MINES COMPUTER SCIENCE
A Newsletter for Friends and Supporters of the Mines Computer Science Department
Department of Computer Science
Colorado School of Mines
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Pictured above: CS@Mines' congratulatory message to recent graduates during the Virtual Commencement Ceremony in May 2020.
Greetings from the Department of Computer Science (CS) at Colorado School of Mines (Mines). CS@Mines continues to be the fastest growing department on campus, with over 700 undergraduates and 110 graduate students expected this fall. CS@Mines is also experiencing rapid growth in faculty (and research volume!), which means we have outgrown our space in Brown. Thus, this fall, all CS@Mines faculty (except robotics faculty) will be moving to newly renovated space in CTLM. Come visit us!
Outcomes for CS@Mines students continue to be strong. In the latest data from the Career Center, 98% (100%) of CS B.S. (M.S.) students had positive outcomes with an average starting salary of $72,931 ($92,625). These are impressive employment metrics for CS@Mines students! We are extremely grateful to our C-MAPP Partners for all they do to help train (and hire!) our graduates.
The abrupt transition to remote learning in Spring 2020 (due to COVID-19) was extremely difficult for both CS@Mines faculty and students. When all the dust settled after finals, I heard from many students who expressed gratitude for the significant adjustments that faculty made in an extremely short timeline. While preparing for Fall 2020 has not been easy this summer, I am optimistic that we will provide a solid learning experience for our students.
I hope you and your loved ones are doing well in these unusual times!
connect with us
1500 Illinois Street
Golden, CO 80401
303-273-3000 or 800-446-9488
A newsletter for friends & supporters
of the Colorado School of Mines
Department of Computer Science
1610 Illinois Street
Golden, CO 80401
Brown Hall 280
1610 Illinois Street
Golden, CO 80401
Dr. Paul C. Johnson, PhD
Dr. Tracy Camp
ASST DEPARTMENT HEAD:
Dr. Wendy Fisher
4......................................................................................................................................... Faculty and Staff Spotlight
6......................................................................................................................................................... Department News
11...................................................................................................................................................... Outreach Programs
12................................................................................................................................... Faculty Awards and Accolades
13............................................................................................................................................................. Research News
18................................................................................................................................................................ Student News
23................................................................................................................................................................ Our Sponsors
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FROM THE TOP
To see full video, please visit https://tinyurl.com/CS-Mines-Grad2020
Greetings from the Department Head
Amelia Read, Teaching Assistant Professor
Amelia Read was previously a tenured professor at Olympic College in Bremerton, Washington (2014-2020) teaching computer programming and software engineering, and a non-tenured track professor at Washington Western University (2017-2019) teaching computer science in their cybersecurity program in Poulsbo, Washington. Prior to that, Amelia was in the software industry working on database systems, including Digital Equipment Corporation, Hewlett-Packard, Sybase, Cloudscape, Informix, and IBM. Her research interests include database query optimization and execution, online educational methods for computer science, and web security.
Phillip Romig III, Professor of Practice
Phil joined the Math and Computer Science department at the Colorado School of Mines in 1999 as an adjunct faculty member teaching operating systems, programming and discrete mathematics. In the spring of 2001, he joined the staff of the Computing Center (now Information Technology and Services). Over the last 19 years he held various positions including Manager of Networking & Telecommunications, Director of Infrastructure, and interim CIO. During this time he remained connected to the Computer Science department continuing to teach at least one course per year. Dr. Romig is currently the institution’s Chief Information Security Officer. This fall he formally joins the academic faculty as a Professor of Practice in Computer Science.
CS@Mines Department Faculty
Mehmet Belviranli, assistant professor
Mehmet E. Belviranli received his Ph.D. degree in Computer Science from University of California, Riverside in 2016. Prior to joining Mines, he continued his research and mentoring activities at Oak Ridge National Laboratory as Staff Computer Scientist. Mehmet’s main research interests are targeted at increasing resource utilization in heterogeneous architectures. He developed runtime systems, scheduling algorithms, analytical models, extended memory spaces, programming abstractions and OS & architecture level support to make heterogeneous computing more efficient. His work has been published in major HPC and architecture related conferences including MICRO, PPoPP, SC, ICS, PACT and DATE.
Tim Miller, Teaching Assistant Professor
Tim Miller received dual B.S. degrees from the University of West Florida (Computer Science/ Information Technology) and received the M.S. in Computer Science from Georgia Tech. Tim has over two decades of work experience in industry and government with software development, database administration, HPC administration and cyber investigations.
FACULTY AND STAFF SPOTLIGHT
A special thank you to Dr. Jeff Paone, who was the CS@Mines Assistant Department Head from 2016-2019 (the founding CS@Mines Assistant Department Head). Dr. Wendy Fisher was appointed the CS@Mines Assistant Department Head in January 2020.
In January 2020, Dr. Jeff Paone became the CS@Mines Undergraduate Director and Dr. Chuan Yue became the CS@Mines Graduate Director.
Asst. Dept Head
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Jedidiah McClurg, Assistant Professor
Jedidiah (Jed) McClurg was previously an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at the University of New Mexico (2018-2019), and received his Ph.D. from the CUPLV group at the University of Colorado Boulder in 2018. He is currently working on research in synthesis and verification of software-defined network (SDN) programs, but has broad interest in programming languages, formal methods, and networking. His overall goal is to develop tools and techniques to help programmers write better code. His work has appeared in top conferences such as PLDI and CAV, and he received an Outstanding Research Award (2017) and an Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award (2013) from the CU Boulder CS Department. He is also the recipient of an NSF CRII award.
