Saturday, December 15, 2007

Robotics Final Exam

Our Robotics class had a new competition for its final exam. The goal was to gather as many lights as possible and store them at your end of the playing field. It turned out to be quite a challenge and great fun to watch:

You can see the individual photos by clicking on the link at the lower right of the player.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

GPS Tour

One of the teams in our Embedded/Realtime course is gaining some recognition. They are building an application for handheld (Windows CE) devices utilizing a GPS add-on device. The goal is to produce an application that would help perspective students tour campus at their own pace.
The admissions office would have a set of handheld devices that they could loan to prospective students and their families. As they walks around campus, the device highlights the buildings that are close by and the user can see information about each building.
The team, consisting of Joshua Buzzard, Stephen Nowell, John Yackovich and (recently added) Brian Clarke presented a prototype to University President Dr. Ruud who was quite impressed with the project. They will be continuing development into the Spring when they will present it to the Board of Governors.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Surface Mount Soldering

This week, if MCT 164 is open, check it out! An alum has loaned our Embedded class the equipment necessary to do surface mount soldering. That means that our students can practice mounting chips whose pins do not go through the circuit board. Instead the chip sits on top of the circuit board and the solder joints at the pins also secure the chip to the board. This certainly requires a steady hand as the joints are small enough that a microscope is required to see them as you create them. This is certainly a unique opportunity for those students and we really appreciate Ed Bockhoeffer for loaning the equipment. Check it out!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Department Video

I have been tasked with making a video that we could hand to prospective students that shows them all of the cool stuff we have going on. Last week at FIE, I kept saying, "Boy, we do it better than that!" so I'm sure we have a lot of stuff to show off. Here are the things that I've thought of to include:

  • the embedded course projects

  • the robotics course projects

  • the ACM contest

  • some classes working on labs

I would also like some clips of students saying what they think is good about our program. If you're interested in helping, please let me know.

Also, if you have other ideas for things we should showcase or how the video should look (or sound?), I'm open to suggestions. When I was in grad school studying AI, it never occurred to be that this is what I'd be doing!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Traveling, again

This week, Dr. Lee and I have been away at Frontiers in Education (FIE) in Milwaukee. I hate missing a class (though I'm sure they are working on the homework I gave them :) ) and I know that we are getting into scheduling time, so many of you are looking for me this week. From that, you can assume that I think attending this conference is very important. FIE is a conference that is solely focused on engineering education predominantly at the undergraduate level. In the sessions I have visited, I have seen innovations in how CS1 is taught, how team project courses are managed, how students are recruited, and how programs are assessed.

Much of what I have seen shows me how good our programs are. When I talk with people about what we are doing in CS1, they are impressed that our freshman can handle test-driven development. When I talk with people about our WiCS program, they are impressed with the motivation of our students and the quality of the videos and the website. As always, I'm proud of what we are doing.

In addition, I have picked up some ideas about ways to assess our project courses and new ways of looking at grading those courses. I also think that the things I saw about CS1 confirm the direction we are going.

Any way, being away gives me some time to reflect and plan, but I'm looking forward to getting back to campus. If you've been looking for me to talk about scheduling, I promise I'll be around a lot next week!

Friday, October 5, 2007

New WiCS Equipment

This summer, the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences bought a new camera and microphone for our WiCS team. As a result, the format of the podcasts has been improved and we're able to look at a whole new set of topics for the videos. Our latest one is on spell checking. Check it out at the WiCS website .

Leaving a comment or emailing the podcast to a friend requires that you create a login for the website. It's easy to do and you might win something, so don't be deterred! The WiCS team would love to hear your comments.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Department Google Calendar

I'm looking for more ways to let everyone know about what's going on in the department. My latest idea is a public Google calendar. I'm going to hook it into the department homepage soon, but, in the mean time, you can see it pretty easily. You need a gmail account (if you don't have one, let me know and I'll give you one). When you've logged onto gmail, you can go to Google calendar. From there, on the left side of the screen, there's a button to add a new calendar. Just search for "Shippensburg University Computer Science Department" which is a public calendar and you'll see everything that's going on!

