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The Debugger, Fall 2006

In This Issue

Editor’s Notes

From the Chair: Bill Oblitey

Carol’s Corner: Carol Miller

News From Tompkins Lab: Joseph Shyrock

Telecommuting, a Great Way to Work: Al Jennings

About Me: Mike Bigrigg

Your 2 Cents: Jim Wolfe

Recruitment and Retention: Mike Bigrigg

Century Club

EDITOR’S NOTES

I am happy to say that this issue has several contributions from alumni. In recent times, it has been difficult to get alumni involvement in The Debugger, other than the contacts that alumni make with Carol and subsequently show up in Carol's Corner. This issue is different for several reasons.

As you may have noted in the past, I try to get new faculty to write a self-introductory article soon after they join us. This fall, Mike Bigrigg joined the faculty in a tenure-track position; but Mike is also an alumnus of our program (5/91); he summarizes his last 15 years in his article. But, that's not all; Mike has jumped into the effort to try to recruit and retain more computer science students; so he has a second article in the issue dealing with efforts in that regard. He appeals to the alumni for help. Mike has taken on one more role that will result in more visibility for him - he has agreed to be co-editor for The Debugger this year.

Al Jennings, '89 alumnus, sent in an article about telecommuting. He describes the success he has had with this mode of working and recommends that others give it a try. There are quite a few benefits for both the employee and the employer.

Five alumni responded to the question that I posed in the summer issue. I regarded this as a good response for the first outing. I hope these alumni and you find the pseudo-discussion organization of their remarks to be an interesting way to look at the issues associated with outsourcing. The question in this issue is deliberately in an entirely different realm; I'm hoping to get even more responses to the new question.

The picture on the cover was taken in Switzerland on a trip I took last summer. I was happy to be riding in a bus and not driving on these roads through the Alps. But, I also thought that the many switchbacks and twisting nature of the road fit in with the way things sometimes have to be done.

Jim Wolfe, Co-Editor 

From the Chair

Bill Oblitey

Greetings to everyone. I hope you enjoyed a hearty Thanksgiving and you are now welcoming the Christmas holidays. Permit me to update you on the current status of the department. We have placed an advertisement in some selected journals, the local and neighboring papers, and on our web site in our efforts to attract quality faculty to come and join our team. As usual, I am requesting that if you know of someone who qualifies for the position, you should encourage that person to apply.

We are also busy with our quest for the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) accreditation. Last Summer, Jim Wolfe supervised a team consisting of Rose Shumba, Raj Ezekiel, and Sanwar Ali to take the Languages and Systems requirements and make curriculum revisions and prepare reports that will be needed to help gain the accreditation. This Fall, Sanwar Ali has been given a quarter release time to continue with this accreditation effort. On October 13, 2006 we invited Prof. Paul Sible of California University of Pennsylvania to come and provide us with consultation on ABET accreditation since he has taken leadership and gotten California University of Pennsylvania to obtain ABET accreditation for their computer science program.

Last Summer, I reported to you that our teaching labs are being renovated. I specifically told you that the Stright 320 lab and Tompkins lab were to have their machines replaced. The Stright 107 Cyber Security lab was also supposed to have its machines replaced but that has not yet happened. Well, I need to upgrade this report and inform you that only the Stright 320 teaching lab was renovated and the explanation is as usual: the amount of money given to the college was not enough to get all our labs renovated. This semester, the Provost's office requested that all departments specify their large budget expenditures and so I have specified the lab upgrades and their respective costs. We are waiting for the decision from the Provost's office concerning these.

The Computer Science club is now up and active. The club meets on Tuesdays and we, as faculty, need to encourage better attendance by the students. The officers of the club are Jerrell Jackson, President, Melissa Karolewski, Vice President, Sean Hastings, Secretary, Scott Almendinger, Treasurer, Frank Claycomb, Server Administrator, with Prof. David Smith as the faculty advisor. I want to encourage you, as alumni, to get in touch with any of these officers and feed them with your ideas as to how to incorporate exciting things into the club to keep it going.

Dr. Shumba has initiated a social program to help enable our female students to meet with each other and thus encourage their retention. She also involves them in her research. She prepared three young women to present at the last Pennsylvania Association of Computer and Information Science Educators (PACISE) Conference on " Information Assurance: Awareness, Education, and Training" that was hosted by IUP on April 7-8, 2006. Following the conference, a faculty member and her chair from Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania extended an invitation to Dr. Shumba and the female students to visit Slippery Rock to repeat their presentation to their female students. Dr. Shumba' team obliged to this call this Fall. In October, 2006, she involved three of our female students in a presentation on "Challenges and Experiences of Undergraduate Student Research: the CREU Program" at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing and later presented their material to the faculty and students at a departmental colloquium.

