Jennifer Parham-Mocello
Jennifer Parham-Mocello (left), assistant professor of computer science, works with a high school student.

Oregon does not have a policy to support computer science education, even though computing jobs are the No. 1 source of all new wages in the U.S. economy, according to The Conference Board Help Wanted OnLine, which tracks labor demand.

To face this challenge, Jennifer Parham-Mocello, assistant professor of computer science in the College of Engineering at Oregon State University, has an idea to work computer science fundamentals into the existing K-12 mathematics curriculum.

Google is supporting her idea with funding for a project to teach computational thinking — the foundation of computer programming — to future secondary math teachers studying at Oregon State. The research project is a collaboration with Elise Lockwood, associate professor of mathematics in the College of Science, and Rebekah Elliott, associate professor of mathematics education in the College of Education.

“It’s great that this Google Education K-12 grant will support educating future teachers. It’s an area that’s been ignored,” Parham-Mocello said. “Everybody wants to start new computer science courses in K-12, and I just don’t think that’s realistic, especially when you’re talking about rural areas.”

The one-year award of $141,800 will support undergraduate and graduate students over the 2019-20 school year to develop new curriculum in pre-service secondary mathematics courses at Oregon State University, then test it in Corvallis middle and high schools.  In the process, the Oregon State students will learn the basics of computational thinking, which they can apply in their future positions as teachers.

“Computational thinking helps people better understand their field. But it also makes them literate in the world of computation,” Parham-Mocello said. “When you have to think in terms of the process — the algorithmic steps — you internalize it differently and gain a deeper understanding.”

The researchers will begin teaching the curriculum in fall term to the secondary mathematics pre-service teachers. During the winter term, the pre-service teachers will develop and deliver units on computational thinking to students in Corvallis schools. The one-year project will help to define and develop a multiple-year program with broader reach.

“My vision is that all of Oregon will benefit from this,” Parham-Mocello said. “Most of the education students at Oregon State will become teachers in Oregon schools of all types. So, the impact will be broadening participation in computing for schools of all sizes in both rural and urban communities.”

Yue CaoYue Cao, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering in the College of Engineering, is collaborating with Amazon Prime Air to make UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) delivery a reality. Prime Air promises to deliver a package to the customer within 30 minutes after receiving the order.  Cao will help develop an advanced propulsion system that is more reliable and efficient. This all-electric flying vehicle will have to address multi-disciplinary challenges in the areas of power electronics, motor drives, energy storage, and cooling.

The delivery  program was featured in the article,  “Amazon expects ‘Prime Air’ drone delivery ‘within months’” by ABC News.

Travis Whitehead

Guest post by Travis Whitehead

Working at the Open Source Lab has been the highlight of my computer science experience at Oregon State University. It was just by chance that I came across a job listing for the OSL. I had never heard of the organization, and it certainly was not a factor in my decision to pursue computer science at Oregon State University.

I’d been running Linux as my primary operating system since high school, and over time I found myself becoming more and more deeply invested in the ideological underpinnings of FOSS (Free Open-Source Software). I appreciated the transparency of FOSS, and the benefits available through free licenses that allow anyone to use the software, change how it works, repurpose it, and distribute it.

Despite my strong interest in free software, I never imagined myself in the position of getting paid to contribute to open source. At the OSL I learned valuable skills and gained work experience, but the biggest thing to me was that I was able to do work that was ethical and important.

In a world shaped by a for-profit economy, our interaction with software and intellectual property is exclusive. If users cannot afford to pay for software, they are excluded access to the software or must access it illegally. Or worse, we become the products ourselves, subjected to all kinds of data collection and surveillance in exchange for access to services. The Open Source Lab offered me the opportunity to support open-source software projects, ultimately allowing me to contribute to The Commons, and better the world that we live in. It’s been very fulfilling for me to know that our projects create solutions that anybody and everybody may use.

Ethics aside, the work itself has provided me many opportunities to learn things that I couldn’t in the classroom. Experience with configuration management and automation tooling reshaped how I manage my personal systems at home. And I worked in a real datacenter! Tinkering with powerful hardware in a real production environment is way cooler than any academic project.

Looking forward, I hope that the Open Source Lab continues to grow and expand so that more students may have these same opportunities. The OSL is truly one of a kind, and I feel really thankful to have been able to work with the lab for the past several years.

