Luter Open House

Good afternoon, Captains! Welcome to Fall!

As you know, last weekend was Family Weekend and one of the events taking place to kick off the weekend was the Luter Open House. Last Friday from 3-5 pm, prospective students, parents, and alumni filled Luter to check out our newest academic building, enjoy refreshments, and see what’s been going on in our beloved PCSE department.

Shelly Fitzgerald, BOSH Global Systems with Dr. Anton Riedl (Bosh was a financial support of the UAS Competition)

Shelly Fitzgerald, BOSH Global Systems with Dr. Anton Riedl (Bosh was a financial support of the UAS Competition)

Department Chair Dr. Anton Riedl started the event with a introduction followed by President Trible with his heart-warming welcome speech. Afterwards, several awards were presented to outstanding members of the science and technology community, including one to John Rivers who is the Director of Advanced Concepts – Force Application Center for Innovation at Lockheed Martin.

John Rivers, Director, Advanced Concepts - Force Application Center for Innovation, Lockheed Martin accepting award from Nigel Armstrong, Team member of CNU's Unmanned Aeriel Systems Team.

John Rivers, Director, Advanced Concepts – Force Application Center for Innovation, Lockheed Martin accepting award from Nigel Armstrong, Team member of CNU’s Unmanned Aeriel Systems Team.

After the greetings and speeches, guests were free to wander about Luter classrooms where different organizations had set up exhibits and displays to showcase their work.

Luter 306:

Physics Fun Park with Dr. Fersch and Dr. Monaghan

Luter 322:

Meet NAO and Create, your friendly neighborhood robots with Amanda Lee and Dr. Flores

Taming Zeus – Analyzing malware in a controlled environment with Kyle Hannah and Dr. Gianvecchio

Dr. Steven Gianvecchio with Graduate student, Kyle Hannah and two prospective CNU students

Dr. Steven Gianvecchio with Graduate student, Kyle Hannah and two prospective CNU students

Unmanned Aerial Systems Lab and Competition Team with Nigel Armstrong, Khiry Brothers, Davis Catherman, David Kroell, Austin Suhler, James Tobin, Deonte White, and Dr. Riedl

IEEE Hardware Competition Team with Nathan Typanski and Rachel Wolf

Senior, Computer Engineering major Rachel Wolf with two CNU freshman.

Senior, Computer Engineering major Rachel Wolf with two CNU freshman.

Luter 323:

Center for Innovation in Science Education with Clare Crawford, Megan Troxel, Dr. Lambert

Information Science and Information Systems with Prof. Koehl

Clean up your data – Data mining meets fuzzy logic with Matthew Rutherford and Dr. Wang

Application of DSSS in the Ferguson Center with Christopher Hewitt

Artificial Neural Networks with Dr. Zhang

Luter 327:

3D Scientific Visualization Lab with Dr. Heddle

Augmented and Virtual Reality with April Alexander, Dr. Flores, Malcolm Jones, Gerald McAlister, Jess Wooten, and Prof. Perkins

Luter 335:

Media Lab with Chris Webb and Dr. Siochi

Luter 339:

Electrical Engineering with Dr. Backens

Arduinos and Nano-Devices with Dr. Gerousis

Non-Destructive Testing with Dr. Selim

Luter 342:

Space Science Lab with Susannah Darling, Justin Denno, Amanda Friedericks, Caroline McElhenny, and Dr. DeJong

X-Ray Optics and General Relativity with Dr. Gore

Luter 345:

High-Speed Data Acquisition Lab  with Christian Davison, Kyle Hesse, Mitchell Kerver, Anthony Losada, and Dr. Brash

Senior, Kyle Hesse with Keith Fox, HR Technical Recruiter, Ferguson Enterprises

Senior, Kyle Hesse with Keith Fox, HR Technical Recruiter, Ferguson Enterprises

A very special thanks goes out to the PCSE students who donated their time to volunteer at this event: Adam Brakman, Bethany Burress, Courtney Duquette, David Hamblin, Brandi Holland, Stephen Michaelis, Jordan Schmuckler, Timothy Stelter, Juan Vallejo, and Zachary Whitten. Y’all are great!




