This issue is a rather short one. As Bill Oblitey explains in his article, the unexpected departure of Mike Bigrigg has led to the Summer issue being both late and abbreviated. I literally, threw this together in a few days and did not have time to pursue others for additional articles. I will try to make the Fall issue a more normal one.
One reason for the shortness this time is that Carol has received so few updates from alumni. Her article is about half the length it usually is. There was also only one response to the question I posed in the "Your 2 Cents" feature. I tried to make up for that a bit by throwing in my two cents. But that is short also.
The front cover shows a graph of the percentage of college freshmen who list Computer Science as a probable major in the Fall of each listed year. It comes from a national survey by the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA and was reported in the CRA Bulletin in February. If the graph were separated by sex, it would show an even more distressing decline among women entering college. There appears possibly to be a cycle; if so, I hope we are at the bottom of the decline and the percentage is about to go up. See "Your 2 Cents" for more.
Jim Wolfe, Editor
Hello everyone, kindly permit me to use my column to bring you up to how things are faring in the department.
To start with, I'm pleased to share with you that the Computer Science Club has picked up some momentum and the students involved seem to be having fun. Last Spring, we sent five of them to the ACM-SIGCSE conference in Lexington, Kentucky. They came back asking why we do not do that very often. The students are excited about having diverse programs, and they welcome ideas from you. I want to challenge you to come visit the club and relate to the students what you have been doing since you graduated. You can also come and discuss the hobbies and/or projects that have been occupying your time, especially those that you want to brag about. The faculty will also enjoy your visit and I promise to take you to some very nice restaurant.
Our interdisciplinary Masters in Information Assurance program has met with another glitch. Our Provost thought the program would be too expensive to run, in light of the poor performance of other graduate programs on campus that she had examined, so she has requested that we place ours on hold. We think it will be eventually abandoned. Our thinking on this line is strongly supported by the fact that the faculty complement we requested to help in teaching the Master's program has been withdrawn. We have also had another complement withdrawn: The efforts we made last semester to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Dr. Mary Micco attracted over seventy applicants and we brought four finalists to campus for interview. The two we selected turned us down with the usual apologies, but the down side was that after the failed search, the complement was withdrawn from us with low enrollments as the excuse.
For the past few years, we have not been offering Summer classes in the 200-level and beyond. Perhaps this is a good thing as students need to work in the Summer to gain money to continue with their classes. The enrollments in the Summer are quite good for our service courses but not for our major Computer Science courses. I still recall when we could not distinguish Summers from the regular semesters because the Summer classes were as filled as the regular semesters as many of you wanted to double up and graduate ahead of time. Maybe we have to instill such ambition into our current students.
Our freshmen enrollment into Computer Science this year is again not much to brag about. The quality of the students is quite good but there are a few who will need remedial Math and some coaching. Hopefully, the Computer Science Club will take this on, as in days of old. I scheduled five sections of the COSC 105 - Fundamentals of Computer Science - course in the hope of an onslaught into the program because we were hearing of such positive interests. However, I had to cancel one of these COSC 105 sections and the four remaining sections still have seats in them, although they are all close to being filled. Enrollment is still of concern to me. Companies come to campus asking us why we are not turning out enough graduates. We are, therefore, getting intensely involved in recruiting at the High Schools. Mike Bigrigg and I were also discussing ways of ensuring retention of our already enrolled students. [Ed Note: See reason for past tense below]
The work on gaining ABET accreditation is still going on. Sanwar Ali has been placed in charge of seeing that we are well prepared and in position to gain this accreditation. We are getting ready to invite our consultant, Paul Sible to campus again to examine what we have and provide suggestions. Paul Sible is a faculty member in the Computer Science Department at California University of Pennsylvania. He successfully took his department at California University through accreditation, and we feel that his knowledge and experience will help us in our quest to gain the accreditation. We had him on campus a year ago and his suggestions were very helpful.
