Archives—October 2019

Intro to Computing Principles using Python to be offered in Spring 2020

The College of Computing will offer an introductory fundamentals of computing class using the Python programming language in the Spring 2020 semester.

Introduction to Computing Principles, CS 1090, will meet MWF, 3:05-3:55 pm. The CRN is 14789. This class is for non-CS majors. There are no prerequisites and prior programming experience is not needed. Maximum class size is 25.

In the class, students will develop computational thinking skills vital for success across all disciplines. The course uses programming to introduce topics such as algorithms, abstraction, data, global impact, and internet technologies. Students will also develop effective communication and collaboration skills by working in groups to solve problems. This course engages students in problem-solving, creativity, and exploration. Upon completion of the course, students will have a richer understanding of the key principles of computer science. Students will be able to write small programs, speak intelligently about how computers work and how they enable us to become better problem-solvers, and communicate that knowledge to others.

What is Python? Python is a widely-used, high level programming language that can be used to create desktop applications, 3D graphics, video games, and even websites. It’s a great first programming language because it is easier to learn and more expressive than complex languages like C, C++, or Java. Python is powerful and robust enough to create advanced applications, and it’s used in just about every industry that uses computers.

Who uses Python? Among the companies that use Python are Mozilla, Google, Microsoft, Netflix, Uber, Reddit,  Dropbox, Slack, Digital Ocean, Lyft, CapitalOne, Bloomberg, JPMorgan, along with many others, large and small.

Download the course flyer.


Yooper Lights: Blue Marble Security Enterprise mentors 7th graders on an eCYBERMISSION

Students attending Lake Linden-Hubbell schools who live within one mile of their school are not eligible to take the school bus. Many walk to school, often in the dark, early morning hours. The same is true for students in another nearby school district, Calumet-Laurium-Keweenaw.

The Yooper Lights eCybermission team, L to R: Olivia Shank, Rebecca Lyons, Chloe Daniels, and Jenna Beaudoin

A small group of 7th grade students from Lake Linden-Hubbell High School in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula—Jenna Beaudoin, Chloe Daniels, Rebecca Lyons, and Olivia Shank—decided to do something to help improve safety for students who walk to school. Each was highly motivated, for personal reasons.

“I have three younger siblings who walk to school, and they aren’t always aware of their surroundings,” said Daniels.

“My uncle was biking one night and didn’t have a helmet or a reflector and he got hit by a car. He had brain trauma and now has trouble remembering certain things,” said Beaudoin.

“I want to be able to walk safely by myself or with my dogs in the early morning or in the evening when it gets dark,” said Shank.

“We live in a really snowy area, and kids can get hit,” said Lyons.

Helping kids and others walk safely in the dark is their mission, but it was more than that—it is their eCYBERMISSION, a national science competition sponsored by the Army Educational Outreach Program. Nationwide, students in grades 6-9 work in small teams for over a year to develop a process or product that will benefit their community. Locally, the Lake Linden Middle School eCYBERMISSION team is advised by Michigan Tech Engineering Fundamentals instructor Gretchen Hein, and chemical engineering senior Ryan Knoll.

Because none of them knew anything about circuits, the team contacted Glen Archer, interim chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Michigan Tech. Archer introduced the seventh graders to electrical engineering student John Robinault, outreach manager of Blue Marble Security.

Born out of the Michigan Tech Enterprise program, Blue Marble Security is a virtual company comprised undergraduate students focused on securing the future through thoughtful use of technology.

Yooper Lights team tested their LED reflectors at night, with help from volunteers.

Twice a week, Beaudoin, Daniels, Lyons and Shank met with Robinault and computer science major Tyler Arthur in the Blue Marble Security lab, located in the EERC building on campus.

The girls modeled the casing of their LED reflector using Siemens NX software, created their circuit using National Instruments Multisim™ software, and modeled their circuitboard using Eagle PCB design software. They had never used the software or soldered. The Blue Marble students demonstrated how to model and solder, but the girls did the work.

Arthur was a brand new member of Blue Marble Security Enterprise when he began working with the girls. “It gave me an opportunity to teach some of the material that I was already familiar with, while also learning new things along the way,” he said. “We worked together to get familiar with CAD modeling, for instance.

In the process, Arthur learned a lot about working with younger students, something he hadn’t ever done. “The fact that the team members are all good friends made for an interesting group dynamic, because was easy for them to distract each other while working on the project.” Even so, the girls persevered. Throughout the fall, the team completed their research and designed their reflector. They took their preliminary design to their 7th grade science classes for feedback. Based on that, they updated the design, completed the circuit board and went back to the school for more feedback, this time visiting both 7th and 10th grade science classes, asking the students to compare their LED reflector to a plain reflector. After receiving more valuable feedback, the team modified their design.

