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MTRI to Present Research Seminars October 14

The Institute of Computing and Cybersystems will present four brief seminars by researchers from the Michigan Tech Research Institute (MTRI) on Monday, October 14, 2019, 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., in EERC 122.  MTRI research and outreach focuses on the development of technology to sense and understand natural and manmade environments.

Sarah Kitchen is a mathematician with background in algebraic geometry and representation theory. Her recent research interests include algebraic structures underlying optimization problems and applications of emerging statistical tools to signal processing and source separation problems. Her talk, “Collaborative Autonomy,” will discuss some considerations in centralized, semi-centralized, and decentralized decision-making methods for autonomous systems.

Susan Janiszewski is a mathematician specializing in graph theory and combinatorics. Her research interests lie in applying concepts from discrete mathematics to machine learning, computer vision, and natural language processing. Her talk, “Combining Natural Language Processing and Scalable Graph Analytics,” takes up the fast-growing field of Natural Language Processing (NLP), i.e. the development of algorithms to process large amounts of textual data. Janiszewski will discuss ways to combine common NLP and graph theoretic algorithms in a scalable manner for the purpose of creating overarching computational systems such as recommendation engines or machine common sense capabilities.

Joel LeBlanc has 10 years of experience in statistical signal processing. His research interests include information theoretic approaches to inverse imaging, and computational techniques for solving large inverse problems. LeBlanc’s talk, “Testing for Local Minima of the Likelihood Using Reparameterized Embeddings,” addresses the question: “Given a local maximum of a non-linear and non-convex log-likelihood equation, how should one test for global convergence?” LeBlanc will discuss a new strategy for identifying globally optimal solutions using standard gradient-based optimization techniques.

Meryl Spencer is a physicist with a background in complex systems and network theory. Her research interests include machine learning for image processing, applications of graph algorithms, and self-organization. Her talk, “Computational modeling of collaborative multiagent systems,” will discuss her previous work on modeling self organization in cellular networks, and some areas of interest for future work.

Download the event flyer.


College to Host Computing Week Events

The Michigan Tech College of Computing invites the campus community and the public to a series of special events the week of October 12 to 17, 2019. All events are free and open to the public.

“Computing Week events will formally introduce the College of Computing, and present opportunities to learn about Computing degrees, research, teaching, and career opportunities,” said Adrienne Minerick, dean of the College. “We’ll also launch a new recruitment video that we are very excited about.”

For students, Computing Week starts Saturday, October 12, with a Google Cloud Hero competition. In this fun experience, students will use Google Cloud Platform solutions to gain cloud skills and compete for best scores. Pre-registration is required at https://events.withgoogle.com/cloud-hero-michigan/.

On Monday, 10/14, 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., in EERC 122, researchers from the Michigan Tech Research Institute (MTRI) will present four brief seminars on their work and outreach, which focuses on the development of technology to sense and understand natural and manmade environments. This event is sponsored by the Institute of Computing and Cybersystems (ICC). MTRI researchers are Sarah Kitchen, Susan Janiszewski, Joel LeBlanc, and Meryl Spencer.

On Wednesday and Thursday, the College will showcase its own teaching and research. Wednesday from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m., in the Rozsa Center lobby, President Koubek, Dean Minerick, and alumnus Dave House will speak and a new recruitment video will be unveiled, followed by an ICC TechTalks research forum and a research poster session. Computing and ICC researchers will be on hand for discussion and Q & A. Refreshments and cash bar.

On Thursday, from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., in the Rozsa Center lobby, the College of Computing will host an Open House for which College programs and research will be on display. From 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., a Faculty Forum will present and discuss innovative teaching and learning methods and curriculum being used in the College.

“Faculty from across campus are invited to engage and learn more about the content in the College of Computing degree programs,” said Dean Minerick. “One-on-one conversations are encouraged around possible course and curricular coordinations to infuse computing into other disciplines. Faculty are welcome to come and go as their schedules allow.”

Schedule:

Saturday, 10/12, 12-3 pm: Google Cloud Hero
Location: Wadsworth Hall Annex, Room G11W.

