Department of Computer Science

Computer Science Blog

New Funding for Dr. Scott Kuhl

Posted by vlroy under Uncategorized

PI Scott Kuhl (CS) and Co-PIs Aleksandr Sergeyev and A. Nasser Alaraje (SoT) have received $113,310 for “PLC Education through Simulation and Games from Bay de Noc Community College.”

This is the first year of a three-year project totaling $246,173.

15th Annual NMU Programming Contest

Posted by vlroy under Uncategorized

Eight teams from Michigan Technological University competed in the 15th Annual NMU Programming Contest in Marquette on March 29, 2014.  The team of Brandon Gafford, Taylor Scanlon and Xin Zhang placed first in the competition.  In second place was the team of Adam Funkenbusch and Stuart Larsen.  Additionally, Michigan Tech teams placed, 4th, 5th, 6th and 8th.  The strong overall performance of the teams resulted in a 1st place school ranking for Michigan Tech.

Additional information on the programming competition, rules and full results are available at

North American Invitational Programming Contest 2014

Posted by vlroy under Uncategorized

Left to right: Eric Rinkus, Jason Hiebel (coach), Tom Holmes, Ryan McNamara

The Michigan Technological University team of math major Ryan McNamara and computer science majors Eric Rinkus and Thomas Holmes took their programming skills to Chicago on March 26 and finished 10th out of 21 in the North American Invitational Programming Contest. They now move on to the world finals in Russia in June.

by Dennis Walikainen, senior content specialist

A Michigan Tech team of computer programmers took tenth place out of 21 teams at the North American Invitational Programming Contest 2014 in Chicago this weekend. The team of Eric Rinkus, Coach Jason Hiebel, Tom Holmes (CS) and Ryan McNamara (Math) solved five of 15 problems and finished ahead of Northwestern, Southern California, Virginia Tech Wisconsin-Madison and others.

“Above them were some of the best teams in North America: MIT, Stanford and Carnegie Mellon,” said Hiebel. “I’m proud of their performance. They did a fantastic job, and I think this was a good practice for the world finals in Russia [in June]. The entire team is graduating this year, and they will be missed. It will be hard to find a team with as much talent and dedication to take their place.”

In Marquette, a Michigan Tech team of Brandon Gafford, Taylor Scanlon, and Xin Zhang (CS) placed first in the 15th Annual NMU Invitational Programming Contest. In second place was the team of Adam Funkenbusch and Stuart Larsen (ECE). Additionally, Michigan Tech teams placed fourth, fifth, sixth, and eighth. The strong overall performance of the teams resulted in a first-place ranking for Michigan Tech, whose award was accepted by faculty coaches Laura Brown and Leo Ureel (CS).

They competed against 16 other teams from Northern Michigan University, Lake Superior State University and the College of St. Scholastica (Duluth). Teams worked over five hours on six programming problems.

In both competitions, the final ranking is determined by the number of problems that are completed correctly with ties broken by the number of minutes taken to solve the problems.

“The continued success of Michigan Tech teams has benefited greatly over the years from professor David Poplawski’s direction and creation of an elective course on competitive programming, CS1090,” said Brown.

View the final Chicago scoreboard. Additional information on the NMU programming competition is available here.

Tech students headed to world finals of International Collegiate Programming Contest

Posted by vlroy under Uncategorized

A team of Michigan Tech undergraduates (Computer science students Tom Holmes and Eric Rinkus and math major Ryan McNamara) have earned the right to go to Russia to compete in the world finals of the International Collegiate Programming Contest next June, by finishing fifth in the North Central regional qualifying contest. Holmes, Rinkus and McNamara will be making the trip to Ural Federal University in Ekaterinburg with coach and Computer Science PhD student Jason Hiebel.

You may read the full story online in Tech Today.

Jackson Blended Learning Award

Posted by vlroy under Uncategorized

Computer Science Lecturer Leo Ureel is the recipient of a $5000 Jackson Life Blended Learning Grant from the Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning. Grants were awarded to blended learning projects that are strategically transformative, have demonstrated need, and will have broad impacts. Mr. Ureel’s project, “Canvas Teaching Assistant”, will provide students with a highly interactive environment for testing and obtaining immediate feedback about their code.