If you have an event that you'd like me to add to the calendar, just let me know! Which reminds me: when are we having a movie night to watch Tron?

Friday, August 17, 2007

Agile 2007

This week, I've been away at the Agile 2007 Conference and it occurred to me that you might wonder why we go to conferences.

There are three communities that we try to keep in touch with: other educators, people in industry and people doing research in areas similar to ours. Connections with those people help us stay up-to-date and help us innovate in our curriculum, classrooms, and research.

Agile 2007 is a strongly industry-focused conference. Probably 95% of the attendees are associated with developing software from people in the trenches to upper management. It's a great time to see new tools and techniques that teams are using to create high quality software quickly. For me, it confirmed that the content in our Testing and XP course is up-to-date (though I think we'll add continuous integration this spring). It also confirms that my consulting activities are current, though I picked up a few tricks here and there.

Agile 2007 also had an educator's symposium for people to talk about how they are teaching agile methods. It included talks on project courses at other schools and I presented the innovations we have made to CS1 (I've presented our project course to a number of venues in the past). You can see the project I presented on here (Click on TDD in CS1). On this front, we are definitely on the leading edge. People were very surprised that freshmen can master TDD while learning everything else they need to learn in that course. I think a lot of people will be watching the labs develop and using them in their courses, too.

Any way, this conference confirmed that our technology is up-to-date. In October, I'll be heading to Frontiers in Education which is entirely focused on teaching. I'll let you know what I learn.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

We're Getting Ready . . .

I know it seems like it's the middle of summer to you, but I'm busy getting ready for school to start! I can't wait until the students return - it's always more fun when they are here.

I've finished with freshmen orientation. Though they didn't heckle me like last year's group, I heard some good questions and everyone seemed enthused (many of you saw Professor Briggs as he covered for me while I was out of town - my thanks to him!). Your schedules are almost complete and you should be receiving them soon. Remember - read early!

I have a new innovation to try this year: a Google department calendar. It's title is "Shippensburg University Computer Science Department" and you should be able to search for it and view it from your google calendar (if you need a google account, let me know - I can hook you up!). So far, it doesn't have much, but when you all get back and we set times for programming team, ACM, the research discussion group, and everything else, it'll fill up fast. I'm hoping this will keep everyone aware of the variety of things that are going on. Let me know if you can't see it . . .

If you have any other ideas for things we should try in the fall, let me know!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

We got a CRA-W Research Grant!

Our Software Engineering Huddle has some big news: two students and I just received a research grant from the Computing Research Association's Committee on the Status of Women in Computing Research! The program that is providing the funding is their Collaborative Research
Experience for Undergraduates in Computer Science and Engineering
and we are very proud to have been selected.

The team consists of Sarah Joseph (a junior CS major), Logan Kennedy (a sophomore CS major) and me. The grant provides the students with a stipend for their work. We will be investigating how tools can help agile software development practices be adopted by large or distributed teams. We will develop a number of desktop widgets to disseminate information like build status and metrics like unit test passing rates. We will publish these widgets through the open source community to gather information on their usefulness. In addition, we will be investigating intra-team communication strategies used in agile teams in order to design tools to help large teams match the communication strategies of small teams.

We'll be publishing our progress on a web site, but that isn't up yet. When it is, I'll let you know so you can see the cool things we do.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Summer Travel

I just thought I'd catch you up on some of the things the faculty are doing this summer.

Dr. Mao is just returning from a tour of Asia. He presented research papers in Korea and China. Those papers were co-authored with Dr. Lee and Shannon Kelly who was one of our graduate students who graduated this May.

Professor Briggs continues to work on his dissertation and is making good progress. In addition, he has done some consulting with a company in Chambersburg helping them configure their e-commerce web server with the latest server software.

I attended a three day workshop on Program Assessment at the University of Delaware. It was run by Middle States (who accredits the University) and I learned that our assessment is pretty strong. I picked up a few pointers, but mostly I confirmed the direction we took as part of our ABET accreditation. Later this summer, I'll be attending Agile 2007 in Washington, D.C. to present a paper on the changes we've made to Computer Science I as we have introduced test-driven development into the curriculum. I, too, have spent some time consulting and, as a result, have gained some insights that will be valuable in my Metrics and Process Management course this fall. I'm really looking to that class!

