Category: HCC

Our Stories: Dr. Robert Pastel, Assoc. Prof., Computer Science

This is part of a series of short introductions about College students, faculty, and staff that we would like to include in the Weekly Download. Would you like to be featured? Send a photo and some background info about yourself to computing@mtu.edu.

Dr. Robert Pastel, Associate Professor of Computer Science

  • Advisor to Humane Interface Design Enterprise (HIDE)
  • Has been teaching at Michigan Tech for about 20 years, and teaching for 30 years.
  • Researcher with the Human-Centered Computing group of the Institute of Computing and Cybersystems (ICC)

Education

  • PhD, University of New Mexico, Physics
  • MS, Computer Science, Michigan Tech

Faculty Profile


Classes Dr. Pastel teaches: 
o    CS5760 – Human-Computer Interaction – Usability Evaluation and Testing 
o    CS4791 and CS4792 – Senior Design
o    ENT1960 – ENT5960 – Humane Interface Design Enterprise

The “coolest” class you teach, and why: All my classes are “cool” because they all involve making applications that will be used by people. The “coolest” class is CS4760 – User Interface – Design and Implementation where students work with scientists across the world to make citizen science applications.

The importance of your class topics to the overall understanding of Computing and your discipline: In all my classes, students learn to design and implement usable applications for people.

Your teaching philosophy: My teaching philosophy is that students learn best by experience and working with others. Consequently students work in teams on project for clients. 

Research projects in which students are assisting: 

  • StreamCLIMES – Large collaborative project studying bio diversity of intermittent streams. I’m responsible for developing a web applications monitoring the stream.
  • FloodAware – Large collaborative project recording and modelling flooding in urban areas. I’m responsible for developing the citizen science effort.
  • KeTT – Keweenaw Time Traveler – Historical geospatial information citizen science website for user to record region’s history and explore the maps and stories. 

Interests beyond teaching and research: The outdoors: skiing, biking and hiking. Every summer, he takes a one-month backpacking trip. 


Human Factors Grad Student Wins Hackathon, Cites Pandemic for Opportunity

One Michigan Tech graduate student found a silver lining of the pandemic-driven shift to remote study: the ability to gain experiences previously prevented by distance. And “gained experience” is an understatement, as Brooke Poyhonen recently was on the winning team in the Texas Health Care Challenge, an online hackathon that sought solutions to problems in health care.

The winning project, from Team WatsonCares, focused on women’s postpartum health and proposed a suite of services for new mothers:

  • A natural-language chatbot, powered by IBM Watson’s AI, to answer patient questions about both mental and physical health
  • A community feature allowing postpartum women to support one another
  • Deep informational and support resources

Poyhonen said the team came together because after hearing initial “problem pitches,” in which existing teams outline the projects they want to tackle, some were uninterested in the originally pitched ideas. So they created their own team. “Ideally, we want the chatbot to be personalized to the patient’s history,” she said. “And we wanted to create a safe space for women to talk to each other.”

Poyhonen will complete her accelerated M.S. in applied cognitive science and human factors this spring. She earned a B.S. in psychology from Michigan Tech in 2020. Both degrees are offered by the Cognitive and Learning Sciences department in the University’s College of Sciences and Arts.

The Texas challenge is normally on-site only, and she appreciated the chance to participate and urges other students to seek out similar opportunities. “It was great to meet people from around the country and work with a team on a real-world goal,” Poyhonen said. “It’s a great networking opportunity and gives me a concrete project to discuss in interviews. It was just so rewarding.”

The team’s prize included $120,000 in credits toward IBM products and services, a smaller cash award, and temporary office space with a Dallas venture capital firm. Poyhonen is working with team members on the project as a start-up while also pursuing other opportunities.

She got her first taste of hackathons over the winter in the Work Related Musculoskeletal Disorders Grand Challenge, run by the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography. The challenge was to help the up to 90% of sonographers who develop disorders such as occupational overuse syndrome. Her team, which included a sonography mentor, an engineering student and two sonography students, created the Air Buddy, a device to help sonographers apply pressure to a probe with reduced physical stress. Poyhonen’s team won first place after judges deliberated for an entire week after the month-long window for teams to work on the problem.