Until you hear from me in the next issue of The Debugger, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Carol’s Corner

Carol Miller

Hi Everyone. Great to hear from those of you who wrote, stopped in or called. Time seems to be flying by this semester as it always seems to do any more; and I'm sure you're waiting for all the latest news.

First thing I'd like to do is thank everyone who came to the Homecoming breakfast. As always, it was great seeing everyone and hopefully we'll see you every year.

Joining us were Donna (Reed) Rosenberger (12/81). Donna is now teaching math online for the Community College of Allegheny County and Warner Southern College in Lake Wales, FL. She teaches two classes in Probability and Statistics and College Mathematics. Donna has three children. Danielle, who is 8, was with us for breakfast. Don Paul is a senior in high school and plans to attend IUP as a computer science major next fall. He was awaiting his Board of Inquiry for a project he was doing for the Methodist Church to fulfill his Eagle Scout requirements. Susannah is a junior in high school and will be going to the Hollywood Christmas parade in November with the Indiana High School band. Donna also helps with girl scouts and boy scouts. We'll be awaiting Don Paul's arrival on campus next fall; and we'll probably see Donna occasionally then. Good to see you, Donna!

Mark Minser (5/00) is still with Raytheon in State College, coding in JAVA and C; and he's also gossip mongering. HE said that; but I probably wouldn't have nearly as much to say about people in that part of the state if Mark didn't help me out. He's also still making the drive from Armagh to State College and listening to books on tapes as he drives. He says he's gotten the "nest" emptied and now it's just him and Marley (a yellow lab); and he's enjoying the solitude. He also enjoys riding his bike on the Ghost Town Trail. And, he's hooked on Sudoku. Mark was going to be recruiting for Raytheon in October but there weren't enough interested students here to make the trip worthwhile. (Can you believe that???) Always good to see you, Mark.

J. Lance Wilkinson (5/76) is still with Penn State University Digital Library Technologies as Systems Engineering Integrator & Email Postmaster, Toolbuilder and jack of all trades. He's been married 21 years to Yija Reskevics and the have a son Scott, 19 and a daughter, Julia, 17. He also has Spice and Beckham (the dogs) and Sam & Minka (the cats). Beckham is younger than Spice and, for those of you who have made the connection between Beckham and Spice (Beckham, the soccer player, is married to Posh Spice), that isn't why he was named Beckham. They named him that because Boston Bull Terriers love to play soccer!! Lance is active in boy scouting and is the Council Training Chair for Juanita Valley Council of the BSA. And, wait 'til you hear this - Dancing with the Stars has nothing over Lance. He had a dance lesson with Anna Trebunskeya who is one of their professional dancers. He's hoping to maybe get a lesson with Ashley DelGross and a lesson for Vija with Jonathan Roberts. We can't wait to see you on the show Lance!! Good to see you!!!

Also, Lance wants to hear from John Warmus (12/77) who was his lab partner in CO 220.

Tim Jamison (8/98) joined us at Homecoming. Tim is working for Union Switch & Signal in Pittsburgh doing virtual embedded systems, focusing on communications, protocols and TCP/IP. He enjoys traveling, particularly to Japan where he has been twice. He's still learning software engineering, UML, Object-oriented development and Ruby. Great to see you Tim, hope to see you next year or before.

Milt Ferguson (12/96) and his son Ian were there. Milt is still with Sheetz, Inc., as a part-time software tester, part-time programmer. Ian is in Tiger Cubs and Milt goes with him to his meetings . Milt's wife, Lori, is still a full time student here at IUP. Milt has an interesting Saturday hobby; he and his friends get together and play violent video games on their private LAN.

Tony Popp (12/98) and his daughter, Victoria, were here. Tony is still with Concurrent Technologies in Johnstown as a senior software engineer. They just recently bought a house in Johnstown and were getting moved in. Victoria is a little doll baby. She even gave me a hug when breakfast was over. Tony and his wife, Karen, also have Vivian, who is one year old. Great seeing you, Tony.

Hopefully, next year more of you will be able to join us. That's a hint.

Congratulations to Joe Ondrejik (5/84) and his wife, Leisa, on the birth of their second son on August 14. His name is Andrew Bryce and he was 8 lbs 5 oz and 21 inches long. Joe is still with Dell in Texas but now manages the Sales and Marketing Product Management group. The Product Management Group is the organization that works with both IT and the business units to deliver new features to support Sales and Marketing initiatives. He says it's a fun job but a big change for someone with a Computer Science Doctorate. Some interesting news from Joe, his uncle is the new IUP football coach so that gives him a little more incentive to keep track of how the home team is doing. Joe said he needs to get back to campus and see all the changes and I have to agree with that. I think you'll be surprised Joe!!! Joe spent his time in Wahr Hall and it's now gone and big new dorm is replacing it, the administrative annex and the green house. Thanks Joe, for the update. Do try to stop in sometime. I realize you're a long way from home.

