At the annual Michigan Tech Research Development Day, January 9, 2020, College of Computing dean Adrienne Minerick and Computer Science professor Soner Onder were recognized as the top two College of Computing researchers in terms of 2019 research expenditures. Both Minerick’s and Onder’s total 2019 research expenditures exceeded $174K.
Timothy Havens (CC) was quoted in the article “Time to Harness Artificial Intelligence,” which was published in BizWatchNigeria on January 9, 2020.
BizWatchNigeria.Ng is a sector-based online news and business intelligence portal managed by Bizwatch Nigeria Limited.
Heather Knewtson, assistant professor of finance in Michigan Tech’s College of Business, will present her lecture, “Toward Understanding FinTech and its Industry,” on Friday, January 31, 2020, at 3:00 p.m. in Rekhi Hall Room 214.
Abstract: We define the term FinTech, differentiating it from financial technology, and use the definition to develop an industry framework. FinTech is a technological innovation that promises a financial market a product or service characterized by sophisticated technology relative to existing technology in that market. The existing FinTech literature is mapped into the FinTech Space, reflecting research on Agile Technologies, the Value of Agile Technologies, FinTech Asset Standards, FinTech Assets, FinTech Services and FinTech Policy and Regulation. These research areas surround FinTech firms and its industry. The Tech Paradigm is proposed to clarify the type of technology needed to qualify as a FinTech firm. We use the definition to identify FinTech firms, and provide a structure for its industry, classifying each type of firm by FinTech characteristics.
Keywords: algorithmic trading, blockchain, crowdfunding, cryptocurrency, digital bank, distributed ledger technology, FinTech, InsurTech, LendTech, Peer-to-Peer, RegTech, robo-advising
From Florida State University News
A Florida State University researcher is working to make computer processors execute applications in a more energy-efficient manner with the help of a new $1.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation.
“The general goal is to increase performance but to do it in a manner that is more energy efficient than the dominant computer processors that are in use today,” Professor of Computer Science David Whalley said.
To do that, Whalley and his colleague Soner Onder, a professor at Michigan Technological University, hope to more efficiently exploit what’s called instruction-level parallelism, or the ability of a computer to simultaneously execute multiple machine instructions.
“In general, VLIW processors are more energy efficient but cannot approach the performance of OoO processors except in limited domains, such as digital signal processing,” Whalley said.
Whalley’s project, called SCALE for Statically Controlled Asynchronous Lane Execution, is designed to overcome these current limitations. SCALE supports separate execution lanes, so that instructions in separate lanes can execute in parallel and dependencies between instructions in different lanes are identified by the compiler to synchronize these lanes when necessary.
“Providing distinct lanes of instructions allows the compiler to generate code for different modes of execution to adapt to the type of parallelism that is available at each point within an application,” Whalley said.
The grant began this fall and will run through August 2023. Half of the funding will come to Florida State, with the other half supporting Onder’s part of the work at Michigan Technological University. The FSU portion will support two graduate students in computer science.
The College of Computing is grateful to Michigan Tech’s University Marketing and Communications for the excellent marketing and communications efforts they’ve undertaken on behalf of the College, which include a digital marketing campaign, a recruitment website, media outreach, and print materials.
Ongoing digital marketing began in September, and College of Computing ads resulted in 5,700+ new users to our webpage: 225 users requested more information, 24 people clicked on Apply Now to begin an application, and 39 scheduled visits. The digital ads also received more than 500 reactions on social media, including likes, comments, and shares.
A Tomorrow Needs Computing website was also launched. To direct traffic to the site, UMC has run 205 digital ads in Google and 19 ads in Facebook, across all formats and variations.
Media outreach to announce the College’s launch resulted in 20 unique news stories featuring the College and its faculty. These stories were shared on social media by 34 journalists, resulting in a reach of more than 305,000 social media users and more than 140 million unique visitors to the news stories.
Print marketing publications included udates to undergraduate degree info sheets and a mailer sent to peer institutions to elevate awareness and generate buzz within the industry.
Through the years and across generations, Huskies help their neighbors navigate the digital universe. In the season of giving, drop in on two volunteer programs that benefit both givers and receivers.
On any given Saturday during the academic year, you’ll find Michigan Technological University students serving as coaches and teachers in the community and on campus in a couple of programs that have been around since 2011. Building Adult Skills in Computing, or BASIC, helps older people with computer-related questions. Copper Country Coders introduces younger people to computer science and programming.
