Archive for Uncategorized

Pizza My Mind Presented by Booz Allen Hamilton

Booz Allen Hamilton presented the first Pizza My Mind of the semester on January 21. Headquartered in McLean, Virginia, Booz Allen is a consulting firm whose purpose is to empower people to change the world. The firm is organized into several groups: global defense, national security, civilian services, strategic innovation, and enterprise services. CNU Alumni Adam White (Lead Engineer), Robert Caine (Staff Engineer), and Tyler Smith (Staff Scientist) presented with Heather Holdaway the University Recruiter for the East Coast. 

Booz Allen Hamilton offers locations all over the world. There are many opportunities available for employees to engage in community outreach and volunteering. In addition, Booz Allen offers a good work-life balance. Heather Holdaway was eager to share about the company culture. Booz Allen is purpose-driven and values based with focuses on leadership and a team environment. Employees are given resources and encouraged to continue to learn through benefits like tuition reimbursement and a program to pay back pre existing student loans. These benefits can be used to pursue graduate degrees, gain certifications, take classes and boot camps, and attend conferences.

Adam, Tyler, and Robert all shared about their experiences as Booz Allen employees. Adam spoke eagerly of Booz Allen’s commitment to his personal and professional growth. He shared that the most rewarding part of his job is the benefit his work offers to real people. Tyler has loved Booz Allen since being hired, and spoke fondly of the time he had to learn the tools available before being assigned to a project. Robert said “It has been great working here” at Booz Allen, because the company is very understanding and accommodating of your circumstances. 

Booz Allen Hamilton has both full time positions and summer internships available. Interested students are encouraged to apply at careers.boozallen.com/University. Heather Holdaway advised that if you are interested in a position, you should apply for it as soon as possible.

Thank you to presenters Heather Holdaway, Adam White, Robert Caine, and Tyler Smith for your informative and engaging presentation.

Tuesday Tea with Dr. Farideh Doost Mohammadi

On December 1, 2020, Tuesday Tea featured Dr. Farideh Doost Mohammadi, a professor here in Christopher Newport University’s department of Physics, Computer Science and Engineering. Dr. Mohammadi is from Tehran, the capital of Iran. She got her BS in electrical Engineering at the Iran University of Science and Technology, her MS in Electrical Engineering at the Amirkabir University of Technology, and she came to the United States to get her Ph D in Electrical Engineering at West Virginia University. 

Dr. Farideh Doost Mohammadi

Dr. Mohammadi reminisced about the differences between life in Tehran and here in the United States. Once a year in Iran, there was an entrance exam (students choose between engineering, medicine, or law) held for all students who wanted to attend university. All students who took the entrance exam were ranked, and this determined what universities they would be able to attend. Dr. Mohammadi chose to pursue engineering, because there were more options within the field and many of her family members are in electrical engineering. 

The difference between Iran and the United States extends beyond education. Dr. Mohammadi shared that she was shocked by the change of pace from Tehran where “everyone is running,” to the United States where things are calmer. She also spoke fondly of holidays she celebrated with family in Tehran like the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox.  She spoke of how mothers in Iran have a great skill for cooking, and when she was a kid her family always ate food at home rather than going out. Iran is famous for hospitality, and she shared that people will welcome you into their homes.

Dr. Mohammadi worked as a teaching assistant during her bachelors and masters program and found that she enjoyed teaching and wanted to stay in academia. However, becoming a university professor in Iran is much more difficult for women, so she came to the United States. Dr. Mohammadi likes Christopher Newport University for the connection between the university and industry and the focus on experimental and practical learning.  Dr. Mohammadi’s studies focus on power system controls and renewable power. 

Thank you to Dr. Mohammadi for sharing about her life and experiences.

Pizza My Mind Presented by NAVSEA

Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) presented Pizza My Mind on November 19, 2020. The Dahlgren Division protects the nation by designing and developing warfare systems and technologies. Dahlgren often teams with academia on research and supports continued education. Presenters Debbie Bardine and Barry Mohel shared about what Dahlgren has to offer.

