The Debugger, Summer 2003

  • In This Issue

    From the Chair: Jim Wolfe

    Carol’s Corner: Carol Miller

    News From Tompkins Lab: Joseph Shyrock

    A Plan for Retention of Computer Science Students: Sanwar Ali

    PACISE 2003

    Research with Dr. Ezekiel: Jason Gruber

    May Graduation

    Century Club


    This issue contains some of the usual stuff. I give you an update on what is happening with the department; Carol tells you what is going on with the alumni; and Joe tells you about changes in the computing environment. The picture on the cover might seem a little strange - it is a former willow tree from my back yard. I thought it made the cover more interesting than if I had showed you something that involved the Microsoft debugger or Codeview. Fungus and insect damage were contributing causes to the tree falling over; so the caption seemed to fit.

    There are a few other articles here too. Several pictures from the May graduation ceremony are included; hopefully, they will copy well enough to let the graduates be recognized. If not, you should look at the online version of the issue. There is an article about PACISE and the programming contest; this time, a bit of perspective is provided, rather than just saying, "An IUP team won." The third non-standard offering is an article by Sanwar Ali about a student retainment initiative that he and Soundararajan Ezekiel will be working on. As many of you remember, taking the first couple of Computer Science courses can be a trying experience. The approach is one of providing mentors to help struggling students make it through these courses.

    We also have a rare student-written article in this issue. Jason Gruber who is one of the students doing research with Dr. Ezekiel describes some of the benefits of going to a conference and doing research.

    IUP Homecoming is only a couple of months away. If any of you alumni are in the area on October 11, please join us for a little breakfast and a little reminiscing. Scattered throughout the issue are little reminders to call Carol and let us know you are coming.

    Jim Wolfe, Editor

    From the Chair

    Jim Wolfe

    A lot has happened since the end of March when I last updated you on the state of the department.

    In April, the whole department went to PACISE and one of the IUP programming teams won the programming contest . . . again. See the story later in this issue.

    In May, we had a large group graduating. There is a brief story and several pictures later. A couple weeks after graduation, the event depicted on the cover happened. A large tree in my yard fell over. This turned out to be a long running event. Because of the persistent rains that we have had all summer, the tree service could not remove the tree. It was not until the beginning of July that the mess was totally cleaned up.

    But, back to department activity. In June, both John Cross and Gary Buterbaugh retired with 23 and 31 years of service, respectively. John has already left for Florida where he and his wife Nancy had been planning to retire for years. Gary is still in the area. It is not clear yet what he will be doing next.

    In June and July, I began meeting the students who will be entering as freshmen Computer Science majors in the fall. Can you remember your orientation sessions? I also met with the students who are transferring to IUP Computer Science from other college programs. One thing is obvious - our numbers are down. I'm guessing that we are still suffering from the demise of the .com's and the poor economy. But, whatever the cause, the freshmen class is quite small. I won't have the final numbers for another two weeks, after the late registrations and the international students arrive. I am still anticipating the smallest class in many years.

    Smaller freshmen classes lead to restructuring of the class schedule and have an effect for years afterward. I have spent a lot of time this summer trying to figure out what courses/sections we should be offering for the next semester and for the long haul. There are many variables to take into account: number of majors in each class year, changing requirements for service courses from other departments, curriculum development, retirements and hiring.

    As a consequence of budget cuts that I discussed in previous issues, the department will be allowed to replace only John Cross. Gary Buterbaugh's position has been cut from the department - part of the university's cutback on faculty positions. So, we have to hire one new faculty member over the next year; and in the mean time, we will hire temporary faculty to fill in.

    In August, Bill Oblitey organized another Computer Security Workshop. It attracted about two dozen faculty from a wide area in the eastern U.S. and Canada. The workshop, which changes each year, continues to be very well received by the participants. I suspect we will continue to put on these workshops as long as we can get the grant funding which makes them possible.

    And speaking of grant funding, last time I told you that we hoped to refurbish Stright 220 by putting in new machines. That is now complete; but it turned out that the grant provided even more funding that we expected. As a consequence, we were also able to replace all of the computers in the Tompkins lab and to standardize the computers that we use for demonstration in the classroom. This is greatly simplifying life for Joe Shyrock in one respect - we now have far few machine images that need to be maintained. Speaking of Joe, he does not mention this in his report from Tompkins lab; but one of the new things in his life is that he got married over the summer.

