Dr. Barbara G. Ryder to receive ACM SIGSOFT Influential Educator Award

ACM’s Special Interest Group on Software Engineering (SIGSOFT) has named Professor Barbara G. Ryder as the recipient of its 2015 Influential Educator Award “For significant contributions in software engineering education, graduate student and faculty mentoring and efforts to improve the representation of women.” Dr. Ryder is Head of the Department of Computer Science at Virginia Tech, where she holds the J. Byron Maupin Professorship in Engineering.

The award will be presented on 22 May 2015 at the 37th International Conference on Software Engineering (ICSE 2015) in Florence, Italy (http://2015.icse-conferences.org/). This award is presented annually to an educator who has made significant contributions to, and impact on, the field of software engineering with his/her accomplishments as a teacher, mentor, researcher (in education or learning), author, and/or policy maker. The award is accompanied by an honorarium and travel support to ICSE.

Professor Barbara G. Ryder has been deeply engaged in education and mentoring in software engineering and programming languages for more than 33 years. She is an exceptional graduate mentor having graduated 15 Ph.D. and 3 M.S. students and supervised 4 postdocs. She is an influential leader in diversity, both nationally through activities with CRA-W and NCWIT and through outreach at both Rutgers University and Virginia Tech. Dr. Ryder’s mentoring extends beyond her own research group. She was awarded Professor of the Year (2003) while at Rutgers, by the Computer Science Graduate Students Society award for excellence in teaching and was the recipient of the Rutgers University Graduate School Teaching Award (2007). As a department head at Virginia Tech, Dr. Ryder established an ongoing formal mentoring program for both assistant and associate professors. Dr. Ryder is an ACM Fellow (1998) and has received the Rutgers’ Presidential Award as a Leader in Diversity (2006) for her activities to increase the diversity of computing. Recently, she was given the 2014 Virginia AAUW Woman of Achievement Award in recognition of her efforts. She was a co-founder of the NCWIT VA/DC Aspirations Awards Affiliate, which celebrated its fourth year of awards in 2015.  Read the full story here.

Please join the department in honoring Dr. Ryder’s accomplishment.

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CS Ph.D. student, Ashley Robinson, elected to honor society

The Virginia Tech Graduate School announced the seven inaugural members of the university’s chapter of the Edward A. Bouchet Graduate Honor Society.  Ashley Robinson, CS doctoral candidate, was selected to join.  Ashley is a native of Chesapeake, Virginia.  She is investigating the attitudes of African-American middle school girls toward computer science and the factors that influence these attitudes.

For more information visit http://www.vtnews.vt.edu/articles/2015/03/032415-gradschool-bouchetscholars.html


Ashley Picture









The Bouchet Society was established in 2005 by Yale and Howard universities and named for the first African-American to earn a doctoral degree in the United States.  Bouchet graduated from Yale College in 1874 and earned his doctoral degree in physics from Yale University in 1876.  The society’s goal is to create a network of strong scholars and professionals who “serve as examples of scholarship, leadership, character, service, and advocacy for students who have been traditionally underrepresented in the Academy,” according to its webpage.  Virginia Tech is among 11 university partners with Bouchet Society chapters.

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Dr. Marathe named Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Dr. Marathe
Dr. Marathe

Dr. Madhav V. Marathe (http://www.vbi.vt.edu/ndssl/people-profile/Madhav-Marathe) has been named Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, for contributions to high performance computing algorithms and software environments. Dr. Marathe is the director of the Network Dynamics and Simulation Science Laboratory (http://www.vbi.vt.edu/ndssl/) in the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute (http://vbi.vt.edu/).

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Sharp receives 2015 National CRA Undergraduate Research Award

Nicholas Sharp, CS undergraduate student, achieved the level of Finalist in the prestigious 2015 National Computing Research Association Undergraduate Research Award competition (http://www.cra.org/awards/undergrad-current/). His faculty research mentors are Drs. T.M. Murali (https://bioinformatics.cs.vt.edu/~murali/) and Shane Ross (ESM).

The CRA annual undergrad research competition distinguishes candidates by gender and by the type of their home department: non-Ph.D.-granting vs Ph.D.-granting.  Nick was in the competition in the male, Ph.D.-granting department group.  There were one Winner, one Runner-up and four Finalists selected in this category, as well as seven Honorable Mentions.  The home universities for the top six researchers included: University of Washington, Seattle; Columbia; UNC, Chapel Hill; Mississippi State; Texas A&M, and Virginia Tech. The Department is proud of all of its winners in this competition; between 2010 and 2015 we have had four Honorable Mentions and two Finalists!

