University of North Texas
CSE Alumni Email Newsletter

February 2008  

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,

At the beginning of 2008, I want to share with you the many activities happening this semester. The Net Centric Software and Systems Consortium will sponsor a NSF Industry University Cooperative Research Center (I/UCRC) Planning Meeting on February 20-22 in Plano, TX. If you would like to attend or know other colleagues who might be interested in attending, see the article about the meeting below and register as soon as possible. In this newsletter, you can read our other news about Dr. Yan Huang leading a new NSF grant, Dr. Liangmei Hu visiting as a scholar from China, and Dr. Ian Parberry being named a Microsoft MVP again.

Our CSE department will take part in National Engineers Week by hosting a forum on our new degree program, the B.A. in Information Technology, on February 19. Craig Berry is on our CSE Advisory Board and he will speak at the forum about Professions in IT. If you are thinking about graduate school, then you are invited to attend our Graduate Studies Open House on February 21. Dr. Armin Mikler, Graduate Studies Coordinator, has invited his first Ph.D. graduate, Naveen Kakani, back to UNT to speak about the importance of graduate education. Other CSE alumni and Advisory Board members are coming back to be a "Professor for a Day." On February 20, the College of Engineering will host a banquet, which you can read about below along with the other activities the College of Engineering is planning for E-Week.

RoboCamp has received new funding from both corporate and state sources to allow that program to grow in 2008. If you or your company would like to sponsor RoboCamp activities and programs, please contact us. There are many ways for you to get involved with us. We invite you to support our department and help us improve our program so we can reach our goal of being the best in North Texas.

Krishna M. Kavi
Professor and Chair

Department of Computer Science and Engineering News

Graduate Studies Open House Announced

Naveen Kakani received his Ph.D. in Computer Science in 2000. He joined Nokia Research Center as Senior Research Engineer and now he is a "Specialist for WLAN," responsible for WLAN evolution research and industry activities. He is coming back to UNT to speak about the importance of graduate education at the Graduate Studies Open House hosted by the Graduate Program of the Computer Science and Engineering Department on Thursday, February 21, 2008 at 11:00 a.m. in Research Park room F223.

The CSE Department offers M.S. degrees in Computer Science and Computer Engineering and a Ph.D. degree in Computer Science and Engineering. Take advantage of this opportunity to find out more about getting your graduate degree in Computer Science and Engineering here at UNT.

If you cannot attend, but would like more information about our graduate degree programs, check our website HERE. If you have further questions, contact Dr. Armin R. Mikler, Graduate Studies Coordinator, at

Engineering Week Forum on the New B.A. in Information Technology

The Computer Science and Engineering Department will host a forum on the new B.A. in Information Technology on February 19, 2008 from 12:30 to 1:30 in Research Park room B155. Craig Berry, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer for Siemens PLM Software will give a talk about Professions in IT.

Following this presentation, undergraduate advisors David Keathly and Ryan Garlick will provide an overview of the requirements for the new degree and will answer questions. Following the program they will be available to discuss specific degree requirements with individuals and process change of major requests. This program will be presented via Video Conference at the UNT Dallas Campus in room 222.

CSE Sponsors Guitar Hero 3 Tournament

Guitar Hero 3 As part of National Engineers Week, the CSE department will sponsor a Guitar Hero 3 Tournament on Friday, February 22, 2008, beginning at 11 a.m. in Research Park room F204. Certificates and prizes will be awarded and pizza will be served to all participants. Dr. Robert Akl, faculty sponsor of the tournament, says we have guitars or bring your own. To register, contact Dr. Akl at The first 50 registrants and the first five alternates will be notified.

NSF Grant Expands Environmental Sensor Program

Motorolla Dr. Yan Huang is leading a new $250,000 grant from the National Science Foundation that expands the ECOPLEX system of environmental sensors which will allow researchers to monitor conditions in soil, air and water, as well as model future environmental conditions.