Also congratulations to Ryan Knepper (12/01) and his wife on the birth of their son. I don't have any details. All I can tell you is I think he was born November 9. I'm sure I'll have more details next issue.

Ed Kuzemchak (5/88) was up to speak to the students in Rose Shumba's COSC 319 course. I didn't get a chance to see him; but I'm going to assume everything is the same with him. If not, Ed, let me know.

Thank you so much, Kari (Robson) Behune (5/98) for keeping me updated on Braden's progress. Braden was born on March 10. He is so cute and he looks like his mother. I still haven't made it over to see him and I'm ashamed of that fact. I'll get there Kari!! Braden stays with Kari's mother here in Indiana 3 days a week; and Kari works from home the other days (she's still with PPG). But, thank you SO much for sending the pictures. I LOVE getting them.

Justin Streiner (5/97) is still working at Pitt; and they're rolling out some big projects over the year, the biggest ones being campus-wide wireless access and expanding their 10 gig service footprint to cover more buildings on campus. I didn't actually hear from Justin personally, but I'm sure I will. He was going to try to make it to the breakfast, but I didn't see him.

Last issue, I told you about the good and bad news for Vickie (Pearce) Ringhoff (12/94). Well, this time it's all good news (just a little bit of bad news that turned around). Rylee Savannah was born on September 25 at 7:59 am, weighing 7 lbs. 11 oz. and 20 inches long. She was a breech baby and Vickie needed a c-section (Vickie said Rylee's stubborn like her daddy, but I won't repeat that). Vickie sent pictures and she is just precious. She also sent me Halloween pictures; and Rylee had changed a lot in just that amount of time. She looks like a miniature little girl. Congratulations Vickie and Jeremy. I also got pictures of Tico. Tico is the new puppy they adopted and almost lost the next day (this is the little bit of bad news). The day after they brought him home, they got a call from the shelter telling them the other litter members were testing positive for parvo so they had him tested and, sure enough, he was positive, too. The vet's office kept him in quarantine and pumped him full of fluids and; believe it or not, he made it (he must be stubborn like his daddy, too). Vickie said if the shelter had known he was parvo positive they would have euthanized him. But the shelter did foot the bill. Vickie said she didn't think she could have gone through losing another dog so quickly, but now he's the picture of health and her two "babies" are keeping her very busy. If you want to take a look at the babies, go to http://www.picturetrail.com/vickpics Thanks Vickie!!! Keep those pictures coming.

And, more congratulations to Jane (Cunningham) (5/87) and Bob Harnagy on the arrival of Callie Anna Harnagy, baby number four for Jane and Bob. She was born on September 21 at 12:50 pm and weighing in at 10 lbs 1 oz and 21 inches. Jane said Callie protested quite loudly IMMEDIATELY upon being removed from her snug abode. She was Baby Harnagy #4 for a few days and finally got a name as they were getting ready for the hospital check out. I'd say she got a beautiful name, too!!! And Callie Anna Harnagy and Mommy were recuperating at the beach (in other words, she was home) with the family. Jane said Callie has a great disposition, is content to eat and sleep and not fuss much about anything and was quite wide eyed when the siblings visited after her birth. Jane said there was a line at the bedroom door the morning after they got home to see if it was OK to come in and kiss her good morning. Jane also sent pictures and I've said this to a lot of people but I'm going to say it again. There is a picture of Olivia, Isabel and Reagan looking in the bassinet at the hospital and the looks on the faces of Isabel and Reagan are just pure wonderment and amazement, and the look on the face of Isabel is pure Oh boy, I can't wait until Callie starts getting into their stuff like they got into mine. The family is planning a trip back to PA one of these days, so maybe if I'm around, I'll get to meet Callie. Thanks Jane, I always love hearing from you.

I got a nice e-mail from Lisa (Townsend) Kelly (12/03). Lisa is still living in Kansas City, Missouri with her husband, Christopher. Chris graduated from IUP as a music major in December '03 as well. Lisa was going a wee bit crazy at the time of her e-mail because she and Chris had just moved into their first house. It's the end unit in a town house and is new construction, so they were able to do their own customization. They are loving the house and loving being home owners. Lisa still works at NovaStar Mortgage as a Quality Assurance Test Lead; and she's recently been promoted to the senior position after only two years on the job. Congratulations, Lisa!!! Thanks so much for the update. It was great hearing from you.

Had a quick e-mail from Cathy (Fleig) Gruss (12/85) just to say they wouldn't be able to make homecoming this year because the kids had soccer games.