At that point, they began testing their LED reflector—calling it the “Yooper Light”, and themselves, the Yooper Lights.

Outdoor testing was completed on a straight, flat road near their school, over a distance of 170 feet. Pedestrians (students grades 7-9), and drivers (students grades 10-12, plus college students and adults) were asked to report when they could see a person walking and wearing either the plain reflector or the Yooper light LED reflector.

Due to weather conditions, only the college students and adults tested outside. The remaining tests were completed inside the school, in a dark hallway lit only by security lights. The Yooper Lights found that everyone could both see the LED reflector and the person wearing it over the entire testing distance.

They decided to conduct another, independent test to see just how far their LED reflector was visible. The maximum visibility was found to be 91.3 meters—over twice the previous testing distance.

Yooper Lights submitted their report to eCYBERMISSION, learning in March that they had made it to the virtual regional competition. Once again, Michigan Tech helped them out. The girls presented to judges at the Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning with help from Associate Director Jeff Toorangian.

In late April, Yooper Lights became the first place 7th grade team in Michigan—and a finalist in the North Central Region. In a word: Success! They were going to compete in Washington, DC at the national competition.

During the weeklong event in DC last June, the Yooper Lights team bonded with their eCYBERMISSION mentor, Michigan Tech alumna Sasha Teymorian, now a chemist in the US Army Research Laboratory. Teymorian graduated with her doctorate in Chemistry from Michigan Tech in 2015. Together they enjoyed a bevvy of cool activities, including one called “Houston, We Have a Problem,” that tasked the girls with engineering a solution to the Apollo 13 mission. They worked with radio-controlled cars and conducted ballistics on balloons, and even designed autonomous vehicles at the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

While in DC, Beaudoin, Daniels, Lyons and Shank also visited their Congressional representatives. They first met with Representative Jack Bergman, and then with Robert Curis, a staff member in Senator Debbie Stabenow’s office, sharing just how they used engineering to develop their LED light.

Finally, the Yooper lights presented their project to a team of eCybermission judges. “Although the team did not win the national competition, they gained a great deal from the experience,” said advisor Gretchen Hein.

What’s next for the team? Something they’re calling “Yooper Power”. Collaborating again with students from the Blue Marble Security Enterprise, as well as Michigan Tech student chapter of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), the girls, now in 8th grade, will develop outreach activity kits for fifth and sixth graders. Their new mission: introduce more young students to the field of electrical and computer engineering.

Chloe Daniels and Rebecca Lyons learn how to solder, with help from electrical engineering major John Robinault, a member of the Blue Marble Security Enterprise at Michigan Tech.
With more help from volunteers, the Yooper Lights team also tested their LED reflectors in a long, dimly lit hallway at Lake Linden-Hubbell High School.
Yooper Lights team member Olivia Shank models the casing of the LED reflector using Siemens NX software.
The Yooper Lights team used the Design Thinking process to develop their Yooper Lights. Design Thinking training is offered on campus through the Pavlis Honors College.
The team created two sizes and colors of 3D printed cases to test with their LED reflectors.

 

 

 

 


Bo Chen Weighs In on Identity Fraud in WalletHub Article

Bo Chen, Computer Science

Bo Chen (CS/CyberS) was featured in the article “2019’s States Most Vulnerable to Identity Theft & Fraud,” published October 16, 2019, in WalletHub.

Link to the article here:https://wallethub.com/edu/states-where-identity-theft-and-fraud-are-worst/17549/#expert=bo-chen

Based in Washington DC, WalletHub is the first-ever website to offer free credit scores and full credit reports that are updated on a daily basis. The company also hosts an artificially intelligent financial advisor that provides customized credit-improvement advice, personalized savings alerts, and 24/7 wallet surveillance, supplemented by reviews of financial products, professionals and companies.



TV6 Features Story on Computing Week October 17

WLUC TV6 aired the story, “Michigan Tech holds first Computing Week,” on October 17, 2019. College of Computing Dean Adrienne Minerick and Timothy Havens, the William and Gloria Jackson Associate Professor of Computer Systems and director the Institute of Computing and Cybersystems, were interviewed for the story, which includes film footage from the Computing Open House of Thursday, October 17.

View the video here: https://www.uppermichiganssource.com/content/news/Michigan-Tech-holds-first-Computing-Week-563325232.html.