I hope everyone's summer is going well. The logs I've read on your internships sound really interesting - keep up the good work!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


As I finish up my grading (no, I have not finished grading the 210 papers!), graduation is already complete. This year, 23 seniors and 10 Masters students graduated. As I look at the lists, there are people there of which I'm very proud. Students who have completed their degrees after interruptions for serving in Iraq, students who have overcome personal challenges, and, students that have posed interesting questions in my classes.

I love going to graduation because it's a good time to stop and think about what we've done (good and bad) and where we're headed. While these students have been here, we've changed our curriculum, gotten our accreditation and begun to create an undergraduate research program. As I look forward, we're working on ways to grow that undergraduate research program and to improve our M.S. degree.

Summer is generally quiet, but keep an eye - I'll try to post some news about our interns as I receive it. Besides, summer's too quiet if I don't hear from any of you!


Friday, May 11, 2007

New and funny WiCS podcast episode

The WiCS team has been filming episodes of their podcast so that we could publish them all summer. However, yesterday they finished one that was so cool that they decided to put it out early. It's on the technology that the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency uses to coordinate responses to emergencies. I know, that doesn't sound wildly cool. The cool part is that it's a parody of Dragnet! It was fun to make and I think it's fun to watch. Check in out at the WiCS page. Please leave comments and check out the other episodes, too!

Friday, May 4, 2007


Check out the snacks in my office! Tina and Sarah had too much flex at the end of the term, so they've stored snacks that'll keep them filled next fall! Thanks to Seth for the help in toting!

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Movie Night

Last night we had the first of many department movie nights. We started with the standard pizza and subs:

Then we watched Serenity.

We had so much fun that we decided we should do it every month. We'll start on the first Wednesday of classes with the movie Tron

See you then!

May Pole

Every now and then I walk into a classroom and see something surprising that the students have done. This one took me by surprise:

Up close, you can see that it's a May Pole made out of markers:

I thought the markers had some other purpose . . .

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

This Year's Academic Awards

Sunday was the day of University's Academic Awards Ceremony. As always, we had a large number of students who earned awards.

From left to rights:
  • Andrew Richwine (Senior Outstanding Grade Point Average
  • James Dibble (Honor Recipient, Senior Outstanding Grade Point Average)
  • Timothy Sherald (Senior Outstanding Grade Point Average)
  • John C. Yackovich (Senior Outstanding Grade Point Average)
  • Peter J. Fisher (Senior Outstanding Grade Point Average)
  • Vincent P. Sockalosky (Senior Outstanding Grade Point Average)

Not Pictured:
  • David M. Dahan (Senior Outstanding Grade Point Average)
  • Alexander J. Hoffer (Senior Outstanding Grade Point Average)
  • Wesley J. Holevinski (Senior Outstanding Grade Point Average)
  • Logan H. Kennedy (Freshman Outstanding Grade Point Average)
  • Dominic J. Luminello (Senior Outstanding Grade Point Average)
  • Kevin C. McCullough (Who's Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges, Senior Outstanding Grade Point Average)
  • Stephen C. Nowell (Senior Outstanding Grade Point Average)
  • Jonathan P. Oram (Sophomore Outstanding Grade Point Average)
  • Cella M. Sum (Honor Recipient, Senior Outstanding Grade Point Average)
Be sure to congratulate them when you see them!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Friday really was a big day!

Friday lived up to its billing! First, the posters of our senior research projects went up in the halls.

Check them out - and don't forget to look at the one behind Helena's desk.

Second, our Industrial Advisory Council met on Friday. They reviewed some changes we are considering in our Masters degrees and gave us some solid feedback on our ten year plan. We certainly have some things to think about as a result of their visit! Here they are talking with Professors Mao, Briggs, Lee and Girard:

From left to right: Lanorde Wheeler, Todd Moyer, Ben Breech, Steven Mentzer and Brian Cozzens.

