CSIT News

2014 UNK CSIT Newsletter


Chase Florom awarded 2014 Buckle Excellence Scholarship

Chase Florom

The University of Nebraska at Kearney Department of Computer Science and Information Technology has named Chase Florom as its 2014 recipient of the Buckle Excellence Scholarship.

Florom graduated this spring from Lincoln Southwest High School, where he was active in Campus Life and choir. He is the son of Dennis and Julie Florom.

The Buckle Excellence Scholarship is a two-year scholarship in the amount of $6,000. The scholarship was announced in 2012 when a $150,000 permanent endowment was established in the name of The Buckle, Inc. at the University of Nebraska Foundation. The annual scholarship is awarded to students interested in careers related to computer science or information technology.

“Chase is receiving the second-ever Buckle Excellence Scholarship. He stood out for his dedication to learning as much as he can for computing, and his ability to articulate how he likes to express his creativity using the software he writes,” said Sherri Harms, chair of UNK’s Department of Computer Science and Information Technology.

Florom became interested in technology at a young age, and his goal is to some day own his own software company. “I want to be part of the process of inventing new things to make the world a better place,” he said.

“Chase loves to explore and teach himself new things. He has an eye for design and an aptitude for all things technology related,” said Marge Kneifl, Florom’s computer teacher.

The Buckle and UNK Department of Computer Science and Information Technology ongoing partnership has afforded many students the opportunity to have an excellent internship experience with the company and provided many graduates with rewarding careers, Harms said.


UNK ACM sponsors Big Data expert Peter Aiken presentation


PeterAiken

Peter Aiken, widely acclaimed as one of the top ten data management authorities worldwide, will give a presentation at the University of Nebraska at Kearney.

The lecture, titled “Demystifying Big Data for Better Business,” was held on April 10, 2014. This program was sponsored by the UNK Association for Computing Machinery student organization.

A practicing data consultant, author and researcher, Aiken has held leadership positions and consulted with more than 50 organizations in 20 countries across numerous industries, including defense, banking, healthcare, telecommunications and manufacturing.

He is a highly sought-after keynote speaker and author of multiple publications, including his latest book, “The Case for the Chief Data Officer: Recasting the C-Suite to Leverage your Most Valuable Asset.”

In addition to being Data Blueprint’s founding director, Aiken is also associate professor of information systems at Virginia Commonwealth University.


Robotics event features 3-point shooting contest

UNK AI Robotics Competition Winners

Robots designed, built and programmed by students will compete in a basketball shooting contest at the upcoming “Tilt-a-Hurl” robotics competition at the University of Nebraska at Kearney.

The 12th annual event, hosted by Computer Science and Information Systems artificial intelligence students, is at 11 a.m. April 15 in Otto Olsen room 224. The event is open to the public and media.

In the competition, robots will follow Midwest Instructional Computing Symposium robotics competition specifications, which has robots shooting three-point shots on a tilted robotic basketball court.

“In the implementation of their autonomous robots, student teams use advanced programming techniques and design their robots to respond to various sensors, including gyro, tach, touch, and light sensors,” said Sherri Harms, chair of the Department of Computer Science and Information Systems at UNK.

“Students must develop the interplay between the physical design of their robot and the mental capacity they programmed into the robot in solving a problem,” Harms added.

Some students in the “Tilt-a-Hurl” event will also compete in the April 25 regional MICS competition in Wisconsin, which includes students from a seven-state area. UNK won the regional competition last year.

Click the links below to view television coverage of the competition:  

http://www.khastv.com/story/unk-hosts-12th-annual-robotic-basketball-contest-20140416

http://www.1011now.com/centralnebraska/home/headlines/UNK-Students-Build-Basketball-Playing-Robots-255419191.html

2012-2013 CSIT NEWSLETTER


UNK CSIT Robotics Competition Winners

The UNK CSIT Robotics Team of Travis Anderson, Tyler Neal, Naoki Ishikawa (shown above) won the regional Midwest Instructional Computing Symposium (MICS) robotics competition in La Cross, WI on April 19th, 2013. University students from the seven-state area (Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois) competed at this event.

