We are all
immersed in a frightening and unusual situation with the COVID-19 virus. Every
day there are higher numbers of people becoming ill and dying from the virus.
Even young people are coming down with the virus in high numbers.
In order to stop the spread of the virus, we are under a stay-at-home order in Illinois until April 30, though the order might be extended. We all must follow this order. It may be difficult to change our daily lives, or miss out on the rest of the semester and other events.
However, nothing is more important than
stopping the spread of this virus. Please stay safe, everyone.
offers us a multitude of methods of communication, and some of us might develop
new communication technology in the future. Please do not forget to stay in
touch with your loved ones. We may have to keep a distance, but we can still
I have been
communicating more than usual with family and friends. Many of us are sending
cheerful videos back and forth, or pictures of flowers, cake, chocolate and
coffee. It is our way of saying we all love each other, stay safe and we hope
we are together again soon in person.
Although we are all at home, we must not fall into despair or get stuck in a rut of boredom. We should make the best of this situation, even though these are sad and difficult times.
Prior to spring
break, as well as in previous semesters, many of us were constantly on the go
and always rushing to get something done. There never seemed to be enough hours
in the day to finish all the tasks we would like to accomplish. Plus, there
were the demands of work, school, home and family, as well as the pressure of
rushing from place to place or sitting in traffic.
least, we can make the best of a difficult situation and take the time to
pause. We cannot leave our homes except to go to the grocery store or the
pharmacy. But we can use the time we have now wisely and for our benefit.
foremost, we should keep up with our studies. But many of us are often saying
we wish we had time to learn something new, or spend time on other activities.
This is an excellent time to do these tasks.
example, in CaMS [Department of Computer and Mathematical Sciences], many of us
wish we had time to learn a new programming language. Now we can study the
programming language of our choice, and write new programs.
most of us have been frazzled with hectic schedules, and have wished for time
to relax, or to spend on a hobby.
one afternoon nearly two years ago in the Maker lab, a discussion about the
painter Bob Ross somehow started at the end of the day. One student remarked at
the time that he wished he had time to paint, but could not due to the demands
of his schedule.
time, I thought it was unfortunate the student did not have the time to do
something he enjoyed or was interested in. I fully understand and sympathize
with the student. I have a lot of hobbies and interests that I never have enough
time for, including drawing, singing and creative writing.
have my clarinet that I played in school growing up. The last time I had time
to play the instrument was four years ago at Christmas. My brother brought his
French horn, and we played holiday songs for our mom.
only play the clarinet for 10 minutes due to a complete lack of practice, but I
loved it. I still remember the notes and how to play the instrument. I was
reminded of all the joy I had playing over the years, and any opportunity to
spend time with my brother is precious now that we are busy adults.
10-minute concert I could give on the clarinet, I began singing instead and my
brother accompanied me on the French horn. He joked our instrument playing ability
was at a 6th grade level, and I actually think he was generous in my
part of his assessment. I hope to practice the clarinet again soon.
We can all
pick up different hobbies or interests. Now is the time to learn or practice a foreign
language, reminisce on past pictures, cook something new, exercise, or even
watch a movie or program we have been meaning to see. The possibilities are
Time is a
precious gift. Once time is gone, there is no way to get it back. We always and
often wish we could have done something differently if we had a chance to do
This is not
the way any of us would choose to have extra time. But we are in this situation.
We should make the most of it.
crisis will pass. We do not know when, but one day we will be back to normal.
And when we are, it will be wonderful to share the new skills and hobbies we
developed with each other in person.
Lewis students will not return to in-person
instruction this semester, or the summer semester. We will finish this semester
very abruptly and without closure.
This is a sad situation for all of us, especially for us graduating seniors. Many of us had so many plans over the next few weeks. All upcoming events are canceled and graduation is postponed.
And unfortunately, some of us students
will not see each other again.
From a personal standpoint, I wanted a few
more weeks to talk to classmates and faculty that have been a big part of my
life for the last few years. I also wanted to thank all my instructors
personally for their support and encouragement since my journey began, and I
had all my goodbyes mentally planned. Additionally, I had several topics I
wanted to write about for the department, but none of that feels appropriate
But all of this should not be our biggest
concern or hardship at the moment, even if it is an unfortunate turn of events.
We are dealing with a frightening global crisis with COVID-19. Our entire way
of life has changed, and we are living in fear of an invisible enemy.
Young people are also coming down with the
virus in higher numbers. Some young adults are not following advice from the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and are still meeting in
large groups. This is not the time to ignore warnings as no one is invincible.
Please be careful and safe everyone.
I find the spread of COVID-19 terrifying.
I keep thinking of my family, as I have several close relatives over 60 and
others with preexisting conditions. I also keep checking on everyone.
Although it is extremely difficult, it is
very important not to fall into despair and bleakness. We must be hopeful. This
crisis will pass.
And we should show kindness and compassion
to everyone. People everywhere are facing difficult times.
As I mentioned last week, we need to keep
up with our studies. Our knowledge will be needed during this crisis and after
the crisis passes for a variety of situations, such as preventing or stopping
cyber attacks, medical technology, education and communication.
Please also show kindness and
understanding to your instructors. They are also finding themselves on new
ground, and they are working hard to make sure we can still receive the best
education possible in this unusual and uncertain situation.
We must look to the future. And we must be
vigilant in taking care of ourselves and those around us, as well as check on
loved ones while observing social distancing. Thankfully we have technology to
enable us to communicate with each other.
I would like to give a big thank you to
all of our healthcare professionals who are fighting this virus daily, at the
risk of their own health, to keep us all safe. We can all never thank you
Although we are constantly bombarded with
coverage about this frightening virus, yet we need to look for positive
contributions people are making, however big or small the contribution is.
Mr. Rogers, host of the children’s program Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, said famously, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”
The series inspired generations of children, myself included, about the importance of kindness, compassion and being a good neighbor. Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood had a long run from 1968 to 2001, and we can certainly use the words of wisdom and the lessons he taught us over generations.
Currently, we see different moments of hope globally. During these difficult times, people in Italy stand on their balconies and sing together. In Spain, people go to their windows and applaud healthcare workers.
