Internship at SimIS

Spring semester is drawing to a close, and that can only mean one thing for most students: it’s time to look for internships! Here are two students who just finished up an internship at SimIS, Inc. in Porstmouth, VA – Junior, Carolyn Lynch and Senior, Timothy Stelter.

Carolyn Lynch with co-workers Michael and Trey

Carolyn Lynch with co-workers Michael and Trey

Timothy Stelter with co-worker Tin

Timothy Stelter with co-worker Tin

 

1. Tell me a little bit about the work you did at your internship.

Carolyn: I worked on software for the American Heart Association which trained people in CPR. This software would monitor your movements using a X-Box Kinnect camera to make sure you were meeting the criteria to perform the procedure properly.

Tim: I worked with military/recon software to test unmanned boats. I would test the system to find breaks in the controller software. I developed test cases and simulations in order to reduce failures in the system and money loss. The main goal was to implement mission objectives and create solutions to hypothetical problems.

2. What did you enjoy most?

Carolyn: I really enjoyed the people. I worked with mostly younger people, in my generation, so the atmosphere was very relaxed. We all worked together in one big room which made collaboration really easy. I could just turn around and ask anyone for help with anything. I also enjoyed talking with the business people and getting a new perspective with the consumer side of software development, because these were the guys selling the software.

Tim: I enjoyed the fact that there were no cubicles. I could just ask anyone for help. I worked mostly with software people and I really enjoyed working with my supervisor. I had a lot of freedom as an intern to work on my project.

3. Would you go back and work with this company again?

Tim: Yes, I would probably take a job if they offered. The people were really nice, and getting the job done well was very highly stressed in the company. The job that Carolyn was working on especially stressed this because faulty medical software could lead to disaster.

Carolyn: I’m not sure. I would consider a job offer from them, but this job was mostly about getting internship experience.

4. Has your experience impacted what you want to do in the future?

Carolyn: Yes, I really liked contributing to something that served a bigger purpose. It was very different to working on assignments in a classroom. I was working with actual software and hardware and got to see how they interacted together. It made me realize I want my work to be “hands-on,” and I want that sense of camaraderie between the employees.

Tim: I received insight on the world of simulation and software engineering. It’s a constantly expanding field, and I got to direct my focus on where I can improve and narrow in on my strengths.

5. What advice do you have to your fellow students who are looking for internships?

Carolyn: Put yourself out there! We emailed a guy who was looking for a full-time employee but ended up hiring both of us as interns. Don’t just rely on job postings, be intentional with employers.

Tim: Show employers that you are genuinely interested in being there. They are looking to hire people who are enthusiastic about the work. Talking and networking are more important than you might think. Also, there is a lot of learning on the job. Even if you don’t know something, you’ll adapt while you’re there.

Dr. Cueman’s 26th Patent

Dr. Kent Cueman

Dr. Kent Cueman

You may have had Dr. Kent Cueman for a Physics class. Or, you’ve probably seen him at a Pizza My Mind event. But I bet you didn’t know that Dr. Cueman just received his 26th US patent.

Getting an invention patented is a very long process. First you write up a report about your idea, which is sent to a committee within an industry – in Dr. Cueman’s case, General Electric. The committee discusses whether or not the idea is worth spending the money, because getting a patent is very expensive. Next, you meet with a lawyer, who will help write out the idea in “legal language.” The new report is mailed the government who will spend several years analyzing, debating, and challenging the idea. Finally, at the very end, the inventor gets a letter in the mail congratulating them on their new patent.

This most recent patent has been eight years in the making. His invention deals with reverse osmosis, making sea water into drinking water. Companies that make bottled water and soda all use a version of this product. Dr. Cueman’s idea involved taking a sheet of paper-like material that will allow water molecules to go through, but trap the salt. The membrane is wrapped with layers of material that have channels in it, and stuffed into a tube. At one end of the tube, high pressured salt water is inserted and on the other end, it is separated into pure water, and more concentrated salt water. Dr. Cueman invented a new way to stuff the material inside the tube to increase the amount of purified water that is produced.

