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Unique research experiences open doors for UMBC’s Class of 2020

Danilo Symonette, right, with his friends at a restaurant. Photo courtesy of Symonette.

Unique research experiences open doors for UMBC’s Class of 2020


Danilo Symonette, Robin Bailey, and Hye-Jin Park are earning their UMBC degrees this month having researched in top labs and being invited to present their findings to colleagues across the country. They sound like phenomenal Ph.D. students, but they’re actually all undergraduates.

Symonette ‘20, computer science, has earned one of the most prestigious graduate fellowships in the U.S. after completing years of research in artificial intelligence. Bailey ‘20, biological sciences, conducted research at Harvard Medical School’s Joslin Diabetes Center. Hye-Jin Park ‘20, psychology, researched the experiences of Asian immigrants in the United States, including discrimination and resilience. 

Their interests vary greatly, but each celebrates the impact that UMBC mentors have had on their college careers, including the chance to access incredible opportunities.

Finding a community

When Symonette transferred to UMBC from the College of Southern Maryland in La Plata, Maryland, he knew he wanted to study computer science and conduct research on artificial intelligence, which he sees as a “revolutionary” field. He quickly found a supportive community of friends and mentors at UMBC, and became a McNair Scholar. 

UMBC’s McNair Scholars program is a Federal TRIO program that supports students from disadvantaged and underrepresented groups in preparing for graduate education. The program emphasizes intensive research experiences and mentoring. Symonette’s McNair mentors helped him define and achieve his goals and navigate challenges along the way.

Danilo Symonette, left, and two of his friends at UMBC. Photo courtesy of Symonette.

“Being a McNair Scholar has entirely shaped my experience at UMBC and given me the community I needed to support my ambitions and pursue opportunities,” says Symonette. The program also introduced him to some of his favorite people at UMBC.

The value of mentorship

Don Engel, assistant vice president for research, is Symonette’s advisor on the award that supports his artificial intelligence work. He has been one of his most impactful mentors over the years. “Don Engel gave me the freedom to explore any and all of my ideas,” says Symonette. “He advised me on career decisions, wrote countless letters of recommendation, and always supported and believed in me no matter how lofty my goals seemed.” 

Engel connected Symonette with the neuro-AI lab at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab, where Symonette is currently interning. Symonette accepted a full-time job offer to work at APL starting in June. This allowed him to explore his interests at the intersection of computer science, neuroscience, and psychology, and further refine his graduate school career goals. 

“Danilo is one of the most talented and motivated students with whom I’ve had the pleasure to work. He has been a wonderful teammate to a broad range of student, faculty, and external research collaborators,” shares Engel. “I’m looking forward to following Danilo’s career, which I’m sure will be exciting and impactful.”

Symonette has also found mentors outside his discipline who have helped him develop a well-rounded perspective. They include Simon Stacey, director of the Honors College; former UMBC professor Marie DesJardins, now a dean at Simmons College; and Christy Ford Chapin, associate professor of history. Symonette says that Chapin helped him elevate his grad school essays and fellowship applications “to the highest level they could be.”

Exploring opportunities beyond UMBC

In addition to connecting Symonette with mentors, the McNair Scholars program also provided him with travel funding to visit several graduate schools across the country. 

In 2018, he completed the Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP) summer research program and focused on machine learning. The following year, he attended the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program at the Institute on Teaching and Mentoring, which was sponsored by the Southern Regional Education Board. “I saw a slew of Ph.D. students from underrepresented backgrounds come on stage and encourage me to pursue graduate education,” Symonette shares.

In 2019, he headed to MIT and studied models that detect confusion in features that rely on voice. His work was used as a foundation to develop sensors for a teacher education platform, to make it more effective. 

“That experience equipped me with the inspiration, motivation, and knowledge to plan my next steps,” he says. Over the next 18 months, Symonette explains, “I was accepted to the top computer science Ph.D. programs in the world and won the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship.” 

Today, he describes the LSAMP and McNair programs as “the vehicles through which I arrived at many of the pivotal moments in my journey.”

Inspiring younger students

While focusing on his courses and research at UMBC, Symonette also enjoyed gaining early experience as an educator. He served as a teaching assistant for Computer Science 202, inspired by his own earlier challenges with the course. 

“I struggled a lot in CS202 when I came from community college,” Symonette recalls. “Seeing all the errors and mistakes troubling students during office hours and being able to help them through those same situations…was extremely rewarding.” 

