SIGBITS February 2021

A WPI Computer Science Department summary of short notes on happenings involving faculty and students.

Phone: 508-831-5357
Fax: 508-831-5776

SIGBITS February 2021

A WPI Computer Science Department summary of short notes on happenings involving faculty and students.


Neil Heffernan

Heffernan's ASSISTments Tool Makes Learning Impact

ASSISTments, developed by Neil Heffernan and his wife Christina Heffernan has helped thousands of teachers transition to distance learning.

Read article about ASSISTments Helping Teachers

IES/What Works Clearinghouse just published a review 932 studies of distant learning programs and after conducting a closer look at 266 of those programs, they found that ASSISTments is one of only 4 programs that came out with their top rating (i.e., having met WWC Group Design Standards Without Reservations and ESSA Tier 1 rating requirements).

Read article about Review of Distance Learning Programs

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Ward and Martin Receive Test of Time Award

The late Matt Ward and his student Allen Martin were awarded the the 2020 SciVis Test of Time Award for their paper on "High Dimensional Brushing for Interactive Exploration of Multivariate Data" published in 1995.

To see VGTC Visualization Awards

Craig Shue

Shue Announces New Awards and Degrees

Craig Shue announced that WPI was awarded nearly $5 million to help train the nation's future Cybersecurity workforce amid growing demand. Nearly 100 media outlets, including Yahoo Finance, Arizona Republic, and Le Lezard (France,) reported on WPI receiving these awards from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Department of Defense (DoD) to support the university’s cybersecurity scholarship programs in an ongoing effort to fill a critical need for cybersecurity workers in federal government positions.

Read article about $5 Million Award

He announced that his team's recent publication, "Can Host-Based SDNs Rival the Traffic Engineering Abilities of Switch-Based SDNs?," received the Best Paper Award at the IEEE Network of the Future (NoF) Conference in October. Yunsen Lei, Julian P. Lanson, Remy M. Kaldawy, Jeffrey Estrada, and Craig Shue authored the work, which started as an MQP project and was subsequently extended with new experiments.

He announced that the WPI Faculty passed two new degrees: a Masters of Computer Science and Master of Science in Cyber Security (MS-SEC) degrees. These programs will begin in Fall'21.

Jacob Whitehill

Whitehill Looking at Better Collaboration Between AI and Humans in Classrooms

Jacob Whitehill is collaborating with colleagues at the University of Colorado Boulder to explore how artificially intelligent (AI) teaching agents might help encourage more meaningful collaboration among students in school classrooms.

Read Article about AI helping students work better together

Kyumin Lee

Lee Test of Time Award

Kyumin Lee received the "Test of Time Award" by the ACM International Conference on Information and Knowledge Management (CIKM) for his work entitled: "You are where you tweet: a content-based approach to geo-locating twitter users" by Z Cheng, J Caverlee, K Lee. The Test of Time Award is given for CIKM papers published ten years ago, and that have had an important and sustained impact on the research community.

See 2020 CIKM Test of Time Award

Gillian Smith

Smith Receives NSF CSforAll Award

Gillian Smith and the STEM Education Center were awarded a $300K grant by the National Science Foundation to establish a research-practice partnership (RPP) that focuses on culturally responsive computational thinking in PreK-5 classrooms

See article about NSF CSforAll Grant

Smith receives Board of Trustees’ Award for Outstanding Academic Advising

Smith is an award-winning video game designer. In her award citation, students credited her “passion for inclusion and conscious design” and for challenging them to “examine ourselves to uncover our strengths and identify areas in which we need to grow.” Smith was also noted for guiding female students in the computer science department. 

See article about 2020 Annual Faculty Awards


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Carlo Pinciroli receives the Romeo L. Moruzzi Young Faculty Award

He was cited for developing approaches and tools to improve student performance in challenging classes or circumstances.

See article about 2020 Annual Faculty Awards

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WPI Ranked as 6th Best Computer Science Program in the U.S.

College Factual has ranked WPI as the 6th best school to study Computer Science in the United States in their 2021 rankings. The ranking methodology takes into account factors such as education quality and earnings of graduates.

See College Factual Page

Dmitry Korkin

Korkin and Students Receive Patents

Dmitry Korkin and his postdoc have two patents issued on the use of Mixed Reality for handling large data.