Professor of Practice
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Teaching Associate Professor
Phillip Romig III
Professor of Practice
Colorado School of Mines Nationally Recognized For Increasing Women's Participation in Computer Science
Vibhuti Dave, Teaching Professor in both Computer Science and Electrical Engineering, was named Dean of Undergraduate Studies in April 2020. She has been a member of Mines faculty since 2011.
Dr. Dave will provide leadership and administrative support on all matters pertaining to undergraduate education at Mines, including the CORE curriculum, interdisciplinary majors and minors, policies, curricula, and adjunct course staffing.
She is currently spending much of her time preparing Mines for Fall 2020 semester (which is quite challenging due to COVID-19).
"We still have work to do, but we are on the right track."
Congratulations, Dr. Dave!
Dave Appointed Dean of Undergraduate Studies
For more information on this news story, visit Mines Newsroom at minesnewsroom.com or 9News at www.9news.com.
In 2019, Colorado School of Mines was recognized by the National Center for Women & Information Technology for its efforts to increase the number of women participating in computing education. Powered by NCWIT with support from a private donor, the NEXT Awards honor undergraduate academic departments who have demonstrated outstanding achievements as clients of NCWIT Extension Services, a program that helps academic computing departments develop high-impact strategies for recruiting and retaining more women students with advice that is customized to local needs and conditions.
As the Grand Prize recipient, CS@Mines received $100,000, with part of that funding to be used to create inclusive and welcoming gathering spaces for CS students. Past winners include the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of California, Irvine, and University of Washington.
Lucy Sanders, NCWIT CEO and co-founder, commented, "Not only are we proud to recognize these departments for their remarkable results, but we’re also proud to recognize the ripple effect these institutions create among the computing community at large. They are setting an example for other institutions--reinventing their culture by establishing better habits and practices for attracting and keeping a range of students in their computing programs."
“We are honored to receive this award in recognition of the department’s hard work to diversify our student population in computer science." Dr. Tracy Camp, Computer Science's Department Head, said.
Dr. Camp has had a focus on diversity her whole career and saw room for improvement at Mines about ten years ago.
“I started trying to improve the climate for women in computing, thinking about ways to make sure that our door is open to all students,” Dr. Camp said. In 2009, the percentage of women in computer science rested at about 10%. Now, that number has more than doubled.
“We’re almost at 22% women in computer science at a university where the population is only about 30% women,” Dr. Camp said. “I am thrilled with the changes that we’ve seen in our demographics over that last 5 to 10 years.”
At Mines, Computer Science has only been an independent academic department since 2016, and its faculty, led by Dr. Camp, are already making significant in-roads in the recruitment and retention of women. Signature initiatives include the women-led K-12 outreach program DECtech, industry partnership program C-MAPP, CS+X degree flexibility, and U-CLIMB, a near-peer mentoring program where undergraduate teaching assistants are trained to be inclusive of all students.
The results are evident in the numbers – the number of women majoring in CS has increased 9 times in 12 years, at the same time as the department has seen overall enrollment increase 4.3 times (from 157 students to 679 students). Women students are sticking around, too – the department’s attrition rate is now the same for men and women at 2.5 percent (compared to 12 percent for women in 2012).
“We are very excited about the transformation we’ve had at Colorado School of Mines for the last several years,” Dr. Camp said. “We still have work to do, but we’re on the right track.”
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CS@Mines Associate Professor Bo Wu will be on sabbatical for the upcoming 2020-21 academic year.
Dr. Wu is a highly decorated CS@Mines faculty member, toting several prestigious awards including a 2018 NSF SPX Award, a 2018 NSF CAREER Award, and a 2013 Stephen K. Park Award. He was also nominated for a PACT Best Paper award in 2017 and won a Supercomputing Best Paper award in 2015 at the 27th Annual SC Conference for his paper "ScaAnalyzer - A Tool to Identify Memory Scalability Bottlenecks in Parallel Programs."
Dr. Wu's research interest lies in the broad field of compilers and programming systems, with an emphasis on program optimizations for heterogenous computing and emerging architectures. Currently, he is focused on building efficient systems for machine learning and graph processing applications.
He will spend the year at Katana Graph in Austin, Texas, working on cutting-edge problems in graph processing.
We look forward to his return to CS@Mines!
As the fastest growing department at Mines - leaping from 12 faculty members in Fall 2016 when we became an independent department to 21 faculty members as of Fall 2020 - CS@Mines has finally outgrown our current location on the second floor of Brown Hall.
In order to accommodate our expanding numbers, most of CS@Mines will be moving to the Center for Technology and Learning Media (CTLM) Building this fall. The CS@Mines Robotics faculty will remain in Brown Hall along with their labs.
CS@Mines Teaching Professor Dr. Christopher Painter-Wakefield has been spearheading the moving efforts for the department, which includes a complete transformation of the CTLM space. He has facilitated all major decisions such as selecting paint colors, carpet style and color, and furniture for the new faculty offices and student spaces. Thank you, CPW!
Once completed, the new department area will have 18 faculty offices, 30 graduate student spaces, and a peer mentoring space like 280K in Brown.
The move is expected to be fully completed in the middle of the fall semester.
