Computer Science News

MS and PhD in Software and Security Engineering program now offers two distinct tracks

These days computer science majors have a wealth of career options available to them. With rapid and considerable growth in the fields of software development and cybersecurity, the computer science department at NDSU is now offering two tracks to its MS and PhD programs, which are now called Software and Security Engineering, to offer a more focused area of study. The program started this fall and it is designed to deal with the different training and knowledge base required in each field. Students choosing the software engineering track will study topics such as Software Requirements Definition and Analysis (CSCI 715), Software Testing and Debugging (CSCI 718), and Introduction to Database Systems (CSCI 765). Those pursuing a cybersecurity track will study topics such as Ethical Hacking (CSCI 604), Cybersecurity Law and Policy (CSCI 609), Computer Crime and Forensics (CSCI 610), and Foundations of the Digital Enterprise (CSCI 773).


Cybersecurity students attend New York conference, competition

A group of 16 NDSU students attended a cybersecurity conference and competition in New York.

NDSU cybersecurity students recently visited New York City to attend the BSides NYC cybersecurity conference and competition. While there, the 16 students attended technical sessions, met with potential employers and participated in a cybersecurity competition.

“It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said NDSU graduate student Matthew Tassava. “Exploring the city was a blast. The competition was challenging, which I appreciated.”

The conference, which was hosted by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan, is part of an international collection of community-oriented BSides cybersecurity conferences.  It was a one-day event and featured presentations on topics ranging from technology law to ethical hacking to artificial intelligence. Read more

Dr. Jeremy Straub is in the Challey spotlight

The Challey Institute for Global Innovation and Growth highlights the impact of our faculty and students at NDSU and in the community. In June the spotlight was on Senior Faculty Fellow, Jeremy Straub who is an Associate Professor of Computer Science at NDSU, Challey Institute Senior Faculty Fellow, and Director of the NDSU Cyber Security Institute. He teaches courses in cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, and robotics. Most of his research focuses on artificial intelligence and cybersecurity and looks into the policy and management implications of those areas. Read/watch the full interview here.

Dr. Anne Denton talks about AI

Anne Denton, NDSU Computer Science, was in the studio on Afternoons Live with Tyler Axness about the recent hearings in Washington D.C. about artificial intelligence and how we can make smart choices to regulate the new technology. You can listen to it here.

Dr. Changhui Yan receives funding for soybean selection using machine learning

Professor Changhui Yan was recently awarded grant funding through the MN Soybean Research & Promotion Council for his proposal "Increasing the Efficiency of Selecting High-Quality Soybeans for Tofu Processors and Breeders with Machine Learning."  The MN Soybean Research & Promotion Council's aim is to increase Minnesota soybean farmer profitability.

Dr. Yan is a full professor in the computer science department. Some of his research interests include bioinformatics, computational biology, genomics, machine learning, data mining, big data, and cloud computing.

Come visit Alan Turing!

April is Pride Month at NDSU, and to celebrate the computer science department recently participated and won the "student choice" category in the campus-wide office decorating contest. The goal of the competition is to have a more visually inclusive campus environment leading up to National Day of Silence on April 14th. The department chose to honor the founder of computer science, Alan Turing, an English mathematician, computer scientist, logician, cryptanalyst, philosopher, and theoretical biologist.Turing was highly influential in the development of theoretical computer science, providing a formalisation of the concepts of algorithm and computation with the Turing machine, which can be considered a model of a general-purpose computer. He is widely considered to be the father of theoretical computer science and artificial intelligence. Turing was homosexual, for this sole reason, he was arrested in 1952 for indecency. He was chemically castrated and had developed a depression that might have caused his suicide. This tragic fate is a classic example of how society’s prejudice robbed him of a dignified and fulfilling life. Let us not forget this tragic example and keep fighting to promote a more egalitarian culture in honor of Turing’s and so many lives wasted to intolerance.  Stop by the department this month to view the decorations and celebrate Pride with us!

