University of North Texas
CSE Alumni Email Newsletter

December 2007  

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

Greetings from the CSE Chairman

Chairman Krisha Kavi

Dear CSE Alumni and Friends,

As I announced at the beginning of this semester, our Computer Engineering program was evaluated by ABET during October. I am pleased to share with you that we received a favorable report at the end of the team's visit, but we will not have the final word until next summer. I want to thank the alumni and members of our CSE Industrial Advisory Board who were interviewed by the evaluators. When this program is accredited, then our students can be proud of receiving their degree from an ABET-accredited program.

There are many other good things to share with you about our department. Planning has begun for our new B.A. in Information Technology that will begin in Fall 2008. We are proud of our UNT programming teams. Congratulations to the first place team on winning the ACM South Central Regional Programming Competition. Congratulations to Santi Phithakkitnukoon for winning one of the Robert Toulouse Doctoral Scholarships and to Samer Hassan and Carmen Banea for winning the best student paper award at the IEEE International Conference on Semantic Computing. Two doctoral students successfully defended their dissertations this Fall and will graduate soon. You can read more about these and other success stories in this newsletter.

You can continue to support us in a number of ways. Volunteer as a guest speaker or recommend someone at your company that would be interesting and educational. Encourage your company to sponsor an event or other funding for student organizations. You are invited to come back to UNT to be a "Professor for a Day" during National Engineers Week in February 2008 to share your professional experiences with our current students. We invite you to get involved with our program at UNT. With your support, we will continue to improve our CSE program.

Krishna M. Kavi
Professor and Chair

Department of Computer Science and Engineering News

UNT Programming Team Qualifies for ACM World Finals

UNT took two teams to the ACM South Central Regional Programming Competition at Texas A&M on Saturday, November 3rd. After 5 hours of continuous programming, Team 1 solved 8 out of 9 problems (the only team to solve 8 problems). The problem set included guiding a laser beam through a maze of objects with reflectors and splitters. UNT teams placed first and eleventh out of 76 teams throughout the South Central United States. This is the first time a UNT team has advanced to the World Finals in the ACM Programming Contest sponsored by IBM. The World Finals will be held in April 2008 in Banff Springs, Alberta, Canada.

Team coach Ryan Garlick said, "We were very pleased with the results, in terms of the first team qualifying for the finals and for future events, as our second team did very well also and was composed of all first-time competitors."

Through a haze of caffeine, first team captain John Rizzo said, "The problem set was diverse and challenging but we had a good day." Rizzo added the he and his teammates had been practicing individually and as a team every week for the past few months.

The first place team was composed of:
John Rizzo
Hector Cuellar
Robbie Mitchell Burke

Team 2:
Joey Parrish
Angel Fox
Matt Bishop

For more information, see this UNT press release.

ABET Update

The CSE Department was recently visited by ABET (Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology) to consider the accreditation of the Computer Engineering program. Thanks to all the faculty and students who participated in the discussions. The visit went very well and we anticipate receiving accreditation for the program. The entire process leading to the final approval will occupy the remainder of the academic year. We will have the formal approval during Summer 2008.

The visitors had only three minor concerns for the program that are already being addressed. In ABET terminology there are three levels of issues: 1) Deficiencies-these prevent accreditation 2) Weaknesses-these would generally cause a shortened accreditation period or other interim requirements to be met; 3) Concerns- these are usually items that simply need to be addressed before the next visit which can be 2, 3, 4 or 6 years. It is very unusual for a new program to have no weaknesses and only a small number of concerns, so we should be very proud. We need to be aware that ABET board may change a concern to a weakness if they feel that concern is serious enough. So, let us hope that that this will not happen and that we will receive full (6 year) accreditation.

Future announcements will keep you informed of the final outcome of this process.

UNT Hosts Workshop on Algorithms, Combinatorics and Geometry

Workshop on Algorithms, Combinatorics and Geometry

Dr. Farhad Shahrokhi organized a workshop on Algorithms, Combinatorics and Geometry (ACG) which was held November 29- December 1, 2007 at the University of North Texas. The workshop promoted interaction between the discrete mathematics and the computer science communities and fostered collaboration between junior researchers, graduate students, and senior researchers.

