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Glaeser is NSF Graduate Fellow, Edwards gets Honorable Mention

We are excited to report that Noemi Glaeser (Computer Science Senior) has been named a 2019 NSF Graduate Research Fellow. Also, William Edwards (Computer Science Senior) was selected for an Honorable Mention in this prestigious graduate fellowship competition. The National Science Foundation has awarded 2,050 three-year Graduate Research Fellowships of approximately $138,000 each to outstanding college and university students for the year 2019. Since 1952, NSF has provided fellowships to individuals selected early in their graduate careers based on their demonstrated potential for significant achievements in science and engineering.

Full Press Release

UofSC’s 2019 NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Winners and Honorable Mentions One UofSC undergraduate student, two graduate students, and seven alumni have been awarded 2019 National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowships (GRF). Current South Carolina senior Noemi Glaeser, graduate students Kaitlyn Pilarzyk and Luke Wilde, and alumni Vincent Esposito, Abigail Herschman, Colman Moore, Shrusti Patel, Adrian Perez, Samantha Stewart, and Heather Struckman have all been named NSF GRF Fellows. Two other current students, William Edwards and Sarah Zajovits, as well as three alumni, Justin DuRant, Jonathan Keefe, and Elizabeth Rizor were selected for Honorable Mentions in this prestigious graduate fellowship competition. The National Science Foundation has awarded 2,050 three-year Graduate Research Fellowships of approximately $138,000 each to outstanding college and university students for the year 2019. Since 1952, NSF has provided fellowships to individuals selected early in their graduate careers based on their demonstrated potential for significant achievements in science and engineering.

2019 Backers and Hackers Winners

The winning team for 2019 Backers and Hackers is Nathan Pavlovsky and Sadegh Sadeghi Tabas (Backer) for their app LineSkip, an app that allows users to bypass long frustrating lines at popular social events like bars, nightclubs, exhibits, museums, sporting events, and other attractions. Users will be able to purchase tickets for a given one-hour time slot and pay for the privilege of cutting the line. Backers and Hackers is a completely student-run initiative organized by the Entrepreneurship Club and the College of Engineering and Computing at USC. The program brings together Columbia’s entrepreneurial community and USC’s mobile app development students to transform app ideas into reality.

Second place went to Russell Burckhalter, Kendrick Dubose, Zac Miller for their app HotSpot, which is an event parking app that lets everyday people rent out their driveways near events like football stadiums to event goers. Event goers can reserve and purchase spots ahead of time, making parking a positive and simple experience instead of a possible nightmare.

Third place to Allen Sanamandra, Ishita Thumati , Sumith K S, Prasad Puttaswamy, Roshan Joseph, Venkat Kotha for their app DailyCook, a mobile app based startup idea which helps individuals interested in cooking to sell their food. The app also provides a platform for food donation thus helping people to find free food around them. Backers&Hackers are co-organized by CSCE546, a mobile app development course at the Department of Computer Science & Engineering. The apps are developed as the final projects for the course. We are always looking for clients/backers and app ideas as final projects for next year's course. If you want an app built for you, for free, or want to collaborate with app development, please contact Dr. Hu (jianjunh A.T

Ying Meng Awarded Diversity Grant

Graduate Student Ying Meng has been awarded an Operational Machine Learning (OpML) '19 Diversity Grant that provides registration fee coverage and travel support for the conference.

Capstone Projects Showcase 2019

This year the students in the Senior Capstone course developed 34 apps either for industrial clients, for USC members, or for themselves. The technologies used were:

  • 15 web applications: Django, node, express, Angular, react, ASP, firebase, websockets.
  • 12 mobile apps: Android, iOS, iOnic, react-native, flutter
  • 3 desktop applications: Windows, Java, Python
  • 2 OculusGo apps: Unity
  • 1 Alexa skill
  • 1 Computer Engineering project

You can watch video demonstrations of all the apps, or come watch the live demos on Tuesday, April 30. We are also looking for clients for next year.