NDSU hosts 2023 ICPC regional programming competition

NDSU was a site host for the 2023 International Collegiate Programming Contest (ICPC). Facilitated by Senior Lecturer Joseph Latimer, teams from NDSU, Bemidji State, and MSUM competed in the five hour event. NDSU Computer Science teams had a strong showing in our region of 116 teams, with the team of Elijah Satrom, Jean Eckelberg, and Eathon Jablon placing 11th, newcomers Brady Vogt, Andrew Fergel, and Colin Campbell placing 12th, and the team of Carson Miller, Brandon Gasser, and William Saksoda placing 37th.

The International Collegiate Programming Contest is an algorithmic programming contest for college students. Teams of three, representing their university, work to solve the most real-world problems, fostering collaboration, creativity, innovation, and the ability to perform under pressure. Through training and competition, teams challenge each other to raise the bar on the possible. It is the oldest, largest, and most prestigious programming contest in the world.

The contest fosters creativity, teamwork, and innovation in building new software programs, and enables students to test their ability to perform under pressure. The contest has raised aspirations and performance of generations of the world’s problem solvers in the computing sciences and engineering.

Dr. Jeremy Straub talks with Valley News Live about new Snapchat AI chatbot

A new AI chatbot is causing a lot of buzz both locally and nationally. It’s receiving praise by some, while raising safety concerns by law enforcement and cybersecurity experts.

‘My AI’ from Snapchat is now free for all users, whether you want it or not, claiming to ‘make your life easier’ by answering questions and giving advice.

We tried it for ourselves, and it can feel like talking to a friend when messaging with the bot. And that’s why cybersecurity experts like Jeremy Straub are reminding you what you say in an AI chat will likely live forever.

“It’s really difficult to put the genie back in the bottle with a lot of this stuff,” Straub, who is the Director of NDSU’s Institute for Cyber Security, said. “This can be stuff that comes back to create problems for them when they’re trying to get a job. Something that somebody writes at 10 or 12 or 14 may be nothing like their views and beliefs when they’re 30.” Read/watch the full story here.

CS professors Jen Li and Anne Denton among panelists discussing AI in the classroom

In this discussion panelists talked about what artificial intelligence (AI) is and how it is currently being used in the classroom. You may have heard about AI technologies like ChatGPT, which have value in certain arenas, but can present challenges in other arenas. New technology often brings challenges and this panel addressed some of the challenges they have seen or anticipate seeing with the growth in use of AI technologies. Panelists provided information on additional technology tools that facilitate alternative assessments that are AI resistant and what NDSU's current AI policies and best practices are. 

Dr. Anne Denton talks about AI

Anne Denton, NDSU Computer Science, was in the studio on Afternoons Live with Tyler Axness to answer some questions about the ever changing landscape of artificial intelligence. You can listen to it here.

Byte-le Royale 2023 winners announced

Mama Mia! Can you cook the best pizza's faster than the competition? This kitchen is only big enough for the best! That was the theme of this year’s Byte-le Royale, hosted by the NDSU student chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM). The 12-hour programming competition challenges competitors in teams of up to 3 to write an AI to play a video game and compete against each other to see who can create the best AI. The “Papa Rivard’s” team of Elijah Satrom, Enoch Satrom, and Chris Tupper took first place, “No llambda's” Brandon Gasser and William Soksoda took second, “IntelliBeans” Brennan Gerstner finished third, and “SIMS” Jace Weishaar and Mason Myles took fourth. Additionally, the team “Fan Mention” made up of Jack Hance, Matthew Tassava, and Cameron Kolodjski were the graduate team winners.

This was the first competition for NDSU computer science sophomore Ian King. “For the first time competing, it was a lot of fun. I'm still learning a lot about programing being new to computer science, so it was a bit overwhelming, but it was fun in the sense that like, okay, let's see what we can do and then we'll see what happens in the end. The ACM did have a meeting beforehand introducing Python and that personally really helped me, and the competition was a big help with getting better with coding. I definitely want to partake in more competitions in the future.”