There are many departments within Dahlgren including the Gun and Electric Weapon Systems Department. Within this department, there are opportunities to work with a variety of technologies like high energy lasers, an electromagnetic railgun, hyper-velocity projectiles, gun fire control software, and projectile fuzes. 

Dahlgren offers the ability to directly impact the lives and safety of our Nation’s military. They also bring great pay and benefits, flexible schedules, family friendly environments, and paid opportunities to continue your education, alongside a myriad of other benefits. The presenters were excited to share that they can go home every night knowing they are directly helping someone else’s life. 

Applicants to Dahlgren should showcase previous experience they have in the form of internships, projects, and leadership experience. At least a 3.0 GPA is expected, along with motivation and a good work ethic. No previous work experience is required, just a passion for learning.

For more information on career opportunities with NAVSEA, please visit https://www.navsea.navy.mil/Careers/NAVSEA-Careers/

Thank you so much to wonderful presenters Debbie Bardine and Barry Mohel.

Pizza My Mind Presented by Facebook

On November 12th, 2020, Sean McHugh, Software Developer at Facebook and VT alum, joined the Physics, Computer Science and Engineering Department to talk about the opportunities available at Facebook. Facebook consists of several apps including Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp. Facebook is headquartered in California, but has locations all around the world (including here in Virginia).

Sean McHugh interned at NIST, PolyTech, Amazon, and then Facebook. He has been a software engineer at Facebook since 2019. Sean works in Seattle on the payments care team. Facebook offices come with a lot of cool features including a rock climbing wall, a music room, three meals a day, and so much more.

Facebook offers internships in the spring, summer, and fall. The interview process consists of 3 phone interviews. Good ways to stand out in the interview process are showing off personal projects and research, prior internship experience, clubs, and school projects. Sean shared tips on interview success. To prepare for interviews, students should do practice problems. These can be found on FireCode.io, LeetCode, and in books. Mock whiteboarding is another good way to prepare and practice answering questions. 

More information can be found at www.facebook.com/careers/

Thank you to Sean McHugh for his informative presentation!

Pizza My Mind Presented by Newport News Shipbuilding

On November 5, 2020 Newport News Shipbuilding presented Pizza My Mind. Morgan Edwards joined students and professors to discuss what the Shipyard has to offer. Newport News Shipbuilding, located here in Newport News, designs, builds, and refuels ships for the US Navy as well as commercial business. They are the biggest shipbuilding company in the United States. 

There are many internship opportunities available at Newport News Shipbuilding. Interns can expect to work on a project as a part of a team. They will get hands on experience and the opportunity for a full time offer following the internship. Students can get assistance with housing, and these positions are open to graduate students as well as undergraduates.

Full time positions at Newport News Shipbuilding include benefits, paid time off, paid holidays, and community outreach. Their Covid-19 response has allowed employees to work from home. There is more time between shifts for sanitation, and all employees are required to wear masks. They are keeping a close eye on the situation as it evolves. 

Applying for a position at Newport News Shipbuilding is as simple as submitting your resume and transcript. Interns are not expected to have extensive prior experience as they will be paired with a mentor and taught on the job. Applicants are encouraged to highlight experience related to their studies like academic or personal projects.


See https://careers.huntingtoningalls.com/ for more information on open positions. 

Thank you to Morgan Edwards and Newport News Shipbuilding for the presentation!

Pizza My Mind Presented by Canon Virginia

Canon Virginia, Inc presented Pizza My Mind for the Physics, Computer Science and Engineering department on October 29, 2020. Canon Virginia is a global manufacturer located in Newport News, Virginia. Their innovative and efficient production methods along with their environmental commitment make them a leading global manufacturer. CNU Alumni Griffin Tritaik and Ben Gendell joined presenters Bryan Forrest, David White, and John Brownfield to discuss Canon and the career and internship opportunities available. 