New Professors for Fall 2014

Hello Captains! Now that we’re four weeks into the semester, y’all should be fully integrated into the class-study-play schedule right? Good! Along with a fabulous new class of freshman, we also have two new professors in the PCSE department this semester: Dr. Jonathan Backens and Dr. Peter Monaghan. I got to talk with both of them to see how they liked CNU so far!

Dr. Backens

IMG_1632What does he teach? Dr. Backens teaches two sections of Engineering Design (ENGR 121) and Intro to Electric Circuits Lab (ENGR 211L).

Which subject is his favorite? Engineering Design, because it’s a beginner course and he is able to present engineering formally, including the pros and cons of the field. He enjoys talking about what it means to be engineer and that he can shape how students feel about the field.

How has he liked CNU so far? A lot! Dr. Backens is actually an alumnus of CNU; he graduated as a CS/CE major in 2004. He is impressed with how the department has grown and how the university has developed. It is especially exciting to come back to his old university as a professor.

What about the PCSE department? The faculty has been very welcoming; they are approachable, they promote collaboration and give plenty of advice for working with students and doing research.

How has it been working with the students so far? The freshman are especially enthusiastic about the engineering field which is encouraging to see. They care more about the paycheck, they are genuinely interested.

Where has he worked prior to CNU? Dr. Backens did his graduate work at ODU and was a full-time lecturer there as well. He also worked four years overseas in Botswana and Zambia for a nonprofit organization that provided rural ICT development. This involved connecting hospitals to the internet and providing training for employees.

What is he most looking forward to this year? He’s most looking forward to connecting with students. He is a third generation teacher in his family. Also launching the new Electrical Engineering major and building the program “from scratch.”

Dr. Monaghan


What does he teach? Dr. Monaghan teaches two sections of Physics 201.

How has he liked CNU so far? He is very impressed with the campus, buildings, facilities. The Lab spaces in particular are very well thought out and well stocked. Good space for working with students.

What about the PCSE department? The PCSE faculty is welcoming and very helpful in settling into the department. Dr. Fersch, in particular, has been helpful in setting up the 201 course and staying on track.

How has it been working with the students so far? So far he has had good interactions with the students both within the classroom and in office hours. It is easy to tell the more enthusiastic students because they respond more in class and and visit during office hours.

Where has he worked prior to CNU? Dr. Monaghan came to the US from Belfast, Ireland 15 years ago to go to grad school at MIT. He came to the Newport News area in 2002 to do his thesis research at Jefferson Lab. In 2008 he graduated and worked at Hampton University on full time research, including one project based in Japan.

What is he most looking forward to this year? He is most looking forward to setting up the research lab to work with students. He is also looking forward to the challenge of teaching the course; receiving constant feedback from students and challenging them to excel in class.


“And We’re Back!”

IMG_4252Welcome back, Captains! Hope you had a fantastic summer break! Hope also that the first week of school treated you well!

Here in the PCSE department, we lost no time in getting started! Pizza My Mind started up again this past Thursday with some new faculty, new events, and new opportunities to get involved on campus. Oh, you missed it? Don’t worry! Here’s what happened!

First, we met Dr. Jonathan Backens, our new engineering professor for the brand-new Electrical Engineering program starting this semester, as well as a new Physics professor by the name of Dr. Peter Monaghan. If you’re in either of their classes, let us know how it goes!


Don’t forget that Pizza My Mind counts for extra credit for any PCSE class! All you have to do is sign in when you arrive.

Mike Henle from the Career Center gave us a brief preview of some upcoming events to mark on your calendars. September 16th is networking workshop geared specifically towards introverts. Anyone who finds career fairs daunting (I certainly do!) should consider attending the workshop.