Kelly Steelman, interim chair of the Cognitive and Learning Sciences Department, said hackathons are great supplements to classroom experiences. “I commend Brooke for taking the initiative to seek out design challenges as a way to build her portfolio of experiences and hone the skills she’s learned in our program,” Steelman said. “Brooke took advantage of opportunities through outside organizations, but we also offer hack-a-thons right here on campus.”

She said Husky Innovate is currently planning their inaugural hack-a-thon as part of an initiative to grow the human-centered design community at Michigan Tech. For more information on this, contact Lisa Casper.

Dr. Steelman is a member of the Human-Centered Computing research group of the Institute of Computing and Cybersystems (ICC).

Michigan Tech’s graduate program in Applied Cognitive Science and Human Factors teaches students how to apply principles of psychology to the design and evaluation of human-technological systems. Steelman said Beth Veinott, director of the Center for Human-Centered Computing, frequently reinforces for students that, “If you get the psychology right first, you design the right system, it is easier to train, and people are more likely to adopt it.”


CS Lecture: Kelly Steelman, CLS, March 19, 3 pm

The Department of Computer Science will present a lecture by Dr. Kelly Steelman, Cognitive and Learning Sciences, on Friday, March 19, 2021, at 3:00 p.m.

The title of the lecture is, “Keeping Up with Tech.”

Join the virtual lecture here.

Steelman is interim department chair and associate professor in the Department of Cognitive and Learning Sciences. Her research interests include basic and applied attention, models of attention, human performance in aviation, display design, tech adoption, and technology training.

Lecture Title

“Keeping Up with Tech”

Lecture Abstract

COVID has revealed much in the past year, including our dependence on technology and the challenges that many of us experience trying to keep up with it. Dr. Kelly Steelman has spent the past 15 years studying human attention and applying it to support the introduction of new technologies in contexts ranging from aviation to education.

In her presentation, Steelman will provide an overview of her research, using examples from Next Gen Aviation and the BASIC Digital Literacy Training Program to illustrate how understanding human attention can help us predict the consequences of introducing new technology, improve the design of technology, and support training to help people keep up with the rapid pace of technological change.



Beth Veinott to Present Lecture February 12, 3 pm

The Department of Computer Science will present a lecture by Dr. Elizabeth Veinott on Friday, February 12, 2021, at 3:00 p.m.

Veinott is an associate professor in the Cognitive and Learning Sciences department. She will present, “Beyond the system interface: Using human-centered design to support better collaborative forecasting.”


Speaker Biography

Elizabeth Veinott is a cognitive psychologist working in technology-mediated environments to improve decision making, problem solving and collaboration. She directs Michigan Tech’s Games, Learning and Decision Lab and is the lead for the Human-Centered Computing group of Michigan Tech’s Institute of Computing and Cybersystems (ICC).

She has been active in the ACM’s SIGCHI and on the conference organizing committees for CHI Play and CSCW. Prior to joining Michigan Tech in 2016, she worked as a principal scientist in an industry research and development lab and as a contractor at NASA Ames Research Center. Her research has been funded by NIH, Army Research Institute, Army Research Lab, Air Force Research Laboratory, and IARPA.

Lecture Abstract

Teams use technology to help them make judgments in a variety of operational environments. Collaborative forecasting is one type of judgment performed by analyst teams in weather, business, epidemiology, and intelligence analysis. Research related to collaborative forecasting has produced mixed results.

In her talk, Veinott will describe a case of using cognitive task analysis to develop and evaluate a new forecast process and tool. The method captured analysts’ mental models of game-based forecasting problems, and allowed the process to co-evolve with the system design. The tool was tested in a simulation environment with expert teams conducting analyses over the course of hours and compared to a control group. Challenges and lessons learned will be discussed, including implications for human-centered design of collaborative tools.


Shane Mueller to Present Lecture Jan. 22, 3 pm

The Department of Computer Science will present a lecture, by Dr. Shane Mueller on Friday, January 22, 2021, at 3:00 p.m.

Mueller is an associate professor in the Applied Cognitive Science and Human Factors program of the Cognitive and Learning Science department. His lecture is titled, “Explainable AI, and principles for building human-centered XAI systems.”