More than 60 people participated in this workshop, which is supported by a grant that Dr. Shahrokhi received from the National Science Foundation. Matching funds have been provided by the University of North Texas. Olivia Loza and Cameron Palmer, two outstanding CSE graduate students, were the workshop assistants. For more information, please see the details at

CSE Receives Grant from Motorola Foundation

Motorolla Dr. Robert Akl and David Keathly received a $30,000 grant from the Motorola Foundation to take the popular RoboCamp summer program "on the road" to area schools and community centers during the summer of 2008. The RoboCamp program was started in the summer of 2005 with a 2004 grant from the Technology Workforce Development program. Two camps were held in the summers of 2005 and 2006 in Denton and Dallas.

In 2007 an Advanced Robocamp Program joined the other two, along with an engineering design camp called Eng-inuity! and a programming camp known as CSExperience. They hope to continue the Dallas and Denton campus camps to complement the mobile camps, and will be recruiting students during the spring semester to assist with all of the camps. The student workers will receive a salary for the program, which is provided free to participants.

For more information, read this NT Daily article.

Dr. Mikler and Courtney Corley at EpiGrid 2007

Mikler at EpiGrid 2007
Dr. Mikler and his father with Courtney Corley at the train station in Frankfurt, Germany.
Dr. Armin Mikler gave a keynote address on November 5, 2007 at EpiGrid 2007, an international workshop held to find innovative strategies to combat epidemics. The conference was held at Fern University in Hagen, Germany. The workshop helped scientists of different disciplines to cooperate on developing intelligent decision-making systems.

Ph.D. student Courtney Corley presented "Social epidemiology and intimate social networks" at the conference. It was co-authored by Prof. Suhasini Ramisetty-Mikler, PhD, MPH, University of Texas School of Public Health, Dallas Regional Campus. In this presentation, Corley discussed how public health risk behavior surveys provide operational insight into forming contacts between individuals in an intimate social network. He also introduced a computational simulator created to embody the intimate social networks related to the disease transmission which can be used as a tool by public health professionals in developing strategies for targeted interventions.

Courtney also presented "Generating social networks of intimate contacts for the study of public health intervention strategies" at the IEEE 7th International Symposiums on Bioinformatics and Bioengineering (BIBE07) held at Harvard Medical School Conference Center in Boston, MA on October 14, 2007. Co-authors included Lindsey Brown, Armin R.Mikler, Diane J. Cook and Karan Singh.

Dr. Kavi Named SMU Distinguished Alumnus

Krisha Kavi Dr. Krishna Kavi was honored as a Distinguished Alumnus at Southern Methodist University's School of Engineering for the 40th Anniversary Celebration of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering on November 9 during the 2007 Homecoming Weekend. Dr. Kavi received his Master's degree in 1977 and his Ph.D. in 1980 from SMU.

Dr. Kavi also participated in a Distinguished Alumni Symposium hosted by the Department of Computer Science and Engineering and the Dean of the School of Engineering of SMU. The symposium featured six distinguished SMU alumni discussing the main milestones of computing in the last four decades and sharing their outlook for the future.

Congratulations, Dr. Kavi, on receiving this award from SMU!

Dr. Celikel Organizes a Track at ITNG 2008 Conference

Dr. Ebru Celikel Dr. Ebru Celikel is organizing a track titled: "Risk Management in Information Systems" at the 5th International Conference on Information Technology: New Generations to be held in April 2008 in Las Vegas, NV. The Risk Management in Information Systems Track at ITNG 2008 seeks to gather researchers and their work in this multidisciplinary area. For more information about this conference please go to

Parasoft CEO Presents Software Engineering Forum

Mikler at EpiGrid 2007
David Keathly presents Dr. Kowala with a
CSE department shirt.
Dr. Adam Kowala, CEO of Parasoft, Inc., discussed "Putting the engineering in software engineering: technology infrastructure in process improvement" on November 8, 2007 at the UNT Research Park Department of Computer Science and Engineering. The event was sponsored by the Department and the IEEE Computer Society Student Branch.