BASIC: Where No One is Left to Their Own Devices
BASIC walk-ins are welcome from 10-11 a.m. Saturdays at Portage Lake District Library in Houghton. Sessions used to be earlier in the day before the library opened to the public, said Kelly Steelman, a Michigan Tech associate professor of human factors and psychology who, along with Charles Wallace, an associate professor of computer science, serves as a BASIC tutor and researcher. But as it turns out, technological newcomers as well as Huskies like to sleep in. The time adjustment is one of several tweaks that have taken place as the program — and the devices we use in our daily lives — evolve. For example, nobody’s gathered ’round the library’s desktop computer stations. On this particular Saturday, as rays of treasured winter sunlight glint on the ice-glazed Keweenaw Waterway and stained-glass art, participants are cozily tucked into the shoreside Michigan Room with laptops, phones and tablets at the ready.
“Easy for you to remember, but hard for them to guess.” That’s how Parker Young sums up the perfect password for Naomi and Eliot Haycock, who brought in a tablet and laptop. He explains to the lively couple that encrypted password management programs make it easier to keep track of all the passwords safely. “As long as you remember the one password, you have all the others,” he said. They also discuss PayPal — Naomi’s intrigued, Eliot’s skeptical. Both are interested in what kind of writing programs are already available on their newly acquired laptop. Young shows them options, from Google Docs to the preinstalled writing software.
“Good. We can do a Christmas letter,” Naomi said.
They move on to installing updates and discuss the necessity to perform them regularly (“There goes another one!” Parker exclaimed). Next, the trio walks through how to connect to Wi-Fi at home for the first time with the new device.
An older couple and a younger man with a Michigan Tech Huskies shirt on smile at the camera in a library.
Naomi and Eliot Haycock, BASIC Saturday regulars, work through their computing to-do list with Parker Young.
“They do a great job. We’ve come here quite a few times,” Naomi said. “People tell us, ‘if you had to pay for this, you’d be paying a lot.’”
“Give this guy a good grade. He’s good,” Eliot tells Charles Wallace, who is on the other side of the wide wooden library table helping a gentleman who’s never used a computer. First-timers are rare these days. Whenever a new user powers up, it’s exciting; both tutor and learner are smiling as he Googles for the first time, locating his church on the map and visiting its website.
Wallace encourages the beginner to keep exploring, then explains to the Haycocks that students aren’t graded for being part of BASIC. They’re here only because they want to be.
“We’re giving the gift of bringing people to the digital table,” said BASIC volunteer Abby Kuehne, a double major in psychology and communication, culture and media with research experience in human-computer interaction.
Today she’s working with a soft-spoken man looking for pointers on getting started with a tablet. “Because this is a mobile setting, the tablet is going to be set up differently,” she explained.
The work Kuehne does here aligns with her career goals; which include enhancing technology accessibility and effective communication across cultures. More than that, it’s establishing a lifelong pattern of service.
“It becomes a good habit,” said Kuehne. “I believe in karma, in giving back.”
For scientific and technical communication major Paige Short, showing up on Saturday mornings has also become second nature. Short, whose endeavors include work to communicate science on a global level, sees the relationship between students and the people who come for help as mutually beneficial. “It builds community,” she said. “It connects us to the local community, and helps them be a part of the digital community.” Never more so than on this Saturday, when Short is assisting with budget workflow strategy for a local community garden.
two women show people how to use laptaps on a wooden table with windows in the background as a man looks on.
Portage Lake District Library has been hosting BASIC Saturdays since the program’s inception. You’ll often find Huskies Abby Kuehne, left, and Paige Short, right, bringing fellow community members to the digital table.
The session wraps up shortly after 11; the group meets for a quick debrief. There’s just enough time for Young to do some work on his truck before he heads over to the Michigan Tech College of Computing, where Copper Country Coders meets every Saturday afternoon of the academic year. Wallace will be there, too — this program also benefits from his co-leadership, in this case with Leo Ureel, computer science senior lecturer and coordinator of the Michigan Tech College of Computing Learning Center.
Get Help. Meet Huskies.
Walk-ins are welcome to the Saturday BASIC sessions. Follow the Portage Lake District Library Facebook page for updates.
You don’t have to bring a computer. The library has Chromebooks available.
The call goes out for Copper Country Coders enrollment in early September. Learn more on the Copper Country Coders Facebook page.
Want to help support these and other computer literary programs? Find out more.
Programmed Snowflakes and the Python Boiz
Compared to the quiet of the library, the atmosphere is a tad more rambunctious in the first-floor labs of Kanwal Rekhi Hall, where the youngest of the Copper Country Coders teams is raring to go. In sessions that run from 1-3 p.m., Michigan Tech students work with young people from area schools who share a goal not dissimilar from those of their older counterparts: they’re learning how to make computers do what they’re told. They’re learning to speak the language of programming.
“Can we play games before the other people come?” asks one youngster, bouncing up and down on a computer desk chair.