1. Visualization of network data as a three-dimensional hierarchical data structure in a mixed reality environment

D Korkin, P Terentiev US Patent 10,855,564; 2020

2. Visualization of network data as a three-dimensional hierarchical data structure in a mixed reality environment

D Korkin, P Terentiev US Patent 10,854,003 1; 2020

He was also interviewed in a recent Lex Fridman podcast:

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Smith Files Patent

Therese Smith has filed for a provisional patent for work arising out of the MQP on Chemical Synthesis Automation.

Wilson Wong

Wong Completes Textbook

Wilson Wong has completed writing a textbook with co-author Irv Englander. The book is entitled "The Architecture of Computer Hardware, Systems Software, & Networking," 6th Edition. Wiley & Sons, 2021.

See text book on Wiley web site

Loris Fichera

Fichera Publications and Presentations

Loris Fichera published a paper on Science Robotics, entitled "Bringing the light inside the body to perform better surgery."

Read paper at Science Robotics page

He and his students had a paper accepted at SPIE Medical Imaging 2021. The paper is entitled "On the Merits of Using Angled Fiber Tips in Office-based Laser Surgery of the Vocal Folds," and it was co-authored by Isabelle Chan and Jesse d’Almeida, as part of their undergraduate summer research internship in 2020.

Hisstudent Alex Chiluisa presented a paper entitled "Computational Optimization of Notch Spacing for a Transnasal Ear Endoscopy Continuum Robot," at the International Symposium on Medical Robotics in November 2020.

He gave an invited talk entitled "On the role of autonomy in robot-assisted laser surgery" during the 2020 IEEE International Conference on Robots and Systems (IROS). The talk was part of a workshop entitled "Autonomous System in Medicine: Current Challenges in Design, Modeling, Perception, Control and Applications"

Rodica Neamtu

Neamtu Activities

Rodica Neamtu has a number of publications:

R Valente, A Ostapenko, B Sousa, J Grubbs, C Massar, D Cote, and R Neamtu. Classifying Powder Flowability for Cold Spray Additive Manufacturing Using Machine Learning. In Proceedings of the 2nd International Workshop on Big Data Tools, Methods, and Use Cases for Innovative Scientific Discovery, IEEE BigData Conference, December 2020.

R Ahsan, R Neamtu, M Bashir, E Rundensteiner, G Sarkozy "Correlation-Based Analytics of Time Series Data". In Proceedings of the 6th Special Session on Intelligent Data Mining, IEEE Big Data Conference, Dec 2020.

Leru P, Kay D, Kelly J, Tuong T, Schaeffer T, Addison W, Neamtu R. Atopy and Lifestyle Survey of Allergic Patients From Urban Environment in Romania: Preliminary Data From an Interactive Qualifying Project. Cureus 13(1): e12714.

She has new funding awards.

ARL 10744GR grant for "Design and Synthesis of Materials for Agile Manufacturing", sponsor US Army Lab. The funds will fund a PhD student in Data Science starting in January 2021. Research initiatives:

Co-founded (with Danielle Cote) the Data Driven Materials Science Collaborative Research connecting one postdoc, 7 graduate students and 6 undergraduate students.

Carolina Ruiz

Ruiz Happenings

Carolina Ruiz and her collaborators published the following research papers.

Michael Sokolovsky, Francisco Guerrero*, Sarun Paisarnsrisomsuk, Carolina Ruiz, Sergio A. Alvarez. "Deep Learning for Automated Feature Discovery and Classification of Sleep Stages" IEEE/ACM Transactions on Computational Biology and Bioinformatics. Volume: 17, Issue: 6, Nov.-Dec. 1 2020.

Sarun Paisarnsrisomsuk, Carolina Ruiz, Sergio A. Alvarez. "Improved Deep Learning Classification of Human Sleep Stages". IEEE 33rd International Symposium on Computer Based Medical Systems (CBMS 2020). Virtual Conference. 2020.

Elizabeth Ryder, Carolina Ruiz, Shari Weaver and Robert Gegear. "A Team Science Approach to Developing High School Curriculum that Integrates Biology and Computer Science". Science of Team Science (SciTS) 2020 Conference.

Elizabeth Ryder, Carolina Ruiz, Shari Weaver and Robert Gegear. "Bridging Biology and Computer Science to Engage High School Students in Solving Real World Problems". 6th International STEM in Education Conference (STEM 2020).

