ICS Students Win Big at AT&T Hackathon

ICS students and alumni swept almost all categories, including the Grand Prize, at the 2017 UH-AT&T Hackathon.

Grand Prize – Overall, Entertainment/Gaming 1st Place
Clay Nakamura (ICS) for DJ Reddit, a stuffed animal outfitted with a Raspberry PI and small speakers. DJ Reddit uses the Reddit API to download and play newly posted songs from /r/listentothis.

Entertainment/Gaming 2nd Place
Tony Gaskell (ICS Alumnus), Brandon Bards, Joelle Torneros, Sean Nakamura, and Joseph Carlson for Gapcha. 

Best Use of M2X, Best IoT 1st Place
Terry Palomares (ICS), Jonathan Robello (ICS), Brian Mayeshiro (ICS), Austin Haruki (ICS Alumnus) and Torsten Vaivai-Soderberg for Demeter, a Raspberry PI outfitted with humidity, temperature, and light sensors. A corresponding app gamifies gardening by awarding badges and achievements for providing appropriate sunlight and water.

Best IoT 2nd Place
Davis McKay for Maka’ala

Most Technical
Andrew Yamamoto (ICS), Aisis Chen, and Bradford Baris for Multipass

Il Ung Jeong (ICS) and Gina Watanabe for Village, a localized, micro-task application that enables users to create and view tasks in the neighborhood that will make a direct difference to their community.

Interested in participating next year? Here’s some thoughts from the winners:

  • I firmly believe that knowledge gained from experiences like the Hackathon will out-value any short-term monetary gain. (Brian Mayeshiro)
  • I highly recommend you attend the event regardless of your skill level. Focus on building up a skill or a personal project that school has prevented you from doing. (Clay Nakamura)
  • My favorite part of the Hackathon was not having to worry about my part-time job or my homework and just immersing myself in coding. (Il Ung Jeong)
  • I learned that you can accomplish a lot within 24 hours. (Jonathan Robello)
  • Definitely be ambitious, even if it means you have to stay up for the full 24 hours and be driven by coffee and energy drinks. (Terry Palomares)

Judges were State Senator Glenn Wakai, Chair of the Senate committee overseeing technology, Mark Wong, CIO of the City and County of Honolulu, Garret Yoshimi, UH CIO and VP for Information Technology, and Mark Quezada, CTO of local tech startup Hobnob. Congratulations to all!

Prof. Casanova receives NSF grant: “WRENCH: A Simulation Workbench for Scientific Workflow for Users, Developers, and Researchers”

Professor Henri Casanova was awarded a National Science Foundation grant for the project “WRENCH: A Simulation Workbench for Scientific Workflow for Users, Developers, and Researchers”.  This project received $499,000.00 in funding.

In partnership with Dr. Rafael Ferreira da Silva at the Information Science Institute at the University of Southern California, this project will develop a framework for the study of scientific workflow applications.  See the abstract below for more details.

Scientific workflows have become mainstream for conducting large-scale scientific research.  As a result, many workflow applications and Workflow Management Systems (WMSs) have been developed as part of the cyberinfrastructure to allow scientists to execute their applications seamlessly on a range of distributed platforms.  In spite of many success stories, building large-scale workflows and orchestrating their executions efficiently (in terms of performance, reliability, and cost) remains a challenge given the complexity of the workflows themselves and the complexity of the underlying execution platforms.  A fundamental necessary next step is the establishment of a solid “experimental science” approach for future workflow technology development. Such an approach is useful for scientists who need to design workflows and pick execution platforms, for WMS developers who need to compare alternate design and implementation options, and for researchers who need to develop novel decision-making algorithms to be implemented as part of WMSs.  The broad objective of this work is to provide foundational software, the Workflow Simulation Workbench (WRENCH), upon which to develop the above experimental science approach.  Capitalizing on recent advances in distributed application and platform simulation technology, WRENCH makes it possible to (i) quickly prototype workflow, WMS implementations, and decision-making algorithms; and (ii) evaluate/compare alternative options scalably and accurately for arbitrary, and often hypothetical, experimental scenarios.  This project will define a generic and foundational software architecture, that is informed by current state-of-the-art WMS designs and planned future designs.  The implementation of the components in this architecture when taken together form a generic “scientific instrument” that can be used by workflow users, developers, and researchers.  This scientific instrument will be instantiated for several real-world WMSs and used for a range of real-world workflow applications. In a particular case-study, it will be used with a popular WMS (Pegasus) to revisit published results and scheduling algorithms in the area of workflow planning optimizations. The objective is to demonstrate the benefit of using an experimental science approach for WMS research.  Another impact of this project is that it  makes it possible to include scientific workflow content pervasively in undergraduate and graduate computer science curricula, even for students without any access to computing infrastructure, by defining meaningful pedagogic activities that only require a computer and the WRENCH software stack. This educational impact will be demonstrated in the classroom in both undergraduate and graduate courses at our institutions.

