Computer Science Departmental News

New interim chair and lecturer named

Professor Simone Ludwig has been named interim chair of the Department of Computer Science at North Dakota State University. She joined the department in the fall of 2010 after working at the University of Saskatchewan (Canada), Concordia University (Canada), Cardiff University (UK) and Brunel University (UK). She received her PhD and MSc with distinction from Brunel University (UK), in 2004 and 2000, respectively. Before starting her academic career, she worked several years in the software industry.

Dr. Ludwig's research interests lie in the area of computational intelligence, including swarm intelligence, evolutionary computation, neural networks, and fuzzy reasoning. In particular, she works on the application of computational intelligence methods and algorithms to the optimization of data mining (including big data), image processing, privacy and security, and speech recognition. In addition, Dr. Ludwig conducts research in the area of machine learning.

We are also happy to announce that Dan Kahn has recently joined the department as a lecturer. Dan worked at Abbott Laboratories, Lucent Technologies, Motorola, and Hewlitt Packard during his corporate life. Additionally, he taught at Illinois Institute of Technology as an Industry Professor and at University of South Dakota before joining NDSU.  Please join us in welcoming Dan to the department!


Computer science faculty member Dean Knudson retires from department

Dean Kundson, associate professor of computer science recently retired from the department. He taught at NDSU for 16 years and was especially well known to students for his Capstone courses. His presence around our offices and on campus will be missed, and we wish him all the best in his retirement.

Knudson came to NDSU after a career in industry that included Bell Labs, ITT - Advanced Technology Center, CPT, Honeywell - Systems and Research Center, Northrop Grumman, and Microsoft. He earned his doctorate in computer science at Northwestern University in 1972.

He had many travel opportunities while at NDSU, including a 5-week fellowship from the Australian government to visit several universities to discuss international capstone project exchanges. He also went on a Brazilian university-sponsored week in Sao Paulo as well as trips to Europe to present papers and meet international capstone project sponsors. According to Knudson, being able to work with students and industry sponsors has been an ideal mix. He remains very impressed with NDSU CS majors.  

“They are fun to have in class, very hard working, and represent NDSU well to our industry sponsors.  The industry sponsors we have been able to get are also an impressive group ranging from startups to major corporations and from local to regional to international.  Every year we seem to end up with a new technology that has not been part of a project in the past (recently including data science, AI, image recognition, and augmented reality).  We have a great set of sponsors that come back every year with interesting/challenging projects and who provide mentors for their teams that teach the students about "real world" software development while showing real interest in the individual students.  Without those sponsors the capstone class would not have the impact it has on students.”

Professor Knudson also had this to say about his experiences at NDSU:

“Support from everyone in the department, especially Dr. Nygard, Dr. Slator, and Dr. Magel, was fantastic.  I also had the privilege of being able to work with Alex Radermacher for several years.  Alex was first a student then a TA and finally a partner in teaching the class.  He has been an all-star in every role. 

“One area that I have spent considerable time on that was not officially part of my role is the International Capstone Project Exchange.  About 8 years ago we started a project exchange with a German university.  We found a US industry sponsor for one of their teams while they found an industry sponsor in Germany for one of our teams.  This has grown over the years and we now do exchanges with Germany, Sweden, and Australia on a regular basis.  Other universities became interested in these project exchanges, so we started pairing them.  Majors in EE, ECE, ME, and even Journalism are now paired.  There are currently over 20 universities involved in several countries (US, Germany, Sweden, Colombia, Brazil, etc.) and we have set up a website at NDSU to help pair universities for project exchanges.

“I will miss everything about my time at NDSU - students, faculty, and sponsors.”

Dr. Kendall Nygard retires after 43 years at NDSU

Kendall Nygard, professor of computer science, retired after 43 years at NDSU. Dr. Nygard holds a BA from Minnesota State University, an MS from Minnesota State University, and a PhD from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. He came to NDSU in 1977, became associate professor in 1983, and has been full professor since 1992. He served as chair of the department from 1996-2005 and then again from 2017-2020. He was a visiting scientist at the Air Force Logistics Command at Wright-Patterson AFB in Ohio (1984), an adjunct faculty member in operations research at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California (1986 and 1987), the Director of the Scientific Computing Center at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks (1994 and 1995), a research fellow at the Air Vehicle Directorate of the Air Force Research Lab (2000), and a Jefferson Science Fellow at the U.S. Agency for International Development in Washington D.C. (2013-2014).