Symonette also found ways to connect with younger students, to encourage them to pursue degrees and careers in computing. He served as the head of outreach for UMBC’s Computer Science Education Club, establishing strong partnerships with local high schools.

“I wanted to expand our outreach efforts so that more people could volunteer,” he says. He connected with Lori Hardesty, associate director for applied learning and community engagement at UMBC’s Shriver Center, to ensure the program would have the structure to be successful in the long term. 

“We managed to get a consistent group of students volunteering at Landsdowne High School last semester and supporting the high school’s computer science and robotics club,” says Symonette. “It’s been great to connect with high school students, especially at a school like Landsdowne. There are students from similar backgrounds as me that I have a chance to inspire. It continues to motivate me to do research in AI and education.” 

After working at APL for a year, Symonette will begin a Ph.D. program in computer science at Stanford University in fall 2021, with the goal of becoming a professor. “I’m looking forward to broadening my perspective, accessing opportunities, and developing as a researcher and educator—everything that comes with studying in a top-tier Ph.D. program,” he says. “I can’t wait to bring all of that back to my community.” 


You can read more about Robin Bailey and Hye-Jin Park in the UMBC News article from which this was excerpted. Adapted from a UMBC News article written by Megan Hanks.

JHU/APL CIRCUIT internship program information session, 3pm Fri 1/31

JHU/APL CIRCUIT internship program information session

3:00-4:00 pm Friday, 31 January 2020

ITE 459, UMBC

There will be a special information session on the JHU/APL CIRCUIT internship program from 3:00 pm to 4:30 pm on Friday, 31 January 2020 in room ITE 459.

This session is for undergraduates who want to spend their summer (June through August) getting paid to do mentored research at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab. The research areas include AI, data science, cybersecurity, precision medicine, and planetary exploration.

Interns selected for the program will do mission-oriented research on-site at JHU/APL in Laurel MD mentored by STEM professionals. There will also be year-round opportunities for engagement and enrichment. The selection for an internship will be based on a combination of potential, need and commitment.

Email or with questions.

UMBC Cyberdawgs win first place in the 2019 DOE CyberForce Competition

UMBC’s CyberDawgs win first place in the 2019 DOE Cyberforce Competition

Cyberdawgs place first out of 105 teams in DOE’s 5th CyberForce Competition

Congratulations to the UMBC CyberDawgs team for their first place finish in a field of 105 collegiate teams in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Fifth Annual CyberForce Competition. The distributed event was held at ten of the DOE’s National Laboratories and challenged 105 teams to defend a simulated energy infrastructure from cyber-attacks.

The took place on November 15 and 16 with the goal of bolstering the U.S. cybersecurity workforce by extending skill-building opportunities for students, offering memorable hands-on experiences and highlighting the crucial role this field plays in preserving national energy security. The Cyberdawgs participated at the Argonne National Laboratory site in Illinois.

During the competition, teams competed to defend their simulated infrastructure from attacks by adversarial ​“red teams” composed of industry professionals, all while maintaining service for their ​“green team” customers, played by volunteers. The scenarios included simulated industrial control system components, real-world anomalies and constraints, and interaction with users of the systems.

Teams were scored on their success in protecting the infrastructure against attacks while ensuring the usability of the system, with additional points awarded for innovative ideas and defenses.

The team that competed in this year’s competition was chosen from members of the CyberDawgs student group, composed of students from a variety of majors who share a common interest in computer and network security. No prior experience is required to join and any UMBC students who want to learn more about cybersecurity and learn new skills in the field are encouraged to subscribe to its mailing list and attend meetings.

The CyberDawgs group is advised by CSEE faculty Charles Nicholas and Richard Forno.

National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program Workshop

On October 3, 2019, Dr. Francis Ferraro presented a workshop for the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program (NSF GRFP).  During the workshop, Dr. Ferraro covered many topics including scholarship eligibility, funding, and the application process. He also provided a detailed application checklist as well as suggestions for developing personal and research statements. In addition to giving information about the NSF GRFP, Dr. Ferraro provided an overview of the graduate school experience.

Application deadline for the NSF GRFP is October 22, 2019.

The purpose of the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) is to help ensure the vitality and diversity of the scientific and engineering workforce of the United States. The program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students who are pursuing full-time research-based master’s and doctoral degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) or in STEM education. The GRFP provides three years of support for the graduate education of individuals who have demonstrated their potential for significant research achievements in STEM or STEM education. NSF especially encourages women, members of underrepresented minority groups, persons with disabilities, veterans, and undergraduate seniors to apply.