Grad Student William Wright Named ARCS Scholar


Newly minted ARCS Scholar, William Wright.

Graduate Student William Wright has been named an ARCS Scholar and received the organization’s Sarah Ann Martin Award in Information and Computer Science. Wright looks for clues about personality in people’s writing, such as what word choices and grammar structures say about how extraverted a person is. Potential benefits range from timely adjustments in teaching strategies and improved technology interfaces to diagnosis and treatment of stroke and autism spectrum disorder and detection of criminal or terroristic activities. Wright’s advisor is Professor David Chin.

ARCS® Foundation is a nationally recognized nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization started and run entirely by women who boost American leadership and aid advancement in science and technology.  The Foundation advances science and technology in the United States by providing financial awards to academically outstanding U.S. citizens studying to complete degrees in science, engineering and medical research.

Related post: ARCS Foundation honors top doctoral candidates in STEM fields



Hawaii State Energy Office & LAVA Selected to Receive Federal Clean Energy Grant

HONOLULU — The Hawaii State Energy Office (HSEO) has been selected to receive a competitive grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to create a data visualization tool that will help stakeholders better understand the policy choices needed to move toward a 100 percent renewable energy system.

HSEO sought the $225,000 grant under the DOE’s State Energy Program to develop the Hawaii Advanced Visualization Environment Nexus, or HAVEN, which is being undertaken in partnership with the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s Laboratory for Advanced Visualization & Applications (LAVA), and the Hawaiian Electric Companies.

“HAVEN represents the kind of innovative thinking we will need to become energy independent,” said Luis P. Salaveria, director of the Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism, which oversees HSEO. “Through pioneering programs and effective policies, Hawaii is a leader in clean energy innovation, which will generate quality jobs, attract investment opportunities, and diversify our economy.”

The HAVEN project will create a platform to help policymakers analyze and make informed decisions regarding Hawaii’s clean energy transformation. The HAVEN platform coordinates environmental, reliability, resiliency and economic goals using data visualization tools to clarify complex problems.

“Planning to achieve a 100 percent renewable portfolio standard is a complex and iterative process. Understanding the economic, environmental and energy security impacts of the key decision points in various planning scenarios is essential for decision makers to have a complete picture of the energy landscape proposed in each scenario,” said Mark Glick, HSEO administrator. “With the issues in the energy sector becoming increasingly complicated and impactful to customers, it is critical that stakeholders are engaged and informed on the impacts of significant decisions that must be made to transform the energy sector.”

HAVEN will foster a new level of collaboration, bringing together HSEO, HECO, LAVA, and key external stakeholders. Collaboration with LAVA provides HSEO with access to advanced computing infrastructure and state-of-the-art visualization cyber-infrastructure such as LAVA’s Cyber-enabled Collaboration Analysis Navigation and Observation Environment (CyberCANOE). HAVEN will use high-resolution visual imagery of the CyberCANOE and large-scale simulation data to visually illustrate the interrelationship of renewable energy penetration, energy efficiency measures, electricity demand and consumption, distributed energy resources (DER), demand response (DR) programs, and electricity generation in Hawaii’s complex energy ecosystem.

The collaboration with HECO offers access to HECO’s complex, integrated data sets for joint planning exercises for future utility investments toward achievement of Hawaii’s energy policy agenda.


CyberCorps Scholarship for Service Awards

UHM has received funding from the National Science Foundation for three CyberCorps Scholarship for Service (SFS) awards. These awards will help us promote cyber security education at UHM and prepare students for the workforce in this area.

The NSF CyberCorps SFS awards provide full scholarships for two graduate students and one undergraduate student to study cyber security. Initially the awards are for one year, but subsequent years are anticipated.

After graduation, students receiving this award are required to perform one year of service in a cybersecurity related U.S. government position for each scholarship year received. Also, a student on scholarship is expected to serve in a paid internship in a government cybersecurity related position during the first summer semester. A student is required to participate in a government “job fair” in early January in Washington D.C.

To be eligible for an SFS scholarship, the applicant must be a full time student with a minimum of a 3.0 GPA as an undergraduate or 3.3 GPA as a graduate student, and be in a bachelor’s (junior or above) or graduate degree program in the disciplines of Computer Science, Computer Engineering, Electrical Engineering, or a related major. The applicant must be a U.S. Citizen, be able to obtain a U.S. security clearance, and meet all requirements for employment in Federal Service.