For more information regarding a safe return to Mines, visit Returning to Mines at mines.edu/coronavirus/return/
CS@Mines Moving to CTLM Building
Wu On Sabbatical for 2020-21 Academic Year
COVID-19 and Fall 2020 - What Can We Expect?
Mines is expecting to kick off the fall semester on time - August 24th - with the academic term and calendar unchanged, but what does a safe return to campus look like amid the COVID-19 pandemic?
In response to the pandemic, Mines has created nine sub-committees to address concerns surrounding course delivery, housing, campus life, and health and safety.
Mines is expecting to deliver 60-70 percent of courses on campus in both lecture and lab settings with physical distancing and other safety precautions in place. Other course delivery will include remote, hybrid, or online classes to provide flexibility and eliminate the pressure to attend in-person. We are also equipping all lecture classrooms with cameras, speakers, and microphones and all recordings will be made available live and on Canvas for later viewing.
All members of the Mines community will be required to adhere to the guidelines, policies, and practices advised by government and public health officials. Physical distancing measures will be in effect across campus and cloth masks that cover the nose and mouth must be worn on campus at all times.
On-campus residence hall occupancy will be at about 80 percent, with the on-campus living requirement for first year students suspended.
In addition, Mines has expanded our custodial capabilties in order to provide enhanced cleaning in all campus facilities - including twice-daily disinfection of classrooms and other high-contact areas.
Free COVID-19 testing will also be available for symptomatic students at the Student Health Center.
As a department, CS@Mines is ready for the fall semester with a new set of protocols to keep our students, faculty and staff safe and healthy. “Stopping the Spread” means wearing face masks at all times, keeping six feet of distance from one another, routinely cleaning all touch surfaces and copious hand washing.
If you visit the CS@Mines department in the fall, you’ll see signs in classrooms and labs reminding you of the protocols. You’ll also notice markers on floors reminding you where to stand to maintain a six-foot distance from fellow Orediggers and arrows on the floor to facilitate an easy flow through tight spaces. Reception areas will have clear plastic barriers in place, classrooms will have some seats blocked to allow for adequate spacing, and every room will have reduced occupancy. Stay safe, and take care of each other!
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New Data Science Master's Program Added
Williams Participates in AI + Ethics + Games Panel Discussion at Foothills Art Center
C-START (Colorado-Strategic Approach to Rally Teachers) and CSPdWeek offers Colorado K-12 educators professional development courses and workshops in computer science so they can provide their students ample opportunities to develop skills and interest in computing.
There are several courses and workshops available for K-12 educators which fulfills new (and old!) requirements required to teach K-12 Computer Science.
For more information, please visit https://cstart.mines.edu/
DECtech is an award-winning Colorado School of Mines outreach program designed especially for girls! Program leaders are female Mines students who are both passionate about their subjects of study and sharing this passion with the next generation.
This program is designed to foster and continue girls' interest in the STEM subjects through creative and interactive activities. The program is very popular with local elementary students, and has grown to include middle and high school aged girls.
For more information, please visit https://tech.mines.edu/
Mines to Offer PhD, Master's, and Certificates in Robotics
Golden Public Library hosted an evening of art and conversation at the Foothills Art Center which featured a panel discussion that focused on artificial intelligence and what it means for machines to be conscious. Mines' Computer Science Assistant Professor Dr. Thomas Williams, a recently recognized ACM member in People of ACM, sat down with Z Yang, founder of Serenity Forge Video Game Development and Publishing, for the Artificial Intelligence Symposium and discussed artificial intelligence issues with community members. Their discussion explored the ethical implications of robot technologies, and how these issues arise both in the real world and in video games.
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Starting in Fall 2020, thanks to the leadership of CS@Mines faculty member Dr. Neil Dantam, the Mines Robotics faculty will offer graduate certificates, master's degrees (thesis and non-thesis), and a PhD to prepare working professionals to solve the fundamental problems facing the field today.
The demand for specialists trained in robotics, automation, and autonomous systems is increasing due to the wide availability of drones and their applications and the desire to put more safety features into vehicles.
The Robotics core curriculum will focus on robotic perception, cognition, action and interaction, with students able to choose one of four areas for additional depth.
Path Ambassadors to High Success (PATHS) is a new scholarship program with funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) that offers an exciting opportunity for academically talented, low-income students in Colorado to study Computer Science at Mines. In addition to providing financial awards, PATHS empowers students through on-campus communities that provide a spectrum of activities, support services, career guidance, and university resources to encourage scholars through successful completion of an undergraduate CS degree.
For more information, please visit: https://paths.mines.edu/
In the Fall of 2020, CS@Mines helped launch a new non-thesis master's degree in data science. The program addresses the unique needs of data-driven discovery and data-supported decision making while offering rigorous training in computer science and statistics. Data science skills translates to almost any field including additive manufacturing, health care, economics, and e-commerce. With room to develop a focused area of application based on individual interests and career goals, the degree will provide students with the ability to differentiate themselves in their chosen fields.
Zhang Wins NSF CAREER Award
Williams Receives AFOSR and NASA Early Career Awards
Associate Professor Dr. Dejun Yang was the 2019 winner of the William R. Bennett Prize from the IEEE Communications Society. The prize is awarded to the single best paper, based on its quality, originality, utility, timeliness, and clarity of presentation, published in the IEEE/ACM Transactions on Networking or the IEEE Transactions on Network and Service Management in the previous three years. Yang was recognized for "Incentive Mechanisms for Crowdsensing: Crowdsourcing with Smartphones," published in June 2016 by IEEE/ACM Transactions on Networking. He was honored at the IEEE International Conference on Communications in Shanghai, China, in 2019.