Before he came to CNU, Dr. Cueman worked in many different fields, including marine science, newspaper journalism, service as an Air Force officer, and industrial research. All of his patents involve applying physics to industrial problems – how to make things, or how to inspect them. He has worked on projects range from light switches to nuclear reactors. The project he enjoyed the most was working with locomotives, creating a cleaner diesel engine.

RedHat at Pizza My Mind

 PCSE Linux User Group Club and RedHat representative Tom Calloway

PCSE Linux User Group Club and RedHat representative Tom Calloway

Last week, Pizza My Mind featured a company called RedHat, which works with open source technology. According to RedHat representative Tom Calloway, “open source software gives control to the user.” The original source code of the software is made freely available to the user for modification and redistribution. Tom, and RedHat, believes that no group of humans can rely entirely on their own knowledge – it must be shared with others. And the point of open source is to bring resources together to solve problems faster. Tom gave three key words to apply to open source: “share, collaborate, and remix.” Anytime we come across something we don’t know, the Internet gives us the opportunity to reach out to people who are more knowledgeable in that field.

RedHat is the #1 open source leader. About 95% fortune companies use RedHat, which has now reached a multi-billion dollar status. They offer a range of mission-critical software and sources including middleware, Cloud, and operating systems. RedHat is the third biggest Cloud supplier, working with companies like Amazon.com, Cascio, Marriott, and eTrade.

Senior, Nathan Typanksi gave his thoughts on the RedHat presentation. “I think the biggest impact that Tom’s presentation had was that nobody came out of the presentation thinking developing open-source software is somehow the den of the unsuccessful, or that there isn’t real, serious cash available for students who have skills working with Linux and participating in open development communities. Tom made it very clear that Red Hat is playing for the Long Game, but considering what they’re up against, I think they’re quite apt at playing ball in the Short one as well.”

CNU Alumni Talk – Dr. Jonathan Backens

In February, the CNU Alumni Society hosted a presentation about what graduates have been up to since their school days. Electrical Engineering professor Dr. Jonathan Backens recently shared his experience in Africa and beyond.

Senior year of Dr. Jonathan Backens’s undergrad at CNU included an honors class called “Problems of the Modern World.” The class taught students how to apply their specific field to, you guessed it, problems in the modern world. As a computer science major, Dr. Backens wasn’t sure where to focus his research until he heard about the development challenges in Africa. He ended up writing his final paper on the creation of technology training schools in Sub-Saharan Africa. During the composition of the paper, Dr. Backens noticed that it pretty much wrote itself. He found himself wondering, “Is this something I could do?” Before he knew it, he was researching ways to get to Africa and enter into the field he’d written his paper about. A friend of a friend contacted him recommending an elementary school in Botswana that is always looking for temporary volunteers to teach English. After two emails back and forth, Dr. Backens registered for the program. He spent a year at the Tlokweng Dayspring School in Botswana teaching English to kids.

Soon afterward, he got in contact with a development group in Zambia called Macha Works, which connected rural hospitals with modern technologies such as Internet. Dr. Backens spent three and a half years in Zambia, working to create training schools for first generation computer users. Through the schools, more than one hundred native Zambians were able to gain the skills necessary to obtain better-paying jobs. Going from agricultural work, making only a few dollars a day, to working in hospitals and cities made a significant impact on the community.

Dr. Backens returned to the U.S. to go to graduate school. He reported feeling a better appreciation for education in America and the easy access we have as U.S. citizens.

Through his experiences, Dr. Backens said he learned about the impact of education, especially how it can open doors and lead to new experiences. His work in Africa was more or less brought about by a paper he had written during his undergrad.

I asked Dr. Backens about the challenges that face most undergrad students when thinking about their future career. He said that it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that you can accomplish real things. Undergrad classes are often focused on getting a good grade, and the students may not always take themselves seriously, which is a major obstacle to their view of what they can accomplish.

There’s a lot of pressure to go to college and get a job, Dr. Backens says, but not enough emphasis is put on making a meaningful impact on the world around you. What will make you most successful is having the courage to pursue that meaningful impact you can contribute.

