CWIT Bits and Bytes Program on CNN

In an article about the AMC drama “Halt and Catch Fire,” CNN explored the dearth of women in computing fields and efforts made by universities to encourage women in computer science. The article discusses UMBC’s Center for Women in Technology’s Bits and Bytes program, which introduces girls in their junior year of high school to engineering and information technology majors.

cwitThe article cites a recent National Science Foundation study that found that only 18% of computer science majors were female. “In the ’80s, there were more women getting degrees in computer technology than there are now, which is mind-blowing,” actress Kerry Bishe of “Halt and Catch Fire” told CNN. “It’s more important now to show women in the culture, on a TV show, showing that these are options for good jobs.”

Read “Why women in tech came to a ‘Halt’” on CNN.

UMBC Student Entrepreneurship Featured in the Baltimore Sun July Education Supplement

The economics department Student Investment Fund was highlighted in a Baltimore Sun July education supplement article featuring student entrepreneurship at colleges and universities in Maryland. The fund began in 2010: “The primary objective of the fund is to provide participating students an opportunity to gain valuable hands-on experience in security research, valuation of risky assets, asset allocation, and portfolio management, and, in turn, to increase the marketability of UMBC students in industries such as equity research, investment banking, commercial banking and corporate finance,” said Chunming Yuan, an assistant professor of economics and faculty adviser to the program. Student Investment Fund Bradlee Kilgore ’15, economics, is also quoted in the article and participated in the fund as an undergraduate. He is now an associate analyst at T. Rowe Price. “We are able to act as security analysts and portfolio managers, which gives those of us who want a career in the financial industry hands-on experience,” he said. Michael Gardner and Nathan Hefner, founders of NeighborhoodNet, were mentioned in the article for winning the second annual Cangialosi Business Innovation Competition coordinated through the Alex. Brown Center for Entrepreneurship. They won $5,000 and a membership at Betamore for their software platform that supports community association websites. Michael Leung, a junior computer science major who served as team lead for HueBots, was quoted in a separate article featuring colleges and universities staying ahead of the curve with technology. He talked about how many people at the Microsoft Image Cup were impressed with the UMBC team’s game because it was fully completed while others were still in the development stages. “The judges were blown away and everyone loved it. Even though we did not win first prize, they all know who UMBC is now.” To read more about the HueBots competition, read “Gaming Gets Real,” on the UMBC website. Note: The online version of the Baltimore Sun education supplement is not yet available. 

Amy Hurst, Information Systems, Featured on National Science Foundation Website For Assistive Tech Research

Amy HurstOn July 6, the National Science Foundation (NSF) published an article in its “Discoveries” section featuring Amy Hurst’s assistive technology research. Hurst, an assistant professor of information systems, has published research with collaborators that found little use of assistive technologies in the maker community. “No one else was reflectively studying what’s happening in the Maker space,” Hurst said in the NSF article.

In her research, Hurst found that assistive technologies have a low adoption rate and almost one-third of them go unused because they don’t meet people’s needs. She also found that maker tools offered unmatched opportunities for individuals with special needs. The article stated that after several years of research, Hurst and her team have created several tools to allow people of all skill levels to make objects that are useful to them, such as the Easy-Make Oven, GripFab, and VizTouch. “We’re empowering people to incorporate making into their daily lives to solve their own accessibility challenges,” said Hurst.

“Working with a diverse population including individuals with intellectual disabilities, power wheelchair users, individuals with visual impairments, and physical therapists, [Hurst] is demonstrating what can happen when technology intersects with opportunity,” the article stated.

Hurst’s research was recently featured in UMBC Magazine.

Govind Rao, CBEE, Describes Medicines on Demand Research to Bioprocess Online

When the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Battlefield Medicine site found that soldiers posted overseas can sometimes go months without biopharmaceuticals, they looked for a way to quickly produce pharmaceuticals on demand for wartime and disaster situations by seeking out research teams to address the problem.

raoGovind Rao, chemical, biochemical, and environmental engineering, is the principal investigator of one such research team focused on creating medicines on demand. He spoke to Bioprocess Online, a leading source of biotherapeutic industry and technical information, about his cutting edge research.