    In the upcoming months, I expect to be personally challenged because of what I will be teaching. I am teaching COSC 250, Numerical Methods. Some of the older alumni may remember the days when COSC 250 was a required course. These days; it is an elective and offered mainly to satisfy the requirements of Applied Math and Physics students. Most of the material in this course involve things that I haven't studied since I had a Numerical Methods course 35 years ago. Consequently, one of my activities this summer has been to sit in the evening and read a good book . . . a calculus book.

    Homecoming Breakfast
    9 am October 11, 2003
    Contact Carol Miller to RSVP
    Do It Now!

    Carol’s Corner

    Carol Miller

    Hi Everyone!! Hope you're enjoying this summer as much as I am. I don't know how the weather has been where you are, but here in Indiana it has been beautiful (except for the rain). The humidity has been low; and it's been good sleeping weather.

    Not much going on here at IUP. John Cross and Gary Buterbaugh both retired this summer and that created a couple vacancies. John Cross has already moved to Florida; and Gary is around but has been off on some trips and just enjoying his new found freedom.

    So, since not much is going on here, let me get right to what's going on in your lives:

    Greg Holtz (5/03) is working for Aeptec Microsystems in Blairsville, PA as a database/web programmer. Congratulations, Greg!! I'm sure you're going to like working there. Also, Greg got married last month, and our congratulations go out to Greg and his new bride. Send pictures!

    Derek Fairman (5/03) landed a job with Raytheon in State College as a Software Engineer. Congratulations go out to you, too, Derek.

    Sara Stroman (5/03) is doing some data entry work and hoping the job market will pick up a bit. She's got a few irons in the fire and plans on taking some certification courses in new languages to help boost her resume and is also considering an internship at the Naval Depot in Mechanicsburg. Everything else is going very well for Sara; and she's been enjoying spending time with her family. Keep us posted, Sara, it's always great to hear from you.

    I reported some time ago that Lola Turnbull (12/81) had become a Methodist minister. Well, recently I heard that Lola had been ordained, so our congratulations to you, Lola; you'll have to send us details.

    Tim Burns (12/90) stopped in one day. It was so good to see him. He hasn't changed a bit since he was a student. I mentioned last time that Tim was in the midst of selling his business (he wrote software packages for pharmacies) and now he's a man of leisure well, for the summer at any rate. He wants to spend some time with his family since he didn't see as much of them as he would have liked while he was getting his business going. He was Indiana to see a friend of his and decided to drop in and say hello. Stop in again, Tim.

    Skip Benamati (5/84) had a couple major events in his life, the biggest of which is that Skip and his wife, Mandy, had their first child, Reid Campbell Benamati. Reid was born June 1st. He weighed 7 lbs, 7 oz. and was 20.5 inches long. He was welcomed into loving arms; and the new family is doing great. Skip also sent pictures (even though I did have to prod him a bit but just a bit). Reid is an absolutely beautiful boy no question! Congratulations, Skip and Mandy! The other big news is that Skip received tenure from Miami University (in Ohio) where he has been teaching for the last several years. And, congratulations on that event, too Skip! Thanks for keeping us posted; and please bring the family by when you're in the neighborhood.

    Brian Geibel (12/00) stopped in one day he was in Indiana for a wedding. Brian had also sent me a nice e-mail update. After graduation, Brian was hired by AIMS Logistics in Collierville, TN in a programming position. AIMS Logistics is an industry leader in freight payment and has recently been named #159 on the INC 500 fast growing companies. After programming for a year, Brian was promoted to Operations IT Project Lead; and he now manages four other people. Brian credits his job success to Dr. Shubra's classes and his attitude (?). Brian's other big news is that he met and married a beautiful southern belle who took his breath away at first sight. Her name is Christina; and they are blissfully wed. Congratulations, Brian!!! Please stop in next time you're in the area and bring Christina (who was unable to make this trip).

