CEI Projects

Computer Science Education

Active Learning Strategies Projects that establish guidelines and new technologies for increasing active learning in campus-based education via incorporating “flipped” classroom principles, creating and wrapping MOOCs, developing hybrid and online learning experiences, increasing peer learning and peer grading.
Principals: Mary Lou Maher, Celine Latulipe, Bruce Long, Heather Lipford
Bioinformatics Summer Institute The University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Department of Bioinformatics and Genomics, is offering a 10-week total immersion Summer Institute, aimed at graduate students and professionals who are seeking an accelerated program in genomic laboratory processes and data analysis methods. The Bioinformatics Summer Institute is a limited enrollment, full-time 10-week program broken into 4 equal sessions. It provides hands-on experience that begins with sample processing, proceeds to creating a library and sequencing it on the Ion Torrent PGM Next Generation Sequencing platform. Students will take the resulting data as well as data from the public domain and learn to use state of the art bioinformatics and statistical methods, and to use workflow systems to combine methods into analysis pipelines. Successful graduates of the program will be awarded the Graduate Certificate in Bioinformatics Applications.
Funding: Summer School
Principals: Cynthia Gibas
For additional information: Bioinformatics Summer Institute
Building BRIDGES Within the Undergraduate Major in Computer Science The objective of this project is to transform the student experience in computing education through a software infrastructure termed BRIDGES. BRIDGES (Bridging Real-world Infrastructure Designed to Goal-align, Engage, and Stimulate) will provide easy-to-use interfaces to real-world, Internet-based information systems that are exciting, engaging, and commonly used by undergraduate students, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google Maps.
Funding: NSF TUES
Principals: Jamie Payton, K.R. Subramanian
CISE REU Evaluation Project The Computing and Information Sciences and Engineering (CISE) Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Evaluation Project is funded by the National Science Foundation to provide targeted evaluation tools and services at no cost to Sites with designated CISE REU programs. The project aids sites directly in assessing their program outcomes as well as provides essential knowledge of program-wide outcomes. The key impact from this project is in providing valuable evaluation services and tools to the individual CISE REU Sites, and in providing comprehensive short term and long term outcomes assessment of student participants, and career impact on faculty who manage CISE REU sites. The intellectual merit of this project is its contributions to knowledge of the impact of undergraduate computing research programs on both students and faculty participants. The broader impacts of this project are the dissemination of knowledge and tools that are applicable to any researcher involved in supporting research experiences for undergraduates, that facilitate program enrichment and capacity building.
Funding: NSF
Principals: Audrey Rorrer
For additional information: http://reu.uncc.edu/cise-reu-toolkit
Collaborative Research: Teaching Multicore and Many‐Core Programming at a Higher Level of Abstraction Parallel and distributed computing is now a knowledge area in the ACM/IEEE Computer Science Curriculum 2013, with expectation that it will be required in all CS curricula.  The general desire is to introduce the subject, or elements of it, earlier in undergraduate curriculum, as promoted by the NSF/IEEE-TCPP Curriculum Initiative on Parallel and Distributed Computing. However existing low level libraries, notably MPI, have a significant additional learning curve and lead to unstructured programming. This project introduces a new way to introduce parallel and distributed computing in the CS curriculum by using a pattern (parallel) programming approach. In pattern programming, well established computational patterns guide the programmer into well-structured programming designs. Several pattern programming tools are being developed that allow students to create working parallel/distributed code very quickly without the complexities of MPI or OpenMP.
Funding: NSF
Principals: Barry Wilkinson
For additional information: Collaborative Research: Teaching Multicore and Many‐Core Programming at a Higher Level of Abstraction
Data-Intensive Research to Improve Teaching and Learning Projects that incorporate various approaches to visual analytics, machine learning, and other techniques to leverage big data to improve teaching and learning. For example, we will collect data on CCI student retention, time to graduation, degree program, concentration, advising, and courses taken. Various visual analytic techniques will be used to track progress, bottlenecks, and evaluate the effect of e-advising, flipped classroom courses, and online courses.
Principals: Mary Lou Maher, Audrey Rorrer, Xiaoyu Wang
Critical Infrastructure CybersecurityDevelopment of Mission Critical Operator Curriculum for Community Colleges Improving the Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity is a task emphasized by President Barack Obama in his Executive Order 13636. This proposal addresses demand for a mission critical workforce able to handle cybersecurity threats. The member institutions will jointly develop a mission critical operations career pathway through the MCO-AC. Specifically, an open experiment environment supporting telepresence sessions for Electrical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering students will be developed at UNC Charlotte. Since a foundational competency associated with the learning outcomes is the security of telepresence sessions, the research team at CCI will design instructional materials and course modules to teach information assurance and network security knowledge to future engineering workforce. The research team will also provide training to address the lack of faculty members in community colleges with cyber security expertise.
