Archive for February 2022

Faculty Spotlight- Dr. Samuel Henry

Bringing Science Fiction to Reality with Natural Language Processing

For the first in a series of professor and student spotlights in the Department of Physics, Computer Science, and Engineering, I interviewed Dr. Samuel Henry. Dr. Henry has been a professor of computer science at CNU since 2020 and we are so happy to have him as a recent addition to the PCSE team.

A Richmond native, Dr. Henry always enjoyed coding, even spending his math classes programming his TI-83 calculator. This led him to pursue an undergraduate degree and career in computer science, but he soon found himself missing academia and wishing to work on his own research. For this reason, he returned to school to get a PhD in computer science from VCU. In 2020, Dr. Henry joined CNU as a professor of computer science, and he enjoys working at a school where he can focus on both education and research, while still being close to his hometown.

Dr. Henry visualizes machine learning for his eager student researchers.

Dr. Henry’s current project aims to integrate biomedical knowledge bases into natural language processing systems that were originally meant for general language. The field of biomedicine creates a particularly exciting challenge for natural language processing due to the domain specific languages, chemical names, drugs, and various medical jargon. Ideally, the work being done in machine learning, AI, and natural language processing will eventually bring technology to a level where someone can communicate with an intelligent computer that is capable of understanding our language. This bridging of reality and science fiction is one of the many things that drew Dr. Henry to the field of natural language processing.

For any students looking to study natural language processing, machine learning, or AI, Dr. Henry recommends starting with Python, since that is the most commonly used language in this domain. Some classes offered at CNU that will be useful for pursuing natural language processing include DATA201 and 301- since machine learning is a subfield of data science- and CPSC471, an artificial intelligence class. Dr. Henry hopes to see more machine learning undergraduate classes offered in the future.

Pizza My Mind Presented by Marathon Consulting

On February 10th, the Department of Physics, Computer Science, and Engineering welcomed Marathon Consulting to present at Pizza My Mind. Marathon Consulting is a small company headquartered in Virginia Beach with additional offices in Richmond. Unlike many consulting firms in the area, Marathon is not a federal contractor: they provide consulting services in virtually every industry. Speakers included President Harris Pezzella, Vice President Tom Marsden, and senior recruiters Kate Keene and Lindsey Mashburn.

Marathon prides themselves on hiring the best and brightest and retaining those employees. In fact, the presenters made it clear that the best asset at Marathon is the employees.  This employee-first emphasis makes it so Marathon has a great workplace culture in addition to the high quality services provided.

Pezzella and Marsden Present at Pizza My Mind

Projects at Marathon fall under two categories; Marathon-managed and client-managed.  Marathon-managed projects require teams to assist the client in defining business requirements as well as providing estimates of cost, schedule, defined deliverables and a plan. In client-managed engagements, Marathon provides consultants to meet client defined skill and experience requirements while the clients fill the project management responsibilities. 

Marathon has 4 different IT divisions; digital marketing, application development, data solutions, and IT advisory. This provides opportunities for just about anyone pursuing a career in IT; each of the divisions have positions of varying seniority starting at the internship level and extending through senior leadership. Being a small company, Marathon often chooses to promote leaders within, making it an ideal company to begin your career.

Students can visit www.marathonus.com or Handshake to learn more about career and internship opportunities at Marathon Consulting.

Thank you to Harris Pezzella, Tom Marsden, Kate Keene, and Lindsey Mashburn for such an informative presentation on Marathon Consulting.

Pizza My Mind Presented by Kinsale Insurance

On February 3rd, the CNU department of Physics, Computer Science and Engineering had the pleasure of welcoming representatives from Kinsale Insurance to present at Pizza My Mind. Kinsale is a Richmond based insurance company that specializes in policies standard carriers won’t cover, such as coverage for ax throwing ranges or drones.

Kinsale’s recruiting manager, Corky Ford, and technical lead, Kevin Mark, came from Richmond to discuss how Kinsale uses IT as a strategic advantage in the insurance industry. The IT department at Kinsale is composed of Infrastructure, Data, Architecture, Product and App Development. All developers are full stack, meaning that they work both backend (Java) and frontend development.

