talk: Robot Governance – Institutions and Issues, 10:30 Tue 7/24, ITR346


Robot Governance – Institutions and Issues


Dr. Aaron Mannes, ISHPI Information Technologies

10:30-11:30 Tuesday, 24 July 2018, ITE 346


Inexpensive sensors and information storage and processing have enabled the large-scale production of robots: autonomous systems capable of acting on the world. These systems represent an enormous technological and economic opportunity that will change society in countless and unpredictable ways. They will also bring new policy challenges. This presentation examines the missions the government will need to undertake to address the challenges raised by this new technology, identifies critical gaps the government faces in carrying out these missions, and discusses institutional options to address these gaps.



Dr. Aaron Mannes is the Senior Policy Advisor at ISHPI Information Technologies, where he supports the Apex Data Analytics Engine (DA-E) at the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate. In supporting DA-E, Dr. Mannes collaborates on big data projects that support the Homeland Security Enterprise and researches technology policy. He started at DHS as an American Association for the Advancement of Science Policy Fellow in September 2015. From 2004 to 2015, Dr. Mannes was a researcher at the University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies (UMIACS) where he was the subject matter expert on terrorism and international affairs collaborating with a team of inter-disciplinary scientists to build computational tools to support decision-makers facing 21st century security and development problems. Dr. Mannes earned his Ph.D. at the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy in 2014. His dissertation topic was the evolving national security role of the vice president.

Dr. Mannes is the author or co-author of four books on terrorism and has written scores of articles, papers, and book chapters on an array of topics including Middle East affairs, terrorism, technology, and other international security issues for popular and scholarly publications including Politico, Policy Review, The Wall Street Journal, Foreign Policy, The Journal of International Security Affairs, The Huffington Post, The National Interest, The Jerusalem Post, and The Guardian.

This research was conducted with the support of the Apex Data Analytics Engine in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T). In no way should anything stated in this seminar be construed as representing the official position of DHS S&T or any other component of DHS. Opinions and findings expressed in this seminar, as well as any errors and omissions, are the responsibility of the presenter alone.

UMBC CSEE student and alumna selected to attend Heidelberg Laureate Forum

UMBC CSEE student and alumna to attend Heidelberg Laureate Forum

A UMBC Ph.D. student and an alumna have been selected to participate in this year’s international Nobel laureate forums, which connect top student engineers and scientists from universities around the globe with the world’s leading scientific researchers.

Kavita Krishnaswamy ‘07, computer science and mathematics, and Ph.D. ‘18, computer science, will attend the Heidelberg Laureate Forum, and Naomi Mburu ‘18, chemical engineering, will attend the Lindau Nobel Laureate Forum. William Easley ‘13, information systems management, M.S. ‘15, human-centered computing, and Ph.D. ‘22, human-centered computing, was also nominated to participate in the Heidelberg Laureate Forum.

“These competitive events bring great minds, who have been recognized for outstanding scientific achievement, together with a new generation of scientists, who are considered to be among the top young minds from countries around the world,” explains Renetta Tull, associate vice provost for strategic initiatives. She is delighted to say, “This year, we have not one, but two students from UMBC who will receive this significant honor.”

Naomi Mburu. Photo by Marlayna Demond ’11 for UMBC.

Mburu, the first UMBC student to receive the Rhodes Scholarship, will attend the 68th Lindau Nobel Laureate meeting, June 24 – 29, in Lindau, Germany. The meeting brings approximately 500 undergraduate and Ph.D. students, and post-doctoral researchers together from around the globe to promote connections between scientists across generations, cultures, and disciplines. Each year the focus of the meeting changes to address topics including physiology, medicine, physics, and chemistry.

“I am beyond excited to be attending this meeting with 40+ Nobel laureates and brilliant students from around the world,” says Mburu. “There will be opportunities to both network and speak with the Nobel laureates, while celebrating different cultures and learning more about advances in medicine and physiology.”