CS@Mines Department Head Dr. Tracy Camp was awarded ACM's Special Interest Group on Computer Science Education (SIGCSE) Best Paper in Experience Reports and Tools Track. Her seven page paper "Applying NCWIT Protocol to Broaden Participation in Computing: A Case Study of CS@Mines" was honored at the 51st ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education (SIGCSE '20) in Portland, Oregon in March 2020.
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How Likely Am I To Have Complications From COVID-19? Machine Learning Could Help Predict Answer
Camp Paper Wins at 51st Annual ACM SIGCSE Technical Symposium
Yang Awarded William R. Bennett Prize from IEEE Communications Society
In June 2019, Professor Dr. Qi Han was awarded Best Paper at the 10th annual International Conference on Mobile Computing, Applications, and Services (MobiCASE) held in Hangzhou, China. Her paper "Distributed Learning Automata based Data Dissemination in Networked Robotic Systems" focused on developing learning automata based data dissemination protocols for networked robotics systems that maximizes data delivery ratio and minimizes data delivery latency while consuming minimal energy. This is useful for military and disaster scenarios, where delivering data quickly is imperative to the success of missions.
For more information on this news story, visit Mines Newsroom at minesnewsroom.com.
The Air Force Office of Scientific Research — the basic research component of the Air Force Research Laboratory — awarded approximately $17.8 million in grants to 40 scientists and engineers from 30 research institutions and businesses who submitted winning research proposals through the Air Force's Young Investigator Research Program (YIP). Assistant Professor Dr. Thomas Williams was among the winners, receiving a three year grant totaling $450,000 for his "Calibrated Norm Violation Response in Human-Machine Teaming" proposal.
NASA's Space Technology Research Grants program also honored Dr. Williams with their Early Career award for his "Performance of Autonomy and Identity for Trust-and Workload-Senstive Interaction with Distributed Autonomous Systems" proposal. His research considers the possible human and robotic elements of future crewed missions to the Moon and identifies challenges facing effective communication.
FACULTY AWARDS AND ACCOLADES
In March 2020, Dr. Hao Zhang, Associate Professor of Computer Science, won a National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Award to develop methods for robot reflection and imagination.
NSF's CAREER Award supports early-year faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization. The CAREER Award is NSF's most prestigious award for junior faculty members.
Dr. Zhang will receive $400,000 in funding over five years for his project, "Robotic Reflection in Lifelong Adaptation." The long term vision of the project is to create lifelong collaborative robots that adapt at a near-human level in unstructured and ever-evolving worlds over their lifetimes.
CS@Mines Associate Professor Dr. Hua Wang and Mines Associate Professor of chemistry and director of bioscience and bioengineering Dr. Judith Klein-Seetharaman are leading an effort to harness the power of machine learning in the fight against COVID-19 and the novel virus that causes the dangerous illness.
In the last three months, more than 23,000 academic papers have been published with findings related to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the COVID-19 illness and it is estimated the number of published COVID-19 literature is doubling every 20 days. This is among the biggest explosions of scientific literature ever recorded.
"No one can read all of them," Dr. Wang said.
Enter machine learning. Dr. Wang and Dr. Klein-Seetharaman are working with a team of healthcare professionals and technology partners to develop computational tools that can synthesize all of these findings as well as on-the-ground medical data to provide individuals and clinicians with the information they need to make decisions related to COVID-19.
"It's becoming clear that many factors play a role in who develops complications and ultimately dies from the infection, including molecular, physiological, lifestyle, behavioral, demographic and socioeconomic ones. In particular, comorbidities such as diabetes and high blood pressure are known risk factors for COVID-19 complications and death, but are likely just the tip of the iceberg. Molecular data indicates as many as 100 cormorbidities exist," Dr. Klein-Seetharaman said. "Integrating large numbers of risk factors through machine learning will allow us to build statistical models that take all of the evidence into account -- and hopefully predict COVID-19 infections at the individual and population levels."
The ultimate goal is to create an app individuals (and eventually clinicians) could use to determine if they are likely infected with coronavirus, and if so, their risk of developing serious complications based on genetics and other clinical factors.
Local healthcare technology firm Ingenious will build out the app. Medecipher, a Denver-based IT company that provides clinicial operations support for healthcare providers, has offered up its servers to store the data and model.
At Mines, Dr. Wang is an expert in "missing data imputation problem." one of the major challenges in developing computational tools like this from diverse data sources.
"The true challenge is the data is collected by different instruments and collected in different ways. They are not formatted and aligned well," Dr. Wang said. Machine learning is great for integration and knowledge discovery. How to utilize the multiple sources of information effectively to make predictions for the development, progression, and final result of a COVID-19 infection - it's a challenging question. It's not easy to handle with traditional mathematical and statistical methods. That's why machine learning could help."
Funding for the one-year project comes from the National Science Foundation's Rapid Response Research (RAPID) program. It is one of two coronavirus-related NSF RAPID grants Mines researchers have been awarded in recent weeks.
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Han Research Paper Wins Award at 10th Annual EAI International Conference
Exploring the Human-Robot Relationship One Conversation at a Time
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Should an autonomous robot ever ask for advice? How should robots communicate with a busy co-worker? Should robots be able to reject commands they deem inappropriate or immoral?
