Computer Science Research Day planned April 24 at UTPA
Posted: 04/17/2006
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Students and faculty from across the Rio Grande Valley are invited to attend the first CS (Computer Science) Student Research Day Monday, April 24 organized by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) student chapter at The University of Texas-Pan American. The event is hosted by the UTPA Department of Computer Science.

The day will provide both undergraduate and graduate students from UTPA and other nearby universities an opportunity to make research presentations as well as poster presentations on their computer science research results.

Students will also have a chance to interact with faculty and staff from UTPA and other South Texas colleges and universities. Thirty high school students from Edinburg, Weslaco, Harlingen, La Joya, and Mission are also expected to attend.

Sponsored by IBM, Xerox and UTPA's CiTEC (Computing and Information Technology Center), the event also welcomes attendance by corporate representatives to promote collaboration and projects that are relevant to business and industry entities in the community.

ACM student chapter President Guillermo Cabrera said the ACM organized the event to increase the exposure of the CS projects in both the undergraduate and graduate programs; encourage high school and UTPA entering freshmen to pursue a CS career; and to provide an opportunity for current CS students doing research and senior projects to collaborate with other students and faculty from different fields to explore or team up to do research that impacts the community.

"We hope CS students will be aware of the great work that happens in the department and will discover research opportunities with faculty. Non-CS majors or faculty members that attend will be able to appreciate some of the things that can be done in the CS field and could consider the possibility of seeking help from the CS students such as software creation or web application in their own research work or projects in their respective fields," he said.

Currently there are 352 undergraduate students in the undergraduate computer science program at UTPA pursuing either the broad field major B.S. (accredited by the Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology) or the B.S. degree in computer science.

The graduate program is the largest in the College of Science and Engineering and the fifth largest at the entire university. Key computer science research areas at UTPA include information visualization, symbolic computing, data mining, video compression and bioinformatics. Future plans include a joint computer engineering program with the electrical engineering department projected to launch fall 2007.

Dr. Edwin LeMaster, dean of the UTPA College of Science and Engineering, said the Student Research Day provides an excellent opportunity for students at UTPA, local high schools and regional colleges to see the kinds of projects and research UTPA computer science students are doing.

"We are excited about the achievements of our students and are proud of the motivation our students are displaying in organizing this event. This is strong evidence that our university is transforming into a more research intensive university," he said.

In her first semester at UTPA as a CS major, Isamin Armendariz said she was looking forward to the event to become more familiar with the kinds of things that CS students can do.

"I'm looking forward to learning more about the projects and work the CS department has been doing. I'm also excited to be able to meet students and learn about their experiences in the CS field," she said.

The free event, which runs from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. in the Engineering Auditorium 1.300 in the UTPA Engineering Building, will provide a free continental breakfast and lunch, technology-related giveaways, and awards for outstanding presentations and posters.

Speakers will include Dr. Gary Wiggins, vice president for Information Technology and chief information officer at UTPA, and Victor Rodriguez, a manager from the Design Automation Delivery team at IBM Austin, who will talk on the importance of research and the help IBM can provide students in this area.

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