Computer science and engineering students distinguished among peers during Student Research Week

SRW_2016Eight computer science and engineering students received recognition for their research during Texas A&M University’s 2016 Student Research Week (SRW).

Zachary Varnadore placed first in the undergraduate math, statistics, computer science division for his poster, which was based on a portion of the work he is executing for a GPS receiver network project in the Real Time Distributed Systems (RTDS) lab under Dr. Steve Liu, computer science professor.

“The work I presented was about how we were able to implement evaluation models for data availability and reliability of GPS data from hundreds to thousands of GPS receivers using software that I developed,” Varnadore said. “The purpose of doing this is to evaluate a large GPS receiver network called the CORS network to identify quality issues in the data provided by GPS receivers in the network. “

The data received by the CORS network GPS is used by many different research groups and organizations for positioning data applications.

“I am most delighted to see his hard work recognized,” Liu said. “His work helps my team to validate our model based on this large-scale experiment, and it will help us to elevate our research to the next level of investigation.”

Sampath Jayarathna, a Ph.D. candidate and teaching fellow, placed first in the graduate poster competition in the math, statistics, computer science division for his research poster, which explored new models of relevance feedback. The idea is to learn consumer preferences more accurately by accounting for their behaviors in web search environments. Jayarathna works under faculty advisor, Dr. Frank Shipman, who is the associate director for the TEES Center for the Study of Digital Libraries.

“I believe that analyzing user behavior and capturing user preferences is of great importance for the design of many personalized recommendations and other relevant applications such as behavioral targeting, computational advertising and information retrieval,” Jayarathna said.

Raniero Lara-Garduno, a Ph.D student in the Sketch Recognition Lab (SRL) under Dr. Tracy Hammond, associate professor, received second place in the graduate poster competition in the math, statistics, computer science division. His poster was centered on his dissertation project, which focuses on the digitization and automation of digitized sketch data in neuropsychological tests.

Lara-Garduno’s research focuses on a universal Windows app written specifically to adapt paper-and-pencil exams from the field of clinical neuropsychology. SRL is currently in the process of collecting data from the general population to develop a computational model of sketching behavior. This model would be applied to pre-diagnosis, which would prove invaluable in early detection of cognitive illnesses such as Alzheimer's and dementia.

“I feel very fortunate in working with this exciting project, as it merges the field of sketch recognition with a novel approach in neuropsychology that can have significant impact in the field,” Lara-Garduno said. “I always enjoy participating in Student Research Week, which gives me and similar Ph.D. students the invaluable opportunity to present our research and hear feedback from experts from STEM fields.” 

Graduating seniors Timothy Foster, Andy Tran, Shane Scott, Karrie Cheng and Natalie Rawle made up Team Tanks, which placed first overall the undergraduate teams for the Sigma Xi Symposium Theme Award and in the Undergraduate Oral Presentation division.

Recently, Dr. Robin Murphy, director of the Center for Robotic-Assisted Search and Rescue (CRASAR) and founder of the Roboticists Without Borders program, was sent to Greece to assist the local Coast Guard and lifeguard organizations in rescuing refugees from drowning. To further aid in this effort, Murphy proposed several different capstone projects her students could choose from, all of which would be used to help with the refugee crisis.

Of the projects proposed, Team Tanks chose to work on the Draw Me a Picture app, which was presented by the team at SRW. The app is designed to help refugees make it back to safety as efficiently as possible by displaying a GIF with easy-to-understand instructions. Rawle created a majority of the graphics found in Draw Me a Picture's documentation.

“I am excited about the opportunity to work on a real-world problem going on right now,” said Foster, team leader. “As we speak, refugees are risking their lives to escape turmoil, and what we are doing may save lives that would have otherwise been lost.  It was a pleasure to share our work with Student Research Week and the other competitors.”