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

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.

“Hour of Code” Brings Computer Programming to Houghton High School

Hour of CodeThis is Computer Science Education Week, and computer science students and faculty from Michigan Tech are bringing the thrill of computer coding to Houghton High School every day. It’s part of a worldwide initiative called Hour of Code, designed to interest young people in computer coding.  

Associate Professor Charles Wallace and Lecturer Leo Ureel, along with three of their undergraduate computer science students, are using a program called SketchPad to get teacher Jennifer Rubin’s technology class coding. SketchPad uses a computer language something like Java, Wallace said.
You are invited to come to Houghton High School between 10 and 11 a.m. today or tomorrow to watch the computer science students and faculty from Michigan Tech show high school students how exciting coding can be.
Just go to the Houghton High School office and ask for Jennifer Rubin’s technology class.

IEEE GlobalSIP 2014 – Dr. Min Song Gives Keynote Talk

Dr. Min Song gave the keynote talk at IEEE GlobalSIP 2014 on December 5. The talk is titled “A Transparent Spectrum Co-Access Protocol for Primary and Secondary Users.” In this talk, Dr. Song introduced a novel wireless network protocol, termed spectrum co-access protocol (SCAP), for secondary users to transparently and simultaneously access the spectrum with primary users. SCAP enables mutually beneficial coexistence between primary user network and secondary user network. More details can be found at


Laura Brown and High Performance Computing

Laura Brown
Laura Brown

Assistant Professor of Computer Science Dr. Laura Brown’s research is centered broadly on the application and design of methods in artificial intelligence and machine learning. This work spans from the theoretical design of algorithms for feature selection and learning Bayesian networks, to the application of methods across domains including clinical healthcare, biomedicine, power distribution networks, electric microgrids, and computer systems research.

Read more at Michigan Tech’s Research in Computing & Visualization.

CS Tutorial Announcement: December 3, 4, 5

Title: A Tutorial on Theorem Proving in the Prototype Verification System (PVS)

Abstract: This tutorial will be offered for faculty members and graduate students whose research involves any sort of logical reasoning that can be expressed in predicate logic. The Prototype Verification System (PVS) is one of the premier theorem provers developed at the Stanford Research Institute (SRI). This tutorial provides a basic understanding of PBS along with the elementary techniques for formal specification and mechanical verification. PVS has been used in the verification of numerous real-world applications such as mission-critical systems, air traffic management systems, fault-tolerant distributed systems, security protocols, spacecraft autonomy and AI planning.

Organizers: Mr. Amer Tahat (CS), Dr. Ali Ebnenasir (CS), and Dr. Ossama Abdelkhalik (ME-EM).

Time: 4:00 – 5:00 p.m., Dec. 3rd, 4th and 5th
Place: Rekhi 112
Registration: Please send an email to Mr. Amer Tahat at Space is limited, so register early please.

Acknowledgement: The organizers extend their gratitude to the Formal Methods group at NASA Langley for providing technical support. Prerequisites include preliminary knowledge of propositional and predicate logic.