Dr. Olano discusses the Maryland Gaming Industry with the Baltimore Sun


civ beyond earth

CSEE’S Dr. Marc Olano, Director of the Computer Science Game Development Track and Co-director of the VANGOGH Lab, talked with the Baltimore Sun’s Scott Dance about fluctuations in the local video game industry.

In recent years, the local gaming industry has been subject to major upheavals, resulting in the closure of several well-known gaming companies. Fortunately, the local gaming industry finally seems to be on the uptick, with announcements of new titles from two studios. Firaxis released “Civilization: Beyond Earth” on October 24th, and the newly resurrected Big Huge Games will be launching “DomiNations” in 2015. These announcements signal a rebirth of sorts for the Maryland gaming industry.

The Baltimore Sun article can be found here.

UMBC researcher spotlighted in celebration of National Chemistry Week

October 19-25th is National Chemistry Week (NCW). The theme for this year is “The Sweet Side of Chemistry: Candy.”

In conjunction with this week-long celebration of chemistry, each day the National Science Foundation has been highlighting a different “sweet molecule” in a stop-motion video post. These posts also give mention to the lead scientist(s) working on any relevant NSF research projects.

The video post about glucose mentions CSEE professor and NSF-funded engineer Gymama Slaughter, who has created a new type of sensor that is entirely powered by glucose. This wireless, implantable sensor can be used to monitor the blood sugar level in medical patients. A short video about the glucose sugar molecule can be found below.

You can find out more about National Chemistry Week here.

Computer Engineering researchers develop system to detect dangerous driving behaviours

CSEE Professor Chintan Patel and computer engineering student Gurashish Singh recently demonstrated a prototype system that can detect distracted driving behavior at the ATPA expo, the largest gathering of industries involved with transportation. Their novel wearable proximity sensor-based system alerts drivers who show signs of falling asleep, being distracted or driving dangerously.

The project is a collaboration between Professors Ryan Robucci, Chintan Patel and Nilanjan Banerjee. The system was built by graduate students Gurashish Singh and Tsu An Chen. This short video shows some of the dangerous behaviors being detected.

CYBR students present @ NCCoE Open House


UMBC CYBR MPS students Zack Rich and Jeff Scheier (pictured) are interns at the NIST National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence (NCCoE) in Rockville, MD.

On October 15, 2014, they presented NCCoE use case projects to leading cybersecurity experts from both the private and public domains at the NCCoE’s fall Open House on education and workforce development.

Zack’s project aims to simplify the risk analysis and standards mapping for the health IT sector to create a bridge between security technologies and government standards recommendations. Jeff’s project focuses on providing a foundation for e-commerce businesses to implement easy and low cost network security systems.

Both students are enrolled in UMBC’s graduate cybersecurity program at the Universities at Shady Grove campus. CSEE lecturer and Assistant CYBR GPD Ben Shariati (also pictured) is the academic advisor for students in the NCCoE internship program.

UMBC partners on national cybersecurity research center

UMBC will play an exciting role in strengthening our nation’s cybersecurity infrastructure through a new Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC) announced this week. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) awarded a contract to operate the center to the MITRE Corporation, which will partner with the University System of Maryland (USM) to carry out the center’s goals. UMBC and the University of Maryland, College Park are collaborators with MITRE and Anupam Joshi, director of the UMBC Center for Cybersecurity, will serve in a leadership role for UMBC.

The government sponsors fewer than 50 FFRDCs across the country, and all are designed to tackle complex, long-term problems of significant national interest. According to NIST, this is the first center that is “solely dedicated to enhancing the security of the nation’s information systems.” The contract to operate the FFRDC has a maximum amount of $5 billion over 25 years.

“Securing our cyber infrastructure requires government, industry, and higher education to work closely together, and this center makes that powerful collaboration possible,” says UMBC President Freeman Hrabowski. “Further, it solidifies Maryland’s role as the hub of cybersecurity in our nation.”

Maryland hosts a large number of federal agencies and companies on the cutting edge of cybersecurity, and the USM is nationally recognized for its research and education programs in the field. This vital combination means that the State of Maryland is uniquely positioned to successfully nurture this research and development center.