Alumni News

Alumni Focus

Jeff Hatfield graduated from the University of North Texas with a B.A. in Computer Science in 1996. While pursuing his degree, Jeff worked part time at Motorola in Fort Worth developing software tools. Upon graduation, he joined Motorola full time as a software engineer developing embedded software controlling RF diagnostic hardware for their Cellular Infrastructure Group. Approaching 15 years of service with Motorola, Jeff currently manages several teams of firmware engineers that develop the embedded software for CDMA transceiver and power amplifier devices. He has been a member of the UNT Computer Science and Engineering Industrial Council since 2003 and currently serves as chairman.

You're Invited to be a "Professor for a Day"

The UNT College of Engineering and the Department of Computer Science and Engineering will celebrate National Engineers Week during February 17-23, 2008. Once again we would like to invite our alumni to participate in the festivities. One of the programs well suited to our alumni is the "Professor for a Day" program in which you have the opportunity to share your knowledge and experience with an undergraduate or graduate class of students during the week.

We would welcome the opportunity to have you discuss your career experiences in Computer Science and Computer Engineering related fields with our current students. There are many class times available in the morning, afternoon and evening. Please contact Robert Akl at if you would like to participate in this "Professor for a Day" program.

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

Santi Phithakkitnukoon Receives Toulouse Scholarship Award

Santi Phithakkitnukoon
Santi Phithakkitnukoon with UNT President, Dr. Gretchen Bataille, after receiving his award.
Santi Phithakkitnukoon, a CSE doctoral student, received one of two Toulouse Scholarship Awards at the 30th Annual Seminar sponsored by the Federation of North Texas Area Universities held at Texas A&M University in Commerce, TX in October 2007. The Federation of North Texas Area Universities is a consortium of three universities-Texas A&M University-Commerce, Texas Woman's University, and the University of North Texas-that coordinates various graduate programs and activities among the institutions.

The Federation Council awards the Robert Toulouse Doctoral and Master's Scholarships annually to graduate students in one of the Federation program areas. Each recipient of these awards must be admitted to a graduate school at one of the three member universities and be actively pursuing a graduate degree in one of the Federation program areas.

A graduate student entering a Federated program has access to the combined academic resources of all three universities, including their libraries and laboratories. Benefits to the student include the flexibility of cross-registration at member universities and the option to select major professors, advisors, and thesis or dissertation supervisors and/or directors from any of the schools involved in a particular program area. The student also has opportunities to interact with other advanced students in a broad range of classes, seminars, conferences, and special programs.

Congratulations to Santi on receiving this scholarship.

Samer Hassan and Carmen Banea Win
IEEE Best Student Paper Award

Carmen Banea, Samer Hassan, and Rada Mihalcea
Carmen Banea, Samer Hassan, and Rada Mihalcea
Samer Hassan and Carmen Banea won the best student paper award at the IEEE International Conference on Semantic Computing in Irvine, CA, in September 2007. "Random-Walk Term Weighting for Improved Text Classification," also co-authored by Rada Mihalcea, describes a new approach for estimating term weights in a document, and shows how the new weighting scheme can be used to improve the accuracy of a text classifier.

The method uses term co-occurrence as a measure of dependency between word features. A random-walk model is applied on a graph encoding words and co-occurrence dependencies, resulting in scores that represent a quantification of how a particular word feature contributes to a given context. Experiments performed on three standard classification datasets showed that the new random-walk based approach significantly outperforms the traditional term frequency approach of feature weighting.

Samer and Carmen are members of the Language and Information Technologies lab.

Dissertation Defenses During Fall 2007

Carmen Banea, Samer Hassan, and Rada Mihalcea
(L-R) Dr. Ram Dantu, Dr. Armin Mikler, Dr. Tom Jacob, Vandana Gunupudi and Dr. Steve Tate
Vandana Gunupudi defended her dissertation on November 12, 2007. The title of her dissertation is: Trusted Platform Module Capabilities: A Theoretical and Experimental Study. Vandana's major professor is Dr. Steve Tate. Her dissertation committee also included Dr. Armin Mikler, Dr. Ram Dantu and Dr. Tom Jacob.

Krishna Kavi and Wentong Li
Krishna Kavi and Wentong Li
Wentong Li defended his dissertation on October 24, 2007. The title of his dissertation is: High Performance Architecture using Speculative threads and dynamic memory management hardware. Dr. Kavi is Wentong's major professor and his dissertation committee also included Dr. Phil Sweany, Dr. Robert Brazile, and Dr. Saraju Mohanty.

