Summer text analysis research jobs, on-campus

Hiring Students for Summer Text Mining Project

A new, interdisciplinary research project offers a total of five positions to graduate or undergraduate students from multiple disciplines who exhibit the right combination of initiative, skills and reliability. The project investigates undergraduate teaching at UMBC, and is led by the combined expertise of the Shriver Center, Interdisciplinary Studies Program and the Honors College. The students will work as an integrated, interdisciplinary team, and may expect to expand their own knowledge, skills and experience as a result. UMBC graduate students and exceptionally qualified undergraduate students will be considered.

A group of Academic and Student Affairs Division faculty and staff are working to better track, assess, strengthen and increase, and recognize and reward applied learning experiences across the UMBC Campus. In FY15, this group’s work has focused on creating a plan for assessing the impact of applied learning experiences (broadly defined) on students’ affective development.

Each position offers partial summer support funded by a Hrabowski Fund for Innovation: Implementation and Research grant.

80 hours (may span across 4-8 weeks depending on availability-no more than 20 hrs/week)

Stipend of $1150

The five graduate students we seek will have a background in the following skills/disciplines: Information Systems; Computer Science; Human Centered Computing; Instructional Systems Design; Applied Mathematics; Statistics; Human Services Psychology; Applied Sociology; Education; Language, Literacy & Culture; and Public Policy.

The project aims to continue for a minimum of three years, expanding subject to further successful funding. Students who perform well may be invited to extend their role.

One goal is to explore, through written student feedback, how diverse courses have contributed to their perception of growth in key attributes.  This first summer of the project will look at pilot data, exploratory analysis of scrappy, inconsistent, self-reported text, in order to figure out how to collect better, more uniform data in the Fall semester. One of the skill sets we wish for in the team would be a computer scientist able to mine text to seek the suggestion of themes, patterns or clues to what we would need to ask to get such patterns more clearly in the future.

All interested candidates should send a letter of interest, resume with references, and a statement with general summer weekly availability (e.g., Monday, Wednesdays & Fridays from 9am – 2pm) to Michele Wolff at by Wednesday, June 24.  Exceptionally qualified undergraduate students will also be considered.

Robotic assistive devices for independent living

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CSEE PhD student Kavita Krishnaswamy and Prof. Tim Oates write about their research using brain-computer interfaces and speech recognition tools to control robotic to assist individuals with reduced muscular strength. The piece, Robotic assistive devices for independent living, appeard in Robohub, "a non-profit online communication platform that brings together experts in robotics research, start-ups, business, and education from across the globe."

They describe their motivation as follows.

"One of the most craved aspects of the human experience is to be independent: the abilitiy to take care of one's self establishes a sense of dignity, inherent freedom, and profound independence. Our goal is to bring robotic assistive devices into the real world where they can support individuals with severe disabilities and alleviate the workload of caregivers, with the ultimate vision of helping people with severe physical disabilities to achieve physical independence without relying on others. As robotic assistive devices become ubiquitous, they will enable people with severe physical disabilities to confidently use technology in their daily lives, not just to survive, but to flourish."

They demonstrated the feasibility of integrating a brain-computer interface with speech recognition for self-directed arm repositioning tasks through a robotic interface for repositioning the simulated arm of an avatar using a Emotiv Epoc headset and Dragon NaturallySpeaking voice recognition software.

Innovations in Cybersecurity Education Workshop, UMBC, Fri 6/12
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Innovations in Cybersecurity Education Workshop

University of Maryland, Baltimore County
BWtech South Campus
9:30 – 4:30 Friday, 12 June 2015

Innovations in Cybersecurity Education is a free regional workshop on cybersecurity education from high school through post-graduate. It is intended primarily for educators who are teaching cybersecurity at high schools, colleges, and community colleges. Anyone is welcome to attend, including teachers, students, administrators, researchers, and government officials. It will highlight master teachers and ongoing educational projects, including an effort at the US Naval Academy to teach cybersecurity to all midshipmen. The workshop will include discussions about cyber competitions, hands-on exercises, educational games, and integrating cybersecurity throughout the curriculum. There will be an opportunity to experience hands-on cyber defense exercises and to play new computer security education games, including SecurityEmpire developed at UMBC.

