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Industrial Affiliate News (Summer 2014)

Through the Yahoo! university equipment donation program, Yahoo! recently provided two sets of servers to our School of Computer Science. One group of servers provides our School with a significant upgrade for our Education Lab enabling us to create a new cluster to support our courses. The other set of servers is being used by CS Professors Gerome Miklau, Yanlei Diao, and Alexandra Meliou to build a cluster for their databases group research.  The cluster consists of approximately 30 compute nodes from Yahoo! that will be used for both education and research purposes.  Students in undergraduate and graduate data management courses will use the cluster for course assignments and project work. The graduate students will use the cluster to investigate topics related to efficient computation on big data.  Examples of these topics include designing techniques for large-scale data cleaning, investigating computation markets in which a cloud-based service answers database queries for a fee, and evaluating advanced algorithms and software systems for big data applications, such as click stream analysis, Twitter feed analysis, genomic data analysis, and scientific computing.

Yahoo! also sponsored the 7th Annual CS Foosball Tournament that was held on April 8th.  Thirty-two students, faculty, and staff competed while many others cheered on the teams. This year's winning team consisted of Dan Masi and Will Dabney. The second place finishers were Pan Hu and Fangyuan Zhou. Yahoo! continues to sponsor the graduate student award recipients who are honored during the annual Outstanding Achievement and Advocacy (OAA) Awards banquet. Winners of the 2013-2014 Yahoo! Award for Accomplishments in Search & Mining are Jeff Dalton and Luke Vilnis.

EMC Corporation, one of this year's Outstanding Achievement and Advocacy Awards recipients, established the EMC Student Participation Award this year. The 2014 inaugural EMC Award recipients are: Elisabeth Baseman, Shiri Dori-Hacohen, Amanda Gentzel, Chang Liu, Ayse Pinar Ozisik, and Jennie Steshenko. EMC has established this new award to assist CS students in conference travel and other activities. The 2014 award funding helped defray costs to attend this year's CRA-W Grad Cohort Workshop. Two other CS students, Cibele Freire and Emma Tosch, were also able to attend the Workshop through CRA-W funding. EMC also provided a much-needed carpet and abstract art to adorn the wall of the undergraduate space.

Thanks to support from EMC and Cisco Systems, the CS Women's group was able to travel to both EMC and Cisco's facilities in Eastern Massachusetts to speak with the companies' engineers and to tour the buildings.

Cisco also sponsored the 5th Annual Cisco Programming Competition, held on April 30th, that was hosted by the UMass Amherst ACM Student Chapter.  The first through third place competition winners were Tung Pham, Anthony Moh, and Thai Nguyen.

Cisco continued to provide undergraduate scholarships. Molly McMahon was awarded the 2014 Cisco Systems Scholarship for Underrepresented Undergraduate Students at UMass Amherst Computer Science. She will graduate in 2016. The recipients of the 2014 Cisco Systems Awards for Outstanding Achievement as a Junior Undergraduate are Aleksandr Burkatovskiy, Rachel Gordon, Lauren Higgins, and Steven (Tung) Pham. This award is given to the top junior year undergraduates in the School as determined by a faculty committee who took into account recommendations by faculty members, GPA, coursework, independent studies or honor projects, and course citations.

Fiksu sponsored this year's Outstanding Undergraduate Awards that were presented during the OAA Award banquet in May. Fiksu also generously donated an arcade game table for undergraduate and graduate students to enjoy during breaks from their studies and research.

Google sponsored a number of events for students this past academic year. Something new this year - Google sponsored Pi Day contests and provide whoopee pies on 3/14 at 3:14 p.m. to commemorate the day. Undergraduate Esther Wolf won the contest for the most Pi digits recited. Google also hosted a Resume review session where students received individualized feedback from Google recruiters. They also sponsored transportation to the Google Cambridge Ph.D. Summit and other funding for student activities.

A Mock Technical Interview event was organized by the undergraduate outreach committee. In April, representatives from Cisco, Fiksu, and Vistaprint provided advice to students on effective technical interview techniques. Along with the Industrial Affiliate Program (IAP) member companies mentioned above, IAP members BBN/Raytheon, HP, Pegasystems, and TripAdvisor participated in the fall CS Career Fair and other CS events held throughout the year.