I'd like to encourage our alumni to consider coming to campus to present at our colloquia. The topic should be of your choice but computer related. Our colloquia are usually held on Wednesdays starting at 3:30 pm and they normally go from 30 to 45 minutes. If you are interested, get in touch with our colloquia coordinator, Waleed Farag (firstname.lastname@example.org) to discuss your topic and available times so he can arrange for you to be scheduled for a presentation. Our colloquia can also serve as a helpful recruiting tool for your company. One person from the company could do a presentation on a computer related topic and another talk about what students should expect if they were to work at your company. I hope many of you will take advantage of this opportunity and I look forward to hearing from all of you.
I want to finish my column with a bit of sad news. We have just lost Mike Bigrigg as a faculty member and it pains the rest of the faculty to have lost him. Mike was hired on condition that he complete his doctoral degree by last December. However, his doctoral adviser got ill and so he was granted an extension to this August. He's done with the dissertation but needs time for some editorial work and to get his committee together for defense. Unfortunately, IUP wouldn't wait any longer and terminated his appointment. Mike has been extremely instrumental in our program for the short time he has been with us (including the time he taught for us as a temp.) Mike took charge of our recruitment and retention committee and used a poster campaign to show students the careers they can pursue and to show students taking service courses the attractions of the discipline. He was adviser to the Computer Science Floor and to the Student Advisory Group. He organized a few meetings and pizza parties on the floor that we all enjoyed with the students. He was in the process of introducing a brand new service course to meet the newly proposed liberal studies program, and now it seems we are not going to have that course in the program. We know he will be successful in defending his dissertation and we wish him the best. Meanwhile, CMU has capitalized on our mistake; and they have hired him on a research project.
9 am October 13, 2007
Contact Carol Miller to RSVP
Do It Now!
Hi Everyone. Well, summer is almost over; and, as usual, it seems like it just started. I don't know about the rest of you, but I've had a pretty nice summer. We've had a few hot days, but for the most part, it's been rather pleasant this summer.
I can tell that most of you are having a busy summer because I haven't heard from very many of you. I'm sure that will change in the fall when you write to tell me about your summer trips, or non trips, whatever you did. OR, you can come to the alumni breakfast and tell me in person - always an option, you know.
The fall semester is fast approaching and one of the reasons we'll be looking forward to fall is because Kris Seigworth (12/97) will hopefully be coming to
present a colloquium for the department and we're looking forward to seeing her. Her colloquium is probably going to be on something like mainframes and large systems and software development. Since Kris works for IBM, it should be interesting.
I got one of those OH MY GOSH moments recently when I got an e-mail from Bill Capone (8/91). You know, one of those people I never hear from!! He had a bit of catching up to do - actually not all that much for as long as it has been (yes I AM rubbing it in). For the past 7 1/2 years Bill has been working for CTC in Johnstown, but he still lives here in Indiana. He and his wife, Kitten, bought a house over in the Monticello area. They have a twelve year old son Nicholas (Nick). Bill and Nick are taking Tae Kwon-Do together and last year they both started taking piano lessons. Bill also plays and referees hockey games usually including a few IUP games throughout the season in addition to High School and amateur games. And, on top of that, he occasionally races bicycles. I mentioned last time that Bill's father had passed away and Bill gave me a little tidbit that his father had coached the IUP hockey team years ago (back when the team's home ice was in Kittanning). At CTC, Bill has been working on the Advanced Distributed Learning project which he says, in a nutshell, is all about e-learning. Bill is a Senior Software Engineer at CTC and is the Task Lead for a product called the Conformance Test Suite which is used to test e-learning products. He's doing most of his programming in Java, HTML and XML.. He said MAYBE he'd stop in one day and say hi. I won't hold my breath - I'll wait for the big surprise - just like his e-mail. Thanks for the update Bill - it was really great to hear from you.
