Fall 2009

Editorial note: This is a special welcome edition presented in a letter format with click-as-you-read links to articles and web pages.

Chair Bruce Porter Hits the Ground Running

Chair Bruce Porter - Department of Computer Sciences at The University of Texas at AustinI can't imagine a more exciting time to be chairman of the CS Department. My predecessor, J Moore, did an outstanding job, setting us on course for a new building and starting a variety of important initiatives, from revamping our curriculum to recruiting a diverse student body.

We expect to break ground on the new building during this academic year. The Bill & Melinda Gates Computer Science Complex, which will include the Dell Computer Science Hall, will provide high-quality space to house the whole department. Currently we're split across seven buildings, and none of them supports both research and teaching. The new building is spectacular; it was designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects - the firm that designed the new Seay building and The University's master plan - and consists of two seven-story wings surrounding a patio and joined by an open atrium. It will be a major landmark in central campus and will serve us well through the 21st century.

As President Powers noted in his Address on the State of the University, the next few years will present budgetary challenges for the University. How those challenges will precisely play out for the department is not entirely clear yet, but I am confident that we will continue to provide outstanding education and to perform excellent research. In fact, I am confident that we will continue to improve in every facet of the department. We may have to tighten our belts here and there, but with a continuation of the hard work and ingenuity we have displayed for years, I know that we will be able not only to thrive but also to grow as well.

New research initiatives are underway. The Center for Information Assurance and Security, for example, houses 21 faculty concerned with cybersecurity, including privacy, password cracking, network security and intrusion detection. Lockheed Martin currently has a research agreement with CIAS; Raytheon recently partnered with the Center to fund cybersecurity research over the next 10 years. Like most of the research in the department, the Center contributes to education as well; it recently established a program that enables students to earn INFOSEC certification. Learn more: http://www.cias.utexas.edu/

New academic initiatives are underway as well. The faculty is re-designing the undergraduate curriculum, starting with the math sequence and the lower-division computer science courses. A national trend in CS education, driven by the ACM, is to shrink the set of core classes (which are required of all CS majors) to create more options for students to explore at the upper-division levels. The hallmark of our curriculum is the opportunity for students to get involved in the cutting edge of virtually every area of CS research—an opportunity that relatively few universities can provide.

Through another academic initiative, we are recruiting more students overall into CS each year. Our First Bytes Summer Camp brings about 60 high school girls to the department for a week to learn about computer science, meet faculty and industry leaders, and tour labs. This year, seven graduates of the camp enrolled in CS. Our recruiting efforts are paying off as well; this year's entering class is 5 percent larger than last year. If the recent career fair is any indication, these students will be in great demand when they graduate! Additionally, through generous support from donors, we are now able to award about $75K in scholarships to incoming freshmen. We are also honored to announce Aidan Coyne as the first recipient of a new scholarship in memory of Danny Toole—one of our students who passed away tragically in 2007.

I would like to thank the companies that belong to the Friends of Computer Science (FoCS) program. They help with all these initiatives, often behind the scenes. The Department could not succeed without our Friends!

We look forward to continually engaging UTCS alumni. If you are a UTCS alum and would like to write an article for our newsletter, please let me know.

Exciting times! I look forward to serving you as Department Chairman. Please feel free to write me at chair@cs.utexas.edu. Thank you all.

Chair Bruce Porter, UTCS

Other UTCS News

UTCS Events

Upcoming Events:

Recent Major Department Events:

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Major Events & Deadlines

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The articles below are also included as clickable links in the Chair's farewell message above.

Research Corner: Center for Information Assurance and Security (CIAS)

“In short, America's economic prosperity in the 21st century will depend on cybersecurity.”

--President Obama, May 29, 2009

The topic of cybersecurity continues to grab national attention as more and more people become aware of how important, and how difficult, it is to secure their information, both personally and professionally. Instances of identify-theft, attacks on corporate information systems and sheer fraud are among all-too-common headlines that are difficult to ignore these days. Public and private enterprises get hacked, private information is exposed and people are being compromised at an alarming rate.

Hacking horror stories abound and an increasing number of us have experienced some form of data breach or compromise first hand. Unfortunately, the more connected we are, the more exposed we become. For the average Internet user, the concerns are, ‘How is my personal data protected, how can I keep my computer from being infected and how do I know if the webpage I’m surfing is safe?’ ‘Information infrastructures depend on security measures that, frankly, aren’t as sophisticated as some of the methods of attack we’re seeing today’ says Dr. Fred Chang, Director of the Center for Information Assurance and Security (CIAS).