  • The application deadline is August 15, 2016.
  • An application seminar will be held at 4pm on August 8th in Holmes Hall.
  • Further information, updates, and application details are at the UH SFS Home Page (login required).

Translating Oral Traditions Into A Modern, Immersive, Interactive Virtual Reality Experience

Three undergraduate students, Andrew Guagliardo (from Academy for Creative Media), Anna Sikkink, Derek Chan (from Computer Science), and Kawena Bautista (Shidler College of Business) were awarded $10,000 by the University of Hawaii’s Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) to research how polynesian myths could be translated into virtual reality (VR) experiences.

The students will be guided by three mentors: Vilsoni Hereniko – Playwright and professor of the Academy for Creative Media at University of Hawaiʻi Mānoa, King ʻAfa Cocker – world-renowned polynesian tattoo artist, and Jason Leigh (director of LAVA, and professor of Information and Computer Sciences).

Myths and oral traditions are the means by which many Pacific Island cultures have historically passed on their values between generations. They help explain the world and also prescribe the way people should behave. This project seeks to answer questions in relation to Pacific Islands myths and oral traditions, through the development of an immersive interactive experience leveraging virtual reality technology, such as:

  1. What are the elements of a myth that lend itself to becoming an interactive virtual reality experience?
  2. Which myths contain elements that are typically amplified by immersive virtual reality experiences?
  3. How does one write a screenplay based on a myth or tale for an immersive experience in a virtual environment?
  4. What is lost and what is gained in this new way of storytelling? How does a virtual environment affect one’s reception and understanding of a myth or legend that already exists in the print medium?

The work is significant for several reasons. First, the research and development of this project will result in an understanding of the methodologies that are essential for converting a passive storytelling experience into an immersive, interactive one. Second, the project is a rare depiction of Pacific Island culture in an emerging creative medium. Thirdly the virtual reality program will be used by Prof. Vilsoni Hereniko to enhance his classes on Pacific literature and film by introducing students to this new medium of expression.

Gerald Lau is Advisor of the Year!

Gerald Lau was recently awarded the Pakela Award for Outstanding Advisor at the University of Hawaii Manoa. From the award page: “Gerald Lau serves as a stellar model for integrating academic advising into the University’s educational mission. He is a Faculty Specialist for the rapidly growing Department of Information and Computer Sciences (ICS). He provides major academic and career counseling for over 400 students, participates in curriculum and department policy meetings that help integrate instruction with advising, and plans and develops the department’s outreach and student engagement programs. He serves as a Faculty Ambassador – recruiting students into the ICS program and into STEM fields, and serves as the department’s liaison to the Graduate Division. He is also deeply involved in a variety of cyber security activities to engage students, including being the advisor to the Grey Hats club, whose members analyze cyber defenses.”

All of us who work with Gerald know that this is a well deserved honor!

Gazan receives IMLS Grant: Online Q&A in STEM Education: Curating the Wisdom of the Crowd

Associate Professor Rich Gazan was awarded an Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) grant for the project “Online Q&A in STEM Education: Curating the Wisdom of the Crowd.” The project received $491,973.00 in funding.

In partnership with Chirag Shah at Rutgers University School of Communication and Information, the three-year project will investigate how combining crowdsourced information with the quality assessment standards of librarians and other information professionals can enhance the experience of students in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields.

A 2013 analysis of 28 million course papers revealed that social networking and other user-generated content sites were cited in 23% of the papers written by college students. This is especially concerning for STEM learners, where the need to scaffold understanding with factual, trustworthy information is paramount. However, meaningful STEM education is not simply discovering and applying facts: it also requires an understanding of the process of inquiry and the conversations surrounding those facts, which is the essence of online Q&A. While all students must learn to assess the quality of their information sources, those who consult online Q&A sites may be engaging in processes of inquiry and discovering nontraditional yet valuable content appropriate to their learning objectives.

This project will explore how both formal and informal information literacy can be effectively integrated into STEM education. Principal Investigator Shah and the Rutgers team will develop and test an online Q&A content assessment tool, while Co-Principal Investigator Gazan’s team will be involved in formative design and evaluation, and will field test the tool in STEM learning environments in Hawaii.

More information: https://www.imls.gov/grants/awarded/lg-61-16-0025-16

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums. Our mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. Our grant making, policy development, and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. To learn more, visit http://www.imls.gov.

