First Video Game From UMBC’s Game Developer’s Club Up on Steam

win_huebots_storyA game developed by a four-student UMBC team was recently added on Steam, the giant PC game platform. The success prompted stories in the Baltimore Daily Record and in featuring interviews with team lead Michael Leung ’16; programmer Tad Cordle ’16; and Marc Olano, who heads the game-development track in the computer science department.

HueBots made it to the national “final four” of college game video development this spring. The competition for the Microsoft Imagine Cup entailed not only creating the game but a business plan that included getting the game onto Steam.

Acceptance is a significant boost because the website is the go-place place for PC games. Olano pointed out that Steam’s vetting process invites public feedback, indicating that the game drew wider interest than from just the campus.

HueBots features friendly, colorful robots that players build and use to solve maze puzzles that revolve around the bots’ affinity for color-matched objects. It’s the first game to come to market from the Game Developer’s Club. But, Leung said, not the last. “We want to get as many different games out there as we can.”

Read “Full Steam Ahead: UMBC Students Take Video Game to Market” in The Daily Record and “HueBots, a Videogame Created by UMBC Students, Is Now on Steam” in Baltimore.

Jian Chen, CSEE, Discusses New Hybrid-Reality System in The Daily Record

Jian Chen, computer science and electrical engineering, received a $360,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to build π², a hybrid-reality system that can project 3D images in order to display and interact with data. Chen and Karl Steiner, vice president of research, spoke to The Daily Record about the project.

JianChenPhotoThe π² system is to be constructed over the next year and will consist of high-resolution, floor-to-ceiling LCD panels. Chen explained that the screens can display images in 3D when used with special glasses. “That freedom of movement is part of what separates the hybrid-reality system from virtual-reality systems that use bulky headsets,” the article reported. “The headset isolates the user from the physical world; the π² display will multiple users to move more freely.”

Publicity Photo of Karl SteinerThe system seeks to make comparing and interpreting data easier and can be used in a variety of ways, including studying biological systems, data related to student success, woodland ecology, and unmanned aerial vehicle design. Steiner also shared how π² could help his own research on surgical training, saying, “The goal is what I like to call a flight simulator for the surgeon.”

Read “Immersive ‘hybrid reality’ system coming to UMBC” in The Daily Record.

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 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.

Cynthia Matuszek, CSEE, Describes Image Search Research on CBC Radio

cynthiamatuzsekCynthia Matuszek, CSEE, was interviewed on Spark about her research on gender representation on Google Image Search. Spark is a show on CBC radio that explores the topics of technology and trends.

Matuszek described what inspired her and colleagues at the University of Washington to study gender representation across various professions on Google Images and discussed the study’s results. Matuszek found women are often underrepresented in images search results for different professions and portrayed in stereotypical ways.

Click here to listen to Matuzsek’s interview on CBC Radio.

Matuzsek’s research was also referenced in an article about a Google search result for jokes. Click here to read “Something Truly Unfunny Happened When You Googled the Word ‘Joke'” on Mic.

CWIT, IS, and CSEE Faculty Receive NSF Grant for Transfer Scholars Community

Penny Rheingans, director of The Center for Women in Technology (CWIT), Susan Martin, associate director of CWIT, Carolyn Seaman, information systems, and E.F. Charles LaBerge, computer science and electrical engineering, recently received a $632,488 grant from the National Science Foundation to support transfer scholars in computer science, computer engineering, and information systems.

The grant will continue the work of the Transfer Scholars in Information Technology and Engineering (T-Site) program. The program provides scholarship funds, academic and professional programming, and a supportive community to encourage transfer student success in computing majors. The program is open to transfer students from Maryland community colleges.

Click here to learn more about the T-Site Scholars program.