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Saraf and Butler win the 2014 IEEE VAST Grand Challenge Award for Effective Analysis and Presentation

Parang  Saraf,  CS Ph.D. student, and teammate Patrick Butler, CS graduate, won the 2014 IEEE VAST Grand Challenge Award for Effective Analysis and Presentation in Paris, France.  This award was featured on the COE website ribbon, which can be found at: http://vacommunity.org/VAST+Challenge+2014. Parang works on the EMBERS (http://dac.cs.vt.edu/projects/embers) project with Dr. Naren Ramakrishnan (http://cs.vt.edu/˜ramakris).  More information about this award can be found on the NCR website: http://ncr.vt.edu/highlights/Highlight-111914.html

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CS@VT’s Wu Feng is using “the cloud that is helping to cure cancer.”

Check out the postcard on Wu Feng sent via mail to all Virginia Tech College of Engineering Alumni.

FEng - Microsoft postcard - final_Page_1wufeng_back Can’t read this? We can’t either. See text below.

Microsoft has taken particular notice of Virginia Tech computer scientist Wu Feng’s leadership in cutting-edge research that involves computing in the cloud.

The company is using the College of Engineering supercomputing expert’s collaborative ideas in one of its global advertising campaigns, describing Virginia Tech scientists and engineers as “leaders in harnessing supercomputer powers to deliver lifesaving treatments.”

Microsoft ran a full-page ad ran this past summer in the Washington Post, New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg Business Week, United Hemispheres, The Economist, Forbes, Fortune, TIME, Popular Mechanics, and Golf Digest, as well as a host of other venues in Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and Baltimore. In the winter of 2015, it plans to run a television ad throughout the U.S. and western Europe highlighting Feng’s work on computing the cure for cancer, using the cloud. Virginia Tech researchers Wu Feng and David Mittelman won the first worldwide research award from the NVIDIA Foundation, as part of its “Compute the Cure” program. The award is enabling them to develop a faster genome analysis platform that will make it easier for genomics researchers to identify mutations that are relevant to cancer.

For information on this original grant, click here.

The cloud that is helping cure cancer. Research that once took years now happens in hours. Using Microsoft Azure and HDInsight, scientists and engineers at Virginia Tech harness supercomputing power to analyze vast amounts of DNA sequencing information and help deliver lifesaving treatments. Now the next big breakthrough might not be found in a test tube, but in big data. This cloud makes data make a difference.  This is the Microsoft Cloud.

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Dr. Wenjing Lou named an IEEE Fellow

Dr. Lou
Dr. Lou

Dr. Wenjing Lou (http://people.cs.vt.edu/wjlou), professor of computer science, has been named an IEEE Fellow for contributions to information and network security.

The IEEE Fellow grade is conferred by the IEEE Board of Directors upon a person with an outstanding record of accomplishments in any of the IEEE fields of interest. The total number selected in any one year cannot exceed one-tenth of one- percent of the total voting membership. IEEE Fellow is the highest grade of membership and is recognized by the technical community as a prestigious honor and an important career achievement.

As a co-director of the Complex Networks and Security Research (CNSR) laboratory at Virginia Tech, Lou leads research on cybersecurity and wireless networks. She has an international reputation for high-quality, innovative, and impactful research. For her elevation to IEEE Fellow, she was cited for her work on information security and privacy in cloud computing as well as on wireless and network security.

Lou’s research has been supported by research grants from federal funding agencies and industry. In addition to a 2008 National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Award, she was PI on eight and co-PI on three NSF grants. She received four best paper awards, two of which are from ACM conferences. As of November 2014, her work has been cited more than 9,400 times per Google Scholar and her h-index is 47. Her outstanding performance in research has been recognized by multiple institutional awards, including a Virginia Tech College of Engineering Dean’s Faculty Fellow award in 2014.

Lou has held several leadership positions in the IEEE Communications Society. She was the lead founder of the IEEE Conference on Communication and Network Security, served as the conference’s technical program committee chair in 2013, and is currently the chair of the conference’s steering committee. Lou also serves on the editorial board of multiple prestigious journals, including IEEE Transactions on Mobile Computing, IEEE Transactions on Parallel and Distributed Systems, Journal of Computer Security, and IEEE Transactions on Wireless Communications. She chaired technical program committees of a number of conferences, workshops, and symposia.

Lou has graduated seven Ph.D. students, four of whom are currently tenured or tenure-track professors in research universities in the US. Three of them received the prestigious NSF CAREER award.