MTRI to Present Research Seminars October 14

The Institute of Computing and Cybersystems will present four brief seminars by researchers from the Michigan Tech Research Institute (MTRI) on Monday, October 14, 2019, 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., in EERC 122.  MTRI research and outreach focuses on the development of technology to sense and understand natural and manmade environments.

Sarah Kitchen is a mathematician with background in algebraic geometry and representation theory. Her recent research interests include algebraic structures underlying optimization problems and applications of emerging statistical tools to signal processing and source separation problems. Her talk, “Collaborative Autonomy,” will discuss some considerations in centralized, semi-centralized, and decentralized decision-making methods for autonomous systems.

Susan Janiszewski is a mathematician specializing in graph theory and combinatorics. Her research interests lie in applying concepts from discrete mathematics to machine learning, computer vision, and natural language processing. Her talk, “Combining Natural Language Processing and Scalable Graph Analytics,” takes up the fast-growing field of Natural Language Processing (NLP), i.e. the development of algorithms to process large amounts of textual data. Janiszewski will discuss ways to combine common NLP and graph theoretic algorithms in a scalable manner for the purpose of creating overarching computational systems such as recommendation engines or machine common sense capabilities.

Joel LeBlanc has 10 years of experience in statistical signal processing. His research interests include information theoretic approaches to inverse imaging, and computational techniques for solving large inverse problems. LeBlanc’s talk, “Testing for Local Minima of the Likelihood Using Reparameterized Embeddings,” addresses the question: “Given a local maximum of a non-linear and non-convex log-likelihood equation, how should one test for global convergence?” LeBlanc will discuss a new strategy for identifying globally optimal solutions using standard gradient-based optimization techniques.

Meryl Spencer is a physicist with a background in complex systems and network theory. Her research interests include machine learning for image processing, applications of graph algorithms, and self-organization. Her talk, “Computational modeling of collaborative multiagent systems,” will discuss her previous work on modeling self organization in cellular networks, and some areas of interest for future work.

Download the event flyer.


College to Host Computing Week Events

The Michigan Tech College of Computing invites the campus community and the public to a series of special events the week of October 12 to 17, 2019. All events are free and open to the public.

“Computing Week events will formally introduce the College of Computing, and present opportunities to learn about Computing degrees, research, teaching, and career opportunities,” said Adrienne Minerick, dean of the College. “We’ll also launch a new recruitment video that we are very excited about.”

For students, Computing Week starts Saturday, October 12, with a Google Cloud Hero competition. In this fun experience, students will use Google Cloud Platform solutions to gain cloud skills and compete for best scores. Pre-registration is required at https://events.withgoogle.com/cloud-hero-michigan/.

On Monday, 10/14, 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., in EERC 122, researchers from the Michigan Tech Research Institute (MTRI) will present four brief seminars on their work and outreach, which focuses on the development of technology to sense and understand natural and manmade environments. This event is sponsored by the Institute of Computing and Cybersystems (ICC). MTRI researchers are Sarah Kitchen, Susan Janiszewski, Joel LeBlanc, and Meryl Spencer.

On Wednesday and Thursday, the College will showcase its own teaching and research. Wednesday from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m., in the Rozsa Center lobby, President Koubek, Dean Minerick, and alumnus Dave House will speak and a new recruitment video will be unveiled, followed by an ICC TechTalks research forum and a research poster session. Computing and ICC researchers will be on hand for discussion and Q & A. Refreshments and cash bar.

On Thursday, from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., in the Rozsa Center lobby, the College of Computing will host an Open House for which College programs and research will be on display. From 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., a Faculty Forum will present and discuss innovative teaching and learning methods and curriculum being used in the College.

“Faculty from across campus are invited to engage and learn more about the content in the College of Computing degree programs,” said Dean Minerick. “One-on-one conversations are encouraged around possible course and curricular coordinations to infuse computing into other disciplines. Faculty are welcome to come and go as their schedules allow.”

Schedule:

Saturday, 10/12, 12-3 pm: Google Cloud Hero
Location: Wadsworth Hall Annex, Room G11W.

In this fun learning experience, become familiar with key Google Cloud Platform solutions and gain cloud skills through a hands-on competitive lab experience. Register at https://events.withgoogle.com/cloud-hero-michigan/

Monday, 10/14, 11am-12 pm: MTRI Research Forum
Location: EERC 122. Researchers from the Michigan Tech Research Institute (MTRI) will present four brief seminars on their work and outreach, which focuses on the development of technology to sense and understand natural and manmade environments. Hosted by the Institute of Computing and Cybersystems (ICC).

Wednesday, 10/16,  3-5 pm: Keynote, Research Forum, Video Launch
Location: Rozsa Center Lobby.