Rao was initially skeptical about the feasibility of the project, but reached a breakthrough when he found Thermo Scientific, a company that that could remove the need for cold chain shipping due to their ability to produce large proteins within hours. After partnering with Thermo Scientific, Rao found David Wood, a professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at Ohio State University, to help purify the proteins in a small container.

The team recently finished the project’s first phase, which proved that their basic ideas could work. They are now in their second phase, which includes creating the device that can produce therapeutic proteins in a ready-to-inject form. “We are entering a new realm of figuring things out,” Rao said. “Everything that happens today to manufacture a biopharmaceutical has to be miniaturized into this briefcase-sized device.”

Click here to read “DARPA’s Challenge: Manufacture A Biopharmaceutical In Less Than 24 Hours” in Bioprocess Online.

Kavita Krishnaswamy, CSEE Ph.D. student, Featured on National Science Foundation Website

Kavita Krishnaswamy ’07, computer science and mathematics, Ph. D. candidate, computer science and electrical engineering, was featured on the National Science Foundation website for her research on adaptive technology. Krishnaswamy’s work focuses on developing robotic prototypes that can assist people with severe disabilities and improving robotic interfaces.

kavitaIn the article, Krishnaswamy discusses how the support of research fellowships and mentors at UMBC has aided her research. She has won several competitive fellowships, receiving a Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation Bridge to the Doctorate Fellowship, an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, and a Ford Foundation Fellowship. “These fellowships are instrumental in facilitating my research career in many ways and making it possible for me to be one step closer to achieving my goals to assist people with disabilities. They enable me to focus on my research goals with greater determination to succeed,” she said.

Gisele Muller-Parker, program director of the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, praised Krishnaswamy’s research and advocacy for individuals with disabilities, saying “[Kavita] is clearly passionate about helping others through the development of robotics research and is an inspiring leader in this area.”

Click here to read “Graduate student perseveres to increase access for persons with severe disabilities” on the National Science Foundation website.

Krishnaswamy was also recently interviewed by Technical.ly Baltimore about her experience using a telepresence devise and her vision for how robots can help people with disabilities. Click here to read “This UMBC Ph.D. candidate will change your mind about robots.”

Christopher Gardner ’18, Computer Science, Places First at Kaizen Capture the Flag

Earlier this week, UMBC CyberDawg Christopher Gardner ’18, computer science, took first place out of approximately fifty competitors at Booz Allen Hamilton’s Kaizen Capture The Flag event held at the Jailbreak Brewing Company in Laurel, MD.

The event focused around navigating through a series of progressively harder cybersecurity obstacles. The challenge’s theme centered around a narrative that competitors were assisting the FBI in finding and then defusing a bomb. Competitors needed to complete a series of increasingly harder challenges to locate clues and other information, such as examining an Android .apk to find a wireless access point password, finding the login page for an website’s administration panel, and gaining access to a web server’s log directory.

Congratulations again to Christopher and to all of the CyberDawgs who competed.

Marc Olano, CSEE, and Anne Rubin, History, Describe the Bandit Video Game Project in the Daily Record

Marc OlanoA team of professors and students across several disciplines have worked together to develop “Bandit,” a video game in which players control a fox that navigates the streets during Civil War-era Baltimore. The game is one of two developed this semester in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering Professor Marc Olano’s game development class. The group collaborated with students in the history department and Anne Rubin, an associate professor of history, to develop viewpoints of diverse actors in the Pratt Street Riots.

Anne RubinThe work was featured in a Daily Record article published on May 19: “The game-design students initially pitched several game ideas to the history class, and Rubin said she and her history students were fond of a proposed mystery-style game because they thought it would lend itself more readily to the teaching of history. But the animal-focused game was the most feasible to produce, so that became the choice. ‘We’re really happy with how this turned out,’ Rubin said.”

To read about the Bandit video game presentation at URCAD 2015, click here. To read the article “At UMBC, a taste of professional life for game designers” in the Daily Record, click here (subscription required). For additional coverage in Baltimore Tech, click here.