Pranjal Mittal was initially thwarted from studying computer science in college, but never lost his excitement for it. Now a master’s student in computer science at Oregon State University, he was honored this year with an Intel fellowship.
Mittal wanted to pursue computer science as early as high school, but the determining factor for his major was an entrance examination for the Indian Institute of Technology. After studying for two years for the exam that one million people take, he was selected to be an electronics engineering major instead of his first choice.
But he did not give up his passion for computer science. He was able to take courses in computer science while in college and sought out other opportunities to learn on his own. He started by building websites for college events and then moved on to writing more complex web applications.
It was what he did next that changed the course of his career.
During his junior year, he was confident enough in his programming skills to apply for the Google Summer of Code, a global program that offers stipends to students to work remotely on open source projects with a mentoring organization. The project he applied for was with Oregon State’s Open Source Lab (OSL) to work on tool for the Ganeti Web Manager. He enjoyed it so much that he returned to the OSL through Google Summer of Code the following year. The experience of working with the people at OSL encouraged him to apply to graduate school at Oregon State.
“The Open Source Lab is very famous in the open source community and I thought if an Oregon State lab and its members were so amazing then the university should be amazing too,” Mittal said.
At the time of his decision to move to the U.S. for graduate school, Mittal had other opportunities. He already had a job with Citrix in India, and he and three other teammates were finalists in the Google Cloud Developer Challenge, which led to an opportunity to develop the application into a commercial product.
He decided to pursue a master’s because it was an opportunity to advance his knowledge in computer science and it also offered him a chance to be a teaching assistant. It was his first teaching experience and he has really enjoyed helping new students learn about web and cloud computing.
As part of his fellowship with Intel, Mittal will mentor three senior capstone project teams (nine students) who are working on a cloud computing project; an extension of the work he did as an Intel intern. “It feels great to be a link between Oregon State and Intel for further industrial collaboration on research and development,” he said.
Mittal is also conducting research work in cloud computing related to container-based clouds and plans to write his master’s thesis in this area.
“Most of the technology you see today is somehow connected to the cloud, it is the backbone of so many fields, making it an area in which even small research advances can have a huge impact,” he said.
Danny Dig, assistant professor of computer science at Oregon State, received two awards this year at the top software maintenance conference, the IEEE International Conference on Software Maintenance and Evolution (ICSME) hosted in Bremen, Germany.
Dig was also a keynote speaker at the conference, in recognition of the award for Most Influential Paper in the last ten years. The paper, co-authored with Ralph Johnson and entitled, “The Role of Refactorings in API Evolution,” opened a new area of research. It was the first quantitative and qualitative analysis on the evolution of Application Program Interfaces (API) which has inspired researchers all over the world to build on the seminal study.
The second award was for Best Paper which Dig shares with Oregon State graduate students, Mihai Codoban and Sruti Srinivasa Ragavan; and Brian Bailey, associate professor at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The paper, entitled “Software History Under the Lens: A Study on Why and How Developers Examine It,” received perfect marks from the judges.
Most Influential Paper:
The Role of Refactorings in API Evolution
Danny Dig (Oregon State University) and Ralph Johnson (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)
Abstract—Frameworks and libraries change their APIs. Migrating an application to the new API is tedious and disrupts the development process. Although some tools and ideas have been proposed to solve the evolution of APIs, most updates are done manually. To better understand the requirements for migration tools we studied the API changes of three frameworks and one library. We discovered that the changes that break existing applications are not random, but they tend to fall into particular categories. Over 80% of these changes are refactorings. This suggests that refactoring-based migration tools should be used to update applications.
Best Paper Award:
Software History Under the Lens: A Study on Why and How Developers Examine It
Mihai Codoban, Sruti Srinivasa Ragavan, Danny Dig (Oregon State University) and Brian Bailey (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)
Abstract—Despite software history being indispensable for developers, there is little empirical knowledge about how they examine software history. Without such knowledge, researchers and tool builders are in danger of making wrong assumptions and building inadequate tools. In this paper we present an in-depth empirical study about the motivations developers have for examining software history, the strategies they use, and the challenges they encounter. To learn these, we interviewed 14 experienced developers from industry, and then extended our findings by surveying 217 developers. We found that history does not begin with the latest commit but with uncommitted changes. Moreover, we found that developers had different motivations for examining recent and old history. Based on these findings we propose 3-LENS HISTORY, a novel unified model for reasoning about software history.
