Mai El-Shehaly wins interdisciplinary research competition

Mai El-Shehaly placed first in a university-wide interdisciplinary research competition.  Her poster was titled Real-tme Procesisng and Visualization of Multi-volume Time-variant Datasets.  Mai said, “The presented research focused on developing visualization and interaction techniques aimed at addressing some of the challenges that experts are faced with when analyzing the spatio-temporal behavior of physical phenomena given a number of datasets obtained from different sources.  The goal was to allow the user to construct a mental model representing the phenomena in question to increase their understanding of the spatiotemporal behavior of features of interest and verify the constructed model by real world measurements.”  To read more about the Interdisciplinary Research Honor Society at VT visit  Dr. Denis Gracanin is Mai’s faculty advisor.


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CS@VT student Cory Bart wins at the ACM SIGCSE Student Research Competition

Cory Bart,CS Ph.D.,student, recently won 3rd place at the ACM SIGCSE Student Research Competition in early March 2015.  His project was entitled “Situating Computational Thinking with BigData Pedagogy and Technology”.  Cory’s co-advisors are Cliff Shaffer and Eli Tilevich.

When asked about his work, Cory said, “As Computational Thinking becomes pervasive in undergraduate programs, new students must be educated in meaningful, authentic contexts that they find both motivating and relatable.  I propose working with big data as a novel context for introductory programming, authentic given its importance in diverse fields such as agriculture, history, and more.  Big data is considered difficult to use because of its inherent technical obstacles.  To overcome these difficulties, I introduce a new project: CORGIS – a “Collection of Real-time, Giant, Interesting, Situated Datasets”.  The CORGIS project comprises a collection of libraries that provide an interface to big data for students, architectures for rapidly enabling new datasets, and a web-based textbook platform for disseminating relevant course materials.  This textbook features an online block-based programming environment, real-time collaborative text editing, and continuous server-side storage.  In this poster, I describe the educational theory guiding this work, the novel technology created and deployed, and the initial, promising results.”


Congratulations Cory!

Austin Cory Bart

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Mohammed Seyam named 2015-16 Board of Visitors student representative

The university announced the selection of the undergraduate and graduate student representatives to the Board of Visitors.  Mohammed Seyam, a doctoral student in computer science, is appointed to serve a one year term as the graduate student representative.  The Board of Visitors is the governing body of the university.  Seyam is an active student leader and ambassador.  Read more here.



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VT team wins Caring the Caregive Hackathon

A team of six undergraduate and graduate students won, the Caring for the Caregiver Hackathon sponsored by the Lindsay Institute for Innovations in Caregiving. Three members of the team and the faculty advisor came from the Department of Computer Science.  The winning design, called CareFood, helps caregivers develop ideas and plans about what to eat, given the burdens of caretaking and the many restrictions on food that people with Alzheimer’s disease may face due to their medication regimes.  It relies on location-based crowdsourcing for recommendations.

CS team members Maoyuan Sun, Peng Mi, and Junyang Chen stayed up throughout the night to create a working prototype of the front end.  Dr. Deborah Tatar, CS faculty, coached the team. Yujun Liu, from human development, represented the gerontology knowledge and assembled the team.  Yong Sue from the Pamplin School developed the required approach to business, and Ross Ritsch, a freshman in International Studies, provided a fresh voice and served as a spokesman during the project presentation.  Mary-Margaret Fosmark, a caregiver provided by the sponsors, advised the team about caregiver needs.


Tarter photo 03.31.15

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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


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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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 (, or visit the team web page at 

All CS@VT teams pictured below:

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Frisina’s Work Featured on NPR

Department of Computer Science Graduate student Chris Frisina’s work on The Sound of Fractions ( ) was featured on NPR on October 2, 2014. The Sound of Fractions is a project to help middle school students learn Math concepts. The project was presented at the Virginia Science Festival. For the NPR piece, please visit Chris Frisina’s advisor is CS professor, Dr. Deborah Tatar (


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Dr. Lavender & Dr. Pyla Honored at COE Academic of Engineering Excellence Awards

Lavender_Benson_Ryder Dr. Pardha Pyla, Department of Computer Science Ph.D. graduate (2007), was recognized with the Virginia Tech’s College of Engineering pyla award shotOutstanding Young Alumnus Award for 2014. Dr. Pyla is currently working at Bloomberg, “the leading informatics company in the world”, where he is the team leader of the senior interaction design group.

Dr. Greg Lavender, Department of Computer Science Ph.D. graduate (1993), was inducted into the Virginia Tech College of Engineering Academy of Engineering Excellence in spring 2014. He is one of an elite group of 126 individuals that have been inducted as a recognition for their contributions to engineering throughout their career.

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Balaji Subramaniam, Select Member of U.S. Delegation for the Second Heidelberg Laureate Forum

Balaji Subramaniam, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Computer Science at Virginia Tech, attended the Heidelberg Laureate Forum (HLF) ​as a representative of the United States in a 20-person delegation of students and postdoctoral researchers. The forum took place September 21-26 in Heidelberg, Germany. The U.S. delegation was sponsored by Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU) and the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Every year, HLF brings together 100 (undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral) researchers from mathematics and computer science who have won the Fields Medal, Turing Award, Abel Prize, or Nevanlinna Prize. It serves as an ideal platform for young researchers to interact with established scientists in their field.

Balaji conducts research in the area of high-performance and distributed computing systems with an emphasis on energy efficiency. His current research interests include the modeling and prediction of performance under a power budget, hardware- and software-controlled power management, and benchmarking.​ Balaji is a member of the Synergy lab and advised by Wu-chun Feng.

The Heidelberg Laureate Forum is the result of a joint initiative of the Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies and the Klaus Tschira Stiftung. Visit the Heidelberg Laureate Forum website for more information.

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