Archives—December 2019

Senior Keith Atkinson Applies Computing Skills to Aid Food Pantry

Keith Atkinson

Senior Keith Atkinson Applies Computing Skills to Aid Husky FAN Food Pantry

December 13, 2019

By Karen S. Johnson, Communications Director, College of Computing

For his CS 4099 Directed Study class this fall, senior Computer Science undergraduate Keith Atkinson developed and deployed a Food Inventory System (FIS) for the Husky Food Access Network Food Pantry.

“The Inventory System will allow the pantry staff to quickly know what they have in their inventory,” says Atkinson, adding that it also anonymously collects information on what’s leaving the pantry to gain insight into specific usage.

“Ideally, it will also track items that are both removed due to expiration and items that are actually taken by students to give some idea on what specific donations to ask for in the future,” Atkinson says.

The inventory system uses a Google Sheet as a database, which gives food pantry volunteers easy access to the quantities and products they have on site without a separate website or system. And because it’s like any other Google Sheet, staff and volunteers are likely already familiar with it.

“The benefits of the Food Inventory System are huge,” says Whitney Boroski, Michigan Tech’s manager of student health and wellness. “The Husky Food Access Network now has real-time data we can use to identify need or organize programming. Keith has also arranged for us to track how much food we’re donating to other community entities.”

Boroski’s hope is that the FIS will give the Food Insecurities Committee a better snapshot of need so they’ll know how to most effectively serve the campus community.  She is also very confident that the FIS will save the pantry coordinator and team loads of time counting donations and getting an accurate inventory.

Formed in 2014, the Michigan Tech Food Insecurities Committee helps to combat hunger issues on campus. The committee developed what is now known as the Husky Food Access Network (Husky FAN). It provides multiple resources for the campus community, including the Food Pantry.

Atkinson was first introduced to the Husky FAN Food Pantry in Spring 2019 in his Food Systems & Sustainability class taught by assistant social sciences professor Angela Carter. “I knew I wanted to do directed study again this fall, so I had been thinking of possible projects I could do on campus,” Atkinson explains. “I’ve had experience with inventory systems through work and immediately thought I might be able to help digitize some of their process.”

So, after meeting with Whitney Boroski, Michigan Tech’s manager of student health and wellness, Atkinson approached Husky FAN with his idea, and then met with CS 4900 instructor Leo Ureel, a lecturer in the Computer Science department, who agreed that it would be a good project.

“It was a great opportunity to work with an interdisciplinary group of people with diverse skill sets,” Atkinson notes. “The members of the MTU Food Insecurities Committee as well as the pantry volunteers all have different backgrounds which made it a fun challenge to think about the different ways someone might interact with or use the inventory system.”

One benefit of the inventory system is knowing what is in the pantry for planning events, like the recent Soup Meal Pack Giveaway. “For example, a pantry volunteer could quickly identify the quantities of peanut butter, bread, and jelly then put together a PB&J sandwich event with a good estimate of available quantities,” Atkinson says. “Right now, the only way to know what the pantry has is to manually count it, which is time consuming,”

“This tool that Keith has created and set into operation for us is invaluable.  I couldn’t even begin to think of how the Husky Food Access Network would pay for this type of service/program, not to mention something tailored 100% to our needs!” Boroski says.

In designing the inventory system, Atkinson worked closely with the Food Insecurities Committee, especially Boroski and student and pantry coordinator Elisha Houle. “I presented it at two meetings and they were helpful in identifying what to put together in a guide, as well as sharing some general concerns.”

One concern the Committee voiced was Atkinson’s Spring 2020 graduation, and whether he would be available in the future to help maintain the system and address any problems that may arise. To address this, Atkinson created a users’ guide along with thorough documentation on recreating the project, including explanations of how and why the inventory system works.

The inventory system, which includes UPC scanners, is now complete and the pantry is soft-piloting it this semester with plans to implement it fully next semester.  Atkinson has a job lined up in the Houghton area after his expected graduation in April 2020, so he will be close by to maintain the system if there are issues.

“Keith is a wonderful, very dedicated individual that I’ve enjoyed working with over the last year” says Boroski. “He is very professional, super smart, and has an amazing attention to detail!  Keith listened to the Husky Food Access Networks needs and took comments and feedback very well. I’m elated that he will be staying in the area after graduation to work professionally.”