This summer I had the awesome opportunity to intern in Spain. Working with IE3 Global (OSU’s partner organization for international internships) and another organization in Spain, I was accepted to an internship at the brand new Global Sports Innovation Center (GSIC) in Madrid! The GSIC is a new Microsoft Innovation Center that aims to bring more technology into the sports industry. It operates as a business accelerator and as it continues to grow, it has been constantly adding new startups, associates and strategic partners.
When I arrived in the middle of June, the center had only been open for a month, and it still seemed rather unsure of what it might turn into. I showed up at the center the Monday after finals week ready to get to work but without any clear idea of what the GSIC did. Admittedly, showing up at an unfamiliar company in an unfamiliar country is a bit uncomfortable, but it’s also thrilling. I’ve studied Spanish for many years and I was excited to apply it to my new position.
Being such a new project, the center only has a few employees. It’s situated in the same block as the Palacio de Deportes (Barclaycard Center) and it consists of three floors, with a technology showcase at street level and business operations on the floors above. The showroom presents technology from Microsoft and other partners, which includes several Xbox Ones, multiple Windows Phones and Surface Pro tablets, and large flat screen TVs displaying promotional videos. However, the biggest crowd draw is without question the massive Formula One car located in the front window. I spent most of my time on the upper floors, where white architecture with modern design make them appealing spaces for the center’s partners to hold meetings and large events.
As a GSIC intern, I was allowed to join meetings in which new startups became partners, communicate with current partners to organize events, and I even sat alongside members of the media when Microsoft held their press conference to present Windows 10. While any new job comes with some grunt work, and I had my fill of translating documents to English and data entry assignments, I eventually got the opportunity to work on web tasks for the center. I started a new website to promote communication between the center’s many partners and I also met with the company that developed the center’s website so that I could contribute several necessary improvements.
Living and working in a foreign country is an incredible experience and I recommend that anyone who has such a privilege should take full advantage of the opportunity. I was able to expand my understanding of the work culture, not only in Spain, but in other parts of the world as well. With the vast number of international partners that came through the GSIC, I learned how global businesses can collaborate to realize mutual benefits and got to see technology prototypes before release. I improved my language abilities, explored the country in my free time, and met people that will remain friends and business contacts for the rest of my life.
Kyler Stole grew up in Beaverton, OR, where he attended the International School of Beaverton and graduated with an IB Diploma. As the son of a mechanical and a chemical engineer, Kyler is proud to be part of EECS at Oregon State. He is also a member of the International Degree (ID) program and the University Honors College. He is now in his junior year at OSU and preparing to embark on his first MECOP internship while also working on his undergraduate thesis.
He has worked with both software and web development and helps to maintain the EECS portion of the OSU website in his role as an EECS Peer Mentor. He especially enjoys projects where he can mix programming logic with graphic design, and hopes to become a full-time iOS application developer.
Outside of academia, he’s very passionate about soccer and spends a lot of his time playing pick-up games on the intramural fields. He also enjoys other sports and outdoor activities including basketball, hiking, running, and riding his bike. To fulfill ID requirements and improve his Spanish, he has lived in Costa Rica and Spain during the past summers, and hopes to continue travelling after he graduates.
As a freshman, or maybe even a sophomore, college can seem a bit daunting. Classes are harder and larger, there are three-hour labs, recitations, financial aid, football games, pressure to start research, Greek life, midterms, new friends and 10 weeks later there’s finals week. All of these events and aspects can pile up and before you realize it, you’re drowning in a first-year mid-term crisis.
As an entering sophomore in electrical and computer engineering here at OSU, I can recommend some resources and tips to help you through the hard times.
Check out the student groups and clubs on campus
Even in college, sometimes it can be hard to make friends, or find people you have a connection with. Joining a student group or club can be a great way of connecting with other people and having some great experiences! I joined the marching band last year, and was given the opportunity to perform in front of the entire football stadium each game, as well as travel to several away games. It was a great experience meeting all the other 200+ members and seeing us all come together for one common purpose.
There are dozens of student groups and clubs on campus, many of which might fit your interests in and out of the classroom. Whether its building rockets, cars, robots, or mobile apps; working on open source software; or even bass fishing, check out the engineering-specific clubs or the many other inclusive student groups at Oregon State.
Students with no previous robotic/electrical experience, HAVE NO FEAR
For those of you who may have no previous robotics or electrical experience, do not be worried. I personally was not a part of the robotics team in high school, nor had I ever had any real electrical experience, and I have managed to survive with very little wear and tear. However, if you are worried, there EECS peer mentors who are more than willing to help you out. Peer mentors are EECS students who can help you navigate the ins and outs of being an EECS student. They can assist with academic questions and are available for advice about classes, internships, clubs, and other opportunities.