Instructor Keith Atkinson smiles, patiently explaining that they’ll all be creating a holiday snowfall game once everyone has gathered. He doesn’t mind the rowdier element or the challenge of keeping active young people engaged. “I’m pretty high energy myself and I like thinking on my feet,” said the computer science major, who started with the Coders in 2015. He also clearly enjoys serving his community — for his directed study class this semester, Atkinson created an inventory system for Michigan Tech’s Husky Food Access Network pantry.
Atkinson is co-leading one of the middle-school teams with fellow computer science major Galen Resh Chimner, who was enrolled in the program as a youngster. “It was fun to come and learn and get challenged,” he said.
Today’s project is a holiday snowfall game. Students learn to program a snowflake — to draw it and make it move. Every click of the computer mouse adds a new snowflake.
Programming is the Universal Language
a young man in a black and gold husky sweatshirt leans toward a computer screen
Trevor Good, like many of the Huskies in Copper Country Coders, is in it for the fun of both learning and teaching.
Across the hall, Parker Young is at it again — this time teaming up with computer science major Trevor Good to introduce ninth-grade and middle-school students to the popular, easy-to-use programming language that inspired their tongue-in-cheek team name: the Python Boiz. Young has been doing both BASIC and Coders for three years; it’s Good’s second year and second time co-leading with Young.
“Last year, we did Minecraft,” said Good. “We picked Python because it’s the number-one programming language in the world; it’s used for AI, machine learning, automation … logically it makes a lot of sense. I wanted to learn it myself.”
Young was also new to Python. “Teaching others helps me learn,” said Young, who is also a coach in the College of Computing Learning Center.
The College of Computing is piloting a course to teach Python to non-computing majors across campus. For today, though, the focus is on the half-dozen younger students situated at monitors in the lab.
“What’s up man? Oooh, you’re so close!” Young moves between computer stations, checking out the ongoing project. “Let’s go, you guys! I wanna see some cool tic tac toes.”
“I love coming here every Saturday and I love teaching,” said Young.
The vibe is sedate in comparison over at the Electrical Energy Resources Center (EERC), a short walk from Rekhi Hall, where high school-aged students are working with two graduate students, Marissa Walther and Shaun Flynn. Walther has been with Copper Country Coders for five years, Flynn four.
two Michigan Tech students watch students on computer monitors in a lab, one of the students, a girl, is looking intently at the screen
Marissa Walther, left, and Shaun Flynn’s group works on hardware coding.
Walther, who earned a bachelor’s in computer science in 2019, is studying for her master’s.
Flynn, who earned a BS in computer engineering, is working toward his master’s. In 2018, their lesson plans focused on teaching young coders Java development and how to create games using JavaFX morphed into the book The World of Java Programming.
The two instructor-mentors said that the goal this year is to introduce students to hardware and the work that goes into building it.
“They can choose what it can do. They can do a lot of hardware prototyping,” said Flynn.
“I like teaching students. It’s fun to watch them develop,” he said, as the pair watches students work intently at their lab monitors. “They chose to spend two hours with us, programming. I came to Michigan Tech not knowing any of this.”
altera computer board closeup with wires
“Think of it as giant programmable hardware” — that’s how Shaun Flynn describes the Altera Board.
Time and again Huskies involved in the programs mention the joy of both teaching and learning.
It’s Not You, It’s the Technology
Place the responsibility where it belongs. On the technology. Both Copper County Coders and BASIC give participants the confidence to deploy digital tools to do desired and necessary tasks. That benefits both the students teaching and the students who are learning from them.
Copper Country Coders organizes young people from local schools into teams of six to eight, depending on enrollment fluctuations and the level of difficulty of each team. Two Huskies co-lead each group — each group compiles its own lesson plans, learning objectives and means to measure outcomes. Sessions are adjusted as the academic year moves along to keep pace with student progress. If more time is needed, the group stays with a project longer. If something doesn’t go over well, it’s documented for future Coders planning their own programs.
Last year the group presented its first Computer Science Expo.
At the Saturday BASIC sessions, coaches often work with people who are familiar with some tasks, but are continually challenged by the pace of technology — if you’re retired, for example, you aren’t required to adapt to the latest program or process being used in your workplace. Things like running out of space on a smart phone or other roadblocks with apps and social media present have the potential to present discouraging or demoralizing roadblocks. BASIC eliminates the blame game.
“Our approach is meeting people where they are,” Steelman said.
“Tutoring is more about empathy and compassion. We’re paying attention and mirroring the words. What are the things that freak people out about computers? How can we alleviate those concerns?” –Kelly Steelman, BASIC tutor and researcher
“It’s not that they’re not a good computer user,” Steelman noted. “We put those worries on the computer.”