Speaking of career fairs, the next one is on October 1st. Dust off your nice slacks (or pencil skirt) and padfolio and come talk with employers about job and internship opportunities.


Representatives from some of the science clubs and societies stood up to introduce themselves, including:

  • Sigma Pi Sigma – The Physics Honor Society (available to all Physics majors)
  • Upsilon Pi Epsilon – The Computer Science Fraternity (available to Computer Science, Computer Engineering, and Information Systems majors)
  • ACM – a club dedicated to the software side of computer engineering (which, incidentally, is hosting a Career Panel on September 12th, don’t miss that!)
  • IEEE – focused more on engineering
  • SPS – a gathering for Physics-minded people
  • Unmanned Aerial Systems Competition Team – which speaks for itself


Dr. Riedl also mentioned that if you have any ideas for new clubs on campus, don’t be shy! Bring ‘em on down!

Some more upcoming dates are:

  • 24th September: Women of PCSE Luncheon – for more information about that, see Dr. Lambert
  • 26th September: PCSE Department Open House – bring your families to see what the department is all about!

Beef up your college experience with a study abroad trip to Glasgow (all majors) or Rosenheim, Germany (CE & EE). Or consider faculty/student research. Several of our professors offer projects at places like NSF REU, the National Institute of Aerospace, Jefferson Lab, and NASA.

There are also several service opportunities (yes, you heard right, PLP students!) working at STEM day, robotics, tutoring, and teaching programming. Ask Dr. Lambert for more information!

Well, that’s all for now, folks! Have a great semester and keep checking the blog for more news!

Save the Date!

Save the date Friday, May 9 at 3:30 p.m. for the Class of 2014 Student Awards and Recognition Ceremony taking place in Freeman Center 201. The ceremony honors our graduating students for their excellence in academics, leadership and service.

Distinguished PCSE alumni and the PCSE Advisory Board members will be invited to honor and celebrate with our students and their families. This year’s ceremony will include awarding of certificates to our outstanding
students, a surprise alumni guest speaker, and the announcement of PCSE 2014-2015 scholarship recipients.

In addition to the graduating seniors, all PCSE students (and their families) who have been inducted to Upsilon Pi Epsilon, the International Computer Science Honor Society and Sigma Pi Sigma, the Physics Honor Society are welcome to attend.

PCSE Advisory Board


Hey-o Captains! 

Do you see these lovely people up there? They serve on the PCSE Advisory Board, which gathered on Friday, January 31, 2014 for a super-secret (not really) and super-exciting meeting, lunch included! After viewing the latest CNU admissions video, the board got down to business, discussing topics such as PCSE programs, student and faculty research, student outbound success programs and continued learning opportunities for our beloved graduates. It’s safe to say they’ve got some exciting things planned for us! But keep it on the down-low… it’s super-secret! (not really)

Official Board Roster

Name: Suzanne Beckstoffer Title: Director of Process and Tools Company:  Newport News Shipbuilding

 Name: Nee-Yin Chou Title:  President & CEO Company:  CW Optics, Inc.

 Name: Michael Felbinger Title: Vice President Project Implementation Company: Swisslog Logistics Inc.

 Name: Christopher Hewitt Title:  Software Developer Company: Jefferson Lab

Name: Robert F. Hodson Title:  Chief Engineer, Game Changing Development Program Company:  NASA

 Name:  Clifford Mahair Title: Software Engineer Company: Northrop Grumman

Name: Monte Robinson Title:  President Company:  Robinson Engineering, Inc.


New Professor Part 2


Those of you who take CPSC 250 have already met our new professor in the PCSE department Dr. Steven Gianvecchio. If you haven’t met him, he also teaches CPSC 502 – graduate students have that to look forward to – and an independent study course on botnet detection.

Before coming to the heavily-columned campus on CNU, Dr. Gianvecchio worked as a cyber-security researcher at the MITRE Corporation, a federally-funded research and development center. He was a project lead and principal investigator on projects that detected botnets and advanced persistent threats.