  • Three years of funding to use across five years (in 12 month blocks). Stipend: $34,000 per year. Tuition/education expenses: $12,000 per year.
  • Applicants must be US citizens, national or permanent residents. Applicants must be an undergraduate senior, or first or second year graduate student.
  • Registration information can be found here: http://www.fastlane.nsf.gov/grfp/Login.do
  • All registration materials should be submitted here: https://www.research.gov/grfp/Login.do
  • CSEE at Undergraduate Research and Creative Achievement Day

    CSEE students at UMBC’s 23nd Annual Undergraduate Research and Creative Achievement Day

    Congratulations to the 49 undergraduate majors from our computer engineering and computer science programs who are presenting their research at the 23nd Annual Undergraduate Research and Creative Achievement Day on Wednesday, 24 April 2019.
    • Devon Adams | Computer Science and Electrical Engineering
      Development Of An Autonomous Vehicle For The Micromouse Competition
      Mentor(s): E F Charles LaBerge
      UC Ballroom | 1 – 2:30 p.m.
    • Aileiwaer Airexiati | Computer Science and Electrical Engineering
      Development Of An Autonomous Vehicle For The Micromouse Competition
      Mentor(s): E F Charles LaBerge
      UC Ballroom | 1 – 2:30 p.m.
    • Rashed Mohamed Salem Ali Alhefeiti | Computer Science and Electrical Engineering
      Development Of An Autonomous Vehicle For The Micromouse Competition
      Mentor(s): E F Charles LaBerge
      UC Ballroom | 1 – 2:30 p.m.
    • Ahmed Ali Almehrzi | Computer Science and Electrical Engineering
      Micromouse-X : UMBC Capstone Project
      Mentor(s): E.F. Charles LaBerge
      UC Ballroom | 10 – 11:30 a.m.
    • Trevor Ancona | Computer Science and Electrical Engineering
      UMBC Game Developers Club 2018-2019 Game Projects
      Mentor(s): Marc Olano
      UC Ballroom Lounge | 10 – Noon
    • Ryan Apt | Computer Science and Electrical Engineering
      Development Of An Autonomous Vehicle For The Micromouse Competition
      Mentor(s): E F Charles LaBerge
      UC Ballroom | 1 – 2:30 p.m.
    • Courtney Bohn | Computer Science and Electrical Engineering
      Creating A Quadruped Robot With Walking And Wheeled Capabilities
      Mentor(s): Fow-Sen Choa
      UC Ballroom | 1 – 2:30 p.m.
    • Cameron Blomquist | Computer Science and Electrical Engineering
      UMBC Game Developers Club 2018-2019 Game Projects
      Mentor(s): Marc Olano
      UC Ballroom Lounge | 10 – Noon
    • Maxwell Breitmeyer | Computer Science and Electrical Engineering
      Virtual Reality And Photogrammetry For Improved Reproducibility Of Human-Robot Interaction Studies
      Mentor(s): Don Engel
      UC Ballroom | 10 – 11:30 a.m.
    • Elwin Brown | Computer Science and Electrical Engineering
      Thirst: A Quest To Restore The Oasis
      Mentor(s): Marc Olano
      UC Ballroom Lounge | 10 – Noon
    • Elwin Brown | Computer Science and Electrical Engineering
      Toward The Application Of SVM’s For Text-Based Replication Of CATME Peer Evaluations
      Mentor(s): Don Engel
      UC Ballroom | 1 – 2:30 p.m.
    • Erin Cannon | Computer Science and Electrical Engineering
      Thirst: A Quest To Restore The Oasis
      Mentor(s): Marc Olano
      UC Ballroom Lounge | 10 – Noon
    • Noah Carver | Computer Science and Electrical Engineering
      Modular Solvers For Partially Continuous Abstract Markov Decision Processes
      Mentor(s): Cynthia Matuszek
      UC Ballroom | 1 – 2:30 p.m.
    • Dan Castellano | Computer Science and Electrical Engineering
      Brain Guitar-Pedal Interface
      Mentor(s): E. F. Charles LaBerge
      UC Ballroom | Time
    • Caroline Cocca | Computer Science and Electrical Engineering
      Investigating Teamwork Quality Through Neural Networks And Text Analysis
      Mentor(s): Don Engel
      UC Ballroom | 10 – 11:30 a.m.
    • Adam Der | Computer Science and Electrical Engineering
      Fabrication Of A Wearable Temperature Sensing System For CIPA Patients
      Mentor(s): Gymama Slaughter
      UC 312 | 3:45 – 4 p.m.
    • Debora Diaz Diestra | Computer Science and Electrical Engineering
      Micromouse-X : UMBC Capstone Project
      Mentor(s): E.F. Charles LaBerge
      UC Ballroom | 10 – 11:30 a.m.
    • Anthony Ellis | Computer Science and Electrical Engineering
      UMBC Game Developers Club 2018-2019 Game Projects
      Mentor(s): Marc Olano
      UC Ballroom Lounge | 10 – Noon
    • Carllie Foley | Computer Science and Electrical Engineering
      Escape To Planet Earth
      Mentor(s): Marc Olano
      UC Ballroom Lounge | 10 – Noon
    • Charles Fox | Computer Science and Electrical Engineering
      Investigating Teamwork Quality Through Neural Networks And Text Analysis
      Mentor(s): Don Engel
      UC Ballroom | 10 – 11:30 a.m.
    • Jaylan Hall | Computer Science and Electrical Engineering
      Creating A Quadruped Robot With Walking And Wheeled Capabilities
      Mentor(s): Fow-Sen Choa
      UC Ballroom | 1 – 2:30 p.m.
    • Edward Hanson | Computer Science and Electrical Engineering
      Brain Guitar-Pedal Interface
      Mentor(s): E. F. Charles LaBerge
      UC Ballroom | 10 – 11:30 a.m.