Research and internship opportunities
It’s never too early to start thinking about internships and work experience. Having work experience in your field before you graduate will greatly enhance your employability when it comes time to look for a job, but it can take bit of hard work and perseverance. Simply sending an email, or talking to a professor after class, or attending office hours are all great first steps to making your name known. The School of EECS provides students with many opportunities to connect and gain experience. Also, making a connection with your academic advisor is a great way to find out about other opportunities.
Be aware of your physical and mental health
The transition to college may be a hard one, or may be an easy one. It all depends on each individual person. While this is true, it very important to keep tabs on your mental and physical wellbeing. The “freshman 15” is indeed a very real thing, as well as the possibility of declination of your mental well-being. The most important thing to combat both of these two happenings is to be cognitively aware of your decisions, and realize that your brain makes those decisions, and your body carries out those decisions. If either one is not working at its prime, things start to slip. You don’t need to be in crisis to take care of your mental health; make sure you know about Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS). The Dixon rec center and OSU’s Recreational Sports have many programs and opportunities for exercise, and relieving stress. Lastly, University Housing & Dining has many healthy eating options to keep your brain and body well nourished.
Get to know your professors
Yes, it may be intimidating to meet with your professors, however they are a great first resource when in need of help. Getting to know a professor may even help you down the road when you are in need of letters of recommendation, and some may even hire you as an undergraduate researcher. Attending office hours is the best way to communicate with professors individually. If their office hours don’t work with your schedule, feel free to send them an email to schedule an appointment.
Seek academic support
Oregon State and the College of Engineering have many resources for students to receive academic support with their class. The HUB in the College of Engineering has study tables and tutors for subjects such as physics, chemistry, math and electrical fundamentals. There are also engineering specific academic coaches who can help with skills such as organization, study skills, concentration, memory, note-taking, test-taking, and time management. Another resource are the academic tutors in the residence halls. Each residence hall will have a math and English tutor each week, as well as an Academic Learning Assistant who holds office hours every week.
Yes, it may be a struggle to get up for class in the morning… However, the knowledge that is shared and the connections that are made while attending class can never be recreated, and whether or not you attend class, you will still be held responsible for understanding the material. Some classes even have attendance as part of a requirement for passing. So just to be safe, go to class.
Get to know your advisor
Your advisor will help you make a plan, get involved in extracurricular activities, and advise you about what to do when you are struggling with a class. As a first year engineering student, you will meet with your advisor at least once a term to receive your registration PIN. If you make a good connection with your advisor, they can even help you find scholarships, research positions, and internship opportunities!
Check your ONID/OSU Google e-mail
Or make sure you have them forwarded to other e-mail accounts that you check regularly. This is the only way you’ll receive information from your professors and TAs about your classes and other important information that you need.
Represent your school
Hanna Anderson is from Bonney Lake, WA, and attended Bonney Lake High School, class of ’14. As a freshman, she was a member of the Oregon State marching band and joined the CreateIT Collaboratory, a program in the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science to employ students on projects to develop new prototypes for industry clients.
She is now a sophomore in electrical and computer engineering. She decided to pursue an ECE degree because she really enjoys being able to understand how a piece of technology works, and thinking about how she could modify it to make it better. “ECE is a one big puzzle that I am continually being challenged to solve,” she said.
In her spare time, she enjoys playing the pianos around campus, as well as going into the Collaboratory and engulfing herself in new fun, interesting projects.
Could artificial intelligence take over the world? The question captured the attention of the media this year when Bill Gates, Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk spoke publically about the dangers of artificial intelligence (AI).
Gates said he is “concerned about super intelligence,” Hawking warned that “the development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race,” and Musk described AI as “our biggest existential threat.”
Tom Dietterich, president of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence and a distinguished professor of computer science at Oregon State University, has been busy this year giving the academic perspective on the issue for articles, video and radio. He was the plenary speaker at Wait What? a future technology forum hosted by DARPA on September 9-11, 2015.
Dietterich lists bugs, cyber-attacks and user interface issues as the three biggest risks of artificial intelligence — or any other software, for that matter. “Before we put computers in control of high-stakes decisions,” he says, “our software systems must be carefully validated to ensure that these problems do not arise.” It’s a matter of steady, stable progress with great attention to detail, rather than the “apocalyptic doomsday scenarios” that can so easily capture the imagination when discussing AI. Read more
He responded, “My sense is that we should make a very clear distinction between robotic artificial intelligence and humans. I don’t think it’s appropriate to talk about a robot loving anything…Love is a relationship between people.”
When interviewer, Tom Ashbrook, pressed further, saying, “But if one day AI runs the world and does not recognize love…
Dietterich jumped in to say, “We will not let AI run the world… It’s a technology that should be used to enhance our humanity.”