Corky Ford presents on behalf of Kinsale

Pizza my Mind also welcomed two CNU students who spoke about their experiences as interns at Kinsale. Santi Vallejo was part of a team of application development interns and Sarah Benton worked as a product intern where she was able to iteratively develop a new knowledge management system. Both interns spoke in depth about the friendly atmosphere and the impact of the agile environment at Kinsale.

Kinsale is looking to hire 5 interns to work in person during the summer of 2022. There are internship opportunities in app development (Java), infrastructure (Windows and Sharepoint) and business analysis. Eligible interns should ideally be upcoming spring 2023 or December 2022 graduates. Kinsale was able to offer all five interns from the summer of 2021 full time positions upon their graduation! Visit https://www.kinsaleins.com/ for more information. 

Thank you to Corky Ford, Kevin Mark, Sarah Benton, and Santi Vallejo for taking the time to speak with us about opportunities at Kinsale Insurance.

Pizza My Mind Presented by Jefferson Lab

On January 27th, the Department of Physics, Computer Science and Engineering welcomed Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility (Jefferson Lab) to present at Pizza My Mind. Jefferson Lab is a world leading facility that uses the unique particle accelerator known as the Continuous Electron Beam Accelerator Facility (CEBAF) to study one of the most significant problems in physics today: “Can we quantitatively understand quark and gluon confinement in quantum chromodynamics?”

Latifa Elouadrhiri, Senior Staff Scientist at Jefferson Lab, explained how the particle accelerator works as part of Jefferson Lab’s two-part mission to understand the fundamental structure of matter and where the origin of matter comes from. In order to deliver on this mission, Jefferson Lab will provide an excellent scientific program with 12 GeV upgrade. They will also push new developments such as artificial intelligence and machine learning.

CNU is lucky to have several faculty members that perform research at Jefferson Lab. These faculty members participated in a panel following the Pizza My Mind presentation. Panel participants included Dr. David Heddle, Dr. Peter Monaghan, Dr. Robert Fersch and Dr. William Phelps. These professors detailed the research they conduct at Jefferson Lab. Their research covers a wide range of topics from AI to building particle accelerators. Students interested in conducting research at Jefferson Lab should reach out to the above-mentioned professors via their CNU emails.

Thank you to Latifa Elouadrhiri, David Heddle, Peter Monaghan, Robert Fersch, and William Phelps for taking the time to speak with us about Jefferson Lab.

Pizza My Mind Presented by the US House of Representatives

The Department of Physics, Computer Science and Engineering had the pleasure of welcoming Randy Vickers (Chief Information Security Officer) and Matt Norris (Security Operations Center Manager) from the US House of Representatives, to present at Pizza My Mind on January 20th.

The US House of Representatives faces many cyber threats which the team must routinely monitor for. These threats range from information gathering to the disruption of the legislative process, but the vast majority involve phishing, a form of information gathering that involves sending legitimate looking emails with the hopes of someone unknowingly opening corrupted files.

United States House of Representatives

The large incidence rate of phishing attacks makes it difficult for representatives to open emails from their constituents, as it is difficult to tell the difference between innocent and malicious emails. It is essential that the representatives and their interns refrain from clicking on unknown links or downloading anything from unknown sources. With that being said, there is a high insider threat from those that struggle to tell the difference between genuine emails and phishing emails.

It is imperative that the cybersecurity team at the US House of Representatives is ready to face any and all future cyber threats. They must continuously monitor for current and future threats while also keeping those working for the House updated on the current security protocols.

Unfortunately, no paid internships exist at the moment, but unpaid internships do exist if you live in the D.C. area. For more information, reach out to the House Cybersecurity office Cybersecurity@mail.house.gov to learn more.

Thank you to Randy Vickers and Matt Norris for an informative presentation on the security threats faced by the US House of Representatives.