Elizabeth Ryder, Carolina Ruiz, Shari Weaver and Robert Gegear. "Choosing Your Own Adventure: Engaging the New Learning Society through Integrative Curriculum Design." Proceedings of the MIT LINC (Learning International Networks Consortium) 2019 Conference. Appears in EPIC Series in Education Science 3, pp. 188-199. 2020.

Shari Weaver, Carolina Ruiz, Maria Berrios, Elizabeth Ryder. "Bio-CS Bridge: Investigating Biodiversity Using Computational Thinking and a Real-World Citizen Science Project". National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) 2020 Virtual Fall Conference. Nov 13-14, 2020.

She was appointed to the WPI Board of Trustees' Academic Planning Committee for a 2-year period in Oct. 2020.

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Harrison Activities

Lane Harrison and Elke Rundensteiner received an NSF award for their project entitled "Fair Decision Making by Consensus: Interactive Bias Mitigation Technology"

Read Award Abstract on NSF Page

He has a number of conference/journal publications:

McColeman, Caitlyn M., Lane Harrison, Mi Feng, and Steven Franconeri. "No mark is an island: Precision and category repulsion biases in data reproductions." IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics (2020).

Nobre, Carolina, Dylan Wootton, Lane Harrison, and Alexander Lex. "Evaluating multivariate network visualization techniques using a validated design and crowdsourcing approach." In Proceedings of the 2020 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, pp. 1-12. 2020.

Peña, Alyssa, Eric Ragan, and Lane Harrison. "Memorability of Enhanced Informational Graphics: the effects of design relevance and chart type on recall." Interdisciplinary Journal of Signage and Wayfinding 4, no. 1 (2020).

Harrison, Lane. "Looking at Learning: Challenges and Opportunities for Visualization Design." In Design Recommendations for Intelligent Tutoring Systems, Volume 8 Data Visualization, pp. 69-72, 2020.

Harrison, Lane, Andrew Hampton. "Walk Me Through This: Utilizing Kinesthetic Effect in Data Storytelling." In Design Recommendations for Intelligent Tutoring Systems, Volume 8 Data Visualization, pp. 41-45, 2020.

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Mike Gennert gives Keynote Address:

Autonomy Natives: They Will Be Here Soon, So Let’s Get It Right This Time, Keynote Lecture, IEEE Int. Conf. Computing, Networking, Telecommunications & Engineering Sciences Applications (CoNTESA ’20), Epoka University, Tirana, Albania, Dec. 2020.

He also led a multi-university team that received a $50,000 award from NSF for “Workshop on Unified Curriculum and

Course Design for Mechatronics and Robotics Engineering”. Co-PIs are V. Kapila (New York U.) C.A. Berry (Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology), J. Mynderse (Lawrence Technological U.), and N. Lotfi Yagin (Southern Illinois U. Edwardsville).

Elke Rundensteiner

Rundensteiner PI on Awards

Elke Rundensteiner and a team of Co-PIs, including Yanhua Li in CS, received a $3M NSF Research Traineeship (NRT) grant on "Data-Driven Sustainable Engineering for a Circular Economy"

See NSF Awards Page

She also received the NSF grant on AI and Fairness with Lane Harrison. In addition she received, along with a colleague at the University of Illinois, a $240K grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture on "FACT: Innovative Big Data Analytics Technology for Microbiological Risk Mitigation Assuring Fresh Produce Safety."

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Kinicki's Albania IQP projects vie for President's IQP of the Year Award

Bob Kinicki, Professor Emeritus, advised two of the Interactive Qualifying Projects (IQPs) in Tirana, Albania that have been chosen by WPI's panel of judges as finalist teams for the WPI President's IQP of the Year Award. The two projects selected are:

Assessing Opportunities to Reduce the Environmental Impacts of Brewery Waste in Albania Students: Sarah Boermeester (BME), Marissa Gonzales (BME), Katy Jessop (CM), Griffin St. Onge (ME) Advisors: Robert Hersh and Robert Kinicki

Memorialization of the Spac Labor Camp: An Investigation into Digital Methods Students: Michael Clements (CS), Leo Gross (ME/ECE), Elizabeth Kirschner (CS/IMGD), Zetta Rajaniemi (PH) Advisors: Robert Kinicki and Robert Hersh