The CIAS, housed in UTCS, is working hard to develop innovative cybersecurity solutions. From hardware and software verification to trustworthy systems to privacy protection to new encryption approaches and much more, the CIAS is tackling some of the most challenging cybersecurity problems facing us today. In a nutshell, we need to design software and hardware systems with cybersecurity in mind from the very beginning, not as an afterthought. More information about research occurring in the CIAS can be found in this recent story: http://www.utexas.edu/features/2009/10/12/cybersecurity/.

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Friends of Computer Science (FoCS) Welcomes New Members

UTCS welcomes new Friends Bazaarvoice, Logical Information Machines, Qualcomm Technology and Yourway Exchange Software.

The Friends of Computer Science (FoCS) program connects industry, government and UTCS for mutual benefit in the areas of research, collaborations, outreach and recruiting. Our longstanding members have made much of the department’s progress possible so we gratefully thank our loyal members for their support and interest in our endeavors.

For more information, please contact Nancy P. Hatchett at 512.471.9793 or nph@cs.utexas.edu.

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UTCS Alumni Reconnect

Alumni News from Marjorie Morales, (B.A. 1985)

If you are a UTCS alumni who would like to contribute an article to Alumni Reconnect, please send your 250 word article for consideration to oea@cs.utexas.edu.

Marjorie Morales received a B.A. in Computer Science from the University of Texas at Austin in 1985. Upon graduation, she took a position with NASA Space Transportation Shuttle Operations developing Mission Control Center applications. She then joined Texas Instruments as a Member of the Technical Staff working in the Computer Sciences Research Laboratories.

Marjorie spent the last seventeen years in the health care industry using information technology to improve the quality of patient care. In 1992, she was a pioneer in developing Electronic Medical Records and Clinical Data Repositories with Ameritech Health Connections. Marjorie was a Co-Founder and President of LMI, Inc. a start-up company developing health care expert systems. Marjorie held a variety of positions at Bridge Medical, an award winning, venture backed, patient safety company focused on eliminating medication errors. She is currently developing Electronic Health Record custom solutions and systems for Baylor Health Care System.

Marjorie volunteers for several University of Texas programs. She works with First Bytes, a UT sponsored Computer Science camp for female high school students, UTeach, a program for helping UT students obtain teacher certificates concurrent with Mathematics, Computer Sciences, or Science degrees, and FIG, a Freshman Interest Group for females in Computer Sciences. Marjorie has been working with the Dallas Independent School District to design a mentoring program to promote college interest for teenagers in low-income schools.

In conjunction with UT and the KLE Foundation, Marjorie has established the Marjorie Morales Endowment for Excellence in Teacher Training that supports internships for Mathematics, Computer Sciences, or Science students bilingual in Spanish working with children who are considered to be at-risk in educational advancement.

CS LinkedIn Group Update

In the Spring 2009 newsletter we announced that Karl Harris, UTCS alumnus, had created a private LinkedIn account for UTCS alumni, current students, current faculty and current staff members.

The group now has 171 members, up from the nearly 100 members the group had in June. Of the top CS programs, Karl says it is the second largest computer science LinkedIn group.

Karl envisions UTCS students or graduates taking advantage of networking opportunities that would not be available to them without the group.

If you are interested in joining, please visit http://www.linkedin.com/e/vgh/1783577.

Celebrating 100 years of Graduate Education

In 2010, the Graduate School will celebrate its 100th anniversary. A hardcover book commemorating the centennial anniversary of the Graduate School will be published by UT Press in Fall 2010. Select stories of graduate alumni will be included.

Be a part of it

Questions? Contact Kathleen Mabley, kmabley@austin.utexas.edu, 232-3633

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Academic Outreach and Initiatives

Grace Hopper

Grace Hopper 2009 - Department of Computer Sciences at The University of Texas at Austinhe University of Texas at AustinEighteen UTCS undergraduate and graduate women attended the Grace Hopper
Celebration of Women in Computing conference in Tucson, AZ in
October. The students attended technical and non-technical talks,
networked and visited with corporate attendees. One student said,
"Having the opportunity to see so many women who had found successful
careers in the industry and in the academic worlds was an amazing
experience for me. It was inspiring to see the passion each one had for computing and engineering, and for promoting and supporting women in that world." The conference was made possible by support from the Empowering Leadership Alliance, Lockheed Martin, Qualcomm and Yahoo!.

