U.S. Secretary of Energy, Ernest Moniz, Visits UMBC

Last week the U.S. Secretary of Energy, Ernest Moniz, visited UMBC to meet with President Hrabowski, faculty and students.

WBAL’s Tim Tooten covered the visit. Tooten reported that Moniz explained that there was a growing need for underrepresented minorities to help fill the energy-related jobs of the future.

Sec_Energy_Visit14-4127Moniz first met with a group of students from UMBC’s prestigious Meyerhoff Scholars program. Students said that Moniz’s remarks made a big impact on them.

“I think I am going to go and look more into what energy can do and what I can do in research for energy,” Aida Berhane told Tooten.

“To see the amount of funding available for the future of energy and to see someone like him kind of taking charge, not supporting one particular project, but a variety of different energy-related fields, it was nice to see,” Stephen Vicchio said in an interview with Tooten.

But the visit was not just limited to students. Faculty and administrators met with the Secretary as well.

“The Secretary provided an insightful picture of the breadth and scope of the Department of Energy and its impact on scientific research, development, and technology. His inspirational approach highlighted many of the opportunities afforded by the DOE that will indeed benefit our students and faculty at UMBC,” said William LaCourse, Dean of the College and Natural Mathematical Sciences.

“It was a very successful conversation,” added Karl Steiner, Vice President for Research. “It allowed us to share with the Secretary the breadth of our expertise in energy research.”

Faculty included in the visit were: Belay Demoz, Director for the Joint Center for Earth Systems Technology (JCET); Ruben Delgado, Assistant Research Scientist, JCET; Andrei Draganescu, Associate Professor, Mathematics and Statistics; Tinoosh Mohsenin, Assistant Professor, Computer Science and Electrical Engineering; Jeff Gardener, Assistant Professor, Biological Sciences; and Mark Allen, Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

Marie desJardins Collaborates with Howard County Parents and Teachers for HowGirlsCode

CSEE’s Marie desJardins recently collaborated with a group of Howard County parents and teachers to create HowGirlsCode, an educational program that “educates and inspires young girls to pursue computer related activities, courses, and careers.”

desjardins-3-cropped-smaller1The program–originally called Computer Mania Club–is based out of Fulton Elementary School. Over the course of ten weeks, students meet for weekly two-hour sessions, working on projects such as Lego Mindstorm robots and 3D printing. Students also work with programming tools such as MIT’s Scratch program. The curriculum for the program is largely based off of materials from the Code.org website.

UMBC alumna Katie Egan and her husband Kent Malwitz have been instrumental in getting the club off the ground. Malwitz, who is the President and Chief Learning Officer for UMBC Training Centers, originally recruited Marie desJardins to participate in a brainstorming session for the club back in 2013. Professor desJardins now serves as a member of the Advisory Board for HowGirlsCode.

Bethany Meyer, Senior Web Developer at MGH, Inc., was a recent guest speaker for HowGirlsCode. During her presentation, Meyer explained how she got into coding, citing as an example a website that she created when she was 13 years old. Meyer went on to present more recent projects, such as OldBay75.com and OCOcean.com. “I think a lot of people have negative stereotypes in mind when they think of programmers,” Meyer says. “My goal was to break down some of those stereotypes by showing…[students] that the work can be really exciting and that it involves creativity and interacting with others. I hope that I inspired some of them to teach themselves to make websites. ”

A recent Baltimore Sun article notes that there has been a marked increase in student signups for HowGirlsCode since last year. More courses will be offered in the spring, due to increasing demand. At some point, the coding club could possibly expand to other schools. Currently, Egan is trying to turn HowGirlsCode into a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt, charitable organization. This would allow the club to have better access to resources such as facilities, grants and funding. Ideally, she hopes to turn the club into a nonprofit by September 2015.

The Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Lab has a similar program, called Girls Who Code. The Hopkins APL program, which is intended for middle and high school students, is based on a national nonprofit of the same name.

This piece originally appeared on the CSEE Web site.