    • Brian D. Hanson, Jr. | Computer Science and Electrical Engineering
      Fabrication Of A Wearable Temperature Sensing System For CIPA Patients
      Mentor(s): Gymama Slaughter
      UC 312 | 3:45 – 4 p.m.
    • Kit Heckman | Computer Science and Electrical Engineering
      UMBC Game Developers Club 2018-2019 Game Projects
      Mentor(s): Marc Olano
      UC Ballroom Lounge | 10 – Noon
    • Phillip Hilliard | Computer Science and Electrical Engineering
      Annotating And Predicting Contextual Sentiment In Text
      Mentor(s): Frank Ferraro
      UC Ballroom | 1 – 2:30 p.m.
    • Mark Horton | Computer Science and Electrical Engineering
      Brain Guitar-Pedal Interface
      Mentor(s): E. F. Charles LaBerge
      UC Ballroom | 10 – 11:30 a.m.
    • Mark Horton | Computer Science and Electrical Engineering
      Autoencoder Implementation For Embedded Reinforcement Learning
      Mentor(s): Tinoosh Mohsenin
      UC Ballroom | 10 – 11:30 a.m.
    • Ben Ireland | Computer Science and Electrical Engineering
      UMBC Atmospheric Lidar Group DATA: Distributed Systems & Cyber-Security Of Remote Sensing Profiling Network Testbed
      Mentor(s): Ruben Delgado
      UC 312 | 4 – 4:15 p.m.
    • Zachary Jones | Computer Science and Electrical Engineering
      Brain Guitar-Pedal Interface
      Mentor(s): E. F. Charles LaBerge
      UC Ballroom | 10 – 11:30 a.m.
    • Thomas Kohler | Computer Science and Electrical Engineering
      Micromouse-X : UMBC Capstone Project
      Mentor(s): E.F. Charles LaBerge
      UC Ballroom | 10 – 11:30 a.m.
    • Alex Leger | Computer Science and Electrical Engineering
      UMBC Game Developers Club 2018-2019 Game Projects
      Mentor(s): Marc Olano
      UC Ballroom Lounge | 10 – Noon
    • Josh Ludlow | Computer Science and Electrical Engineering
      UMBC Game Developers Club 2018-2019 Game Projects
      Mentor(s): Marc Olano
      UC Ballroom Lounge | 10 – Noon
    • Lucas McCullum | Computer Science and Electrical Engineering
      Development Of An Autonomous Vehicle For The Micromouse Competition
      Mentor(s): E F Charles LaBerge
      UC Ballroom | 1 – 2:30 p.m.
    • Andrew McLamb | Computer Science and Electrical Engineering
      Escape To Planet Earth
      Mentor(s): Marc Olano
      UC Ballroom Lounge | 10 – Noon
    • Stephanie Milani | Computer Science and Electrical Engineering
      A Hierarchical Framework For Norm-Aware Planning And Reinforcement Learning
      Mentor(s): Marie desJardins
      UC Ballroom | 10 – 11:30 a.m.
    • Shawn Oppermann | Computer Science and Electrical Engineering
      UMBC Game Developers Club 2018-2019 Game Projects
      Mentor(s): Marc Olano
      UC Ballroom Lounge | 10 – Noon
    • Nicholas Potteiger | Computer Science and Electrical Engineering
      Archiving Workflows In Cloud Based Storage
      Mentor(s): Douglas Thain
      UC Ballroom | 1 – 2:30 p.m.
    • Ben Przysucha | Computer Science and Electrical Engineering
      UMBC Game Developers Club 2018-2019 Game Projects
      Mentor(s): Marc Olano
      UC Ballroom Lounge | 10 – Noon
    • Zhou Qin | Computer Science and Electrical Engineering
      Micromouse-X : UMBC Capstone Project
      Mentor(s): E.F. Charles LaBerge
      UC Ballroom | 10 – 11:30 a.m.
    • Brendan Robison | Computer Science and Electrical Engineering
      Wizards
      Mentor(s): Marc Olano
      UC Ballroom Lounge | 10 – Noon
    • Shea Sandifer | Computer Science and Electrical Engineering
      UMBC Game Developers Club 2018-2019 Game Projects
      Mentor(s): Marc Olano
      UC Ballroom Lounge | 10 – Noon
    • Matthew Schweiss | Computer Science and Electrical Engineering
      Creating A Quadruped Robot With Walking And Wheeled Capabilities
      Mentor(s): Fow-Sen Choa
      UC Ballroom | 1 – 2:30 p.m.
    • Danielle Sherrod | Computer Science and Electrical Engineering
      Creating A Quadruped Robot With Walking And Wheeled Capabilities
      Mentor(s): Fow-Sen Choa
      UC Ballroom | 1 – 2:30 p.m.
    • Levan Sulimanov | Computer Science and Electrical Engineering
      Virtual Reality Mirror Therapy Rehabilitation For Post-Stroke Patients
      Mentor(s): Marc Olano
      UC Ballroom Lounge | 10 – Noon
    • Danilo Symonette | Computer Science and Electrical Engineering
      Toward The Application Of SVM’s For Text-Based Replication Of CATME Peer Evaluations
      Mentor(s): Don Engel
      UC Ballroom | 1 – 2:30 p.m.
    • Jordan Troutman | Computer Science and Electrical Engineering
      Understanding Machine Learning Bias Without A Ground Truth
      Mentor(s): Anand Sarwate
      UC Ballroom | 10 – 11:30 a.m.
    • Liam Upton | Computer Science and Electrical Engineering
      UMBC Game Developers Club 2018-2019 Game Projects
      Mentor(s): Marc Olano
      UC Ballroom Lounge | 10 – Noon
    • Jenna Westfall | Computer Science and Electrical Engineering
      Automatization Of Characterization Of Atmospheric Particles With Machine Learning
      Mentor(s): Ruben Delgado
      UC Ballroom | 1 – 2:30 p.m.
    • Brendan Witt | Computer Science and Electrical Engineering
      Using Augmented Reality And Smart Home Devices to Better Sense Users
      Mentor(s): Reynold Bailey
      UC Ballroom | 1 – 2:30 p.m.