University of Hawai‘i Data Visualization Expert to Build the Top System in the Nation


The University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa will be home to the best data visualization system in the United States, thanks to a major research infrastructure grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The NSF provided $600,000 and the University of Hawai‘i (UH) added $257,000 for a total of $857,000 to develop a large CyberCANOE, which stands for Cyber-enabled Collaboration Analysis Navigation and Observation Environment. The CyberCANOE is a visualization and collaboration infrastructure that allows students and researchers to work together more effectively using large amounts of data and information.  It was designed by Computer and Information Science Professor Jason Leigh, who is also the founder and director of the Laboratory for Advanced Visualization and Applications (LAVA) at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa.

UH’s CyberCANOE represents the culmination of over two decades of experience and expertise for Leigh, the grant’s principal investigator, who developed immersive virtual reality environments while at the Electronic Visualization Laboratory (EVL) at the University of Illinois at Chicago- notably the CAVE2 System, which is sold commercially today by Mechdyne.

The UH CyberCANOE will provide an alternative approach to constructing ultra-resolution display environments by using new and completely seamless direct view light emitting diode displays, rather than traditional projection technologies or liquid crystal displays. The net effect is a visual instrument that exceeds the capabilities and overcomes the limitations of the current best-in-class systems at other U.S. universities.

“This comes at the best time for Hawai‘i as the number of students interested in information and computer science is skyrocketing. Last year about 170 freshman computer science students entered the program, this year we will receive 270,” said Leigh. “The University of Hawai‘iʻs CyberCANOE will give these students access to better technology than what will be available on the continent.”

The new 2D and 3D stereoscopic display environment with almost 50 Megapixels of resolution will provide researchers with powerful and easy-to-use, information-rich instrumentation in support of cyberinfrastructure-enabled, data-intensive scientific discovery.

Increasingly, the nation’s computational science and engineering research communities work with international collaborators to tackle complex global problems. Advanced visualization instruments serve as the virtual eyepieces of a telescope or microscope, enabling research teams and their students to view their data in cyberspace, and better manage the increased scale and complexity of accessing and analyzing the data.

“I’m highly excited about this multidisciplinary collaboration between information and computer sciences, the Academy for Creative Media System and electrical engineering,” said co-principal investigator and UH Mānoa Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering David Garmire.  “It will advance the state of the art in research infrastructure for information-rich visualization and immersive experience while providing unique opportunities for the student body.”

At least 46 researchers, 28 postdocs, 833 undergraduates and 45 graduate students spanning disciplines that include oceanography, astrobiology, mathematics, computer science, electrical engineering, biomedical research, archeology, and computational media are poised to use the CyberCANOE for their large-scale data visualization needs. The CyberCANOE will also open up new opportunities in computer science research at the intersection of data-intensive analysis and visualization, human-computer interaction and virtual reality.

UH System’s Academy for Creative Media (ACM) founder and director Chris Lee, who is also a co-principal investigator on the grant, said, “ACM System is thrilled to be able to continue to support Jason Leigh and his team in securing a second NSF Grant.  This new CyberCANOE builds upon the two earlier ‘mini’ CyberCANOEs, which ACM System fully financed at UH Mānoa and UH West O‘ahu.”

The new CyberCANOE, which is expected to be built in about three years, will enable Leigh’s advanced visualization laboratory to provide scientific communities with highly integrated, visually rich collaboration environments; to work with industry to facilitate the creation of new technologies for the advancement of science and engineering; and to continue ongoing partnerships with many of the world’s best scientists in academia and industry.  With the CyberCANOE, the lab will also support the country’s leadership position in high-performance computing and in contributing advancements to complex global issues, such as the environment, health and the economy.

For more about Professor Jason Leigh and the University of Hawai‘s CyberCANOE see:  http://www.hawaii.edu/news/2014/08/18/cyber-canoe-to-explore-worlds-of-data-in-3-d/

About the University of Hawai‘i System

Established in 1907 and fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, the University of Hawai‘i System includes 10 campuses and dozens of educational, training and research centers across the state. As the sole public system of higher education in Hawai‘i, UH offers an array of undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees and community programs.  UH enrolls more than 60,000 students from Hawai‘i, the U.S. mainland and around the world.  For more information visit www.hawaii.edu.

[Article from Honolulu Star Advertiser available here]

[Coverage from Hawaii News Now available here]

LAVA Completes Construction of New Facility

The Laboratory for Advanced Visualization and Applications completed construction of their new lab space (now at Keller Hall 102). Established by Professor Jason Leigh, the new LAVA facility is the most advanced visualization facility in Hawaii, and with the help of a new National Science Foundation Major Research Infrastructure award, will eventually house the most advanced visualization system in the nation.