Atkinson enjoys applying his computing skills to improve communities and lives. In a separate, earlier CS 4900 Directed Study course, he wrote curriculum and a grant to fund Copper Country Coders, a weekly educational program provided by Michigan Tech students, with assistance from Computer Science faculty members Leo Ureel and Charles Wallace, that introduces middle and high school students to the world of computer science and programming.

Atkinson has also volunteered for BASIC (Building Adult Skills in Computing), a Michigan Tech student-driven weekly computer skills workshop held Saturday mornings at the Portage Lake District Library that provides free one-on-one computer skills tutoring to community members.

“I’m very proud of the Food Insecurities Committee at Michigan Tech for their dedication and hard work organizing and maintaining Husky FAN,” says Boroski. “With Keith’s contribution of the FIS and his support, which he’s offered multiple times after he graduates, I feel Michigan Tech is one of the leaders in addressing food insecurities on college campuses. Food Insecurities work is never finished, but with creative innovations like Keith’s FIS we can concentrate more on feeding those who are hungry!”

The Husky FAN food pantry is located on the first floor of Fisher Hall, down the hall from Fisher 135, in the space formerly known as the Aftermath Café. It is open daily Tuesday through Friday, and on Mondays by appointment. The pantry is available free of charge to anyone. No paperwork or approval is required. Services are confidential and anonymous.

Learn more about the Husky Food Access Network Food Pantry here.


AI Is Number One in 2020 LinkedIn Jobs Report

Career site LinkedIn has released its third annual “2020 Emerging Jobs Report,” which identifies 15 roles that have seen the largest rate of hiring growth from 2015 through this year in the U.S. Guess what? The top five are all Computing-related jobs, and among the remaining 10, half of them are in Computing.

Number one on the list is Artificial Intelligence Specialist, which has grown 74% annually in the past 4 years alone with average annual salary at $136,000. The number two hiring area is Robotics Engineer, with 40% annual hiring growth, and the third is Data Scientist, with 37% growth from 2015 to 2019.

Fourth and fifth are Full Stack Engineer (35%) and Site Reliability Engineer (34%), eighth is Data Engineer (33%), 10th is Cybersecurity Specialist (30%), 11th is Back End Developer, 13th is Cloud Engineer, and 14th is JavaScript Developer.

Read more here.

Download the LinkedIn repot here.


Congratulations, RedTeam@MTU!

National Cyber League Logo

RedTeam@MTU, one of Michigan Tech’s National Cyber League (NCL) teams, placed 8th out of 689 teams in the recent NCL Fall 2019 cyber competition team game. The team consists of seven College of Computing undergraduate and graduate students: Alexander Larkin, John Claassen, Jack Bergman, Jon Preuth, Trevor Hornsby, Shane Hoppe, and Matthew Chau. In addition, two RedTeam@MTU team members ranked in the top 100 out of 4149 players in the individual game: John Claassen (67th) and Alex Larkin (70th).

“This is a breakthrough since first joining the NCL competition in Fall 2017,” said faculty coach Bo Chen, assistant professor of computer science. “Congratulations to the RedTeam and John Claasen and Alex Larkin!”

Three teams and 21 players from Michigan Tech were involved this season, most of them with the RedTeam@MTU, a student organization which exists to promote a security-driven mindset among the student population, and to provide a community and resource for those wishing to learn more about information security.  The RedTeam is co-advised by Bo Chen and Yu Cai, professor in the College of Computing.

Students from hundreds of U.S. universities participated during the Fall 2019 NCL season, which comprised a week-long Preseason placement game, followed by a weekend Individual Game, and culminating in a weekend Team Game. A total of 689 teams and 4149 players  participated.

In addition, Michigan Tech ranks 11th among the top 100 colleges and universities in the “Team” Cyber Power Rankings, 51st in the Individual Rank, and 23rd in the Participation Rank. The Cyber Power Rankings were created by Cyber Skyline in partnership with the National Cyber League (NCL). The rankings represent the ability of students from these schools to perform real-world cybersecurity tasks on the Cyber Skyline platform, such as identify hackers from forensic data, pentest and audit vulnerable websites, recover from ransomware attacks, and more. Schools are ranked based on their top team performance, their top student’s individual performance, and the aggregate individual performance of their students. View the full ranking list at https://cyberskyline.com/data/power-ranking/fall-2019-national.

