Category: Students of CS

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).


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.

The 2018 NCL Cyber Competition Results Are In…

In Fall 2018, Alex Larkin has a great achievement in NCL Cyber Competition Regular Season. His national rank is 17th out of 3324 participant, a great jump from 36th in Spring 2018. In addition,  our NCL team (“Michigan Tech Hackers”) ranked 81 out of 360 teams in NCL Cyber Competition Postseason.  It was the first time we have a team involved in this competition and our team did an excellent job as a starting point. The team consists of three CS undergraduate students, Alexander Larkin, Jon Preuth, and Jack Bergman. Bo Chen, CS Assistant Professor, is the faculty coach.
The NCL was founded in May 2011 to provide an ongoing virtual training ground for collegiate students to develop, practice, and validate their cybersecurity skills. It 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 play the games simultaneously during Preseason, Regular Season and Postseason.
Excellent work!

Dylan Gaines receives 3rd place in the ACM ASSETS 2018 Student Research Competition

Dylan Gaines, a Computer Science undergraduate, received 3rd place in the ACM ASSETS 2018 Student Research Competition.  Dylan presented a poster and a talk on his work on Tap123, an interface for entering text without visual feedback.  Tap123 offers the potential for faster and easier to learn text input for users who are visually impaired.  ASSETS is the premier venue for research on assistive technologies and accessible computing.

Congratulations Dylan!


Undergraduate Programming Competition Win

18th Annual NMU Invitational Programming Contest Logo with 95 Students, 6 Schools, 34 TeamsComputer science undergraduate students received top honors at the 19th Annual Northern Michigan University Invitational Programming Contest held March 24, 2018. Tony Duda, Justin Evankovich, and Nicholas Muggio took first place; Michael Lay, Parker Russcher, and Marcus Stojcevich took second. Michigan Tech earned the highest program count and No. 1 ranking.

Congratulations!

“We are proud of our students for representing Husky values of possibility and tenacity.” —Min Song, Chair, Computer Science


Caden Sumner and HIDE team develop online learning center scheduling program

Problem: Scheduling learning center appointments. Solution: Apply education; develop online scheduling program.

Maybe you’ve heard the claim that Michigan Technological University students are crazy smart. In case you needed proof, meet Caden Sumner, a third-year who is double majoring in computer science and psychology. He’s also a coach at the Michigan Tech Multiliteracies Center (MTMC) and leader of the Human Interface Design Enterprise (HIDE) programming team that developed Timeslot.

Timeslot enables students to schedule appointments in campus learning centers from their mobile devices and computers, instead of having to sign up in person. A combination of factors inspired Sumner to develop the program: his interest in psychology, his first (intimidating) impression in a learning center, his experiences as a coach in the MTMC, and encouragement from his boss and MTMC Assistant Director Bill De Herder.

Sumner says, “We were using a software that was really difficult to use. It was hard to figure out how to schedule appointments. Students didn’t like it, coaches hated it. My boss mentioned ‘you should do something about that’ at about the end of last (academic) year. I said absolutely, I’ll give that a go.”

Sumner and his fellow HIDE teammates started working on Timeslot at the start of the fall 2017 semester. Though they didn’t keep track of the hours they put into development, Sumner says it was “a lot.”

Creatsumne-profile-personneling His Future

Timeslot went live for the MTMC the first week of spring 2018 classes. The HIDE team is taking a soft rollout approach so as to catch and fix all program bugs and prevent a huge scheduling snafu. The math lab will implement the software in the fall, and plans for the biology lab are in the works. Sumner and his team hope that in time all 17 University learning centers will adopt the system.

Congrats!

Please see the full story from Tech Today here.


Computer Science Undergrads Publish Book

A World of Java Programing SmCopper Country Coders (CCCoders) is an organization that introduces local students in middle and high school to the world of computer science and programming. Michigan Tech undergraduate and graduate computer science students volunteer as instructors and mentors under the guidance of Computer Science faculty members Leo Ureel and Charles Wallace.

Last year, volunteers Marissa Walther and Shaun Flynn focused on teaching students how to develop in Java and create games using JavaFX. What began as a class assignment for CS 4099 Directed Study in Computer Science Education developed into a book based off of the CCCoders curriculum. The book, “A World of Java Programming” has since been published and is now available on Amazon.

About the authors:  Marissa is a third year Computer Science major who participates in the Husky Game Development Enterprise. She is a member of CCCoders, the Huskies Pep Band and the Superior Wind Symphony. Marissa is also a Computer Science Learning Center Coach and the office assistant for the Engineering Fundamentals Department.  Shaun is a third year Computer Engineering major. He is a project manager for Blue Marble Security Enterprise and vice president of Eta Kappa Nu (HKN). On the weekends, Shaun teaches a middle school programing class through CCCoders with Marissa. He also works as a lab assistant for CS 1121 Introduction to Programming.