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.

CSEE Faculty Mentioned in Article about Catonsville HS Cyber Club

catonsville hs cyber club

CSEE Faculty members Rick Forno and Marie desJardins were mentioned in a recent Baltimore Sun article, in which the Catonsville High School Cyber Club is interviewed as they prepare for the final round of the Maryland Cyber Challenge.

The Maryland Cyber Challenge & Competition, designed by Dr. Rick Forno, was created to encourage more high school students to consider STEM careers. This statewide cyber security competition consists of three competitive divisions: high school, college age, and professional. During the final round of the challenge, which takes place October 29th-30th, teams compete to solve increasingly complex tasks.

The popularity of the Maryland Cyber Challenge, and the recent proliferation of high school cyber clubs both tie into the state of Maryland’s plan to “put more of an emphasis on computer science education.” Professor Marie desJardins and Catonsville High School teacher Christina Morris are both part of CS Matters in Maryland, an NSF-funded project that seeks to “increase the expertise of high school computer science teachers in Maryland.”

The Baltimore Sun article and video can be found 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.

Meet the Staff: Olivia Wolfe and Yemisi Aina


oliviaName: Olivia Wolfe
Educational Background: Bachelor’s and Master’s degree (Counseling and Personnel Services) from University of Maryland, College Park
Hometown: Albuquerque, New Mexico
Current role: As Coordinator of Academic Affairs, Olivia oversees academic services staff of the department, oversees course scheduling for the department, coordinates adjunct instructor and TA/RA hiring, addresses undergraduate and graduate student concerns, assists with special events in the college, coordinates administration of the Promotion and Tenure process, coordinates prospective faculty interviews, and room scheduling.

Olivia is originally from Albuquerque, New Mexico. She joined UMBC’s CSEE Department in January of 2014. Prior to her arrival at UMBC, Olivia worked as the Undergraduate Student Services Coordinator in the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland, College Park. When not working, Olivia volunteers with a fire department, a missing persons search and rescue group, and a large breed dog rescue. She also enjoys photography, reading, and spending time outdoors.


Name: Yemisi Aina
Educational Background: Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from UMBC.
Current role: As a program management specialist for the undergraduate division of CSEE, Yemisi serves as the primary scheduling coordinator for the department. She also acts as a content editor for the department website, and provides administrative support to faculty, staff and students.

UMBC researchers developing textile-based sensors to control devices

CSEE professor Nilanjan Banerjee was interviewed at the Microsoft Faculty Summit on UMBC research that is developing sensors that can be sewn into textiles such as clothing or bedding and used control devices though gestures. Professor Banerjee is working with colleagues Ryan Robucci, Chintan Patel and Sandy McCombe-Waller (UMB) and students to prototype the hardware sensors and software components that can be part of an Internet of Things environment.

With support from Microsoft, their experimental systems are using Microsoft’s Lab of Things platform for research on connected devices in homes and other spaces. One of the use cases driving the research is helping people with limited mobility lead more independent lives by enabling them to control the environment. Buz Chmielewski, who became a quadriplegic after a surfing accident, is helping the team test and refine the system and its usability.

Marie desJardins discusses CS education on the Kojo Nnamdi show, Noon Tue June 17


UMBC CSEE Professor Marie desJardins will be a guest on WAMU’s Kojo Nnamdi show from 12:00 to 1:00pm tomorrow, Tuesday, June 17, 2014. She will be one of three experts discussing Coding and the Computer Science Conundrum with Kojo and callers. Listen live over the air on WAMU (88.5 mhz) or online.  After she broadcast, you can hear it on the segment’s page or download it from their podcast archives.

The program’s description is:

“For years following the dot-com bust, computer science enrollment plunged steadily, prompting hand wringing over America’s competitiveness in technology and innovation. But a nationwide push to bring coding to classrooms, plus rapid innovation in apps and communications, has prompted a 13.4% jump in computer science majors in the 2012-13 academic year alone. But retaining those budding programmers — especially females and minorities — remains a significant challenge. Kojo explores local and national efforts to boost computer science competency, and learns how educators are revamping computational learning to give it relevance far beyond the classroom.”

The expert guests are:

Listeners can ask questions or make comments during the show via Twitter (@kojoshow) or phone (800-433-8850).