In addition to her most recent honors, Mburu received a Goldwater Scholarship in 2016. She has also already conducted research at European Organization for Nuclear Research in Switzerland.

During the one-week-long Heidelberg Laureate Forum, Krishnaswamy will have the opportunity to connect and network with leaders in the fields of mathematics and computer science. The forum will be held at Heidelberg University in Germany, September 22 – 28.

Kavita Krishnaswamy. Photo by Britney Clause ’11.

Krishnaswamy is one of just 200 students from around the world selected to participate in the Heidelberg Laureate Forum. She shares, “I am very thankful for the opportunity to represent UMBC and help promote the public understanding of mathematics and computer science from the perspective of improving the quality of life for individuals with physical disabilities through the advancement of robotics.”

Krishnaswamy’s previous honors include being named a Microsoft Fellow and received the Google Lime Scholars in 2017, prestigious honors that recognize emerging scholars in computing who are dedicated to increasing diversity in the industry.

“At UMBC we think of our university as an institution committed to inclusive excellence that prepares students who can compete on a global scale,” Tull reflects. “Kavita and Naomi’s awards signify that others around the world agree.”

Adapted from a UMBC news article by Megan Hanks. Banner image: Nobel Prize. Photo by Flickr user Adam Baker under license CC BY 2.0.

Bryan Vanek (CS, ’18), president of national champion CyberDawgs team, heads to computer security career

Bryan Vanek, president of national champion CyberDawgs team, heads to computer security career

UMBC students have rewritten the record books in 2018. With graduation this week, and our soon-to-be new Retriever alumni preparing for graduate school, careers, and research around the world, we reflect on all they have achieved. Here is a CSEE student profile from the class of 2018.

Bryan Vanek
B.S., Computer Science
Minor: Mathematics
Cum Laude
Hometown: Frederick, Maryland
Plans: Computer Network Operations Development Program, U.S. Department of Defense

If it weren’t for the incredible mentors, teachers, and students at this school, I would not be the security researcher and professional that I am today.

When Bryan Vanek transferred to UMBC from Frederick Community College, he focused on building connections with classmates and professors, which proved incredibly valuable as he developed a passion for computer science and cybersecurity, and sought out new opportunities to grow.

Vanek became president of UMBC’s Cyber Dawgs team, which took first place at the 2017 National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition. Following that major victory, he has continued to serve as Cyber Dawgs president, while also participating in other cybersecurity competitions, including the Wargames capture the flag event at the international DEFCON conference, where he placed 42nd overall.

The Center for Women in Technology provided mentorship and support to Vanek, who is a Transfer Scholar in Information Technology and Engineering (T-SITE) Scholar. He says that the Cyber Dawgs team and CWIT program have helped him to develop skills necessary for success in a computer science career. Vanek gives back by serving as a mentor in cybersecurity at Exerceo, a nonprofit which provides skill development opportunities to high school students, college students, and young adults.

Vanek also completed two internships at the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) while at UMBC. These positions led to an exciting job offer for him, as a member of the Computer Network Operations Development Program at the DoD. Vanek credits “professors that continually showed a vested and fervent interest in my success” and UMBC’s connections with a robust networks of employers with empowering him to plan and pursue a cybersecurity career.

Adapted from a UMBC News article by Megan Hanks. Portrait by Marlayna Demond ’11 for UMBC.

With 3 majors and a passion for service, Max Poole (CS, Math, Econ ’18) promotes access to computing education

With three majors and a core passion for service, Max Poole (CS, Math, Econ ’18) promotes access to computing education

UMBC students have rewritten the record books in 2018. With graduation this week, and our soon-to-be new Retriever alumni preparing for graduate school, careers, and research around the world, we reflect on all they have achieved. Here is a CSEE student profile from the class of 2018.

