17th Annual Women in Computing Day

Eighty 7th grade girls from southwestern Virginia learned about data analytics and visualization at the Women in Computing workshop today at Virginia Tech. In particular, they learned how to explore high-dimensional data by manipulating 2D projections of the data. They did this by “being the data” in the VT Cube. In groups of 20, the girls explored a data set containing 30 variables and about 20 different animals. Each girl embodied a single data point, one of the animals. Her position and movement in the Cube was tracked with respect to all the other girls. Together, the girls explored alternative clusterings of the data points by re-organizing themselves in the space. With the Andromeda software developed at VT, they then visualized the weighting of the data variables that produce their particular clustering. Through this mechanism the girls posed several research questions and hypotheses about the data and were able to discover new answers. With this interactive and collaborative approach, the girls also learned about the underlying mathematical concepts of high-dimensional data analysis.

The “Be the Data” project is a interdisciplinary collaborative research effort, exploring embodied analytics and education, led by Leanna House (Statistics), Chris North (Computer Science), Scotland Leman (Statistics), Jane Robertson (Statistics), and Liesl Baum (ICAT), and is supported by a seed grant from the Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology (ICAT). The Andromeda software was developed by graduate students Jessica Zeitz Self, Xin Chen, and Xinran Hu under an NSF supported project in the Discovery Analytics Center (DAC) at Virginia Tech.

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4th Annual Aspirations in Computing Event

The National Center for Women In Technology (NCWIT) Award for Aspirations in Computing honors young women at the high-school level for their computing-related achievements and interests.  Winners are selected for their computing and IT aptitude, leadership ability, academic history, and plans for post-secondary education.  NCWIT has local and national affiliates.  The CS department continues to support this and other diversity efforts designed to identify and recruit women into the field.  Dr. Barbara G. Ryder (Department Computer Science – Head) and Libby Bradford (CS Director of Undergraduate Studies) chair the Virginia and Washington, DC affiliate and manage the annual awards ceremony.  Microsoft hosted the event this year where twenty high school students were recognized.  The event was sponsored by Bank of America, Eastman Chemical Company, Microsoft, NetApp, Northrop Grunman, SWIFT and Virginia Tech.  Dr. Barbara G. Ryder said, “We are truly honored to recognize these outstanding young women from across Virginia and the District for their achievements in computing and leadership.  They are pacesetters and set an example that girls may accomplish great things in the technology field”.  To view a full list of winners and learn more about NCWIT visit here.

 

NCWIT Aspirations Award Dinner on March 21, 2015

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Dr. Kirk Cameron and alumnus Joe Turner receive patent

Dr. Kirk Cameron and CS alumnus Joe Turner successfully completed the patent approval process.  Dr. Cameron and Mr. Turner are co-founders of a power management software startup company MiserWare.  This is a patent that MiserWare licensed from Virginia Tech while conducting research for the university.  Dr. Cameron said,  “This patent describes methods and techniques to guarantee performance constraints are met when computer power management is enabled.  The resulting software is used in laptops, desktops, and data center environments where performance is critical and power management is required for cost-cutting.  This technology is at the core of the Granola software that was downloaded more than half a million times from over 160 countries.”

 

Dr. Kirk Cameron
Dr. Kirk Cameron

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Dr. Kirk Cameron selected to participate in a leadership science policy institute

Dr. Kirk Cameron has been selected to participate in the Computing Community Consortium (CCC) Leadership in Science Policy Institute (LiSPI) in Washington, DC.  The LiSPI selection committee evaluated each nomination based on record of accomplishment, proven ability to communicate, and promise.  The mission of LiSPI is to “Develop a next generation of leaders in the computing research community”.  According to LiSPI’s website, the policy institute endeavors to educate computing researchers on how science policy in the U.S. is formulated and how our government works.  Please visit to learn more.  This is the third faculty member from the CS department who has attended the LiSPI.  Dr. Naren Ramakrishnan and Dr. Madhav Marathe participated in the past.