Since August 2014, Lou has been serving as a program director at NSF under the Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA) assignment. At NSF, her responsibilities include the Networking Technology and Systems (NeTS) program, a core program of the Computer and Network Systems (CNS) division within the Directorate for Computer & Information Science & Engineering (CISE), and the Secure and Trustworthy Cyberspace (SaTC) program, a cross-cutting program led by CISE/CNS.

Lou joined the Virginia Tech faculty in 2011 as a tenured associate professor and was promoted to full professor in 2014. Prior to Virginia Tech, she was a faculty at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, Massachusetts for eight years. She received a Ph.D. degree in electrical and computer engineering from the University of Florida in 2003.


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Programming Team advances to World Finals in Morocco

(pictured left to right, Eric Woods, IBM Representative (and VT grad); Miraziz Yusupov, Nick Sharp, Scott Pruett and Coach Dr. Godmar Back)

December 2, 2014 — The VT team has advanced to the 2015 ACM-ICPC World Finals to be held May 16 – May 21 in Marrakech, Morocco.

On Nov 1st, the Virginia Tech ACM Programming Team competed in the 2014 Regional ACM International Collegiate Programming Competition (ICPC).  Virginia Tech fielded eight teams of three students each, who competed among 188 teams from universities and colleges across the Mid-Atlantic region for a coveted spot at the ACM ICPC World Finals, which will be held in Marrakech, Morocco in May 2015.  The Mid-Atlantic region comprises universities and colleges in the states of Virginia, North Carolina, West Virginia, Delaware, Maryland, D.C., East Pennsylvania and South New Jersey.

The ACM ICPC contest fosters creativity, teamwork, and innovation in building new software programs, and enables students to test their ability to perform under pressure.  It is the oldest, largest, and most prestigious programming contest in the world.

All participating students were CS majors, ranging from sophomores who competed for the first time to seniors who participated for the 2nd or 3rd year.  Virginia Tech's top-scoring team, which consisted of CS students Nicholas Sharp, Scott Pruett, and Miraziz Yusupov, finished first at the Radford University site, and placed overall 3rd place. With this result, it is one of only 22 teams from North America to qualify for a spot at the World Finals.

Overall, our teams placed as follows:

#3  The Traveling Salesmen:

        Scott Pruett, Nick Sharp, Miraziz Yusupov

#11 Trie Hards:

        Brendan Avent, Tucker Noia, Saurav Sharma

#15 The Canonical Backtrackers:

        Hassan Almas, Andriy Katkov, Nathaniel Lahn

#16 The Breadth-First Searchers:

        Harrison Fang, Daniel Gil, Luke Wolff

#48 Ternary Search Party:

        Nate Craun, Michael Zamani, Loran Steinberger

Honorable mention:

The Multinomials:

    Larissa Perara, Aarathi Raghuraman, Monica Wei

Recursive Descendants:

    Carlos Folgar, Brannon Mason, Elliace Zargarpur

The Naive Backtrackers:

    Patrick Easter, Edward McEnrue, Reid Thomas

Our teams prepared in weekly practices and multiple 5-hour mock contests held on the weekends leading up to the regional contest.

The ACM Programming Team is open to all undergraduate students and to graduate students who have not completed more than 5 years of post-K12 education. See here for complete eligibility requirements.

Students interested in participating in the team should contact Team Coach Dr. Godmar Back (gback@vt.edu), or visit the team web page at https://icpc.cs.vt.edu/ 

All CS@VT teams pictured below:

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1st Virginia Tech High School Programming Contest

As part of our departmental outreach to the community, the ACM-ICPC Programming Team of the Virginia Tech, led by its coach Dr. Godmar Back, held the first Virginia Tech High School Programming Contest. The contest was held on Saturday, Dec 6, online.

24 teams from 7 high schools across the state competed for 5 hours to solve 10 challenging programming problems, posed in the style of the ACM-ICPC contest. The winning team from the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, TJHSST Freshmen, solved 9 out of 10 problems.


The top three teams were:

  1. Place: TJHSST Freshmen (Thomas Jefferson High School): Sujay Ratna, Shwetark Patel, William Li
  2. Place: Betaware 4 (Battlefield High School): Ethan Villagran, Ian Cabacungan, Nick Gill
  3. Place: CIT Team 1 (Deep Run High School): Roman Bohuk, Jake Smith, Seth Tenembaum

This contest was organized by Dr. Godmar Back (Contest Director and Head Judge), and volunteers from the Virginia Tech ACM ICPC Programming Team: Daniel Gil, Rupin Khera, Larissa Perara, Nick Sharp, Andriy Katkov, Harrison Fang. Problems were created by Dr. Back, Nick Sharp, Andriy Katkov, and Daniel Gil. Several high school teachers and parents functioned as on-site coaches.