The workshop is free and open to the public — all are welcome to attend. This workshop will to be of interest to educators, school administrators, undergraduate and graduate students, and government officials. Lunch will be provided. Parking is free.

Please see the links above for the schedule and location and register to help us plan for the number of participants.

The workshop is organized by Dr. Alan T. Sherman with support provided in part by the National Science Foundation under SFS grant 1241576.

PhD proposal: Real-time Spectral Rendering of Atmospheric Optical Phenomena, 2pm 6/10

Ph.D. Dissertation Proposal

Real-time Spectral Rendering of Atmospheric Optical Phenomena

Ari Blenkhorn

2:00pm Wednesday, 10 June 2015, ITE 352

Glories, rainbows, and coronas are colorful atmospheric effects which occur when sunlight interacts with cloud droplets. Adding these effects to digital cloud environments will provide increased realism and a greater sense of immersion. Furthermore, these phenomena are the subject of active scientific research.  In both communities, high-resolution real-time rendering is desirable.

The color distribution of these phenomena is typically calculated using the Mie scattering theory, Debye series, or Airy theory. The calculations give the intensity of a single wavelength of light at a single scattering angle. They must be repeated for all desired wavelengths at all desired pixels of the final image.

I propose accelerating the calculations by using general-purpose GPU computing to transform a single-threaded, CPU-based Mie scattering application into a collection of highly-parallel GPU calculations.  I also propose to reduce the number of wavelengths required by using importance sampling, a monte-carlo selection method which concentrates the computing resources on the wavelengths belonging to the most important regions of the visible spectrum.

Planned work includes development of both numerical and perceptually-based image quality metrics, of interest to optical physicists and interactive application developers, respectively. These metrics will guide development of the GPU kernel parallel structure and the selection of a suitable estimator for importance sampling.

Committee: Drs. Marc Olano, Penny Rheingans, Curtis Menyuk, Matthias Gobbert (Mathematics), Raymond Lee (USNA)

UMBC cybersecurity graduate programs online info session, 6pm Tue June 16

The UMBC Cybersecurity Graduate Program will hold a virtual information session at 6:00pm on June 16. Participate to learn about the  program options and find out how a master’s degree or graduate certificate can help you advance in the cybersecurity industry. During the online information session, graduate program director Richard Forno will discuss courses, credit requirements and prerequisites, and admissions processes.

The session will cover cybersecurity programs at both UMBC's Main Campus and UMBC-Shady Grove in Rockville, MD. It will provide an overview of our innovative curriculum, practice-oriented instruction and flexible class schedules, which are designed for working professionals.  You will also learn about admissions, curriculum, class format and the cybersecurity career outlook.

If you would like to participate in the information session, please RSVP online.

NSF site features CSEE Ph.D. student Kavita Krishnaswamy

UMBC CSEE Ph.D. student Kavita Krishnaswamy was featured in an NSF article Balancing life, health and research.

Balancing life, health and research, graduate student perseveres to increase access for persons with severe disabilities.

Kavita Krishnaswamy's doctoral dissertation defense at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), was fairly typical. Dissertation committee, doctoral candidate, explanatory slides, questions from the committee.

When it was over and time to deliberate, Tim Oates, Kavita's advisor, asked her to leave the room. Because Kavita delivered her presentation via a Beam Smart Presence System (BeamPro), she powered down the computer screen beaming her into the meeting.

This was business as usual for the computer science student whose research involves developing robotic prototypes to transfer, reposition and perform personal hygiene tasks for those with severe disabilities. She is also studying how to improve control over robotic interfaces for these individuals. Her tool kit includes elements of machine learning, artificial intelligence, brain-computer interfaces and other communication technologies.