Celebrities are also contributing to helping people stay positive. Josh Gad, whose famous roles include voicing Olaf from Frozen and playing LeFou in Beauty and the Beast, is reading children’s books online. Singers Keith Urban, John Legend, Coldplay and Pink live streamed concerts from home.
And CNN posted a video of a family standing outside the home of their relative, a 95-year-old woman whose birthday celebration was canceled, singing happy birthday to her.
These are only a few of the stories of hope and kindness. It is important and essential to look for positive messages and uplifting stories amid the chaos. And we need to cling to hope.
Be safe, be well and I wish you all the best. I hope to see as many of you as possible when it is safe for all of us to see each other again.
We are living in a very unusual time. Over
the past week, our school has stopped classroom instruction and is in the
process of shifting to online instruction.
We have also seen a number of unsteady changes
all around us including the spread of the virus worldwide, political officials
and celebrities catching the virus, schools closing all over the country and
grocery stores are out of soap, toilet paper, antibacterial soap and other
essentials. Even entertainment that usually brings us joy is affected, such as
television shows taping without an audience and the closing of Broadway and
Disney parks. In addition, we are all isolating to stop the spread of the
Despite all this uncertainty, it is
important to remember not to panic, to stay calm and face challenges as they
come. In CaMS [department of computer and mathematical sciences], we students learn
the newest developments in technology, and problem solving is a large part of
our curriculum. As we begin our careers, we never know what challenges we will
Our education includes programming,
building apps, cyber security and networking. These skills are applicable to a
number of fields, including the medical field. In the near future, people will
be looking to us to for solutions, and we should be prepared to be lead and
find the right solutions.
We are very fortunate to receive an
education in computer science and computer engineering that will enable us to
contribute to society at large. In addition, the pursuit of knowledge and
facts, and the sharing of the knowledge and facts is keeping up with the
Currently, there is a lot of
misinformation out there on the Internet about the Coronoavirus. As future
leaders in technology, we should endeavor to examine the sources and follow
facts. We have a moral responsibility not to spread panic on our social media,
but to share articles and posts that are factual.
We also should take care of family,
friends and ourselves. Please reach out and check on those you care about. You
might not be able to see each other in person, but at least keep up with the
Please also do not forget your studies. This
time period might seem like an extension of spring break, but it is not. We
still need to study, those of us who are graduating still need to graduate and
we should finish the hard work we started on a positive note.
We probably need to work harder to
understand the material and complete our assignments. We should still start our
assignments early and ask our instructors any questions we have as soon as
This consideration will help make this unusual
time run more smoothly for both our instructors and us students. Our
instructors are good about answering emails, and they are also working hard to
transition their lectures to online classes.
We are all capable of performing our best
despite this disruption to the semester. I truly believe all of you are bright
and talented and have promising futures. We can all succeed together.
This uncertainty will not hold us back.
Rather, it will make us stronger and society will need our knowledge to assist
in the changing field of technology.
We are adjusting to uncertain
circumstances, but please take heart. This crisis will pass. It might take time
to find our balance again, but we will. Remember, we are the problem solvers.
On March 21, there will be a Maker Session
for girls from 6th through 10th grades entitled Smart
Home as a part of Girls Create with Technology. They will have the opportunity
to utilize programming and the Gravity IoT [Internet of Things] Starter Kit in
order to create smart home devices. The Gravity IoT [Internet of Things]
Starter Kit contains seven Internet of Things modules that are capable of
interacting from a smart device as well as wireless monitoring.
There will also be an afternoon session on
the same day for Girl Scouts to earn their robotics badge, according to Dr.
Cindy Howard, co-chair and associate professor
of the Department of Computer and Mathematical
Another upcoming Maker Session is called
Fun with Finches where girls have their finch robots move, light up and other
features via the Python programming language. For more information about the
Maker Sessions, visit http://cs.lewisu.edu/gct/schedule.html.
On June 22 through June 25 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. there will be a summer camp for Girls Create with Technology, Howard said. The girls will learn Raspberry Pi and build a robot.
“My favorite thing is what we do in camp,
build robots,” Howard said. She added the girls use craft materials to build
the robots. Howard said the materials, such as cardboard boxes and bottles, are
gathered year round by Christine Morrow, Administrative Assistant for the
College of Aviation, Science and Technology.
The girls also write code for the robots to move or have light or sound, Howard said. The girls use either the programming languages Python or Snap! Snap! is a visual programming language allowing the programmer to drag and drop blocks of code. About a day and a half of the camp is spent on building the robots, Howard said.
“Technology and computer science is a
creative field,” Howard said, adding this is an important aspect for girls to
see and experience in Girls Create with Technology. “Put it on their radar.
This is something they can do,” Howard said. She said the age group of 6th
to 10th grades are a good time for the girls to have exposure to
these fields, especially at a time in their lives when they are thinking of
Howard also emphasized the importance of encouraging girls and women to be a part of STEM fields. “Having different people with different perspectives is so important,” Howard said. “A more diverse group comes up with better ideas,” she added.
Girls and women also face challenges in
pursuing STEM fields. “I think right now the biggest challenge is feeling
comfortable when there aren’t a lot of women,” Howard said.
She added it can be hard for girls to have
few or no other female classmates in a classroom setting, but the girls should
reach out and find other women in the field. Women can join ACM-W [The
Association for Computing Machinery’s Council on Women in Computing],
and attend the Grace Hopper Celebration conference, Howard
Students and faculty can get involved in
Girls Create with Technology, and should contact Dr. Howard at firstname.lastname@example.org for further information. Every Girls Create with Technology
session has three or four student mentors. Students are eligible to receive a
stipend for their assistance.
Girls Create with Technology began in 2013
supported by a contribution from AT&T, Howard said. Currently, Girls Create
with Technology is supported via contributions from Driskill Foundation,
Ecolab, Caterpillar Foundation, PPG Foundation, Romeoville Walmart and ARCO
Through Girls Create with Technology, the
girls learn several important skills, including security and encryption,
coding, taking apart and building computers, 3D printing and Raspberry Pi,
“I would hope they would find it interesting that they can build and create things with technology,” Howard said. She added that she finds it rewarding to see the girls get excited about their projects.