    Another (fairly) newly married man is Jason Wiest ( 12/00). He married Shawna Mawhinney in April 2001. Jason is working for Merck Pharmaceuticals in West Point, PA and working along with Jason are Cameron Linthicum (5/00), Adam Canigiani (5/01) and Jennifer (Baldwin) Taylor (5/91). They all work in an IS group of about sixty and sometimes work together. Jason works in the Merck Vaccine Division on their customer database in Visual Basic, PL/SQL, Java and on the Oracle back end. He absolutely loves the work and can't imagine doing anything different. They built a house in February a four bedroom, two and half bath with a den for Jason (so he can work from home) and a full basement. It's located in Morgantown PA, so Jason has about an hour's commute; but they love the area; and he loves his job. So he's willing to make the sacrifice; and he is not planning on going any where in the near future. So, life has been good for Jason; and he wouldn't change a thing. That's great to hear, Jason; and we hope all continues in the same vein. Keep us posted.

    Josh Beers (5/99) also sent me an update. In September of 1999, he was hired by the U.S. Navy Fleet Material Support Office (FMSO), located on the Naval base in Mechanicsburg PA. He was brought in with a group of twenty other people through their Outstanding Scholar Program which allowed anyone to be eligible for an IT job, regardless of major, as long as their GPA was over a 3.49. He was pretty bored (actually, he didn't say he was bored, he said "things were quiet") for the next couple months while the people who weren't Computer Science or MIS majors went through training classes to see where they would best fit with the Navy's IT work and to teach them some IT basics. Needless to say, Josh had been well prepared by his IUP classes; but, he did get to teach a class on programming basics to help the other new hires.

    Once the initial training period was over, Josh was assigned to work in the Data Warehousing branch as a data architect which he continued for the next 3+ years, working with Oracle (PL/SQL and databases), UNIX scripts, and a commercial extraction, transformation and loading (ETL) tool called Informatica. He helped put up four data warehouses that helped track different aspects of the Navy's inventory. Josh has also been able to get some on-the-job traveling in - to places like Atlanta, San Diego, New Orleans, Norfolk (where he got an opportunity to tour the USS Enterprise), Washington DC and Philadelphia. In the last six months, he started working with SAP's data warehousing tool, SAP Business Warehouse, but wasn't too thrilled with it.

    Josh was really hoping to do programming after graduating and hadn't done much for a while; so he started to scout new opportunities and recently changed to another command on the Navy base and has begun PERL programming to do data conversions for a Department of Defense wide legacy system consolidation effort (for Navy, Air Force and Army systems). His new command is the Defense Security Assistance Development Center (DSADC), which is responsible for equipment sales to foreign militaries and providing training to foreign troops. So far, he likes it quite a bit and is finally starting to get back into the swing of programming. Technically, Josh is still a FMSO employee and is on loan for 18 months or so to DSADC; but he's kind of hoping it will turn into a permanent position (not only because he likes the work, but the pay scale is higher for DSADC employees). And he would continue to enjoy every other Friday off thanks to his flexible work schedule. On a personal note, Josh has recently started shopping for a townhouse and is doing his best to deal with the single life. Thanks, Josh, for updating me. Please continue to do so on a regular basis!

    I heard from Kurt Manecke (5/90). I probably mentioned a year or so ago that Kurt wanted to move back to this area to be closer to their families, now that they have children. Anyway, I just discovered that they've already moved back. His wife's employer gave her the green light to work from home and so they decided Kurt would quit his job; they would move back to the area and Kurt would look for another job when they got here. Well, when Kurt approached his employer to tell him he was leaving, his employer made him the offer to work from home. So, they're happy campers all around. In fact, they bought a house right across 13th Street; and we expect them to drop in from time to time.

    Bonnie Slowik (5/96) gave me a call one day. She's now working for Concurrent Technologies in Johnstown and has been there since March. That was all the news she had this time, but maybe next time we hear from Bonnie, she'll have something more exciting for us. Thanks, Bonnie, I appreciate you keeping in touch.