Funding: Department of Labor
Principals: Weichao Wang
Flipping Traditional CS Education Upside Down: A Study of Interventions in Two Core Computing Courses This Scholarship of Teaching and Learning research project will conduct a robust evaluation of interventions to improve student learning outcomes and retention. Promising teaching methodologies have been incorporated into two core courses (introductory programming and introductory web programming) in the Software and Information Systems Department. These courses have been restructured into a "flipped" classroom experience using complimentary teaching methods to increase student engagement and performance. Evaluating these interventions will enable us to glean understanding about what methodologies are central to improving student learning and student retention and infuse viable approaches across our curriculum.
Funding: UNC Charlotte Center for Teaching and Learning
Principals: Celine Latulipe, Bruce Long, Mary Lou Maher, Audrey Rorrer, Karen Bean
Integrated Genomics Education UNC Charlotte is one of only a few institutions in the United States where graduate and undergraduate students routinely receive hands-on training in Next Generation Sequencing laboratory protocols. With support from the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, Dr. Jennifer Weller has developed a genomics teaching laboratory and an innovative program of laboratory training in which students produce their own "big data" -- sequencing data sets generated using the Ion Torrent platform. Data generated by students in the Genomics Biotechnology Laboratory (BINF 6350) is carried forward into Genomics (BINF 6203), where students learn to apply industry-standard genomic data analysis methods using their own data sets. Other courses such as Statistics for Bioinformatics (BINF 6200) also make use of the genome sequence data produced in the genomics teaching laboratory.
Funding: North Carolina Biotechnology Center
Principals: Jennifer Weller, Cynthia Gibas, Jessica Schlueter
Integrated Learning Environment for Cyber Security of Smart Grid This project is developing an integrated simulation environment dedicated to smart grid education programs, and is designing a suite of course modules and hands-on projects focusing on security of modern power systems. Through federating the control network simulator with the Power Grid Simulator Program, this project covers both cyber and physical systems underpinning smart grid operations. The research team is carrying out well-planned evaluation and dissemination activities to assess the effectiveness of the innovative instructional materials and promote their wide adoption.
Funding: NSF
Principals: Weichao Wang
Novel Learning Technologies Projects that develop new approaches to learning theoretical and technical content and skills such as gamification, music, video collaboration, tactile and tangible learning materials.
Principals: Mary Lou Maher (tangible creativity), Celine Latulipe (video collaboratory)
NCWITPathways for Women The goals for this project are: 1) to recruit women into minors offered in the College of Engineering (COE) and College of Computing and Informatics (CCI); and 2) to retain women from freshmen to sophomore years. Strategies that will be employed for recruiting include increasing faculty and student awareness of socially relevant career opportunities for students in Engineering and Computing fields. Marketing materials will be developed and student ambassadors engaged to specifically target students in majors with large populations of women (such as pre-nursing, pre-business, and social sciences). Strategies for retention will focus on women in COE and CCI introductory courses. COE will create a Biomedical Engineering minor through organizing a plan of study from existing courses on campus. CCI will employ and evaluate three recent changes to introductory courses: 1) gender-based pair programming; 2) grouping students according to preparation in high school math; and 3) focusing on image and other media types as the basis for computation.
Funding: NSF through NCWIT Extension Services for Undergraduate Programs (ES-UP)
Principals: Yi Deng, Jamie Payton, Mary Lou Maher (CCI), Gloria Elliott (COE), Susan Metz (NCWIT at Stevens Institute of Technology)
Supporting Secure Programming Education in the IDE Software flaws are a root cause of many of today's information security vulnerabilities. Current curriculum emphasis on traditional information security issues does not address this root cause. We believe that in order to effectively teach secure programming techniques, they need to be diffused across computing curricula. Our work explores the educational impact of tool support in the IDE, which serves to educate and reinforce secure programming practices while students write code. Our research creates and evaluates a new learning tool that complements other secure programming curriculum efforts by teaching and providing continuous reinforcement of practices throughout programming tasks. Our goal in this project is to implement and evaluate a deployable tool to increase the knowledge and awareness of secure programming practices in a variety of computing courses.
Funding: NSF
Principals: Heather Lipford, Bill Chu
Tangible Creativity Project This is a collaborative project between the HCI Labs at UNC Charlotte and the University of Maryland, in cooperation with KidsTeam. A major goal of the project is to develop a better understanding of the relationships between the design features of tangibles, the gestures used when thinking about creative tasks, and creativity. The project explores correlations between basic categories of gesture, perception, and cognition as a basis for the development of sustainable principles that may inform and guide the development of new technology beyond the current implementation of TUIs.