His research interests include optimization modeling, smart grid, sensor networks, artificial intelligence, adaptive systems, swarm intelligence, and cybersecurity. His prolific scholarship led to over 140 publications as well as numerous honors and awards, including the Chamber of Commerce Distinguished Faculty Service Award in 2016. During his tenure he was awarded 54 NDSU grants and contracts totaling $4,759,881.

He is a member of numerous professional organizations such as the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), the Institute for Operations Research and Management Science (INFORMS), the Upsilon Pi Epsilon Honor Society, American Mathematical Society, Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities, and the Alpha Pi Mu Honor Society.

Dr. Nygard was instrumental in the advising of students, with 182 MS students and 24 PhD students completing degrees under his guidance. He also founded and served as director of the Institute for Cybersecurity Education and Research at NDSU.

The Computer Science Department would like to thank him for all his years of service and wishes him all the best on his retirement.

NDSU computer science professor remembered for contributions to college and community

Brian M. Slator, professor of computer science, died May 1. He was 67.

Slator spent almost 26 years as a faculty member in the NDSU Department of Computer Science and was head of the department from 2007–17. During his time NDSU, he served as a mentor and friend to students and colleagues across many disciplines and was instrumental in several interdepartmental collaborations.

"He will be greatly missed by students, faculty and staff in our department and across the university," said Ken Nygard, professor and chair of computer science. “Although Dr. Slator was a recognized expert in Artificial Intelligence and Natural Language Processing, he became interested in the scholarship of learning through the use of educational games. Leveraging many collaborations, he was the primary designer and developer of multi-user games deployed for teaching in many areas, including programming, geosciences, economics and cell biology. For these highly successful efforts he was awarded the Ernest L. Boyer International Award for Excellence in Teaching, Learning and Technology [in 2000], the only NDSU professor ever recognized in this way.” Read more.  Obituary | Dr. Brian Slator Memorial Scholarship Fund | Memorial


Inspiring Teacher: Anne Denton, professor of computer science

February 13, 2020
Anne Denton’s passion for computing drives her to create a rich experience for students in the computer science department. Denton teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in database systems and computational technologies for environmental sustainability.

“One of my main goals is to make sure that students understand the “real world” side of the topics I teach,” Denton said. “Database textbooks sometimes perpetuate ideas that have long been rejected by companies. I make an effort to get first-hand information from practitioners, including employees of our own IT division as well as database administrators and technologists in the region and beyond.”

Read the full story here.


NDSU hosts Computer Science Education Week speakers

December 31, 2019
The NDSU computer science department hosted several regional computing professionals for Computer Science Education Week.  Computer Science Education Week was proclaimed by Governor Doug Burgum, in North Dakota and sponsored nationally by a collection of organizations, including the Association for Computing Machinery, IEEE, Google and Microsoft. Read full article.


NDSU Team takes 2nd Place in Digi-Key Collegiate Computing Competition

October 18, 2019
A team of three NDSU Computer Science students, Nicholas Pfeifer, Wyly Andrews, and Eric Myers take 2nd place at the 2019 Digi-Key Collegiate Computing Competition

The 3.5 hour competition consists of three main events—two programming sessions and word problem session. The second place team takes back $3,000 for their institution plus an individual prize valued at $200.


NDSU hosts 2019 ICPC north central NA regional programming competition

November 9, 2019
NDSU was a site host for the 2019 International Collegiate Programming Contest (ICPC).  Twenty teams from North Dakota State University, University of North Dakota, Minnesota State University Moorhead, Concordia College, Bemidji State University, and University of  University of Minnesota Morris attended the five hour event.

Ph.D. Students work on groundbreaking artificial intelligence research.

April 8, 2019
Ph.D. Students Shadi Alian and Bikesh Maharjan work on groundbreaking artificial intelligence research designed to provide targeted health care for American Indian patients with diabetes.

The project, which received a nearly $1 million National Science Foundation grant, is led by computer science professors Jen Li and Jun Kong. Computer science graduate students Bikesh Maharjan and Shadi Alian also play an integral role in the research.