First place winner Elijah Satrom says it was definitely worth the effort, with each of the first-place team members winning $456. “It’s fairly easy to get into as long as you have a basic grasp of programing, logic and such. The API to interact with the game was very easy to use and it was fairly well documented. It was definitely a fun experience and for a 12-hour competition it was very well-designed. No one's going to be closing out the competition with that feeling of, well, I've been working on stuff for 12 hours and I still did almost nothing. It's a good middle ground for the amount of time you have and there was still stuff at the end that we could get done. I'd say it was very well put together.”

Second place winner Braddon Gasser added “the first hour of it is always really stressful. You get the game, you get the manual and you've got no idea what to do. This was my fourth AI competition, and it's pretty fun. Even if you don't win, it's a good time.”

The current chair of the ACM Amanda Fetzer stated that development of the game takes close to a year. “Additionally, we did do a bit of game balancing during gameplay because we noticed some parts of the code we thought were working weren't. But we kind of gave ourselves a rule where we can do game balancing within the first half, but then after that we just don't touch the code because then otherwise it won't give teams enough time to adjust to those changes. There were five updates and only one of them was balancing in the first couple of hours.”

The ACM has been hosting the event since 2018 with the initial computational infrastructure built by computer science alum Jordan Goetze. The AI competition is a very well kept secret each year, which means that the objective and structure of the each year’s game are not revealed until the day of the event. You can learn more about the competition, including previous gameplay at the ACM website.

NDSU faculty member invited to cybersecurity panel

NDSU Cybersecurity Institute director and Challey Institute faculty fellow Jeremy Straub recently was asked by facilitators at SUNY University at Albany and the Society of Actuaries to be part of an expert panel related to catastrophic cybersecurity risks.

Straub, who is also an assistant professor in NDSU’s Department of Computer Science, helped SUNY and the society understand the types of factors that could contribute to increased damage from cyberattacks and, thus, cost to insurance companies. Read more


Dr. Anne Denton talks about AI

Dr. Anne Denton, NDSU Computer Science, is on The Drive Time News with Jack Sunday to chat about the advancement of AI and how it may impact classrooms. you can listen to it here.

Computer science students shine at cybersecurity competitions

NDSU freshman Conor Quinn won first place in the cybersecurity “Scavenge-The-Flag” competition at the BSides Dallas-Fort Worth conference in Texas. NDSU junior Cayden Schmandt also took second place in a physical cybersecurity competition at the conference.

The “Scavenge-The-Flag” competition combined cybersecurity knowledge questions with scavenger hunt activities and in-person challenges. The physical security competition included several challenges related to locks and lockpicking.

“It was a very informative conference. The speakers were very knowledgeable and taught about some interesting attacks. It really expanded my knowledge of various aspects of cybersecurity,” said Schmandt. “It was an overall fun conference. I’m glad that we were able to bring a large group of freshmen and to get them more excited about cybersecurity and broaden their knowledge.”

BSides conferences are held around the world. The BSides conference in Dallas-Fort Worth has been held annually for more than a decade. Read more

Department welcomes new academic and career advisor

The department is happy to announce Jill Stromsborg who will serve as an Academic and Career Advisor. Jill will work with 1st and 2nd year Computer Science and Electrical Engineering, Computer Engineering and Software Engineering students.

Jill graduated with her Bachelors in Child Development and Family Science from NDSU and is excited to be back on campus again!  She has over 10 years in higher education, starting out in Financial Aid and eventually finding her home in Advising.  Her favorite part about advising is connecting with students to build those relationships and helping them find a solution to help them be successful in their program and get them to graduation.

Jill lives in North Fargo with her husband her 3 children: Abigail, Henry, and James.  When she isn’t taking her kids to activities and events she loves getting out to the lake when the North Dakota weather allows, spending time with her large extended family, and getting together with friends.

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