    Mike Gutzat (5/87) is no longer job hunting. He has a new job as a Principal for a company called Unigey LLC which is a small firm in Lancaster PA . He was developing a portal for one client and preparing to work on a major contract they won with the Department of Education for the State of Pennsylvania. The project will last at least a year, and they can renew for up to five years. Mike has been commuting to Harrisburg (a two-hour commute). They will eventually relocate to Lancaster (which would cut the commute to about forty minutes). They aren't sure when that will happen since Mary is starting back to work part time when Zachary starts pre-school this fall. She will have a commitment until the end of the year; and they won't be relocating until then. Meanwhile, they did take the kids on a mini-vacation to Niagra Falls and 6 Flags Darian Lake as an end-of-school celebration. It was a great adventure; and the kids loved it. Updating the kids Ryan has finished 3rd grade, Rachel finished 1st grade and Zachary is getting ready for preschool. Rachel, who turned seven, is active in Girl Scouts; and Ryan, age nine, has advanced into Webelos. Zachary is their daredevil child and enjoys everything and really keeps them hopping. Thanks Mike! Keep in Touch.

    Had an e-mail update from Jim Butler (8/88). He started off by telling me his son, Adam, just graduated from Central High School in Martinsburg PA. I'm sure he didn't really mean to make me feel THAT old, but he did. Jim used to bring Adam in to visit occasionally when Jim was a student and Adam was a toddler. Adam is going to be attending IUP in the fall as a Communications Media major. He's also doing an internship at Concurrent Technologies Corporation (which is where Jim works) this summer. Jim's other son, Ryan, turned three in January. His mom, Bonnie, is a stay-at-home mom so the two of them are having a great time. As for work, Jim says things are moving along pretty well. He is managing several projects one for the Navy that he just kicked off and another for one of their Washington DC based clients. Jim also told me that Mark Shay (5/88) started work at CTC this year. He's working on another project; but they see each other frequently. Jim also passes along the information that CTC is hiring mainly for experienced engineers and especially those with government clearances. There is work in Johnstown and the Washington DC/Baltimore MD Metro area. Thanks for the update, Jim, and the job information.

    Also had a call from Jimmie Joseph (12/84). I think the last time we heard from Jimmie he was working on his Ph.D. at Pitt. Well, he got it; and, since last August, has been teaching at the University of Texas at El Paso in the College of Business. Before that he taught for three years at Old Dominion University in Norfolk VA and also served as a visiting professor at Duquesne University for one year. From the sounds of it, I think maybe Jimmie will be staying in El Paso. He just bought a chunk of land; and I think he might be planning the next Ponderosa (and I don't mean the restaurant). Of course, he was also telling me he owns a house near Norfolk that fronts on the Chesapeake Bay and with the back porch a stone's throw from the back bay. He said he hasn't had the heart to sell it and right now is renting it. At any rate, Jimmie sounds like he's happy and is having a good time. So, keep it up and keep in touch! Thanks for letting me know what you're up to.

    Surprise, Surprise I heard from Colleen (Brawdy) Pelzer (12/95). The last time I heard from Colleen, she was about to get married. Turns out that was four years ago. Colleen is now working for Merck & Co. in blue Bell PA where she is the lead developer for a number of different vaccine compounds. She has been at Merck four years, first as a contractor and then they bought her contract a few years ago. Colleen now has two children and another one on the way. Kylie is almost three, Kristen is almost two. Number three is due October 3rd. Colleen said she thought working all night and going to school in the day time was tough until she had two and a fraction kids, age three and under. She loves them though and says they give you a whole new perspective on life. The family just got back from a trip to Disney World a trip Colleen won on the radio earlier this year. I'm sure you needed the vacation, Colleen. It was so good to hear from you, please keep in touch and let me know when you have the baby.

    I had a nice long e-mail from Dennis Depp (5/85) which I am more than happy to share. About 18 months ago, Dennis left SAIC and returned to work at Oak Ridge National Lab. When he worked at the lab previously, he was employed by Lockheed Martin. The lab is now managed by UT-Battelle, a joint partnership between the University of Tennessee and Battelle. He moved to SAIC when Lockheed Martin outsourced their IT to SAIC. He started working at ORNL in October 2001. He was hired to lead ORNL's migration to Active Directory which they completed in June 2002. It was quite successful and his team earned a Significant Event Award (SEA) for their efforts (and a bonus). Since completing the migration to Active Directory, he has implemented a desktop backup system and is now working on migrating ORNL's e-mail system to Microsoft Exchange (from POP using PMDF and IMAP using Cyrus) and implementing a patch system using Microsoft's System Management Server.