These are the kinds of questions Assistant Professor Dr. Thomas Williams is tackling in the MIRROR Lab at Mines. The goal of his research is to explore communication between humans and robots by identifying the barriers which create communication breakdowns, and to find ways to build trust and rapport between intelligent robots and their human colleagues.
It all starts with language.
“Natural language is a great communication paradigm because it’s so flexible. It’s not a traditional interface where you have to physically interact with something — it doesn't require any specific hardware or any specific training,” Dr. Williams said. “But it also brings a lot of baggage with it. If a robotic system has natural language competence, people are going to expect that it is going to interact with them in a way that is humanlike. And that’s not always the case right now.”
In the MIRROR Lab, Dr. Williams and his team are focused on improving these human-robot interactions, combining perspectives and techniques from a wide variety of fields, including computer science, cognitive and social psychology, moral philosophy and philosophy of the mind.
“Addressing the challenges that accompany natural language is especially critical in the domains that our group is working in, like astronaut-robot interaction. We’re not just deploying robots to give people social media notifications — we’re deploying robots to help people in space,” Dr. Williams said. “If these robots are acting in a way that’s inappropriate or that annoys people, then the people are just not going to use the technology and thus it’s not going to have the benefit that it was intended to have.”
For example, crewed missions to the Moon could find themselves working alongside robots and artificial intelligence systems in the very near future. In all likelihood, these robots will be designed to operate autonomously, making decisions and taking action on their own. But how can we ensure their decisions are going to be helpful and effective instead of detrimental to their human supervisors?
“You can imagine this as a person — if you're making some decision, you have a bunch of different options available to you. You can just go ahead and make a decision and take that action. You can make a decision and let your supervisor know what you are doing. You can make a decision and ask for permission to do something. Or you can maybe ask for advice as to which of a couple of different options you have,” Dr. Williams said. “This project is looking at how robots can make this decision — going ahead and taking an action versus asking for clarification or permission when they don't really need to, in order to build trust and rapport."
The performance of autonomy could vary based on the situation, location, and to whom the robot is talking. At the same time, researchers will also look at the performance of identity that a team of robots could take on for human benefit in space.
While these robots will not have a unique "personality", Dr. Williams is interested in how their different identity performance choices will affect people's trust in the individual components of the network system versus trust in the system as a whole.
Another aspect of their research addresses is the inclusion of moral paradigms. So far, most of the work in robot ethics has been grounded in deontological ethics, which focuses on the inherent rightness or wrongness of actions themselves. But what if other moral paradigms could offer additional benefits for trust and rapport?
"We're interested specifically in how robots should be rejecting commands that they get when those commands are inappropriate," Dr. Williams said. "The default way to do that would be you have some norm-based reasoning system where you have a set of moral norms. You'd say, 'Oh, I can't do this because it's wrong,' or 'I know I can't do this because doing X is forbidden.' But what if that rejection is grounded in your work relationships? What if you say, 'Oh, I wouldn't be a good teammate if I did that'? Maybe it's going to force them to reflect a little bit deeply on exactly why this action is unacceptable."
Specifically, researchers are focusing on Confucian ethics, a role-based paradigm where morality is determined by how actions comply with or are benevolent with respect to the roles that people play and their relationships with other people.
The team plans to develop algorithms that will allow robots to perform role-based moral reasoning, as well as conduct psychological experiments to see just how effective the different command rejections are in various scenarios.
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For more information on this news story, visit Mines Newsroom at minesnewsroom.com
Crowdsourcing platforms have created a rapidly growing online labor market, particularly for jobs that need human intelligence or are too complex to be automated.
Job requesters such as companies and researchers post tasks – say, answering a survey or labeling a set of data to train an artificial intelligence program – then workers from around the world complete them and money changes hands. Or at least that’s how it’s supposed to work.
“There are a number of critical problems around fairness, ethics, efficiency and trustworthiness,” said Associate Professor Dr. Chuan Yue. “They significantly impact the healthy development of this online labor market and what can be achieved by using these platforms.”
Dr. Yue is the lead researcher on a $1 million National Science Foundation project that aims to address those challenges and make crowdsourcing more efficient, ethical, fair, and trustworthy for workers and job requesters alike.
An expert in cybersecurity and privacy, Dr. Yue will work with two Mines colleagues on the interdisciplinary project - Dr. Qin Zhu, assistant professor of humanities, arts & social sciences and an expert in science and engineering ethics, and applied microeconomist Dr. Ben Gilbert, assistant professor of economics and business. Together, their goal is to develop incentive structures based on economic theory to encourage fairness; training and assessment mechanisms to incorporate ethics; and machine learning models to improve efficiency and securely protect both crowdworkers and job requesters.
“Over the years, there has been so much fear that artificial intelligence may replace humans and eliminate a large number of traditional jobs in the near future. Many traditional jobs will be replaced, for sure, but AI still needs significant collaboration from humans,” Dr. Yue said. “Specifically, there is a significant need for humans to help label ground-truth data to help facilitate the wide adoption and proper application of AI techniques – that labeling cannot be replaced now or in the near future, but in order for these techniques to reach their full potential, we need a healthier online job market.”
A recent study showed that crowd workers earn $2-$3 per hour on average – assuming they are paid at all, Dr. Yue said.
“There’s no accountability for mistreating these online workers,” he said. “Typically, their payment is pretty low – lower than federal regulations – and they may not receive pay at all, since requestors have the authority to reject the payment and they don’t have to provide a reason.”