Dr. Luo Receives NSF Grant Award for App Security Research

Dr. Lisa Luo has received a research award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for her research project "A Malware-Inspired Approach to Mobile Application Repackaging and Tampering Detection." This project is looking at ways to add repackaging detection capability into Android and iOS apps, so that the phones will be able to detect if an installed app has been tampered with. Abstract
Mobile application ("app") repackaging is a severe threat to the flourishing mobile market and numerous users. 97% of the top paid Android apps and 87% of the iOS ones have been repackaged. Besides, it is one of the most common ways of propagating mobile malware. Existing countermeasures mostly detect repackaging based on app similarity measurement, which tends to be imprecise when obfuscations are applied to repackaged apps. Moreover, they rely on a centralized party, typically the hosting app store, to perform the detection, but many alternative app stores fail to commit proper effort to piracy detection. This research aims at an effective defense against app repackaging, and will result in substantial progress in tackling malware propagated via repackaged apps. It will help mitigate attacks such as ransomware or DDoS launched from repackaged apps. It will also help reduce the massive monetary loss of legitimate app developers. Industrial collaborations ensure rapidly translate scientific discovery and technical knowledge into beneficial commercial products. Educational resources from this project, including course modules on mobile security and malware detection, will be disseminated through a dedicated web site. This research will foster new research and education opportunities at University of South Carolina. Students from underrepresented groups will participate in the project. This research is to explore a decentralized scheme that adds repackaging detection capability into the app to be protected, such that the host devices are made use of to conduct detection when the app is running. The main challenge is how to protect the repackaging detection code from attacks. The team of research proposes a novel malware-inspired approach to handling the important mobile app repackaging problem. The team will explore a creative use of logic bombs, which are regularly used in malware: the trigger conditions are constructed to exploit the differences between the attacker and users (in terms of hardware, sensor values, and inputs), such that a bomb that lies dormant on the attacker side will be activated on the user side. The repackaging detection code, which is packed as the bomb payload, is executed only if the bomb is activated. (2) Unlike many conventional software tampering detection techniques that try to conceal the detection code, by leveraging various methods used in malware this design is non-stealthy, which means that the detection code is not hidden, yet still resilient to attacks. (3) The proposed system also aims to detect code tampering, which occurs when malicious code is inserted and hence implies extraordinary dangers. (4) The decentralized repackaging/tampering detection is proposed to be used for crowdsourced malware information collection to fight against malware propagation. (5) Finally, the team is to address how to prevent the proposed techniques from being abused by malware authors.

Dr. O'Kane Receives NSF Grant Award for Research on Directing Robot Cameras

Dr. Jason O’Kane has received a grant award from the National Science Foundation for his research project titled "Planning Coordinated Event Observation for Structured Narratives ". This research studies how to direct a team of robots to obtain video footage to produce clips that trace a dramatic story arc. It is an examination of how such systems might achieve goals that people consider to be abstract or high-level. The video below explains some of their work, or read the article Could robots make a documentary about a 5K race?

Two Full-time Instructor positions available in CSE Department at USC

Applicants are required to:
  • Have a Master's or Ph.D. in computer science, computer engineering, or a closely related field by the beginning date of employment
  • Teach courses in computer science and engineering, which may include computer programming (Python, JAVA, C++), web programming (HTML/CSS/JavaScript), computer engineering (architecture, embedded systems, advanced digital logic), data structures and algorithms, databases, operating systems, networks, computer security, and software engineering
  • Participate in student engagement activities such as student advising and recruitment
  • Relevant industrial experience or teaching experience is preferred.
Dates & Details
  • Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until positions are filled.
  • Expected start date beginning Summer or Fall 2019.
Application Requirements:
  • Cover letter
  • Resume
  • Concise description of teaching interests
  • Names & contact information of 3 references
Interested applicants should apply online at

Outstanding Senior Award

Each year the Faculty of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) award four Outstanding Senior Awards. This process is never easy given the many excellent and accomplished students in our program. After much deliberation, we have decided that the 2019 Computer Science and Engineering Outstanding Senior Awards go to:
  • Computer Engineering Outstanding Senior Award: James Coman
  • Computer Engineering SCSPE Award: Wylie Gunn
  • Computer Science Outstanding Senior Award: Charissa Pichai
  • Computer Information Systems Outstanding Senior Award: Michael Afrin
All awardees will be honored at the University Awards Day ceremony. In addition, Wylie will be honored at a special awards banquet of the South Carolina Society of Professional Engineers.