  • 3:00-3:30 pm: ICC TechTalks
    3:30-4:00 pm: Remarks from President Koubek, Dean Minerick, alumnus Dave House and Video Release
  • 4:00-5:00 pm: Posters and Q & A with researchers and faculty
  • 4:00-5:00 pm: Complementary Food, Cash Bar

Thursday, 10/17, 10 am-12 pm: Open House and Faculty Forum
Location: Rozsa Center Lobby.

  • 10:15 a.m. and 11:15 a.m.: Faculty Forum. Learn about innovative teaching and College of Computing programs and initiatives.
  • Network with Computing industry employers.
  • Virtual Reality Demonstrations
  • Occulus Glasses Demonstrations
  • Robot Demonstrations
  • HIDE Enterprise Demonstrations
  • Free donuts while they last!

Download the event flyer.


Charles Wallace is Associate Dean for Curriculum and Instruction

Charles Wallace

Charles Wallace, Associate Professor of Computer Science, has been appointed Associate Dean for Curriculum and  Instruction for the College of Computing, effective immediately. Wallace has been teaching in the Department of Computer Science for 19 years, and he has a long track record of education research and building collaboration with Cognitive & Learning Sciences, Engineering, Humanities, and Social Sciences.

“Chuck brings to his new role an extensive breadth of experience that spans from outreach to curricular development to collaborations with multiple units across campus,” says Adrienne Minerick, dean of the College of Computing. “In this new role, he will help build campus collaborations to create additional pathways for Michigan Tech students to engage with computing curricula, and facilitate conversations within the College of Computing that enable creative, agile options for our students.”

“Barriers between computing and other disciplines are artificial and unproductive,” Wallace says. “Computing competencies are essential for Michigan Tech graduates in all fields, and the College and University should commit to building educational options housed in the College of Computing but available and accessible to all students.”

Wallace adds that students in the College of Computing should be free – and actively encouraged – to explore application areas where their skills can be used. He also wants to explore ways to build flexibility into Computing academic programs, maintaining the solid technical core that Michigan Tech graduates are known for, but also allowing students to pursue applications of their computing competencies in other disciplines.

Vision Statement from Charles Wallace:

Here are a few points that I consider vital to the future of computing education, based on 19 years of experience in the Computer Science Department, a long track record of education research, and extensive collaboration with Cognitive & Learning Sciences, Engineering, Humanities, and Social Sciences.

Barriers between computing and other disciplines are artificial and unproductive.  Computing competencies are essential for Michigan Tech graduates in all fields.  The College and University should commit to building educational options housed in the College of Computing but available and accessible to all students.  This will require an earnest and focused investment in personnel – we cannot do it solely with the current cohort of instructors, who are already stretched thinly with increased enrollment in core computing programs.

Conversely, students in the College of Computing should be free and even encouraged to explore application areas where their skills can be brought to bear.  Complex degree requirements can hinder such exploration.  We should explore ways to build flexibility into our programs, maintaining the solid technical core that Michigan Tech graduates are known for, but also allowing students to pursue applications of their computing competencies in other disciplines.

Computing students are citizens, not just producers.  The degree programs in Michigan Tech’s Computer Science Department have a long and venerable tradition of preparing students who can “produce” – hit the ground running in the workplace and build high quality solutions. That is a precious gift, and we should not deprive future students of it – but the future demands more. Our world is increasingly dominated by computing – and by extension, dominated by human beings who understand computing. Michigan Tech graduates of the College of Computing must be known not only for the technical “value” that they produce, but also the ability to question and critique digital technology, to be empathetic and articulate ambassadors and leaders in the new digital order of the future.

There are two promising ways in which we can build better computing citizens. First, an awareness of the social and ethical consequences of computing must be woven into our curricula, not just taught as external service courses.  Second, service learning is a way to expose students to the human contexts of computing technology. There are many ways to get students involved in our community, but these have not been harnessed outside of ad hoc outreach efforts. Interaction with the community should be built into the academic experience of computing students.

Computing competencies include values and attitudes, not just skills and knowledge. Alumni of our degree programs acknowledge that collaboration and communication are essential components of their professional lives.  These competencies involve not only skills but also values and attitudes – willingness and even eagerness to engage with others, resilience in the face of uncertainty or ambiguity, and adaptability in the face of changing requirements.  To prepare students for the highly collaborative computing workplace, courses in the College of Computing should embrace the opportunities and challenges of working in diverse teams. As with ethics, issues of teamwork and communication must be integrated into “disciplinary” courses, not left to service courses or external experiences like internships.

These curricular pathways hold promise not only to develop competent computing professionals of the future, but also to attract a more diverse constituency to the College of Computing student body.