Both workers and requestors can be vulnerable to malicious intent as well, whether that’s requestors violating workers’ privacy by collecting sensitive information or taking them to malicious websites, or workers manipulating the task results by using malicious programs.
Researchers have interviewed more than 30 current crowdworkers to inform their work.
“We are going to listen to the needs of crowdworkers and incorporate their social and ethical concerns into the reimagining and redesigning of crowdsourcing platforms,” Dr. Zhu said. “We are hoping our project can help future American workers better prepare for the employment challenges brought by artificial intelligence.”
Making Crowdworking More Efficient, Ethical, Fair and Trustworthy
Boilers are one of the most critical components in a thermal power plant, but inspecting and repairing them is no easy task.
Today, the only method involves costly scaffolding and human inspectors, all crammed inside the hazardous, confined environment of the boiler itself. If left unchecked, damage to the boiler furnace chamber can cause catastrophic failures.
But what if an autonomous robot could scoot up the boiler walls, inspecting the surface and making live repairs as it goes?
With funding from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Fuel Energy, that’s exactly what Assistant Professor Dr. Hao Zhang and an interdisciplinary team of researchers are developing. Also contributing to the project are Dr. Andrew Petruska, assistant professor of mechanical engineering; Dr. Zhenzhen Yu, assistant professor of metallurgical and materials engineering; and Dr. Yiming Deng of Michigan State University.
"A lot of coal-fired boilers have been operating for over 40 years. We will see more failures there. It's a really good time to have some autonomous robotic solutions that can do the inspections and repairs." Dr. Zhang said.
Despite the critical need for a solution to inspect these tall coal-fired power plant boilers, Mines is the only DOE funding awardee addressing the repair problem. However, the benefits for using robots in these boilers is vast.
"The first benefit is safety. One of the biggest issues they have now is fall risk and having humans working in a hazardous environment for a prolonged period of time. It can take several days of work to install the scaffolding, and then the inspection takes another few weeks," Dr. Zhang said. "The second benefit is to reduce the cost. Today, we need to shut down the power plant to do the scaffolding and inspections. We won’t need to do scaffolding in the future—the robot can just crawl on the boiler wall—reducing the cost and increasing the frequency of inspection."
When asked about the importance of projects like this, Dr. Zhang answered,"It’s critical for the next generation of roboticists and scientists to appreciate the real-world challenges and beauty of robot intelligence to solve these big social and economic problems."
"A lot of coal-fired boilers have been operating for over 40 years. It's a good time to have autonomous robotic solutions to do more frequent inspections and repairs."
Putting 'Pepto' into the Belly of a Boiler
From left to right: Associate Professor of Computer Science, Chuan Yue; Assistant Professor of Humanities, Arts & Social Sciences, Qin Zhu; Assistant Professor of Economics and Business, Ben Gilbert.
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CS@Mines master's students Nhan Tran and Natalie Kalin were part of a team that designed and built the best augmented reality/virtual reality platform at the 2020 Stanford TreeHacks in February.
MusicBox, the winner of TreeHack's AR/VR Challenge, combines mixed reality with introductory computer programming lessons to create a first-of-its-kind tangible programming experience for beginner students.
Tran and Kalin teamed up with undergraduates from the California College of the Arts and University of Maryland to form the winning team.
"Our app lets people interact with virtual objects like physical objects," Tran said. "Imagine playing with tactile Lego pieces but all of them are computer-generated so you won't have to clean them up or hurt yourself by stepping on the pieces. Also, users won't have to worry about misplacing the pieces or buying new hardware as we can easily roll out new updates virtually."
The AR/VR Challenge, one of six tracks that hackers could choose at the 36-hour event, pushed hackers to create their own realities and the tools necessary to experience them in order to tackle a breadth of problems and push the boundaries of human experiences.
Tran and Kalin's own experience as graduate student instructors in the introductory computer science class at Mines helped inspire the team's project.
"Students struggle with abstract concepts like loops and methods," Kalin said. "MusicBox gives students an understanding of these concepts via real-world objects they are already familiar with."
The team also drew inspiration from Google's Project Bloks, which utilizes hardware for tangible programming, and the reality-based interaction framework, a technique for teaching programming languages without electronics or power supplies.
"This framework has two main principles. First, interaction takes place in the real world, so students no longer program behind large computer monitors where they have easy access to distractions such as games, the Web, or IM," Tran said. "Second, interaction behaves more like the real world. That is, tangible languages take advantage of students' knowledge of the everyday, non-computer world to express and enforce language syntax."
MusicBox was designed for the Magic Leap AR headset - the technology Kalin is currently using for her research - although the team hopes to expand it to more readily available platforms like smartphones and tablets in the future.
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Bennett Selected to Attend First Inaugural AAAI Undergraduate Research Consortium Fair
Computer Science major Tommy Bennett was selected to attend the first inaugural Undergraduate Research Consortium held by the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) in New York, NY February 2020.
The AAAI conference promotes research in artificial intelligence (AI) and scientific exchange among AI researchers, practitioners, scientists, and engineers in affiliated disciplines. The new undergraduate portion of the conference is intended to offer undergraduate students an opportunity to enrich their conference experience by presenting and receiving critical feedback about their work in a professional, academic setting, receive mentoring about the advantages of pursuing graduate studies in AI as well as practical early career advice, and expand their professional network to include both AI experts, current graduate students, and undergraduate peers.
