Monday, October 28, 2013

UMD Students at DigiKey Competition!

Computer Science majors at UMD recently competed in the DigiKey Collegiate Computing Competition.  Seven UMD students divided into two teams and traveled to Thief River Falls to participate in the annual competition hosted by the Digikey corporation.  The competition consisted of three rounds:  Small programing problems, written "world" problems, and longer programming problems.  One of UMD's teams was able to get 4th place in the competition, out of the 15 teams present.  In addition to the main event, the students also toured Digikey's facilities and were updated on what interning or working at Digikey would be like.  Everyone had a good time, and thanked Digikey for their hospitality!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

UMD CS & CIS Student Job Network!

Dear CS, CIS & CS Masters Students,

The UMD Computer Science Department maintains a career resource through AfterCollege, a career network for college students and recent graduates. All CS majors, CIS majors, and other interested students are invited to join the AfterCollege network by going here:

This network is exclusive to Department of Computer Science students and alumni and enables you to:
* Receive announcements on jobs, internships, and scholarships
* Search exclusive jobs and internships
* Network with alumni from our program

Once registered you can upload your resume for potential employers to see.  Next spring I will generate a UMD Computer Science Resume Book and circulate it to over 150 local and regional companies that have expressed interest in our students for jobs and internships.

Every piece of career information I receive, whether about permanent jobs, part-time jobs, or summer internships, is posted on AfterCollege, and an announcement is emailed to registered students.  Only by being a member of our AfterCollege career network will you receive these emails.

Also, for more information about getting academic credit for computer science internships, follow this link:

-         Professor Tim Colburn

Friday, September 6, 2013

Prof. Dunham's Art Featured

Professor Doug Dunham's artwork, "Hyperbolic Patter of Butterflies", was chosen for the May page of the Calendar of Mathematical Imagery 2013 Calendar. The calendar is produced by the American Mathematical Society and can be viewed at

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Second Graders Explore the World of Computer Science

In May 2013, a Duluth Congdon Park Elementary class visited UMD's Computer Science Simulation and Interaction in Virutal Environments Lab (SIVE Lab), operated by Dr. Pete Willemsen. Second graders learned what computer science is like and what we as computer scientists do.

Seven stations provided exposure, engaging experiences, and an education to a variety of computer science related topics. Each station focused on a small and specific subset of computer science ranging from what a computer is, how we represent the alphabet on a computer using binary numbers, how computers can be programmed, Scratch, to how we computers to help scientists.

Volunteers from the CS graduate and undergraduate programs represented a diverse and even mix of cultures and genders. This was purposeful to ensure the 2nd graders interacted with an inclusive and diverse group of students showing a broad spectrum of people (men and women) being computer scientists.

Below is a summary of the stations that we prepared. The second grade class was split into 7 groups of 3-4 students each. Each group spent 12 minutes at each station interacting with the students, equipment, and computers.

Station 1. - What is a computer? - Students learned about the different parts that make up a computer including its memory, long term storage, processing ability, and how it communicates with other computers.

Station 2. - How is a computer built? - Students took a computer apart and put it back together.

Station 3. - How do computers work? - In this exercise, the students learned how computers only use the binary number system (0s and 1s) to make sense of the world. Using the binary representations of the alphabet students spelled their names as a computer would.

Station 4. - LEGO Scratch Programming - Students built LEGO systems that had motors and sensors and programed the motors with software, using the Scratch programming environment. After finishing the assembly of a LEGO kit, students used Scratch to write a program to control the LEGO motor with one of the LEGO sensors. One system, a LEGO alligator, used Scratch to "bite" the person's finger when it gets too close to the alligator's mouth. Hand-outs were supplied showing where students can get Scratch and use it on their own (it's free). There were two LEGO/Scratch stations at the table so pairs of students could work together on one set.

Station 5. - Arduino RGB Light - In this exercise, the students used a very small computer (an Arduino) to construct a small multi-colored RGB LED that could be programmed. They then programed the color of the light with a software program they wrote and changed. This exercise demonstrated the interaction between hardware and software and how colors are represented. Two Arduinos were setup for pairs of students to use.

Station 6. - Sun City, or Gosh, it's hot! - Students used a physical mock-up of a small city to simulate the sun with a bright light. The then determined the hot and cool spots of a city. Volunteers demonstrated how Meteorological Scientists and Engineers use computer simulations to make these observations.

Station 7. - Walk on Mars/Haptic Demo - This was combined demo showing the VR system. The students prepped to be the first astronauts to stand in the Noctis Labrynthis (Night Maze) on Mars. After learning how planetary scientists have collected specific data for the structure of Mars, we explained how scientists use computer science and computer programs to study the red planet virtually. The students each spent several minutes using the virtual reality setup in the lab to stand on Mars and walk around the Noctis Labrynthis. While students waited to, or after they were done seeing the Mars demo, they received a demo of a haptic device to explore how scientists can use robots to help them feel objects that are "in" the computer with the motivation being that if a scientist wanted to feel one of the rocks they saw on Mars, this might be how
they'd do it.

What is a computer

Arduino RGB Light
LEGO Scratch Programming
Sun City
Mars Demo
How is a computer Built?