Breakfast Bytes

Breakfast Bytes Fall 2009 - Department of Computer Sciences at The University of Texas at AustinThis fall, UTCS will host Breakfast Bytes for middle and high school
students. Once a month, students are invited to campus to hear a
professor give a lecture, followed by interactive activities and
breakfast. Professors William Cook, Peter Stone and Calvin
Lin will talk about start-ups, robots and the changing world of CS.


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Student Spotlight

3DS Update

3 Day Startup - The University of Texas at Austin3 Day Startup (3DS) held its third event November 13th – 15th. 124 applications from departments all over campus were submitted. Forty participants presented fresh ideas to a panel of tech startup experts, which included Adam Dell (Impact Ventures), Charley Dean (Silverton Partners), Mike Dodd (Austin Ventures), Josh Baer (Capital Factory), Rob Neville (CEO Savara Pharmaceuticals), Tyron Stading (CTO Innography), John Doggett (McCombs Business School) and Paul Hurdlow (DLA Piper).

Four startups emerged from this semester's event: Card Nut - create a personalized, physical greeting card with your iPhone; Hippo Bubble Game - a game to teach kids how to program through narrative learning; Mobile Marketing Intelligence - track your movements indoors by watching wifi and mobile phone fingerprints; and Rookie Cast - personalized sportscasting – get alternative audio for sports games.

Famigo, the mobile family games development company that emerged from 3DS Spring '09, raised angel investment from Capital Factory — a seed stage mentoring program. The investment includes $20k in capital and $20k in services. The company is privately testing its first iPhone game and is poised to present it to Apple for approval. Famigo’s new website will go live soon.

Thomas Finsterbusch and Joel Hestness, UTCS graduate students, will submit grant proposals to fund the formation of a non-profit entity that will host 3 Day Startup. They aim to package 3DS in a way that helps other campuses host similar entrepreneurial workshops by offering supporting materials and planning assistance. The graduate students are also utilizing their close ties with the Austin Technology Incubator (ATI) to develop a camp that will involve participants from other events.

"Computer science is at the heart of 3DS as we're specifically aiming at software startups," explains Finsterbusch. "If you're a CS student and are passionate about technology but don't know if entrepreneurship is your thing, please do apply to our next 3DS. It's a great way to meet other like-minded students from other disciplines such as business, law, graphic design and advertising."

The next 3DS is planned for April 9 -11, 2010. If you are interested in sponsoring or applying for the next event, please visit the 3 Day Startup website at http://3daystartup.com/.

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UTCS Faculty News

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Faculty Retirement : Chris Edmondson-Yurkanan

Senior Lecturer Chris Edmondson-Yurkanan has retired from UTCS after 23 years of teaching network, architecture and individual research courses. She received two teaching awards from ACM/UPE and the Dean’s Office. Chris also created an advanced networking course (1995-2003) and received two grants to create a hands-on Network Instructional Lab for all CS network classes. Concurrently, she spent 16 years as an executive committee member of ACM SIGCOMM, a well-regarded, international, professional society for network research.

In 1999, as part of the annual ACM SIGCOMM conference, Chris led the team that created the first Technical History of the Internet Tutorial, which featured 19 network pioneers as presenters. She edited the tutorial notebook, filling it with early networking materials contemporaneous to the original design timeframe. Her initial interest in those sources has grown into an archaeological exploration of early network history.

USC’s Postel Center awarded Chris with a Visiting Research Scholar position in 2004. She focused her research on the early designs of the Internet protocols.

Chris wrote a paper for ACM’s 60th anniversary, published in the May 2007 issue of Communications of the ACM, to remind all computer scientists that their fields have aging pioneers. She explains, “Histories can be effectively written ONLY if the computing communities (1) ensure that pioneers’ primary sources are archived and (2) sponsor well-researched oral histories”.

Chris added a personal note: “While my current passion is early network history, I miss my CS colleagues and teaching … UTCS was my 2nd home. I always thought of my students and TAs as “my team” and I am still rooting for each of you! Some of my good friends were once my students or TAs. I would enjoy hearing from all.” For Chris Edmondson-Yurkanan's contact information visit www.cs.utexas.edu/~chris or click on “Guest Homepages ” in the People section of the UTCS website.

UTCS Staff News

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