Max Poole
B.S., Computer Science, B.S., Mathematics, B.A., Economics
Summa Cum Laude
Hometown: Takoma Park, Maryland
Plans: Site Reliability Engineer, eBay

UMBC provides extensive opportunities and support for students to get engaged and involved in service beginning in their freshman year. The UMBC Shriver Center has been incredibly supportive of every service endeavor I wanted to do.

Max Poole wants to live in a society where everyone can access an education, is informed, is open to hearing new ideas, and is willing to work together to achieve great things. With this ideal in mind, he is completing three majors in three different colleges, which has enabled him to explore problems from a range of angles. He has also pursued collaborative service-learning opportunities through the Shriver Center since his freshman year, with a focus on promoting college with middle school students and boosting access to computer science education.

“The amount of students with access to computer science in middle school is minuscule,” says Poole. Knowing that computing skills will be important for many kinds of jobs of the future, he suggests, “If you can get kids interested, learning, engaged, and involved as early as possible it prepares them to be successful.”

Poole has been recognized for his commitment to service with the 2016 Newman Civic Fellowship. He is also a Sondheim Public Affairs Scholar and a member of the Honors College, with stellar academic achievements that have garnered him recognition through the national honor societies Pi Mu Epsilon and Phi Beta Kappa.

“I have this need inside of me that pushes me to always be improving the world and myself, to create and collaborate,” explains Poole. “I feel like service is deeply ingrained in my DNA. It is something I have to do.”

Beyond UMBC, Poole even pursued service opportunities while a summer intern at eBay. He looks forward to resuming those projects when he begins a full-time position with the company after graduation.

Adapted from a UMBC News article by Megan Hanks. Portrait by Marlayna Demond ’11 for UMBC.

SGA President Joshua Massey (CE ’18) prepares for a technology-focused teaching career

SGA President Joshua Massey (CE ’18) prepares for a technology-focused teaching career

UMBC students have rewritten the record books in 2018. With graduation this week, and our soon-to-be new Retriever alumni preparing for graduate school, careers, and research around the world, we reflect on all they have achieved. Here is a CSEE student profile from the class of 2018.

Joshua Massey
B.S., Computer Engineering
Hometown: Upper Marlboro, Maryland
Plans: Master’s in teaching, UMBC

UMBC’s values and commitments to diversity, education, and social justice allowed me to grow into the interdisciplinary thinker, problem-solver, and leader I am today.

Joshua Massey, president of UMBC’s Student Government Association (SGA), has been recognized across campus and by university partners for his leadership, his enthusiasm for community connections, and his passion for technology in education.

Massey was one of the first recipients of the Northrop Grumman Scholarship for increasing the number of undergraduate and graduate students in the United States pursuing degrees in computer engineering and electrical engineering. Through the program, Massey had the opportunity to connect with industry leaders and attend mentoring events. Massey is a member of the Meyerhoff Scholars Program, and also received the Meyerhoff National Security Administration Scholarship, which enabled him to connect with industry mentors regularly and to participate in monthly seminars.

In addition to receiving mentorship from faculty and professionals in technical fields, Massey also provided support to others as a peer mentor and a teaching fellow for a course in computational thinking and design.

On campus, Massey is known for his enthusiasm for the UMBC community. He served as a “Woolie”—a Welcome Week student leader—in addition to serving as SGA senator and chief of staff, before being elected SGA president.

One of Massey’s most memorable SGA moments was the 2017 SGA summer retreat, which he attended as incoming president. “At our annual summer retreat, new and returning students involved in SGA learn about the history and values of UMBC and the SGA, work cooperatively on plans for an upcoming year of campus change, and build relationships with one another as we continually create the story of SGA at UMBC,” Massey explains. He enjoyed facilitating sessions on the important role of students in UMBC governance.

Massey will continue on at UMBC after graduation, pursuing a master’s degree in teaching, with a focus on educating students in tech fields. “Looking forward to a future career in education and advocacy, I am reminded of the strong sense of community and shared ownership that is present at UMBC,” he says. “I look forward to carrying that forward in life.”

