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CSE News

  • Learn to 'Mod' While Playing Minecraft

    The folks behind ThoughtSTEM, a company co-founded by CSE graduate students to offer computer science education to children and teens, have now come up with a software package that allows students to learn how to program on their own while playing the computer game, Minecraft. Called LearnToMod, the software is essentially a textbook that covers all introductory programming concepts. According to company founder and CSE Ph.D. student Stephen Foster, “Our goal is to teach kids computer science while they’re having fun.”

    LearnToMod is web-based and can run on both PCs and Apple computers that run Windows, iOS or Linux. The software will give users access to a ‘modding’ studio, where they can code their own modifications – ‘mods’ in computer lingo – to the Minecraft game. Users can choose between two programming languages, Javascript or Google’s Blocky language. They can also share their code with others and remix code that others have written. In addition, users get access to a private testing area where they can run the mods they have created. LearnToMod also teaches users about key concepts in computer science, including loops, functions, Boolean logic, variables and parameters, and users get access to hundreds of instructional videos and quizzes tailored for students who are learning to program.  Foster plans to present a paper on the program at the 2015 Computer Human Interaction conference in Seoul, Korea, in April 2015.

    In addition to Foster, co-founders of ThoughtSTEM include CSE Ph.D. student Sarah Esper, and Biochemistry Ph.D. student Lindsey Handley, all from UC San Diego. The LearnToMod software will be delivered in October, but it is available for pre-order for $30 here. Also beginning in October, ThoughtSTEM will launch an online course designed for students who are just learning to program using LearnToMod, and students can earn college credit through UC San Diego for completing the online course. 

    Read the full news release. 
    Watch a video about LearnToMod and Minecraft on YouTube.

  • CSE Expands Teaching Faculty to Accommodate Higher Enrollments

    Department Recruits Leo Porter, Expert in Measuring Student Learning

    The department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of California, San Diego will continue growing its undergraduate enrollment in the 2014-’15 academic year. The number of new freshman students is expected to be up 36 percent compared to last year and new transfer students up 24 percent. For the first time, total undergraduate enrollment will top 2,000, up nearly seven percent. To accommodate the growth, CSE announced the hiring of Leo Porter to be an Assistant Teaching Professor (LPSOE), the second such hire following the arrival of Mia Minnes earlier in the summer.

    Indeed, Porter is the CSE department’s sixth faculty hire of 2014. In addition to Minnes, new arrivals include assistant professors George Porter, Daniel M. Kane and Julian McAuley, and full professor Ravi Ramamoorthi.

  • Best Article Award to CSE's Nadir Weibel and CogSci Colleagues

    CSE Research Scientist and Lecturer Nadir Weibel was part of a team headed by Cognitive Science Prof. Ed Hutchins that has been honored for authoring the best article of the past year in the Journal of Cognitive Engineering and Decision Making. (Pictured top l-r: co-authors Adam Fouse, Colleen Emmenegger, Barbara Holder, Ed Hutchins, Nadir Weibel.) The award is given annually by the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society. The journal publishes scientific papers about how people engage in cognitive work in real-world settings and how that work can be supported through the design of technologies, operating concepts and operating procedures. Weibel (pictured bottom left in Boeing 787 Dreamliner flight simulator in Seattle, with co-author Adam Fouse), Hutchins and they co-authors from UC San Diego and Boeing, undertook “An Integrative Approach to Understanding Flight Crew Activity” in the December 2013 edition of the Journal. In particular, they studied how flight crews interact with complex automated systems on the flight decks of modern airliners. The researchers used a newly-developed software system called ChronoViz developed by co-author and former CogSci Ph.D student Adam Fouse, which supports visualization and analysis of multiple sources of time-coded data, including multiple sources of HD video, simulation data, transcript data, digital paper notes, eye gaze data, and so on. Among their findings they highlighted the often neglected risks and possible consequences of changing the interaction modality with the aircraft mode control panel from dials and knobs to touch-sensitive displays.

    Read the prize-winning paper on flight crew activity.

  • Computer Science and the Art of the Doodle

    “Long dismissed as a waste of time, doodling is getting new respect,” or so say researchers quoted in a July 29 article in the Wall Street Journal. Those experts include two CSE co-authors behind a 2011 study that lent credibility to the pro-doodling argument.

  • Ph.D. Student’s ‘Unconventional Odyssey’ to SMART Fellowship

    The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has awarded CSE Ph.D. student Natalie Larson a Science, Mathematics and Research for Transformation (SMART) Fellowship for three years to finish her doctorate. The fellowship will cover all of her costs in return for a commitment to work the next two summers and at least three years in a DoD lab after graduating in 2017.

  • Whova App on Display at Women Investing in Women Summit

    CSE Prof. Yuanyuan (YY) Zhou’s Whova team was out in force July 18-19 at the inaugural Women Investing in Women (WIIW) Summit in San Diego – appropriately enough, given that Whova was founded by two women (Zhou and former postdoc Soyeon Park).

  • In Facebook Open Academy, CSE Undergrad Earns Oculus Rift VR Kit

    In February, Facebook expanded its Facebook Open Academy to UC San Diego and nine other top computer science schools, in addition to Stanford and 14 other schools admitted in 2012 and 2013. The 2014 program kicked off with approximately 250 students and faculty from 25 schools assembling at Facebook headquarters to meet with mentors from 22 open-source projects (such as Ruby on Rails, Mozilla Firefox and Wikimedia). The Open Academy specifically encourages practical, applied software-engineering experiences for undergraduates by matching them with active open-source projects and mentors.

  • Best-Paper Prize for Computational Cognitive Modeling

    At the 36th annual meeting of the Cognitive Science Society which runs from July 24-26 in Quebec City, CSE Prof. Gary Cottrell (at right) and his Cognitive Science Ph.D. student Ben Cipollini will be honored with a best-paper award. This Thursday, July 24, they will receive the Computational Modeling Prize for Perception/Action.

  • Deciphering CSE's Upcoming Presence at Crypto 2014

    CSE professors Mihir Bellare and Daniele Micciancio will be in Santa Barbara August 17-21 for the 34th International Cryptology Conference at UC Santa Barbara. The conference is sponsored by the International Association for Cryptologic Research (IACR), and the general chair of the conference is CSE alumna Alexandra (Sasha) Boldyreva (Ph.D. ’04), who worked in Bellare’s lab and is now an associate professor in Georgia Tech’s Information Security Center.

  • CSE Faculty Win Qualcomm Institute Research Funding

    CSE professors Ryan Kastner and Steven Swanson (pictured l-r) are leading two projects awarded seed grants from the Qualcomm Institute’s Calit2 Strategic Research Opportunities (CSRO) program. It’s the third round of CSRO grants totaling $1,673,000 to 35 one-year projects that got underway effective July 1.



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