UNT Robotics Society Competes in RoboRama

The inaugural semester of the University of North Texas Robotics Society has officially begun. The Society entered their first batch of robots in the Dallas Personal Robotics Group's RoboRama contest which included events such as line following and mini- sumo robotics.

After the contest, the members of the Robotics Society plan to embark on a project of larger scale for the benefit of the College of Engineering and to advance their experience in this subject. Potential projects for the group include a traveling robotic jazz band or a robotic tour guide for Research Park.

For more information about the Robotics Society, please contact the faculty advisor, David Keathly at or Corey Rosemurgy, chapter President, at

College of Engineering News

Homecoming Tent Hosted by College of Engineering

Homecoming 2007 The College of Engineering hosted a tent during UNT's Homecoming Weekend in the Mean Green Village on October 27, 2007. Several departments hosted displays and activities for alumni, students and other visitors to the tent. For the second year in a row, the Department of Engineering Technology had its Nitrogen-fueled car on display. In the picture on the right, Dr. Wendy K. Wilkins, UNT's new Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, takes the car for a spin.

DC Best Sponsored by College of Engineering

DC Best

UNT hosted the Denton County Engineering Science and Technology annual competition held at the NT Coliseum on October 27, 2007. More than 20 area middle and high schools competed in the "Mission to Mars," the theme for this year's contest. The playing field was set up to simulate the harsh conditions found on Mars by robots preparing for the arrival of the first astronauts on the planet's surface. The first robotics competition gauged how well the robot performed in the field which had a platform shaped like a square.

The teams competed four at a time. The robots navigated up a ramp and onto a platform. From there, they picked up a number of bottles and a variety of colored boxes which were set to represent fuel cells and other important supplies. The items were then dropped into a storage container on the edge of the playing field. Points were awarded based on the number of items picked up within a specific time. Denton High School won the title. The runner-up was the team from Marcus ISD.

Miguel Garcia-Rubio, Associate Director of the College of Engineering, emphasized the importance of the contest to the future of our nation and announced that next year UNT will host Texas BEST, the state competition, which will bring students in from Texas, Arkansas, New Mexico and Oklahoma.

University of North Texas News

UNT Event Calendar

Texas Instruments Researcher to Direct UNT Center for Advanced Research and Technology

J.D. LuttmerJ.D. Luttmer, who spent 28 years establishing and leading Texas Instruments' internal research on seven generations of advanced microelectronic devices, has been named the first director of the University of North Texas' Center for Advanced Research and Technology, or CART.

The multidisciplinary center, housed at UNT's Research Park campus in Denton, is supported by more than $15 million in federal funding and is home to a rare collection of high-powered microscopes that are key to nanotechnology research. Established in 2004, CART features a variety of high tech microscopes that can explore substances at atomic and molecular levels, where the nanometer - one-billionth of a meter - is a standard unit for measuring length. The center has an emphasis on the science and engineering disciplines and a concentration in materials characterization.

At Texas Instruments, Luttmer worked in several departments, including silicon semiconductor technology development, the infrared devices laboratory and the company's solar cell program. He holds 22 U.S. patents and has received four patent incentive awards.

Dr. Art Goven, UNT interim vice president for research and technology, says Luttmer is an outstanding addition to the university. "We are very fortunate to have hired someone with the technical background that he brings to UNT. He will help this university maximize the great assets we have in the areas of materials science and nanotechnology," Goven says.

UNT Has 25 Percent Increase in International Students

The NT Daily recently reported a 25 percent increase in the number of international students enrolled at UNT for the Fall semester. This information comes from the Open Doors Summary, a document that includes the international student populations of the Denton campus, UNT's Intensive English Language Institute and the UNT Health Science Center.

The program with the highest number of international students is the business, management and marketing program with 383 total students. Most of the students in the program are undergraduates, but 155 are doing graduate work. The second most successful program in international student population is the Intensive English Language Institute, which has nearly 300 students. According to the Institute's website, this is one of the first English language programs in the United States to be accredited for ten years by the Commission on English Language Programs Accreditation.

Other successful UNT programs include the visual and performing arts program with 277 international students, optional practical training with 238 international students, and computer and information sciences with 150 international students.

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 — December 2007