University of North Texas
CSE Alumni Email Newsletter

February 2010  

CSE News
Alumni News
Student News
College of Engineering News
UNT News

Greetings from the CSE Interim Chairman

Interim Chairman Ian Parberry

Dear CSE Alumni and Friends,

As Spring 2010 moves forward, I wanted to share with you some of the news in our CSE department. Rada Mihalcea was honored by President Barack Obama at the White House in January as one of the winners of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). Congratulations to Dr. Mihalcea on achieving this honor.

In early February, our CSE programming team of Robert Mitchell-Burke, Daniel Hooper and James Pascoe competed in an international computer programming competition sponsored by IBM and the Association for Computing Machinery International Collegiate Programming Contest. Congratulations to them on their achievement.

Several CSE faculty members and doctoral students are featured in the latest edition of UNT Research. Congratulations to Santi Phithakkitnukoon and Kino Coursey on receiving their doctoral degrees at the Fall 2009 commencement. Please read all the news below about our CSE department, including the latest from our LARC and VDCL.

I hope these alumni newsletters keep you informed about our CSE department. If there is a particular area that you are interested in and want to offer your assistance, please don't hesitate to let us know. We appreciate our alumni and look forward to your involvement with us. Thank you for your support of CSE and UNT.

Ian Parberry
Professor and Interim Chair

Department of Computer Science and
Engineering News

Rada Mihalcea honored at the White House

President Barack Obama joins recipients of the Presidential Early Career
Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) for a group photo in the
East Room of the White House on January 13, 2010. Dr. Mihalcea is to
the President's upper right. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence
President Barack Obama joins recipients of the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) for a group photo in the East Room of the White House on January 13, 2010. Dr. Mihalcea is to the President's upper right. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)
Rada Mihalcea, Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, was honored by President Barack Obama on January 13, 2010 as one of the winners of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). This Award is the highest honor bestowed by the United States government on scientists and engineers in the early stages of their independent research careers.

Dr. Mihalcea was one of twenty PECASE awardees from the National Science Foundation who had already been selected to receive the NSF Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program. She was one of the 100 recipients of the PECASE award from the following government agencies: Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, Department of Education, Department of Energy, Department of Veterans Affairs, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, and the National Science Foundation.

The awards, established by President Clinton in 1996, are coordinated by the Office of Science and Technology Policy within the Executive Office of the President. Awardees are selected on the basis of two criteria: Pursuit of innovative research at the frontiers of science and technology and a commitment to community service as demonstrated through scientific leadership, public education, or community outreach. Winning scientists and engineers receive up to a five-year research grant to further their study in support of critical government missions.

CSE Programming Team competes in China


The CSE programming team of (L-R) Daniel Hooper, Robert Mitchell-Burke and James Pascoe competed in the Battle of the Brains, an international computer programming competition sponsored by IBM and the Association for Computing Machinery International Collegiate Programming Contest. The competition was held February 1-6 at Harbin Engineering University in northeast China. CSE doctoral student Michael Mohler coached the team. Dr. Ryan Garlick is the Faculty Advisor and accompanied the team to China.

The UNT programming team finished in 86th place out of 103 teams. Our team qualified for the competition after placing second to UT Austin at the regional contest in Oklahoma in October 2009, but went on to place higher than their regional rival at the world finals in China.

The Denton Record-Chronicle featured the team on the front page of February 1 and in this editorial on February 2, 2010.

For more information, see this UNT press release. To see more pictures of the ICPC contest, go to this CSE media gallery page.

UNT Research features CSE faculty members and doctoral students

UNT Research UNT Research is a UNT publication that focuses on science, scholarship and the arts at UNT. In the Initiatives section, read about how UNT is planning to expand its research impact to gain from a new state of Texas program which will help seven emerging research universities become the next generation of national research universities.

"Researchers Use Simulations to Forecast Disease Outbreaks" features Associate Professor Dr. Armin Mikler, Director of the Center for Computational Epidemiology and Response Analysis. Marty O'Neill II and Jorge Reyes, current CSE doctoral students, and Courtney Corley, CSE Ph.D. graduate in August 2009, are also included in this UNT Research article.

Associate Professor Rada Mihalcea appears in the Awards section of UNT Research as a "Top Young Scientist." Her NSF CAREER and PECASE awards are highlighted in this section. Dr. Mihalcea is also recognized again in the News Brief section as a UNT Honors Faculty.

Dr. Krishna Kavi, Professor, is featured in the Spring 2010 edition of UNT Research. "UNT Leads NSF Center for Networks of the Future" explains how the National Science Foundation Industry/University Cooperative Research Center is creating cutting-edge software to make complex networks possible. Dr. Kavi is Director of the Net-Centric Software and Systems Center, led by UNT. CSE graduate student Tomislav Janjusic is also included in the article.

