Building an Army of Future Women Computer Scientists!

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Statistics show that very low levels of women are entering computing technology fields. What a shame, because women bring a whole new level of creative thinking and problem solving to the table! So, UNH Manchester faculty, students, and alumni and three women computing professionals from SkillSoft, Inc. in Nashua volunteered their time on March 19th, to help spark interest at the Second Annual Girls Technology Day, held at the NHTI Concord’s Community College. Over 200 girls from grades 8 through 10, traveled from 18 different New Hampshire schools to attend four 50-minute workshops. They all got to dip their hands into a variety of different programming, engineering experiences. UNH Computing Technology professors, Mihaela Sabin and Michael Jonas, and CIS junior, Pauline Wilk, taught workshops on Game Programming with Greenfoot and Inventing Apps for Android Phones with App Inventor. UNH alumna and enterprise support engineer at Dyn, Bethany Ross, ran a workshop on Careers in Technology.

The girls saw how engaging and captivating computing and engineering can be, gained confidence in their problem solving and design abilities, and got to see that women in the computing technology field are not geeky! In fact they are beautiful, bold, creative, and smart women. We even had the support of a few men who recognize the gender gap and see the advantage of what women bring to the field. Thank you to Mary Laturnau, for transforming a concept idea she had three years ago into a successful, fast growing, and incredible event. We also thank Linda Giordano, Mary Slocum, and Veronica Payan form SkillSoft, Inc. for their role models, which girls experienced first hand during the mobile app development workshops.

Photo Credit: Kim Wall, UNH Manchester

For more information visit the event’s website http://www.girlstechnologyday.com/

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FTW represents NH at the WECode Conference!

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Members of the Future Tech Women Group and students at the University of New Hampshire at Manchester, Pauline Wilk, Valerie Therrien, and Meagan Wolf, joined their Dyn mentors, Bethany Ross, Kelly O’Hara, and Jackie Wegman, and traveled to Harvard in February for the WeCode (Women Engineers Code) Conference! What a great bonding trip! FTW was proud to represent New Hampshire women in technology, as they were the only group from New Hampshire to attend.

The girls got to hear from many prominent women in the Computer Science world, like Kimber Lockhart and Rebecca Parsons, speak their hearts out, telling their stories of success, and encouraging females in the computer science and engineering fields to be confident and believe in themselves. Being one of these girls, I certainly left inspired! Especially from my talk at lunch with a few young female Facebook employees. We will definitely be going back for more fun next year!

Learn more about the Future Tech Women group here: http://www.futuretechwomen.org/

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Battle Royal Fall 2013

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Each semester, students in the COMP 425 Introduction to Programming course compete in a battle of wits. They work in pairs, programming to perfection a “computer” player strategy in a virtual version of the board game Quoridor. Quoridor software was created by Michael Jonas, assistant professor of computer science in the Computing Technology program. Coming up with gaming strategies not only requires knowledge of programming concepts, but also creativity and logic.

At the end of the fall 2013 semester, joined with the annual Computing Technology Holiday Party, COMP 425 hosted the Battle Royal, where the students’ strategies were all faced against each other. The participants had a little extra fun with the competition and added intensity by playing music from the Star Wars soundtrack as they watched the games play out. After some light and friendly poking between the competitors, the masterminds behind the winning strategy came out to be the team of  Mohamed Fadlalla and Omeed Ghafari.  Second place went to the one man team of Zeb Wood. Third place went to the team of Julian Consoli and Jonathan O’Rourke. This year’s prize was a scholarship for each team member and a delicious chocolate Godiva reindeer. Congratulations to this semester’s Battle Royal Winners!

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Hour of Code

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Computer science provides a foundation for virtually any career. Simple computer science activities can help nurture creativity and problem solving skills. Everybody can benefit from learning the basics.

In fall of 2013, a group of very passionate UNH Manchester Computer Information System’s degree students started UNH’s first Computing Club. Computing Club’s first event was part of a massive campaign organized by code.org, to get 10 million students of all ages to try computer science for one hour during Computer Science Education Week (Dec. 9-15). The Computing Club’s personal goal was to get as many non-computing major students and faculty at UNH Manchester to try programming.

With Computer Science Education Week falling on the same week as finals week at UNH, the club realistically knew they may not be able to steal an hour of everyone’s time.  So, students were encouraged to spend at least 10-15 minutes coding an animated holiday E-card using a very simple, beginner coding interface called Scratch. For some, it was something quick and fun to try before the winter vacation to share with their families, for others it provided a short break to escape from studying. A few participants enjoyed themselves so much that they did spend the whole hour coding a pretty elaborate holiday E-card.

UNH Manchester’s Hour of Code event was a huge success! There was a lot of interest gathered and both participants and volunteers enjoyed themselves. The Computing Club is looking forward to making a bigger presence at the school in the future. Thanks to volunteers Pauline Wilk, Colby Johnson, David Meehan, Michael Jonas, Mihaela Sabin, Andrew George, Mohamed Fadlalla, Saverna Ahmad, Forrest Surprenant, and Zack Dudek for helping create the template and aid participants with the program.