You can listen to or download the entire show from the On Point website. Dietterich’s portion begins at minute 36.
Danny Dig, assistant professor of computer science at Oregon State University, was awarded a Google Faculty Research Award for a project to improve responsiveness of Android apps.
Google selected 113 proposals of the 805 submitted this summer on computer science topics such as systems, machine learning, software engineering, security and mobile.
“The biggest significance of the award is the chance to have strong collaboration with researchers at Google and to integrate our research into large-scale infrastructure at Google that all Android app developers will use in the future. This will multiply the impact of our research many fold,” Dig said. “The monetary part of the award will help me invest into grad students and grow them into world-class leaders.”
Developing tools for Android app programmers is a relatively new line of research for Dig who is a national leader on techniques for transforming sequential code into parallel code.
CORVALLIS, Ore. – The Open Source Lab in the College of Engineering at Oregon State University has significantly upgraded the FTP service used by the open source software community and increased its download speeds by 900 percent.
This service can now handle millions of additional download requests per day, and serves as a critical link in the distribution of open-source software around the world.
With recent improvements, the lab increased the combined download speed to 30 gigabytes per second, and storage capacity to 9 terabytes, a 50 percent increase over what was previously available. Other performance improvements include a 100 percent increase in peak hard disk throughput, and a 60 percent increased capacity in web traffic.
“We’re on the leading edge,” said Lance Albertson, director of the laboratory. “We’re the only group providing this service using machines with the POWER8 architecture. This upgrade has already been noticed by many of our hosted projects due to the improved speed.”
This cluster, which has locations in New York City, Chicago and Corvallis, Ore., hosts 85 open source software projects, whose users rely on this service to download applications and patches.
The content is mirrored to three servers so that it provides the fastest and most reliable service possible. Users include system administrators from around the world keeping Linux servers up to date, and end-users downloading the latest version of applications such as LibreOffice or Inkscape. In the coming months, the lab plans to open up the service to more projects.
IBM donated the three new servers that made the recent upgrade possible. Additional industry partners for the project included TDS Telecom and Google.
“The OSL has provided hosting services that have been key to our Apache, Power and Open software development programs for many years,” said Keith Brown, director of IBM Systems Technical Strategy & Product Security. “We’re continuing to build on that partnership.”
In addition to providing open-source services to the community, the OSL provides Oregon State students with hands-on training in open source development.
Terri Fiez, professor of electrical and computer engineering at Oregon State University, was selected as the 2016 winner of the IEEE Undergraduate Teaching Award “for innovative undergraduate engineering and computing curriculum development fostering student engagement and retention.” IEEE is the world’s largest professional technical association, and honors one individual each year for inspirational undergraduate teaching.
Innovative teaching has long been a focus for Fiez who created the TekBots Platform for Learning and spearheaded the nation’s first online post-baccalaureate program in computer science. She received the 2006 IEEE Educational Activities Board Innovative Education Award, the 2006 OSU Student Learning and Success Teamwork Award, the 2014 OSU Vice Provost Award for Excellence: Innovation in Online Credit-based Teaching, and she was recognized by the students of the School of EECS at OSU as the OSU EECS Professor of the Year in 2014.
Fiez and collaborators designed the TekBots Platform for Learning to bring experiential learning into the electrical and computer engineering curriculum. Students apply their classroom knowledge to create their own robot, and as they progress through the program they add more functions to their TekBot. The program has been widely adopted at other national and international educational institutions, resulting in more than 10,000 student experiences with TekBots to date.
To serve the growing needs in industry for trained computer scientists, Fiez led the development of a bachelor’s degree program for post-baccalaureate students that could be delivered online. In June 2012, the program was launched by Oregon State’s Ecampus program. Today the program boasts over 1,000 students from all over the country and the world with backgrounds as diverse as journalism, anthropology, chemistry, music, and law. It has been cited as one of the top online computer science programs in the country by multiple sources including Best College Reviews.
Karti Mayaram, professor of electrical and computer engineering, said, “Professor Terri Fiez has been a pioneer with a unique vision for engineering education that prepares ECE and CS undergraduate students for leadership positions in academia and industry.”
After 16 years at Oregon State, Fiez will assume the role of vice chancellor for research at University of Colorado Boulder in September of 2015.
For the second year in a row, the Oregon State University’s branch of AIAA (American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics) took first place in the payload competition at the Intercollegiate Rocketry Engineering Competition held in Green River, Utah. The team also placed third in the overall competition in the advanced category that targets an altitude of 25,000 feet — their launch reached 17,611 feet and a maximum speed of Mach 1.4.