The team for the project includes researchers from the Departments of Computer Science and Engineering, Xinrong Lie and Shengli Fu from Electrical Engineering, and Ruthann Thompson from Biological Sciences. Also included are Miguel Acevedo from the Biological and Environmental Engineering program and the City of Denton, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, and the National Weather Service.

Developed in 1999 by UNT and the city of Denton, the 18 ECOPLEX stations monitor a number of environmental factors on a real-time basis, including exposure to ultraviolet rays, ozone levels, water quality, soil moisture and weather conditions. The grant expands the ECOPLEX system to a large Texas Environmental Observatory, or TEO, through the development and addition of seven wireless sensor networks and 110 nodes. Those nodes will measure environmental data about soil moisture, air and water.

"This is yet another example of our faculty working collaboratively with faculty from other disciplines and creating shared research facilities," says Krishna Kavi, Chair of UNT's Department of Computer Science and Engineering. For more information on this research group, see

RoboCamp Enters Its Fourth Year

Robocamp Logo This summer will see another round of the increasingly popular RoboCamp summer programs thanks to the efforts of CSE Faculty members Robert Akl, David Keathly and Chair Krishna Kavi. The summer program has once again received a number of grants including one from the Motorola Foundation ($30,000) and another from the Texas Workforce Commission ($102,000) for a two-year period. "This year, the program will include some mobile camps where we will actually take the robots and our student workers to schools in various districts as part of the Motorola Foundation grant," according to Robert Akl, the principal investigator.

Plans also include offering the CSExperience programming camp and the Eng-inuity! engineering design camp started in 2007 as part of an expanded program. 2008 will also see the addition of a camp for high school and middle school counselors and teachers that will educate them about science, technology and engineering degrees and careers and expose them to elements of the different camp settings. "This camp will better equip the teachers and counselors to work with students who have the interest and aptitude to pursue engineering and technology degrees and careers," according to Akl. The camp will utilize paid student assistants to help with the program.

Details of the camp dates and locations will be published in March, and applications will be taken beginning at that time for participants as well as for student workers. For more information contact Robert Akl at or David Keathly at and watch the department web page ( for future announcements.

Net Centric Software and Systems Consortium to
Sponsor Planning Meeting

The Net Centric Software and Systems Consortium will sponsor a NSF Industry University Cooperative Research Center (I/UCRC) Planning Meeting on February 20-22, 2008 at Southfork Hotel in Plano, TX. These research centers aim to promote cooperative research between industry and universities. The main objectives of the centers are:

  • To pursue fundamental engineering and scientific research having industrial relevance.
  • To produce graduates who have a broad, industry-oriented perspective of their research and practice.
  • To accelerate and promote the transfer of knowledge and technology between university and industry.

The consortium is a joint venture involving academic, federal and state government, and commercial institutions to collectively promote and undertake research, education, technology development, technology transfer, and technological workforce development to enable the nation to transition into the new net-centric operation paradigm.

Currently the University of North Texas, Southern Methodist University, University of Texas at Dallas, and University of Texas at Arlington as well as Raytheon, Lockheed Martin Aero, and several other companies are in the consortium. For more information about this consortium, go to

CSEagle Ambassador Funding Renewed

CSE Logo The CSE department has received funds to again support the CSEagle Ambassador and Mentor program for a two year period. This program provides a $500 scholarship per semester for female students with at least 30 credit hours. These students serve as ambassadors for the department at recruiting events around the DFW area, as well as mentoring 2-3 freshman students during the academic year.

The current grant requires students to be 21 years of age or younger, although students up to and including 22 years of age are encouraged to apply. For more information, contact David Keathly at or find the information forms at:

Dr. Parberry Named Microsoft MVP for 5th Consecutive Year

Dr. Ian Parberry For the fifth consecutive year, Microsoft has awarded its Most Valuable Professional (MVP) Award to Dr. Ian Parberry in the Windows-XNA/DirectX category. Microsoft presents the MVP Award to thank individuals for their exceptional contributions to technical communities worldwide. Microsoft also benefits from engaging with MVPs through conferences, user groups, code camps, the MVP Global Summit, and other events. MVPs share their independent, real-world feedback with Microsoft, thereby helping Microsoft better understand users' needs, improve current products, and develop future technology.