Dhruva Ghai, who received his Ph.D. in Spring 2009, appears in the Student Researchers section of UNT Research. Dr. Ghai's research with nanoscale circuit design is featured. He is a former student of CSE Assistant Professor Saraju Mohanty.

CSE hosts NACLO 2010

High school students participating in the NACLO competition.
High school students participating in the NACLO competition.
The regional competition for the 2010 North American Computational Linguistics Olympiad was hosted on February 4 by the Department of Computer Science and Engineering. Over 40 high school students from North Texas participated in the competition at the UNT location.

NACLO is an educational competition in Computational Linguistics, the science of designing computer algorithms to solve linguistic problems. It challenges students to develop strategies for tackling problems in fascinating real languages and formal symbolic systems.

Rada Mihalcea, Associate Professor, and Genene Murphy, Student Assistant, supervised this event, along with Carmen Banea, Samer Hassan, and Ben Leong. Hakan Ceylan, Michael Mohler, and Ravi Sinha also helped set up.

For more information about this competition, see To see more pictures of this competition, go to this media gallery page.


Ian Parberry The Laboratory for Recreational Computing ended the Fall 2009 semester with a Game Contest held in CSCE 4210/5250. Thanks to contest judges Ryan Monday and LARC alumni, Joe Scheinberg, Harold Myles and Byron Goodman. Game demos from CSCE 4210/5250 are now available online. Dr. Parberry says "These students are fresh out of Computer Science III using C++ and DirectX for the first time. Some of these demos will really knock your socks off!"

Dr. Parberry and LARC were mentioned in two paragraphs on page 2 of "Geeks Get Respect", which appeared in the December 2-8 issue of Fort Worth Weekly. Dr. Parberry is serving as an at-large member of the Program Committee of the 5th International Conference on the Foundations of Digital Games to be held in Monterey, CA in June 2010. He will also serve on the Program Committee of the Workshop on Procedural Generation in Games to be co-hosted with the International Conference on the Foundations of Digital Games in June.

LARC PhD student Jon Doran had his first refereed journal publication accepted in IEEE Transactions on Computational Intelligence and AI in Games. The paper, "Controlled Procedural Terrain Generation Using Software Agents", coauthored with LARC Director Ian Parberry, explores a controllable system that uses intelligent agents to generate terrain elevation heightmaps according to designer-defined constraints.

Another LARC PhD student, Dhanyu Amarasinghe, passed his Research Readiness test on December 7. His next step is the research proposal. Dhanyu is a Teaching Fellow in the CSE department this semester. He is teaching a section of CSCE 1020.

LARC alumnus, Cesar Stastny, worked on the Call of Duty: World at War Map Packs 1, 2 and 3 which took the top 3 places for premium downloads on the Playstation Network Charts for 2009. Cesar is Director of Tools and Libraries at Treyarch (Activision).

Other LARC alumni were busy at the end of 2009. Lynn Duke is featured in a video on Spike TV about his work on the game Splosion Man for Twisted Pixel Games. Ryan Inselmann is now a game programmer at Bonfire Studios. He was previously employed as a game programmer at MumboJumbo and Spidermonk Entertainment.

For more information about LARC, go to

News from VLSI Design and CAD Laboratory (VDCL)

(L-R) Oleg Garitselov, VDCL Director Saraju Mohanty, Garima Thakral, Mohana Asha Latha Dubasi with their new cutting-edge nanoelectronics design and simulation facility.
VDCL under the leadership of Dr. Mohanty presented multiple papers in International Conferences. Two important papers titled "A P4VT (Power-Performance-Process-Parasitic-Voltage-Temperature) Aware Dual-VTh Nano-CMOS VCO" and "A Combined DOE-ILP Based Power and Read Stability Optimization in Nano-CMOS SRAM" were presented at 23rd IEEE International Conference on VLSI Design were held in Bangalore, India. This is one of the premier VLSI conferences which uses double-blind review process and selects only 20% of the submitted papers.

Dr. Mohanty was a session chair for "Low-Power Architecture" session at 23rd IEEE International Conference on VLSI Design held in Bangalore, India. Dr. Mohanty also served as publication chair of 12th IEEE International Conference on Information Technology (ICIT) held in Bhubaneswar, India. He edited the conference proceedings which were published by McGraw-Hill with ISBN: 978-0-07-068014-2.

VDCL graduates one more student with master's thesis. Ms. Ruchi Rastogi Bani defended her thesis titled "A New N-Way Reconfigurable Data Cache Architecture for Embedded Systems". With this, a total of 15 dissertations/theses have been produced from the VDCL.

Dr. Krishna Kavi and students in Taiwan

Krishna Kavi Professor Krishna Kavi and two of his graduate students, Paul Lin and Tomislav Janjusic are spending the Spring 2010 semester at the National Chiao-Tung University (NCTU), in Hsinchu, Taiwan. Hsinchu is approximately 50 miles southwest of Taipei, the capital of Taiwan. The Computer Science department at NCTU is ranked #1 in Taiwan and among the top 25 in Asia.