I had a really nice visit from Becky (Salter) Corindia (12/94), her husband, Dan, and daughter Kiri. They were in PA visiting Becky's relatives and doing a little camping. Dan will soon be going into training in Arkansas. Kiri is just a little joy to have and we had fun doing puzzles while they were here. It was great seeing you, Becky; and it was great meeting Dan and Kiri!! Stop in any time and keep me posted on how things are going.
I heard from Melissa Karolewski (5/07). She was hired by Lockheed Martin after graduation and moved to Royersford, PA. She was undergoing training when she wrote; and we all know how that is; but she thinks she's going to like it. She works four nine hour days and Friday mornings but then has Friday afternoon off. She also sent pictures of her apartment and it is gorgeous! It was great hearing from you, Missy, keep in touch!
Got an update from Vickie (Pearce) Ringhoff (12/94). The kids (both 2 and 4 footed) are doing well. Rylee is happy and healthy and doing well. She's a little bitty thing - 26.5 inches and 17 lbs at her nine month checkup. She has 8 teeth and she is now on the move and keeping her parents busy. Tico is also doing well and is very best friends with Rylee but is a little jealous of her. Also happy to report the happy, but exhausted parents got a much deserved night out. While Vickie's parents stayed at their house with Rylee (and Tico), she and Jeremy went to the Jimmy Buffett concert and then spent the night at a hotel (Jeremy surprised her with that). Best part - they both got the first sleep they'd had in months. They both still work at FedEx Ground. Vickie works two days in the office and two days at home (4 ten hour days). Vickie said it's challenging but it's a good balance and she's fortunate to be able to do that. They also have a big vacation planned for September. They'll be taking Rylee to Myrtle Beach for a week, along with both sets of parents. That probably means Jeremy and Vickie will be able get out and do a few things on their own. Have a great time! Thank you SO much, Vickie for the pictures and update. Keep them coming. If anyone would like to take a look at pictures go to http://www.picturetrail.com/vickpics
Jane (Cunningham) Harnagy (5/87) sent me a wonderful picture. It was a picture of their deck and the ocean waves were in the background and a Bald Eagle was sitting on a branch in their yard. Jane said it, flies through most days and they think it lives on the bay side. What a charmed life that girl leads!! I heard through the grapevine that Jane and Bob now have pizza shop under their belts. I mentioned before that they had bought an ice cream shop, well now they've bought the pizza shop that is right beside it. So, now when you're in Ocean Shores, Washington, you can have pizza and then dessert. Thanks Jane for the wonderful picture. That was awesome.
Kari (Robson) Behune (5/98) and Greg and Braden had a 4th of July party. Kari, you'll have to let me know how it went. I can't remember if I told everyone that Kari and Greg had moved. They were living right off Rt. 28 on Rt. 908 going into Pittsburgh; and they've moved to the Ford City area.
Dave Pazzaglia (5/04). I don't know where you are, but if I did I could have given your name to the company that called and wanted to hire you. I hope they found you. At any rate, I'd say it's time for an update.
Also heard from Tim Bassett (8/02). Tim is working at NDIC in Johnstown; and he's looking for a couple of his school mates - Dave Searfass (5/01) and Mark Rawlinson (5/01); and, since I haven't, I told Tim I would put out an SOS for them to contact Tim at Timothy.Bassett@usdoj.gov So if either of you two are listening, contact Tim. Tim interned with Dave and Mark at Seabury & Smith in 2002 and has since lost contact. I also found out that Tim's brother is a senior here in Economics. It sure was nice to hear from you, Tim, and I hope you hear from Dave and Mark. Or, I hope I hear from them and can pass along some information. Better still, maybe we'll both hear from them.
I send out a great big welcome to Elijah Nicholas Washchak who was born May 7 and weighing in at 9 lbs, 14 oz and he was 23 inches long. His proud parents are Chris (5/03) and Jennie. And that's one big baby!!!! Congratulations to Chris and Jennie and also to Elijah's big sister, Charlee. Doesn't it seem just like yesterday that I announced the arrival of Charlee? Chris and Jennie sent pictures. The pictures were on Snapfish and I don't know how to send them along for everybody to see. But, he sure is a cutie and so is Charlee. Bring them up for the alumni breakfast in the fall. It will be fun. It's been a long time since we've seen you two.