    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.

    🎓 Applications open for UMBC’s Grand Challenge Scholars Program


    2017 UMBC Grand Challenge Scholars

    Applications open for UMBC’s Grand Challenge Scholars Program

    UMBC is recruiting undergraduate students for the third cohort for its Grand Challenge Scholars Program (GCSP). UMBC’s GCSP is an exciting opportunity that is open to students from all majors who are interested in exploring interdisciplinary approaches to making the world a better place. Come to the Grand Challenges Symposium from 6:00-8:00pm on Monday, April 2 in UC 310 to learn more about the GCSP, meet the current scholars, and enjoy light refreshments.

    The Grand Challenges are 14 problems in the areas of sustainability, health, infrastructure, and the joy of living that will require interdisciplinary teams and sustained years of effort to solve. The GCSP brings together a diverse cohort of undergraduates from all majors to work towards solutions for these problems. GC Scholars develop broad skills by completing experiences in five program areas: research, interdisciplinarity, entrepreneurship, global perspectives and service.  Scholars will receive formal designation as an NAE Grand Challenge Scholar at graduation.

    We especially encourage sophomores to apply but students who are earlier or later in their studies are also welcome to apply as long as they are able to complete the requirements. In addition to the five program experiences, students must complete three one-credit GCSP seminars, and are expected to participate in GC-related activities on and off campus. For more information about the program, visit the GCSP site.

    To apply, students should submit online an unofficial transcript, short essay answers, two names of references, and optionally a short letter of support. The deadline is April 15 but we will also consider applications received after the deadline on a rolling basis.

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