    In addition to the projects Dennis is working on, the lab was moving to a new computer room starting mid June. ORNL is one of the leading supercomputer centers in the US; and they have been chosen to get the newest supercomputer, a Cray EX-1 which will be the world's second fastest computer (behind a Japanese one). Dennis said he doesn't get to work with the supercomputers much; but they are the reason for their new computer center. After the computers are moved, their offices will be moved.

    Dennis says there is very little of what he learned in his undergraduate education that has been of use to him since he is heavily involved in Systems Management and has been for the past eleven years. He's recently become more involved with computer security. In December 2001, he attended SANS training for Windows Networking. After training, he had to complete a twenty page practicum and then pass two tests, one on Windows NT 4.0 and one on Windows 2000. After completing all this he became certified in GIAC Windows networking, GCWN; and his scores were high enough that he was asked to join the GGWN Advisory Board. Congratulations on that, Dennis!

    Dennis' wife, Terry, also works at ORNL as a librarian. They've been married for twelve years and have three children Arron Moonyhan is 22 and is in the US Army at Ft. Polk, Ashlee Moonyhan is 17 and a junior in high school and is hoping to go to college to study journalism. Their youngest son, Garrett, is 8 years old and in the second grade. He recently earned a black belt in TaeKwonDo and is very protective of his father. Dennis and Terry have lived in Knoxville, TN since they were married and have lived in their current house for almost seven years. Dennis, thanks so much for the update, I really enjoyed hearing from you.

    Mike Lancaster (5/02) stopped in one day he was in the area. In the last Debugger, I mentioned that the job Mike was then doing for Equitable Resources was about to expire and that he had another job lined up with Equitable Production to work as a contract-to-hire for about a month and then become a full time employee. Well, that's what happened, and Mike really likes the job. Glad you're having fun, Mike. Please stop in when you're in the area.

    Jaunita Burdett (12/01) dropped in one day. Actually, it was the day after Easter cause she had the day off (and I didn't). I think I mentioned in one of the previous issues that Jaunita was teaching part time in Pittsburgh at the School of Creative and Performance Arts. She's teaching Spanish. So I guess it's fair to say that Jaunita's computer science education got her back in the field of teaching. She's also doing some classes in stage makeup. She's planning a trip to Cape Cod this summer to meet the new baby son of a friend and her husband. Have fun you guys!

    Matt Handwork (12/00) stopped in one day with Gage. I hadn't seen Gage in about a year; he sure has grown; and he's just as cute as can be. We played with puzzles and cars while he was here; and he talked a blue streak. Matt started working for Concurrent Technologies in Johnstown and, so far, he really likes the work. Matt, thanks so much for stopping in and please drop by any time.

    On March 27, the Computer Science Club held "Alumni Night" and I was invited to go to Benjamin's with them. We had a wonderful dinner and then came back to Stright Hall and Jon Albinini (5/82); Janie (Pike) Kustaborder (5/92); Randy Strayer (5/84) and Micki Hart (5/91) spoke to students and faculty about their experiences and positions since leaving IUP. It was great fun and so nice to see everyone.

    Mike Elder (5/93) and Lori took the kids to Disney World and sent some pictures. They look liked they were having a blast. Glad you had a good time guys. Thanks for the pictures!

    Jane (Cunningham) Harnagy (5/87) stopped one day with Bob and Olivia, Isabel and Reagan. I hadn't met any of the rest of the family. Those kids are SO cute. Olivia just talked and talked; and I just loved it. Isabel and Reagan just looked at me like I was maybe in the zoo (have to wonder what their mother told them!); but all three of those kids are adorable. Jane and Bob have now moved to the state of Washington. Jane said Isabel is a real live wire and a climber while Reagan is the sly dog. She said just when you think he's all mild mannered and sweet, he chomps some flesh out of Isabel or goes fishing in the toilet. Bob is working in Hoquiam and they are renting a beach house on one side of the beach while their real house is being built on the other side of the beach in Ocean Shores. Sounds like the Harnagy's have the best of all worlds. I don't think I'll make it out this summer, Jane; I've just had too many things going on all summer long. But, thanks so much for the invitation. Maybe next year?

    Jason Barto (5/01) has been doing some tutoring for us in his spare time and it's much appreciated. Jason is working at AEPTEC in Blairsville and is living here in Indiana. I haven't actually seen Jason since he does his tutoring in the evenings; but we really are glad to know you're helping us Jason; and hopefully we can the tutoring started back up in the fall. I know summer wasn't too successful. Thanks again for your help.

