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    Special Recognition for Class of ’21 Applied Computing B.S. Graduates


    The College of Computing has announced the special recognition of eight Class of 2021 graduating seniors in the Applied Computing and Computer Science departments. Please join us in congratulating these exceptional graduates!


    Link to the Computer Science Special Recognition awards.


    Applied Computing


    Link to the Computer Science Special Recognition awards.


    Heather Harris: Outstanding Graduating Senior

    Heather has been an outstanding student ever since she has started at Michigan Tech. She was punctual, rarely missed a class, was a very active participant in class, and never missed an assignment in her EET courses. She also played a major role in the EET Senior Design swingset project. She spent a lot of time on developing the swing and addressing all the comments that were received regarding safety of the final product.


    Charles Warren: Outstanding Graduating Senior

    Charles was an undergraduate studying Computer Network and System Administration and a graduate student pursuing an MS in Cybersecurity. He graduated with a cumulative GPA of 3.90 and a departmental GPA of 4.0.

    During his time at Michigan Tech he co-founded a student organization that focused on student-led instruction and research in networking and computing topics. It has grown into an undergraduate, graduate, and alumni organization focused on providing cloud and education services at low to no cost as a Non-profit Organization.

    Charles has also been an instructor with Dr. Guy Hembroff’s State of Michigan’s Career Technical Education (CTE) funding (2018-2021), which provides local high-school students a cybersecurity curriculum at Michigan Tech.

    He is currently working in Palo Alto as a Resident Engineer for security automation. He is a lifelong learner who is always looking to push the boundaries of his industry and to further his own and others’ understanding of topics in computing. His research interests include: cybersecurity, secure design, network security, public key infrastructure (PKI), and Internet of Things (IoT).


    Joseph Barbercheck: Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Assistant

    Joe has been a trustworthy and responsible teaching assistant. He has been extremely flexible and has tried his best to help everyone even outside of the scheduled lab times. If a student or a faculty needed extra help, he volunteered his time to make things work.

    Besides being an excellent teaching assistant, he also took good care of equipment in the lab and performed routine maintenance tasks such as changing fuses, ordering parts, and stocking the lab with all the necessary components.


    Stuart Hoxie: Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Assistant

    Stuart provided teaching and lab assistance during the Spring 2021 semester for our CNSA and Cybersecurity students in three classes: Microsoft System Administration, Scripting for Automation, Administration, and Security, and Cybersecurity II.

    While Stuart has already proven to be a valuable team member working in groups, the Spring semester was his time to exhibit his strong work ethic while operating independently to assist students with both classroom and laboratory questions and issues.

    The semester was challenging dealing with COVID and remote work, but Stuart took it in stride – remotely assisting students using the virtual cluster for labs, managing emails and the Canvas course sites, making himself available by attending Zoom meetings, all while reviewing and grading student submissions.

    Stuart turned a challenging situation into one of the best semesters for both students and faculty.


    Special Recognition for Class of ’21 Computer Science B.S. Graduates


    The College of Computing has announced the special recognition of eight Class of 2021 graduating seniors in the Applied Computing and Computer Science departments. Please join us in congratulating these exceptional graduates!


    Computer Science


    Link to the Applied Computing Special Recognition awards.

    Vic Felton, CS, Excellence in Teaching

    Vic was a standout Lab Assistant in the CS1121 Introduction to Programming course, helping first-time programming students one-on-one in a lab setting that was made even more challenging by COVID-related restrictions.

    CS1121 instructor Prof. Briana Bettin describes Vic as “patient and persistent” and adds that his teaching style “has consistently led students to discover the answers to their own questions.”


    Sarah Larkin, CS: Excellence in Research and Teaching

    Sarah was supported by the National Science Foundation, through a Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) grant, on a project with Prof. Soner Onder to develop a new processor design.

    Sarah was also a dedicated and effective Lab Assistant for CS1121, and a longtime contributor to K-12 computer science teaching through WiCS (Women in Computer Science), NCWIT-sponsored Aspire-IT workshops, and Copper Country Coders.