Also had a nice surprise e-mail from Tom Pepon (12/00). After graduation, Tom worked at MSA in Pittsburgh; he was there for six months until his fiancee, Melanie, complete her masters in Speech Pathology and then, in June 2001, they moved to North Carolina. They were married in September of 2001 right here in Indiana in the church they attended as students. In 2004, they had a son, T.J. (Tom sent me pictures and T.J. looks like his father). Right now, Melanie is working for a small speech pathology company in Rocky Mount, NC, and Tom is working for Nomaco, Inc., (held by the Noel Group) a plastics manufacturing company in Zebulon, NC. Thanks so much Tom for the update and thanks for the pictures!!
9 am October 13, 2007
Contact Carol Miller to RSVP
Do It Now!
Also had a quick note from Zach Palmer (5/04) who is living in Windsor PA - just east of York. He had received some info on a contract-for-hire job in Wisconsin; and he wasn't interested in it and thought someone might be. The job is for a software engineer working in UNIX and C. If anyone out there is interested, let me know.
Ken York (5/99) has moved from Jacksonville Florida, and headed to the big apple (NYC). He's currently doing consulting in Manhattan and living in Brooklyn. His contract there is due to expire the end of October; and he thinks he'll get a chance to renew it if he wants to. He's going to wait a bit and see how things play out before committing. Meanwhile, he's started a blog for his parents and friends to keep them updated; and we must be friends here because he gave me the web page and since I consider all of you friends of Ken, I'm giving it to you so you can see what he's been up to. Ken also told me he hasn't heard from Chris Smith (12/99) and he doesn't know if that means Chris doesn't read The Debugger (which I find hard to believe) or that Chris doesn't want to communicate with Ken (which we all find hard to believe). So, just in case Chris doesn't read The Debugger, if anyone out there knows where he is, tell him to contact Ken at email@example.com. And, everybody else can read about Ken (and see him) at http://kenyork.com
Peter McCarthy (5/07) stopped in the other day to let me know what he's up to these days. He's still here in town for a bit because he's going to be working on an M.S. in Information Security Technology and Management at Carnegie Mellon in the fall. Great news Pete!!! Best of luck and please keep us posted.
Another message I need to get out there - to Jon Kimmich (5/86). If you are out there and read this and somebody hasn't already found you, the powers that be at IUP are looking for you - for good things - so if you read this, please contact me. And, you need to give us an update. I had to find out through the grapevine that you were instrumental in developing the X-Box and I'm sure there are other things you've neglected to tell me. So, shame, shame. Bring us up to date.
Candee and Eric Kirkpatrick (5/00) took Olivia to Idelwood this summer and it looks like they had a really good time. If you want to check it out and do some reading on the Kirkpatricks, go to http://www.freewebs.com/everafterstory/ I can't believe Olivia is two years old already!! Eric is still working at Bayer in Pittsburgh, and they're enjoying their new house in Butler. Thanks Candee for keeping me posted!
That's all the news I have for this time. Please write and tell me about your summer so I can tell everyone what you've been up to. And, I need the job security.
The beginning of the Fall 07 semester has been a pretty quiet one for the Computer Science department. However the university technology support staff has been quite busy. The administrative and faculty help desks have been merged to better support everyone's needs. Along with the consolidation, they now have a new home on campus. They can now be found at the new suites on Grant Street. For those of you coming to homecoming this year you should make the trip down to see the new location, very impressive.
The department is getting a new multimedia podium installed in the cyber security lab in Stright 107a that should be the last of the podiums for awhile. We are also planning on getting new machines for Tompkins lab, we'll be sure to keep you up to date when that happens. The university is still an XP shop and we are looking at Vista but no date has been set as of the time I am writing this. When we make the move I'll be sure to include it here.