Jane Gethmann receives outstanding non-exempt staff award

CSEE’s Jane Gethmann, Assistant to the Chair, received UMBC’s inaugural Karen L. Wensch Endowment Award for Outstanding Non-Exempt Staff earlier this month. She has played a leadership role in our Department since she joined it in 1997 and has been a key staff member for the thousands of faculty, staff and students who have been part of our department in the past 17 years.

The following is the citation for her well deserved award.

Jane Gethmann first came to UMBC in 1971, and over the years has worked in Financial Aid, the Department of Biological Sciences, and the Graduate School. She joined the Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering in 1997, and is known as the glue that holds the department together, going above and beyond her responsibilities.

In addition to assisting the chair and handling administrative and financial duties, Gethmann also takes the lead when additional resources are needed or when she sees a way to increase efficiency in the department. She has served as facilities manager and scheduling coordinator, managed the Computer Science Help Center, coordinated part-time faculty hiring, and created a graduate admissions database. She also managed the installation of a new teaching laboratory, working with faculty and Facilities Management in order to get it up and running by the start of the semester.

A leader and trusted advisor, Gethmann’s vast knowledge of UMBC and departmental procedures as well as her excellent judgment make her invaluable to those she serves. She is a dedicated people person with a helpful and positive attitude. Whether working with faculty, staff, students, or visitors, her goal is to help people solve whatever problem they are facing, and ensure that they have what they need.

Jane plans to retire at the end of this academic year. We will miss her and all that that she has done for UMBC and our department.

UMBC Chess team to compete in 2014 Final Four of College Chess

This coming weekend, the UMBC chess team will play for the President’s Cup in the Final Four of College Chess. UMBC will compete with chess teams from Webster University, the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, and Texas Tech University.

The match has been held each year since 2001 between the top four US schools from the Pan American Intercollegiate Team Chess Championship and the winner is considered the top chess team among U.S. colleges and universities.  UMBC has placed first at the Final Four a record six times.

CSEE Professor Alan Sherman, who is the director of the UMBC chess program, will accompany the team to the match, which will be held at the New York Athletic Club in New York City on Friday through Sunday, April 4-6, 2014. Games will be broadcast live on Monroi.

The UMBC team will consist of:

  • Board 1: GM Niclas “The Dark Knight” Huschenbeth (USCF rating 2610)
  • Board 2: GM Akshayraj “The Indian Knight” Kore (2519)
  • Board 3: M Levan “The Georgian Gangster” Bregadze (2469)
  • Board 4: IM and WGM Nazi “The Black Widow” Paikidze (2378)
  • Alternate: WGM Sabina “Sunshine” Foisor (2315)

Talk: What can a Humanoid Robot Learn?, 10am Fri 4/2 UMBC

UMBC ACM Student Chapter

Tech Talk: What can a Humanoid Robot Learn?

Professor Tim Oates, UMBC

10:00am-11:00am Friday, 4 April 2014, ITE346

We hope everyone had a fun spring break! We are back with another talk in our UMBC ACM techTalk series. Professor Tim Oates, who is also one of the faculty advisers of the ACM student chapter, will talk about “What can a Humanoid Robot Learn?”. Dr. Oates will split the talk into two sessions. In the first half, he will introduce the topic and talk about current research being pursued in the area of humanoid robots. Whereas, the second half of the talk will be an interactive session focusing on ideating challenges and future research directions. To make the discussion interactive, Dr. Oates encourages you to spend a few minutes beforehand to think about what you would do if you had access to a humanoid robot for research purposes.

Abstract: Robots and AI have a long history together, both in the popular culture and in research.  In this talk I will review some of my past work at the juncture of robotics, AI, and machine learning, as well as ongoing work with collaborators at UMCP along the same lines.  With those collaborators, I wrote a proposal to buy a few humanoid robots that was funded, so I’ll next describe the robots that we’ve bought.  Finally, I’d like to have an open discussion about my ideas for research using these robots, and ideas that those in the audience might have as well.  My goal is to get as many people as is practical involved with the robots, which are relatively expensive and thus not a common resource.  If you’re coming to the talk, spend a few minutes beforehand thinking about what you would do if you had access to a humanoid robot for research purposes.

