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Dean's Update - March 2013

MOU WITH GHANA TECHNOLOGY UNIVERSITY COLLEGE

I am pleased to report that SPSU recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Ghana University Technology College (GTUC) in Accra, Ghana.  The MOU, which was signed by Dr Osei Darkwa, President of GTUC, and Dr Zvi Szafran, SPSU’s Vice-President for Academic Affairs, commits our institutions to work together on a range of programs, and to ensure that students can transfer from GTUC to SPSU with minimal loss of credit.  We are also expecting to be able to sign an MOU with Kumasi Polytechnic shortly.

As a further follow-up, Dr Svetlana Peltsverger and Professor Susan VandeVen, both of the Department of Information Technology, will be traveling to Ghana in early May to work some of the details and to ensure that we will get some actual collaborations off the ground, hopefully for a start in the fall of this year.

I again wanted to express my appreciation of the work that Dr Patrick Bobbie of the Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering did to make these various initiatives possible.  I am excited about the promise of these initiatives.  Not only do they potentially further internationalize our student body, they also allow us to offer our applied style of education to a part of the world that is likely to greatly benefit from this.


FACULTY AND STAFF NEWS

March saw some good and some bad news related to the faculty and staff.  Starting with the good news, both Dr Jon Preston and Professor Susan Vande Ven were promoted.  Dr Preston, program coordinator of our undergraduate program in Computer Game Design and Development and a member of the Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering, was promoted to full professor with tenure.  Professor Susan VandeVen of the Department of Information Technology was promoted to senior lecturer.  Both promotions were well deserved, and I wanted to extend my congratulations to both.

On the less positive side, Paula Stadnicki, Secretary to the Dean, will be leaving SPSU to join Kennesaw State University as an IT project manager.  Paula has served SPSU for more than 13 years, and while I am pleased that she will be able to move into a position that will allow her to make greater use of the knowledge and skills she has acquired over the last few years in her studies at SPSU, her leaving will leave an enormous gap in CSE.  Paula has been crucial to the smooth functioning of the Dean's Office and there is no doubt that whatever success I have had as dean is to no small measure due to the support that I have received from Paula. I have no doubt that she will be as successful in her new position as she has been at SPSU, and I wish her every success in her future career.


STUDENT NEWS

There are two exciting pieces of news to report as far as our students are concerned.

First, Clinton Walker, a junior in Computer Science, has been selected for the summer Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program at Texas State University, San Marcos.   REUs are NSF funded projects that aim to get talented US undergraduate students involved in computing research, in the hope that they will eventually pursue a postgraduate degree in computing.

Clinton will be working on a small team of undergraduate students from around the country under the supervision of a faculty adviser to perform research on Mobile Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS). There are more details about the program at http://reu-mcps.cs.txstate.edu/home.html.  
REUs are extremely competitive and the fact that Clinton was accepted reflects well on him, as well as his faculty advisers, Dr Orlando Karam and Professor Richard Gesick.  Congratulations to all.

Second, Jamar Salmon, a junior in Information Technology, was recently appointed as Microsoft Student Partner (MSP).  The MSP program is a Microsoft initiative to get students to advocate on campus and introduce students to the latest Microsoft technologies, devices, and software.  MSPs are selected by Microsoft, and, as with REUs, becoming an MSP is extremely competitive.  Jamar deserves our congratulations.


KANEVA HACK-A-THON

On Thursday March 28 and Friday March 29, we will be hosting a Kaneva Hack-A-Thon.  Kaneva (http://www.kaneva.com/) is a platform that allows non-programmer to develop virtual 3D environments and games.  While Kaneva already contains a host of assets, many of the assets are hard to customize.  Our students will work with Kaneva developers on creating a series of smart objects inside the Kaneva environment, which would make it easier for non-programmers to animate and customize the assets that are already available in Kaneva.  Kaneva is sponsoring the event and will provide cash prices for the best smart objects.  There are more details at the event at http://spsugames.blogspot.com/. 

I wanted to thank Jon Preston and Jeff Chastine from our Computer Game Design and Development program, and Chris Klaus and Abby Joslin from Kaneva for making this event possible.  It promises to be a lot of fun, as well as a worthwhile educational experience for our students.


SCIENCE OLYMPIAD

On Saturday, March 16, SPSU again hosted the State Science Olympiad for Georgia Middle and High Schools.  720 Georgia middle and high school students on 48 teams competed in 46 events on campus, including events such as Mousetrap Vehicle, Thermodynamics, Experimental Design and Designer Genes.  Over 100 SPSU students from campus volunteered to assist as well as around 50 faculty members including organizers Lance Crimm (EE), Stephanie McCartney (Chemistry) and Susan VandeVen (CSE).  Science Olympiads are important vehicles to make sure that students remain interested in science.  Moreover, hosting them on the SPSU campus helps raise the profile of the institution among promising middle and high school students.  The success of the event is only possible thanks to a lot of dedication by the faculty organizers and the faculty and student volunteers, and they deserve our gratitude.