Jackson Receives EAAI New and Future AI Educator Award
Tran Selected as a 2020 HRI Pioneer
Computer Science PhD candidate Ryan Blake Jackson was awarded the New and Future AI Educator Award at the 10th Symposium on Educational Advances in Artificial Intelligence (EAAI) held in New York, NY February 2020.
The award is given to new educators, early career lecturers, assistant professors, and other university or secondary school faculty as well as future educators such as full time PhD students or postdocs at universities who intend a career in academia. Blake, along with eight other winners, was given support to travel to the EAAI conference to present his perspectives and visions for the future of AI.
18 MINES COMPUTER SCIENCE
Mixed-Reality App For Teaching Basic Programming Honored at Stanford Hackathon
Nhan Tran, a graduate student of computer science, was selected as a 2020 Human-Robot Interaction (HRI) Pioneer. Tran attended the 15th annual HRI Pioneers Workshop this March in Cambridge, UK. The workshop was held in conjunction with the 2020 ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction.
The Pioneers program seeks to foster creativity and collaboration surrounding key challenges in human-robot interaction and empower students early in their careers. The workshop brings together a cohort of the world's top student researchers and provides the opportunity for students to present and discuss their work with distinguished student peers and senior scholars in the field.
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2020-21 Student Organization Officers
Lee Awarded Five Year NSF Graduate Research Fellowship
Carl Schader (pictured left) graduated from the CS@Mines Honors Research program in May 2020 and will be attending Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York this fall.
In April 2020, CS@Mines sophomore Zoe Baker was among the 396 college sophomores and juniors across the U.S. to receive the honor from the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation.
The Goldwater Scholarship is the preeminent undergraduate scholarship in the natural sciences, mathematics, and engineering in the U.S., established by Congress in 1986 to memorialize the life and work of Sen. Barry Goldwater. The scholarship provides financial support of up to $7,500 per year for students who intend to pursue research careers in the STEM fields.
After completing her undergraduate studies. Baker plans to pursue a PhD in computer science, with a specialization in machine learning, and then conduct research and teach in a university or industry setting. She currently works for the MInDS@Mines lab, under CS Associate Professor Dr. Hua Wang.
20 MINES COMPUTER SCIENCE
In 2020, CS@Mines graduate Hannah Lee was awarded a five year fellowship from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP). The GRFP recognizes and supports graduates who are pursuing research-based master's or doctoral degrees in fields within NSF's mission. The fellowship provides up to three years of financial support for the graduate education of individuals who have demonstrated their potential for significant achievements in science and engineering research and encourages applications from underrepresented groups in order to broaden and diversify those participated in science and engineering.
Along with the three year financial support, Lee also receives an annual stipend of $34,000 as well as a cost of education allowance of $12,000 to the institution.
During her time at Mines, Lee was actively involved in the DECtech (Discover, Explore, Create, Technology) STEM program, the Summer Robotics Camp, several K-12 Teacher Workshops, and the MInDs@Mines Lab. She was also employed as a Teaching Assistant for Introduction to Computer Science and Data Structures. In the Fall of 2020, Lee will be pursuing her PhD at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
Jacob Granley (pictured left) graduated with his master's degree in Computer Science in May 2020. He will be attending University of California, Santa Barbara, in the fall.
Chair: Jack Garner
Vice Chair: Jonathon Robel
Treasurer: Mohammed Alnasser
Secretary: Colin Siles
President: Dagny Stahl
Vice President: Elise Renwick
Treasurer: Heidi Chen
Secretary: Jake Vossen
Outreach Coordinator: Katelyn Broderick
President: Jo Westarp
Vice President: Jesus Nuñez
Secretary: Josiah Smith
Treasurer: Jonathon Robel
Help Guru: Miles
President: Morgan Trexler
Vice-President: Kevin Eaton
Head of Outreach: Carter Koester
Treasurer: Julian Reynolds
Treasurer: Alex Hinds
Head of Communications & Marketing: Ryan Reschak
Transitioning Treasurer: Michael Castellano
Head of Shop Improvement Team: Dryw Wade
Other Recent CS@Mines Graduates Accepted into PhD Programs
Three CS@Mines Students Awarded Prestigious CySP Scholarships
Three CS@Mines students (Katelyn Broderick, Vincent Morgan, and Dylan Norris) received a competitive 2020-2021 Department of Defense Cyber Scholarship Program (CySP) award, which comes with full tuition, room/board stipend, healthcare, a laptop, and a paid internship. Upon graduation they will go to work for a DoD agency. "The DoD CySP is sponsored by the DoD Chief Information Office and administered by the National Security Agency (NSA). The objectives of the program are to promote higher education in all disciplines of cybersecurity, to enhance the Department’s ability to recruit and retain cyber and IT specialists, to increase the number of military and civilian personnel in the DoD with this expertise, and ultimately, to enhance the nation’s cyber posture."
The Associate for Computing Machinery (ACM) is a student organization that holds tech talks, participates in programming competitions, and creates projects for the Mines campus and beyond.
ACM-W celebrates and supports women in computing. They bridge the "tech-gap" and encourage diversity in STEM. Although a women's chapter, they welcome and encourage male students to add to their club. They hold industry talks, career-oriented presentations, skills workshops, and attend hackathons.