Dr. Parberry was on the Program Committee for the Microsoft Academic Days on Game Development in Computer Science Education (GDCSE'08) to be held February 28 to March 3, 2008. This conference is a focal point for academic efforts using computer and console games within the Computer Science curriculum. Jointly sponsored by Microsoft Research and Electronic Arts and held in cooperation with ACM SIGCSE, the conference is targeted at both computer science educators and researchers, promoting new efforts in the creation and management of courses and curriculum using game development.

The conference, now in its third year, will be held aboard the Celebrity Century cruise ship, departing from and returning to Miami, FL with port calls in Key West and Cozumel, Mexico. GDCSE '08 will include talks by invited speakers, presentation of peer-reviewed papers, hands-on tutorials and birds-of-a-feather meetings focusing on a range of topics related to the use of games in computer science education. Researchers and educators are invited to share insights and cutting-edge results relating to the use of games and game technologies in both formal and informal educational contexts.

For more on the Adventures of Dr. Parberry, please see

Dr. Hu is a Visiting Scholar in CSE Department

Dr. Liangmei Hu Dr. Liangmei Hu, an Associate Professor at the Hefei (China) University of Technology (HFUT) arrived at UNT at the end of November 2007. For the next 12 months she will serve as a Visiting Scholar in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering which is sponsored by the China Scholarship Council. UNT has a joint project with HFUT sponsored by the US National Science Foundation and the China National Natural Science Foundation to study terrain and structural features in urban areas that impact storm-related events such as flooding and wind damage.

Using airborne LiDAR (a terrain mapping instrument) and infrared photography, Dr. Hu will assist the team (led by Dr. Bill Buckles and Dr. Xiaohui Yuan at UNT and Dr. Xiaoping Liu at HFUT) in fusing LiDAR data with infrared in order to predict the flow path of flood waters following, say, a levee breach and to characterize the roof surface areas exposed to wind in each direction. She also plans to give a few lectures in the courses of image processing and pattern recognition.

UNT Wins Computer Security Contest

Capture the Flag Security Competition Winners
(L-R) Enkh-Amgalan Baatarjav, Prudhvi Krishna Surapaneni, Dr. Ebru Celikel, Chris Gathright

On December 8, 2007, the UNT computer security team composed of Enkh-Amgalan Baatarjav, Prudhvi Krishna Surapaneni, and Chris Gathright won the Capture the Flag (CTF) computer security contest against the University of Texas at Arlingon and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Dr. Ebru Celikel served as the faculty sponsor for the team. These three students attacked and defended code and network resources over a VPN among three universities (UTA, UNCG and UNT) for six hours. Congratulations to this successful team!

Dr. Kavi Named SMU Distinguished Alumnus

Kavi receives award
Dr. Kavi in the center receiving his award with (L) Dr. Hesham El-Rewini, SMU's Chair of CSE and (R) Dr. Geoffrey Orsak, Dean of Engineering of SMU.
In the last newsletter, we told you about Dr. Krishna Kavi being 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. This picture was sent later and we wanted to include it in this newsletter. Dr. Kavi received his Master's degree in 1977 and his Ph.D. in 1980 from SMU.

Alumni News

Alumni Focus

Armin Mikler & Sandeep Nijsure
Sandeep Nijsure (R) visited with Dr. Armin R. Mikler (L) during Fall 2007.

Sandeep Nijsure, originally from Mumbai, India, graduated from UNT with a Masters in Computer Science in 2003. While at UNT, Sandeep worked as a Research Assistant for Dr. Armin Mikler for a year. He also worked as a tutor in UNT's Math Lab for several semesters.

After graduation, Sandeep worked as a Research Aide in Argonne National Laboratory's Computer Science division for some time. After that, he joined Microsoft Corp. as a software engineer, working on their Windows Presentation Foundation technology. He continues to work for Microsoft, currently for the Office Live group, which develops Web-based services for small businesses and information workers.

