Weekly Memo

April 13, 2015

Dear members of the Hajim School community:

       Henry Kautz, the Robin and Tim Wentworth Director of the Goergen Institute for Data Science and Professor of Computer Science, has put the institute in very good company, indeed. Henry -- along with co-PI's Ehsan Hoque, Assistant Professor of Computer Science; Greg DeAngelis,  Chair of Brain and Cognitive Sciences; and Robert Jacobs, Professor of Brain and Cognitive Sciences --  has secured one of the eight inaugural National Research Traineeship Awards from NSF to "energize and advance cutting-edge research in high priority areas" and improve the way graduate programs produce STEM professionals across multiple disciplines. The UR project, awarded $2.9 million for five years, will help train doctoral students to harness the power of data science to advance our understanding of the neural foundations of human behavior, and apply it in industrial and academic settings. Nine faculty members in BCS and Computer Science will be involved. And here's the icing on the cake: NSF's press release leads with a photo of Ehsan and his automated conversation assistant. Congratulations to all involved in bringing this to fruition!

      Two of our student entrepreneurial teams have advanced to the finals of the  New York Business Plan Competition. Congratulations to Team Cλ --  Seth Reining ’15 (MS in TEAM); Anthony Yee ’15 (MS in TEAM) and PhD candidate in optics; Xiangzhi Yu, PhD candidate in Mechanical Engineering; and Yang Zhao, PhD candidate in optics -- and Team Cataract Innovations -- Brian Ayers ’16 (MBA) and MD candidate; Eryn Fennig, PhD candidate in optics; and Sarah Walters ’15 (MS in TEAM) and PhD candidate in optics.  We wish them all the best at the finals in Albany on April 24, where teams will vie for $500,000 in cash and in-kind prizes.

       Steve Gillmer, a Mechanical Engineering PhD student in Asst. Prof. Jonathan Ellis'
Precision Instrumentation Group, has been selected by the American Society for Precision Engineering to represent the society at the upcoming euspen Challenge 2015. This year’s Challenge will take place at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden & Hexagon Metrology Nordic AB in Sweden. The event is a great opportunity to promote young talented engineers and connect them with industry. Congratulations to Steve and best of luck in July!

   Congratulations as well to  Marlen Mahendraratnam '16 of BME  for receiving the Joseph W. Campbell Memorial Scholarship from the Rochester Engineering Society.

   Eight members of our chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers recently attended a four-day national NSBE conference in Anaheim, Calif., attending workshops, meeting employers and networking with students from all over the country. They'll share their experiences during a panel discussion starting at 5 p.m. this Wednesday in the Gamble Room of Rush Rhees Library.

    RocHack's second annual spring hackathon in Rettner Hall was a big success over Easter weekend, with about 94 participants -- double last year's attendance -- including a team all the way from Concordia University in Montreal. Freshmen Dylan Wadler of MechE and Thomas Pinella of Computer Science took first place for their MIB (Message in a Bottle) Note, a social media website for leaving notes for others to find based on GPS location. Pebble smartwatches and Myo armbands were available for participants to use for their projects; the UR Swing Club livened things up with a dance workshop. Jack Valinsky, who was main organizer along with Joel Ramirez, said their goal  was to "make people feel connected to the larger computer science/engineering community and collaborate on cool projects" and it appears they did just that. Click here for a look at some of those cool projects. And thanks to all who helped Jack and Joel put this on, including Ted Pawlicki, undergraduate program director, and Marty Guenther, undergraduate coordinator in Computer Science, and Computer Science Undergraduate Council officers Dan Hassin, Michaela Kerem, Anis Kallel, Hassler Thurston and Charles Lehner.
      A reminder to any Hajim School grad student, post-doc, scientist or faculty member who is 35 years or younger: Please be sure to sign up by April 26 for our May 19 conference to select a UR representative to  the Falling Walls Conference in Berlin in November.  Local prizes will be awarded -- $200 for third place, $300 for second place, and $500 for the winner, who will also be awarded an expenses paid trip to Berlin, where researchers from around the world share their ground-breaking ideas.

     Our UR conference, like the finals in Berlin, consists of a series of rapid-fire three minute presentations. Each presenter will have just three minutes and three slides — one slide with his or her name and presentation title followed by two content slides — to convey any number of major themes and ideas. And while only one individual will be awarded a trip to Berlin, all of us will have an enjoyable afternoon telling and hearing about some of the best and most creative ideas coming out of the University and the Rochester region, in addition to having the opportunity to network with distinguished leaders in academia and industry who will make up the judges panel. Click here to apply by April 26, and here to learn more about the Falling Walls Conference and its origins. Questions? Contact fallingwallsrochester@rochester.edu.

    Last, but certainly not least, a warm welcome to members of the Industrial Associates, here today and tomorrow for their spring meeting at The Institute of Optics. Click here for the agenda.  More on the meeting in next week's memo . . .   
    As always, keep me updated and have a great week.


Robert L. Clark
Professor and Dean