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    BASIC – Building Adult Skills in Computing

    Back to BASICs: Computer help group has new name, same drive to help build skills

    HOUGHTON?- It’s an hour before the Portage Lake District Library opens, but if you enter through the side door, you’ll see a group of Tech students and community members already hard at work. They bow over smartphones, tablets and laptops, deep in conversation. They’re here to teach, and to learn.

    This is BASIC (Building Adult Skills in Computing), formerly known as Online at the Library. The group meets on Saturday mornings while Tech is in session.

    Though its name has changed, the group’s mission has remained the same – to help answer questions for, and teach computing skills to, community members.

    Charles Wallace, associate professor and undergraduate program advisor in Michigan Tech’s computer science department, said one of the biggest changes since the program’s inception is the widening of platforms. While participants once brought in “almost exclusively” laptops, now they’re working on smartphones and tablets as well.

    “Those provide some interesting challenges,” he said.

    Read more at the Mining Gazette, by Meghan Marquardt. (Subscription required.)


    Tech Alumnus Helps Create Award-winning Video Game

    ABZUIn December of 2014, Steve Green was set to graduate from Michigan Technological University’s Visual and Performing Arts Department. Armed with a degree in sound design, he knew he had a good job waiting for him just a few weeks and 1,800 miles away. What he didn’t know was that the coming year would not only be exciting and rewarding for him, but for the world he was entering, the world of video gaming.

    Michigan Tech’s Enterprise program, Husky Games, also gave Green experience he needed outside of the classroom.

    “Husky Games was a pretty great place to mainly learn the dynamics of the game-making process and what members of a team are responsible for,” Green says. “It allowed for some great hands-on experience with source control and the programming aspect of game development.”

    Christopher Plummer (VPA) says the combination of class work and Enterprise opportunities prepare motivated students for a variety of industries. “We keep looking for opportunities to expose students to video game and film experiences,” Plummer says. “The Husky Games Enterprise continues to provide valuable experiences and student support. The process of finding and working with collaborators outside of Michigan Tech continues to be essential to students’ success and develops skills students need to network and continue to develop their career after graduation.”

    Read more at Michigan Tech News, by Mark Wilcox.


    CS Hosts Local Hour of Code

    Hour of CodeHOUGHTON — Houghton High School students are learning all about computer coding.

    Students are being taught by none other than Michigan Tech’s Computer Science Department.

    Faculty and students from Michigan Tech’s Computer Science Department are hosting the program Hour of Coding.

    Read more at Upper Michigan’s Source, by Aleah Hordges.

    Local students participate in ‘Hour of Code’

    During Computer Science Education Week, tens of thousands of Hour of Code events are held around the world, like the one at Houghton Middle School.

    Representatives from Michigan Tech introduced the wonders of coding to the students.

    MTU Software Engineering Major Mitch Davis said, “They’re learning just the basic approaches of how programs run, the idea of a step by step instruction that if you want something done, you can’t just say ‘I want this done’, you have to say all of the minor details of how to get there in the first place.”

    Read more and watch the video at ABC 10 News, by Rick Allen.

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    DOD-ARO Funding for Tim Havens

    Timothy Havens
    Timothy Havens

    Timothy Havens received a research grant of $285,900 for the first year of a potential three-year project totaling $983,124. The work is funded by the U.S. Department of Defense-Army Research Office. Timothy Schulz of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) is the project Co-PI. Havens has a joint appointment in both Computer Science and ECE.

    The project is entitled “Heterogeneous Multisensor Buried Target Detection Using Spatiotemporal Feature Learning.” The project will investigate theory and algorithms for multisensor buried target detection that achieve high probability of detection and classification with low false-alarm-rate. The primary sensors of interest are multisensor FLGPR (i.e., FLGPR plus other sensor modalities, such as thermal video or LIDAR) and acoustic/seismic systems, although the methods will be applicable to other modalities as well.


    New Assistant Professor Keith Vertanen

    Keith Vertanen
    Keith Vertanen

    Keith Vertanen joins the Department of Computer Science as an assistant professor. Prior to Michigan Tech, Vertanen was at Montana Tech, where he received the 2014 Distinguished Researcher Award. Vertanen received his PhD and Master’s of Philosophy from the University of Cambridge and a Masters in Computer Science from Oregon State University.

    He has industry experience with Wildfire Communications and etrive, Inc. He specializes in designing intelligent interactive systems that leverage uncertain input technologies.

    Read more at Tech Today.


    New Lecturer Kim Tracy

    Kim Tracy
    Kim Tracy

    Kim Tracy joins the Department of Computer Science as a lecturer. Before coming to Michigan Tech, Tracy was chief information officer at Northeastern Illinois University. Tracy earned a Master’s in Computer Science, specializing in artificial intelligence, from Stanford University and a dual Bachelor’s in Computer Science and Applied Mathematics from the University of Missouri-Rolla.

    He has worked in industry for Monsanto Company, Lucent Technologies, Bell Laboratories and AT&T. He is also a senior member in IEEE and ACM.

    Read more at Tech Today.