The way students currently approach homework is similar to the outdated “waterfall” development model, progressing in a one-way, linear fashion: students are given program specifications, they go away and work on the code, the assignment is submitted when they are done, then they wait for grades and possible feedback. As one student said, “We work in isolation, then chuck the program over the wall and hope for the best.” Mr. Ureel wants to make the process of learning to program a more iterative, agile process that interleaves coding with testing and rewards interaction. This will bring our introductory computer science education closer to current “agile” methods of software development.

The project will leverage the department’s existing grading software and the Canvas course management system to provide students with immediate feedback prior to submitting programs for grading. This will encourage students to “code a little, test a little” in an iterative fashion that will empower them to tackle bugs and resolve functional problems earlier in the learning process. Additionally, the project will add intelligent assessment of programming style and comments, helping students mature into professional software engineers. When combined with new curriculum designed to teach agile development, students will be better prepared for a 21st century career in computer science.

PhD Candidate Jun Ma Awarded Finishing Fellowship

Posted by vlroy under Uncategorized

Computer Science PhD candidate Jun Ma has been awarded a Finishing Fellowship by Michigan Tech’s Graduate School. The evaluation of candidates is based on their research, publication, and contribution to the mission of Michigan Tech. Competition for these awards is always strong and only a few students are awarded each semester. Jun Ma is the first PhD student in the CS department to receive this award. The fellowship awarded to him provides full support (stipend plus 9-credits tuition) for Spring 2014 semester.

Jun Ma is advised by Drs. Ching-Kuang Shene and Chaoli Wang. He passed his candidacy exam in Spring 2013 and is expected to graduate by Spring 2014. His dissertation title is “Analysis and Visualization of Flow Fields using Information-theoretic Techniques and Graph-based Representations.”

Citizen Science

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“8 Apps That Turn Citizens into Scientists”

The following article appeared in Scientific American, and discusses the development of Citizen Science mobile apps by faculty members Alex Meyer (Environmental/Civil Figure) and Robert Pastel (Computer Science). Supported by a grant from National Science Foundation, this interdisciplinary project includes students from Computer Science, Environmental Engineering, Scientific and Technical Communication, and Social Sciences.

NSF award for Drs. Mayo, Shene, Wang of MTU and Dr. Carr of WMU

Posted by shreyak under Announcements, News, Uncategorized

Drs. Jean Mayo, Ching-Kuang Shene and Chaoli Wang of MTU and Dr. Steven Carr of Western Michigan University, have been awarded $199,164 from the National Science Foundation to develop materials to educate students on modern access control models and systems.

Educating students in this area is important for keeping the nation’s computer resources secure.  Access control is a last line of defense for protecting system resources from a compromised process.  This is a primary motivation for the principle of least privilege, which requires that a process be given access to exactly those resources it requires.  Yet enforcement of this principle is difficult.  A strict access control policy can contain tens of thousands of rules, while errors in the policy can interrupt service and put system resources at risk unnecessarily.

This project will develop materials that facilitate education on modern access control models and systems.  A policy development system leverages visualization to enhance student learning.  The policy development system allows graphical development and analysis of access control policies.  It runs at the user-level, so that student work does not impact operation of the underlying system and so that access to a specific operating system is not required.  A set of web-based tutorials is being developed that are suitable for study outside of the classroom. These materials will increase the number of institutions that are able to offer deep coverage of access control and will facilitate expertise among workers who are not able to pursue formal education.

Best Paper Award to CS Student

Posted by shreyak under Announcements, News, Uncategorized

A paper (entitled “On the Complexity of Adding Convergence”) by Alex Klinkhamer and Dr. Ali Ebnenasir  received the best paper award at FSEN 2013 ( This is not an easy conference to get in to. This year’s acceptance rate was 26% amongst 65 submissions from 30 countries.

Since Alex could not make it to the conference, Dr. Ebnenasir presented their paper in Tehran.

CS and SE Students – Leo Ureel II, Michael Tuer and Raven Rebb – receive Leadership, Scholar and Service Awards

Posted by shreyak under Announcements, News, Uncategorized

Computer Science Ph.D. student Leo C. Ureel II is the recipient of the 2013 Michigan Tech Student Leadership Award, in the “Exceptional Community Service Project” category, for his work with the Breaking Digital Barriers project.  Leo has been a key figure in organizing and fundraising for this effort, which brings Michigan Tech students together with local elderly residents for tutoring in computer literacy skills.

In addition, Software Engineering undergraduate Michael Tuer was presented with the Departmental Scholar award at the Awards Banquet on April 19, and Software Engineering undergraduate Raven Rebb was honored as a nominee for the Award for Service.

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