Dr. Kavi is collaborating with several faculty members at NCTU on research in computer architecture for embedded and handheld smart devices. He is exploring research collaborations with Taiwan IT companies including Acer and Taiwan universities. He will be presenting talks at NCTU and several other universities in Taiwan. He feels that this is a great experience for him and also for his graduate students.

Robocamp News

Robocamp The Texas Workforce Commission Summer Merit Program has awarded $63,000 to the Department of Computer Science and Engineering to run 6 more Robotics and Game Programming Summer Camps in 2010. This coming Robocamp season will be announced during the first week of March, with registration opening March 22. Availability of student work positions will be announced April 5. Stay tuned to for further information.

News for Alumni

Alumni Focus

Cesar Stastny visited LARC and<br />Dr. Parberry in September 2009.
Cesar Stastny visited LARC and
Dr. Parberry in September 2009.

Cesar Stastny graduated with a BA in Computer Science in 2004. Inspired by Dr. Ian Parberry's Game Development courses, Cesar decided to seek a career in the Video Games industry and in 2005 accepted a programmer position at Cyberlore Studios (Majesty, Risk, Playboy: The Mansion) in Northampton, MA. During that year Cesar designed a new set of internal game development tools and contributed significant improvements to their scripting system. Eventually he became Technical Product Manager and Project Lead for the Minerva project, a "serious games" training simulation designed initially for Best Buy stores. Unfortunately, the studio shut down just as Minerva became ready for Beta release.

Several months later in 2006 Cesar became Technical Director at The Collective (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Indiana Jones and the Emperor's Tomb, Star Wars Episode III) in Newport Beach, CA. As Technical Director he was responsible for the group that builds the tools and core technologies used by the studio to make their games. He worked on 3 games in 2006: Silent Hill: Homecoming, Harker (cancelled), and Dirty Harry (cancelled). When the latter game was canceled in 2007, mass layoffs forced Cesar back into the job market.

Fortunately, Treyarch (Spider-Man, Call of Duty 3) in Santa Monica, CA was searching for a new Director of Tools & Libraries and Cesar seemed a perfect fit. Treyarch is a large studio which makes games for XBox360, Playstation3, Nintendo Wii, and PC. Once again his focus was on tools and core technologies. This role allowed Cesar to contribute to all three of Treyarch's new titles: Spiderman: Web of Shadows, 007 Quantum of Solace, and Call of Duty: World at War. In 2008 Cesar became PC Project Lead for the World War II first person shooter, Call of Duty: World at War. Released in November 2008, CoD:WaW was a smash hit, winning many awards and breaking sales records.

Cesar is now Treyarch's Director of Technology. In addition, he is Project Lead for PC game development and is still deeply involved in their tools and core tech groups. In 2009 he helped the studio deliver 3 top selling Map Packs for Call of Duty: World at War and its very popular Nazi Zombies mode. Treyarch has become widely recognized as a leading PC game developer and for providing the best post-release support for any PC Call of Duty title. Cesar is currently hard at work on Treyarch's next game. In his spare time sometimes he walks to the beach and looks for pirates, ninjas, monkeys, zombies, and robots.

Former Chair Jim Poirot honored at TCEA

Don Retzlaff, Jim Poirot, Gerald Knezek
Don Retzlaff, Jim Poirot, Gerald Knezek

In February, the 30th annual Texas Computer Education Association Convention was held in Austin. In addition to the convention, a special reception was held for Dr. Jim Poirot, Regents Professor, CECS Program Coordinator, Director of TCET, and former Chairman of the Computer Science Department from 1981 to 1986.

Dr. Poirot was honored for his many years of service with the TCEA. Both events were attended by Don Retzlaff, Computer Science Lecturer, and Dr. Gerald Knezek, Computer Science Faculty Member from 1983-1988 and currently a Regents Professor of Learning Technologies.

Although many of Jim's friends, family and colleagues attended the reception, several were unable to make it due to the snow storm in the Dallas area. Jim is currently on modified service with the Department of Learning Technologies. Pictures of the conference and reception may be viewed on the gallery page located here.

We want to hear from you! What have you been doing since graduating from UNT?
Please send a few paragraphs and a picture to

Student News

Two Ph.D. Graduates in Computer Science and Engineering

Santi Phithakkitnukoon

Santi Phithakkitnukoon received his Ph.D. in Computer Science and Engineering at the December 2009 graduation. Santi is pictured here with Dr. Bill Buckles, the CSE Graduate Coordinator, at his graduation.

