Meet the Freshmen

Jon Hill, De'Shawn Maynard & Drake Cole

Jon Hill, De’Shawn Maynard & Drake Cole

A little over a week ago, I received an e-mail “From the desk of the President” and as I read about the class of 2019, an idea sparked. The e-mail read: “With an average high school GPA of 3.8, this is the strongest class to ever enter CNU. The SAT middle percent range is 1080-1230. The GPA middle 50 percent range is 3.5-4.0. That means 25 percent of the class has a high school GPA above 4.0 and an SAT above 1230.” Basically, these new freshmen bring some of brightest minds that CNU has ever seen. So I figured that it’s in our best interest to get to know them.

Starting off with the basics, what is your major and when did you know you wanted to be an engineer?

Jon: “I’m majoring in Computer Engineering and Computer Science. I knew I wanted to be an engineer while taking my STEM classes and programming classes in high school. I realized that creating applications and computer components was something I really enjoyed.”

De’Shawn: “As of right now I am majoring in Computer Engineering. I knew I wanted to be a Computer Engineer since I first started learning about computer hardware and building a computer. Since I was young, I always liked building things and tinkering around with whatever I was given in order to see what new things I could create. That is literally what an engineer does so I figured, why not?”

Drake: “My intended major is Electrical Engineering with a minor in Computer Science. I decided to become an engineer my junior year of high school when I was repairing some toy helicopters and their wiring when I found that I really enjoyed putting it back together.”

How does the content and workload of the classes compare with your high school classes?

Jon: “It has increased significantly but is manageable with a lot of late nights in the library and in my dorm room.”

De’Shawn: “The workload and difficulty of the classes are very similar to the AP courses I took in high school. However the responsibility and time management of college courses is substantially different from high school work.”

Drake: “It’s much higher and twice as difficult. However, I do enjoy the work more because it’s not just busy work like it was back in high school.”

What types of activities are you getting involved with outside of your classes and what are your expectations for your Freshman year?

Jon: “I am planning on joining the USA team and the Swimming club in the following semester. Expectations? I hope to keep solid grades within my classes and to try and explore new things to do around campus.”

De’Shawn: “I am trying to play Rugby, emphasis on the trying. Currently, I am struggling with managing my time between classes so I’ve decided to focus on them as of right now. The year has already been loads of fun and can only get better. I expect there to be lots and lots of stress this year, bug I also expect it to be a big learning curve and a great experience to look back on in the following years.”

Drake: “Currently, I have not joined any clubs or programs on campus. I honestly have no idea what to expect, I just hope to succeed and do well in all my classes and make great new friends along the way.”

Well there you have it Captains, a small peak into the talented minds of CNU’s class of 2019. That’s all for now, until next time!

Logging in!

Hey everyone, I would like to spend a few minutes today to introduce myself! My name is Geraldine Mirones and I’m PCSE’s new department blogger. I am currently a Sophomore and a Computer Engineering major here at CNU. I’m stoked to have been given the opportunity to write for you all and can’t wait to see what’s in store for the semester. I have a ton of ideas for future blog posts but am more than happy to take suggestions! You can e-mail me at with your ideas. That’s all for now, have a great weekend captains!

Signing off!

Well folks, this is it. I’m officially signing off as the PCSE department blogger. I hope you all have a fantastic school year! It was a pleasure writing for you! But I’d like to introduce to you the new blogger: Geraldine Mirones.

What I Did This Summer (Part 4)

Elliot Rieflin and Dr. Dali Wang

Guest Author: Geraldine Mirones

Elliot Rieflin, a graduate student this year, had the opportunity to represent CNU and NASA at the International Conference on Artificial Intelligence (ICAI.) The annual conference was hosted in Las Vegas this summer. He had the opportunity to be sent to the ICAI after completing the task of developing a software that extracts instrument information from scientific writing.

Elliot was able to apply what he learned in the classroom even though he had not yet taken CNU’s artificial intelligence class. Instead, he applied methodologies from his algorithms and software design classes to the information extraction process.

Over the course of his summer internship, Elliot learned both hard and soft skills. Some of the soft skills included improving his ability to describe and promote his own work. Also, he improved his ability to communicate with current experts in computer science fields. On the other hand, the hard skills included learning methodologies for natural language processing, which means understanding human speech, and experience in creating formal write-ups, and proposals.

