Research Spotlight: Dr. DeJong

Jameson Horn presenting his work on Dr. Dejong’s research project.


Dr. Anna DeJong has recently received a three year NSF grant to pursue her research based on the role of the Earth’s ionosphere and its effect on the Earth’s magnetosphere, the Earth’s electric field, with a specific focus on the Aurora Borealis.

The magnetosphere and ionosphere are impacted by solar wind, a stream of charged particles coming towards the earth from the sun. The experiment looks at the conductance or how much the aurora allows through it and the makeup of the aurora as seen through satellite imagery directed towards the North Pole. The goal of the experiment is to research how or why the ionosphere changes and impacts the magnetosphere’s ability to maintain a steady state despite similar conditions each time. This is similar to dropping an identical mug multiple times from the same height and yet the mug does not break in the same way every time.

Dr. DeJong is currently working with two students, Jameson Horn, who is pursuing his master’s degree in Applied Physics and Computer Science and Samuel Porter, also pursuing his master’s degree in Applied Physics. I have interviewed both students and have asked them to share their thoughts and experiences. My hope is to inspire perspective students looking to explore research opportunities or perhaps persuade them to consider this topic of research for themselves.

Samuel Porter.

1. How did you decide to take part in student research? How did you begin working with Dr. DeJong?

“As a graduate student I decided to take the route of writing a thesis to complete the graduate program and earn a master’s degree. I felt that by doing research and writing a thesis I would be better prepared for future careers and what I will be required to do. I also liked the idea of doing new research and trying to answer questions that either had not yet been answered or were still unresolved and being able to contribute to new ideas.
When I set out to find a topic to research as well as an advisor, I went around and talked to various professors about what kind of research they were doing and what kind of opportunities they might have for me to participate. I decided to work with Dr. DeJong because the topic of her research was related to space which is something I find fascinating and I believed I would enjoy it the most.”

2. How would you describe your experience? What is your job on the research team or rather what do you spend your time doing?

“I started off by reading a lot of papers and books about space weather and Earth’s magnetosphere so that I would be able to better understand things that were related to what I would be researching. Now, I am writing codes to analyze data to look for connections between different things and drawing conclusions about the results and what they mean. I find it enjoyable to try and come up with new ideas and ways to look at data and to be able to see and understand the results of those ideas, especially when they provide good results.”

3. Do you have any advice or comments for others who may want to take part in student research?

“My advice to any students that want to take part in research is to simply talk to your professors and ask them about what type of research they’re doing and if there is any way you can help. The professors are more than happy to have the help and at the same time, help students grow in their knowledge and abilities. If you want to participate, you should also be ready to do a lot of independent studying to learn about what you’re doing and to be pushed to expand your abilities.”

Jameson Horn:

1. “I decided to take part in student research because it interested me and I believe that it is a great way to gain experience in the fields that I see myself working in later in life. I had expressed my desire to conduct student research with some members of the PCSE department, primarily in a way the combines physics with computer science, and was eventually contacted to see if I would like to work with Dr. DeJong on her research. I, of course, eagerly accepted.”

2. “My experience working with Dr. DeJong has been terrific. My role in the research has primarily been to refurbish and augment a program developed by Dr. DeJong that removes dayglow (sunlight) from satellite images of the aurora so that accurate data can be taken from the aurora throughout the year as the amount of dayglow changes.This experience has been great for me and it is just what I was looking for. It perfectly mixes physics with computer science. This internship has actually grown into my senior physics capstone and could become a possible thesis project for my computer science master’s degree.”

3. “My advice for any students looking to take part in student research is to go out and seek opportunities! Ask the professors of the PCSE department if they or a colleague have a project that they could use your help on or search for student research opportunities outside of CNU. Pizza My Mind is an excellent place to do so.”

Be sure to talk to professors in your field if you would like to know more about research opportunities.

Unmanned Aerial Systems Team @ CNU

UAS Team members building the competition aircraft

The Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Team was founded four years ago in a small dorm room in Warwick River Hall by PCSE majors Austin Suhler and Jake Tarren who were soon after joined by another computer engineering student, Nigel Armstrong. Since then the team has grown significantly. They have moved into a dedicated lab in Luter Hall, have added 20 members, and for three years in a row, they have competed successfully in the international Student UAS competition hosted by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI).

Austin Suhler retrieving the practice drone model after flight

What is the UAS Team about?

The team’s vision probably says it best: “To inspire and educate future leaders in Unmanned Aerial Systems.”