 

Dr. Kirk Cameron
Dr. Kirk Cameron

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Dr. Sharath Raghvendra received NSF CRII Award

Dr. Sharath Raghvendra recently won a NSF CRII Award for his proposal titled “The Geometry Behind Logistics — Approximation Algorithms for Real-Time Delivery”.  The CRII Awards are a new program at NSF targeted towards untenured faculty members, in their first 2 years in an academic position, who have not yet served as PI on any NSF support.  This is the first year of the program and the CS department is proud to have a recipient.  Sharath’s abstract states, “In the era of instant gratification, consumers expect to receive delivery of goods and services on demand.  In an effort to address consumer needs, vendors have adopted routing algorithms with little or no provable guarantee.  The algorithms available today are often unreliable and yield higher costs than desired. There are two major difficulties finding effective solutions.  First, in many cases, routing decisions need to be made with partial or no information on future requests.  The second challenge is related to processing speed.  In current solutions, even if all required information is available in advance, it could take several hours to compute an efficient route making real-time routing almost impossible.  This project investigates a new approach for real-time algorithms applicable in routing applications.  The idea is to use “straight-line” distance between locations as a proxy for the actual road travel distance to design high quality approximation and online algorithms”.  Click here to read more.  Dr. Sharath is an assistant professor in the department.

 

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Dr. Layne Watson recognized for his work with the IBM Cloud

Dr. Layne Watson, in addition to a team of professors and graduate students, is using the Power Development Cloud to create and test parallel mathematical software for global and stochastic optimization.  His research is ongoing and part of IBM”s Power Systems Academic Initiative.  According to an IBM press release, “The Power Systems Academic Initiative (PSAI) has achieved a major milestone by enrolling more than 300 colleges and universities around the globe in the program, providing these institutions with access to IBM Power Systems technology and helping to arm students with skills to handle new workloads like Big Data, cloud, mobile and social, that are crucial in today’s job market”.  Read more here.

 

Dr. Watson
Dr. Watson

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Margaret Ellis, CS Instructor, receives Engineering Inclusive Teaching (EIT) Educator’s Award

Margaret Ellis is a recipient of the 2015 Engineering Inclusive Teaching (EIT) Educator’s Award.  This award is given by the Women in Engineering ProActive Network (WEPAN).  The WEPAN helps educators craft inclusive engineering learning environments.  Her project titled “Promoting Self-Efficacy in Computer Science” is a collaborative project with CS faculty colleagues Jack Lesko, Manuel Perez-Quinones and Catherine Amelink.  Their work looks at what educational practices can be used to improve the self-efficacy of undergraduate students in low-level Computer Science courses.  Margaret said, “The project investigates what educational practices can be used to improve the self-efficacy of undergraduate students in Computer Science courses.  Adjustments are anticipated to encourage long-term interest in Computer Science among all students but among underrepresented groups in particular. We hope that our findings will yield information that can be used to make changes to other Computer Science courses.  We are looking at the impact of special GTA/UTA training sessions, approaches for modeling analytical skills students need to develop, and what type of feedback students need to feel successful and improve understanding of CS concepts”.  Visit http://www.wskc.org/eit to read more.  Margaret will present the findings of this project at the WEPAN Change Leaders Forum in Colorado in June 2015.

 

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Dr. Ali Butt awarded second NetApp Faculty Fellowship

Dr. Ali R. Butt, associate professor of computer science, has received his second NetApp Faculty Fellowship (NFF).  The NetApp Faculty Fellowship (NFF) program was established to encourage leading-edge research in storage and data management and to foster relationships between academic researchers and engineers and researchers at NetApp.  Ali’s work titled “Designing an In-Memory Object Caching Framework with Adaptive Load Balancing Synopsis” will focus on making access to cloud storage more efficient.  Please visit http://www.eng.vt.edu/news/ali-butt-hopes-make-access-cloud-storage-more-efficient to read more about Dr. Butt.

 

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