Elliot was asked if the summer internship was useful in increasing his career skills. His response: “Yes, not only did I get published, which is great on a resume, but I learned how to formally present my creation and explain its usefulness. I am sure this will be a useful technique and skill to have since I will have to describe and explain my creations to those who aren’t experts on the subject.”

Looks like Elliot had a summer full of great experiences that will last him a lifetime, what did YOU do this summer?

What I Did This Summer (Part 3)

David Hamblin

David Hamblin

David Hamblin, who is a senior this year, worked under Dr. Wang with the Atmospheric Sciences Data Center (ASDC) at NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, VA.

“Continuing the work of alumni Matthew Rutherford and Nathan Typanski, Elliot Rieflin and I worked on the project MapGen, which Matt wrote his thesis about. We used the Python programming language to implement solutions to remaining issues, utilizing artificial intelligence algorithms such as natural language processing and naive Bayes. Basically, Elliot and I worked at a desk in a building at Langley Research Center, working on our sections of the program and meeting with the ASDC group once a week. What we worked on, when all of the parts are finished, will be delivered as a final product to the group at NASA for them to use.

“My background from CNU in Java programming and what I learned in such classes as CPSC 360 and 420 allowed me to pick up on Python quickly, and analyze the algorithm I used. It’s funny, I’ll be taking the AI class offered at CNU (CPSC 471/510) this coming semester, after implementing an AI approach to my work over the summer. Overall, I’d say that the skills learned in the classroom provide for a foundation to pick up the skills in the workplace very quickly, even if you haven’t used the programming language before.

“One of the biggest parts of this position is the research involved. In order to accomplish my tasks, I need to read papers and look up proven methods in order to implement something that will work. I have learned more about the Python programming language, as well as working in a group to receive feedback on my results and apply changes. It’s a glance at life after school, which is nervous to think about. I will continue working in this position throughout the school year, so I will continue to learn new things.

“Definitely, it allows me to put actual work experience down for my resume, as well as experience in skills. I am also building relationships with people who may write references for me in the future. I believe that this job is a stepping stone to something much more in the future.”

What I Did This Summer (Part 2)

Benjamin Kempton and Dr. Jonathan Backens

Benjamin Kempton and Dr. Jonathan Backens

Benjamin Kempton, also a sophomore, worked with Dr. Backens to set up the new electrical engineering lab in Luter.

“If you have ever built your own computer, it can be really fun to unbox all the shiny new parts, which is what I did the first few weeks working with Dr. Backens in the PCSE department. I got to unbox and set up all the new equipment for the electrical engineering lab in Luter 206.

“Once that was finished I worked with Dr. Backens to test everything and go through some of the new lab activities the equipment will be used for, and make sure the lab instructions made sense. I have not taken any electronics classes or labs yet, therefore much of what I was doing this summer was new to me, and I had to do a lot of learning as I went along. However everything I was exposed to over the summer will most likely be very helpful when I eventually take classes in the lab I helped set up.

“Along with setting up the lab I was able to work with software defined radios, which Dr. Backens is using for research.  The radios can be used to transmit of receive over a very wide range of frequencies (70MHz to 6GHz) making them ideal for doing research on dynamic spectrum access. I worked on getting the radios working properly, and started looking at algorithms that let the radios find a common frequency to communicate on.
“Between setting up the lab, and doing some work with radios I had a very fun summer, and met many new people in the PCSE department.”

What I Did This Summer (Part 1)

Dr. Lynn Lambert and Sean Workman

Dr. Lynn Lambert and Sean Workman

Sean Workman is a sophomore who was part of the first CNU Summer Scholars Program (CSSP), held from June 1, 2015 – July 31, 2015.

“The program was designed to provide an opportunity for participants to work collaboratively with a faculty mentor and develop enhanced research and communication skills specific to your area of study.

“In my project, I was asked to build an environment where students can contribute to humanitarian open source, outside of a class, without doing excessive research. Open Source is a way in which to write programs so anyone can see the source code and change it. We focused on humanitarian open source – programs that are written with a service mission – because of the civic engagement focus at CNU. Contributing to open source is difficult because the size of the projects is overwhelming and it is difficult to figure out where to begin. To help others overcome those hurdles, I created a “how to” document to help others make contributions.

“In order to do that, I had to learn Linux (the operating system of most open source programs), git (the place where programs are stored), several different languages (because each project can contain main different languages), and learn how the flow of contributions go, and make contributions to open source programs. I had contributions accepted to three different projects, including Mifos, the humanitarian project we will continue to focus on.”

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, 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.”