The UAS team is a group of students who are interested in all aspects of unmanned aircrafts – technical as well as non-technical. As a team, they have organized themselves in several subgroups each focusing on important components of the overall project. The Payload Team, for example, deals with the hardware that goes inside the drone, while the Flight Team makes sure that the aircraft is still aerodynamic and operational after equipment is added. This team also flies the aircraft. Other subteams include the Software Team, which writes the code for the drone to fly autonomously, and the Cyber Security Team, which secures any networks and wireless links that are used during competition. The team also includes students who are interested in marketing and fundraising, which both are quite important for the long-term sustainability of the team.

In order to do well at the competitions, the students meet regularly throughout the year to learn about the technologies and work on the various components of their unmanned system. During the spring semester, as soon as the weather allows it, the team spends most Saturdays at a flying field in Suffolk, Virginia to practice flying and to perform systems tests. These ‘field trips’ are not only a great opportunity to learn how to fly drones, but also to hang out with other team members. In fact, most team members will agree that going to the flight field is one of the highlights of being in the club.

The UAS Team in the 2016 competition

Every June the UAS team competes in the AUVSI Student UAS competition, which is held at the Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland.

According to the official rule book, the competition “is designed to foster interest in Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), stimulate interest in UAS technologies and careers, and to engage students in a challenging UAS mission. The competition requires students to design, integrate, report on, and demonstrate a UAS capable of autonomous flight and navigation, remote sensing via onboard payload sensors, and execution of a specific set of tasks. […] The competition has three major elements: the Technical Design Paper, the Flight Readiness Review Presentation, and the Mission Demonstration. The paper details a team’s UAS design. The presentation details the team’s testing and preparedness for the competition. The demonstration simulates a mission in which the UAS and team is evaluated. The mission consists of autonomous flight, obstacle avoidance, object detection, and air delivery.”

What are the benefits from being on the UAS team?

Apart from having fun and learning tons of relevant knowledge, being a team member can have ‘direct consequences’ when it comes to jobs and internships. Many employers, also outside the UAS field, are thoroughly impressed to see students being engaged in a club like this, learning about tools and technologies in one of the hottest R&D fields around, and solving real-world engineering challenges.

Several students have received internships or job offers because of their involvement with the team. Take for example Davis Catherman, the team captain. Due to his experience with the UAS team, he was offered an internship at NASA where he joined a team of researchers in the UAS sector. Another great example is Sadie Rynestad, who was recruited as an intern by DroniCar, a NASA spin-off in York County, which develops unmanned solar airship systems.

How can you join the team?

The team is always accepting new members. If you are interested in any aspect of UASs, contact Davis Catherman at davis.catherman.14@cnu.edu.  Also, you can always stop by and take a peak in the UAS lab in Luter 242 to see what the team is up to!

 

What You Missed at Pizza My Mind

Hello Captain’s! Back by popular demand was iDTech for Pizza My Mind. Our presenter, Mark Moreno did a fantastic job outlining opportunities that add a fun and positive experience for students who are looking to enhance and practice their technical skills.

iDTech is the world’s largest summer technology camp for kids ages 6 to 18. The company was started in 1999, in a studio above a garage overlooking Silicon Valley, California. When they first started, they had a total of 280 students enrolled over the entire summer. Today, tens of thousands of kids and teens attend each season. This company went from 4 locations to now being in 29 states and even being in two other countries.

Students asking more questions about iDTech.

 

The goal of iDTech is to get kids exposed to the STEM field and show the importance of higher education. Their mission is “to develop and deliver the highest quality, most inspiring, and inventive technology experiences to the next generation of visionaries—one student at a time.”

iDTech has been voted #1 in work place environment seven years running by Bay Area News Group and recruits top talent from universities like Caltech, RIT, Stanford and CNU!! If you missed this seminar and would like more information, go to idtech.com.

What You Missed at Pizza My Mind

Alex Lawrence and Matt Rutherford speak to CNU students


Last Thursday’s Pizza My Mind was hosted by the cyber security company FireEye. Technical Recruiter Alex Lawrence and Software Engineer Matt Rutherford discussed the way in which FireEye works to protect their clients from cyber attacks and how they formulate solutions to fight them in the future.

When working with a client FireEye will write a report on any detected problem and then either leave it to the client or tackle the issue themselves. Potential risk areas are discovered using a virtual machine based execution system that can look at several problem areas at once and analyze each individual factor within. Once a problem area is discovered they work to provide “end to end solutions,” to the issue that their competitors cannot provide.

A video featuring FireEye’s CEO Kevin Mandia was shown as he spoke in support of the company’s internships and encouraged CNU students to apply. The company guarantees “impactful,” work for its interns as well as access to community outreach and executive engagements. It was recommended by Rutherford that prospective interns or employees should learn to read API and source code as it would be a major part of their future job.