Mueller’s research focuses on human memory and the representational, perceptual, strategic, and decisional factors that support it. He employs applied and basic research methodologies, typically with a goal of implementing formal quantitative mathematical or computational models of cognition and behavior.

He is also the primary developer of the Psychology Experiment Building Language (PEBL), a software platform for creating psychology experiments.

Mueller has undergraduate degrees in mathematics and psychology from Drew University, and a Ph.D. in cognitive psychology from the University of Michigan. He was a senior scientist at Klein Associates Division of Applied Research Associates from 2006 to 2011. His research has been supported by NIH, DARPA, IARPA, the Air Force Research Laboratory, the Army Research Institute, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, and others.

Lecture Title:

Explainable AI, and principles for building human-centered XAI systems

Lecture Abstract

In recent years, Explainable Artificial Intelligence (XAI) has re-emerged in response to the development of modern AI and ML systems. These systems are complex and sometimes biased, but they nevertheless make decisions that impact our lives. XAI systems are frequently algorithm-focused; starting and ending with an algorithm that implements a basic untested idea about explainability. These systems are often not tested to determine whether the algorithm helps users accomplish any goals, and so their explainability remains unproven. I will discuss some recent advances and approaches to developing XAI, and describe how many of these systems are likely to incorporate many of the lessons from past successes and failures to build explainable systems. I will then review some of the basic concepts that have been used for user-centered XAI systems over the past 40 years of research. Based on this, I will describe a set of empirically-grounded, human user-centered design principles that may guide developers to create successful explainable systems.


Robert West of DePauw University to Present Lecture Feb. 8

Dr. Robert West, the Elizabeth P. Allen Distinguished University Professor, Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, DePauw University, will present a lecture on Monday, February 8, 2021, at 2:00 p.m., via online meeting.

The title of Dr. West’s lecture is, “Why Josh Stole the Password: A Decision Neuorscience Approach to Insider Threat in Information Security.”

The lecture is hosted by the Human-Centered Computing (HCC) research group of the Institute of Computing and Cybersystems (ICC) and the Department of Cognitive and Learning Sciences (CLS).


Robert West Bio

Dr. Robert West received his Ph.D from the University of South Carolina in Cognitive Development, and completed postdoctoral work at the Rotman Research Institute in Toronto, studying cognitive aging and cognitive neuroscience.

He has been on faculty at the University of Notre Dame, Iowa State University, and is currently the Elizabeth P. Allen Distinguished University Professor in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at DePauw University. He is a fellow of the Association for Psychological Science, the Psychonomic Society, and the Midwestern Psychological Association; and a founding member of the NeuroIS Society.

West’s research interests and publications span the areas of decision neuroscience, cognitive neuroscience of aging, and cognitive control. He has served as the associate editor for the Journals of Gerontology: Psychological Science, and is currently associate editor for Psychology and Aging.


Lecture Abstract

Cybercrime has a significant impact on nations, corporations, and individuals. Violations of information security can reduce consumer confidence and valuation at the corporate level, and jeopardize social and financial well-being at the personal level. In this talk, I will explore the findings of some of my recent research in order to demonstrate the utility of a decision neuroscience approach to providing insight into the neural correlates of ethical decision making in the context of information security.

Download

1010 Minutes with … Chuck Wallace

Chuck Wallace, center, at a BASIC computer tutoring session at Portage Lake District Library, Houghton.

You are invited to spend one-zero-one-zero—that is, 10 minutes—with Dr. Charles Wallace on Wednesday, December 9, from 5:30 to 5:40 p.m.

Wallace is associate dean for curriculum and instruction and associate professor of computer science in the College of Computing at Michigan Tech. Wallace is a researcher with the ICC’s Human-Centered Computing and Computing Education research groups.

In his informal discussion, Dr. Wallace will talk about computing at Michigan Tech, his research on how humans can better understand, build, and use software, and answer your questions.

We look forward to spending 1010 minutes with you!

Join 1010 with Chuck Wallace here.

Next week, on Wednesday, December 15, at 5:30 p.m., Assistant Professor Dr. Nathir Rawashdeh, Applied Computing, will present his current research work, including his use of artificial intelligence for autonomous driving on snow covered roads, and a mobile robot using ultraviolet light to disinfect indoor spaces.

Did you miss 1010 with Chuck Wallace on December 9? Watch the video below.