You can read the rest on the NSF Discovery site.

CSEE research group demonstrates smart fabric for gesture recognition

inviz demonstration

CSEE Ph.D. student Alexander Nelson and faculty Ryan Robucci and Nilanjan Banerjee participated in the monthly TechBreakfast MeetUp where they demonstrated the research on developing 'invisible' sensing systems that can be embedded into fabrics.

Their Inviz system, developed in the UMBC Eclipse cluster of laboratories,  uses textile-based capacitive sensor arrays and micro-doppler radars embedded into bed sheets, pillows, wheelchair pads, and clothing, for environmental control and physical therapy for such paralysis patients. The sensors detect gestures regardless of evolving environmental and patient conditions and provides explicit real-time feedback to the user. Using low-cost and ultra-low power capacitive sensing and micro-radars built into headgear, the Inviz system can reduce hospital visits and therapy costs.

You can read more about the work in a paper that was awarded the best demonstration runner-up prize at the 2015 conference on Pervasive Computing and Communications (PerCom).

Gurashish Singh, Alexander Nelson, Ryan Robucci, Chintan Patel and Nilanjan Banerjee, Inviz: Low-power Personalized Gesture Recognition Using Wearable Textile Capacitive Sensor Arrays, Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Pervasive Computing and Communications, IEEE, March 2015.

The Baltimore TechBreakfast is a free monthly demo-style event where entrepreneurs, techies, developers, designers, business people, and interested people see showcases on cool new technology and interact with each other. "Show and Tell for Adults" is how it's sometimes described. Each TechBreakfast begins at 8:00am and goes until 10:00am, although people usually hang around later.

IEEE Intelligence Security Informatics Conference, 27-29 May 2015, Baltimore

The 13th IEEE Intelligence Security Informatics Conference will be held May 27-29 at the Royal Sonesta Harbor Court Hotel in Baltimore's inner harbor.  The conference covers research spanning information technologies, computer science, public policy, bioinformatics, and social and behavior studies. It will bring together researchers and practitioners from academia, industry and government agencies.

The program includes 45 technical paper presentations, a poster session, a panel on security and privacy on the Internet of Things, social events, several invited talks and five keynotes by distinguished speakers:

  • Mark E. Segal, Chief of Computer and Information Sciences Research in the National Security Agency Research Directorate
  • Jeremy Epstein, lead program officer for the National Science Foundation’s Secure and Trustworthy Cyberspace (SaTC) program
  • Jay F. Nunamaker, Regents and Soldwedel Professor of MIS, Computer Science and Communication, University of Arizona
  • Donna Dodson, Deputy Cyber Security Advisor at National Institute of Standards and Technology
  • Alan Sherman, Professor of Computer Science and Director of the UMBC Center for Information Security and Assurance

The full program description is available here.

For more information and to register, see http://2015.ieee-isi.org or contact

CyberDawgs take first place at Kaizen Capture the Flag event

Earlier this week, UMBC CyberDawg Christopher Gardner 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 competitiors 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!

Interested in joining the CyberDawgs? Contact Julio Valcarcel () for more information — they’re always looking for new members heading into the 2015-2016 season!

Rick Forno comments on CareFirst data breach

In today's Baltimore Sun, CSEE's Rick Forno offers some early thoughts on yesterday's announced data breach at CareFirst, which affects 1.1 million insurance customers.

According to company officials, attackers gained access to names, birth dates, email addresses and insurance identification numbers. However, the database did not include Social Security or credit card numbers, passwords or medical information.

The information also could be sold on what is known as the dark web, parts of the Internet that cannot be found by search engines, and combined with other data, said Richard Forno, director of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County's graduate cybersecurity program.

"The information they got may or may not be useful directly, but it could help a bad guy get more clues about a person's identity," he said. "That could be useful to an adversary."

In many cases, data breaches can be larger than originally apparent, Forno added.

"As time goes on and the investigation continues, you never know if you'll find other leads that may change your initial assumptions," he said.