In his spare time, Sandeep loves to read and travel. Along with his wife, he has traveled extensively across the United States. Recently he traveled to Dallas to visit some of his friends from UNT. He also visited UNT and the CSE department at that time, and shared some nostalgic moments with Dr. Mikler.

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

December 2007 Ph.D. Graduates

Santi Phithakkitnukoon College of Engineering Dean Oscar N. Garcia (L) shakes the hand of Prakash Kolan (R) who received his Ph.D. in Computer Science at the December 2007 graduation. His major professor, Dr. Ram Dantu, is in the center. Prakash defended his dissertation "System and Methods for Detecting Unwanted Voice Calls" in July 2007.

Prakash now works as a researcher in VoIP solutions for Niksun, Inc. in New Jersey. His work responsibilities include research and development of media decoding applications for measuring content/service quality and experience. The applications will be integrated into Niksun network monitoring and surveillance solutions. Currently, he is working on designing IPTV decoding architectures for Niksun's video clients. In addition to research and development, he supports and troubleshoots client issues, performs hardware and software evaluations, and recommends architectural changes where necessary in existing VoIP products.

Krishna Kavi and Wentong Li
Krishna Kavi and Wentong Li
Wentong Li also received his Ph.D. at the December 2007 graduation. He is shown to the right with Dr. Kavi, who was his major professor. Wentong defended his dissertation, "High Performance Architecture using Speculative Threads and Dynamic Memory Management Hardware" in Fall 2007.

Wentong is currently a senior staff software Engineer of ad targeting for Turn, Inc. He is responsible for developing algorithms to automatically optimize the online advertising network to achieve the best result for online advertisers and online publishers. This involves several areas in computer science like information retrieval, machine learning, data compression, and numerical computation.

Programming Team Recognized at CSE Advisory Board Meeting

Programming Team
(L-R) John Rizzo, Robbie Mitchell Burke, Hector Cuellar

As reported in the previous newsletter, UNT's top programming team consisting of John Rizzo, Robbie Mitchell Burke, and Hector  Cuellar placed first at the ACM South Central Regional Programming Competition at Texas A&M in November 2007. The students were recognized at the CSE Advisory Board meeting on December 7, 2007. This is the first time a UNT team has advanced to the World Finals in the ACM Programming Contest sponsored by IBM. Good luck at the World Finals which will be held in April 2008 in Banff Springs, Alberta, Canada.

College of Engineering News

National Engineers Week to be held February 17-23, 2008

Engineering Week 2008
In addition to the CSE department's activities for National Engineers Week listed above, the UNT College of Engineering has announced plans for its annual National Engineers Week to recruit students and promote the college. There are many exciting events taking place including guest speakers, festivals, food, and much more.

On Monday, February 18, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., the Center for Student Development Office at Research Park and Student Activities Office will host a Kickoff Engineering Festival to raise awareness about the events during Engineers Week and the student organizations at Research Park. The event will take place at Research Park Commons, area near Jazzman's café. Students, faculty, and alumni are invited to attend the event but the refreshments are for students only.

On Tuesday, February 19, from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., the College of Engineering will have a keynote speaker, Kurt Novak, from Texas Instruments. He will speak to students in Research Park room B155. On Wednesday, February 20, from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m., students can participate in a Paper Airplane Contest in the Research Park Commons. On Wednesday evening at 6:00 p.m., the College of Engineering will host a banquet for faculty, staff, and students. There will be only 100 tickets available at $5.00 each. Contact the Dean's Office for more information.

On Thursday, February 21, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., the College of Engineering will host an Engineering Career Fair in the corridors of Research Park. In the evening from 7:00 to 10:00 p.m., the Center for Student Development office will sponsor a "Texas Hold 'Em Poker Night" in the Research Park Commons with prizes and pizza provided.

Other activities are being planned. Please see more information on the posters that will be around the College of Engineering. In addition, you may have a guest speaker serving as a "Professor for a Day" in one of your classes during that week. For an updated schedule of events, please check the CSE Engineering Week information page at More details will be added daily.