In case you didn’t know (I didn’t!) a botnet is a network of computers infected with malicious software that criminals can use to send  out spam, spread viruses, attack computers and servers, and other such nefarious deeds.

Dr. Gianvecchio says he is enjoying the CNU community. “The faculty are very talented, and enjoy teaching and working with students. The students are smart, and are enthusiastic about the subject matter and enjoy learning.” Way to go CNU for impressing the professor!

Signing Day 2014


Hiya Captains! As you may (or may not) know, February 4th was Sophomore Signing Day! Eighty-eight students declared a PCSE major and were welcomed into the department with a shiny new pen, a button, and a cool PCSE lanyard.

Dr. Riedl was there to shake the hands of all the newcomers as well as Dr. Flores, Professor Perkins, Dr. Lambert, Dr. Collins, Professor Cole, and Dr. Gerousis.

Congratulations sophomores and welcome aboard!

New Professors


Hey there, PCSE department! Have you met Dr. Michael Collins yet? He is one of our new professors here at CNU this year. You may have had him teach your CPSC 125, ENGR 213, CPSC 250L, or CPSC 428 class. Dr. Collins came here from the Sandia National Laboratory in Albuquerque, NM where he worked in network security, vulnerability analysis, cryptography, and discrete optimization.

I think we’ve made a good impression so far because he says the most enjoyable thing about working here is the people. Great faculty and staff and great students! He also enjoys not working behind a fence with badges and security.

The most difficult adjustment, he says, was packing up and moving from New Mexico and into our moist Virginia climate! Sorry about that…

Welcome Dr. Collins! We’re glad to have you and we hope to have you for a while!

Jefferson Lab Internship

Howdy Captains! I hope you had a relaxing winter break and are fully charged and prepared to plug back into your school work. At the start of this new semester I bring news of an impressive young gentleman whose work at Jefferson Lab earned him a spot in the Honors Gallery.

Senior, Jordan Thomas was hired as an intern at the Thomas Jefferson National Particle Accelerator Facility to assist Dr. Brash’s team on a project involving a particle accelerator.This is a continuous electron beam and its design is unique to the Jefferson Lab. The lab’s primary goal is to research the nucleus of an atom using this machine. Jordan explained that the beam had been shut down for several years so it could be upgraded. The project he participated in involved evaluating the equipment that would detect the energy and the path of the particles in the beam.

Jordan’s work took him to the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center in California to run experiments using equipment specific to that lab. Upon their return, he was assigned a solo project to find the proper voltage needed in order to detect particles in the beam.

To read more about Jordan’s experience at Jefferson Lab check out CNU’s Honors Program Gallery: and click on “James Thomas”, third from the bottom!

Studying in Rosenheim


RosenheimExchange_Students Hiya Captains! Just here to tell you about an awesome opportunity that CNU offers to engineering students: an exchange program in Rosenheim, Germany. I talked with Aaron Bergel, one of four students who participated in the program last spring and he told me a little bit about the trip.

Initially Aaron wasn’t keen on the idea of studying in a different country, but the aspiration to travel to Europe eventually compelled him to apply for the Spring semester at the University of Rosenheim of Applied Sciences or “Fachhochschule” in German. He wanted to experience college life in a new culture and this was an exceptional opportunity to do so! Living in Germany for several months rather than merely travelling through allowed him to experience it properly, not through the eyes of a tourist. He also enjoyed meeting people and making friends from all over the world, “from China to Finland, and anywhere in between.”

 The most challenging aspect for Aaron was the application process, which is to be expected with any study abroad program. When you’re living overseas for several months, there’s going to be forms and plenty of them! The language barrier presented another challenge. Navigating foreign cities when you don’t know the native language is never easy. I asked Aaron if he learned any “life skills” and he felt even in the day-to-day tasks there was a learning experience, like budgeting money for trips and being open to trying new things.

To anyone looking to apply in the future, Aaron says:

“Give it some serious thought, you will look back and honestly realize you enjoyed every minute of it!”