Adapted from a UMBC News article by Megan Hanks. Portrait by Marlayna Demond ’11 for UMBC.

CWIT Scholar Katherine Dillon (CS ’18) heads to Google as a software engineer

CWIT Scholar Katherine Dillon heads to Google as a software engineer

UMBC students have rewritten the record books in 2018. With graduation this week, and our soon-to-be new Retriever alumni preparing for graduate school, careers, and research around the world, we reflect on all they have achieved. Here is a CSEE student profile from the class of 2018.

Katherine Dillon
B.S., Computer Science
Magna Cum Laude
Hometown: Ellicott City, Maryland
Plans: Software Engineer, Google; M.S., computer science, UMBC

“The CWIT program has prepared me to be a professional and take on leadership roles, and ultimately helped me get my jobs and internships. The friends I’ve made in CWIT served as such a great support system, and I couldn’t have done it without them.”

Katherine Dillon came to UMBC with interest, but not much experience, in computer science, but through the Center for Women in Technology (CWIT) was able to rapidly grow her knowledge of the field. Before long, she was conducting computer science research, taking graduate-level courses in artificial intelligence and machine learning, serving as a teaching assistant in computer science and interactive media, and volunteering through outreach opportunities, to inspire and support future computing students.

Dillon says the support she received from the faculty and staff at UMBC, particularly in CWIT and the Honors College, has been instrumental in enabling her to achieve her goals and continuously set the bar higher for what she would achieve next. Dillon conducted data visualization research under Penny Rheingans, professor of computer science and director of CWIT, and attended the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing as an Anita Borg Scholar. After the Grace Hopper Celebration, Dillon was offered an internship opportunity at Google in Boston. The following summer she completed another Google internship, this time in Germany.

After graduation, Dillon will work as a software engineer at Google in San Francisco, while also completing her master’s degree in computer science online through UMBC.

Adapted from a UMBC News article by Megan Hanks. Portrait by Marlayna Demond ’11 for UMBC.

UMBC Scholarship for Service Cybersecurity Spring Meeting, Fri 25 May 2018

UMBC SFS Cybersecurity Spring Meeting

Student Project Reports and

Cybersecurity from the view of NSA’s Cybersecurity Threat Operations Center
Dave Hogue, Technical Director of NSA’s Cybersecurity Threat Operations Center (NCTOC)

11am-3pm, Friday, 25 May 2018, ITE 456, UMBC

Open to the public

Scholarship for Service (SFS) students will present their cybersecurity research from spring 2018. Eight SFS students from Montgomery College (MC) and Prince George’s Community College (PGCC) will present their results solving IT security problems for their universities and county governments. In spring 2018, these students worked collaboratively in a special applied research course at their school to help their schools and county governments. In fall 2018, these students will transfer to UMBC to complete their four-year degrees. This activity is part of a pioneering program centered at UMBC to extend SFS scholarships to community college students. In January 2018, all SFS scholars at UMBC, PGCC, and MC worked collaboratively to analyze the security of UMBC’s WebAdmin system.

David Hogue will talk about cybersecurity from the view of NSA’s Cybersecurity Threat Operations Center, including the key threats, techniques, and challenges posed by the sophisticated threat actors that NCTOC is charged to defend against.

11:00am Introductions

Alan T. Sherman (UMBC)
Casey W. O’Brien (PGCC)
David Kuijt (MC)

11:30am-1:00pm Student Project Reports

PGCC students
MC students
UMBC – Mohammad Khan, UMBC parking system
UMBC – Enis Golaszewski, winter research study on UMBC’s WebAdmin

1:00pm-2:00pm Lunch

2:00pm-3:00pm Dave Hogue, Technical Director, NSA Cybersecurity Threat Operations Center (NCTOC)

Cybersecurity from the view of NSA’s Cybersecurity Threat Operations Center: Key threats, techniques, and challenges posed by the sophisticated threat actors that NCTOC is charged to defend against.