In this fun learning experience, become familiar with key Google Cloud Platform solutions and gain cloud skills through a hands-on competitive lab experience. Register at https://events.withgoogle.com/cloud-hero-michigan/

Monday, 10/14, 11am-12 pm: MTRI Research Forum
Location: EERC 122. Researchers from the Michigan Tech Research Institute (MTRI) will present four brief seminars on their work and outreach, which focuses on the development of technology to sense and understand natural and manmade environments. Hosted by the Institute of Computing and Cybersystems (ICC).

Wednesday, 10/16,  3-5 pm: Keynote, Research Forum, Video Launch
Location: Rozsa Center Lobby.

  • 3:00-3:30 pm: ICC TechTalks
    3:30-4:00 pm: Remarks from President Koubek, Dean Minerick, alumnus Dave House and Video Release
  • 4:00-5:00 pm: Posters and Q & A with researchers and faculty
  • 4:00-5:00 pm: Complementary Food, Cash Bar

Thursday, 10/17, 10 am-12 pm: Open House and Faculty Forum
Location: Rozsa Center Lobby.

  • 10:15 a.m. and 11:15 a.m.: Faculty Forum. Learn about innovative teaching and College of Computing programs and initiatives.
  • Network with Computing industry employers.
  • Virtual Reality Demonstrations
  • Occulus Glasses Demonstrations
  • Robot Demonstrations
  • HIDE Enterprise Demonstrations
  • Free donuts while they last!

Download the event flyer.


Charles Wallace is Associate Dean for Curriculum and Instruction

Charles Wallace

Charles Wallace, Associate Professor of Computer Science, has been appointed Associate Dean for Curriculum and  Instruction for the College of Computing, effective immediately. Wallace has been teaching in the Department of Computer Science for 19 years, and he has a long track record of education research and building collaboration with Cognitive & Learning Sciences, Engineering, Humanities, and Social Sciences.

“Chuck brings to his new role an extensive breadth of experience that spans from outreach to curricular development to collaborations with multiple units across campus,” says Adrienne Minerick, dean of the College of Computing. “In this new role, he will help build campus collaborations to create additional pathways for Michigan Tech students to engage with computing curricula, and facilitate conversations within the College of Computing that enable creative, agile options for our students.”

“Barriers between computing and other disciplines are artificial and unproductive,” Wallace says. “Computing competencies are essential for Michigan Tech graduates in all fields, and the College and University should commit to building educational options housed in the College of Computing but available and accessible to all students.”

Wallace adds that students in the College of Computing should be free – and actively encouraged – to explore application areas where their skills can be used. He also wants to explore ways to build flexibility into Computing academic programs, maintaining the solid technical core that Michigan Tech graduates are known for, but also allowing students to pursue applications of their computing competencies in other disciplines.

Vision Statement from Charles Wallace:

Here are a few points that I consider vital to the future of computing education, based on 19 years of experience in the Computer Science Department, a long track record of education research, and extensive collaboration with Cognitive & Learning Sciences, Engineering, Humanities, and Social Sciences.

Barriers between computing and other disciplines are artificial and unproductive.  Computing competencies are essential for Michigan Tech graduates in all fields.  The College and University should commit to building educational options housed in the College of Computing but available and accessible to all students.  This will require an earnest and focused investment in personnel – we cannot do it solely with the current cohort of instructors, who are already stretched thinly with increased enrollment in core computing programs.

Conversely, students in the College of Computing should be free and even encouraged to explore application areas where their skills can be brought to bear.  Complex degree requirements can hinder such exploration.  We should explore ways to build flexibility into our programs, maintaining the solid technical core that Michigan Tech graduates are known for, but also allowing students to pursue applications of their computing competencies in other disciplines.

Computing students are citizens, not just producers.  The degree programs in Michigan Tech’s Computer Science Department have a long and venerable tradition of preparing students who can “produce” – hit the ground running in the workplace and build high quality solutions. That is a precious gift, and we should not deprive future students of it – but the future demands more. Our world is increasingly dominated by computing – and by extension, dominated by human beings who understand computing. Michigan Tech graduates of the College of Computing must be known not only for the technical “value” that they produce, but also the ability to question and critique digital technology, to be empathetic and articulate ambassadors and leaders in the new digital order of the future.