“This project gives students an excellent opportunity to apply what they have learned from their graduate courses to real application, which will be used with real patients,” Li said.  “This sort of hands-on knowledge can't easily be taught in textbooks or classes since it requires a real setting where people are doing real work and not just preset exercises with known results. Everything they are learning will be valuable experiences for their future career as researchers or engineers.”

The research project is a targeted and personalized diabetes management aid for members of the Minnesota Lower Sioux Tribe. One of the components is an app that uses the latest artificial intelligence technology to provide patients with real-time health management recommendations for food, exercise and social activity. With help from projects like this, NDSU and the computer science department have become regional leaders in artificial intelligence and cybersecurity. 

The app also provides a direct link to health care providers, who can use the app to closely monitor their patients. The direct link is especially important for the American Indian population, which often has poor access to health care due to location and other factors.

Maharjan and Alian are working on coding the app and doing in-depth research to make the finished product as personalized as possible. They work hand-in-hand with Li, the medical community and the tribe.

“The opportunity to help the tribe is one of the motivations that made the project even more important for me,” Alian said. “I’m helping to do something really good for people who actually need it. It’s not just something for me to say ‘look at this thing I did.’ It’s helping people who actually need help.”

The research project is supported by NSF grant No. 1722913. 

Read the full article on Experience NDSU here.

NDSU computer science announces participation in Cyber Fast Track national competition

February 20, 2019
As part of its support for the North Dakota-wide K-20W effort, the North Dakota State University Department of Computer Science announced today that it will have students participate in the Cyber Fast Track program.  The K-20W initiative is a collaborative effort with more than 40 public and private sector partners who are advancing statewide efforts to provide computer science and cybersecurity training and resources to North Dakota’s educators and students ranging from kindergarten through Ph.D. students and into the workforce.  The Cyber Fast Track program allows students to assess and demonstrate their skills to succeed in cybersecurity careers through a specialized online assessment tool and game. 

North Dakota is one of only 26 states eligible for students to participate in the program.  Students competing in the Cyber Fast Track program can win prizes from a $2.5 million prize pool including scholarships and access to professional certifications and specialized instructional materials.

“The Computer Science Department at NDSU has been actively participating in the state-wide K-20W initiative,” noted department chair Kendall E. Nygard.  “We are excited to be part of this program and encourage our students to engage in the game environment when it becomes available later this spring.”

NDSU computer science graduate named VP technology for Forum Communications

February 16, 2019
NDSU Computer Science graduate Rodney Holm has been hired as the Forum Communications Company vice president of technology.  Prior to joining Forum Communications, Holm worked as director of IT and engineering at Email on Acid in Denver and vice president of engineering at FocusVision Worldwide.  He joined FocusVision when they acquired the assets of QualVu, which he co-founded and served as the chief technology officer of.

According to the company, Holm will “lead the organization in development and maintenance of digital products, content delivery systems and Informational Technology systems.”

Holm is originally from Jamestown, North Dakota and graduated from NDSU with a B.S. in computer science in 1997.

Read more at Inforum.

Dr Lu Liu featured in NDSU's Office of Research and Creative Activity's RCA update

December 10, 2018

What are your primary research and scholarly interests?
Bioinformatics, Data Mining, Machine Learning and Computational Biology.

Where are you from and where did you pursue your education?
I am from China and I received my Ph.D. from the University of Texas at San Antonio. 

What excites you about NDSU?
Research and collaboration opportunities. 

What motivates you?
My family.

NDSU hosts 2018 ICPC north central NA regional programming competition.

November 3, 2018
NDSU was a site host for the 2018 International Collegiate Programming Contest (ICPC).  Twenty-seven teams from North Dakota State University, University of North Dakota. Minnesota State University Moorhead, Concordia College, and University of Minnesota Morris attended the five hour event.

Site Results:Regional Results:
1 - North Dakota State University
2 - University of North Dakota
3 - University of Minnesota Morris

1 - South Dakota School of Mines and Technology
2 - University of Nebraska Lincoln
3 - University of Wisconsin Madison

Computer science adviser recognized at an NDSU men’s basketball game.

February 27, 2018
Joan Krush, Adviser/Lecturer in Computer Science was recognized recently at an NDSU Men’s Basketball game. She was nominated as someone who “makes a difference” in student-athlete’s undergraduate experience. Joan was nominated by student-athlete Jordan Meidinger, a sophomore Computer Science major.

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