Founded in 2011 to provide an ongoing virtual training ground for participants to develop, practice, and validate their cybersecurity skills, the NCL is a defensive and offensive puzzle-based, capture-the-flag style cybersecurity competition. Its virtual training ground helps high school and college students prepare and test themselves against cybersecurity challenges that they will likely face in the workforce. All participants played the games simultaneously during all of the Fall season games.

The NCL challenges are based on the CompTIA Security+™ and EC-Council Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)™ performance-based exam objectives and include the following content: Open Source Intelligence, Scanning, Enumeration and Exploitation, Password Cracking, Traffic Analysis, Log Analysis, Wireless Security, Cryptography, and Web Application Security. Players of all levels can participate in the NCL games. Through easy, medium and hard challenges, students have multiple opportunities to excel.

Learn more about the NCL at: https://www.nationalcyberleague.org/.

Cyber Skyline Logo

Cyber Skyline is an immersive cloud platform on which to practice, develop, and measure technical cybersecurity skills. It is built for Incident Response Handlers, Security & Network Engineers, SOC Analysts, Software Engineers, Pentesters, and more. Visit the Cyber Skyline website at: https://cyberskyline.com.


BASIC Program Featured on TV 6-WLUC UPSide

Kelly Steelman

Building Adult Skills in Computing, or BASIC, is a program where anyone in the community who has questions about computers, smart phones, or tablets, can receive individual instruction. The BASIC program tutors, all Michigan Tech students, and faculty mentor Kelly Steelman, associate professor, Cognitive and Learning Sciences, were featured on the TV6 feature UPsiders on November 25, 2019.

View the video on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/uppermichiganssource/videos/2669673899926711/.

More about BASIC:

Since 2011, Michigan Tech students and faculty have been helping Copper Country community members improve their basic computer skills through the free tutoring program Building Adult Skills in Computing (BASIC).

The sessions take place every Saturday morning from 10:00 to 11:00 at the Portage Lake District Library, Houghton, when Michigan Tech classes are in session. Up to 15 tutors are available this semester and all community members are welcome. Computer experience is not necessary and an appointment is not required.

“As the digital revolution continues to transform our society, many older adults and other groups are being left behind,” said Charles Wallace, associate professor of computer science. “Using computers, smartphones and other digital devices remains unfamiliar territory for many and it can be a source of great anxiety.”

Wallace explains that through this free tutoring, the BASIC program aims to overcome this anxiety and build the computer skills and digital literacy needed for participants to effectively operate digital devices and technology and safely find the information they need.

For more information, please contact Charles Wallace (906-487-3431, wallace@mtu.edu) or Kelly Steelman, associate professor of cognitive and learning sciences (906-487-2792, steelman@mtu.edu).


Weihua Zhou is PI on $25K R and D Grant from Tulane University

Weihua Zhou

Weihua Zhou, assistant professor, Health Informatics, and member of the ICC’s Center for Data Sciences, is the principal investigator on a project that has received a $24,497 federal pass-through research and development grant from Tulane University. The project is titled, “Trans-Omics Integration of Multi-Omics Studies for Male Osteoporosis.” This is a 7-1/2 month project.

Abstract: Osteoporosis is the most prevalent metabolic bone disease and it is representative of many diseases typical of aging. While advances in omics technologies,  such as genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, and epigenomics, have been successful in identifying risk loci for osteoporosis, each technology individually cannot capture the entire biological complexity of osteoporosis. The integration of multiple technologies has emerged as an approach to provide a more comprehensive view of biology and disease. In addition, recent advances in image analysis have enabled the characterization of not only the bone mineral density but also the bone microarchitecture and biomechanical quality with the dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) and quantitative computed tomography (QCT) measurements. The Tulane Center for Bioinformatics and Genomics (CBG), led by Dr. Hong-Wen Deng, has accumulated/is acquiring extensive multi-omics data and DEXA/QCT images through a number of research projects for osteoporosis and other related phenotypes. Tulane CBG is actively seeking collaborations with investigators who have the expertise and experience in integrative multi-omics analysis and advanced image analysis. With this NIH subcontract award (U19AG055373), Tulane CBG will collaborate with Dr. Weihua Zhou and his team on the development and implementation of sophisticated methods for multi-omics analysis and DEXA/QCT image analysis.
Dr. Zhou is looking for volunteer research assistants. Please visit his web pages for more details: https://pages.mtu.edu/~whzhou/, and read this blog post: https://blogs.mtu.edu/computing/2019/12/03/medical-imaging-…earch-assistants/.