UofSC Searching for Director of new Artificial Intelligence Institute

The University of South Carolina is initiating a search for the Director of the new Artificial Intelligence Institute. The pan- University Institute is expected to draw core or affiliated faculty from almost all colleges. The College of Engineering and Computing is well positioned to support this University-wide Institute and is in the midst of expanding its tenured and tenure-track ranks by over 40 faculty members. The Director will be expected to create the vision for the Institute and lead it to international prominence in several areas of research, real-world applications, work-force preparation, and job creation in intelligent systems. The new Director will have the opportunity to grow strategic areas of research and oversee innovation and modernization of curricula as well as hire the core faculty and attract as affiliates several dozen faculty members across the university, and spanning all fields (medicine, pharmacy, public health, education, journalism, social work, nursing, business, humanities, physical sciences, engineering, and computing). The Institute will be housed centrally in the University, and the Director will have significant input into design and function of the space. The Director will be expected to:
  • Conduct convergent, team-oriented, high impact research, with a substantial portfolio of competitive and center- scale research funds from external sponsors.
  • Engage with key industries/services in the region and foster an entrepreneurial ecosystem with joint projects, technology transfer, and startup formation.
  • Advance AI education and training programs across the University and the state.
  • Position the Institute for national prominence in niche areas within 5 years.
  • Lead multidisciplinary project teams
  • Serve as a mentor to junior faculty and students.
The University of South Carolina is the Flagship University of the State. Founded in 1801, it is one of the nation’s oldest and most comprehensive public universities. Columbia, the seat of South Carolina government, was ranked by as the third best college town in 2016. The temperate climate, the family friendly and resurgent city, the proximity to the beaches and mountains, and the traditions and beauty of the historic University with forward-leaning benefits and practices, provide for a high quality of life. The strategic investments of the State over the past two decades in automotive, aerospace, energy, and manufacturing areas provide ample opportunity for collaboration with industry. Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled. Expected start date is August 16, 2019. Interested applicants will apply online at with: (1) a letter of intent, (2) curriculum vitae, (3) a concise description of research plans, and (4) names & contact information of 5 references. Questions about the search may be directed to: Applicants must be of international stature with an exceptional record of published research in high-quality journals, demonstrated ability to attract significant funding from multiple sources and a history of successful graduate student supervision. Candidates should have an established record of research with teaching performance and credentials and a demonstrated record of world-class scholarship and research accomplishments (including an earned Ph.D. degree in computer science or a closely-related field), commensurate with appointment as a full professor with tenure in the Department. Qualified applicants are expected to have both outstanding leadership and administrative skills to enhance the educational and research missions of the department. The applicant must also show clear evidence of commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion through research, teaching, and/or service efforts. Apply Here.

Dr. Valtorta Named AAAI Senior Member

We are honored to report that Dr. Marco Valtorta has been recognized as Senior Member of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) in recognition of his achievements and long-standing efforts in the field of artificial intelligence and his long-term participation in AAAI. Senior Member status is designed to recognize AAAI members who have achieved significant accomplishments within the field of artificial intelligence.

Sparking an Interest in STEM

How can a beloved childhood toy spark a future career in technology for minority students? That’s the question Minorities in Computing (MiC) President Kierra Robinson set out to solve in the group’s recent outreach program with the Norman Arnold Boys and Girls Club in Columbia. Robinson, a senior computer engineering major, attended a summer engineering camp as a child where she created robots and wrote a code to make them speak. From that moment she wanted to know how computers worked—from the graphics card and memory to the hard drive and CPU. She also knew she wanted a future career in computer engineering. “If it wasn’t for the fact that I was exposed to technology at a young age, I would never have given a thought about the evolution of a computer and what makes it run,” said Robinson. Read the full story here. Follow @MiC_UofSc