3:00pm Adjourn

Host: Alan T. Sherman,

Alan T. Sherman is a professor of computer science and Director of the UMBC Center for Information Security and Assurance (CISA), which center is responsible for UMBC’s designation as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education and Cyber Defense Research.

Casey W. O’Brien is Executive Director and Principal Investigator of the National CyberWatch Center, Prince George’s Community College.

David Kuijt is an associate professor at Montgomery College, Rockville.

Joe Roundy is the Cybersecurity Program Manager at Montgomery College, Germantown.

Support for this event is provided in part by the National Science Foundation under SFS Grant 1241576.

Prof. Cynthia Matuszek named one of AI’s 10 to Watch

Cynthia Matuszek named one of AI’s 10 to Watch 

UMBC CSEE Professor Cynthia Matuszek was named as one AI’s 10 to Watch by IEEE Intelligent Systems. The designation is given every two years to a group of “10 young stars who have demonstrated outstanding AI achievements”.  IEEE Intelligent Systems accepts nominations from around the world, which are then evaluated by the the publication’s  editorial and advisory boards based on reputation, impact, expert endorsement, and diversity.  Dr. Matuszek was recognized for her research that “combined robotics, natural language processing, and machine learning to build systems that nonspecialists can instruct, control, and interact with intuitively and naturally”.

Professor Matuszek joined UMBC in 2014 after receiving her Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Washington.  At UMBC, she established and leads the Interactive Robotics and Language Lab that integrates research on robotics and natural language processing with the goal of “bringing the fields together: developing robots that everyday people can talk to, telling them to do tasks or about the world around them”.

Here is how she describes her research in the IEEE Intelligent Systems article.

Robot Learning from Language and Context

As robots become more powerful, capable, and autonomous, they are moving from controlled industrial settings to human-centric spaces such as medical environments, workplaces, and homes. As physical agents, they will soon be able help with entirely new categories of tasks that require intelligence. Before that can happen, though, robots must be able to interact gracefully with people and the noisy, unpredictable world they occupy.

This undertaking requires insight from multiple areas of AI. Useful robots will need to be flexible in dynamic environments with evolving tasks, meaning they must learn and must also be able to communicate effectively with people. Building advanced intelligent agents that interact robustly with nonspecialists in various domains requires insights from robotics, machine learning, and natural language processing.

My research focuses on developing statistical learning approaches that let robots gain knowledge about the world from multimodal interactions with users, while simultaneously learning to understand the language surrounding novel objects and tasks. Rather than considering these problems separately, we can efficiently handle them concurrently by employing joint learning models that treat language, perception, and task understanding as strongly associated training inputs. This lets each of these channels provide mutually reinforcing inductive bias, constraining an otherwise unmanageable search space and allowing robots to learn from a reasonable number of ongoing interactions.

Combining natural language processing and robotic understanding of environments improves the efficiency and efficacy of both approaches. Intuitively, learning language is easier in the physical context of the world it describes. And robots are more useful and helpful if people can talk naturally to them and teach them about the world. We’ve used this insight to demonstrate that robots can learn unanticipated language that describes completely novel objects. They can also learn to follow instructions for performing tasks and interpret unscripted human gestures, all from interactions with nonspecialist users.

Bringing together these disparate research areas enables the creation of learning methods that let robots use language to learn, adapt, and follow instructions. Understanding humans’ needs and communications is a long-standing AI problem, which fits within the larger context of understanding how to interact gracefully in primarily human environments. Incorporating these capabilities will let us develop flexible, inexpensive robots that can integrate into real-world settings such as the workplace and home.

​You can access a pdf version of the full IEEE AI’s 10 to Watch article here.