SnowBots Qualify for State Championship

States bound: SnowBots qualify for state championship

from The Daily Mining Gazette, December 6, 2019

(Front, from left) Peter Rudnicki, Maddie Minerick, Elizabeth Bergstrom, Rachel Bergstrom, Daniel Xie, Kyle Hubert. (Middle, from left) Joshua You, Tyler Gregersen, Zhi Tao Yap, Mason Heldt, Yamato Tajiri. (Back, from left) Nathanael Strome, Ben Manchester, Kayleigh Matson, Joel Brubaker, Nelson Monte, Collin Damsteegt. Not shown: Evan Hill, Edward Liu, Evan Massaway, Colton Sam, Anna Wu.

The SnowBots Middle School Robotics teams reached a first-ever milestone at the Pellston regional FIRST Tech Challenge qualifier on Nov 23rd. All three teams, identified by the colors Blue, Red, and Silver, have now qualified to compete at the state championship Dec. 13-14 in Battle Creek. SnowBots Blue and Silver qualified on Nov. 9 and the Red team will be joining them after their great performance in Pellston.

At Pellston, 29 teams from the Upper Peninsula and across the Northern Lower competed in 2.5-minute matches. All three SnowBots teams made it into the semi-finals. Team Blue was on the number four alliance in the semi-finals. In addition to receiving an invitation to the state championships, Team Red was a member of the winning alliance and took second place for both the Collins Aerospace Innovate Award and the Think Award. Team Silver was undefeated in the qualifying matches, captain of the winning alliance, and winner of the Connect Award. The Pellston event was sponsored in part by Michigan Technological University’s College of Computing.

SnowBots teams are open to area sixth-eighth grade students. The teams are led by Melody Doig and Chris Doig and mentored by the Houghton High School FIRST team, Superior Roboworks. Anyone interested in seeing FIRST Tech Challenge in action is welcome to attend the Mini Scrimmage on Dec. 7 from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. at Houghton Middle School; enter near the cafeteria (Door No. 8). The robots will be scrambling to lift, transport and assemble “skyscraper blocks” in 2.5-minute matches.

SnowBots teams are sponsored by: Michigan Department of Education, GS Engineering, Destination Unstoppable, Minerick Logging, Boundary Labs, ThermoAnalytics, IR Telemetrics, Michigan Tech Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, Michigan Tech Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics Department, Monte Consulting, and Houghton Portage Township Schools.


MEDC Cyber and Mobility Division Visits Michigan Tech

MEDC Logo

Michigan Tech’s ICC Center for Cybersecurity and the MTEC SmartZone hosted members of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s (MEDC’s) Cyber and Mobility division in Houghton, MI, on December 2, 2019.

The group’s visit included presentations by several Michigan Tech faculty who are conducting research in the cyber and mobility space, strategic economic development discussions highlighting Michigan Tech and the local community, and tours of selected Michigan Tech cyber and mobility labs, including GLRC, APS Labs, and the KRC.

The tour concluded with a talk to Michigan Tech students by Karl Heimer of the MEDC regarding information and student opportunities with MEDC-affiliated CyberAuto and CyberTruck competitions.

For more information, contact Associate Professor Guy Hembroff, director of the ICC Center for Cybersecurity and the Health Informatics graduate program.


Medical Imaging and Informatics Lab Seeking Volunteer Research Assistants

A student views digital x-rays on multiple computers

The Laboratory of Medical Imaging and Informatics is seeking volunteer Research Assistants.

Are you looking for an exciting research experience in applied artificial intelligence and medical imaging/informatics? The MIIL Lab (Laboratory of Medical Imaging and Informatics) is hiring. We’re focused on developing new computer methods and techniques to solve significant healthcare problems and improve clinical practice.

