ROTC Cybersecurity Training for Tomorrow’s Officers

The U.S. Department of Defense, Office of Naval Research, has awarded Michigan Tech faculty researchers a $249,000 grant that supports the creation of an ROTC undergraduate science and engineering research program at Michigan Tech. The primary goal of the program is to supply prepared cadets to all military branches to serve as officers in Cyber commands.

The principal investigator (PI) of the project is Andrew Barnard, Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics. Co-PIs are Timothy Havens, College of Computing; Laura Brown , Computer Science, and Yu Cai, Applied Computing. The title of the project is, “Defending the Nation’s Digital Frontier: Cybersecurity Training for Tomorrow’s Officers.”

The curriculum will be developed over the summer, and instruction associated with the award will begin in the fall 2020 semester. Cadets interested in joining the new program are urged to contact Andrew Barnard.

Initially, the program will focus on topics in cybersecurity, machine learning and artificial intelligence, data science, and remote sensing systems, all critical to the The Naval Science and Technology (S&T) Strategic Plan and the Navy’s Force of the Future, and with equal relevance in all branches of the armed forces.

The plan of work focuses on on engaging ROTC students in current and on-going Cyber research, and supports recruitment of young ROTC engineers and scientists to serve in Navy cybersecurity and cyber-systems commands. The program will compel cadets to seek positions within Cyber commands upon graduation, or pursue graduate research in Cyber fields.

“Our approach develops paid, research-based instruction for ROTC students through the existing Michigan Tech Strategic Education Naval Systems Experiences (SENSE) program,” said principal investigator Andrew Barnard, “ROTC students will receive one academic year of instruction in four Cyber domains: cybersecurity, machine learning and artificial intelligence (ML/AI), data science, and remote sensing systems.”

Barnard says the cohort-based program will enrich student learning through deep shared research experiences. He says the program will be designed with flexibility and agility in mind to quickly adapt to new and emerging Navy science and technology needs in the Cyber domain.

Placement of officers in Cyber commands is of critical long-term importance to the Navy (and other DoD branches) in maintaining technological superiority, says the award abstract, noting that technological superiority directly influences the capability and safety of the warfighter.

Also closely involved in the project are Michigan Tech Air Force and Army ROTC officers Lt. Col. John O’Kane and LTC Christian Thompson, respectively.

“Unfortunately, many ROTC cadets are either unaware of Cyber related careers, or are unprepared for problems facing Cyber officers,” said Lt. Col. O’Kane. “This proposal aims to provide a steady flow of highly motivated and trained uniformed officers to the armed-services, capable of supporting the warfighter on day-one.”

Andrew Barnard is director of Michigan Tech’s Great Lakes Research Center, an associate professor of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics, and faculty advisor to the SENSE Enterprise.

Tim Havens is director of the Institute of Computing and Cybersystems, associate dean for research, College of Computing, and the William and Gloria Jackson Associate Professor of Computer Systems.

Laura Brown is an associate professor, Computer Science, director of the Data Science graduate program, and a member of the ICC’s Center for Data Sciences.

Yu Cai is a professor of Applied Computing, an affiliated professor of Computational Science and Engineering, a member of the ICC’s Center for Cybersecurity, and faculty advisor for the Red Team, which competes in the National Cyber League (NCL).

The Great Lakes Research Center (GLRC) provides state-of-the-art laboratories to support research on a broad array of topics. Faculty members from many departments across Michigan Technological University’s campus collaborate on interdisciplinary research, ranging from air–water interactions to biogeochemistry to food web relationships.

The Army and Air Force have active ROTC programs on Michigan Tech’s campus.

The Office of Naval Research (ONR) coordinates, executes, and promotes the science and technology programs of the United States Navy and Marine Corps.


NSF Research to Study Household Dynamics in Pandemic

David Watkins (CEE/SFI) is the principal investigator on a project that has received a $190,764 research and development grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The project is titled “RAPID: COVID-19, Consumption, and Multi-dimensional Analysis of Risk (C-CAR)“. Chelsea Schelly (SS/SFI), Robert Handler (ChE/SFI) and Charles Wallace (CS/SFI) are co-PIs on this one-year project.