If you would like any further information please see FireEye’s website linked below.

www.fireeye.com

What You Missed at Pizza My Mind

Victoria Meadows, Applied Physics, Class of 2014

Hello Captains!  Last week we had the pleasure of hosting Ferguson Enterprises, Inc. for Pizza My Mind.  We were excited to welcome back PCSE alumni, Victoria Meadows and Dorion Jackson who joined the group of presenters.  Ferguson Enterprises, Inc. is headquartered in our own back yard, Newport News, Virginia and is the largest plumbing wholesaler in North America.

Dorion Jackson, Information Systems, Class of 2014

Ferguson is a supplier of commercial and residential plumbing supplies.  However, their expertise goes beyond plumbing.  They are a diverse distributor that has multiple businesses including HVAC/R, waterworks and industrial that includes services for aerospace, automotive, energy, health care, technology and transportation industries.

Ferguson grew from a local supply company to now having over 23,000 employees and they take pride in their Training Program which is designed for employees to really learn the Ferguson business from the ground up.

Ferguson is a good corporate company that supports many local programs that adds positively to the community. Check out the Ferguson Cares webpage for more information https://www.ferguson.com/content/ferguson-cares and their Careers page https://www.ferguson.com/content/careers.  Ferguson is looking to expand their workforce and they have opportunities for interns and soon to be graduates!

Spotlight: Niki May

Niki May at the Google Head Quarters in Israel

Over Christmas break Niki had the opportunity to take a trip through birthright with her Rabbi to Israel.  Birthright Israel is a unique, historical partnership between the people of Israel through their government, local Jewish communities (North American Jewish Federations, Keren Hayesod, and The Jewish Agency for Israel), and leading Jewish philanthropists. Birthright Israel provides a gift of peer-group, educational trips to Israel for Jewish young adults ages 18 to 26. (information found here)

Lucky for Niki, her Rabbi had a few connections at google headquarters and provided her with the opportunity to visit Google following her Birthright trip.

What Google projects did you get to see while you were on your trip?

“I went to the research and development headquarters and was able to talk with some employees and see the not- so- top secret stuff that they were doing. For example, I got to see some of the integration of Waze and Google Maps that they had been working on. I went into this room and it was like a 4D google earth. All four walls around you were like a virtual google earth, you could zoom in, turn and navigate the maps.”

 

Did they give you any advice on applying for internships/ jobs?

“Google internships are highly competitive and their main advice was to maintain a high GPA, gain experience through other well-known companies prior to applying”

More information about applying to specific jobs at google can be found by clicking Here!

What other interesting things did you learn about on your visit?

“I learned a lot about cloud computing, incorporating other applications to their products for example Waze and google maps. By integrating the two you will be able to find the fastest route and have a larger amount of analytical data collected to find the best route of travel. ”

What are your plans for this summer?

“I am interning with Booz Allen Hamilton this summer. I am on a  task force of programmers who are given a project by the military and we have the whole summer to create a program to do whatever they need. The task force I am on is work through the military and I applied last summer and found out in the fall. I have a few connections with people in research and development at Google so I am hoping to use the experience I gain there to get an internship or job there in the future.”

 

 

 

What You Missed At Pizza My Mind

Last Thursday’s Pizza My Mind was hosted ASM Research presented by Christina Neiduski and Vincent Tchong. ASM has been at the forefront of providing technology solutions for the U.S military and government. The main focus is Army Training Requirements and Resources System (ATRRS), which is the system of record for management of personnel input for training for the U.S. Army. ATRRS produces mission and resourcing documents that provide training requirements and approved training programs.

David Hamblin talking to Christina Neiduski.

 

The challenge started in 1970, which included some things like account for alignment of manpower and personnel need, account for filling resourced training seats, and track individuals through the training base. The solution was ATRRS, which is still in operation today. ATRRS expanded to its current capacity to provide training management system for over 600 schools and 1.2 million training seats. Some of the results are: ATRRS is a world-class Army training management system, fully capable and ready to support today’s dynamic and complex DoD environment, and increases in training seat fill. Those are just some of the results!

Some of their locations are in Chantilly and Fairfax but are also outside of Virginia. They hire in the fall for internships but do offer jobs all throughout the year. Citizenship and security clearances are not required. This company expressed they offer a balanced work life and an opportunity to grow within your role.

If you are interested in a fall internship or in a career with ASM go to https://www.asmr.com/careers/careerop/

 

What You Missed at Pizza My Mind

Keith Bertolino addressing CNU students

Keith Bertolino addressing CNU students

Last Thursday’s Pizza My Mind was hosted by the digital forensics and software development company Cipher Tech Solutions, Inc. Cipher Tech’s CEO and co-founder Keith Bertolino was the sole speaker for the presentation. The presentation consisted of example scenarios, with most real stories being classified government work, intended to represent how Cipher Tech would conduct its business.