Excitingly, this is my last term at Oregon State. I’ll be going on to work with Tag1 Consulting, where I will continue to tackle exciting infrastructure challenges and contribute back to the open-source community whenever I can.

Photo of scholarship recipients
Scholarship recipients at the Grace Hopper Celebration: (left to right) Elisabeth Mansfield, Stephanie Hughes, Sharlena Luyen, Sumegha Aryal, Clair Cahill, and Kaitlin Hill.

Attending the world’s largest gathering of women technologists was transformational for Stephanie Hughes, a computer science undergraduate. But it wasn’t enough for her.

“I was just one person and I wanted to make sure other women at Oregon State had that experience,” said Hughes who is the president of Oregon State’s women’s chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM-W OSU).

She teamed up with Sharlena Luyen who was similarly motivated to help women attend the Grace Hopper Celebration.

“I have huge passion for helping women expand their career paths in STEM and when I found out that OSU doesn’t offer any type of funding to send women to go to this conference, I thought something had to be done,” said Luyen a computer science undergraduate who is the outreach coordinator for Leadership Academy and an ambassador for College of Engineering.

Hughes and Luyen worked with staff in the College of Engineering to make the scholarship a reality. The funding was made possible through a joint effort of the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, the College of Engineering, the OSU Women’s Giving Circle, and the Association for Computing Machinery—Women’s Chapter.

Seven undergraduates in computer science, including one Ecampus student from New York, received scholarships to attend the Grace Hopper Celebration which was held in Houston, Texas this year.

“I loved all the opportunity it provided through internships and professional development, but also meeting other women in computer science and seeing what they are up to was really interesting to me,” said Katlin Hill, a computer science student who received one of the scholarships. At the conference, Hill had nine interviews and received internship offers from Macy’s, Nike, and Juniper Networks.

There were over 500 exhibitors and 20,000 attendees at this year’s conference.

“It was valuable because not all of these companies come to Oregon State’s campus. And not only that, but they were looking specifically for women in computing,” said Luyen who had over 30 interviews with companies including Apple, Facebook, Google, Sonos, Purview Solution, and Northwestern Mutual.

All of the scholarship recipients will be sharing their experiences at an awardee presentation on November 14, 2018 3:00 – 4:00 p.m. People can show their support for promoting and retaining women in computer science by attending the presentation or filling out a Google form.

Yue CaoGuest post by Yue Cao, new assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering

I was born in China, raised in Dalian, and went to school there until 10th grade when I said goodbye to my dear friends at Dalian Yuming High School and moved to the U.S. While in China, I enjoyed math, science, and English, thanks to my academically-oriented family. I was involved with all sorts of academic Olympiads and achieved several awards, most notably, first place individual in Hua Luo-geng National Math Cup in Dalian city, and first prize (top 1%) in various Liaoning provincial math, physics, English, and computer competitions. Pretty nerdy huh? Well that was the definition of a good student in China. I’m glad I also learned to play the accordion starting at five years old. That definitely helped me appreciate arts and music and relax in my spare time. It was not until I came to the U.S. that I realized there could be much more to grow as a well-rounded person.

It was not an easy decision to come to the U.S. during high school because I could have gone to a top university in China, and that time (2005) it was not yet popular for Chinese students to have high school or even undergraduate education in the U.S. But my mom was studying for her Ph.D. at the University of Tennessee (UTK) and wanted me to experience a U.S. education. I attended West High School in Knoxville where I met many great friends, learned to speak better English, and discovered other interests in life. I utilized my math skills and helped my high school win second team overall in the state-wide math competition, which was unheard of for this traditionally athletic oriented school. The individual first place award I received led to a four-year tuition-waiver scholarship to attend UTK.

I still liked math, but realized I was more interested in its application, so I decided to major in electrical engineering because it was a challenging subject where I could be part of advancing technology. I was fortunate that UTK has a top power engineering program, which aligned well with my interests in circuits, math, and control. I credit my undergraduate adviser, Prof. Leon Tolbert, for developing my interest in power electronics and systems when I was looking for a summer research fellowship project. I further developed my expertise at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) advised by Prof. Philip Krein.