Santi has defended his dissertation "Inferring Social and Internal Context using a Mobile Phone" in October 2009. His major professor was Ram Dantu, Associate Professor in the UNT Department of Computer Science and Engineering. Other members on his committee included Phil Sweany, Associate Professor in the UNT Department of Computer Science and Engineering; Parthasarathy Guturu, Assistant Professor in the UNT Department of Electrical Engineering; and Joćo Cangussu, Assistant Professor of Computer Science at the University of Texas at Dallas.

Santi has joined MIT SENSEable City Lab as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow. He is currently working with other MIT researchers to create an innovative navigation system with new interactive capabilities that will assist drivers in identifying and planning activities in real-time and determining optimal routes for commuting between destinations.

Santi considers himself very lucky having joined Dr. Dantu's lab in January 2007 and he would like to thank Dr. Dantu for his advice and teaching. He is a proud UNT graduate and trying his very best to represent UNT at MIT.

Kino Coursey

Kino Coursey graduated with a Ph.D. in Computer Science and Engineering in December 2009. Dr. Coursey and his major professor, Rada Mihalcea, are pictured here at the UNT graduation.

In October 2009, Dr. Coursey successfully defended his dissertation on "The Value of Everything: Ranking and Association with Encyclopedic Knowledge." Along with Rada Mihalcea, his doctoral committee consisted of CSE Associate Professor, Paul Tarau; William Moen, Associate Professor of the UNT School of Library and Information Sciences; Doug Lenat, founder of the CYC project and the President of Cycorp and Michael Witbrock, Vice President of Research at Cycorp.

Dr. Coursey is working for Acuative and his own company, Daxtron Laboratories.

College of Engineering News

New Chair of Materials Science and Engineering

Narendra Dahotre Dr. Narendra Dahotre is the new Chair of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. Dr. Dahotre is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and of the American Society of Materials. He holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Poona in India, and master's and doctoral degrees in Metallurgical Engineering and Materials Science and Engineering from Michigan State University.

Dr. Dahotre brings to UNT administrative experience and an impressive track record of research in high temperature coatings and laser based surface engineering. Most recently, he was with the University of Tennessee, where he was a professor in materials science and engineering with joint appointment with Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and Chairman of the Center for Laser Applications. Dr. Dahotre is also a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and the Indian Institute of Metals.

CENG looking for SUPER students: Summer Undergraduate Program in Engineering Research

The UNT College of Engineering is offering to qualified undergraduates from throughout the country the opportunity to conduct research projects in Computer Science, Computer Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Engineering Technology, Mechanical Engineering, Energy Engineering and Materials Science and Engineering for eight weeks during the summer under the banner of SUPER (Summer Undergraduate Program in Engineering Research).

The SUPER Program is from June 7 to July 30, 2010. The program is oriented towards students who have completed at least two years of study in Computer Science, Computer Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, or Materials Science and Engineering with a cumulative grade point average of 3.5 or higher at the end of the Fall 2009 semester. Students who will graduate at the end of the Spring 2010 semester are not eligible for this program.

Participants in the 8 week program are provided a stipend of $3,500, on-campus room and board (if needed), and tuition for one hour of college credit (if needed). In addition, they will receive up to $500 for travel expenses.

For more information, go here. The application, two letters of recommendation, and an official transcript are due March 1, 2010.

University of North Texas News

President Bataille resigns

President Bataille

Dr. Gretchen Bataille has resigned as the President of the University of North Texas effective February 28, 2010. The UNT board of regents voted to accept Dr. Bataille's resignation and appointed former UNT administrator Phil C. Diebel to serve as the university's interim president beginning March 1, 2010.

Bataille was named UNT President in August 2006 and was inaugurated as UNT's first female president in April 2007. Prior to joining UNT, Bataille served as senior vice president of Academic Affairs for the University of North Carolina System.

To see the UNT press release announcing Dr. Bataille's resignation, go here. For the latest UNT news, go here.

Lyle Mays at UNT

Lyle Mays

Jazz pianist and composer Lyle Mays will be at UNT February 22-25 as this year's Glenn E. Gomez International Artists Endowment for Jazz Studies guest artist. In addition to daytime sessions that are open to all students, he will perform in a quintet with UNT Jazz Faculty members on February 23 at McDavid Studio in Fort Worth.

On February 25, Lyle Mays will perform with the One O'Clock Lab Band, directed by Steve Wiest, and Jazz Faculty members at Winspear Hall in the Murchison Performing Arts Center on the UNT Denton campus. Tickets for February 23 may be purchased at McDavid StudioFor the Winspear Hall performance, purchase tickets at

The CSE Email Newsletter was assembled and produced by Genene Murphy and Don Retzlaff. It is a publication of the UNT Computer Science and Engineering Department. Contact the department at

If you would like to receive this newsletter as text rather than formatted in HTML, please contact Don Retzlaff at UNT Computer Science and Engineering Department — February 2010