves.

“The basics of solar is really pretty straightforward; a lot of people in the area have installed solar themselves,” Kantamnemi said. “Your installs could be 50 percent cheaper if you DIY (do it yourself).”

Read more at Keweenaw Now.

Houghton energy team wants community oversight

The Houghton Energy Efficiency Team, or HEET, had its monthly meeting Tuesday to discuss forming a Community Advisory Board. The six–person board includes supporters from local organizations and government officials.

“We also need a sort of oversight from members of the community to help regulate the ideas that they come up with to see what is feasible and what is not and to make sure that the ideas that we propose are accessible to every member of the community,” HEET member Abhi Kantamneni said.

Read more at ABC 10 Up by Sam Ali. | Watch the Video

Houghton County, HEET celebrate semifinalist status for Georgetown University Energy Prize competition

At the Sept. 17, 2014, Community Visioning Meeting for Saving Energy, held at the Finnish American Heritage Center in Hancock, HEET organizer Abhilash (“Abhi”) Kantamneni, a PhD student in Computer Science at Michigan Tech and a researcher in solar energy, points out that electric rates for the Upper Peninsula are among the highest in the U.S.

Read more at Keweenaw Now, by Michele Bourdieu.

SURF Workshop January 15, 2015

Will Cantrell will be conducting the second of two workshops on the SURF application process, including writing an effective SURF proposal at 6:30 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 15, in Fisher 130. This will cover the same material as the workshop held in December so students who attended the first one need not attend this one.

SURF application materials (as well as example proposals) are at

The deadline for receipt of SURF applications is noon on Friday, Jan. 30, 2015.

Copper Country Programmers Host Game Jam and Hour of Code

Local middle- and high-school students have recently engaged in coding activities with the help of Copper Country Programmers (CCP).

The Michigan Tech CCP team is led by Associate Professor Charles Wallace, Lecturer Leo Ureel, and graduate student John Earnest in the computer science department. CCP is a weekly computer programming club for kids in grades 6-12 who live in the school districts surrounding Michigan Tech. The team meets every Saturday in the J. ROBERT VAN PELT AND JOHN AND RUANNE OPIE LIBRARY.

During December 8-14, 2014, CCP partnered with Houghton High School teacher Jen Rubin to teach programming to students for one hour every day for National Computer Science Education Week as part of a national effort called Hour of Code. The team worked with students to learn to program in the Processing language. Additionally, students had the opportunity to try some cutting edge technology, such as the Occulus Rift and the Myo. Wallace and Ureel were helped by undergraduate students Mitchel Davis, Nicole Yarroch, and Jennifer Hothouse

Breaking the code
Houghton HS students learn how to code

“It’s really exciting to see the things that they’re doing – they’re picking this up, our college students are showing them, and they’re just running with it, having a lot of fun,” Ureel said.

Read more at the Mining Gazette, by Meghan Marquardt.

More recently, CCP hosted an event called “Game Jam” for thirteen students in grades 6 through 12, which ran from 10am-4pm on January 3, 2015. A game jam is an event where people get together to program games from scratch. It is not often one can keep a group of teens focused for six hours. Yet interest and enthusiasm remained high throughout the day. Each team produced a working game. Many of the students expressed an interest in fleshing-out and polishing their games at home. At the end of the day, everyone was tired, but very proud as they showed off their work and let others play. Graduate student John Earnest and undergraduate Nicole Yarroch helped facilitate the game jam.

Game Jam lets students code creatively

“Nowadays, programming environments are typically a lot more complicated … I came up with the idea that when we were initially teaching how to program, we don’t need to use something ‘real,’ and really complicated,” Earnest said. “We can teach a simple programming language first, that’s specifically intended for teaching these introductory concepts, and then we can build on that, we can move from a simple language to a more complicated language.”

Read more at the Mining Gazette, by Meghan Marquardt.

SIGCSE-14In 2014 Ureel, Earnest, and Wallace published “Copper country programmers: a novel curriculum for beginning programmers in middle and high school” in SIGCSE ’14, Proceedings of the 45th ACM technical symposium on Computer science education, pages 722-723.

ISBN: 978-1-4503-2605-6 doi>10.1145/2538862.2544310

In May 2014, Charles Wallaced received a Faculty Distinguished Service Award. He was recognized for his involvement with two specific programs: Breaking Digital Barriers (BDB) and Copper Country Programmers. Both have connected Michigan Tech students with the local community.