Dr. Tim Oates is an Oros Familty Professor of Computer Science at the University of Maryland Baltimore County. He received B.S. degrees in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering from North Carolina State University in 1989, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 1997 and 2000, respectively. Prior to coming to UMBC in the Fall of 2001, he spent a year as a postdoc in the Artificial Intelligence Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 2004 Dr. Oates won a prestigious NSF CAREER award. He is an author or co-author of more than 100 peer reviewed papers and is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery and the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence. His research interests include pattern discovery in time series, grammatical inference, graph mining, statistical natural language processing, robotics, and language acquisition.

RSVP for the talk at http://my.umbc.edu/events/23881

Prof. Marie desJardins is UMBC’s Presidential Teaching Professor for 2014-17

CSEE Professor Marie desJardins has been named as UMBC’s Presidential Teaching Professor for 2014-17. Dr. desJardins joined the UMBC faculty in 2001 after earning her Ph.D. in computer science from UC Berkeley and spending ten years at SRI International as a research scientist. She has made significant contributions to the fields of artificial intelligence and machine learning, published over 100 peer-reviewed papers, brought over six million dollars to UMBC as PI or co-PI in external grant funding, and held leadership positions in the top professional organizations in her field.

Dr. desJardins is an outstanding teacher, earning praise from students in courses from freshman-level courses for non-majors to specialized graduate-level seminars. She was named one of UMBC’s “Professors Not to Miss” in 2011 and is one of the first cohort of Hrabowski Academic Innovation Fellows. She is also well known for mentoring students at all levels, having graduated ten Ph.D. and 22 M.S. students, mentored over 50 undergraduates in research and served on the dissertation and thesis committees of more than 30 other students. She was recently recognized for mentoring by the National Center for Women & Information Technology, who selected her as one of four awardees of the 2014 NCWIT Undergraduate Research Mentoring Award.

Within the department and university, Dr. desJardins’s commitment to teaching and student success goes far beyond the classroom. She has served as the computer science undergraduate program director and led an effort to redesign the introductory computing course to better serve new students. In addition to mentoring her own graduate students, she is the Faculty Advisor for the Women in Science and Engineering Graduate Association and a member of the Center for Women in Technology Advisory Board. She is regularly invited to participate on panels, give presentations in the Honors Forum and other campus events, and to run workshops for graduate students and junior faculty.

Outside of UMBC, Dr. desJardins has built an international reputation as an advocate for high-quality education, mentoring, and diversity at all levels of the profession. She has been chair, mentor, reviewer, and/or panelist of the AAAI/SIGART Doctoral Consortium for the last 14 years; this event has provided valuable feedback and mentoring to hundreds of computing graduate students during that time. She co-founded the AAAI Educational Advances in Artificial Intelligence annual symposium. She regularly publishes articles on her research and innovations in computing education, including tools and techniques for classroom teaching, new courses, and analyses of the state of computer science education at the high school level.

Dr. desJardins is also a nationally recognized leader in computer science education and has received multiple NSF awards to support her work in this area. She gives frequent presentations around the state and the country on high school computer science education and preparing a diverse population of students to succeed in computing careers. She is a founding member of the Maryland chapter of the Computer Science Teachers Association, and has organized several professional development workshops for high school teachers. Her NSF-funded CE21-Maryland (Computing Education for the 21st Century) grant explored the landscape of high school CS education in Maryland, culminating in a statewide summit for educators, administrators, and community members that was held at UMBC in May 2013. A recent NSF CE-21 grant will result in curriculum creation and professional development for 100 Maryland high school teachers, focused on the new CS Principles course that is scheduled to become a new AP offering in 2016. Other funded grants in the educational arena include her Hrabowski Innovation Fund award to create the ACTIVE Center, an NSF TUES award that is developing a new freshman-level computing course, an NSF T-SITE grant to build a community of transfer scholars in IT/engineering, as well as multiple smaller awards to run workshops and support graduate student development.

We congratulate Professor desJardins for her selection as Presidential Teaching Professor and look forward to the Presidential Faculty and Staff Awards ceremony on Wednesday, April 2 in the University Center Ballroom. Not only is she an outstanding and dedicated classroom teacher, her contributions to research, teaching, mentoring, and educational innovations have been broad and sustained.

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