These alumni are incredibly valuable to our program and we thank them for their feedback and all the other ways they interact with our students and faculty!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Upsilon Pi Epsilon

Tonight was our annual induction in our chapter of the Upsilon Pi Epsilon Honor Society. These students are our top performing students as demonstrated by their grades or other achievements. Our faculty select them carefully and we are very proud of their accomplishments! Here are this year's students inductees with the current UPE Officers:

Front row: Andrew Richwine, Cella Sum, and John Yackovitch
Back row: Peter Fisher, James Dibble, Vince Sockalosky, Joshua Buzzard, Justin Devage, Wesley Gibson, John Seth Theileman, Andrew J. Hoffer, and Tim Sherrald.

This year's honorary inductee was Todd Moyer. He is a 1999 graduate from our graphics concentration whose work involves developing the software for air traffic control systems. He has served on our industrial advisory board for five years and helped our WiCS team produce a podcast on air traffic control software. We are pleased to honor him this way.

Our officers (James Dibble, Vince Sockalosky, and Tim Sherrald) did a wonderful job of leading the ceremony:

Here is Professor Briggs bragging about the interesting projects he's been able to do with this batch of students:

It was a wonderful night. I always enjoy meeting the parents and talking with the alumni that come back to visit. I'm looking forward to next year's ceremony and the people that I expect we'll be inducting then . . .

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

WiCS Field Trip to PEMA and the Capital

Today was an exciting day for our WiCS team. Two weeks ago, James Powers, Pennsylvania's Director of Homeland Security, came to campus to give a seminar on the technology behind homeland security. When the WiCS team expressed interest in producing a podcast on this technology, Mr. Powers offered to take us on a field trip to gather more information. So, today, we went on a two-part field trip.

First, we visited the Emergency Operations Center at the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency where we learned about the technology they leverage to deal with emergencies as they happen.

Second, we visited the capital building. After seeing the wonderful architecture, the House and Senate in action, we met with the Lieutenant Governor who expressed enthusiasm about our podcasts and our interest in homeland security.

Watch for our next podcast episode as it will have more of the details of what we learned today!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Friday will be a big day

This Friday, our Industrial Advisory Council will be visiting. The council is made up of alumni and people from local industrial partners. They come once or twice a year to review what we are doing to help us ensure that our programs maintain their quality as technology moves. This time, they're going to look at our ten year plan, and some curriculum revisions we are considering.

While they are here, they also review our senior research projects, so you will see those appearing on the walls of the halls this week. Read and enjoy them!

In addition, they like to meet with students to get their impressions of our programs and the directions in which we are moving. If you would be interested in visiting with them, please email me your availability for Friday and I'll try to pick the time when the most students are available.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

WiCS Podcast Passes 1000 Dowloads!!!

The "Where is the Software?" podcast produced by our Women in Computer Science team has passed a significant milestone: as of this morning, we have 1003 downloads! Our six episodes have an average of 167 downloads. The Malware episode is leading with a total of 250 downloads.

Check out all of the episodes at and use the comment section to give them your feedback!

Monday, April 16, 2007

BitLeap wins Technology Provider of the Year

In March, BitLeap was awarded Technology Provider of the Year by the Technology Council of Central Pennsylvania. This is important news for us because their two lead engineers, Lindsay Snider and Ian Berry, are alumni of our program and one of their interns, Seth Theileman, is a current student. The criteria for the award is "Company must be a developer of current technologies and must have at least one product line that has achieved or has the potential to achieve a significant market impact, and/or the status of a transforming technology for future innovation."

We are very proud of BitLeap! Check them out!

Start of a department news blog

I have to admit that keeping up with the department video podcast has been overwhelming. Taking the time to write the script, record it, and edit it is keeping me from spreading important news about our department and our alumni. Therefore, I'm going to try this route of communication as an alternative.

We are always looking for feedback, so please engage in the conversations here - let us know what you like and what you think we could do better. To start, how do you like a blog as opposed to a podcast?