I also had a nice update from Angela Rhea who is married to Brian Rhea (5/02). Angela is also Eric Kirkpatrick's (5/00) sister. Angela graduated with a psychology degree from IUP in December 2002. She gave me a nice update on what's going on with them. They've been married now for 3+ years and have been living in Charlotte, NC. Brian has been working at Wachovia in uptown Charlotte for almost 3 years where he is a Senior IT Technician and a supervisor for his entire department. Angie has been with First Franklin for three years and she was just promoted to Branch Administrator. First Franklin is a lending company that purchases and refinances homes in the southeast. They also had just gotten back from a cruise in the Southern Caribbean including San Juan, Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, Barbados, Dominica and Aruba. San Juan and Aruba were their favorites and Angie sent me pictures and it sure looked like they were having a ball. Angie said they did get a little bit spoiled and are ready at a moment's notice to do it again. The other plan they have, although, they're not sure how soon it will take place, is to start a family. Thanks Angie and Brian for the nice update. Keep in touch!!

And, I also heard from Eric (5/00) Kirkpatrick and Candee. They were planning on coming to the Homecoming breakfast, but at the last minute, Eric had a work commitment. It was disappointing not to see them. I haven't even met Livie yet and before long, she's going to be two. Livie is a little cutie. Candee is good to keep sending pictures, the last being for Halloween. They are still living in Pittsburgh where Eric is working for Bayer, Inc. Thanks Candee for sending me the pictures and all the funny things Livie is doing. What fun!!

Rick Heiges (5/88) who is an actual townie, hasn't been in Indiana when school has been in session for years. Rick's mother has moved south so Rick is only in town over the holidays to visit friends and, of course, we aren't here then. Rick was actually writing in response to something I put in The Debugger. Rick is working for a consulting company (Scalability Experts, Inc.) based in Dallas even though he lives in NC. His company was looking for people experienced in database technology especially SQL Server. So, if there's anyone out there, let me know.

And, Jim Wolfe heard from Al Jennings (8/89). He's now teleworking for an Ohio based insurance company. Alan spent fourteen years working in Columbus, OH, and two years ago moved back to Indiana. He's working for the same company doing the same work, but now he works out of his home office. He visits Columbus once a month for three days and other than that it's 100% telecommuting. Primarily his responsibility is Workflow systems; architecting, designing and building data structures to manage workflow for mail and fax information sent to the company. He has great employee benefits - commute time and expense, flexible work hours, fewer interruptions, and he says the list goes on. You can read more about Al's take on working from home in another section of The Debugger and, believe me, it's worth reading.

Ryan Bassaro (12/04) just started his MBA at IUP in Monroeville in September and expects to finish in December 2007. Ryan is still working at WESTCO, and he spent the summer in Manhattan doing Information System auditing and corporate auditing; and, although he liked Manhattan, he was living in a hotel room and he said that got old - even if he did like having someone clean up after him every day. He was glad to get home. We're glad to have you back in the Burgh, too, Ryan.

Luke Stormer (5/05) was recently hired at Creps United Publications. He'll be working with JavaScript and looking into newer web technologies as well. Congratulations, Luke, keep us posted as to how it's going.

I heard from Barry Day (5/72) through Jim Wolfe. Barry is still with Computer Sciences Corporation and was one of the teams that recently won the $629M Expeditionary Combat Support System (ECSS) deal for the U. S. Air Force. It is a large ERP and Supply Chain 7-year transformation program. At its peak, they will employ nearly 800 people on their team. The primary competition was a team led by IBM with Accenture, Bearing Point, Deloitte Touche and Lockheed Martin! Barry said he's really proud to have been part of the winning team led by CSC. He's serving as the Program Management Executive. And, congratulations are in order to Barry. He sat for and received his Project Management Professional (PMP) certification by the Project Management Institute. So, congratulations to you, Barry!!!

Ray Georgi (5/06) has just been accepted into graduate school at Pitt and congratulations go out to him.

Ami (Walker) Ehlenberger (5/00) is working as a manager for the System Z Delivery Organization at IBM; and she wrote to offer her services to Charley Shubra in using the System Z mainframe program. Ami is no longer working in a technical position in the IBM; she is a second line manager for the Lab Based Services Organization focusing on mainframe and virtualization technologies world wide. Her last technical position was as a security architect. Thanks Ami. Good to hear from you.

Mike Whyte (5/01) touched base to let me know Penn State has an opening in Mike's office which (I assume) is still the Office of Research Information Systems. Mike said his hobbies have kept him from keeping in better touch; and I'm sure we can all understand that and, hopefully, he will soon have a minute to update me on the rest of his life, right Mike??? Thanks for the heads up on the job.