For more information, including full final results and the problem set, see here.

Virginia Tech is planning to host this contest annually during the Fall semester. High School teachers and other interested parties who wish to be informed about future contests are invited to join the vthscontest Google group.

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CS@VT Diversity News


Dr. Barbara G. Ryder
J. Byron Maupin Professor of Engineering
Head – Department of Computer Science – Virginia Tech
Follow CS@VT on Facebook

I think it’s time for me to report about the push we have been making with regard to increasing the gender diversity of CS@VT. We have focused on increasing the percentage of women students as our initial goal.  To accomplish this we have joined with the National Council on Women in IT (NCWIT), which runs many programs to recruit and retain women in computing. There are three NCWIT activities in which we participate: Pacesetters, VA/DC Aspirations in Computing Awards and the NSF Engage project.

Pacesetters is envisioned as an academia/industry partnership to increase the number of net new women in computing studies and jobs. Our activities in Pacesetters have included encouraging students to take CS minors, taking CS@VT students to high schools to encourage girls to think about majoring in computing, presenting programs in COE summer programs/workshops to attract students to computing as a career, etc. After participating in Pacesetters since 2009, we have good news to report. Our CS major cohort is ~14% female, more than double the percentage in 2009! Moreover, as of 11/6/2014 we had 183 CS minors of whom 48 (26%) were female, a third more females than spring 2014! Our Association for Women in Computing (AWC) student organization continues to annually host local middle school girls for a fun day of computing activities at CS@VT. In spring 2014, the AWC attracted ~75 students from local middle schools.  At the AWC core are 30 active members, with a few hundred on the listserv who participate occasionally in events.

We (I and Libby Bradford) are chairing the VA/DC Aspirations in Computing Awards for the 2nd time since it was started in 2012. Our goal is to work with NCWIT to identify and recognize female students who are strongly interested in computing and to support that interest through recognition of their achievements, leadership and drive. Students who win these national or regional awards and study CS at Virginia Tech are awarded a modest scholarship annually as long as they remain in good academic standing. VT is the ONLY college/university in Virginia with an Aspirations scholarship program. We have several Aspirations winners at VT, with 3 currently in the CS major and 2 more intending to transfer into CS during 2015. There also are 3 entering freshmen Aspirations winners this year – 1 in business and 2 in engineering, hopefully planning on declaring the CS major. Note that our first Aspirations award winner is graduating in 2015 and already has a position at Microsoft in Redmond. We are thrilled to have these talented female CS students in our department.

The NSF Engage project is an effort to recruit and retain women into the CS or CE major in the College of Engineering, involving both departments and the CEED Center in the College. We hold many joint activities with female students from the CS and ECE departments, encouraging them to network and work together, building a critical mass for our female cohort.

The department also sponsors student attendees to both the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing and to the Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing. We are academic Gold Sponsors of both these events. Our sponsorship gives us access to underrepresented minorities and women attendees who are looking for faculty positions — an asset to our faculty search committees and in diversifying our faculty, another departmental goal.   This year, we supported 12 female students to attend the Grace Hopper Celebration and 16 to attend a regional Grace Hopper Celebration in Richmond, VA.  We also supported 6 students (4 females) to attend the Tapia Celebration.

Another interesting statistic concerns CS@VT faculty involvement in diversity efforts throughout the year. The department Diversity Committee prepared a list of varied commitment activities for faculty to choose from; participation is be reported as service to the department, part of expected annual service. One activity might be working in the summer with an undergraduate student from an underrepresented group in computing; another might be attending a lunch with incoming COE freshman to talk to them about computer science or to do a 1 hour hands-on CS project to a COE CEED high school girls’ camp in the summer. I have been keeping track of the percentage of faculty participating in such diversity activities, and I am happy to report that ~75% of the faculty participated in such activities last year.

You may also be interested that we have exceeded the annual CRA Taulbee report means for the percentage of female Ph.D. graduates for 3 of the past 4 academic years!

Clearly, we have more work to do on diversity, but as a faculty, we have taken significant steps and should take pride in this accomplishment of building a more diverse CS student body.

Barbara Ryder, Dec 5, 2014

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