There are two promising ways in which we can build better computing citizens. First, an awareness of the social and ethical consequences of computing must be woven into our curricula, not just taught as external service courses.  Second, service learning is a way to expose students to the human contexts of computing technology. There are many ways to get students involved in our community, but these have not been harnessed outside of ad hoc outreach efforts. Interaction with the community should be built into the academic experience of computing students.

Computing competencies include values and attitudes, not just skills and knowledge. Alumni of our degree programs acknowledge that collaboration and communication are essential components of their professional lives.  These competencies involve not only skills but also values and attitudes – willingness and even eagerness to engage with others, resilience in the face of uncertainty or ambiguity, and adaptability in the face of changing requirements.  To prepare students for the highly collaborative computing workplace, courses in the College of Computing should embrace the opportunities and challenges of working in diverse teams. As with ethics, issues of teamwork and communication must be integrated into “disciplinary” courses, not left to service courses or external experiences like internships.

These curricular pathways hold promise not only to develop competent computing professionals of the future, but also to attract a more diverse constituency to the College of Computing student body.


ACIA Networking Mixer is Tues., Sept. 24, 4-6 pm

The Alliance for Computing, Information, and Automation (ACIA) and Michigan Tech Career Services invite students to a casual networking mixer with industry employment recruiters on Tuesday, September 24, 2019, from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m., in the Rozsa Center lobby. The event is free and appetizers and refreshments will be served.
Students in the following majors are encouraged to attend: Computer Network and System Administration (CNSA), Computer Engineering, Computer Science, Cybersecurity, Data Sciences, Electrical Engineering, Electrical Engineering Technology (EET), and Software Engineering.
Recruiters interested in hiring Michigan Tech students and graduates in the above majors will be in attendance.

The Alliance for Computing, Information, and Automation (ACIA) at Michigan Technological University is a collaborative effort between the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the College of Computing. The mission of the ACIA is to provide faculty and students the opportunity to work across organizational boundaries to create an environment that is a reflection of contemporary technological innovation. The research arm of the ACIA is the Institute of Computing and Cybersystems (ICC).

Download the event flyer

Recruiters interested in hiring Michigan Tech students and graduates in the above majors will be in attendance. Invited companies include the following:

3M
Amcor (fka Bemis)
ArcelorMittal
Black & Veatch
Caterpillar
CCI Iron Mountain
Continental
Cummins
Denso
Dow
DTE Energy
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA)
Ford Motor Company
Georgia-Pacific
Gerdau
Greenheck
Kimberly-Clark
Kohler
Leidos
Los Alamos National Lab (LANL)
Marathon Petroleum
Mercury Marine
Michigan Scientific Corporation
Milwaukee Tool
National Air and Space Intelligence Center
Nexteer Automotive
Nucor
Oshkosh Corporation
Palantir
Plexus
Schneider
Superior Technologies
Systems Control

Casting Call: College of Computing Video

Are you a Michigan Tech student? Do you have 30 minutes or more free on Wednesday, September 18? Do you enjoy being in the spotlight? Are you photogenic? Would you like to appear in a Michigan Tech College of Computing video? Please complete this brief form if you would like to participate. Responses are needed by 4:00 pm on Tues., Sept. 17.

Link to Google Form: https://forms.gle/4AdyoQiysMXzsuyo9

Please email Karen Johnson (karenjoh@mtu.edu) if you have any questions.


Dean Kamen, Founder of FIRST Robotics, on Campus Thurs., Sept. 12

Dean Kamen, president of DEKA Research and Development Corporation and founder of FIRST Robotics, will visit Michigan Tech Thursday (Sept. 12) to meet with students and faculty, interact with area middle and high school students who participate in robotics programs, and deliver the First-Year Engineering Lecture to Michigan Tech’s incoming engineering and computing majors.

While at Michigan Tech, Kamen will also meet with the deans of the colleges of engineering and computing, Pavlis Honors College and the chairs of related departments.

Read the full story at mtu.edu/news.