Dr. Backens’s presentation received a lot of positive feedback who attended. Junior, Allison Kuntz said, “I went to the talk not expecting much.  I knew who Dr. Backens was but not anything about him.  By the time I left, I was in awe. The work he described and the path he used to get there was amazing. Simply headed to Africa on a dream with little plan is something I would be to afraid to do. I left with a new level of respect for this professor I had never met.”

“Dr. Backens’s talk was intensely inspiring, ” said Scott Bolar, Freshman. “His journey proved astounding at what can be accomplished with such little experience and in such a little amount of time. The anecdotes Dr. Backens told of the African bush were very interesting and even quite humorous at times. He emphasized the differences in culture and how we should seek to understand other cultures, embracing our differences, not rejecting them. The talk taught me a lot about how motivation and ambition can truly drive success, and with hard work is one of the few key paths to achievement.”

Finally, Brook Byrd, Sophomore, said, “Dr. Backens reminded me what it means to be a captain. He was the best speaker I have seen at CNU, and we didn’t even bring him in. He’s a professor here, I professor I have had. My mind was blown.”

 

Capitol Area Celebration of Women in Computing

Amanda Lee, a senior computer science major participated in the CAPWIC 2015: Capitol Area Celebration of Women in Computing conference on February 28, 2015.

The purpose of the conference was to bring women from the many disciplines of computer science to share their ideas and interests in the computing science field.  Amanda Lee commented, “It was a great opportunity to discover the different experiences of other female computer scientists.  The most interesting talk that I attended was given by Sydney Klein, VP of Information Security & Risk Management at Capitol One who spoke about working and succeeding in a diverse work environment. Her advice to attendees was to accept opportunities when they were offered instead of holding out for a particular position that might never be offered, and she encouraged women to be more confident when applying for jobs (according to the statistics she showed us, men will apply for a position when they only have 60% of the qualifications, while women will wait until they have 100% of the qualifications for the position).”

“Attending small, local conferences give our students a wonderful opportunity to see what other students are doing and to comprehend what is happening nearby in the field. It was a positive, energetic environment and we are lucky that we have this type of conference nearby,” said Dr. Lynn Lambert, Assistant Professor.

 

 

 

HELP WANTED!

Help WantedThe PCSE department is looking for students interested in contributing to the the department blog. Applicants should be strong writers, good communicators, and punctual with their work. Rising sophomores and juniors are preferred. The student can expect to start next semester and will be shadowing me. The following semester they will become a full-time writer. For more information, contact Eileen Murphy (eileen.murphy.12@cnu.edu) or Clare Maliniak (clarem@cnu.edu). Thank you!

Unmanned Aerial Systems

CNU provides many opportunities for PCSE students to get involved in hands-on activities in their field. One such opportunity is Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), which is led by sophomore Nigel Armstrong.

UAS is a team of students that design, build, and program unmanned aircrafts to compete in the annual SUAS competition. Usually the team consists of about ten people, including freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors majoring in computer science and computer engineering.

(L-R): Austin Suhler, Khiry Brothers, Jake Tarren, Gerald McAlistar, Jeremy Kelly, Deonte White, Nigel Armstrong, Dr. Anton Reidl, Mr. Cleveland White

(L-R): Austin Suhler, Khiry Brothers, Jake Tarren, Gerald McAlister, Jeremy Kelly, Deonte White, Nigel Armstrong, Dr. Anton Riedl, Mr. Cleveland White

This is their second year participating in the competition. Last year, there were 49 teams competing and 29 were selected. The goal is to create an aircraft that will take part in a multi-step mission. The design aspect involves a technical paper written about the design of the aircraft and an evaluation of how safe it is. At the competition there are two primary tasks – which must be completed – and a number of secondary tasks – which are optional. The main purpose is to test autonomous flight. The team is given search area tasks in which they must locate targets and report on identifying characteristics of those targets.

This year, the UAS team has been working on building off of last year’s design. Nigel feels that they are more experienced, having participated in the competition last year, and have a better idea of the aircraft’s strengths and weaknesses. He says that they are going to focus on choosing tasks that they are capable of performing and do them really well.

