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Dean's Update - April 2012


On April 20, SPSU held its annual student awards banquet.  We use this event to recognize our best and brightest students.  Some 100 students received awards including 8 from CSE. Tanvir Rahman and Michael Stittleburg were recognized as the outstanding CSE graduates students, while Benjamin Bernhardt (Software Engineering), Tyler Clark (Information Technology) Josh Skelton (Computer Game Design and Development), and Teng Zhao (Computer Science) were recognized as the outstanding undergraduate students.  The Julian Joseph Award for Service to CSE was shared by Megan Cox and Chris Miller.  Megan and Chris were instrumental in helping us strengthen the tutorial services that we offer to our students.  

All the recipients deserve our congratulations.


Two of the faculty members of the Department of Information Technology were recently promoted.  Dr Svetlana Peltsverger was promoted to Associate Professor with Tenure, while Professor Bob Brown was promoted to Senior Lecturer.  The promotions recognize the extraordinary contributions Dr Peltsverger and Professor Brown has made to CSE and will no doubt continue to make in the future.  I wanted to publicly express my appreciation for their work and congratulate them on their achievements.


Josh Skelton was recognized in more than one way in April.  In addition to being recognized as the outstanding undergraduate student, Josh was also accepted for a summer research position at the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga.  The program, which is funded by the NSF, is very competitive (less than 7% of applicants are accepted), and gives outstanding undergraduate students the opportunity to work with a faculty member at the host institution on a summer research project.  Josh will be working as part of a Biomedical Informatics research team.  More specifically, he will work on the X-Box Kinect SDK and research algorithms that can be used for physical therapy/rehabilitation patients. 

Clearly, the fact that Josh was accepted is a testimony both to his talents but also to the quality of the Computer Game Design and Development program that he is enrolled in.  Congratulations to Josh.


A group of undergraduate students recently presented a paper based on their capstone project at the ACM Southeast conference in Tuscaloosa, AL. The students, who worked under the supervision of Dr Kai Qian, were Zhengzhe Li, Teng Zhao (the recipient of our of the CSE outstanding undergraduate awards), Dong Ren, Yang Zhang, and Lei Wang and the title of their paper was “Learning Applications of Multi-tasking Signal Analysis of Fourier Transform Based on Smart Mobile Devices”.  Congratulations to all.


On May 11 CSE will again be hosting the reception for its graduating students.  Between the spring and summer commencement, we are expecting to graduate around 100 students from the various programs in CSE.  CSE hosts the reception to help them and their friends and family celebrate this achievement.  This year, we will also ask graduating students to take the Pledge to the Computing Profession.  UPS is sponsoring the reception, while BlueWave Computing is providing financial support for the Pledge to the Computing Profession.  I am of course most grateful to both sponsors.

On a more personal note, It turns out that the entire office staff in the Dean’s Office is graduating in the spring.  So, in addition to extending my congratulations to all students who will graduate, I want to extend a special congratulation to Ashley McClure, Paula Stadnicki, and Shruti Tammireddi.


Marshall Miller, a 2011 CSE graduate in Computer Science, and Tommy Tornroos, a graduate from SPSU’s business program, recently announced the formation of a new software company, GearSprout LLC, and the release of its first product, SproutConverter.  SproutConverter automatically removes blank spaces, video noise, distortion and other glitches from digital video files, home video cassettes and film, and downloaded movies.  I of course wish Marshall and Tommy every success in their new venture.


Last month I reported on the Science Olympiad that SPSU hosted for high school students.  The organizers of that event, Lance Crimm, Stephanie McCartney and Susan Vande Ven from our department of Information Technology, are obviously gluttons for punishment as they organized a similar event for middle school students.  With the help of around 100 volunteers, some 360 students competed in such events as TowerBuilding, Mission Possible and MouseTrap Vehicle.  The top team will compete in a national competition in Orlando in May.

I wanted to express my appreciation for the effort that all have put in to make this event possible.  Keeping middle school students interested in science, technology, engineering and computing is extremely important if we as a country as to address the growing shortage of professionals in these fields.


One of the CSE strategic goals is to increase the diversity of its student population, and I have to admit that we have not done enough to address this goal, at least not in a systematic way.  Thanks to some prodding and suggestions from Lisa McVey, CIO of McKesson Provider Solutions, and a member of the CSE Dean’s Development Council, we have started a project to formulate a plan to increase the diversity of our student population.  Our student demographics are interesting in that we are ethnically relatively diverse (some 47% of our undergraduate population are non-white).  Our main lack of diversity is gender.  Female students make up less than 15% of our undergraduate populations and less than 30% of our graduate population.  Moreover, the issue appears to be one of recruitment, rather than retention, in that we appear to retain female students at the same rate as male students, although it has to be said that retention rates are extremely poor for both groups.

We have had a few brainstorming sessions within CSE and the reason for writing is to ask you for any suggestions you might have.  What can we do to attract more young women into our programs?  Do you have anecdotes of things we did and should have prevented that turned women away from our programs?  Do you have anecdotes of things we did or should have done to make our programs more attractive to women?  Any suggestions about how we can increase the diversity in our student populations are most welcome.  Let stress that we are not only seeking suggestions from women or ethnic minorities.  The issue of diversity is a broad issue that I believe concerns us all.