In the competition, student teams designed, built and programmed robots to autonomously play a “capture the flag” game. On each attempt, a robot was allowed a maximum of 4 minutes to navigate the grid-maze world and attempt to capture the opponent robot’s flag and return home. Navigation of the grid-world was complicated by up to three obstacles that were placed within the grid-world. The robot that successfully achieved its mission in the shortest combined time was the winner.  In the implementation of their autonomous robots, student teams used advanced programming techniques and designed their robots to respond to various sensors, including compass, ultrasonic, tach, and light sensors. Students had to create the interplay between the physical design of their robot and the mental capacity they programmed into the robot in solving a problem.


CSIT STUDENT APP FEATURED IN NEW YORK TIMES ARTICLE

UNK CSIT alum, Ryan Levell, who graduated in December 2012 completed an internship at Hollman Media LLC during the summer and fall of 2012. One of the iPhone apps that he wrote during his internship, My StuffFinder, was featured in a January 2, 2013 New York Times article:  http://gadgetwise.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/01/02/can-your-phone-find-your-car/. Ryan is now a full-time developer at Xpanxion. Here is an Omaha World Herald article about this as well: http://www.omaha.com/article/20130205/MONEY/702059981/1016.


Department of CSIT Receives $150,000 Endowment for Scholarships for new CSIT Students

UNK CSIT Buckle Interns

Rachel Decker and Derek McNeil (pictured above) were UNK students who interned at the Buckle in Kearney.

Congratulations to the Department of Computer Science and Information Systems (CSIT)  who received a $150,000 gift from The Buckle, Inc.  This gift endows two $3,000 scholarships for two new CSIT students who meet certain academic requirements each year.  For a full story please click on the link: http://stories.nufoundation.org/node/1061 


Northwestern Energy Scholarship for CSIT Juniors and Senior students

The CSIT Department recently was informed that NorthWestern Energy will be providing a $1000 per year scholarship for a CSIT student at UNK beginning fall 2012. This scholarship will help support an upper-level CSIT student who has maintained a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or above.


UNK AND KANSAS STATE SIGN AGREEMENT TO BENEFIT UNK COMPUTER SCIENCE GRADUATES

A new agreement between the University of Nebraska at Kearney and Kansas State University (KSU) will put some students on a fast-track to graduate school.The UNK Department of Computer Science and Information Systems (CSIT) and KSU Department of Computing and Information Science (CIS) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding that will speed up the admissions process for UNK students entering the KSU master of science in computer science (MS-CS) or the master of software engineering in computer science (MSE-CS) programs. UNK computer science graduates will be considered for the master’s in computer science, while information technology students will be considered for the master’s in software engineering.Dr. Sherri Harms, UNK CSIT chair, sees the agreement as an opportunity for both universities and for businesses in the region. “The MOU offers a high-quality graduate program for UNK students,” she said. “It provides KSU with regional students prepared for graduate-level research, and it provides the Midwest with computer science professionals who will likely stay in the Midwest.”Dr. David Gustafson, professor and Graduate Program director for the Kansas State CIS department said,  ”We are very excited about the prospect of UNK graduates entering our graduate program in computing and information sciences.”UNK computer science students with a 3.65 GPA or higher after their junior year will be eligible for the program. As a part of the agreement, those students will not be required to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). In addition, once the students join a KSU-CIS graduate program, they will be reimbursed for the KSU application fee.Dr. Harms noted that there is a high demand for computer science professionals in the United States. According to statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor, employment of computer scientists is expected to grow by 19 percent through 2020.“For the past several years, we have had 100 percent placement for our students,” she said. This trend can be seen in the growth of the CSIT program at UNK. According to Dr. Harms, the number of students in CSIT classes has more than doubled since 2007.The UNK CSIT program has a similar MOU with the University of Nebraska – Lincoln computer science and engineering department. “Having two excellent graduate programs actively seeking UNK CSIT students illustrates the quality of our programs,” Dr. Harms said.

CSIT Alumni Bob Brindamour (1994) Inducted into UNK Athletic Hall of Fame


The Gruntled Employee, a new book by CSIT Alum, Mary Vaughn

Below is an excerpt from the website:

“The Gruntled Employee” describes how to improve employee morale, how to deal with work stress and how to be an effective manager. The book gives you techniques, tools and case studies for the understanding necessary to address business success factors and employee morale. Whether you are an employee, manager or executive, you will benefit by the holistic approach in “The Gruntled Employee” for creating success and happiness at work. Disgruntledness doesn’t have to be the norm! 