I asked Nigel how their prospects looked for this year’s competition, and he says this year looks to be tougher. But the team will build their aircraft to be more specialized on specific tasks instead of trying to perform as many as possible.

For anyone interested in joining UAS, or just learning more about it, contact Nigel (nigel.armstrong.13@cnu.edu), Clare Maliniak in the PCSE office, or Dr. Riedl. All kinds of majors are welcome including computer science with a variety of programming languages, computer engineering for hardware and software, math, physics, and even technical writing.

Meet Thomas!

Hello Captains! Welcome back to Spring Semester! Our exchange students from Rosenheim, Germany returned home at the end of last semester but the start of a new one brought Thomas Hoeftberger to CNU from Austria.

Thomas Hoeftberger

Thomas Hoeftberger

Thomas is a student at  the University of Applied Science Upper Austria, which is located in the town of Wels in Upper Austria.

Wels, Upper Austria

 

Thomas was interested in the exchange program because he wanted to visit another country and learn a new language. He had seen the USA portrayed in movies and wanted to know if the portrayals were realistic. (I hope we busted some of the less than flattering stereotypes).

At CNU he is enrolled in MATH 240, PHYS 202 & 202L, and HIST 122. I asked him which class he enjoyed the most and he diplomatically replied that he liked all of them equally. According to Thomas, the classes he has experienced are very different than university classes back home in Austria. Apparently, there are no quizzes, no homework, and no strict attendance policies. Just one final exam that you show up for at the end of the semester. I can imagine some of us might think that European universities are doing things right, but Thomas asserted that he liked CNU’s system better. He said that there are more opportunities to learn and that you get a better grasp on the material.

After graduation, Thomas plans to continue on at the company he currently works with: TCKT (Transfercenter für Kunststofftechnik). TCKT performs research and development in plastic technology. Right now, Thomas is working on a project to develop the combination of materials to make car bumpers.

Since he hasn’t been on campus long, Thomas hasn’t had the opportunity to travel a lot yet. He said he’s been to Norfolk so far, and he’s gone on trips with the CNU Hiking Club. In his free time, he has been able to catch some basketball games but mostly just hangs out with his roommates.

Finally, I asked Thomas what he would tell his friends about CNU so far. He said the campus is very nice and the people are friendly. The school has a good atmosphere for learning. He especially likes the basketball games; the music provided by the CNU Pep Band makes for a very exciting atmosphere. One thing that has been a disappointment, he said, has been the bars, which close at 2 am. According to Thomas, in Austria, you can literally party till dawn.

Meet the German Exchange Students

Hello Captains! I hope Finals Week is treating you decently, and if not, hang in there! We’re almost through! This is going to be the last post of the semester, so I hope it’s a good one! I wanted to introduce to you the German exchange students that we’ve been hosting this semester from Rosenheim, Germany. I got to interview two of them about their experience here at CNU.

(L-R): Anton Gasteiger,  Dominik Frank, and Andreas Riedner

(L-R): Anton Gasteiger, Dominik Frank, and Andreas Riedner

1. What classes are you taking this semester?

Andreas: We are taking the Artificial Intelligence class with Prof. Hibler (CPSC 471), the Communication 2 class (CPSC 611) with Prof. Riedl and the Physics 401/501 class with Prof. Gore.

2. Which classes do you enjoy the most?

Andreas: Hard to tell. All 3 of them have their pros (and some few cons) for me. If I would have to choose, I would choose Dr. Riedl’s class, as he is a very relaxed professor and I’m also doing pretty good there.
Dominik: PHYS 501

3. Are the classes different here at CNU than what you’re used to back home?

Andreas: Yes, very different. Here, the number of students per class is definitely lower, the interaction between professors and students much better (in Germany, some professors enter the classroom and just start to write on the board until the class ends. No questions, no discussions, no nothing) and of course, here, you have a lot more chances to work on your grade for a class. We don’t have any midterms or graded homework in Germany. We just have our one final exam. So you have only one shot to succeed or fail. Plus, attending classes is not mandatory in Germany. Therefore, you sometimes end up going to no classes for a tired professor at all and just start to prepare for the final exam a bit earlier.
Dominik: Sure they are! I am totally not used to the homework assignments! Other than that, it is pretty much the same style of classes/learning.