Check out the projects here

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Student and Young Alumni Social Networking Night

UNH’s Student Advancement Ambassador Team and UNH Alumni are co-hosting this evening as opportunity to network with your UNH Community and share your post-college knowledge with current UNH students.

Start a Conversation with fellow UNH alumni and current students, in a casual, low pressure environment. Join us for an opportunity to build your network, share your experiences and learn from others. 

Date: Monday November 18th, 2013

Time: 6 PM to 9 PM

Location: World Sports Grille (50 Phillippe Cote Street in Manchester, NH)

All alumni and friends of UNH are welcome! There will be free appetizers and each attendee will receive a free drink ticket (over 21).

Any questions or concerns, please contact Megan Hales at megan.hales@unh.edu

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UNH Manchester’s Computing Technology Program to Participate in EPA Funded Environmental Initiative

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The Northern New England Campus Compact is working with college campuses in the New England area to explore environmental projects. The two-year program is funded by the United States Environment Protection Agency which is providing $150,000 in grants for training faculty and obtaining the necessary resources needed to initiate projects under the Northern New Campus Compact program.

The University of New Hampshire at Manchester was among eighteen recipients, five of which are New Hampshire colleges. UNH Manchester will participate through an expansive project devised by faculty which entails working with the Manchester Water Department. Students will explore environmental sustainability and the management of natural resources via Manchester’s water quality management system.

UNH Manchester Computing Technology faculty Mihaela Sabin and Michael Jonas were among four faculty members across multiple departments in authoring the grant. UNH Manchester’s undergraduate Computer Information System program will be one of several which will take part in the project. CIS students will be working on the development of software systems in the form of mobile apps and data management systems which will work to collect and process large amounts of data. The project will be integrated with CIS course content, and will serve as a course project for students to explore the real world application of skills learned in the classroom.

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Congratulations, Graduates!

Another year has come and gone here at UNH Manchester!  We just wanted to recognize our group of students who have recently graduated or will be graduating this summer.
BS CIS graduates
December 2012

  • Damir Ibrahimovic
  • John Maddaus
  • Eric Murphy
  • Andy O’Brien
  • Paskale Odongo
  • Jonathan Schultzgraduation-icon-design-e1331474907356
  • Mike Tierney
  • Cedric Woodbury

May 2013

  • Scott Adie
  • Mike Bianchi
  • Brian Drouin
  • Vinnie Gagliardi
  • Aaron Green
  • Michael Henenberg
  • Brandon McLaughlin
  • Justin Mulholland

September 2013

  • Eric Beikman
  • Johnny Mom
  • Nick Regan

BS EET/CT graduates!

  • Brian Avery
  • Eli Kirpolenko

And congratulations to our first MS IT graduate, Sunitha Raghurajan!

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2013 UNH Manchester Honors Convocation Award Ceremony

Each spring the UNH Manchester community celebrates the outstanding academic achievements of our undergraduate students at the Honors Convocation ceremony. Convocation is the second largest academic ceremony at the University, next to Commencement, and a time for students and their families to join with University administration, faculty, staff, and their peers to celebrate their academic success.

On May 14, 2013 UNH Manchester celebrated its 14th annual Honors Convocation ceremony celebrating students across all departments including three CT department seniors.

2013 UNH Manchester CT Award Recipients

Award Recipients at the 2013 Honors Convocation.
Scott Adie (left), Tom McCarthy (middle), and Tyler Martin (right)

Scott Adie and Tom McCarthy were honored for University Scholars in a Baccalaureate Degree. The University Scholars is awarded to students who have earned 100 or more credits by March 11, 2013, of which at least 64 are UNH graded credits and maintained a 3.20 – 3.69 cumulative UNH GPA.

Tyler Martin was also honored at the ceremony receiving the Karla Vogel Award for Excellence in Computer Information Systems. A student who wins this award has demonstrated consistent achievement within the CIS major and overall academic excellence.

Congratulations to all recipients!

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Single Mom Achieves an MS in Information Technology

Story available online: http://manchester.unh.edu/about/news/2013/single-mom-achieves-ms-information-technology

Written by Melanie Plenda, Freelance Journalist

First MS IT Graduate!

Mike Jonas (left) and Sunitha Raghurajan (right) celebrating Sunitha’s graduation.

Manchester, NH—Two kids, a full-time job and day-to-day living– Sunitha Raghurajan’s plate was full. But she wanted more. So, when she had a chance to get her Masters of Science in Information Technology from the University of New Hampshire, she took a deep breath, said so long to sleep and took a leap of faith toward her new adventure.

And now, as she prepares to walk across the stage as the first graduate from UNH Manchester with an MS in Information Technology, her plate, in the best way, is fuller than ever. Not only was she able to develop a license plate recognition system as part of her thesis, but she already landed a job as a Senior Software Engineer at Single Digits in Manchester. And all of this before graduation.