EET Alumnus Aaron Zarembski Named Emerging Leader

Aaron Zarembski

EET alumnus Aaron Zarembski was recently named one of 20 emerging leaders by Production Manufacturing magazine. The magazine’s annual list recognizes professionals under the age of 40 who are making a difference in the precision machined parts industry. Selections are based on nominations received by readers of the publication. The emphasis is on leadership and potential leadership, whether in the nominee’s company or their involvement in the industry.

Aaron works as a controls engineer for Ecoclean Group, a global company that supplies machinery for industrial parts cleaning and surface treatment applications. He was cited in particular for his strengths in customer service and technical knowledge.  Aaron’s career history also includes working with robotic waterjet cutting and plastic welding.

“Aaron is an outstanding problem solver and has been an invaluable asset for Ecoclean in every role he has taken on,” said his nominator, Peter Feamster, product management director for Jomesa North America Inc. “Aaron uses patience and efficient/effective solutions in order to satisfy customers while managing enormous pressure to keep production lines operating. He has an ability to apply PLC programming knowledge to a challenging automation process,” adding that Aaron is always looking at problems from a unique perspective, is great at thinking outside the box, is a natural innovator, and he is reliable, reachable and personable, as well.

View the magazine’s blog post here: https://www.productionmachining.com/blog/post/2019-emerging-leader-aaron-zarembski

Read more about Aaron and the other 19 emerging leaders here: https://www.productionmachining.com/production-machinings-2019-emerging-leaders/


Keith Vertanen and Scott Kuhl Awarded $499K NSF Grant

Scott Kuhl
Scott Kuhl
Keith Vertanen
Keith Vertanen

Keith Vertanen, assistant professor of computer science (HCC), and Scott Kuhl (HCC), associate professor of computer science, are principal investigators of a recently funded three-year National Science Foundation grant for their project, “CHS: Small: Rich Surface Interaction for Augmented Environments.” The expected funding over three years is $499,552.00.

Vertanen and Kuhl are members of Michigan Tech’s Institute of Computing and Cybersystems (ICC) Center for Human-Centered Computing. A 2018 ICC research seed grant funded by ECE Alumnus Paul Williams was used to produce some of the preliminary results in the successful proposal. More info about the Williams Seed Grant can be found here: https://blogs.mtu.edu/icc/2019/07/16/appropriating-everyday-surfaces-for-tap-interaction/.

A related video can be found here: https://youtu.be/sF7aeXMfsIQ.

Abstract: Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) head-mounted displays are increasingly being used in different computing related activities such as data visualization, education, and training. Currently, VR and AR devices lack efficient and ergonomic ways to perform common desktop interactions such as pointing-and-clicking and entering text. The goal of this project is to transform flat, everyday surfaces into a rich interactive surface. For example, a desk or a wall could be transformed into a virtual keyboard. Flat surfaces afford not only haptic feedback, but also provide ergonomic advantages by providing a place to rest your arms. This project will develop a system where microphones are placed on surfaces to enable the sensing of when and where a tap has occurred. Further, the system aims to differentiate different types of touch interactions such as tapping with a fingernail, tapping with a finger pad, or making short swipe gestures.

This project will investigate different machine learning algorithms for producing a continuous coordinate for taps on a surface along with associated error bars. Using the confidence of sensed taps, the project will investigate ways to intelligently inform aspects of the user interface, e.g. guiding the autocorrection algorithm of a virtual keyboard decoder. Initially, the project will investigate sensing via an array of surface-mounted microphones and design “surface algorithms” to determine and compare the location accuracy of the finger taps on the virtual keyboard. These algorithms will experiment with different models including existing time-of-flight model, a new model based on Gaussian Process Regression, and a baseline of classification using support vector machines. For all models, the project will investigate the impact of the amount of training data from other users, and varying the amount of adaptation data from the target user. The project will compare surface microphones with approaches utilizing cameras and wrist-based inertial sensors. The project will generate human-factors results on the accuracy, user preference, and ergonomics of interacting midair versus on a rigid surface. By examining different sensors, input surfaces, and interface designs, the project will map the design space for future AR and VR interactive systems. The project will disseminate software and data allowing others to outfit tables or walls with microphones to enable rich interactive experiences.