4. How do you like the professors here?

Andreas: I really like all 3 professors we have, although they are completely different in their way of teaching. But here on CNU, compared to our German universities, the distance between students and professors is much smaller and the relationship much friendlier. Playing soccer with a professor after class or inviting him to a bar is not that usual in Germany.
Dominik: Very enthusiastic and really care about the students (office hours…)

5. Do you have any plans after graduation?

Andreas: Not yet. I’ll first write my master thesis in spring/summer 2015. I’m not a friend of making too many plans for the future. Life doesn’t work that way and I just love being surprised in good and bad ways.
Dominik: Work as an electrical engineer.

6. What will you tell your friends about your trip when you go home?

Andreas: That I loved it. That Americans are just as awesome as we are :) at least those Americans I met. But that there are also a lot of well known prejudices about that country that have been confirmed during my stay. I will motivate everyone to go there and enjoy the states as it is a enjoyable place. But in the end, going back home will be the best part of the trip, at least for me, as Bavaria is the best place in the world for me.
Dominik: Everything! All about what I experienced here while my stay, the culture, the people, the university, the sights!

7. Have you traveled outside of campus much?

Andreas: Not yet. We have been to Washington D.C. of course and made some weekend trips to Virginia Beach, Richmond, the Outer Banks and some other places around Newport News. But we’ll be in New York the Thanksgiving week and our last 2 weeks we’ll spend in Florida for Christmas.
Dominik: Yes. I’ve been to Williamsburg, Richmond, Outer Banks and plan to go to New York City over the Thanksgiving break and a trip to Florida/Key West after the finals.

8. What is the night life like here compared to in Germany?

Andreas: Let’s not talk about the night life in Newport News. It obviously is non-existent. Of course you can still go to Virginia Beach or to some house parties off campus, but we are just used to better options. Also, the bars here close very very early. In Germany, you have those special clubs and bars that just don’t close at all over the weekend. You could literally enter the Club on Friday evening and leave it on Monday morning. Of course, those clubs are an extreme example. But also in general, the nightlife lasts much longer in Germany and is much bigger. In Rosenheim, Munich and Salzburg you just have thousands of options every weekend.
Dominik: The night life is quite different. Your bars and clubs close already at 2am while in Germany you can party all night.

Student-Faculty Research

Hi Captains! This semester, several research projects are being conducted by students and faculty. One such project is Cara Villareal’s and Rachel Wolf’s research with Professor Keith Perkins involving a 3-D model of a person and an Xbox Kinect. I got to ask Rachel a few questions about the project so far.

(L-R): Prof. Perkins, Cara Villareal, Rachel Wolf

(L-R): Prof. Perkins, Cara Villareal, Rachel Wolf

What is your research about?

Our research involves using a 3-D model of a person and an Xbox Kinect. We put the model through software that will then be able to calculate the perimeter of any part of the body to within one-inch accuracy. For clarity’s sake, say you have a 3-D model of a person and wish to take their waist measurement – the software we’re developing will/can do that. When running the software, the model is viewable to the user and a purple line indicates where the measurement is being taken.

How long have you been working on it?

We started at the beginning of this semester, so it’s been roughly three months.

What got you interested in the topic of this research?

Cara and myself had to find something to do for our Computer Science capstone. I asked Prof. Perkins for ideas and he provided a list. This one sounded the best, so we kind of just winged it upon first starting.

Would you consider it to be successful so far?

Definitely. We can take mostly accurate measurements throughout the span of the body. Our original project only required us to be able to take a single measurement.

What do you like best about working on this project?

It’s different than a lot of other computer science projects that I’ve had to do in the past. You can actually see the progress of your work visually and I think it has potential to be a useful product someday. The plan is to use it for avatar rendering, which will allow a user to try on clothes from online vendors to see how they look and then buy them using their particular measurements.