Canon Virginia works with copiers, printers, cartridge manufacturing, and toner cartridge recycling. They utilize many technologies including augmented reality, collaborative robots that safely work side by side with humans, deep learning vision, and autonomous mobile robots. Canon is focused on being green and participates in recycling, a zero landfill policy, and green procurement. They are ISO 14001 Certified and R2 Certified. 

Canon is a great company to work for with a good benefits package, good work life balance, and opportunities for upwards movement. They are the fifth largest company in the area and are continuing to grow. 

Griffin Tritaik and Ben Gendell shared about their experiences as interns and now full time employees. During his internship with Canon, Ben worked with no-touch automation and HMI and PLC programming. Griffin worked with collaborative robots, deep learning, and ViDi. Both came into their internship with no prior knowledge of the tools and technologies they were working with. They learned as they went, and both eventually got an offer to continue full time. Ben now works on an industrial internet of things as well as ViDi, deep learning, and AutoCAD design. Griffin now works with CV2 and 3D Vision, collaborative robot applications, and smart manufacturing. They offered advice to current students to “ask questions and be willing to learn. Go into everything with an open mindset.” 

Internship and other opportunities can be found at cvi.canon.com
It is okay to not know everything, Canon is looking for people who have a good attitude and a willingness to learn!

Thank you to Bryan Forrest, David White, John Brownfield, Griffin Tritaik and Ben Gendell for your wonderful presentation!

Tuesday Tea with Dr. Lynn Lambert

Dr. Lynn Lambert joined students and fellow professors October 27 for Tuesday Tea. Dr. Lambert is a computer science professor as well as the Interim Director for Graduate Student Studies here at Christopher Newport University. 

Dr. Lynn Lambert

Dr. Lambert grew up in Florida, but applied to two schools in vastly different parts of the country. She had spent about a year near Chicago and loved the city, so applied to the University of Chicago. Her older sister wanted to go to Wellesley College, but couldn’t. Dr. Lambert applied and ended up studying at Wellesley, an all women’s college in Massachusetts and the sister school of MIT. Dr. Lambert majored in Latin, but also took the two computer science courses that were offered and several math courses during her undergraduate studies. 

After graduating, Dr. Lambert applied for various jobs and got hired as a Payroll Programmer for the Navy. There were few computer science degrees at the time, so major didn’t matter as much for programming jobs. She began taking graduate level courses that segued into teaching.

Dr. Lambert traveled to Christchurch, New Zealand. There, she taught at the University of Canterbury, gave talks, and spent time touring New Zealand. In research universities such as Canterbury, most professors taught only one class a semester and were quite removed from the students. Her time in New Zealand gave Dr. Lambert an appreciation for what it’s like to teach at one such research institution. She gave talks about computer science education in the United States. The New Zealand Secretary of Education attended one of her talks.

Dr. Lambert arrived at Christopher Newport almost by accident. She applied to over 100 universities around the United States. Christopher Newport gave her a call, and despite this school being nothing like what she was familiar with, she came for a campus visit. Upon arriving here, she realized that the faculty were incredibly welcoming and the environment was upbeat and exciting.

Now, Dr. Lambert is the Interim Director for Graduate Student Studies and oversees the four graduate programs at Christopher Newport University. This is her “favorite thing [she’s] done at CNU.” She offered advice for students about to graduate, “As much as you can, be curious. The more curious you are, the more opportunities you will find.” She also advised students to “try new stuff,” because that is how she got where she is. 

Thank you to Dr. Lynn Lambert for sharing her wisdom. Hopefully we can be inspired by her curiosity to all explore the world ourselves and be open to new opportunities.

Pizza My Mind Presented by CNU Five Year Master’s Program

On October 22, the Physics Computer Science and Engineering department here at Christopher Newport University was joined by representatives from Virginia Tech to talk about graduate opportunities available to CNU students. Dr. Peter Monaghan, Graduate Program Director and Associate Professor, informed students about the 5 year graduate program in applied physics and computer science the PCSE department here at CNU offers. Students can focus in one of three concentrations: applied physics, computer science, or computer systems engineering and instrumentation. CNU offers research opportunities in artificial Intelligence, gravitational waves, nuclear physics, astrophysics, robotics, sensor networking, advanced computing, virtual reality, cybersecurity, and multi-agent systems. With nearby research facilities and groups like Jefferson Lab, NASA Langley, the National Institute of Aeronautics, and the LIGO research group, there are extraordinary research opportunities available at CNU. 

