Category Archives: News

Computer Science Groups to Participate in Campus World Usability Day Events

World Usability Day (WUD) is an annual event highlighting the importance of humans as participants in technology. In a world where basic infrastructures (including health, education and finance) depend on rapidly changing technologies, World Usability Day organizers call for ways to serve people first.

We are taking the spirit of WUD to the Upper Peninsula with WUD-UP. If you are interested in research, education or service that is associated with human factors, human-centered design, usability, ergonomics or other fields related to humans and technology, you are invited to attend.

Here’s what’s on tap for WUD-UP on Thursday, Nov. 13:

9:30-11a.m.: Tour of the Mind Music Machine Lab

  • Meese Building: Indoor wayfinding for the blind; Brain-computer interfaces; Interactive robots for children with autism; Advanced auditory menus
  • MEEM 128: Driving research
  • EERC 510: Immersive interactive sonification

11 a.m.-2 p.m.: Open House, Humane Interface Design Enterprise (HIDE)

Rekhi 116: Join HIDE members for an open house, which will feature a driving simulator and a new technology that will soon be competing for our attention—the Google Glass.

2-3 p.m.: Lab Tours, Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology (begins at the SDC ticket counter)

  • Exercise Physiology Lab: Come try the cycling workstation (integrated exercise bike and computer desk), designed to facilitate increased physical activity and recently featured in the Wall Street Journal.
  • Neuromechanics Lab: Get a free report on your segmental body composition, muscle strength and power. You can compare your strength and power with Michigan Tech student-athletes, and you will find our players are very powerful!
  • Integrative Physiology Lab: Research in this lab primarily focuses on neural control of circulation in humans. These studies aim to better understand the mechanisms underlying cardiovascular disease and orthostatic hypotension, with the goal of uncovering methods for reducing their incidence.

7-8:30 p.m.: “Cyber-Seniors” Screening and Discussion

East Reading Room, Van Pelt and Opie Library: A humorous and heartwarming feature documentary, “Cyber-Seniors” adds to the important international conversation about the growing generation gap. Focusing on a group of senior citizens who take their first steps into cyberspace under the tutelage of teenage mentors, the film expertly renders a thought-provoking look at a spirited group of men and women who are enriched by digitally reconnecting with their families and each other. Finding their footing rather quickly, the group moves on to compete for the most YouTube views while swiftly building their online inventory of friends.

Following the screening, we will have a discussion of the Cyber-Seniors project and ideas for implementation in the Copper Country. Teachers from the Copper Country Intermediate School District and members of Michigan Tech’s Breaking Digital Barriers group will participate.


From Tech Today, November 11, 2014

Making energy efficient in the UP

Abhilash Kantamneni, a Computer Science Ph.D. candidate, presented research on solar energy in the Upper Peninsula at the Solar Powering Michigan conference. See the complete Michigan Land Use Institute article here.

Also, see the October 2, 2014 Keweenaw Now article about Abhilash Kantamneni’s community presentation at the Keweenaw Research Center.

Kantamneni was also featured in the October 6, 2014 article in Midwest Energy News where he discusses renewable energy options. Kantamneni’s work in solar energy with Michigan Tech’s Keweenaw Research Center has led to a Federal Economic Development Assistance grant in collaboration with CUPPAD. See the associated TV interview about the grant.

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

Computer Science Student Pursues Peace Corps Master’s

Science and technology are transforming the way we live, and Tim Ward is working to make sure this transformation reaches everyone. Tim is the first student to pursue the Peace Corps Masters International (PCMI) in Computer Science at Michigan Tech, working in the remote Pacific nation of Vanuatu. Students in the program take courses on campus during the first year of the program, then they spend two years in the Peace Corps applying their knowledge within their Peace Corps community. You can read more about Tim and his work at his blog.

Using “Superior” Supercomputer for Advanced Research

Michigan Tech is home to a supercomputer known as “Superior” and this computer is used for a variety of projects by research faculty right here in the Department of Computer Science:

Laura Brown, Towards a reliable method for comparing large scale machine learning algorithms

Ali Ebnenasir, Computational synthesis of self-stabilizing protocols

Chaoli Wang, High-performance parallel analysis and visualization of Big Data

Read more at insideHPC.

Graduate School Announces Doctoral Finishing Fellowships for Fall 2013 and Spring 2014

The Graduate School is pleased to announce that the following students have earned:

Jun Ma, PhD candidate in computer science
Evgeniy Kulakov, PhD candidate in geology
Colin Gurganus, PhD candidate in atmospheric sciences
Suntara Fueangfung, PhD candidate in chemistry
Fang Chen, PhD candidate in electrical engineering
Xiaohui Wang, PhD candidate in electrical engineering
Jennifer Riehl, PhD candidate in forest molecular genetics and biotechnology
Stephanie Ogren, PhD candidate in biological sciences
Tayloria Adams, PhD candidate in chemical engineering

Computing in Russia: Taking on the Heavy Hitters

It’s a mass of computer-programming brainpower. Teams from Africa, the Middle East, Europe, Asia, Latin America, and the South Pacific will be joined by North American contingents, including our Michigan Tech team.

How big is it? It began last fall with over thirty thousand students from more than 2,300 universities and 91 countries. Regional qualifying contests reduced it to 366 students from 122 universities for the finals.

Those students are now in Ekaterinburg, Russia, at Ural Federal University for the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM) International Collegiate Programming Contest. The event runs through Saturday, with the actual contest occurring on Wednesday, and “intense” hardly describes it.

“This is the premiere global programming competition conducted by and for the world’s universities,” says computer science’s Dave Poplawski, longtime competition coach. “With 122 of 10,000 teams remaining, only the best of the best are left. For most Asian and Eastern European teams, winning this contest is akin to winning the World Cup in soccer or the Super Bowl in football. This is a BIG DEAL!”

In the competition, each team of three students is given one computer and five hours to solve 10 to 12 “fairly difficult” programming problems. A jury prepares tests to see if the programs were written correctly to solve the problems. The team that solves the most problems wins. If there are several teams that solve the same number of problems, the winner is determined by which team solved them the fastest.

The Michigan Tech team consists of midyear 2013 math graduate Ryan McNamara and computer science majors Eric Rinkus and Thomas Holmes. Their coach is computer science PhD student Jason Hiebel. The team qualified for the finals via the North Central Regional qualifying contest last November. They took their programming skills to Chicago in March for the North American Invitational Programming Contest, as one of only two Michigan teams invited. The other was from the University of Michigan.

“The Chicago Invitational was good practice and a good test of the team’s abilities,” Poplawski adds. “They finished tenth out of 21, beating teams from larger and more prestigious universities such as Northwestern, the University of Southern California, the University of Wisconsin (a traditional rival) and the University of Virginia. This Wednesday, the years of study and practice will be on the line against the best in the world.”