Visit https://pages.mtu.edu/~whzhou/ for more information about our research projects.  Please see the attached flyer, below.  For more information, contact Weihua Zhou at whzhou@mtu.edu.

Under the guidance of the director, senior research assistants and clinical collaborators, Volunteer Research Assistants will conduct literature reviews, develop and validate software methods and tools, validate with computer simulations and patient data, analyze study data, prepare manuscripts, apply for student research fellowships, and more.

Both undergraduate and graduate students are welcome to apply.  For a more complete job description or to submit application materials, email whzhou@mtu.edu.

Lab Director: Weihua Zhou, Ph.D.

Locations:

  • Rekhi #109 @Michigan Tech (office)
  • Rekhi #324 @Michigan Tech (lab)

Required Qualifications:

  • Passion for science/ engineering and healthcare.
  • Strong academic performance with an intended major in computer science/ engineering, biomedical engineering, medical informatics, or electrical engineering. Postbaccalaureate students are also encouraged to apply.
  • Experience with any programming language.
  • Ability to work at lab on campus 8 hours each week
  • One-year commitment.
  • Strong willingness to learn new and challenging analytical methods.
  • Excellent communication skills.

Desired Qualifications:

  • Ability to work independently.
  • Interest in learning more about medical image analysis, machine learning/ deep learning, and/or natural language processing.
  • Proficiency with Python or MATLAB.

Required Application Materials (unofficial copies are accepted)

  • Cover letter and CV/resume
  • Most recent academic transcript

Download the Research Assistant Flyer


“Artificial UnIntelligence,” A Keynote Lecture from Meredith Broussard

Meredith Broussard

The Institute for Policy, Ethics, and Culture’s Algorithmic Culture series continues with “Artificial UnIntelligence,” a keynote lecture from Meredith Broussard, on Thursday, Dec. 5 at 7 p.m. in Memorial Union Building Ballroom B, followed by a Q&A.

Collective enthusiasm for applying computer technology to every aspect of life has resulted in a vast number of poorly designed systems. We are so eager to do everything digitally—hiring, driving, paying bills, even choosing romantic partners—that we have stopped demanding our technology actually work.

In this talk, author and professor Meredith Broussard looks at the inner workings and outer limits of technology, and explains why we should never assume that computers always get things right. Making a case against technochauvinism—the belief that technology is always the solution—Broussard looks at whether self-driving cars really work and why social problems persist in every digital Utopia. If we understand the limits of what we can do with technology, Broussard tells us, we can make better choices about what we should do with it to make the world better for everyone.

Meredith Broussard is an associate professor at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute of New York University and the author of Artificial Unintelligence: How Computers Misunderstand the World. Her research focuses on artificial intelligence in investigative reporting, with a particular interest in using data analysis for social good. You can follow her on Twitter @merbroussard or contact her via meredithbroussard.com.


Meet and Greet with Author Meredith Broussard Is Thurs., Dec. 5, 2-3 pm

Meredith Broussard Meet and Greet Flyer

A Meet and Greet with author and professor Meredith Broussard will take place Thursday, December 5, from 2:00 to 3:00 pm, in Fisher Hall Room 127.

Dr. Broussard will present a public lecture Thursday, December 5, 7:00 pm to 8:30 p.m., in the Memorial Union Building (MUB), Ballroom B.

Our collective enthusiasm for applying computer technology to every aspect of life has resulted in a vast number of poorly designed systems. We are so eager to do everything digitally—hiring, driving, paying bills, even choosing romantic partners—that we have stopped demanding that our technology actually work.

In this talk, author and professor Meredith Broussard looks at the inner workings and outer limits of technology, and explains why we should never assume that computers always get things right. Making a case against technochauvinism—the belief that technology is always the solution—Broussard looks at whether self-driving cars really work and why social problems persist in every digital Utopia. If we understand the limits of what we can do with technology, Broussard tells us, we can make better choices about what we should do with it to make the world better for everyone.

Meredith Broussard is an associate professor at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute of New York University and the author of Artificial Unintelligence: How Computers Misunderstand the World. Her research focuses on artificial intelligence in investigative reporting, with a particular interest in using data analysis for social good. You can follow her on Twitter @merbroussard or contact her via meredithbroussard.com.

Download the event flyer.