1010 with … Chuck Wallace, Assoc. Prof, Computer Science, December 9, 2020.


ACSHF Doctoral Defense: Lavanya Rajesh Kumar

by Cognitive and Learning Sciences

Applied Cognitive Science and Human Factors doctoral candidate, Lavanya Rajesh Kumar, will defend her dissertation at 10 a.m. Tuesday (Dec. 1) via Zoom.

The title of her defense is “To Examine the Effects of Exercise & Instructional Based Interventions on Executive Functioning, Motor Learning & Emotional Intelligence Abilities Among Older Adults”.

Kumar is advised by Kevin Trewartha (CLS). All are welcome to attend.

Kevin Trewartha is a researcher with the ICC’s Human-Centered Computing group.


Accessible Computing Expert Dr. Richard Ladner to Present Keynote November 13

The ICC’s Center for Human-Centered Computing invites Michigan Tech faculty, staff, students, and alumni to a keynote lecture by leading accessible design expert and research scientist Dr. Richard E. Ladner on Friday, November 13, 2020, at 1:00 p.m., via online meeting.

His talk, “Accessible K-12 Computer Science Education,” is the final event of HCC’s Husky Research Celebration, a showcase of interdisciplinary HCC research through a series of virtual lab tours, virtual mini talks, and lectures presented in a 360-degree virtual space. More details here.

Ladner is a Professor Emeritus in the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Washington, where he has been on the faculty since 1971.

His current research is in the area of accessible computing, a subarea of human-computer interaction (HCI). Much of his current research focuses on accessible educational technology.

Ladner is principal investigator of the NSF-funded AccessComputing Alliance, which works to increase participation of students with disabilities in computing fields. He is also a PI of the NSF-funded AccessCSforAll, which is focused on preparing teachers of blind, deaf, and learning disabled children to teach their students computer science.

Lecture Title: Accessible K-12 Computer Science Education

Lecture Abstract: For the past twelve years there has been rapid growth in the teaching of computer science in K-12 with a particular focus on broadening the participation of students from underrepresented groups in computing including students with disabilities. Popular tools such as Scratch, ScratchJr, and many other block-based programming environments have brought programming concepts to millions of children around the world. Code.org’s Hour of Code has hundreds of activities with almost half using block-based environments. New computer science curricula such as Exploring Computer Science and Computer Science Principles have been implemented using inaccessible tools. In the meantime the United States has about 8 million school children with recognized disabilities which is about 16% of the K-12 student population. It is generally not the case that these students are adequately served by the current K-12 computer science education or any of the block-based programming environments.

In particular, the approximately 30,000 blind and visually impaired children are left out because only a few educational tools are screen reader accessible. In this talk we address this problem by describing two programming environments that are accessible: the Quorum Language and Blocks4All. The Quorum Language, created by Andreas Stefik, is a text-based programming language whose syntax and semantics have been created to be as usable as possible using randomized controlled trials. The language is not at all intimidating to children. For younger children, Lauren Milne created Blocks4All a block-based programming environment that can be used by anyone including children who are blind or visually impaired. Blocks4All uses a touchscreen platform similar to ScratchJr and takes advantage of the fact the blind children already know how to use touchscreen devices using their built-in screen readers. The challenge for the future of K-12 computer science is to be more inclusive to all students regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, and disability status.

Founded in 2015, the Institute of Computing and Cybersystems (ICC) promotes collaborative, cross-disciplinary research and learning experiences in the areas of computing education, cyber-physical systems, cybersecurity, data sciences, human-centered computing, and scalable architectures and systems, for the benefit of Michigan Technological University and society at large.

The ICC creates and supports an arena in which faculty and students work collaboratively across organizational boundaries in an environment that mirrors contemporary technological innovation. The ICC’s 55 members represent more than 20 academic disciplines at Michigan Tech.

The Center for Human-Centered Computing (HCC) focuses on the research and development of novel interfaces for human-agent interaction, assistive technologies, intelligent health, computational modeling, and examining trust and decision making in distributed systems.

The Center is directed by Associate Professor Elizabeth Veinott, Cognitive and Learning Sciences, a cognitive psychologist who focuses on two main areas of research: decision making and learning using serious video games.