March 3, from 3-5 pm, esports will host a grand opening for students to come
and learn more about the esports club. This event will be hosted in the esports
club lounge, located on the first floor of Fitzpatrick Hall.
Prior to the esports club lounge, esports
had space in St. Charles Borromeo and had to cart equipment between buildings
for tournaments, according to Jill Siegfried, Director of Student Recreation,
Fitness and Wellness. With the new space, the equipment stays in one place,
Siegfried said. The lounge features include 24 computers and two separate rooms.
The rooms are for practice or for competitive gaming between schools in order
for them to compete without distraction.
Siegfried added she is curious to see the kind of growth the esports team will get with the new facility, and the growth of esports as whole has been phenomenal. “It’s nice we’ve positioned ourselves to be a part of the enthusiasm that’s blooming in esports,” Siegfried said.
Dr. Dana Dominiak, Associate Professor in
the Department of Computer and Mathematical Sciences and faculty advisor of
esports, said the students put in a lot of effort into building the esports
club. She said the students held fundraisers, created posters, held bake sales
and hauled around their own equipment. She added that she helped the team get
the necessary equipment and set it up.
Yesenia Gonzalez, who is pursuing her
master’s degree in computer science with a double concentration in cyber
security and digital forensics, was one of the seven founders of the esports
club. Gonzalez said she handled the club’s infrastructure including organizing
meetings, events and she planned the club charter.
Gonzalez also attended esports meetings
and tournaments at Joliet Junior College and Northern Illinois University to
see how the other esports clubs handled meetings and tournaments. These
experiences assisted Gonzalez to develop background knowledge to plan Lewis
esports events, she said.
“I love seeing how far the club has come and I look forward to seeing where is will be in the next couple of years,” Gonzalez said.
Computer Science major Tyler Starkus is
the president of the esports club. Starkus said students can come to the lounge
and play games or they can participate in competitive gaming. The esports club
is open to all students and all majors and meets on Fridays at 3 p.m. in the
esports lounge, Starkus said.
He added the club can put together teams,
based on student interest, and participate in tournaments. The games for
tournaments include League of Legends, Overwatch, Hearthstone, Rocket League,
Rainbow Six Siege and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. Typically, tournaments are
held on Saturdays, Starkus said.
This semester, there are three teams within the esports club preparing for tournaments in the games League of Legends, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and Hearthstone, Starkus said and added there is always the potential to add more teams for tournaments. The League of Legends tournament will be held April 18.
Last semester, the team won a trophy in a
League of Legends tournament, Starkus said. In the other tournaments they
participated in last semester, the team was one loss away from qualifying for
the next stage of the tournaments in League of Legends, Rainbow Six Siege, Overwatch
and Rocket League.
The College League of Legends, led by Riot
Games, the developer of League of Legends, is composed of League of Legends
players from colleges in the U.S. and Canada, Starkus said. Currently, the
Lewis esports team is placed 24 out of 102 teams in their division, Starkus
In order to prepare for tournaments, the team practices playing games together and separately, Starkus said. Dominiak also said she will provide any support she can to help the team win more tournaments.
Starkus was interested in joining the
esports club due to playing video games. “I’ve been playing video games my
whole life,” Starkus said. He said his older brother was a part of the esports
club and Starkus later joined the club as well.
was a big part of setting up the esports lounge, and would like more students
to know about esports. “I want people on campus to know we [esports] actually
exist,” Starkus said. He encourages students to join regardless of their skill
level in gaming.
When asked how the esports team at Lewis
compares with other university esports teams, Starkus said, “We are not a full
program yet, so we don’t have recruitment. Our players come from the luck of
the draw.” He mentioned it was fortunate that a team of good players came
together to win the League of Legends tournament.
He added other universities have
opportunities in the recruitment of students as well as full-ride scholarships
for esports, similar to football team scholarships. He said even a $500
scholarship could make a difference in bringing more students to Lewis
interested in esports. Starkus hopes these advantages will be available to
Lewis students in the future.
Gonzalez also said she would like to see scholarships offered for esports, and the scholarships could bring in more students from around the country and abroad. She added she also hopes there will be an esports arena in the future.
Dominiak said esports is an opportunity
for the future as there are careers in competitive video games. She added that
there are talks about the possibility of a degree in esports in the future.
Dominiak said, “College esports is
predicted to grow faster than college football.” Dominiak also said she expects
the esports club at Lewis to grow by leaps and bounds.
Siegfried said the team could expand to
having a varsity team and a junior varsity team. There is also the possibility
of having two spaces for esports in the future, Siegfried said.
Dominiak added the esports lounge also
gives students a safe place to hang out on campus, which is a comfort to
“Club sports in general are a great way for students to connect, make friends and form lifelong relationships and really feel a part of the university,” Siegfried said, “I see this as an opportunity for those who do esports to do the same thing.”
The Lewis University Innovation Hub is currently reviewing the applications of those interested in utilizing the hub to build their business plan.
Ryan Butt, Dean of the College of Business and Director of the Innovation Hub, said the hub is a regional business incubator, a result of a joint partnership with Lewis University and the Des Plaines River Valley Enterprise, composed of the Village of Romeoville, Joliet, Lockport, Rockdale and Will County.
The hub is “an opportunity to be a catalyst for the community,” Butt said. “It is an intersection between Lewis students and faculty expertise connected with the larger communities to create new products with services to benefit not only our community, but beyond.”
The Innovation Hub is open to different types of clients, Butt said, such as clients who have an idea, but do not have the resources to fully develop the idea. These clients can be assisted by faculty and students, he said. Another client could be someone with a homemade invention or product, but is unsure how to make the idea successful. For example, if someone has a product, such as homemade salsa, and is unsure how to scale the business and make the product available in places such as Jewel Osco, then the person could speak with experts and utilize the resources at the Innovation Hub.