Mary has over 30 years of management and consulting experience.

View the 2011-2012 CSIT Newsletter

CSIT student places third-place at MICS  robotics competition  

Two of the UNK robots competed in the robotics competition at the Midwest Instruction and Computing Symposium (MICS) in Cedar Falls, IA on April 13th, 2012.  The robot designed and implemented by Rikiya Ishizaki took third place at the MICS regional competition. Shown below is Jeonghoon Yun, Dr. Sherri Harms, and Rikiya Ishizaki at MICS.

The text below is from an March  1, 2012  Kearney Hub article,http://www.kearneyhub.com/news/local/article_f64197ca-63ce-11e1-b7e5-001871e3ce6c.html. The text in brackets has been added.

Two seniors in the department of computer science and information systems at the University of Nebraska at Kearney have designed and programmed an Android map application of the UNK campus. Michael Sall of Holdrege and Joel Meyer of Norfolk created the app to help people find buildings, departments and student services offices on campus. “When started, this app will capture the user’s current GPS location and through menus, allow the user to choose a destination on campus,” said department chair Sherri Harms. “The person can then follow the sidewalks or roads to reach their destination.”

The app, called Wobini MApps, is built upon the Android Software Development Kit and uses the Google Maps Application Programming Interface to display the map and geo-locations, according to Meyer. The app is available for $.99 at www.wobinimapps.com. There is also a quick response code and printed material on the website so the app can be provided to others.

“Wobini is capable of a variety of advertising elements built into the system,” Meyer said. “These capabilities are available to the individual customer and allow for the MApp (Map App) to provide a source of revenue and to quickly gain a return on investment.” “It is important for new technology to be tested by real users and feedback provided to the student developers for improvements,” Harms said. To provide feedback about the app, contact info@smbtc.us.

["Wobini" is a German slang word for "where am I?" Also in the spring of 2012, 10/11 news interviewed students about the UNK map application created by Joel and Mike. Their goal is to develop this kind of application for businesses, other schools, real-estate offices, etc.]

2012 Information Technology Career Fair Breakfast

The CSIT Department, together with the MIS and Telecommunications programs, once again sponsored an Information Technology breakfast for students and business professionals on the morning of the spring UNK Career Fairs in February 2012. Over thirty companies were in attendance—the largest number of companies yet. Companies represented included: Buckle Inc., Cabela’s, Chief Industries, Diamond Plastics, ESU-10, Intellicom, Inc., MIPS Inc., NPPD, Sandhills Publishing, and Xpanxion. This event is always a great opportunity for students to seek internships and full-time employment. Kelsey Bard, CSIT student, served as the CSIT MC for the event.

2012 Friend of the CSIT Department

Rob Harbols, Manager of Web Systems Development at Buckle Inc., was awarded the Friend of the CSIT Department for 2012. This award goes to a person or organization that has gone above and beyond in support of our programs and students.

Rob is a member of the CSIT Advisory Council. He has employed numerous CSIT students and alumni. Rob started the Buckle IT-careers internship program. He also observes and evaluates CSIT student project presentations and has made classroom presentations. The CSIT faculty is truly appreciative of all the ways Rob is a friend of the CSIT Department.

2011-2012 Invited Presentations

  • Jeffrey D. Blackmon, CISSP, CBCP, MBCI , ITIL(F) and UNK alumni presented “Information Collection Creep” on March 2, 2012 to the UNK campus. He discussed demographic data collection and where we possibly may be heading in the very near future if we are not careful. His presentation was well attended by faculty and students from across campus.
  • Garrett Kearney, a web developer for Buckle Inc. and a CSIT student, provided a demonstration on Selenium to CSIT faculty and students on Dec 7, 2011. Selenium software is a web testing software used by many companies.
  • Robert Harbols, Manager of Web Systems Development at Buckle, Inc. discussed IT-related careers and expectations from employers on November 17, 2011. Rob has worked for several companies including Kohlor, General Electric, and the Institute for Human and Machine Cognition before coming to the Buckle, Inc. Rob has several years experience as both a developer and as a manager/leader of developers. Rob has a BS in Computer Science from the University of West Florida. His presentation was well attended by CSIT faculty students.