LInux Users Group (LUG) is a student organization for Linux users and enthusiasts. Members of LUG present at their weekly meetings on topics surrounding Linux and open source. The club has a diverse background of members with varying Linux experience levels. Their goal is to be the center of knowledge for everything Linux in the Mines community.
Robotics Club is an organization dedicated to learning and advancing the future of robotics through their various teams that compete in robotics design challenges around the country. Their overall goals are to teach new members skills of design, electronics, and machining while learning about how mechanical and electrical systems can be applied in intelligent and organized ways to get desired outputs.
The Colorado School of Mines cybersecurity club (OreSec) is a student organization that competes in capture the flag security games, national cyber defense competitions, and hosts student-led talks on the topics of computer security, cryptography, and more.
Baker Selected as a 2020-21 Goldwater Scholar
Seth Jacob Asadi
David Lee Ayres
Gabriella Nicole Barbieri
Kevin Scott Barnard
Mark Robert Beaty
Evan Luther Bergo
Jerry MinhTri Bui
Andrew T. Bukowski
Nicolas Eugene Capra
Nicholas A. Carnival, II
Shaine Aric Carroll-Frey
Joshua Martin Chapman
Leo Nathan Chely
Ty Danny Christensen
Tanner Michael Coggins
Taylor Edward Coons
Kyle Christopher Cooper
Abigail Lorraine Dalke
Lake DeGrey David
Thomas Guthrie Depke
Parker Georgene Epps
Adrian Grey Estrada
Arnaud Julien Filliat
David E. Florness
Benjamin B. Fraser
Jackson H. Garner
Kiersten Hannah Gaspar
Madeline Ava Geesen
Simon Herschel Goldstein
Joseph Freeman Graff
Joshua Michael Hallinan
Andrew N. Harelson
Jay Allen Harrison
Tyler Keith Eiji Horiuchi
Cory Mark Kennedy
Tiger Devaraks Kheng
Joseph A. Kim
Clara Angela Larson
Alexandria J. Leto
Hannah Michaela Levy
Evan Marshall Lim
Austin Michael Lionette
Sean Andrew Little
Anthony Mitchell Logan
Sydney Rae Lynch
Allan Ray MacDougall, III
Calvin Hsu Mak
Ryan Austin Marsala
Jason Anthony Matney
Emma Claire May
Sarah Ellen McCabe
Madeline Elaine McKune
Adam Nathanial McNeil
Matthew Ryan Miller
Zachary Thomas Mills
Kyle Shay Thomas Moran
Aidan Thomas Naughton
Teresa Mysinh Nguyen
Joseph McGettigan O’Brien
Samuel Philip O’Connell
Harrison Alen Randall Oest
Thomas Glenn Parry
Alexandra Ries Pollock
Dominic Michael Quintana
Joshua Michael Rands
Keegan Arthur Salankey
Brianna Mariah Sauerland
Carl William Schader
Grant Reid Schmaedick
Joshua David Schoep
Zachary N. Smeton
Garrett Kirk Stanford
Carson Thomas Stevens
Natalie Rene Talcott
Hunter Kaelin Thompson
Joseph Michael Thurston
Nicholas Roy Todtenhagen
Kaylynn Jemika Tu
Jacob Alexander Warcholik
Ryan Mckee West
Alexander Gray Wohlford
Tyler V. Zudans
DUAL DEGREE RECIPIENTS
Nicolas Eugene Capra
Computer Science & Economics
Hannah Michaela Levy
Electrical Engineering & Computer Science
Jason Anthony Matney
Electrical Engineering & Computer Science
The Computing-Mines Affiliates Partnership Program (C-MAPP) is designed to improve relationships between industry and computer science at Mines, while also providing interest in the well-being of computing at Mines.
C-MAPP is a program for companies that are interested in (1) giving back, (2) helping students at Mines, (3) networking with the students at Mines, and/or (4) increasing diversity in computing.
Industrial partnerships through C-MAPP help computer science faculty at Mines understand industry needs and practices, to better prepare Mines students for their future careers.
Thanks to the generous donations and support for C-MAPP from local industry, CS@Mines is able to offer 61 scholarships to computing students.
John Connor Baker
Easton Riley Bornemeier
Jacob Bradley Granley
Joseph James Greshik
James Brandon Hinshaw
Natalie Eve Kalin
Michael Adam Kinard
Connor Wolf Koch
Daniela Sophie Machnik
Arthur Douglas Mayer
Riley Scott Miller
Naveen Shankar Mitikiri
Kai Ethan Parra Nichols
Savannah L. Paul
Kolton Andrew Ponte
Austin Christopher Promenschenkel
Alexander Dean Reinemann
Jordan Graham Ritchie
Miguel A. Ruiz
Matthew Adam Schack
Nhan Tri Tran
Aimee Nicole True
Erica Marie West
Mason Alexander Wilie
Johnny Li Zeng
Joseph Li Zeng
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Bachelor of SCIENCE, computer science
Master of SCIENCE, Computer Science
Thank you to our 2019-2020 sponsors!
Congratulations to our newest alumni!
22 MINES COMPUTER SCIENCE
SUPPORT COMPUTER SCIENCE
A gift to the Colorado School of Mines Department of Computer Science is an investment in the future.
Gifts can support scholarships, professorships, academic programs, faculty research, and other initiatives that are not typically supported through the state appropriations. Private philanthropy empowers the Department to achieve greater excellence in research and education.
To learn more about supporting the Department, contact the Mines Foundation.
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GOLDEN, CO 80401-1887