    Prof. Briana Bettin says that Sarah “blends curiosity, passion, leadership, and dedication to perfection.” From prospective students and undergraduates she mentors to graduate students and faculty she works alongside, her ethics and devotion are unparalleled and unforgettable.


    Alec Rospierski, SE: Excellence in Leadership

    Alec led a Senior Design team in developing the Micro:bit app, allowing middle and high school students to conduct science experiments online. This project was a collaboration between Michigan Tech and Washington University in St. Louis.

    He also served as team leader in the User Interface course in developing an app allowing middle and high school students to conduct simulation of the spread of COVID and other infectious diseases.


    Katie Schmidt, SE: Excellence in Leadership

    Katie served as President of the Copper Country Coders student organization. This group works with local middle and high school students, providing small-group courses in computer science and programming.

    Under her leadership, Coders made great strides in developing a sustainable organizational structure, recruiting new members, and creating an engaged community of student instructors through reflection meetings and social events.

    Prof. Charles Wallace, faculty co-advisor of Copper Country Coders praises “Katie’s ability to lead in an inclusive and compassionate way that inspires others.”


    Mechatronics Master of Science, Class of ‘21


    The Michigan Tech Master of Science in Mechatronics, launched in 2019, has congratulated its first graduates this spring: Chinmay Kondekar (EE), Chukwuemeka George Ochieze, and Ahmat Oumar. Read their stories below.


    Ahmat Oumar


    Ahmat Oumar was very interested in finding an engineering discipline combining the new engineering principles of the age of automation.

    “I was looking for a discipline that will combine principles in electrical engineering, mechanical engineering and computer science,” he explains. “And the College of Computing Mechatronics program has been the right answer.”

    “Michigan Tech Mechatronics has been a great learning experience for me,” Oumar says. “The frequent lab practices to apply the principles learned in class especially enhanced my learning. This will make it easier to make a smooth transition into industry.”

    Oumar also credits his professors as instrumental in his success. “They make themselves available to students, not only in teaching and guiding, but also through mentoring.”


    Chukwuemeka George Ochieze


    Chukwuemeka George Ochieze—now enrolled in a Ph.D. program at Michigan Tech—checked out the College of Computing Mechatronics master of science program a few years ago.

    He was intrigued by the equipment available to students and the many research projects that could be accomplished within the program. Both aligned perfectly with his interests. And he regards the location of Michigan Tech and the region’s weather conditions as a good atmosphere for study.

    “Mechatronics is important in this century because every system consists of different subsystems that require a particular mechatronics application,” says Ochieze. “For example, people who work on fluid power systems should understand automation and controls.”

    Ochieze says that working with faculty and researchers in the various fields of mechatronics helped him to think differently with respect to the subject of application.

    “I pursued so many projects while here on campus,” he adds. “My work with wearable devices shaped my interests and allowed me to apply what I’ve learned so far in the Mechatronics program. His current focus is on the robotics field, which Ochieze says stems from his exposure to robotics and programming in the Mechatronics M.S. program.

    Ochieze was a mechatronics instructor in the 2020-21 academic year for the Career Technical Education (CTE) program in Mechatronics, recently launched by Michigan Tech and the Copper Country Intermediate School District (CCISD). The 12-month Career CTE program is for high school juniors or seniors. Read the story.

    And Ochieze tried many indoor and outdoor events that includes, “skiing, indoor and outdoor soccer, skating, tubing, winter carnivals, career fairs, late nights in the library trying to figure out projects, passport to the world, to mention but a few.”

    “Personally, I think the best memories I have was the career fairs events, having the opportunity to exchange information with people who have similar interests and also sharing your thoughts to people who have worked for a long time in the industry,” Ochieze says.

    Chinmay Kondekar


    Read Chinmay Kondekar’s story.

    Graduate student Chinmay Kondekar heard about Michigan Tech during his undergraduate studies. Sometime later he read a social media post about work opportunities in the robotic and automation labs, and Michigan Tech again came to his attention.