And, I also had a nice update from Janie (Pike) Kustaborder (5/92). Janie is still at Minitab in State College and Ron is still with Raytheon in State College. Ryan is now in kindergarten; he loves school and is doing very well, particularly in math and reading and will be meeting with a learning enrichment teacher three times a week to help develop these skills further. He just wrapped up a cold and wet soccer season, and will be into playing basketball next month. Janie says Ryan thinks Big Ben (Pgh Steeler) walks on water; and Ron is glad to have a buddy to watch football with. Heather is in first grade this year. She is also doing well and is in enrichment classes for reading, writing, and math. She's getting a little more freedom this fall because her best friend lives kitty-corner out their back yard; and the girls are permitted to run back and forth between the houses on their own. Janie said they think they are so grown up! Heather also finished soccer, and wants to start basketball. Amber is in third grade, the first year of lots of homework, which she isn't very fond of. She's also in enrichment, classes in reading, math, and science. This year she tried her hand at volleyball, and said she's found her sport; she's going forgo basketball this year so she can play volleyball. They added a sunroom onto their house and Tanner (the bunny) has totally claimed it. They are also in the market for a new bunny playmate for Tanner. Ron is also playing golf when the weather cooperates and is trying to play basketball around the kids' schedules. Janie is still taking water fitness classes, which is great for the knees and she started leading the junior youth group at church - it is for first through fifth grade kids. So, do you guys ever rest??? Thanks Janie. It was great hearing from you.

I had a couple e-mails from Jaunita Burdette (12/01) with bad news and good news. Earlier in the year, Jaunita was diagnosed with endometrial cancer. She expected to have surgery followed by radiation; but it turned out that the surgery outcome determined that further treatment was not needed. So, Jaunita is healing and doing much better and we certainly wish her the very best. She is still working for Pittsburgh Public Schools, but is on leave right now until December. Thanks, Jaunita for the info. Take care and keep me posted.

Derek Fairman (5/03) sent me an e-mail to tell me he wouldn't be able to make the Homecoming breakfast and gave me a quick update. His big news is that he and his girlfriend, Lindsay, got engaged over the summer.. The wedding is next September in her hometown of Charleston, WV. When Derek is not working long hours at Raytheon in State College, he's working on remodeling his house, golfing or playing with his dog, Macy, and his cat, Dixie. Thanks Derek, "Maybe we'll see you next year". You could always delay your honeymoon until
October and spend it in Indiana at Homecoming. Just something to think about.

Joe Karolchik (8/87) sent me a nice update. He is still living in Maryland and working for IST which is now a part of EDO corporation. He's leading a team to write a proposal for new business they're trying to bring in. Although he has worked on a few proposals in the past couple years, this is the first time he's leading the team. (I'm sure you'll do very well, Joe.) He likes to be in on that end of proposal development so the team understands what a client is asking for and they can decide on the best technology to use. He said that at IST proposal writing is a competition between teams (their team and others) which, in turn, creates a lot of team building and an identity that sets your team apart. He said there's also a lot of snooping around to find out what the competing teams are doing and it can be serious fun - and it can also require 14 hour days for 7 days a week!

For the past couple of years, Joe has done college recruiting and some corporate outreach with the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins. Joe got his graduate degree from Johns Hopkins so he is always welcomed there. But at Maryland, he has been working on building a good relationship with the Clark School of Engineering because IST primarily recruits computer engineering and electrical engineering grads, although they have a mix of computer science, mathematics, and physics majors. Joe loves college recruiting and says it's so different from his daily work that it feels like vacation days. But, because his office is relatively small, he doesn't venture out of the immediate area for recruiting which means he won't be coming to IUP.

On the personal side, Joe took a major vacation this year for 12 weeks. He drove from Maryland to California and back. But, along the way, he stopped in Tucson, Las Vegas, Palm Springs, San Francisco, and Salt Lake City and also went to Yosemite, Yellowstone, Mt Rushmore, and about 100 other places. At the end of his vacation time, he adopted a lab puppy named Grace who Joe said is the best pet he could ever imagine having. (That doesn't surprise me, Joe, everyone I know who has a lab says that about them.)

Tim Latta (8/06) is now working for Tech Team who have him contracted out as a Web developer to the National Institute of Health in Rockville, MD. He also does Web development for his own clients on his own time. He's living in Odenton, MD and in his spare time he likes to ride his motorcycle and play pool. Hey, Tim, it was great hearing from you (even if it was through Alicia)!!

James Sassano (12/00) stopped in one day. He was in town for his grandmother's funeral and our condolences go out to him for his loss. But, after I heard what he was doing, I was pretty disgusted. He's working for Raytheon and is based in Boston. His most recent Boston assignment was in the suburbs (Woburn), then he was assigned to New Mexico and NOW he's on a long term assignment in Hawaii, Kauai to be exact. Now you know why I was disgusted. He's going to be there a year or more. James is less than enthused though because Kauai is a small island; and he says it's pretty isolated and shuts down about 9:00 pm. There is a base on the island and most of the islanders work on the base. He said he's about 100 miles from any action. But, he says it's a nice honeymoon place - not that he's planning one. It sure was nice seeing you James. Stop in any time you're in the area.

