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.

talk: Matuszek on Giving Successful Technical Presentations, 2pm 11/18

UMBC Professor CYnthia Matuszek

UMBC ACM Tech Talk

Giving Successful Technical Presentations
Prof. Cynthia Matuszek, UMBC

2:00pm Wednesday 18 November 2015, ITE325

Giving talks is one of the core tasks of a researcher. Technical presentations are how we accomplish some of our most important tasks: talks are the first step in getting other people excited about our work, getting suggestions and feedback, teaching, and applying for jobs and grants. Nonetheless, the art and science of giving a really good technical talk is one we are more likely to leave to chance than to deliberately train in. Not only does this mean we aren’t accomplishing everything we could with our presentations; we’re missing a chance to distinguish ourselves by improving a comparatively rare — but learnable — skill.

In this talk, I will describe the idea of the “culture of conveying information,” and give a number of specific suggestions for improving technical talks — including tools, rules of thumb, social conventions, and suggestions for making your talks engaging, informative, and memorable.

Cynthia Matuszek is an Assistant Professor at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County’s Computer Science and Electrical Engineering department where she heads the Interactive Robotics and Language lab. She completed her Ph.D. at the University of Washington in 2014, where she was a member of both the Robotics and State Estimation lab and the Language, Interaction, and Learning group. She is published in the areas of artificial intelligence, robotics, ubiquitous computing, and human-robot interaction. Her research interests include human-robot interaction, natural language processing, and machine learning.

Free workshop on using the Arduino microcontroller, Sat. 11/14 and 11/21


The UMBC IEEE Branch will hold an Arduino workshop on Saturday November 14th and next Saturday November 21st from 2:00-6:00pm in SHER 003 (Lecture Hall 4). It’s a great opportunity for people to learn about microcontrollers and circuit basics and how to use Arduino for building cyber-physical systems for home automation, robotics, games and more.

The Arduino microcontroller is a great device for anyone who wants to learn more about technology. It is used in a variety of fields in research and academia and may even help you get an internship. Our instructors have used the Arduino for researching self-replicating robots and remote-controlled helicopters, hacking into a vehicle’s control system, and using radars to detect human activity in a room. Some of the hackathon projects by our IEEE members include developing a drink mixer that wirelessly connects with a Tesla Model S and a full-body haptic feedback suit for the Oculus Rift. The Arduino is a wonderful tool and is fairly easy to use. Everyone should learn how to use it!

UMBC’s Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers is hosting two Level 1 workshops this semester. They are hosted this Saturday (Nov. 14th) and next Saturday (Nov. 21st). The workshop will be SHER 003 (Lecture Hall 4) from 2pm to 6pm. Please register online to sign up for either workshop. Contact Sekar Kulandaivel () if you have any questions.

The workshop is open to all majors (minimum coding experience recommended). You only need to bring your laptop and charger and download and install the Arduino IDE. We hope to see many of you this weekend! You REALLY don’t want to miss out on this opportunity.

NSF CyberCorps: Scholarship For Service, Nov 20 deadline

UMBC undergraduate and graduate students interested in cybersecurity can apply for an NSF CyberCorps: Scholarship For Service scholarship by 20 November 2015.

The NSF 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; 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 or the OPM SFS site. Contact Dr. Alan Sherman () for questions not answered on those sites.

jobs: Find out about jobs & internships at Google, Oct 29-30

Jobs at Google

Google will be on campus on Thursday and Friday, October 29 and 30 to talk with students about opportunities for full-time positions and internships. See their message below.

Hello UMBC students!

Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. It’s an enormous goal to accomplish and we need great people to help us achieve it!

We invite you to come learn about Google and meet some of our Googlers at this exciting event!

Who: All Computer Science and Engineering students, but anyone with an interest in software development is welcome!

What: Culture at Google and Laying the Groundwork for a Successful Tech Career
Date: Thursday, October 29th
Time: 4:00pm – 8:00pm
Location: PAHB 132

What: Culture at Google and Preparing for Technical Interviews
Date: Friday, October 30th
Time: 12:00pm – 3:00pm
Location: PAHB 132

RSVP here. Have any questions? Check out our FAQs below.


Jonathan Bronson (Google Employee)
Loryn Chen (Google Student Ambassador for UMBC)


“Okay, Google, I’m ready to apply.”

What roles are you hiring for?

Most of our available opportunities for technical students are within our software engineering teams. Check out the roles below for more details. For all other opportunities, visit

Can I apply for multiple positions?

Yes, you can apply for as many roles and locations as you’d like. We’ll review your resume and transcript to determine the best match.

When are the application deadlines?

Apply now! We encourage you to apply sooner rather than later, since most of our full time roles and internships accept applications on a rolling basis. If there is a deadline for a specific position, it will say so on the job posting.

What do I need to submit when I apply?

Please upload your resume and a copy of your transcript (unofficial is fine).

So I really don’t need a cover letter?

Correct! Have your resume tell your story!

I applied previously and wasn’t selected. May I reapply?

Yes, but we generally recommend that you’ve gained at least six months of additional technical experience and knowledge before reapplying.

Are international students eligible to apply for internships or full-time roles?

Yes, international students can apply for internships and full-time roles.

I’m planning to graduate this academic year, can I apply for an internship?

Unfortunately you aren’t able to do an internship after you graduate, so you’ll need to apply for a full-time role. If you’re graduating, but plan to pursue a graduate degree, then you can apply for an internship.

I want to intern on Android/Maps/[insert Google product here]. How do I apply for those teams?

You’ll first need to pass two technical phone interviews then a recruiter will work with you to determine a project match for the summer. You’ll have the chance to express interest in certain teams, tell us more about your background/skills, etc. once you’ve completed the technical interviews.

I applied online but haven’t heard back from anyone. Help?!

First, make sure you received the confirmation email that we received your application. Second, reply to us at so we can check the status of your application.

NSF Graduate Research Fellowship applications due Oct. 27

If you plan on applying to graduate school for next year or are currently a graduate student in your first or second year and are a US citizen or permanent-resident, you should consider applying to the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP). This program makes approximately 2000 new fellowship awards each year.

The GRFP program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based Master’s and doctoral degrees at accredited United States institutions. Fellows benefit from a three-year annual stipend of $32,000 along with a $12,000 cost of education allowance for tuition and fees, and opportunities for international research and professional development.

GRFP is the country’s oldest national fellowship program directly supporting graduate students in STEM fields. The hallmark features of the program are: 1) the award of fellowships to individuals on the basis of merit and potential, and 2) the freedom and flexibility provided to Fellows to define their own research and choose the accredited U.S. graduate institution that they will attend.

US citizens and permanent residents who are planning to enter graduate school in an NSF-supported discipline next fall, or in the first two years of such a graduate program, or who are returning to graduate school after being out for two or more years, are eligible. Applications for computing and engineering areas fields are due October 27. The applicant information page and the solicitation contain the necessary details.

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