In addition to the Innovation Hub work space, a client potentially could also want to utilize other Lewis resources, including the Maker Lab, which has 3D printing capabilities, Butt said. Clients would also have access to coaching by business experts, Lewis faculty.
“We take people and give them skills they need to be successful in business,” Butt said. He added, “We have the opportunity for people who don’t have resources to go to 1871 [business incubator] in Chicago. We can partner with them and give them our expertise.” He added that potential clients do not have to have a background in business to utilize the innovation hub.
Lewis University was presented with the $75,000 grant back in November. Illinois Governor JB Pritzker attended and spoke at the ceremony. Butt said Pritzker was highly interested and excited about the Innovation Hub. Pritzker is also the founder of 1871 business incubator in Chicago.
The pricing for these services is still
being determined, but there will be three tiers of pricing. The lower tier will
be for the association part, to have access to consulting and lab space, Butt
said. The middle and higher tiers will have permanent space and additional
Students would also have the opportunity
to work with clients, Butt said. An innovation lounge is available for students
and clients to meet each other, and formulate a plan to work together.
One of the ways students can prepare is to
take part in the Business Plan Competition, Butt said. There are cash prizes up
to $25,000 total to be distributed. The top winner also receives free space in
the innovation hub for one year. For more information visit https://www.lewisu.edu/academics/cob/lsc/business-competition.htm.
The innovation hub is also involved with campus events, Butt said. One is a lecture with Carol Lavin Bernick, who is the CEO of Polished Nickel Capital Management, which is a company in charge of diversified investments as well as owned operating companies in professional sports and retail. The lecture will be held at the Convocation Hall in St. Charles Borromeo from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. on March 17.
The innovation hub is also sponsoring the
Hackathon/Makeathon event for CaMS department [Computer and Mathematical
Sciences] on April 18 as well as a Datathon later in the semester.
Butt said the innovation hub is following
the legacy of St. John Baptiste de La Salle, who was an innovator, taught the
poor and user vernacular language in his teachings for the poor to become
Butt said the overall experience of the
innovation hub has been very positive. He “sees the energy and the excitement
surrounding the students, the faculty who are interested in being a part of it,
and the local community.”
Dr. Ray Klump, Associate Dean of the College of Aviation, Science and Technology and Professor of Computer and Mathematical Sciences, said, “In Computer Science and Computer Engineering, there is so much room to innovate. I think the Innovation Hub could be a great space for our students to make their ideas a reality.”
On February 4, ACM [Association for Computing Machinery] and IEEE [Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers] hosted renowned guest speaker, Florence Hudson, who has quite an impressive career and list of credentials.
Hudson worked at
IBM for over 33 years. Her roles there included Director of Corporate Strategy
and Internet of Things Business Development, VP Marketing & Strategy for
System z Mainframes and VP Strategic Planning on Loan to the Society of Women
She was also an aerospace engineer at
Grumman and NASA. She gave a TEDx Talk about Sustainability on a Smarter
Planet. Hudson consults and also speaks globally about a plethora of topics,
including machine learning, block chain, healthcare, cybersecurity, artificial
intelligence, diversity and inclusion.
Currently, Hudson is the CEO and founder
of FDHint, a firm for advanced technology, innovation as well as diversity and
inclusion. For more information about FDHint, please visit https://www.fdhint.com/.
Hudson is a special advisor for the NSF[National Science Foundation] Cybersecurity Center of Excellence at Indiana University as well as the Big Data Innovation Hub at Columbia University.
She is part of the standards
committee for IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology. Hudson also leads a
global IEEE working group on standards for Clinical IoT [Internet of Things]
data and device interoperability. “We work together to develop standards to
make the world a better place.”
Hudson serves as editor-in-chief with Springer Publishing Company for the book “Women Securing the Future with TIPPSS[Trust, Identity, Privacy, Protection, Safety, Security] for IoT [Internet of Things].” Hudson and 16 other global women leaders are published and discuss the importance of increasing awareness of privacy and security challenges in the Internet of Things, as well as the actions people can take in the face of these challenges.
Her education includes a BSE from
Princeton University in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and executive
education at both Harvard Business School and Columbia University.
During the lecture, Hudson talked about
her life journey. She showed photos of family, mentors and several notable
people who helped influence her life and helped her clarify her values. For
example, her brother used to wake her in the early morning to see the Apollo
missions launch, which led to Hudson wondering how it was accomplished when she
was around three years old. She said that was the day she became an aerospace
She served on a Title IX panel of experts
with 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. Hudson said Title IX
regards equality in sports for boys and girls. For example, if a school invests
in a soccer team for boys, then the school has to invest in a soccer team for
girls, Hudson said.
Hudson added that there is a STEM clause
in Title IX for gender equity in educational programs with federal funding.
She also mentioned interacting with U.S.
Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who was a former student of one of
Hudson’s friends. Like Hudson, Sotomayor is also a graduate of Princeton.
Sotomayor was also the first in her family to go to college.
On her personal journey, she also had
pictures with Sally Ride, the first US female astronaut, and Mae Jemison, the
first US African American female astronaut.
During her talk, Hudson went over
important factors to achieve success in one’s employment, leadership roles as
well as quality of life.
Hudson offered this advice, “Look around the
planet, see what needs to be fixed, and go do it.”
Hudson stressed the importance of planning one’s life for a purpose. She advised students to identify their goals for work and life and then GROW to achieve these goals. She further explained GROW as: “set goals, assess reality, determine options and work it.”
She showed a map she created of her life
plan and encouraged students to make their own life plan.
She also showed a pie chart where one can visualize how they balance one’s time by identifying how much of the slice is spent on school and work, sports and activities, community, friends and oneself.
Hudson also said it is important for
everyone to believe in themselves, even when others do not. She advised
everyone to be on their own side when speedbumps occur. As far as dealing with
the speedbumps in life, she said, “Keep rolling over them until you get where
She also mentioned the importance of
building a support network of mentors and “personal cheerleaders” to encourage
one on their journey to success. She said these are the people who would remind
one how great one is.
Hudson also advised everyone to stick to
one’s instincts and values. She said there would always be situations where one
could choose not to speak up when something is not right, but she encourages
everyone to stand for ethics.