James also gave me an update on Jeff Bertrand (5/94). Jeff is working in Seattle for Amazon in their Business unit. He received a MBA from CMU. Jeff, next time I send an order to Amazon I will tell them to say hi for me. You need to send me an update because I'm hearing you've had some health issues and you need to bring me up to date because we care.

Chris Wastchak (5/03) gave me a call a few days ago and he's still working as a senior software architect with MindMatrix, Inc. I'm not sure if I reported this in the summer, but he and Jenny bought a house in Penn Hills. Charlee is now 13 months old, and baby number two is due in May!! So congratulations to you two. It's great hearing from you, Chris. Hope you can bring Charlee up for a visit one day.

And, that's all the news I have for the fall. Please keep in touch so I don't lose my job. 

News From Tompkins Lab

Joseph Shyrock

The end of the semester is near and things are still busy as usual for the university's IT support. There are some changes coming that will impact the university as a whole along with some minor things down the pipe for computer science.

Banner, which some of you may be familiar with, is undergoing some changes in its platform. Currently, the Banner system is running on Sun Microsystems Unix servers. IUP is migrating over to Dell Linux based systems. This will save the university money while enhancing support and performance. The change is planned to be completed this November.

In terms of departmental changes, we will be upgrading Oracle from 8i to 10G for use in the database class. This is underway now so that it may be used for instruction this spring. Other plans coming down the pipe are upgrades to the computers in Stright 220 and Tompkins lab.

The University is also starting to look at Windows Vista which will be an inevitable upgrade. The IT staff has been running and experimenting with the latest release candidates in order to get a feel for the migration when the time comes and to work out any problems before hand. On a side note there is also a new office platform being released that the university will migrate to and will be used in computer science 101 classes. It's always fun to upgrade a few hundred computers.

Lastly the university is moving forward with its plans on making the campus 100% covered with wireless access. A large part of campus already has wireless; but this is pretty exciting news.

Happy holidays and have a good New Year! 

Telecommuting, a Great Way to Work

by Al Jennings, 89

Telecommuting, teleworking, however you put it, the arrangement is great!

I spent 14 years in Columbus, OH working for an insurance company. Then two years ago, I moved back to town, here in Indiana; I'm working for the same company doing the same work, but now out of my home office. I visit Columbus once a month for 3 days to get some face-to-face time; but other than that, I'm 100% telecommuting and busier than ever. Imaging/Workflow systems are my primary responsibility, designing and building data structures to manage workflow for mail and fax information sent to the company.

You might imagine the employee benefits of telecommuting ... zero commute time and expense, flexible work hours, fewer interruptions, the list goes on.... But some of the greater benefits are to the company; and this is just the message anyone thinking of delivering their pitch for telecommuting must keep in mind. From my experience, you should find a way to quantify your level of productivity and be able to compare after teleworking goes into effect. Provide consistent and complete status reports weekly, never miss even one. These actions are what you need to demonstrate the benefits to the company.

As for the pitch....Don't place much emphasis on personal reasons for your request. While this may work short term, any sympathy may dwindle over time. Approach using a temporary 'try it out' method, and go for a more permanent deal after the trial period. Provide for and deliver assurances that you can be fully reachable anytime required (within reason). Get and use some good telemeeting and instant messaging software, a good web camera and provide an avenue for the boss and others to see your ugly mug every once in awhile.

Give some serious thought to the idea. Telecommuting is not for everyone; but ... Are you self-sufficient? self-motivated? self-disciplined? Do you have a strong work ethic? Are you comfortable within your company and with your co-workers? Is your job responsibility one that can be handled remotely?

Consider other questions ... What will this do to relationships at work or home? What impact will this have to your career goals? What advantages will this provide the company? This last is the most critical question and needs a really good answer. Some possible answers might be ... studies have shown anywhere from 7 to 25 percent more productivity is generally seen by telecommuting workers; lower turnover; increase in quality work; citing other companies in competition that provide telecommuting options.

Well, enough for now; back to work......and......... I'm there!... 

About Me

Mike Bigrigg

As the new faculty member, I'm supposed to tell a little bit about myself. As an alumni of the department, I'm sure many of you already know what I've been up to since I graduated as Carol does a great job of passing on the word. I'll just summarize. After I finished at IUP, I went to Pitt for my MS degree in computer science. I worked at a company called Tartan doing compilers for embedded DSPs. Tartan was purchased by Texas Instruments after I left. I thought it was funny that the book in 380 said something about how your first job after graduation would not be working on operating systems or compilers.