    “At that time, I was working as a controls engineer in India,” he says. “Robotics and automation interest me, and when I saw who had written the post (a former graduate student of Sergeyev’s), I knew I had found the perfect degree program.”

    Kondekar’s final design project was to create an interconnected system that is flexible, reconfigurable, and controlled from a central control interface to emulate a production process. The system is used to machine different patterns on a block of foam.

    “I enjoy solving problems and coming up with a solution to make things work,” he shares. “When starting the [final] project, I had a lot of unknown variables but I knew how to approach them and, eventually, I came up with solutions and made the system work. It’s highly rewarding to watch the finished system come together, and then to see it work automatically after pressing just three buttons.”

    Kondekar’s project would not have been possible without generous support from Mr. Mark Gauthier and his team at Donald Engineering. “Mark has helped the department acquire the best industry-grade hardware, and his expertise in pneumatics helped the project concept become reality,” Kondekar says.

    Kondekar says he has enjoyed his learning and life experiences at Michigan Tech. Plus, he loves the outdoors. “I am an outdoors guy and I love the UP, especially the summers. It’s full of good people and great beer!”


    Michigan Tech Team Ranks #3 in Spring 2021 NCL Power Rankings


    Michigan Tech ranks number three (3) in the Spring 2021 National Cyber League’s Cyber Power Rankings, rising 12 points from a Fall 2020 ranking of 15. One hundred (100) teams were ranked.


    In the NCL cyber-competitions, thousands of students from hundreds of colleges and universities nationwide are challenged to identify hackers from forensic data, pentest and audit vulnerable websites, recover from ransomware attacks, and more.


    Three factors are considered in a school’s annual Cyber Power Ranking. In descending magnitude of weight, they are:

    • The school’s top performing team during the Team Game
    • The school’s top performing student during the Individual Game
    • The number of participating students from the school, with additional consideration given to better student performance during the Individual Game

    Schools are ranked based on their top team performance, their top student’s individual performance, and the aggregate individual performance of their students. The rankings represent the ability of students from these schools to perform real-world cybersecurity tasks on the Cyber Skyline platform.


    See how the NCL competitions work.


    View the full list of NCL rankings.


    The Cyber Power Rankings were created by Cyber Skyline in partnership with the National Cyber League (NCL). Every year, over 10,000 students from more than 300 colleges and universities across the US participate in the NCL competitions.


    PhD Student Niusen Chen Wins Best Paper Award at EAI AC3 2021


    A paper authored by a PhD student Niusen Chen (Computer Science), received the Best Paper Award at The First EAI International Conference on Applied Cryptography in Computer and Communications (EAI AC3 2021), which took place virtually May 15-16, 2021.

    The paper discusses the design of MobiWear, the first PDE system specifically for wearable mobile devices.

    “Excellent work, Niusen! Well deserved!” says Dr. Bo Chen, Niusen Chen’s faculty advisor.


    The paper, “MobiWear: A Plausibly Deniable Encryption System for Wearable Mobile Devices,” is co-authored by Dr. Bo Chen (Computer Science), and Dr. Weisong Shi, professor of computer science, Wayne State University, one of the world leaders in the edge computing research community.

    Niusen Chen is a third-year PhD student in the Michigan Tech Department of Computer Science. He received his M.S. from University of Florida, and his B.E. from Harbin Institute of Technology at Weihai. His research interests include securely deleting data in flash devices and implementing Plausibly Deniable Encryption (PDE) to fare against coercive attack in flash devices.

    Twelve papers were accepted to the main EAI AC3 2021 conference, with six accepted for the IOTS workshop, including Niusen Chen’s submission.


    Abstract


    Mobile computing devices are widely used in our daily life. With their increased use, a large amount of sensitive data are collected, stored, and managed in the mobile devices. To protect sensitive data, encryption is often used, but traditional encryption is vulnerable to coercive attacks in which the device owner is coerced by the adversary to disclose the decryption key. To defend against the coercive attacks, Plausibly Deniable Encryption (PDE) has been designed which can allow the victim user to deny the existence of hidden sensitive data. The PDE systems have been explored broadly for smartphones. However, the PDE systems which are suitable for wearable mobile devices are still missing in the literature.