She stressed the importance of building
different types of skills, such as collaboration, leadership, business and
financial, communication and technical skills.
Hudson emphasized the importance of
building a good team and teamwork as a part of collaboration skills.
In order to build leadership skills, Hudson
said one should serve on a board of directors, such as 4-H. She said this is
good experience to learn how boards make decisions.
She also advised everyone to continually
build on their technical skills and “become an expert in your field.”
women who face challenges working in the field of technology, Hudson advises
them to “just keep going and find people you can talk to.” She emphasized the
important of women surrounding themselves with the people who matter and
seeking inspiration and support from those people. She also said for women to
look at role models for aspiration, people who have done what they are wishing
Hudson touched on her definition of the meaning of life in 60 seconds. “Your job while you’re here on this planet, is to determine the unique gifts God gave you and use them for good every day.”
DataSAIL [Data Science and Artificial
Intelligence Laboratory] is an organization that involves faculty and students
collaborating on projects related to data science and artificial intelligence. DataSAIL
was founded in 2015 by Dr. Piotr Szczurek, Associate Professor of Computer and
Mathematical Sciences and Director of the Data Science program. This semester,
DataSAIL offers an opportunity for students to work
on a project with the Yorkville-Bristol Sanitary District.
Dr. Sam Abuomar, Associate Professor of
Computer and Mathematical Sciences, said students will be designing a system for
Yorkville-Bristol Sanitary District to classify images based on the condition
of waste, such as solid or liquid.
“There is also a
project on oceanography and geoscience data analytics modeling where Acoustic
Doppler Current Profiler (ADCP) meter was used to collect several datasets by
measuring water current velocities over a depth range using the Doppler effect
of sound waves scattered back from particles within the water column,” Abuomar
DataSAIL members are currently working on a building recognition project, Szczurek said. The project involves gathering images of different buildings on campus from different angles, different times of the day and different seasons in order to identify the correct building, Szczurek said. The data will be used to come up with a predictive model.
DataSAIL prepares students for the future
job market by giving students experience in designing solutions to real life
problems, Abuomar said. “When they are ready to graduate, they can pursue any
project in data science,” he added.
Dr. Mahmood Al-khassaweneh, Associate
Professor of Computer and Mathematical Sciences, said, “We give them experience
developing up to date algorithms.”
Abuomar said DataSAIL is open to all
students, regardless of major. DataSAIL meets on Fridays at 3 p.m. in AS-106A.
DataSAIL has a set mission statement, “to
help foster the collaboration of faculty and students working on data science
program to help the community, society and the university,” Szczurek said. The
idea behind DataSAIL was “primarily to get more people to know what data
science is and give the faculty the opportunity to be matched up with students
to work on different research projects,” Szczurek said.
During the meetings, members present their work, or they discuss problems in the industry and how to solve them. “The meetings are an opportunity to share ideas, skills and experiences, Al-khassaweneh said.
There are also two data science research
opportunities in development pending approval, Abuomar said.
One opportunity involves collaboration
with Argonne National Laboratory, which in under review by the National Science
Foundation, Abuomar said. The purpose of this research is to apply data
analytics to ALD [atomic layer deposition].
“Atomic layer deposition (ALD) is a
thin-film growth technique that offers the unique capability to coat complex,
three-dimensional objects with precise, conformal layers. In addition, ALD allows atomic-level control over the thickness and
composition of the deposit,” according to Argonne National Laboratory.
The second research opportunity is in
collaboration with Mississippi State University’s biomedical engineering
department about a project examining the reasons for traumatic brain injury,
Abuomar said. The project is a joint proposal to the National Science
Foundation and the National Institute of Health.
There is also an additional research opportunity,
Al-khassaweneh said, via a grant, Caterpillar
Scholar Award from Caterpillar Inc., for the project entitled “Video Auto
Tracking System.” This is a video and audio tracking system for drivers
and human safety.
For example, on a two lane road, a car in
one lane might stop at a stop sign for a pedestrian in a crosswalk, Al-khassaweneh
said. The car in the second lane might not see the pedestrian is crossing, and
continue on their way without seeing the pedestrian. An application will be
developed to warn the driver that a pedestrian is present, and even send a
picture from one car to the other that a pedestrian is in the crosswalk.
Additionally, another application will warn drivers about lane changes, Al-khassaweneh said. This warning is applicable to situations such as if a driver is distracted and parts from a lane, or if the user’s car is coming too close to the car in front of the user.
There are further research opportunities
available, Szczurek said. One is the SURE [STEM Undergraduate Research
Experience] program, which provides students the opportunity to work with
faculty over the summer and receive a stipend, Szczurek said.
Another opportunity is PUMA [Promotion of
Underrepresented Minorities in Academic STEM] Alliance, which is funded by the NSF
[National Science Foundation] LSAMP [Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority
Participation] program, Szczurek said. This provides opportunities for
underrepresented minority students to work on research projects, Szczurek said.
Currently, Lewis degree programs include a
Bachelor of Science in Data Science, a major in Computer Science with a
concentration in data science, a Master of Science in Data Science as well as a
4 + 1 program for students to finish their undergraduate and master’s degrees
in data science in five years, Szczurek said. Additionally, students from other
majors not relating to STEM can add a Bachelor of Arts in Data Science or a
minor in Data Science, Szczurek said.
The degree programs provide all the skills
students need to go in the industry and work as a data scientist, Szczurek
said. He added data science and artificial intelligence will take over a lot of
industries and encourages students to develop the necessary skills now.