Extract

The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed household dynamics and dramatically changed food, energy, and water consumption within the home. Stay-at-home orders and social distancing has caused U.S. households to shift to working and schooling from home, curtail outside activities, and stop eating in restaurants. Furthermore, as many households face job loss and increasing home utility and grocery bills, U.S. residents are experiencing the economic impacts of the crisis, while at the same time assessing and responding to health risks. The project team has a unique opportunity to study these shifting household consumption and behavioral responses and quantify the associated economic and environmental impacts. The team will collect household food, energy, and water consumption data as well as survey response data from 180 participating households in one Midwestern county and compare it to data collected before the stay-at-home orders were put in place.

Read more at the National Science Foundation.


zyBooks Founder Frank Vahid to Present Lecture on Teaching Intro CS Courses

Frank Vahid will present his lecture, “Teaching intro CS: Online and in-person techniques for improved learning, cost savings, and reduced cheating,” on Friday, October 23, 2020, at 3:00 p.m., online via Zoom.

Link to the Zoom meeting here.

Vahid is a professor of computer science and engineering, University of California, Riverside, and zyBooks co-founder and chief learning officer.

His research focus is on improving college-level CS/CE/STEM education, and previously (and still) on embedded systems. He is author of textbooks from Wiley, Pearson, and zyBooks on topics including C++, C, Java, data structures, digital design, computer organization, embedded systems, computing technology, introductory math, and algebra.

Vahid has received several teaching awards, including UCR Engineering’s Outstanding Teacher award and UCR’s Innovative Teaching award, both in 2017. In recent years, he has spoken on CS/CE education at over 50 universities across the country.

His work has been supported by the NSF (university and SBIR grants), the SRC, the U.S. Dept. of Education (university and SBIR grants), and companies such as Google and Intel. He received his B.S. in Computer Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign, and his M.S. and Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of California, Irvine.

Lecture Abstract

We describe the evolution and research findings of UCR’s intro CS courses over the past decade, including an online section taught every quarter since 2013. Starting with the common U-shaped grade distribution and high DFW rate, the courses now have strong grades, low DFW rates, and highly-positive evaluations. These results are consistent across instructors, even new instructors, and also only require a few hours of teacher effort per week and little preparation each term.

The improvements include: (1) creation and use of web-native interactive learning content having hundreds of animations and interactive questions, to replace textbooks, done before class time. (2) using class time for live-coding of examples, with online classes making extensive use of live typed chat, (3) replacing the weekly programming assignment by many-small-programs, with instant auto-grading and repeated submissions, and (4) positive supportive teachers who create a “culture of mistakes”.

To support the above, we started with an early OER attempt, but realizing its limitations, replaced it in 2012 by a company (zyBooks) to provide scalable growth and continual professional improvement of content and platform. That direction has grown to serve over 500,000 students at 600 universities. Our classes now build on top of the existing core to provide higher-level improvements, like new cheating prevention efforts in an era of online solutions and contract programmers, to hopefully continually improve the student learning experience and instructor teaching experience too.


Enterprise Day — October 19, 2020

Are you interested in learning more about Enterprise at Michigan Tech? Maybe you are thinking about joining Enterprise, but are not sure which team is right for you? Learn more by talking with program staff and students from various Enterprise teams, all in one place!

Enterprise Day will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 19 in Fisher Hall. Teams will be spread out across multiple rooms, over the span of 2 hours. Virtual meeting rooms will be available as well.

Visit with:

Innovative Global Solutions
MIning INnovation Enterprise
Hotforest
Built World
BoardSport Technologies
Formula SAE
Green Campus Enterprise
ITOxygen
Supermileage Systems
Alternative Energy
Velovations
General Expedition Adventure Research (GEAR)
Blizzard Baja
Strategic Education through Naval Systems Experiences (SENSE)
Clean Snowmobile Challenge
Consumer Product Manufacturing
Robotic Systems
Aerospace
Blue Marble Security
Open Source Hardware
Find more information about each Enterprise team, timeblocks, room assignments, and Zoom links here.

Social distancing and masks are required to participate.


Kanwal Rekhi to Receive Melvin Calvin Medal of Distinction

A Michigan Tech alumnus with a long history of philanthropy and support of students will receive the University’s highest honor.

At its meeting, Friday, (Oct. 8), the Michigan Tech Board of Trustees approved awarding the Melvin Calvin Medal of Distinction to Kanwal Rekhi. The native of Punjab, in what was then British India (now Pakistan), earned a master’s in electrical engineering from Michigan Tech in 1969. In the more than half a century since his time on campus, MTU has never been far from Rekhi’s thoughts … and generosity.