BASIC offers one tutor training session every semester, the interdisciplinary program is open to students from all majors. Beyond résumé building, “it feels good, making differences in lives,” said Steelman. The regionally and nationally recognized service-learning opportunity aspires to expand; beyond Michigan Tech outreach Wallace has shared the concept with other libraries and organizations who could bring BASIC to their communities.
Eliot and Naomi Haycock are on their own until the student coaches return January 18. Given the skills they’ve acquired, and the knowledge that help will be available again in the new year, they don’t appear to be particularly worried.
“We miss them when they’re not here,” Naomi said.
“But they deserve a vacation,” Eliot said.
two young men in black and gold stripes play horns in front of black-gowned graduates in a wood gym
Talk about bandwidth: BASIC volunteer, Copper Country Coder and Learning Center Coach Parker Young also plays in Huskies Pep Band; this is the group serenading 2019 grads at Midyear Commencement on December 14.
“Think of it as giant programmable hardware” — that’s how Shaun Flynn describes the Altera Board.
About the Researchers
Areas of Expertise
- Software Requirements
- Human-Centered Computing
- Communication in Software Development
- Formal Methods
- Software Engineering Education
- Agile Development Methods
- Researcher Profile
- Basic and applied attention
- Models of attention
- Human performance in aviation
- Display design
- Tech adoption
- Technology training
Areas of Expertise
- Software Engineering
- Computer Science Education
- Intelligent Tutoring Systems
Aspiring student entrepreneurs and innovators are invited to apply for the Michigan Tech Silicon Valley Experience, a Spring Break immersive tour of California Bay Area companies that includes meetings with entrepreneurs and Michigan Tech alumni who are leaders in their field.
The deadline to apply is Feb. 10. Register online. Up to 16 students will be guaranteed a slot on the trip. Priority will be given to students who have been previously engaged with innovation and entrepreneurship and articulate continued engagement on their application.
Major funding for this trip is provided by the 14 Floors alumni group. Husky Innovate—a collaboration between the Pavlis Honors College, the College of Business, and the Office of Innovation and Commercialization is co-hosting this with 14 Floors.
Silicon Valley is known for its technology breakthroughs, high-tech startups, innovative companies and Fortune 1000 companies. Its innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem including culture, policies, talent, resources, and networks serve as inspiration for students.
The Silicon Valley Experience will showcase multiple perspectives of a day in the life of successful entrepreneurs, innovators, engineers, and business leaders. This tour will provide an interactive opportunity for students to discover more about a variety of industry settings, to sample various innovative corporate cultures through tours and presentations, and to meet and talk with successful alumni entrepreneurs.
Students who apply and are accepted will have the opportunity to:
- Tour companies like Google, Netflix, Hewlett Packard, Facebook, Ford, as well as the former Michigan Tech student startup company Handshake
- Meet with entrepreneurs and innovators
- Talk with Michigan Tech alumni who are leaders in their field
- Get answers to your real-world business, innovation, and leadership questions
- Gain firsthand knowledge of the enterprises that are revolutionizing global business
Lodging, ground transportation to and from toured companies and some food will be covered. Students will be responsible for arranging and paying for their own air travel.
As part of the student application, students will create a 2-minute video describing how they will share their experience with the Michigan Technological University community upon completion of their travel in order to positively contribute to our entrepreneurial ecosystem. Students who have a demonstrated financial need can apply for a limited travel scholarship.
Congratulations to our graduates who who walked across the stage on Saturday!
For the rest of you, as you finish up course projects and final exams, I thought I’d pass along some words of wisdom from my mentors and some things I’ve learned over the years.
- Routine is a valuable tool to optimize brain performance. Eat at the regular times, get ample sleep, and strategize your time studying.
- When concentrating, the brain consumes lots of nutrients. To help active transport of those nutrients into the brain, it is best to stand up and walk around or stretch every 20-25 minutes.
- This short 25 minute intense study session with a 2 minute break is great for setting smaller goals (a single concept or a single type of problem), while 1/2 day or full day goals can be set around a certain class or set of chapters in a class.
- Give yourself rewards for your smaller as well as your bigger goals. (I tend to use a drink or walk/stretch for my shorter goals and a meal for bigger goals.)
- Intentionally build up your confidence. Coach yourself by telling yourself “good job” when you do a practice problem correctly; also, tell yourself, “I can do it” when faced with a difficult concept or a problem with which you are struggling.You can do this! Your professors and I are immensely proud of your hard work, learning and creativity. These exams are a great opportunity to show off what you have learned this semester.Happy studying!Lastly, please drive carefully home for the holidays (and enjoy some R&R).
Dean Adrienne Minerick
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.
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.
Read more here.
Download the LinkedIn repot here.