The first story was that of a crime scene. In this scenario the goal was to extract video from a damaged SD card for use in the investigation. Bertolino emphasized how difficult it is to do so, very different than what is shown in tv shows like NCIS. If any data is found it is extracted and standard video software is used to test it. In most cases if the video doesn’t work then it is simply too damaged or jumbled to be of any use. But in some cases the code can be patched in some areas with the help of knowledge of the base working of the media format to recreate the missing sections of code.

The second story was a battlefield. Data from cellphones and apps can be invaluable in a battlefield situation. Recovered phones are connected to communication devices where they can attempt to extract data from various applications such as Facebook. This is also a very difficult process as apps are constantly updating with no clear indication as to what has changed on the non consumer side. APKs can often be downloaded from the internet in the right places and a large amount of testing data make some data discovery possible.

Bertolino ended with a brief discussion about the ease that social media sites can be manipulated and how to discover malware on possibly infected laptops.

Cipher Tech is currently hiring for full time positions in the MD and NoVA areas. Those hired have the ability to acquire high-level security clearances and do mission critical work. Potential positions include Web Developers, App Developers, and Forensic Examiners. Must have a clean criminal history and attend a technical interview.

For more information see the company’s site.

www.ciphertechsolutions.com

What You Missed At Pizza My Mind

Hello Captains! Before the break, the PCSE Department hosted Newport News Shipbuilding, a company that builds nuclear aircraft carriers and submarines for the US Navy. Many of you may already be familiar with NNS as they are the largest industrial employer in Virginia as well as the largest shipbuilding company in the United States.

IMG_8010

Newport News Shipbuilding offers a great Co-op and Internship Program that allows you to combine the knowledge that you learned in the classroom with real practical work experience. Even better, the hours are flexible because they want you to succeed.

The intern program is posted and the sooner students apply the sooner they hear back from the company. It is good to apply as soon as possible because some of the positions require clearance. The application is open until February 13th. One of the requirements for the interns is to obtain a 3.0 GPA. What they want on the applicants resume is : Name, contact information, expected graduation day, and if you have any app development experience.

If you are interested, go and apply!

 

Spotlight: Fabian Bouchal

Fabian Bouchal is an exchange student from the University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria, Hagenberg Campus who is currently studying abroad at CNU. He is a Computer Science major who is currently in the second to last semester of his Master’s program.

bouchalf
1. What made you want to pursue studying abroad at CNU?
“When I made the decision to study in a foreign country for one semester I rather quickly made up my mind that I wanted to go to the United States. I had never left Europe for a long period of time, so I thought this would be a perfect opportunity. I then looked into the universities in the US that had formed a partnership with my university in Austria, one of which was CNU. One of the major reasons why I choose to apply to CNU was the fact that it is a rather small university, compared to other ones in the US. Since my university in Austria is even smaller than CNU, I thought I would be able to settle in and adapt to a smaller university much faster and easier, and as it turned out, I was right.”

2. Did you have any difficulties during the application process?
“The fact that CNU is a partner university of my university in Austria made the whole application process significantly easier. Nevertheless, since everything was new here for me, there were some difficulties I had to face. The main problem was that I had to hand in so many different forms and certificates, like financial records, proof of insurance, etc. that it took me a long time to gather all the documents that I needed. Thankfully, Ms. Lyn Sawyer from the Graduate Admission and Records office, helped me out with all my problems and made my life a lot easier.”

3. Was the transition difficult? How do you feel about your studies here in comparison to Austria?
“Although I did not have any real struggles adapting to studying at CNU, there are a lot of differences to what I am used to from studying in Austria. The main difference is how the classes are scheduled. Here at CNU each class is scheduled two or three times a week for a period of 60 or 75 minutes. In Austria we usually have one block per class lasting three to four hours. Each day we have just one of these blocks and for every class we have about ten of these blocks in ten consecutive weeks.
Once we have had all blocks for one class we take a final exam which makes up around 60%-100% of the course grade, so that is another difference in that we do not have Midterms and Finals and potential other quizzes as part of our final grade.
I have not decided which “system” I like better yet. In my opinion the both have their advantages and disadvantages.”

4. Do you have any advice for students who are considering studying abroad themselves?
“The most important piece of advice is “do it”. I know it may seem scary at first moving to an unknown location for one or two semesters, and it might sometimes cause you headaches making all the arrangements but it is worth all that trouble once you are there. In my opinion spending some time abroad really broadens your horizon and lets you make experiences that are truly priceless.
Other than that, I think it is really important to start early with gathering information and start the application process for a semester abroad as early as possible. The sooner you start, the less stressful it will be towards the end.”