“The beauty of data science is it can be applied in different majors and fields,” Al-khassaweneh said. For example, a student of Al-Khassaweneh’s developed an algorithm to differentiate if a skin growth or sore is cancerous or not, based on a data set of over 10,000 images. The algorithm can also detect the type of skin cancer the patient has. Currently, the student’s research paper will be edited and sent to an IEEE [Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers] conference.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor
Statistics, the projected employment growth for computer and information
research scientists should increase by 16 percent from two years ago, 2018, to
The enrollment of the data science program
is increasing, Abuomar said. Students who major in data science or have a
concentration of data science with their computer science degree have many
possibilities of future careers including as a data scientist or as a systems
Dr. Ray Klump,
Associate Dean of the College of Aviation, Science and Technology and Professor
of Computer and Mathematical Sciences, said, “DataSAIL is another example of
how the department of Computer and Mathematical Sciences provides hands-on
extracurricular opportunities for students. Students get a chance to apply what
they learn in the classroom to real-world problems. This helps prepare them for
their upcoming careers.”
number of students became much more interested in data science as a result of
DataSAIL and went on to work in the data science field,” Szczurek said. He
added other students went on to pursue their doctorate in research pertaining
to data science or artificial intelligence.
In 2017 and 2018,
DataSAIL participated in Kaggle competitions, Szczurek said. Kaggle is a
platform for analytics competitions where students receive data and compete to
create the best predictive model. Last year, students participated in a
Datathon, which was a Kaggle competition set up at Lewis. Students prepare for
these competitions through online tutorial sessions as well as in meetings,
Szczurek hopes to
repeat the Datathon at the end of the current semester. In the fall semester,
there are plans to compete with other schools in the ACCA competition.
The Lewis University Cyber Defense Club took part in the Cyber 9/12 competition in Austin, Texas on January 16 and 17. Overall the team placed third out of 19 university teams. The team placed ahead of Harvard University, but lost the final round to West Point.
The students attending were Jocelyn Murray, a freshman majoring in computer science with a concentration in cyber security, Andrew Milligan, a sophomore double majoring in business administration and information security management, David Mendez, a senior majoring in computer science and Puneet Singh, who is studying for his master’s in Information Security.
The mentor of the Cyber Defense Club 9/12 group is Matthew Kwiatkowski, adjunct professor.
“Cyber 9/12 is a cyber-security and policy
based competition,” Murray said, “The competition deals with large scale cyber
events with geopolitical issues.” Murray added the competition focuses on how
countries should have an immediate response as well as take long term actions
to deter future interference. An example of this would be the situation of
large scale attacks on the financial industry, Murray said.
The competition is run by the Atlantic
Council, which is a political think tank.
Kwiatkowski said this competition is unique. “There’s a cyber-technological component, but it’s a backdrop to international and domestic policies,” he said. “This challenge is built upon preparing collegiate level students to be policy makers and ambassadors to the U.S.”
Murray said the team is given a scenario
brief with news reports, government reports, and social media reports. Their
task is to construct the situation and write a brief. Then they must write the
decision and deliver an oral brief. In the oral brief they deal with policy
options and deal with domestic and international political issues dealing with
these large scale hacks.
The team also looks at private business
and government communication regulating vulnerability and how to mitigate the
damage, Murray said.
Every round of competition requires a 10-minute oral brief. In the first round of competition, the team receives material and is given a month to prepare a decision document and an oral brief, Murray said. During the second round of the competition, the team has one night to prepare a decision document and an oral brief. In the last round, the team has 15 minutes to prepare an oral brief and cannot use technology to look up information or ask their mentor for assistance.
Kwiatkowski said that one of the sample scenarios is for the teams to play the role of the National Security Council [NSC] and be given an issue of national security concern to brief the U.S. president about. The team reports on options for the solutions to the president outlining the potential outcomes and risks, Kwiatkowski said.
Milligan mentioned there were several
keynote speakers. One was Christopher Krebs, director of the Department of
Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency (CISA), who
stressed the importance of taking steps in securing electoral process as well
as the threat ransomware poses as a national emergency, Milligan said. Additionally,
another guest speaker was James Smith, assistant special agent in charge for
the San Antonio FBI, who spoke about the role the FBI takes in cooperating with
the private sector to mitigate the damage of the attacks, Milligan said.
Singh said there was a workshop about social engineering given by Rachel Tobac, CEO of SocialProof Security. Tobac went over the dangers of the cyber world and the importance of not releasing personal information, Singh said. The Lewis team were given a task to find out the details of a company, similar to capture the flag, and took first prize.
One of the challenges the team faced was a
lack of expertise in the international relations policy sector, Murray said. In
order to prepare for this challenge, the team sought advice from professors in
the political science department, including Dr. Laurette Liesen, Dr. Steven
Nawara and Dr. Justin Delacour.
Murray said the cyber defense team is the
reason she came to study at Lewis University.
Ryan Meeker, cyber security graduate
assistant for CaMS [Computer and Mathematical Science department], said the
cyber defense team as a whole is open to all students. Meeker added the team
goes to several competitions each year, including Argonne. “We like to have a
rounded experience,” Meeker said.
Meetings are held weekly on Thursdays from
3-5 p.m.in room AS-101-S, Meeker said. Additionally, there are open lab hours
in the Sentinel lab, AS-101-A, for those who cannot attend meetings, or would
like to work on projects, Meeker said.
Murray added that at weekly meetings the
team comes up with plans and delegates the preparatory work for the
competitions. Meeker added at the meetings, the group processes draw on
everyone’s collective experience and knowledge and consistently work on
solutions to existing issues.
“We as a club, we’re open to anyone no matter the major, experiences, or prior knowledge,” Meeker said. He advises students not to be afraid of not understanding something that would be unknown to them before, as the field of computer science always involves learning something new.
Meeker and Murray said one of the classes
that prepared them for competitions was Intro to Unix. Meeker added that the
class Programming for Penetration Testing also helped him. Murray added the
class Cyber Security and Forensics Tools also prepared her for competitions.
The Cyber 9/12 competition differs from
other cyber security competitions, Meeker said. The Cyber 9/12 focuses more on
the theoretical aspect of cyber security, while other competitions focus on
cyber security as a whole, Meeker said.
In the general competitions, the team is
given a network of machines, and the team will have to discover the existing
issues, such as vulnerability, Meeker said.
One of the upcoming competitions is the Midwest CCDC at Moraine Valley Community College in March. Murray said the team also hopes to go to Cyber 9/12 in Washington D.C. this March.