Funding: NSF
Principals: Mary Lou Maher
For additional information: http://hci.uncc.edu/~TangibleCreativity/
The Biotechnology, Biodiversity and Bioinformatics (B3) Summer Science Program at the Olympic High School of Public Health Administration and Biotechnology With Ms. Jeanne Smith, a chemist and current science teacher at Olympic High School (part of the CMS district), Dr. Jennifer Weller has, for 4 years, organized and taught a 2-week science camp. In the ‘B3 Science Camp’, students learn to collect and document samples, extract DNA, and perform PCR tests that lead to molecular markers. We have focused on the American Chestnut tree as it has local ecological and historical significance. Students also participate in 3 field trips to scientific research centers, where they interact with practicing scientists of many types. In 2014 we will be expanding to a monthly Saturday Science experience during the school year, thanks to funding from the Burroughs Wellcome Educational Enrichment Fund. During these activities, we ask that the host scientists explain their background and the steps required to get to their current position as well as their research, and that they plan a research activity in which the students can participate. During the summer camp there are daily career discussions, in which students are able to ask about jobs and training required for jobs in biotechnology and related fields, which Dr. Weller has personal experience with. Before they will strive for higher education and sophisticated technical skills, students must believe they have the capacity to master them and know where to acquire them; this camp and associated activities provide direct experience against which they can measure their abilities, and resources to help them pursue interests that emerge.
Funding: GreinerOne, Carolina’s Medical Center, Burroughs-Wellcome Educational Enrichment Fund
Principals: Jennifer Weller, Jeanne Smith
The Connected Learner The Connected Learner is a re-orientation of undergraduate computing education to focus on student learning that connects to peers, the profession, and the community. Our vision is to create a teaching environment that transforms the student entering our undergraduate program from a person with an interest in computing to a person with an affinity identity (Gee, 2000) as a computing professional. The project equally will transform faculty attitudes towards education, shifting attitudes and behaviors away from mere knowledge transmission and lecturing toward a refreshed approach of developing educational activities that scaffold computing knowledge and skills to become successful computing professionals. The project will catalyze and sustain this transition with the identification of emerging design patterns (Goodyear, 2005) for The Connected Learner to guide teaching in all courses in the undergraduate computing curriculum. This revolution in computing education is possible now due to advances in technology inside and outside the classroom for delivering content as online lectures and for engaging social interaction.
Funding: NSF
Principals: Mary Lou Maher, Bojan Cukic, Celine Latulipe, Larry Mays, Jamie Payton, Steven Rogelberg, Audrey Rorrer

Service Learning Research

PhD Fellowships in CCI The Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) Computing Scholars program at UNC Charlotte is funded by the U.S. Department of Education. Established in Fall 2013, the program provides scholarships and covers educational expenses for students pursuing a Ph.D. in Computing and Information Sciences or a Ph.D. in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology. Students who meet both merit and financial-need requirements are competitively selected. Once selected, students are supported for up to five years to complete their Ph.D. degree and to participate in a Teaching Experience meant to prepare students for careers in the professoriate.
Funding: Department of Education
Principals: Anita Raja, Zbyszek Ras, Jamie Payton
For additional information: https://gaann.uncc.edu
Real-world Learning Experiences Project-based learning driven by CCI Industry Partners. Industry partners provide real computing problems for specific courses while individuals in industry act as clients for the students during the semester as they develop solutions.
Principals: Mary Lou Maher, Karen Bean
Socially Relevant Research Experience for Undergraduates Socially Relevant Computing Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) is a National Science Foundation (NSF) funded research program at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. With the objective of broadening the participation in computing doctoral programs, the targeted student participants are women and minority students from minority, women’s, and non-doctoral institutions.
Funding: NSF
Principals: Jamie Payton
For additional information: Socially Relevant Research Experience for Undergraduates
STARS Computing Corps The STARS Computing Corps is funded by an NSF grant and has generated a non-profit organization dedicated to building and preparing a larger, more diverse national computing workforce for the 21st Century. This project provides support and implements programs designed to attract and retain the brightest minds in the technology, computing and informatics disciplines.
Funding: NSF
Principals: Jamie Payton, Heather Lipford
For additional information: http://www.starscomputingcorps.org
STARS Computing Scholars The STARS Computing Scholars program is funded by the National Science Foundation. The program provides scholarships for transfer students to pursue Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in the College of Computing and Informatics. Selected students receive a stipend for up to three years to complete their Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees and participate in research, experiential learning, and community service projects with other computing students.
Funding: NSF
Principals: Keh-Hsun Chen