    Chris Eberly (5/81) and his family stopped in one day for a visit. His trip to Indiana was for a family reunion plus an extra special reason his parents' 50th wedding anniversary. There was a party scheduled at Rustic Lodge. Chris' parents lived in Indiana for many years and have relatives here. Chris and his family live in Warrrenton, VA. He's self-employed, working on a contract as a program manager for the Department of Defense, Partners in Flight, which is involved in bird conservation. The website is so take a look at what Chris is up to. He said he's now doing something he hasn't done in a long time, using a computer. He does database and GIS. He's been married for fifteen years to Debbie and they have three children, Alex who is seven, Jacob who is four and Leah who is one. Those kids are really cute and really well behaved. We had fun while they were here. Debbie is a stay-at-home mom and home schools the kids. She does teach a "jazzercize" class on occasion. It was really good to see you, Chris. Please stop in again.

    Adnan Al Ghourabi (5/02) just finished his 3rd quarter at RIT. He took three classes and said he rarely had free time to do fun things. He also said RIT doesn't have Windows all the machines are either SUNs or MACs. Adnan also sends compliments to IUP for preparing him so well for his master's program. And, the good thing is, he only has one more course left and then his master's project. He's hoping to be finished by February or May, 2004. Meanwhile, he was looking for a co-op for summer and fall. He's thinking he might do his project in wireless networking since right now there's quite a bit of research being done in this area. Good luck to you, Adnan; and thanks for the update.

    Dave Wagner (12/84) walked in here the other day and I couldn't believe it!! It's been quite a few years since he's stopped in. Dave is working at in Seattle; and his entire family is much happier there than they were in Minnesota. Dave's wife, Georgine, and the kids, Tom and Victoria were with him. Dave is originally from Bethel Park; and they were back visiting Dave's family. Dave met Georgine when he was working on a project in England where she is from, and he swept her off her feet (well, more likely the other way around). And, are you ready for the best part??? Willie Lewis (5/84) is working at Amazon for Dave. I don't know how many of you remember the Willie/Dave combination when they were here at IUP; but if they're anything like that now (and I have no doubt they are) you have to have some pity for Amazon. Hey, Dave, it was great to see you. And, "Uncle Willie" when you're in the area, you stop in, too. We'd love to see you.

    Our condolences to Bruce Weinsheimer (12/78) and his family on the death of Bruce's wife, Susan. They met here at IUP when both were students. Their son, Adam, is now a student here at IUP. We're all very sorry to hear of your loss, Bruce.

    That seems to be the news for this summer. Hope you all enjoy what's left of it and please write or call and tell me everything

    [Ed. Note: Carol has written this article three times. The hard drive on her computer crashed just as she was about to finish. She was hoping that the backup would give her nearly everything. Unfortunately, the backup was not recent enough. She started piecing together the article from her e-mail. Finally, she found a nearly complete paper copy that she used to rebuild it. Just goes to show that even the Computer Science department is susceptible to data loss like everyone else.]

    Homecoming Breakfast
    9 am October 11, 2003
    Contact Carol Miller to RSVP
    Do It Now!

    News From Tompkins Lab

    Joseph Shyrock

    The fall semester is upon us; and this always brings changes to IUP. This fall semester is no different! Among these changes are new computers for Stright 220. In conjunction with the cyber security grant, the Classroom of the Future will be used for cyber security instruction along with the normal classroom laboratory (in Stright 107). The new machines are equipped with 3 GHz processors and 512MB of RAM, 80 Gig drives, cd-r burners, 250MB Zip disks, and 17" flat panel display monitors. There are 31 total machines including the instructor station .

    The Stright 220 lab will run Windows XP, while the Stright 107 lab runs Linux. Both labs are isolated from the university network so that security-related tasks (packet sniffing, various network attacks, etc.) can be done without interfering with normal IUP network operations. When Stright 220 is not in use for a security-related course, it will be available for other programming classes which do not need access to the Internet.

    Tompkins lab is also getting new machines that are similar to those in Stright 220. Tompkins lab will be equipped with 17 new machines. These machines will support the regular Computer Science curriculum.

