Consider pursuing an advanced degree in computing

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The Computing Research Association has published five short videos to explain the benefits of pursuing a PhD in a computing discipline. The videos showcase young researchers with PhDs who are now working in industry as they talk about what compelled them to pursue a doctorate and how they are using their advanced training in their work. The videos illustrate how a PhD is useful in industry as well as in academia.


Click to watch all five videos or select one below.
  • Video 1: Adrienne Porter Felt (PhD Berkeley) talks about her work on security at Google.
  • Video 2: Hoda Eldardiry (PhD Purdue) talks about her work on predictive analytics, using machine learning and data mining at Palo Alto Research Center (PARC)
  • Video 3: Susanna Ricco (PhD Duke) and Mac Mason (PhD Duke) at Google talk about their work in robotics and vision.
  • Video 4: Richard Socher (PhD Stanford) talks about his work in artificial intelligence at Salesforce.
  • Video 5: Tiffany Chen (PhD Stanford) talks about her work in bioinformatics at Cytobank.

Travel grants for students to attend 2016 Grace Hopper Conference

Google will fund travel grants to the 2016 Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing Conference (GHC) which takes place in Houston, Oct 19-21, 2016. The GHC is the world’s largest gathering of women technologists and offers many valuable resources to students and academics alike, from a Student Opportunity Lab to tracks specifically designed to educate and inspire faculty. Its career fair, one of the largest in the U.S., earns a 97% satisfaction rate from our student survey respondents.

University students and industry professionals in the US and Canada who are excelling in computing and passionate about supporting women in tech can apply for a travel grant to attend the 2016 Grace Hopper conference. Sponsorship includes: conference registration, round trip flight to Houston, TX, arranged hotel accommodations from October 18-22, $75 USD reimbursement for miscellaneous travel costs and a fun social event with your fellow travel grant recipients on one of the evenings of the conference.

Apply by Sunday, July 10 using this online form. The Grace Hopper Travel Grant recipients will be announced by July 27th.

Microsoft Student Partners program

Microsoft Student Partners (MSPs) are student technology leaders, empowered to build Microsoft communities on their campus and share their deep knowledge and passion for technology with their fellow classmates.  See here for more information. Apply by 15 July 2016.

UMBC students demonstrate smartphone applications, 12:30-2:30 Tue 5/10


7919_New Faculty 2009 Nilanjan Banerjee Computer Science and Computer Engineering

Student groups drawn from two UMBC classes will demonstrate twelve mobile applications they developed as projects from 12:30 to 2:30 on Tuesday, 10 May 2016 in the UC Ballroom. Pizza will be provided.

The projects are a result of an innovative collaboration between a computer science class lead by Professor Nilanjan Banerjee (CMSC 678 Mobile Computing) and a visual arts class lead by Professor Viviana Chacon (ART 434 Advanced Interface Design).

The two faculty were awarded a grant from the fall 2015 round of the Hrabowski Fund for Innovation competition to develop and evaluate the collaboration between the two courses. The classes held regular joint sessions and each project group comprised students from both Engineering and Visual Arts.

In ART 434 Prof. Cordova concentrated on the visual experience of the interface in mobile and desktop applications, while in CMSC 628 Prof.  Banerjee provided the tools necessary to design and implement mobile applications.  Specific mobile development topics such as user interface design and implementation, accessing and displaying sensor and location data, and mobile visual design were co-­‐taught by both instructors.  Teams comprising Engineering and Visual Arts students designed and built mobile applications for local clients in Baltimore and Washington DC area.

poster describing the event has brief descriptions of the twelve class projects.

NSF CyberCorps: Scholarship For Service, May 15 deadline

UMBC undergraduate and graduate students interested in cybersecurity can apply for an Federal CyberCorps: Scholarship For Service scholarship by 15 May 2016. This application deadline will be the last one under the current NSF grant, which ends August 2017.

The Federal CyberCorps: Scholarship For Service program is designed to increase and strengthen the cadre of federal information assurance professionals that protect the government’s critical information infrastructure. This program provides scholarships that may fully fund the typical costs incurred by full-time students while attending a participating institution, including tuition and education and related fees. Participants also receive stipends of $22,500 for undergraduate students and $34,000 for graduate students.

Applicants must be be full-time UMBC students within two years of graduation with a BS or MS degree; a student within three years of graduation with both the BS/MS degree; a student participating in a combined BS/MS degree program; or a research-based doctoral student within three years of graduation in an academic program focused on cybersecurity or information assurance. Recipients must also be US citizens or permanent residents; meet criteria for Federal employment; and be able to obtain a security clearance, if required.

For more information and instructions on how to apply see the UMBC CISA site (use old application form, and be sure to include the cover sheet).

UMBC Grand Challenges Scholars Program, apply by 3/25


The UMBC Grand Challenges Scholars Program engages students from all majors who want to help solve important problems facing society. It is organized around a fourteen Grand Challenges identified by the National Academy of Engineering with a focus on sustainability, health, security and knowledge. Their solutions will require interdisciplinary teams and years of sustained effort. The national program combines curricular and extra-curricular program with five components that are designed to prepare students to be the generation that solves the grand challenges facing society in this century.