U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski congratulated the USM and MITRE on this opportunity, saying, “This new center unites the knowledge of the government with the know-how of the private sector to develop cyber technology solutions needed to protect dot-com entities and make our cyber infrastructure more resilient.”

UMBC’s Anupam Joshi says, “While national security interests are usually central to the security conversation, this center will also work to meet the cybersecurity needs of individuals and businesses in a variety of sectors, such as healthcare and energy. Individuals and small and medium-size businesses constitute a major part of the nation’s cyberinfrastructure, but can lack the resources and technical expertise to respond effectively to cyber threats.”

This new FFRDC will support the National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence (NCCoE), which NIST, the state of Maryland, and Montgomery County, Md., established in 2012 to help businesses secure their data and digital infrastructure by bringing together information security experts from industry, government, and academia. It will further the NCCoE’s goal to foster public-private collaborations to identify and solve today’s most pressing cybersecurity challenges.

“This new FFRDC supporting NIST’s NCCoE will be a major addition to Maryland’s existing strengths in cybersecurity,” says Karl Steiner, Vice President for Research at UMBC. “I am delighted about this new strategic collaboration with our colleagues at College Park and at MITRE, and about the opportunities to further expand and apply our scientific capabilities in an area of such critical importance.”

To learn more about this new collaboration, see the announcement from NIST and the joint announcement from MITRE and the USM.

hackUMBC ’14 concludes

Last weekend, over 170 college and high school students converged upon UMBC for the second hackUMBC hackathon. This free event, spanning 24 continuous hours, brought students together to create, make, or otherwise “hack” together new technology projects, either individually or as a team. As with many hackathons, there was no limit to the type of technology students could work on — hackUMBC 2014 projects ranged from developing mobile apps and assistive/wearable technologies to applied virtual reality representations of cyberspace, a ‘smart’ autonomous tank, and reverse-engineering (and then porting to Linux) the Myo command protocol. The sky was the limit in terms of ideas and skill levels — indeed, many attendees were first-time “hackers” looking to learn programming or engineering concepts in an inclusive and fun environment.

Following opening ceremonies and brief remarks by the sponsors and UMBC President Freeman Hrabowski, participants took over the second floor ITE classrooms Saturday-into-Sunday before moving into the UC Ballroom to showcase their products before a panel of judges. Prizes were awarded for the most innovative, polished, complex, and useful ideas/technologies.

hackUMBC 2014 was well-supported by corporate sponsors, including Raytheon, Microsoft, Northrop Grumman, MITRE, and ClearEdge Solutions, among others. Campus partners included the Alex Brown Center for Enterpreneurship and the Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering. Additional support, participant encouragement, and round-the-clock motivational energy was provided by Mike Swift, chairman of Major League Hacking.

hackUMBC was organized and run by Michael Bishoff (Junior, CMPE), Randi Williams (Junior, CMPE), and Minhaz Mahmud (Senior, CMSC). CSEE’s Dr. Rick Forno serves as faculty advisor.

Special thanks to the UMBC volunteer judges Dr. Charles Nicholas, Shawn Lupoli, Geoff Weiss, and the many student volunteers who assisted in making the event a success.

Opening Ceremonies…

UMBC’s Sekar Kulandaivel (Junior, CMPE) talks about his summer internship at Northrop Grumman and what his team was able to “hack” together for the company…

UMBC President Hrabowski…

Hard at work through the day, night, and following morning…

Many attendees came prepared…

Showcase & Judging on Sunday …

For more information on hackUMBC visit the club’s website or contact the club at

(photos by MLH and/or Rick Forno)

CYBR students participate in cybersecurity wargame

On September 18, students from UMBC’s Graduate Cybersecurity Program joined others from Penn State, Penn State Harrisburg, and the Dickinson College of Law at the U.S. Army War College’s Center for Strategic Leadership and Development to participate in a scripted wargame considering the strategic aspects of cybersecurity during the 2014 Intelligence Community Center of Academic Excellence Symposium.