University of North Texas News

UNT Event Calendar

Emerald Eagle Ball to be held March 1st

UNT Emerald Ball
UNT is hosting the Emerald Eagle Ball, a gala event featuring Grammy-winning group, Asleep at the Wheel, to benefit the Emerald Eagle Scholars program, which helps students attend college. The Ball will be held in the University Union on Saturday, March 1, with cocktails beginning at 6:45 p.m. and dinner at 7:45 p.m. The concert and dance will follow at 9 p.m.

This year's event is the Emerald Ball Goes Texan with a Western- themed black-tie-and-boots ball. Tickets cost $150 per person. Call (940) 565-2900 or visit RSVP deadline is Friday, Febuary 15.

"One of the most important initiatives UNT launched in the last year was our Emerald Eagle Scholars program, which is designed to provide an opportunity for a college education to students who may believe a college education is out of reach for them even though they're academically talented," said UNT President Gretchen M. Bataille.

The Emerald Eagle Scholars program, one of only about 30 similar programs in the nation, began in Fall 2007 with about 400 freshmen in its inaugural class. The program was launched with a $350,000 endowment raised by activities surrounding President Bataille's inauguration in 2007.

The Emerald Eagle Scholars program provides selected students with free tuition and fees for four years in exchange for a commitment to maintain a 2.5 grade point average, complete 30 semester credit hours each year and engage in university life by working on campus and participating in mentoring and other programs to ensure student success. The program is open to talented students who are Texas residents with adjusted household incomes of less than $40,000 and is funded by donations and federal, state and institutional funds.

For more information on the Emerald Eagle Scholars program, please go to

UNT Music Faculty Members Earn Grammy Nominations

Grammy Joseph Banowetz, a UNT Professor of music and a renowned pianist, and Steve Wiest, a UNT alumnus and Assistant Professor of Jazz Studies, were nominated for Grammy awards. Banowetz, along with pianist and UNT alumnus, Alton Chung Ming Chan, received the nomination for Best Chamber Music Performance for "30 Songs of the Russian People" on the album, Balakirev and Russian Folksong. Wiest received the nomination in the Best Instrumental Arrangement category for his arrangement of "Besame Mucho" from the CD, The One and Only Maynard Ferguson.

Wiest was appointed assistant professor of jazz studies in Fall 2007 at UNT, where he teaches jazz composition, jazz arranging and jazz trombone. He also directs the new UNT jazz trombone band "The U- Tubes," an ensemble that consists of five to eight trombones and a full rhythm section. Wiest, who earned a master's degree from UNT, has performed extensively in the United States, South America, Australia, Japan and Europe. His new solo CD, Excalibur: The Steve Wiest Big Band, was released in August 2006 by Arabesque Jazz to wide critical acclaim.

Banowetz has been heard as recitalist and orchestral soloist on five continents and has performed with such orchestras as the St. Petersburg (formerly Leningrad) Philharmonic, the Moscow State Symphony, the Prague and Bratislava Radio Orchestras, the Budapest Symphony, the New Zealand Symphony (on a 12-concert national tour), the Beijing Central Philharmonic, Barcelona Concert Society Orchestra, the Shanghai Symphony and the Hong Kong Philharmonic. In 1992, Banowetz was awarded the Liszt Medal by the Hungarian Liszt Society in Budapest, in recognition of his outstanding performances of Liszt and the Romantic literature. He is a graduate with a First Prize from the Vienna Academy for Music and Dramatic Arts.

Nominees of the 50th Annual Grammy Awards were announced December 6, and the awards ceremony took place on February 10 in Los Angeles. Unfortunately, Wiest and Banowetz were not among the winners, but it's a great honor nonetheless. "It's obviously one of the most prestigious international awards that I think any musician could get," Banowetz said. "It's equivalent to the Academy Awards. Just a nomination alone is an extremely high honor. I've had e-mails from friends and musicians around the world already, so it's a very high honor."

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 2008