Benefits of attending graduate school include having the opportunity to work closely with a faculty member on independent research, applying the knowledge learned in undergraduate, having fun, and higher pay. Applying for the graduate program at CNU gives students access to an elevated senior status. They are granted permission to take 500 level courses and get invited to graduate student events. There is no application fee, and the application is not binding. Applications are submitted through CNU live, and require a 3.0 GPA. There is no reason not to apply!

Graduate students Nicole Suscello and Eric Miers shared about their experiences so far in the graduate program. Nicole is working on her thesis in password security with Professor Christopher Kreider. She has found that her skills in technical writing and researching have improved through the program, and she is using this opportunity to practice skills gained in undergraduate before going on to her career. Eric is working on his thesis researching UAV authentication methodology with Dr. Jonathan Backens. He did not originally plan on going on to get his master, but found thesis research to be attractive. Not only does he get to contribute to his field in novel research, but he is working on a real world problem that will also boost his resume and make him more marketable to companies when he begins his career.

Deborah Carlier, Director of Strategic Initiatives and Engagement, joined us from Virginia Tech’s College of Engineering to talk about the new MEng in Computer Science program now available to CNU students. This program is a similar accelerated masters program to the CNU five year program. It is a collaboration between CNU and VT where CNU students can take graduate classes at CNU and then transfer the credit to their fifth (graduate) year at VT; they also have the option to take VT graduate classes in their senior undergraduate year at CNU. Upon graduation, the student would spend their fifth year at Virginia Tech. The program requirements are similar to CNU’s; There is a 3.0 GPA requirement, and students can get the fees and the GRE requirement waived. Other requirements include 3 letters of recommendation, undergraduate transcripts, resume, and a statement of goals. Sara Hooshangi, Director of MEng Program Computer Science Dept, and Vassilios Kovanis, Director of MEng Program Electrical and Computer Engineering, also joined us from Virginia Tech’s College of Engineering to talk about program specifics for the different options available. 

Applications for CNU’s five year program open November 17, and applications are due February 1, 2021. Email Dr. Monaghan (peter.monaghan@cnu.edu) for more information or links to virtual information sessions. 

More information on the CNU graduate program can be found here:
https://cnu.edu/academics/departments/pcse/graduateprograms/

Thank you to Dr. Peter Monaghan, Nicole Suscello, Eric Miers, Deborah Carlier, Sara Hooshangi, Samantha Pipkin, Vassilios Kovanis, and Celenia Gallegos for joining us and sharing such valuable information.

Tuesday Tea with Dr. David Conner

The Physics, Computer Science and Engineering department had the pleasure of chatting with Dr. David Conner on October 20th. Dr. Conner is from a small rural city southwest of Blacksburg, Virginia. He grew up near the Blue Ridge Mountains and spent his childhood days hunting, fishing, and riding a motorcycle. He lived on a working farm with cows and lots of land. As a kid, Dr. Conner described himself as a “geek.” He talked about having a microscope and chemistry set that he tinkered with during his adolescence. 

Dr. Conner described some of the must see attractions in Floyd County Virginia. There are the Blue Ridge Mountains with the Blue Ridge Parkway as well as the famous Mabry Mill. In addition, they hold Floyd Fest (https://floydfest.com/) music festival. Besides that, there are wineries and lots of farmland and mountains.

Dr. Conner attended Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech or VT) as a first generation student. He wanted to stay in state and VT was close. Coming from such a small town, VT was a huge change with many more students and much bigger classes. Dr. Conner identified as being shy and struggling with making friends in this new place with all new people. He spent his undergraduate years alternating between working to pay for school and attending semesters at VT. Because of this, he graduated with no debt, but did not have a continuous group of classmates to go through college with. He graduated with a BS in mechanical engineering.