Anupam Joshi named an IEEE Fellow

CSEE Professor Anupam Joshi has been named an IEEE Fellow, recognized for his for contributions to security, privacy and data management in mobile and pervasive systems. This designation is conferred by the IEEE Board of Directors on individuals with an outstanding record of accomplishments in any of the IEEE fields of interest and is recognized by the technical community as a prestigious honor and an important career achievement. No more than 0.1% of the total IEEE voting membership can be selected in xlargea year.
Dr. Joshi joined UMBC’s faculty in 1998 and currently is the Oros Family Professor of Technology and Director of the UMBC Center for Cybersecurity. He previously held faculty appointments at the University of Missouri, Columbia and Purdue University. He received a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Purdue University and a B. Tech in Electrical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi. While at UMBC he has taught both undergraduate and graduate courses in operating systems, mobile computing and security. He developed and teaches an Honors College seminar on “Privacy and Security in a Mobile Social World”. He has mentored nine Ph.D. graduates and a large number of M.S. students.
Joshi has made many contributions to the design, analysis and development of intelligent systems for mobile, social and secure computing. Twenty years ago he was one of a handful of researchers who recognized that mobility introduced new challenges for data management, security and privacy over and above those brought about by wireless connectivity. His key insight was to model mobile and pervasive systems as distributed systems that are both open, in that they do not pre-identify a set of known participants, and dynamic, in that the participants change regularly.
He observe that applications on mobile devices require greater degrees of decision making and autonomy as they become increasingly sophisticated and intelligent and can’t always assume connectivity to central servers. Entities in these pervasive computing systems must exchange information about the data and services offered and sought and their associated security and privacy policies, negotiate for information and resource sharing, be aware of their context, and monitor for and report on suspicious or anomalous behavior. Dr. Joshi has addressed these challenges across the stack, from network protocols to data management to policy controlled interactions between autonomous entities.
Much of his research has been done in collaboration with colleagues in industry such as IBM, Microsoft, Northrop Grumman and Qualcomm. It has been funded by not just them, but also NSF, DARPA, AFOSR, ARL, NIST and other federal agencies. Joshi has published prolifically with more than 200 publications in refereed journals and conferences, many of which are highly cited. He has served as the General or Program Chair of many key conferences including the IEEE International Conference on Intelligence and Security Informatics which will be held in Baltimore in May 2015.
The IEEE is the world’s leading professional association for advancing technology for humanity. Through its 400,000 members in 160 countries, it is a leading authority on a wide variety of areas ranging from aerospace systems, computers and telecommunications to biomedical engineering, electric power and consumer electronics. Dedicated to the advancement of technology, the IEEE publishes 30 percent of the world’s literature in the electrical and electronics engineering and computer science fields, and has developed more than 900 active industry standards.
[This story was reposted from CSEE website]

New Hope for People Living with Paralysis

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UMBC and UMB scientists are working together to build sensors that can be sewn into clothing to detect the gestures of people with paralysis. This technology has tremendous potential as a cost-effective way to empower people with limited mobility, such as enabling a person to turn on a light by waving a hand over their arm or knee.

The goal says, Nilanjan Banerjee, an assistant professor of computer science and electrical engineering is to, “use these sensors,” to sense “gestures for controlling the environment.” So that patients could control light switches or call 911.

Learn more by watching the video.

http://research.microsoft.com/apps/video/?id=231786

The team working on this project is comprised of Nilanjan Banerjee and Ryan Robucci, both assistant professors from the computer science and electrical engineering department at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and Sandy McComb Waller, associate professor of physical therapy and rehabilitation science at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

UMBC Undergraduate Research Conference a Success

UMBC held its 17th annual undergraduate research symposium on October 25.
This event was open to students from outside UMBC, with participants coming from Maryland universities and colleges, as well as participants coming from as far away as Massachusetts and Alabama.
The conference was by all accounts a tremendous success with 500 participants from 16 states.

Penny Rheingans on Tech Firms Offering Egg Freezing as a Benefit

Penny Rheingans, a professor in computer science and electrical engineering, talks with the BBC about the benefit that some tech companies are now offering women — paying for female employees to freeze eggs.

Rheingans tell the BBC, “my initial reaction is negative.”

She says that the companies are suggesting that, “their culture and work expectations might be incompatible with raising a family.”

Furthermore, she says, “they’re saying to women that they should wait to have those babies until the company is done with their technically productive years.”

Listen to the complete interview