Lewis University offers opportunities for
students to study abroad. Eric Spangler, Assistant Professor of Computer and
Mathematical Sciences, will be leading three opportunities in China.
Following the spring 2020 semester, the
first opportunity is at Sanda University in Shanghai for about five to eight
weeks. Students will be able to take the classes Exploring Technology on the
Global Stage or Forensics, as well as studying the Chinese language, Spangler
said. Students will also attend a technical conference and spend time in
Shanghai visiting the sites.
Students would also have the opportunity to study the Mandarin dialect of the Chinese language and pick up different aspects of the culture such as dance, Spangler said. Additionally, the campus is about an eight-minute walk from the metro where students can easily get to different sites or shop. Conveniences include an individual dorm room, a gym and a snack cart area where students meet after 11:30 p.m.
Additionally, Huazhong University of
Science and Technology in Wuhan offers several academic workshops. For the
workshops, students will stay in a hotel.
One of the workshops is Chinese Language +
AI Robot. The workshop runs from July 5 through July 18. Lectures on the
subject are offered including Printing & Writing Robots, Industrial Robots
and Human-robot interaction.
There are also opportunities to learn the
Chinese language, martial arts and calligraphy. The schedule offers visits to
places such as Wuhan Museum of Science and Technology, Hubei Provincial Museum
and Huawei corporation.
Another workshop is Chinese Language +
Mobile Internet. The workshop also runs from July 5 to 18. Lectures include
Mobile Internet in China, Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence.
Students will also have the opportunity to learn the Chinese language as well as calligraphy and martial arts. Students will also learn how to play the Chinese Guqin, which is a traditional musical instrument. Field trips include a visit to the Yellow Crane Tower, the National Optoelectronics Research Center and iFLYTEK corporation.
Spangler said studying abroad is very
beneficial for students as they get to add another component to their student
experience in addition to their education. “That will enhance the learning
process,” Spangler said. He also added that students will interact with people
from different cultures. They will also see how other cultures handle tasks
differently than how we handle tasks in the U.S. and students’ perception will
For example, time might be elastic in
other countries, Spangler said. If a meeting is supposed to start at 10 a.m.,
it might start at 11, Spangler said. Students might not ordinarily get that
experience without working for a company for several years, Spangler said.
Chris Swanson, Director of Study Abroad,
said the deadlines are approaching for the summer and fall programs at the end
of February. There are available opportunities to study computer science and
mathematics at universities in England, Australia and Ireland, Swanson said.
“The cost of the programs, which includes
housing, is Lewis tuition plus $350,” Swanson said. The $350 is the
administrative fee and airfare and usually meals are not included, Swanson
Students also have an increased level of maturity and confidence in their abilities upon returning from study abroad programs, Swanson said. “Students who study abroad tend to have a higher focus on their major and they tend to have a higher GPA after they return,” he said and added, “After they graduate, they tend to get hired twice as fast and they tend to have about a 25 percent higher salary when they first start.”
“The ability to show a potential employer
that you have international experience, that you can work with people from a
variety of backgrounds and that you’re flexible with a variety of situations goes
a long way,” Swanson said.
Hector Dondiego, a junior majoring in
computer science with a concentration in pervasive computing, spent the fall
2019 semester in Japan.
Dondiego said he chose to study in Japan
due to an interest in Japanese culture and technology he developed in high
school. At the time, his attention was caught by the field of robotics as well
as an interest in anime.
his semester in Japan, Dondiego studied Elementary Japanese, Western Philosophy
and Anime in Contemporary Visual Culture. Dondiego particularly enjoyed Anime
in Contemporary Visual Culture. In this class, he had the opportunity to draw
anime characters, work in groups to create anime media and act in a movie as
part of a final project.
In the movie project, Dondiego and two
other classmates played the parts of five characters. The characters were three
current students, a teacher and a new student. The movie started with the three
current students who did not like each other. Over the course of the movie,
they learn to overcome their differences.
Dondiego was also responsible for editing
the movie and other videos. He used OpenShot Video Editor and VEGAS Movie Studio
13 Platinum, and he expressed a preference for the latter. He plans to use this
software in part for his future capstone project.
Dondiego saw several notable technology devices during his stay in Japan. One was Pocketalk, a device that served as a voice translator. One could speak in one’s language of origin and the device translates what is spoken to another selected language.
However, the device has challenges with pronunciation and dialect that will hopefully be improved upon in the future. Dondiego said the sentence, “We think the device is really cool.” The translation was slightly off. One translation version understood and showed the translation for will you sing this is a pretty cool device, and another translation version understood and showed we sink this is a pretty cool device.
During his travels, Dondiego usually used
Google Translate on his phone. He said it is not a full translation, but gives
a general idea of the intended communication.
Dondiego also found it interesting that
the electronics stores had a few differences as compared to the U.S. He said
there were a variety of sizes for computer mice. He also said he saw around 30
different kinds of wireless earbuds.
Additionally, in the shopping mall he saw
an Android robot. It was not connected during his visit, but Dondiego
speculates that this is a personal assistant robot.
Dondiego also spent some time in the video
game arcades. He discovered a music game called Wacca, and later found out this
game is also in the U.S. In the game, players tap to the rhythm. In Japan, he
enjoyed another music rhythm game called Chunithm.
“The music game inspired one of my ideas for my capstone, making my own music game,” Dondiego said.
Additionally, he got to experience part of the culture. During his travels, Dondiego was part of two dance groups at the university. He had the opportunity to learn Japanese traditional dances and contemporary dances as well as perform with the group.
He also formed friendships with
international students from Czech Republic, Canada, Portugal, Great Britain,
Mongolia, Australia, Slovakia, Peru, Germany and Finland. They still keep in
touch via Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp. “The people you spend time with is
the most valuable experience,” Dondiego said. He said they shared a lot of
stories, memories and did several activities together, such as traveling to
other towns, playing in arcades, going to the movie theater and singing
Dondiego said his overall experience was
wonderful. “I loved it. I wish I could explore more areas.” In the future, he
hopes to visit the Aomori Prefecture, which is known for its apples. He also
hopes to visit the city of Sapporo for skiing.