View the 2010-2011 CSIT Newsletter

CSIT Interactive and Generative Art Exhibition

CSIT held a free, public Interactive and Generative Art Exhibition on May 3, 2011. This exhibition was a diverse showcase of unique projects completed this semester by CSIT students. Projects included a motion-sensing Nerf turret, electronics built into clothing and augmented reality air hockey.

A “Made in Nebraska” NTV video describing the event is available at: http://fb.me/Zxjvz0Hq.

UNK students who exhibited their projects are listed below alphabetically by hometown: Amherst- Tyler Adelung; Columbus- Tyler McConville; Cozad- Ryan Levell; Elm Creek- Garrett Kearney; Gering- Patrick Mooney; Grand Island- Jennifer Dieckhoff and Joshua Wilson; Kearney- Paden Hogeland, Jason Webb and Adam Zheng; and North Platte- Scott Tallmage II. More information on these projects can be found at cs.unk.edu/~csis495.

New Agreement puts UNK CSIT Students on Fast-Track to Graduate School

A new agreement between the University of Nebraska at Kearney and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln will put some students on a fast-track to graduate school.

CSIT and the UNL Department of Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in January 2011 that will speed up the admissions process for UNK students who enter the UNL-CSE graduate program.

Dr. Sherri Harms, UNK CSIT chair, sees the MOU as an opportunity for both universities and the state. “The MOU offers a high-quality graduate program for UNK students,” she said. “It provides UNL with in-state students prepared for graduate-level research, and it provides Nebraska with computer science professionals who will likely stay in the state.”

Dr. Harms pointed out that there is a high demand for computer science professionals in Nebraska. “For the past several years, we have had a 100 percent placement rate for our students. The jobs are rewarding and diverse,” she said.

This trend can be seen in the growth of the CSIT program at UNK. According to Dr. Harms, there has been a 71 percent increase in student credit hour production since 2007.

“It’s the people that I’ve been working with for many years, and we felt that the programs were aligned enough to streamline the admission process similar to what they’d been doing for their own students at UNL,” Harms said.

UNK computer science students with a 3.65 GPA or higher after their junior year will be eligible for the program and will have the Graduate Record Evaluation (GRE) requirement waived. In addition, the UNL application fee will be reimbursed once the students join the UNL-CSE graduate program.

CSIT ANDROID DEVELOPMENT

Dr. John Hastings and the CSIT Department received 15 Verizon DROID phones from Google’s AndroidEDU program in the spring of 2010. Teams of students in the software engineering class this fall developed Android applications using these phones. The two projects were a campus tour application and a location-tracking workout application (both with GPS).

Jay Powell, 2011 UNK Student Research Day (SRD) Luncheon Speaker

The 2011 UNK Student Research Day guest presenter was Dr. Jay Powell. Dr. Powell graduated from UNK with a Bachelor of Science degree in 2004. He majored in computer science and mathematics, with a minor in philosophy. He received a Master of Science in Computer Science from Indiana University in 2007 and earned a Ph.D. from Indiana University in February of 2011. His research work at Indiana focused on artificial intelligence and data mining. Jay has also worked at the United States Naval Research Laboratory under the Student Temporary Employment Program as a Computer Scientist. Following graduate school, Jay began work at PerkinElmer in the research and development division in Downers Grove, IL. At PerkinElmer Jay works with software that interfaces with equipment designed to assist researchers in health and life sciences laboratories.

While a student at UNK, Jay spent four years developing software for Ward Laboratories, Inc., a local agricultural laboratory. Jay also delved into artificial intelligence research with Dr. John Hastings. This work, in partial collaboration with fellow students Brandon Hauff and Siva Kommuri, was presented at several top-tier national and international conferences. These conferences include the National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR-05), the Nineteenth National Conference on Artificial Intelligence (AAAI-04), the Sixth International Conference on Case-based Reasoning (ICCBR-05), and the Twenty-First National Conference on Artificial Intelligence (AAAI-06).