After Tartan, I went off to Concurrent Technologies Corporation. I continued to live in Pittsburgh and commute to Johnstown an hour and forty minutes each way. Needless to say, I spent most of my time in my car. What made the first few months worse is that I had started to teach at Pitt in the evenings. I've taught at Pitt for the past dozen years since right after I graduated.

Leaving CTC, I headed off to CMU. I have been working with the Institute for Complex Engineered Systems, a research-only department in the College of Engineering. In ICES, I ran the Embedded and Reliable Information Systems Laboratory. One of my first projects at CMU was to work on network-attached storage (NASD). After that came survivable storage (PASIS). Mixed in there was some program analysis work for finding faults in computer programs (PARIS). My latest work was on pervasive sensor networks. While working at CMU, I finally gave in to finish my PhD. My degree is in Computer-Aided Engineering with my dissertation work on sensor networks. While at CMU I've been a part of a team of faculty that teach a course on engineering product design. It is a project-based course with industrial sponsors. That's about the last 15 years in a nutshell.

I'm interested in interdisciplinary research -- things that span areas from computer science to engineering to product development. For example, modern civil infrastructures (power systems, buildings, telecommunications, and control systems) are an interdisciplinary mix of computer systems, software systems, structural systems, and mechanical systems. Taken separately, it is possible to design a fairly reliable system. Individually, there are computer systems with relative reliability; civil structures that are reliable, and mechanical systems that are reliably designed. It is the integration of a mechanical and computer system, a structural and mechanical system, or a computer and structural system where a reliable design is harder to construct.

We do not train our students in all aspects of system; there is not enough time to do that. As we spend time in multi-disciplinary teams, we are able to eventually understand enough about the other disciplines to be able to more easily construct integrated models. A person can become an interdisciplinary expert as he or she gains enough knowledge to be a cross domain expert. In lieu of requiring extensive training in multiple disciplines, it is necessary to construct a design process that will allow a multi-disciplinary team (many single domain experts) to function as an interdisciplinary team (as a cross domain expert). 

Your 2 Cents

Jim Wolfe

In the last issue, I started a series in which I posed a discussion question and asked for your opinions. This Summer's question was Will outsourcing of computer technology jobs eventually eliminate the computer science major in U.S. universities? I was happy to get thoughtful responses from Dan Gabor(12/97), Adam Glunz(12/99), Joe Karolchik(8/87), Justin Streiner(5/97), and one person who wanted to remain anonymous (I'll call her Ms X). What follows is a combination of the responses that I received, showing some agreement and some disagreement.

Several of the alumni pointed out reasons why computer science majors are going to continue to be needed in the U.S. Justin says, "As long as there are enough jobs for the people graduating from CS programs and universities continue to see that their recruiting efforts continue to bring in new students, universities will continue to graduate people with CS degrees." Dan takes note of government needs, "One huge U.S. industry that hires many computer science graduates will never outsource - the Department of Defense or any of the other U.S. security agencies. To work in these business, you must be a U.S. citizen!" Joe adds, "Many companies have contracts with the government that require the employees to acquire a Top Secret clearance to do the work. This is something that non-US citizens are not able to obtain; and this is an industry that will most likely never be outsourced."

But, outsourcing certainly continues. Ms X, who works for a prominent bank, notes, "For the last 5 years, we have seen whole teams disappear due to outsourcing or offshoring, but never in the mainframe realm. Small client/server support apps were the first to be offshored. These made sense, they were not direct customer applications but internal apps used by employees." Dan comments that, "Although cheap labor markets in India and other parts of the world have shown their proficiency with writing software, they still are not able to produce software & systems that meets the requirements of most U.S. companies." Justin agrees saying, "Many technology jobs simply cannot be farmed out to firms in other countries. Those jobs that have an operational responsibility component would be very tough to outsource since those people often have a hands-on role in supporting and building a company's systems and/or network infrastructure. That's tough to do from a call center half a world away." But, that doesn't mean that some companies won't try to outsource key operations. Ms X says, "Our previous CIO had been quoted as saying this bank will never offshore a core production system. She has since retired; and last month, an announcement was made that a core production system was to be fully offshored by the end of 2006. We are no longer immune. Now that core bank functions are up for consideration to be sent to India, I'm paying more attention." Ms X also agrees with some of what Justin and Dan are saying; she writes, "Someone needs to stay onshore to communicate designs and ensure requirements are properly followed. The knowledge is still required and will be required at a higher understanding. These employees will be more technical project managers than are typically seen today. They will have to know the business as well as the technology. They will make more decisions and have to learn how to communicate with a very diverse team."