“I actually had recruiters contacting me,” she says.

Raghurajan, a resident of Concord, NH, earned her Bachelor’s degree in Engineering in India. She eventually moved to the US where she raised two boys and worked full-time as a Senior Development Engineer in Information Technology for the State of New Hampshire.

“I was getting the feeling I was kind of getting stuck,” says Raghurajan. “And I wanted to improve my knowledge of technology.”

She started looking for programs at UNH and was excited to find out that UNH Manchester not only had night classes–which would allow her to continue working and taking care of her kids– but also the IT program she was looking for.

A relatively new program at UNH Manchester, the Master of Science in Information Technology program is designed for people like Raghurajan who are already in the computing field but want to change careers or move up. The program uses a model that combines in-class and online educational activities with an emphasis on collaboration and communication among peers.

The goal is to prepare students for a professional IT or computing-related career as well as advanced studies in a computing discipline.

Once in, she got to it– working full time and taking care of her kids during the day, going to school at night and finding time for homework and projects wherever she could.

“It can be difficult to juggle all those things,” says Michael Jonas, Assistant Professor of Computing Technology Program and Engineering Technology Program at UNH Manchester. “She’s managed to work through it and always get things done.”

Yet, she always kept going. Among the things that helped, she says was the willingness on the part of her professors and advisors to get to know her. She says they were often the ones reaching out to her to find out how she was doing.

“I felt welcome anywhere here,” she says.

This was especially helpful as she got closer to her thesis. For that project, Raghurajan took two existing, open source products, OpenCV and Tessearct, and developed a license plate recognition system for NH plates, Professor Jonas explains. The idea behind project was to develop a program that would help a person locate a lost vehicle.

“Her contribution was to figure out how those systems worked, configure them through experimentation, and write Java code to automate the process,” Jonas says. “It’s a perfect Information Technology solution. She didn’t develop OpenCV or Tesseract, but instead she integrated these complex systems to create a workable solution, which is fantastic. …I loved the project and the work she did on it. She got terrific results.”

The challenge, she says, was putting all her hard work into words.

“I don’t have skills in writing, seriously, no kidding,” she says with a big laugh. “I can write a million lines of code, but when it comes to anything else, I can’t.”

But that’s where Professor Jonas came in. The two spent hours turning literally a bulleted list into a proper Master’s Thesis paper.

“It’s been a slow and difficult process for her to understand the complexities of formulating ones thoughts in a written document,” Jonas says. “But we persisted and she did get there.”

With nothing left but some paperwork and publication, Raghurajan is slated to walk in UNH Manchester’s graduation on May 16th and then, she’s off to her next adventure.

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UNH URC/GRC Computing Technology Day 2013

After much preparation the UNH Undergraduate Research Conference Computing Technology Day was held on Friday, April 26. The event, which started at 8:00 a.m., was host to the Engineering Technology (ET) program’s Senior Project presentations as well as the Computing Technology (CT) program’s Student Research poster presentations. CT poster presentations began at noon, featuring presentations by undergraduate students in the BS CIS program and graduate students in the MS IT majors.

Students from Michael Jonas’ Capstone Project (CIS790) class, Mihaela Sabin’s Mobile Computing First and For Most (CIS415) and Internship Experience – Applied Research Project (CIS690) classes, and Peter MacDonald’s Database Application Development (CIS720) and Database Systems and Technologies (CIS820) classes presented their final projects. Michael Jonas and Jacqueline Tims also sponsored a poster for the Quoridor game project which has been used as a learning tool in the Introduction to Programming with Greenfoot course (CIS425) for the past two semesters.

To see the posters and read the abstracts, visit the following links:

  1. Capstone Project – Speech Modeling: Training & Decoding
  2. Capstone Project – Capturing Experiments With Speech
  3. Capstone Project – The Right Tool for the Job
  4. Capstone Project – ‘Oh,Uh’ Data Capture
  5. Capstone Project – On The Spot: System Support
  6. Refactored Relational Database to Support Cable Services Operations
  7. Found You! A Compass to Your Friends
  8. The Jungle: An Educational App for Kids
  9. ReminderBinder: Social Integration of Note Taking and To-Do Lists
  10. Mathapalooza: Tutoring App for K-8 Students
  11. Geography 101: Discover the World
  12. Virtualization of Production Environments for Classroom Instruction and Academic Research
  13. YWCA Donation Management and Reporting System Prototype
  14. Online Presence for RS Fireworks through Interactive Web Design
  15. Cloud Services Policy Management System
  16. Learning Java with Green: Quoridor Battle Royal
  17. The Pantry – Managing Applicant, Donor, and Food Inventory Data at Food Bank
  18. Exercise Tracker – An Exercise in Database Design and Implementation
  19. Why worry about your IT Problem Management ? Use We Fix It!
  20. Triple Play Survey Center
  21. Logistics and Supply Chain for Manufacturing and Distributing Agricultural Products

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