Students were provided the opportunity to be decision makers in one of six entitites ranging from DHS, DoD, and DoJ to state government and private sector organizations. The morning scenario required students to ascertain the roles and responsibilities of “their” agencies/organizations, their capabilities and liabilities, and decide who they should collaborate with to ensure that appropriate actions were taken and actionable information was conveyed appropriately. During the afternoon session, students considered whether acts of war were committed, decided what the appropriate steps were to counter those acts, and which agencies should be in the lead. The day concluded with a plenary session where each student group discussed their approach to the real-world scenario faced that day.

UMBC graduate cybersecurity students taking part in the event include Mark Lewis, Charles Swassing, Rina Chios, Chris Day, Sara Purdum, Michael Sterrett, Kristian Behel, and Joe Kirik (not pictured).


UMBC’s involvement was coordinated by CYBR faculty member Bill Waddell, who is the Director, Mission Command and Cyberspace Division and General George S. Patton Chair of Operations Research and Analysis Center for Strategic Leadership and Development at the US Army War College.

Baltimore Code Craftmanship MeetUp, 6:30pm Thr 9/18, Betamore


The Baltimore Code Craftsmanship meetup group will hold its monthly meeting at 6:30pm on Thursday, September 18 at Betamore (1111 Light St.) in Baltimore (map). The meetup is for the students and software developers in the Baltimore area that care about the quality of their work and want to practice and improve their programming skills, share what they know and learn new things from others.

The meetup is a hands on coding user group with no presentations. Each meeting will be a dojo where we will go through a challenging software craftsmanship exercise that focuses on clean code, test-driven development, design patterns, and refactoring. We will pair up and practice on a kata in order to learn and apply the values, principles, and disciplines of software craftsmanship. It’s also a great way to meet others in Baltimore’s computing community to network and find out about internships and jobs.

The September meeting will go through the next Test-Driven Development (TDD) exercise focusing on solutions using pair programming, test-driven development, clean code and refactoring.

Come with your laptop equipped with your favorite programming and unit testing environment. Be prepared to pair up, code, learn, share and have fun!

Join the meetup and register to attend .

CSEE Alum Stephan Sherman unveils new multiplayer game for iPhone 6



UMBC Alumnus and Meyerhof Scholar Stephan Sherman (BS ’00, M8) spoke at Apple’s new product event  on Tuesday and described his company’s VainGlory game, which will run on the new iPhones using under iOS 8, taking advantage of Metal graphics API, larger screen and faster processors on the iPhone 6.



Stephan is Co-founder and CCO (Chief Creative Officer) of Super Evil Megacorp, a game development company headquartered in San Mateo, California.

While at UMBC, Stephen put together an independent study program combining Computer Science, Computer Engineering and Digital Animation. After graduating in 2000, he went on to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he received a MS degree in computer science in 2002. He worked at a number of computer game companies as a programmer, lead programmer and senior engineer and co-founded Super Evil Megacorp in 2010.

NSA grant supports cyber-challenge prizes

CSEE’s Dr. Rick Forno, Cybersecurity GPD and Assistant Director of UMBC’s Center for Cybersecurity, has received an $84K grant from the National Security Agency (NSA) to fund the prizes for student winners at the 2014 Maryland Cyber Challenge finals that will take place at the CyberMaryland 2014 conference in Baltimore on 29 and 30 October.

The Maryland Cyber Challenge aims to build excitement around pursuing education and careers in the cybersecurity field by bringing together teams of students and cyber practitioners to compete in a series of ever-more-complex cybersecurity challenges. To date, approximately 700 competitors across 115 teams have participated in the past three annual competitions. With the generous support of NSA, UMBC has provided more than $252,000 in monetary prizes to highly skilled and talented computer science students during the competition.

First place team members each will receive $5K and runners-up receive $2K each to contribute toward their higher education and training in the cybersecurity and computer science fields. Identical prizes are awarded both in the high school and college divisions.

The 2014 Challenge begins with the first scored qualification round taking place over 13-15 September.

Dr. Forno and UMBC are co-founders of the Maryland Cyber Challenge, which is a partnership with Leidos and the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development (DBED).