A UMBC Grand Challenge Scholar will design a personalized program to explore a selected Grand Challenge. The program areas include research, interdisciplinary study, entrepreneurship, global perspectives, and service. UMBC Grand Challenge Scholars will receive formal designation at graduation for their accomplishments. The program is designed for students completing their sophomore year, but all students may apply. Get more information  here and apply online to become a UMBC Grand Challenge Scholar by March 25.

Find out more about the UMBC Grand Challenges Scholars Program from Prof. Marie desJardins this Tuesday, March 8, from 12-1pm (pizza provided!) or Thursday, March 10, from 4-5pm (snacks provided!), in ITE 325b. 

Marie desJardins recognized by CRA for Undergraduate Research Mentoring


CSEE professor Marie desJardins has received an Undergraduate Research Faculty Mentoring Award from the Computing Research Association (CRA). The award recognizes faculty who have provided exceptional mentorship, undergraduate research experiences, and, in parallel, guidance on admission and matriculation of undergraduate students to research-focused graduate programs in computing. The award will be presented to Dr. desJardins at the CRA Conference at Snowbird in July.

Dr. desJardins is a professor in UMBC’s Computer Science and Electrical Engineering department and Associate Dean of the College of Engineering and Information Technology. Her research is in the area of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and computer science education. Currently, her research group includes six undergraduates and five graduate students. Since 2005, she has mentored over 70 undergraduate students. At least 29 of them have enrolled in graduate programs in computing, with eight of the 29 having pursued a Ph.D. in computer science.

In announcing the award, the CRA noted that

“Many of the undergraduates Marie has mentored never imagined that they would be involved in research and consider graduate education. Marie’s strategy for working with undergraduate majors involves engaging with students in their first two years and building teams in which her more senior research students (graduate and undergraduate) help train and lead the junior students. She is known for her unconditional support, encouragement, and dedication. She encourages students from underrepresented minorities to get involved with national organizations and programs, including CRA-W, NCWIT, Grace Hopper, IJCAI and AAAI. She stays in touch with her mentees beyond their graduation, and she has helped some to become effective mentors themselves.”

This is the first year for the CRA Undergraduate Research Faculty Mentoring  Award, which was also given to Pieter Abbeel of the University of California, Berkeley and Judy Goldsmith from the University of Kentucky.

Founded in 1972, CRA‘s membership includes more than 200 North American organizations active in computing research: academic departments of computer science and computer engineering, laboratories and centers (industry, government, and academia), and affiliated professional societies (AAAI, ACM, CACS/AIC, IEEE Computer Society, SIAM, USENIX). Its mission is to enhance innovation by joining with industry, government and academia to strengthen research and advanced education in computing. CRA executes this mission by leading the computing research community, informing policymakers and the public, and facilitating the development of strong, diverse talent in the field.

HackUMBC 24 -hour student hackathon, 5-6 March 2016 at UMBC


HackUMBC is a 24 hour student hackathon that will take place on Saturday and Sunday, March 5-6, 2016 at UMBC. It’s an opportunity to learn new skills, make friends, create your wildest idea, and share it with the world. Build an app, a website, a robotic arm, a game, anything. It’s free and food, beverages, swag, workspaces, and sleeping areas will be provided. All undergraduate, graduate, and high school students are welcome, but pre-registration is required. Get more information and apply at

Baseball Analytics Hackathon, Feb 5, Oriole Park at Camden Yards

Do you love creating new ways to represent and visualize data? Or are you a data science/ML/AI guru who can’t get enough of Major League Baseball?

A Baseball Analytics Hackathon will be hosted by the Baltimore Orioles and Booz Allen Hamilton from 10:00am to 7:00pm Friday, 5 February 2016 at Oriole Park at Camden Yards Baltimore. It is an opportunity to work with baseball executives and data scientists to refine your data science and analytic skills and show off your creativity by finding new ways to change the game.

Hackathon participants will work to develop innovative data science and visualization solutions using unique datasets that the hosts will provide alongside anything else that is openly available on the Internet. They hope that bringing together creative minds in a competitive environment will lead to novel solutions to some of the questions that the baseball industry is trying to answer. Projects will be judged by Orioles executives and other data scientists. Prizes will be awarded for the most impressive projects.

You may register as either an individual or group participant. Space is limited, so make sure to sign up before the deadline of January 22nd, 2016. Participants will receive notice of their acceptance by Monday, January 25th. Breakfast, lunch, and snacks will be provided.

Alexa, get my coffee: Using the Amazon Echo in Research

“Alexa, get my coffee”:
Using the Amazon Echo in Research

Megan Zimmerman

10:30am Monday, 7 December 2015, ITE 346

The Amazon Echo is a remarkable example of language-controlled, user-centric technology, but also a great example of how far such devices have to go before they will fulfill the longstanding promise of intelligent assistance. In this talk, we will describe the Interactive Robotics and Language Lab‘s work with the Echo, with an emphasis on the practical aspects of getting it set up for development and adding new capabilities. We will demonstrate adding a simple new interaction, and then lead a brainstorming session on future research applications.

Megan Zimmerman is a UMBC undergrad majoring in computer science working on interpreting language about tasks at varying levels of abstraction, with a focus on interpreting abstract statements as possible task instructions in assistive technology.

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