Adam provides a different take on the situation; he bases his comments on Thomas Friedman's book, The World is Flat. Adam says, "America is losing ground in terms of math and science education to foreign countries. While at the same time college students from India and China are no longer staying in the US for jobs upon graduation; they are going back home. While at the same time, the university systems in said countries are gaining leaps and bounds to the former US gold stamp standard of higher education." Although this may be a long term trend, Joe encounters a different environment now; he says, "In my recent recruiting experiences from large universities, a lot of my contacts have been with non-US citizens who are seeking employment in some type of computer development technical field. There are a lot of very smart, technical students who are non-US citizens that have received their education at US universities. Many of them cite the diversity of choice and the quality of the curriculum as their motivation for studying in the US. Many are also seeking employment within the United States with a desire to remain here and become US citizens."

Several of the alumni suggested that what will happen with Computer Science is that its curriculum will be modified to accommodate the changing environment. Dan suggested, "I believe that the computer science major in U.S. universities will NEVER be eliminated, but will EVOLVE (like it currently is). There will probably be more emphasis on process, engineering, & design instead of implementation in the future." Ms X agrees, "Computer Science will be just as important in the future, but there will be a shift. I feel a touch of business will be a required part of the curriculum with a focus on communication and diversity. I could see business minors being more common. IUP's Masters in Information Assurance does just this. So much focus is being spent on securing our data, but then we send sensitive support of this data overseas. All we can do is TRUST that the offshore corporations will guarantee the security of our information. The students entering the business world need to understand both sides of this issue." Justin suggests that, "What you may see are some universities looking into combining their Computer Science programs with related disciplines such as Information Systems. This would be to take advantage of strengths of the individual programs, to keep graduation and job placement rates up, and also to make their combined recruiting efforts more viable." Adam is a bit more pessimistic, saying, "[outsourcing] will lessen the enrollment into the curriculum, which is a current trend that will continue for the foreseeable future."

As for the long range forecast for outsourcing, Justin made the only comments in that regard, "Some companies will find (or have already found out) that the perceived cost savings of outsourcing either don't translate onto their balance sheets; or they pay a price in terms of damaged reputation. As more technology jobs are moved overseas, it has a big impact on the economies of the countries that receive the outsourced work. Over time, inflation in those countries will erode the cost savings companies initially sought by outsourcing."

And now for this Fall's question: Should every graduate of a computer science or information science or information technology program be required to have taken a course in Computer/Business Ethics?

This question is prompted by something the department is doing to pursue accreditation of the Languages and Systems track. As with the previous question, I am asking all alumni for their responses and if you want to remain anonymous in your comments, please say so; otherwise, I will assume I may attribute what you say to you.

Send responses to jlwolfe@iup.edu 

Recruitment and Retention

Mike Bigrigg

As I'm sure you have heard, enrollment in computer science here at IUP and across the nation is down, way down. I would like to appeal to the alumni to help. Young students have a lot of questions about computer science from what kind of jobs are possible to what are the implications of outsourcing. The faculty meet with high school students at career fairs, but are not able to visit many high schools to meet with students and address their concerns. We are in need of alumni who can reach out to schools.

We have a presentation that you can take (and customize it to fit your style) to use to present to high schools or middle schools. You may have a son or daughter, niece or nephew, or neighbor going to your local school. This is a great opportunity to convey your knowledge and experience. Contact us or the school guidance counselor. Please also encourage any of your high school or middle school computer science teachers to contact us. It is important for us to understand what their needs are to help educate the students and encourage students to pursue careers in computer science.

One problem the faculty have is that we often do not meet students until they are juniors or seniors - by then, some advice that we could give is useless. For example, I have answered questions from many students that ask how much math is required as a computer science student. They are not so much turned off by the math requirement as by the fact that they have lost the chance to take that math in high school. We can point out that the needed math can be acquired at IUP; but this just makes the students feel like they are behind before they start. If we can reach them earlier, we can steer them in the right direction.

Please contact one of us on the recruitment and retention committee if you are able to help us: Mike Bigrigg (bigrigg@iup.edu) or Rose Shumba (shumba@iup.edu)

Century Club

You can become a member of the IUP Computer Science Department's Century Club. Membership in the Century Club is obtained by pledging at least $100 through the Foundation for IUP for the Computer Science Department. Century Club members will receive a gift (tee shirt, mug, glass, etc.) for their membership each year. The Chair and Carol try to find something new and interesting each year to send as a gift.

A pledge of $100 is less than $10 per mon th.Please consider this opportunity. To join cut off the form in the next column, complete it and commit yourself to giving $100 for 2007. Your gift to the Century Club is tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.

  • Computer Science Department
  • Stright Hall, Room 319
    210 South Tenth Street
    Indiana, PA 15705
  • Phone: 724-357-2524
  • Fax: 724-357-2724
  • Office Hours
  • Monday through Friday
  • 7:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
  • 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.