The competition, hosted by the Experimental Sounding Rocketry Association (ESRA), had 41 rockets launched this year by 36 different colleges representing seven countries (Australia, Brazil, Canada, Egypt, India, Turkey and the U.S.).
Oregon State’s team stood out in the competition for building nearly all of the components themselves. In fact, computer science student, Soo-Hyun Yoo said he had a hard time getting the judges to notice the extra work the team put in.
“All of the other teams at the competition had an aerospace program and bought off-the-shelf components. There were a very limited number of teams who built their own software and electronics and so very few people were asking about those things. I had to try really hard to make sure they realized the significance of having our own system that we can build on and modify to fit various needs,” he said.
Yoo said that a few of the payload judges were very excited about their original components and it was what likely earned them the payload award again this year. The award is prestigious because it includes all the teams in the competition from both the basic and advanced categories, and comes with a $700 prize. Since the award has been offered just two times, Oregon State is the only team to win it.
The payload is the main purpose of sounding rockets, which are designed to conduct scientific experiments. The Oregon State team built a deployable payload in the nose cone of the rocket that deploys at the highest altitude and uses propellers to accelerate downward to counteract aerodynamic drag force and achieve microgravity in order to conduct experiments in a zero gravity environment.
This year’s team built significantly on the success of last year’s rocket which won the basic category (targeting 10,000 feet) in 2014 at their first competition. Four sub-teams contributed to this year’s rocket: a payload team, a structures team, a propulsion team, and an aerodynamics and recovery team. At Oregon State’s 2015 Engineering Expo the payload team won the industry award for electrical and computer engineering and earned honorable mention recognition for the Boeing Engineering Excellence Award.
Elliott Fudim, an electrical and computer engineering student who joined the club as a senior, hopes that other students will discover the club sooner than he did and have more years to advance the rocket.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It’s one of the coolest things I’ve ever been a part of. And it’s important to keep on setting the bar higher,” Fudim said.
Yoo agreed, “I don’t think many students at OSU can say they made something that broke the speed of sound. It’s pretty cool stuff.”
Both Fudim and Yoo said that aside from the cool factor of being able to build a rocket, the experience of working on a cross-disciplinary team was more realistic to what they will experience working in industry. Additionally, working on a rocket that deals with extreme conditions such as speed and temperature offered interesting challenges.
“The limited test cycle in which we only get a few chances to launch and the cost of failure is high, was a learning experience. Getting it right the first time was stressful but also exhilarating,” Yoo said.
The team performed on-ground tests of the various systems and also practiced their launch setup to make sure everything went smoothly on competition day (view photos). Their only full-flight test was performed in Brothers, Oregon near Bend where they could secure a waiver from the FAA for air space.
For future competitions, the club has begun developing an experimental hybrid rocket motor. The current rocket is a solid propellant rocket with a simple ignition – “you light it and it just goes,” explained Yoo. The hybrid rocket will have a throttle to adjust the thrust depending on need.
This year’s team was able to compete with the support of their sponsors: Advanced Circuits, CadSoft EAGLE, and the College of Engineering at Oregon State. “We couldn’t have done this without them,” Fudim said.
Tom Dietterich, Oregon State distinguished professor of computer science, was awarded the 2015 Excellence in Postdoctoral Mentoring Award by the Graduate School at Oregon State University. Dietterich has mentored 12 postdocs who have gone on to excellent positions that including academic appointments, industry leadership positions and research positions. His list of former postdocs also includes an NSF CAREER awardee and a Fulbright scholar.
Dietterich was nominated by Rebecca Hutchinson, who is currently working with him as a postdoctoral fellow, but has just accepted a joint faculty position at Oregon State in the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife. Hutchinson managed to surprise Dietterich with the award at an end of the term lunch for his research group.
“Tom demonstrates exceptional commitment to his postdocs’ success, provides tremendous resources for professional development, cares about their personal needs as well as their professional success, and is approachable and resourceful when needs arise,” Hutchinson said.
Dietterich is a leader in artificial intelligence research and is the president of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence. This year he has been in the news regarding the benefits and risks of artificial intelligence (The Wall Street Journal, Digital Trends, Future of Life Institute, Boston Herald). His research contributes to diverse areas such as drug design, scheduling, information management, ecological modeling and agricultural pest management.
“Postdocs in Tom’s lab benefit from being part of world-class research under the tutelage of a great mentor. In addition, Tom makes an effort to enrich the experience of all postdocs in our school by including them in the broader faculty community and spearheading addition opportunities for their learning,” said Bella Bose, interim head for the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.