After graduating, Dr. Conner found a job and began working. He found that he loved the creative side of engineering like designing and math, but did not enjoy the management side. He decided to go back to school for his MS in mechanical engineering at Virginia Tech. He found that he wanted to continue his research and discovered the robotics program at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA where he went on to receive his MS and Ph D in robotics from Carnegie Mellon University. While there, he enjoyed the collaborative open door policy he was met with and the interdisciplinary faculty in the program. 

After getting his Ph D, Dr. Conner spent time working in the autonomous vehicles industry as a research scientist. After competing in the 2015 DARPA Robotics Challenge, he found he enjoyed working with students and decided he wanted to teach to have more impact in peoples’ lives. Going somewhere that valued teaching was important to him, so he chose Christopher Newport University and began teaching here in 2015.

Dr. Conner has tried many different things, research, graduate school, working in different jobs, and now he is teaching. He spoke of admiring the lack of fear of failure that Michael Jordan exhibited when he took a break from the NBA after winning 3 championships and pursued a baseball career before returning to the NBA. Dr. Conner encouraged students to try many different things. Dr. Conner’s advice for students interested in the creative side of engineering is to continue their studies in graduate school and get a masters. He advised students to find a program that specializes in the specific area they are interested in working in. 

Thank you to Dr. David Conner for joining us to talk about his experiences. He has shown us that it is okay to not know what you want to do and explore different options, and that failure should not be feared.

Tuesday Tea with Dr. Jonathan Backens

Dr. Jonathan Backens joined Physics, Computer Science, and Engineering department students and faculty on October 13 to reflect on his life experiences. Normally, Dr. Backens hosts these events with his excellent questions, but last week he had the opportunity to share about his own life. Dr. Backens grew up in rural South Dakota in a farming community. His family moved to Virginia when he was in 8th grade, so he attended high school in Virginia. When it came time to choose a University, Dr. Backens liked the size of Christopher Newport University and followed in his brother’s footsteps to study here. He originally planned to study mathematics, then transitioned to engineering. Dr. Backens graduated from CNU with a BS in computer engineering/ computer science. 

Dr. Backens in Voyages 2015

Almost immediately after graduation, Dr. Backens traveled to Botswana, Africa. There, he began to teach English and eventually got involved in IT and network work. After one year in Botswana, Dr.Backens got involved with a Dutch group in Zambia working to connect rural villages with internet. For the next three and a half years, he worked with mesh networks and network traffic in Zambia. 

Dr. Backens remembered the cultures he experienced fondly. He described a warm, relationship based culture where it was easy to connect and build relationships with people. In addition, Dr. Backens described the staple Nshima which is corn based and similar to grits. Nshima is the base to many meals with sauces, meats, and other things added. The one place he claimed you must visit is Victoria Falls in Linvingstone, Zambia. He said it was “hard to describe,” but definitely a “big highlight.”

Dr. Backens was inspired by his experiences in Africa to study communications and networking. He shared that his time in Botswana and Zambia “opened my eyes to the power and impact” this field has on people. When Dr. Backens returned to America, he started his graduate studies in wireless communications at Old Dominion University. He graduated with a Ph D in electrical and computer engineering. After graduate school, Dr. Backens was hired to teach engineering at his alma mater, Christopher Newport University. 

Dr. Backens advised undergraduate students “If you’re wondering if you should go abroad, you should. If you have the question, you’re the person who needs to do it.” He gained an incredible appreciation for being a minority and experiencing completely different cultures during his time in Africa. He encouraged travel saying, “you don’t know everything.” Given the opportunity to spend three weeks in Africa, Dr. Backens advised to spend the first week observing and understanding. Then, build relationships with the people and the community. Only then, begin to apply your own expertise and experience. Dr. Backens said it’s important to be aware that “other cultures exist and have developed and evolved to their current state. You don’t have to fix anything.”

Thank you to Dr. Backens for sharing your wisdom with us, and reminding us that there can be more than one right way of doing things. Perhaps we should all approach life with the intent to learn and observe.