News Archive 2020

Professor Pratap Kotala interviewed about the recent cyberattacks on U.S.

Professor of computer science, Pratap Kotala was interviewed by Joel Heitkamp on "Down the Road with Joel" about the recent cyberattack on U.S. federal government agencies. This security breach went on for months, and experts believe at this time, given the widespread impact, that Russia is most likely responsible. Kotala states that these attacks happened despite the investment of billions of dollars to create state-of-the-art server security protections. There are multiple factors that made these attacks possible, states Kotala, including the safeguarding of the recent election. The attack was quite sophisticated and is of a type that we have never seen before. This happened at a time when the Cybersecurity Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) was without a full-time director. Additionally the assistant director was asked to resign on November 12th during the time of the attacks. It is difficult to say whether or not we will ever know the details of what the hackers acquired, as they might have had access to the networks for six to nine months, which gave them ample opportunity to transfer data to their servers, manipulate programs, and potentially control the networks. Watch the video to see the full interview.

Undergraduate places second in notable competition

Joshua Gisi, an undergraduate in the College of Engineering(CoE), recently placed second in the ACM ESEC/FSE 2020 Student Research Competition. The ACM’s Symposium on the Foundations of Software Engineering (ESEC/FSE) is one of the premier conferences in Software Engineering; it is currently ranked as the second most cited conference in software systems by Google Scholar. His paper, entitled “Synthesizing Correct Code for Machine Learning Programs,” presented a novel approach to AutoML (automatic machine learning) that produces state-of-the-art results using only a fraction of the computational resources. Joshua is a member of ARiSE (Advanced Research in Software Engineering), a group within the Department of Computer Science, where he works with Dr. Muhammad Zubair Malik. His research is supported by CoE and NDEPSCoR grants.

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.


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