During my American education, I found out the importance of being a well-rounded person. In this fast-paced society, a successful person not only is technologically savvy, but also demonstrates strong leadership, teamwork, communication, and visioning skills, and has some professional and non-professional passions in life. To achieve these objectives, I was involved in and held leadership roles in several organizations, such as a conference organizing committee, a professional student chapter, an engineering professional fraternity, as well as several student team projects. The UTK’s athletic environment greatly influenced me to pick up tennis my sophomore year and I fell in love with it. I also love to travel, and have visited 49 states and 13 countries. There is an old Chinese saying, “traveling thousands of miles is just as educating as reading thousands of books.”

I’m excited to be at Oregon State University as the fast-booming Pacific Northwest region is drawing industry and academia’s attention. With an established industry in ground vehicles and aerospace applications going into full electrification in the next decades, along with the strong renewable energy initiative, there is no doubt that the region will attract investments and talent to the upcoming power and energy revolution.

This year Oregon was honored to host the 10th anniversary IEEE ECCE (Energy Conversion Congress and Expo, which is the premier international energy conversion annual conference sponsored by the IEEE Power Electronics Society and Industry Applications Society. I organized multiple tutorial and panel sessions with particular interests of Oregon and Washington’s industry members, such as Daimler, Intel, MicroSemi, Boeing, Amazon, and Microsoft. The conference specifically featured a plenary session talk on Oregon’s unique effort in wave energy conversion.

Oregon State, a leading power and energy research university, and the only school with a 750 kW lab facility on the West coast, is ready to tackle new research challenges and nurture the next generation young engineers.

Yvo DesmedtYvo Desmedt, the Jonsson Distinguished Professor at the University of Texas at Dallas, will speak on the topic of cybersecurity on October 17.

The lecture is part of the Michael and Judith Gaulke Distinguished Lecture Series which brings internationally renowned scholars to Oregon State to ensure that students and faculty have access to important technology breakthroughs, as well as the fundamental science and engineering that is the foundation for today’s high tech advances.

The title of Desmedt’s talk is “The fundamental reasons information technological systems are insecure.”  The lecture will be held on the Oregon State University campus in Rogers 230 on Wednesday, October 17, 2018 at 11:00 a.m. The event website has more details about the talk.

In addition to being a Distinguished Professor at UT Dallas, Yvo Desmedt is an Honorary Professor at University College London, a Fellow of the International Association of Cryptologic Research (IACR) and a Member of the Belgium Royal Academy of Science.

Originally from Belgium, Desmedt earned his master’s and doctoral degrees from Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium. Although Dr. Desmedt was born in Belgium and graduated from a Belgian University, he has worked in the United States for most of his life. For this reason, he was appointed to become a “foreign member” of the Royal Academy of Belgium. He has worked in both industry and at universities in Belgium, New Mexico, Canada, Wisconsin, London, and Florida before joining UT Dallas in 2012.

Desmedt’s research interests include computer security, critical infrastructure, cryptography, entity authentication, information hiding, malware, network security, and cyberterrorism. His work has aided Fortune 100 companies in the United States, and American and European financial institutions such as bank and credit card companies.

Sanjit Mitra

Sanjit K. Mitra, an expert in signal and image processing, will speak at Oregon State University on October 14 for the Michael and Judith Gaulke Distinguished Lecture Series. The lecture series brings internationally renowned scholars to Oregon State to ensure that our students and faculty have access to important technology breakthroughs, as well as the fundamental science and engineering that is the foundation for today’s high tech advances.

The title of his talk is “Structural Subband Decomposition: A New Concept in Digital Signal Processing.” The talk will be held in Learning Innovation Center (LINC), 200 at 4:00 p.m.

Mitra is a research professor in the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering, University of California, Santa Barbara and Professor Emeritus, Ming Hsieh Department of Electrical Engineering, University of Southern California, Los Angeles.

Mitra is a Life Fellow of the IEEE, he has served IEEE in various capacities including service as the President of the IEEE Circuits & Systems Society in 1986. He is also a member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering, a member of the Norwegian Academy of Technological Sciences, an Academician of the Academy of Finland, a foreign member of the Finnish Academy of Sciences and Arts, a foreign member of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Croatian Academy of Engineering, and the Academy of Engineering, Mexico, and a Foreign Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences, India and the Indian National Academy of Engineering.

Lawrence Roy

A graduate student at Oregon State University has won a fellowship from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Lawrence Roy is one of fewer than 6 percent of applicants to receive the DOE Computational Science Graduate Fellowship. Roy is studying toward a doctoral degree in computer graphics.