    University computing is switching to a single domain, the result of going to active directories. This means that students, staff, and faculty will no longer log into systems via IUPMSD1 or IUPMSD2 domains. They will now log into the single domain IUPMSD.

    Another change in the campus computing model is the e-mail addresses. This will probably be the most popular among students. This will mean no more e-mail addresses like E-mail addresses will now be the student's first and last name (separated by a dot), as in The change will also occur for faculty. Common names like John Smith will have e-mail addresses like John.Smith, John.Smith1, John.Smith2, etc.

    I will keep everyone updated as more computing news comes available. Have a nice fall semester; and maybe I'll see some of you during homecoming! 

    A Plan for Retention of Computer Science Students

    Sanwar Ali

    Recently, two Computer Science faculty members, Sanwar Ali (director) and Raj Ezekiel (co-director) received a SSHE Diversity grant for the amount of $26,612. The grant will continue for two years. The proposal describes two methods to improve the current retention problem in the Computer Science Department at IUP. The first method is to create a comprehensive tutoring program using student instructors under the supervision of the program directors. By utilizing peers as tutors, we feel students will feel more welcome in the tutoring environment and feel less apprehensive when seeking assistance. We want to build a system where help is available on a regular basis during scheduled times. The tutoring environment is open to all students who seek help without any prior appointment and at no cost to them.

    The second method is to create a peer-mentoring program within the department for incoming freshmen. The goal of the peer mentoring program is to match freshman with experienced and skilled junior and senior students in a mentoring role. Mentors will function as tutors who are available for supplementary instruction as well as "peer-advisors" that can aid with the general stresses and issues that the incoming students face. We feel that the strength in this program lies in the peer relationship between mentees and mentors and the high level of personalized attention that mentors will be able to pay their mentees. This type of attention is nearly impossible for faculty members to give to their advisees because of the time constraints that they face. The faculty has, on average, 35 advisees assigned to them during any given semester. We hope to be able to assign only 2-5 mentees to an individual mentor. In such a personal relationship, students can feel free to express their troubles and frustrations to someone who has successfully navigated the freshman experience. This will also generate more retention data that can be fed back into the retention system

    The focus of these two efforts is to increase the success of freshman students in two introductory courses, such as COSC 105 Fundamentals of Computer Science and COSC 110 Programming and Problem Solving with C++ in which incoming students experience difficulties.  From the beginning of Fall 2003, we will be hiring paid tutors and mentors, primarily from junior and senior class, who are experienced and skilled programmers in C++. Hiring will be done on a competitive basis based on their course work and GPA. Those who are qualified for these positions should please contact Dr. Ali immediately.

    Homecoming Breakfast
    9 am October 11, 2003
    Contact Carol Miller to RSVP
    Do It Now! 

    PACISE 2003

    PACISE, the Pennsylvania Association of Computer and Information Science Educators, has a conference each year in the Spring. This year's event was at Shippensburg. (PACISE is a faculty organization among the SSHE universities.) A fair summary of the conference is that IUP took it by storm.

    IUP faculty or students provided more than 1/3 of the presentations (nine faculty and three students made presentations). In addition, one of our student programming teams won the programming contest which is held every year with the conference. You may not be keeping track; but, this is the fifth year in a row that an IUP programming team has won.

    The students who presented were Derek Fairman, Matt Strausser, and Mike Rhoades. Derek's talk was about the department Web site - he was the principal student maintainer of the site last year. Matt's talk was about the class project in the Software Engineering course. Mike's talk was about Trojan horses - he is in the information assurance program.

    The winning program team consisted of Mike Rhoades, Geoff Humphreys, and Zach Palmer. They won despite the fact that there were many administrative problems during the contest. Some of these problems had very negative effects on some teams, including our other team which consisted of Matt Barrick, Andrew Grasmeder, and Jason Brown.

    Here is the PACISE programming contest winning history for the past five years.

    Spring 2003 at Shippensburg
    Zach Palmer, Mike Rhoades, Geoff Humphreys

    Spring 2002 at Slippery Rock
    Matt Barrick, Andrew Grasmeder, Jason Brown

    Spring 2001 at Edinboro
    Yiming Sun, Andrew Grasmeder

    Spring 2000 at IUP
    Yiming Sun, Jim Culp, Gautam Swaminathan

    Spring 1999 at Millersville
    Drew Dormann and Simone Thomas

    Over this time, the programming teams have been coached by three of the faculty. Tia Watts, then Tom Cunningham, and now Leem Shim were the coaches. 