After leaving Michigan Tech, Rekhi worked as an engineer and manager before becoming an entrepreneur. In 1982, he co-founded Excelan a company that made Ethernet cards to connect PCs to the fledgling Internet. Excelean became the first Indian-owned company to go public in the U.S.

In the early 90s, he became a venture capitalist investing in more than 50 startups and sitting on the board of directors of more than 20 companies.

In the past few decades, Rekhi has been a tireless supporter and benefactor to Michigan Tech. He developed and funded the Rekhi Innovation Challenge a crowdfunding competition to help promote and support student innovation. He provided major funding for the Silicon Valley Experience, an immersive tour during spring break of San Francisco area companies that includes meetings with entrepreneurs and Michigan Tech alumni, and is a sponsor of the 14 Floors Entrepreneur Alumni Mentoring Sessions.

“Kanwal and his accomplishments epitomize the values we share as an institution. His passion for Michigan Tech is unparalleled and he is most deserving of this award,” said Rick Koubek, President.

While the Melvin Calvin Medal of Distinction is Michigan Tech’s highest honor, it is far from the first recognition the University has given Rekhi. He has received the Distinguished Alumni Award, the Board of Control Silver Medal, an honorary Doctorate in Business and Engineering, and was inducted into the Electrical Engineering Academy.

Additionally, every student who has walked the Michigan Tech campus in the past 15 years has passed the Kanwal and Ann Rekhi Computer Science Hall, dedicated in April of 2005.

The Melvin Calvin Medal of Distinction is bestowed on individuals associated with the University who have exhibited especially distinguished professional and personal accomplishments. It is named for 1931 Michigan Tech alumnus Melvin Calvin, who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for unraveling the biochemical secrets of photosynthesis. The series of biochemical reactions Calvin identified is known as the Calvin Cycle.


College of Computing Welcomes Six New Faculty Members

The Michigan Tech College of Computing welcomed six new faculty members this fall to the Departments of Applied Computing and Computer Science.

College of Computing Dean Adrienne Minerick says the new hires reflect the early growth of the new College, which was launched July 1, 2019.

“We are thrilled to welcome these six talented new faculty members,” Minerick says. “Even amid the challenges we are all facing, our proactive recruitment and retention activities are making a difference.”

Assistant Professor Briana Bettin, Computer Science, has a Ph.D. in computer science from Michigan Tech. She is also an affiliated assistant professor for the Cognitive and Learning Sciences department. Bettin’s research interests include user experience; human factors; human-computer interactions; mental models; information representation; rural digital literacy; education, engagement, and retention; and digital anthropology. Bettin is a member of the ICC’s Computing Education Center.

Assistant Professor Sidike Paheding, Applied Computing, has a Ph.D. in eelectrical engineering from University of Dayton, Ohio. Prior to joining Michigan Tech Paheding was a visiting assistant professor at Purdue University Northwest. His research interests include image/video processing, machine learning, deep learning, computer vision, and remote sensing. Paheding is a member of the ICC’s Center for Data Sciences.

Assistant Professor Junqiao Qiu, Computer Science, has a
Ph.D. in computer science and engineering from University of California Riverside. His research focuses on parallel computing, programming systems, and compiler optimization. Qiu is a member of the ICC’s Center for Scalable Architectures and Systems.

Assistant Professor Ashraf Saleem, Applied Computing, has a Ph.D. in mechatronics engineering from DeMontfort University, UK. He comes to Michigan Tech from the electrical and computer engineering department at Sultan Qaboos University, where he served the mechatronics engineering program. Ashraf will be on campus starting in the spring 2021 semester.

Saleem’s research interests are in autonomous systems, vision-based unmanned vehicles, Artificial Intelligence, control of Piezoelectric actuator, and servo-pneumatic systems.

Assistant Professor Leo Ureel, Computer Science, has a Ph.D. in computer science from Michigan Tech. He has been teaching at the college level for 10 years, and has over 20 years of industry experience. Ureel is also coordinator of the College of Computing Learning Center. Ureel is a member of the ICC’s Computing Education Center.

Ureel’s research focuses on a constructionist approach to introductory computer science that leverages code critiquers to motivate students to learn computer programming. His
areas of expertise include software engineering, computer science education, and intelligent tutoring systems.

Assistant Professor Brian Yuan, Applied Computing and Computer Science, has a Ph.D. in computer science from University of Florida. His areas of expertise include machine learning, security and privacy, and cloud computing. Yuan is a member of the ICC’s Center for Cybersecurity and Center for Data Sciences.