He added that if he visited as a tourist instead of studying abroad for a semester, then he would not have had the experience of visiting the rural areas of Japan. He particularly enjoyed hiking around Lake Tazawa, especially spending time in nature and having time for reflection.
He would encourage other students to study
abroad in Japan or another country for the chance to experience something new,
such as the traditional dances, and a chance to make friends from different
parts of the world.
Dondiego encourages students to study abroad as it will give them a
chance to travel and continue their studies without losing time in finishing
their degrees. He also said it is a chance for personal development and growth.
He added, “You get to discover new things about yourself. It [studying abroad]
is an experience you will never forget.”
Dondiego is also considering career opportunities in Japan in the future. Additionally, Japan was the second international study abroad trip he took in 2019. During the spring 2019 semester, Dondiego and computer science students Levi El Fattal, Janeise Davis and I, Nadia Beidas, traveled to Brazil as a part of Eric Spangler’s Exploring Technology on the Global Stage course.
“The Brazil trip was great,” Spangler said, “It was the first trip of its kind for CaMS [Lewis University Department of Computer and Mathematical Sciences]. It had to be good.” He added that one particular advantages involved Lewis alumni, André Siffert, whose company campus b helped set up the trip. Another advantage was the assistance from one of his former students, Maria Clara Leal, Spangler said. She was happy to show her culture in northern Brazil, which does not get a lot of visitors from abroad, Spangler said.
We visited two universities as well as a
variety of technical companies. At the Federal University of Piaui in Teresina,
students showcased a variety of projects. One project was a robotic arm. The
sensor could sense movement and if one clenched one’s hand, then the robotic
arm would clench its hand as well.
Another project involved virtual reality.
One can place the virtual reality headset on and be taken into a room. One can
change colors and styles of the furniture, walls, and floor. This is beneficial
to an interior designer, who can show a client a room ahead of time and agree
on a color scheme and style.
There was also a program where a figure in
a program senses your movement and moves when you move. This is beneficial to
home security. A person can wave and be identified, and then the home would
Another project showed a math app on the phone. The app simultaneously teaches English and math. The math equations are presented in English, sometimes just numbers and sometimes in words. The students were eager to show their projects and answered a lot of questions.
The class also had the opportunity to
visit a few companies. One company visited was 128 bits, a company that assists
businesses with mobile and web technology. Another company, Aquabit, which is
an intelligence platform for the production of fish. The app assists fish
farmers and companies and places they sell fish to, such as markets and
restaurants, by assisting them earn more, reduce cost, and sell more.
Another company the class visited was Sebrae. It is an entity of representatives from the private and public sectors. Sebrae seeks to promote and assist small businesses grow with the country’s social and economic development policies. Sebrae has a bidding process to contract works, purchase of the products, and services. The bidding process is utilized to choose the best proposals in order to acquire services and goods.
The class also participated in Cais Tech,
held at the Floriano campus of the Federal University of Piaui. Students
listened to presentations roughly translated to English on a variety of topics,
including artificial intelligence. On the last day, we students gave our
Levi El Fattal gave a presentation on the
analysis of technical entrepreneurship in a global marketplace. “I took certain important
technological hubs across the globe and discussed the culture, competitive
advantages, and summary of public/private investment resources of each,” he
said and added, “For example,
Shenzhen, China is a special economic zone that was established as such in the
1980s. Because of this status, Shenzhen received an influx of investment (both
public and private) and was turned from a fishing village into a bustling tech
hub that manufactures 90% of the world’s electronics.”
Janeise Davis gave a presentation about
medical technology. “In my
presentation I talked about bionic devices, prosthetic devices, and
nanotechnology in conjunction with other various types of medical devices,” Davis
I, Nadia Beidas, created and presented a
program in Visual Basic entitled The Story Generator. The program asks the user
to choose from three characters. The user answers three questions and an
original short story written by me displayed.
was very happy to have the opportunity to combine creative writing with the
computer science skills I am continuing to build. Additionally, as a writer, I
was very happy to see the audience enjoying the stories I wrote and laughing at
the intended moments of amusement. I plan to expand this project to my capstone
The conference opened with a presentation conducted by a few women, emphasizing the importance of women to enter the field of technology. They mentioned some of their struggles when they chose to study technology, and one said she was told she could not handle the material. They encouraged women not to give up or believe they cannot succeed in the field of technology, even if someone tells them they cannot or should not be pursuing a career in technology.
Another presentation went over artificial
intelligence and robotics, and highlighted that robots may replace humans for
some jobs in the future. A video of robots stocking shelves in a warehouse was
There was also a presentation about Flutter, a user interface created by Google, which is intended to be a simpler application for users and programmers. Flutter uses the Dart programming language, which is a Google, virtual language, to incorporate widgets and framework. One can create the app and program in Flutter on mobile apps and devices. One can draw and develop the tool kit, then develop and create the app in mind, place it in the tool kit and then program it. The tool kit can be used on both Windows and Macintosh operating systems.
Another presentation went over medical
problems solved by artificial intelligence, such as skin cancer detection. The
software would take information from the pictures of the patients’ skin. In
order to process skin cancer detection, the software looks at the symmetry,
pigment and regression (the presence or absence) of lesions.
There was also a program with a database of flowers. About 50 flowers are created in the system, identified by weight and size and other categories. Altogether, there was a variety of informative presentations.
El Fattal shared his thoughts about the
Brazil trip. “While we were in Brazil we
experienced much of the local culture and presented at a technical conference.
We also met many technological businesses in the area and spoke to them about
their work in the space,” he said.
Davis said, “Going
to Brazil was a unique adventure. I got to experience new foods, places,
people, and a new language, Portuguese, along with a rich culture. I’m grateful
to have had the opportunity to travel to Brazil and participate in presenting
on medical technology.”
I found the class trip to Brazil to be
very rewarding, culturally enriching and a chance to find out more about
technology in Brazil. I found the visits to the universities and the companies
to be highly informative. Additionally, I was impressed with the warmth and
generosity of the people I met during the trip, and I still remain in
continuous communication with two of them and have several other new Facebook