"Computing for Disasters" REU student presents summer research, wins

Photo of Ivan Espinosa, REUA student in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering's Computing for Disaster summer research program won first place in the Dwight Look College of Engineering's REU summer poster contest Aug. 9.

Ivan Espinosa, a math and computer science major from California State University-Fullerton, won first prize for his poster, "Optimizing the Graphics Pipeline for High-Performance ZeroTouch." He was advised by Dr. Andruid Kerne and graduate student Bill Hamilton.

This is the 10th summer that the Department of Computer Science and Engineering has offered a Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program and the first year for the Computing for Disasters (C4D) REU site grant funded by the National Science Foundation.

The purpose of Computing for Disasters is to recruit a diverse population of computer science undergraduates from all over the United States and to expose these students to computing via the common theme of humanitarian applications for prevention, preparation, response, and recovery from disasters. The Computing for Disasters program included students from colleges in Texas and other states, including Oregon, New York and Massachusetts.

Other C4D projects included using augmented reality to help responders comprehending citizens at risk using unmanned aerial vehicles, exploring trends in reactions to disaster situations on Twitter, simulating shared memory in distributed systems experiencing a high churn due to the intermittent wireless connectivity after a disaster, and improving and extending the Percon data analysis and visualization software for disaster data mining. Faculty mentors were Kerne, Dr. James Caverlee, Dr. Guofei Gu, Dr. Robin Murphy, Dr. Frank Shipman,and Dr. Jennifer Welch.

The department program accommodates students participating in Research Experiences for Undergraduates, the Dwight Look College of Engineering Undergraduate Summer Research Grants and Distributed Research Experiences for Undergraduates, as well as Computing for Disasters. The 32 students participating in this summer's computer science and engineering REU program came from across the U.S. and Mexico to do research in large-scale Internet scanning clearance tools for motion planning, extracting heart rate and respiration rate from a cell phone camera, enhancing Mechanix, and gene expressions of the vascular network in the mouse brain, to name just a few of the projects investigated this summer.

"Students participating in our REU program make significant contributions to the ongoing faculty research within the department," said program coordinator Theresa Roberts. "More importantly, the students gain an insight and interest in graduate school, preferably here at Texas A&M, and a future career in research. Also, friendships are made that transcend the work done within the labs. During their ten weeks on campus, the students discover many of the traditions that make Texas A&M the unique university that it is. They all start off as students, but are Aggies while here in Aggieland."