Prof. Milton Halem receives UMBC Research Faculty Excellence Award

Professor Milton Halem receives UMBC Research Faculty Excellence Award

Dr. Milton Halem, Research Professor in the Computer Science and Electrical Engineering Department, has been selected as the inaugural recipient of the UMBC Research Faculty Excellence Award. The award recognizes overall excellence in research, and where appropriate, significant contributions to teaching and service/leadership while at UMBC.

Dr. Halem joined UMBC in 2003, after retiring from a highly successful career at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, where he still holds an Emeritus position as Chief Information Research Scientist to the Director of the Earth Sciences Directorate.

Upon joining UMBC, Dr. Halem served as the founding Director of UMBC’s Center for Hybrid Multicore Productivity Research (CHMPR) and today continues to serve as the UMBC Site Director for this major NSF-supported multi-institutional center that works closely with government and private sector sponsors in the areas of big-data computation, next generation computing and software tool development.

In 2013, Dr. Halem was instrumental in negotiating and securing a major equipment donation from NASA Goddard that significantly enhanced our high-performance computing capacity through the donation of a 512 -node supercomputer to the UMBC campus.

Dr. Halem’s scholarly achievements include more than 150 scientific publications in the areas of atmospheric and oceanographic sciences and computational and information sciences. He is most noted for his groundbreaking research in simulation studies of space-observing systems and for development of four-dimensional data assimilation for weather and climate prediction.

Over the years, Dr. Halem’s achievements have earned him numerous awards including the NASA Medal for Exceptional Scientific Achievement, the NASA Medal for Outstanding Leadership, and NASA’s highest award – the NASA Distinguished Service Medal – in 1996.

Keith J. Bowman, Dean of the College of Engineering and Information Technology, comments: “Dr. Halem’s exceptional vision and his unrelenting drive for excellence continue to serve our UMBC community well. His dedication to pushing the scientific and engineering boundaries serves as a model for our campus and beyond.”

Karl V. Steiner, Vice President for Research, adds: “ I could not think of a more deserving member of our UMBC research community to receive this inaugural Research Faculty Excellence Award than Milt Halem. UMBC is the academic home to over 180 Research Faculty who contribute their expertise and personal commitment to making UMBC a destination for cutting-edge research while providing our students with remarkable insights and opportunities. Milt Halem is clearly one the leaders in the field of high-performance computation and his energy and expertise have been a major factor in UMBC being recognized as a major contributor to high performance computation and data analytics.”

Adapted from a news article on the UMBC Office of the Vice President for Research site.

Dr. LaBerge receives inaugural COEIT 2018 Excellence in Teaching Award

At the inaugural COEIT Celebration on May 6, 2018, several College-level faculty and staff awards were initiated by COEIT Dean Keith Bowman. We are pleased to announce that the first recipient of the COEIT 2018 Excellence in Teaching Award is CSEE’s Professor of the Practice, Dr. E. F. Charles LaBerge!

As his nomination statement reads,

Drawing on a very distinguished industry career, Dr. E.F. (Chuck) LaBerge demonstrates teaching, service, and critical, prominent departmental leadership with a high degree of initiative, enthusiasm, and professionalism.

A 30-year aviation industry veteran, Dr. LaBerge is CSEE’s senior instructional faculty member. He is a successful and efficient CMPE UPD who has twice provided critical department leadership with ABET reviews. His teaching evaluations at UMBC are exemplary on a wide range of courses — in particular, his CMPE capstone sequence.

In addition to standard faculty service duties, Dr. LaBerge collaborates on innovative departmental initiatives, such as the ACTIVE (Active Computing Teaching and InnoVation Environment) Center via the Hrabowski Fund. Dr. LaBerge is remains involved with the engineering industry and since 2008, chaired an avionics advisory committee to the Federal Aviation Adminstration. As an IEEE Senior Member, he regularly reviews assorted IEEE journal articles within his domain.

Dr. LaBerge’s professionalism, attention to detail, collegial attitude, and enthusiasm for student, department, and College success make him a valued CSEE colleague and justify his nomination for the COEIT Excellence in Teaching Award.


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