Anupam Joshi and Rick Forno, Cybersecurity, Comment on Ashley Madison Data Leak

As Ashley Madison experienced a widespread data breach this week, Anupam Joshi and Richard Forno, cybersecurity, spoke to the media about Internet security and how the leak will affect high profile users in Washington, D.C.

joshiIn an interview with ABC2, Joshi cautioned that data breaches are increasingly becoming part of daily life. “Information is valuable,” he said. “People are after information. No security is perfect and once you marry these things, there is an incentive for someone to spend the right time and effort to steal some information.” He also spoke about users falling into a false sense of security. “Nothing is really secure on the Internet,” he warned. “If you don’t want the thing you’re doing to show up on ABC2 at some point then don’t do it.”

umbc-faculty-Rick-FornoForno spoke to Beta Boston and TV Newsroom about public reactions as the data breach revealed several government officials as users of the website. “Depending on who you talk to, you’ll get two wildly different opinions on the issue,” he said. “Some people will say, `Well, they broke the law, they hacked into this private company’s computers and stole data.’ Yeah, that’s true. But from the other side, you have to say, were they doing this for a public service?”

Anne Spence, Mechanical Engineering, Shares Passion for Mentoring with CBS Baltimore

When Anne Spence, mechanical engineering, began her undergraduate studies in engineering, she noticed that a number of fellow female students dropped out of the program before graduation. She wondered if a female professor might have made a difference and decided to dedicate her career to serving as a role model for young women. In an interview with CBS Baltimore earlier this month, Spence shared her passion for the recruitment, training, and retention of engineering majors.

Spence_Anne“Here at UMBC, we are training almost 300 teachers each year to teach engineering in elementary, middle and high school,” Spence said. “We believe that exposing children early to engineering will encourage them to stay interested. We also work to retain women and minorities in engineering.”

She also shared resources and advice for youth to encourage interest in engineering and STEM fields. “Don’t listen to those who tell you that you cannot succeed,” she advised. “If I had listened, I would not have the exciting career I have today.”

Read “UMBC Professor Setting Example For The Next Generation” in CBS Baltimore.

Dean Julia Ross outlines UMBC’s commitment to increasing diversity in engineering at White House Demo Day

The Engineering Deans Council of the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) seized the opportunity to outline tangible steps to improve the inclusiveness of engineering education at the first White House Demo Day, hosted by President Barack Obama on Tuesday, August 4, in the White House East Room.

UMBC Dean Julie Ross, College of Engineering and Information Technology (COEIT), is one of more than 100 deans who signed on to the ASEE letter of commitment to diversity presented at Demo Day, which was designed to highlight “why we need to give every American the opportunity to pursue their bold, game-changing ideas.”

The deans’ powerful statement outlines specific steps to increase the participation and success of women and underrepresented minorities in engineering and IT degree programs.

Julie Ross 1“The world’s most challenging technological problems demand creative solutions,” Ross shares. “Our best hope is to foster inclusive excellence in our engineering and IT schools and to bring to bear the diverse perspectives, ideas and talents of our nation’s youth.”

Her words echo the spirit of the ASEE letter, which emphasizes that innovation is core to engineering, and “diversity and inclusiveness are essential for the development of creative solutions to the world’s challenges.” The letter continues, “While gains have been made in the participation of women, African-Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans in engineering in recent decades, significant progress is still needed to reach a level where the engineering community fully embraces all segments of our increasingly diverse and vibrant society.”

Engineering Deans Diversity Initiative_logo_stackedUMBC and the other signing colleges and universities specifically commit to develop and implement: (1) a diversity plan for engineering programs, including priorities, goals, and assessment plans to ensure accountability; (2) activities partnering with K-12 schools and/or community college to increase the diversity of students in the engineering education pipeline; (3) strong partnerships between research-intensive engineering schools and non-PhD granting engineering schools serving populations underrepresented in engineering; and (4) proactive strategies to increase the representation of women and underrepresented minorities as engineering faculty.

UMBC’s numerous new and longstanding STEM collaborations with K-16 partners form a strong basis for this work. One example is the Transfer Scholars in Information Technology and Engineering (T-SITE), funded by NSF to support the success of students transferring from Maryland community colleges to UMBC to study computer science, computer engineering and information systems.

Ross has received a multi-million NSF grant for the project INSPIRES: Increasing Student Participation, Interest and Recruitment in Engineering and Science. Collaborating with education faculty Jon Singer and Chris Rakes, she is helping Baltimore County high school biology and technology teachers feel prepared to effectively integrate engineering into their teaching.

Ross’s motivation for engaging talented students from all backgrounds in the field of engineering is simple: “We must work to ensure equal opportunity and access to all who seek it if we are to find the creative solutions we need.”

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.