The fellowship, administered by the Krell Institute of Ames, Iowa, is funded by the DOE’s Office of Science and the National Nuclear Security Administration. Each year, the program grants fellowships to support doctoral students whose education and research focus on using high-performance computers to solve complex science and engineering problems of national importance. Since it was launched in 1991, the DOE fellowship has supported 456 students at more than 65 universities.

DOE fellowship students receive full tuition and fees plus an annual stipend and academic allowance, renewable for up to four years. In return, recipients must complete courses in a scientific or engineering discipline plus computer science and applied mathematics.

Photo of Nelson TansuProfessor Nelson Tansu is the first speaker for The Michael and Judith Gaulke Distinguished Lecture Series. The lecture series brings internationally renowned scholars to Oregon State to ensure that our students and faculty have access to important technology breakthroughs, as well as the fundamental science and engineering that is the foundation for today’s high tech advances.

Tansu’s research focuses on the physics and device technologies of semiconductor nanostructures for photonics and energy-efficiency applications. Specifically, he has had made seminal advances to the invention and innovation, fundamental sciences, and device technologies of III-V and III-Nitride semiconductors. His innovations have impacted areas of dilute-nitride diode lasers, and III-nitride semiconductor technologies for energy efficiency.

On Monday, September 24 at 4:00 he will present his talk “Beyond Conventional III-Nitride Materials and Devices – from Photonics to New Applications.” The talk is held in Learning Innovation Center, room 200 on the Oregon State University campus.

Tansu is Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, the Daniel E. ’39 and Patricia M. Smith Endowed Chair Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Director for the Integrated Photonics and Nanofabrication Core Laboratory and Center for Photonics and Nanoelectronics at Lehigh University.

He has more than 16 US patents, and his work is integrated in today’s state-of-the-art solid-state lighting technology. He has authored more than 134 refereed journals and 279 conference publications. His life story as a professor was published in the form of best-selling children’s book “Nelson the Boy who Loved to Read” in his native country Indonesia. He serves as the Editor-in-Chief for Photonics and Editorial Board Members in eight other leading journals in applied physics and nanotechnology.

Danny Dig
Danny Dig, associate professor of computer science, is leading the effort to create the PPI Center.

Oregon State University is hosting a planning workshop for a new industry-focused pervasive personalized intelligence center on October 11-12, 2018 in Portland, Oregon.

The center would allow for interdisciplinary and collaborative research on machine-learning based software systems and aid in long-term partnerships between startups, corporations, universities and government agencies. Industry members involved leverage affiliate investment, have direct access to students, and enjoy company savings thanks to low risk and accelerated research and development.

“At Rigado we are committed to building a scalable, interconnected IoT that drives real business value. In support of those efforts to expand the ecosystem and interoperability we are pleased to be taking part in the Planning Workshop for the Center on IoT. We encourage anyone looking at digital transformation for your business to join us in helping to shape the future of IoT,” said co-founder and chief executive officer of Rigado.

If created, center headquarters would be at Oregon State with a site at University of Colorado Boulder supporting research under the supervision of the U.S. National Science Foundation using the Industry-University Cooperative Research Centers model.

“CU Boulder is thrilled to be a partner in making the PPI Center a reality. The software challenges of tomorrow are simply too great for any single university or company to tackle alone. Fortunately, CU and Oregon State bring complementary expertise and a can-do, cooperative attitude to the center effort,” said Bor-Yuh Evan Chang, co-director for the PPI Center and associate professor of computer science at University of Colorado Boulder.

Center topics of focus to enable intelligent IoT

  • Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence
  • Security and Privacy
  • Edge and Cloud Computing
  • Programming Languages and Verification
  • Software Engineering and Human Computer Interaction

Center staff

Twenty-nine faculty across the focus areas, including ACM Fellows Tom Dietterich and Margaret Burnett.

Planning workshop

What: Workshop with industry members, universities and National Science Foundation

About: Planned topics include meeting industry needs, NSF best practices and defining relevant research projects.

When: Oct. 11 & 12, 2018

Where: Sentinel Hotel, 614 S.W. 11th Ave., Portland, Oregon

Online:  www.ppicenter.org

Phone: 541-737-8216

Email: Center Director Danny Dig at digd@eecs.oregonstate.edu
or CU Boulder Site Director Bor-Yuh Evan Chang at evan.chang@colorado.edu
and Shivakant Mishra at mishras@colorado.edu