    In this work, we design MobiWear, the first PDE system specifically for wearable mobile devices. To accommodate the hardware nature of wearable devices, MobiWear: 1) uses image steganography to achieve PDE, which suits the resource-limited wearable devices; and 2) relies on various sensors equipped with the wearable devices to input passwords, rather than requiring users to enter them via a keyboard or a touchscreen. Security analysis and experimental evaluation using a real-world prototype (ported to an LG G smartwatch) show that MobiWear can ensure deniability with a small computational overhead as well as a small decrease of image quality.


    Funding Sources

    This work was supported by Dr. Bo Chen’s NSF grant, 1928349-CNS, “SaTC: CORE: Small: Collaborative: Hardware-assisted Plausibly Deniable System for Mobile Devices.” The work was also partially supported by NSF grants 1928331-CNS and 1938130-CNS.


    Dr. Bo Chen is an assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science. He served as a member of the steering committee for the EAI AC3 2021 conference.

    Dr. Chen directs the Secure and Privacy (SnP) lab at Michigan Tech. Established in early 2018, the mission of SnP lab is to promote research and education of cybersecurity.



    Dean’s Teaching Showcase, Todd Arney, Applied Computing


    by Michael R. Meyer – Director, William G. Jackson CTL

    Dennis Livesay , Dean of the College of Computing, has selected Todd Arney, Senior Lecturer in Applied Computing, as our twelfth-week Deans’ Teaching Showcase member.

    Arney, an inaugural winner of the Provost’s Award for Sustained Teaching Excellence in 2020, has a long record of outstanding teaching. But, this time, Applied Computing Chair Dan Fuhrmann, while acknowledging that Todd continues to teach a “substantial load” at an “exceptionally high level of quality,” recommended Arney for his behind-the-scenes “efforts to modernize the curricula in the Department of Applied Computing, and to enhance the use of state-of-the-art computing resources across campus, through the use of our new Virtual Cluster.”

    Fuhrmann notes the changes in instruction required by the pandemic made Arney’s work a particular “godsend” because it enabled remote teaching. But he emphasizes that “it facilitated a vast improvement in student experience, in comparison to the aging educational computing hardware in the Computer Network and Systems Administration program that preceded it.”

    Fuhrmann calls Arney an “evangelist” for the Virtual Cluster and notes that in addition to its implementation within the CNSA and Cybersecurity programs, Arney has made special efforts to reach out to the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, bringing a modern computing framework to one of their senior/graduate courses, CEE 4610/5610 (Water Resources System Modeling and Design).

    He also worked with AC Academic Advisor Kay Oliver, the instructor for SAT 1090 (Introduction to Applied Computing), to provide introductions on cybersecurity and privacy frameworks for the students to use as a common language for their group work discussions on project design using micro:bit hardware to solve real-world problems.

    Currently, Arney is working on additional collaborations with Mechatronics faculty, two senior design projects, and two new faculty members in the College of Computing to help support their courses using the cluster. Fuhrmann emphasizes that “Bringing new resources into our educational programs does not happen overnight, and it does not happen without knowledgeable, dedicated faculty members who see the potential and who make the necessary effort to upgrade the curriculum to take advantage of those resources. Todd Arney is that person in the Department of Applied Computing.”

    In choosing Arney, Dean Livesay heartily agrees, noting, “Ensuring that our students have access to the latest technology is time-consuming and represents work that isn’t acknowledged as regularly as it should be. As such, we’re especially proud to recognize Todd’s accomplishments in deploying virtual machines broadly in our classes, and helping others do the same in theirs.”

    Arney will be recognized at an end-of-term event with other showcase members, and is also a candidate for the CTL Instructional Award Series (to be determined this summer) recognizing introductory or large-class teaching, innovative or outside the classroom teaching methods, or work in curriculum and assessment.