    Research with Dr. Ezekiel

    Jason Gruber

    I started working with Dr. Ezekiel about half way through the Fall '02 semester. Since I started working with him, I've helped out with several different areas of study. This has helped me gain a better understanding of how computers work and get some hands on experience in several different real-world computer applications. Also, the research experience will be extremely helpful in my years to come as a graduate student, as a lot of time will be spent in research as well as writing papers. It's also interesting to have the chance to do something that I could get published, also beneficial to getting into a graduate school.

    Recently, I had a chance to present some of my research at a local conference. I presented a paper titled "Stock Market Data Analysis Using Rescaled Range (R/S) Analysis." With my partner, Matthew Selnekovic, we analyzed stock market data to try to give some statistical insights about non-stationary signals.

    The conference was a lot of fun. It took a fair amount of work to get the research ready for the conference; however, once there, it was fun to get together with people who had done research on different topics and see what kind of results they had obtained. And although it was more of a business conference, there were a couple computer related areas. One guy wrote a program to check how stable a COBOL program theoretically should be; and another studied the advantages of computer based instruction.

    I had personally done some research into the CBI area, and intend on using it later in my professional life, so that speech was especially interesting. Along with getting to listen in on some other fields of research, the conference also allowed me to get to know some of my fellow researchers from other institutions a little better, and to build my social network for the future. Though it does take up a lot of time I have enjoyed my time working with Dr. Ezekiel and the rest of the students in the research group, and look forward to more time with the group while I'm studying at IUP. Hopefully, I'll be able to make it to some more conferences, maybe to some more exotic locals than just Pittsburgh.

    Homecoming Breakfast
    9 am October 11, 2003
    Contact Carol Miller to RSVP
    Do It Now! 

    May Graduation

    There was a very large group of students who graduated in May. This presented an unexpected problem for the department's graduation ceremony. As many of you know, we usually manage to get College Lodge for the department ceremony; however, this year we were beaten to it by someone who was having a wedding or reception there. Carol tried to find an alternative location, but the expected number who would attend was too large to fit in most available locations.

    After a lot of searching, we found that one of the churches down town had a large banquet room that was available. It also turned out that they were willing to cater the lunch which we had as part of the ceremony.

    Here are a few pictures of the graduates. They are not that good - I was learning the limitations of the digital camera I was using. But, I did manage to improve them a bit in post-production (playing with the photo editor software). Unfortunately, the only pictures I have of a couple of the graduates (Eric Wells and Adam Steigert) were too fuzzy to print.

    Comp Sci May 2003 grad1
    Back row: Eric Wells, Farid Zerfa, George Shickler, Justin Elkin (the only one recognizable), Brad Oaks
    Front row: Simone Thomas, Anita Eruchie, Baiyan Huang, Chris Wastchak, Brad Fetkovich, Matt Uhron
    Seated: Sara Stroman

    Comp Sci May 2003 grad2
    Back row: Matt Uhron, Jason Brown, Matt Barrick
    Front row: Brad Oaks, Mike Cassatt

    Comp Sci May 2003 grad3
    Back row: George Shickler, Justin Elkin, Brad Oaks, Greg Holtz, Jason Brown
    Front row: Chris Wastchak, Brad Fetkovich, Matt Uhron, Derek Fairman
    Seated: Sara Stroman

    Comp Sci May 2003 grad4
    Anita Eruchie, Farid Zerfa, Baiyan Huang

    Because I needed an extra page, I thought I would include a fairly recent picture of the faculty (missing Bill Oblitey and Tess O'Neil). Because many of the faces are new, this will give you a chance at seeing what nearly everyone looks like. The picture is from the department Web site; but it is somewhat fuzzy.

    Comp Sci faculty 2003
    Back Row: Gary Buterbaugh, Soundararajan Ezekiel, Waleed Farag, Leem Shim, John Cross
    Front Row: Jim Wolfe, Mary Micco, Rose Shumba, Charley Shubra, Sanwar Ali 

    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 month. Please consider this opportunity. To join cut off the form in the next column, complete it and commit yourself to giving $100 for 2003 or 2004. Your gift to the Century Club is tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.