Lastly, for database we are planning on implementing Microsoft SQL server in conjunction with the new Oracle 10G that is now being used to teach. This addition is slated for the Spring 2008 semester, which isn't to far away.
In the Spring issue, I posed the question, "What can be done to attract more students to the field of Computer Science?" The only response I received was from Michael Ragan, who wrote as follows.
"When I graduated from IUP with a computer science degree in 1982 , I certainly remember a lot more students than the few that are in graduating class photo in The Debugger.
I think this issue is much more of a marketing issue than anything else. Ask any one (that is not in the field) the first thing that comes to mind when they hear the term "Computer Science". It's probably not very flattering. A term such as "Information Technology" might be more attractive.
In addition, what is the IUP Computer Science department doing to market itself? For example, instead of printing and mailing a hard copy version of The Debugger , why not launch a social networking site for the IUP Computer Science department. This would allow alumni, current students and potential student to interact with each other. A good book that explains the basis for this type of marketing is Waiting for your Cat to Bark by Bryan Eisenberg, Jeffrey Eisenberg and Lisa T. Davis. Better yet, let Computer Science students work on developing the site!"
The social networking idea is worth considering; it is actually related to some other ideas that the department recruitment committee has been kicking around. I have referred the idea to that committee. Because I received only one response to my question, I am including my two cents this time.
The front cover of the issue illustrates the problem: potential students are not interested in taking Computer Science as a major. A national survey (from the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA) shows that the percentage of incoming freshmen interested in Computer Science is at 1977 levels. But why? It used to be the case that employment facts and the promise of high salaries were more than enough to attract students to Computer Science. Apparently, that is not the case now. Information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects strong growth in nearly all information technology professions. Every two years, BLS projects employment for the next ten years; the following table (mostly based on the BLS projections for 2004-14) shows very attractive prospects in the technology areas. (This is a synthesis of several tables shown in Computing Research News and CRA Bulletin aticles by Jay Vegso.)
Information Technology Professions in the US
(All numbers are in thousands)
The salaries are nothing to sneeze at either. Although the table shows mean salaries for the professions, starting salaries are excellent in most of these professions, with support specialist perhaps an exception.
If the jobs are projected to be there, why aren't students interested in them? I think Michael's suggestion that (lack of) marketing is at least part of the answer. I also think we are still suffering from the dot com crash and its associated negative effects on IT employment. People working in IT have generally recovered from that period by now; but the image portrayed in the media of gloom and doom from 2000-02 has left a lingering negative impression. Other media stories of outsourcing of all sorts of IT jobs have continued to paint an unattractive picture of the employment prospects. Yet, there is little mention of the growth in all things related to computer security, an area with virtually no chance of jobs being outsourced.
I have to assume that potential freshmen and the people who can influence them (parents, guidance counselors, teachers, etc.) are not aware of the possibilities. Or is it that the people who work in IT are so thoroughly branded as geeks that the potential freshmen cannot be influenced by jobs and salaries?
The question for the Fall is related to curriculum and is something that you may not have been happy about while at IUP. Should foreign language continue to be a requirement for a Computer Science degree? I am hoping to hear from those of you who have been alumni for a while and can look at the question in perspective, as opposed to the most recent graduates who may still be smarting from the requirement. But as always, 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 that I may attribute what you say to you.
Send responses to firstname.lastname@example.org
We had a pretty good turnout at the May department graduation ceremony, as you can see in the picture. Identifying who is in the picture is a bit of a challenge because there was no control on which step each person is standing. Here is my attempt, I hope it is understandable.
Front row (l-r): Jenna Lutton and Melissa Rupert (Peters).
Second row (l-r): Joshua Glick, Meghan Armes, Melissa Karolewski, Nick Hornick.
Third row (l-r): James Young, Amanda Schiel, Frank Claycomb, Adam Artemus.
Back row (all others l-r): Ryan White, Tim Kowalski, Peter McCarthy, Daryl Goodwin, Jesse Evans, Chris Kebriti.