School of Computing and Information Sciences

School of Computing and Information Sciences

2012-2013 Annual Report

School Overview

The School of Computing and Information Sciences (SCIS) had another eventful year in 2012-2013. According to the 2012 edition of ASEE Profiles of Engineering & Engineering Technology Colleges, The School awarded the sixth most Computer Science Degrees in the US, representing its highest ranking ever. SCIS is the only school in Florida offering BS and MS in both CS and IT. It also continues to lead the nation in training Hispanic PhD students. The program was ranked No. 1 among all state universities in Florida, resulting in a two-year $7.5M award from the State’s Information Technology Performance Funding program. The School had a record high record of $6.2M external research funding this past year, including a sixth NSF Faculty CAREER Award, and made significant progress in increasing entrepreneurship and technology transfer activities.

School Highlights

The School celebrated its 25th anniversary in December 2012. The event was well attended by alumni, students, and industry representatives. A number of speakers, including members of the National Academy of Engineering spoke about the role of computer science education in the 21st century and highlighted the impact that SCIS has had over its quarter century of existence. In the culminating grand banquet, Director Iyengar presented a flagship vision for The School to the attendees. During the year, SCIS hosted top-level national and international scientists through its CITRIX Distinguished Lecture series. The School also hosted industry lectures for a large IT community in South Florida.

The School has experienced a continued explosion in its undergraduate enrollments in both CS and IT programs, boasting over 1,350 majors in spring 2013. The School graduated its first MSIT students, and is now recruiting the first cohort of students for its weekend Professional MSIT program.

The School has reached a high sustained level of research and scholarly activity, and is now taking the next step towards prominence by competing for and winning very prestigious national and international awards, and in recruiting outstanding faculty. SCIS recruited new faculty members from top-20 ranked departments (MIT, Brown, UCLA, and Purdue) as well from the Chinese Academy of Sciences who joined in 2012-2013. SCIS has also recruited a new faculty member from UIUC who will join in 2013-2014.

Faculty Accomplishments

Among faculty awards and honors: Ming Zhao became SCIS’s sixth NSF CAREER award recipient. Mark Weiss was named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Naphtali Rishe and S. Masoud Sadjadi were both named recipients of the prestigious IBM Faculty Award. Tao Li received another highly competitive Xerox University Affairs Committee (UAC) Award. Ming Zhao was awarded a U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory Summer Fellowship that will allow him to visit the AFRL’s Rome Laboratory for a portion of the summer of 2013. Rangaswami was recognized as the sixth most published author at the USENIX File and Storage Technologies Conference since its inception and became a member of the Steering Committee for the USENIX Workshop on Hot Topics in Storage Systems (HotStorage). In December 2012, S. S. Iyengar received a Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to research/leadership/teaching in the field of engineering and computer science at the International Conference on Agile Manufacturing hosted by the Indian Institute of Technology (BHU) as well as a Global Distinguished Faculty Award from Pondicherry. Raju Rangaswami and Iyengar were selected as Charter Members of the National Academy of Inventors. Patricia McDermott-Wells received an Adjunct Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching; she has since been hired as a full-time instructor in The School. Both she and Michael Robinson, also hired as a full-time instructor, are working toward their Ph.D.s.

Nagarajan Prabakar and Jong-Hoon Kim received funding from Google to run a CS4HS (Computer Science for High School Students) workshop in the summer of 2013. This hands-on workshop incorporated informational talks by industry leaders, and discussions on new and emerging CS curricula at the high school and middle school level (see

Kip Irvine, Giri Narasimhan, and Debra Davis hosted the second annual FIU STEM Teachers Workshop in June 2013, supported by a grant from Ultimate Software. The Miami-Dade and Broward high school teachers attending the workshop learned computational thinking concepts, object-oriented visual programming skills, and basic Python programming skills (see

The School has also continued its efforts to engage the community and to have significant impacts in technology transfer and entrepreneurship. Through the National Science Foundation’s Partnerships for Innovation-Accelerating Innovation Research (PFI-AIR) program, led by Naphtali Rishe in collaboration with other researchers from The School of Computing and Information Sciences, the College of Engineering and Computing, and the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine, researchers are developing academic innovations and then translating that research into viable products for industry. We are building a new research consortium, the Cyber Infrastructure Education and Research for Trust and Assurance (CIERTA) consortium, which will investigate ways to make cyber-infrastructure that is secure, trustworthy, and dependable; see The School continues its solid partnership with MDC-EM department through its Business Continuity Information Network led by Shu-Ching Chen and Steve Luis. Additional achievements in this area are described in a separate section, below.

Student Achievements

SCIS students have also enjoyed success. Raul Quintana Selleras (BS IT) and Jorge Guerra (Ph.D. CS) were named Worlds Ahead Graduates in summer 2012. Mitch Fernandez was awarded the very prestigious NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. Gregory Jean-Baptise was awarded a McKnight Doctoral Fellowship. Jesse Domack, SCIS Senior, won the 2013 Miami Chamber of Commerce Technology Student of the Year Award and an Honorable Mention in the Computing Research Association’s (CRA) Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Award (Male) 2013 competition.

Research and External Funding

SCIS continues to make excellent progress in its research activities maintaining its funding at a very high level. The external research funding (direct awards) was the highest ever for The School, topping $6 million for the first time. This continued the direct awards in excess of $4 million for the fifth year in a row. The income from foundation and auxiliary accounts was $0.5 million for a total of $6.5 million in external funding in addition to the state’s $3.75 million Information Technology Performance Funding award made this fiscal year. These gifts include donations from IBM, Kaseya, TCL Research America, Xerox, Ultimate Software, and XL Internet Services. Faculty publications were at an all time high in both quantity and quality.

Technology Transfer and Innovation

The School is encouraging the development of faculty and student teams focused on innovation, the establishment of peer support for student-led innovation, and the engagement and stimulation of the tech/entrepreneur community in South Florida.

Faculty Initiated Startups

• Withyouvirtually, Inc.’s founders are Peter Dickson (CBA), Peter Clarke (SCIS), and Steve Luis (SCIS): The company’s mission is to help hospital patients stay connected with their loved ones. Leveraging Dickson’s 2012 Kauffman Professor Award in the area, the team is developing a prototype to be field-tested in early 2014. Further, the company is finalizing an agreement with the Technology Management Office to transfer the Communication Virtual Machine (an FIU Technology that is patent pending; Clarke, Luis, et. al. are co-inventors) for incorporation into the final system.

• The School is in discussions with a Medical Institute in South Florida to set up a joint company to pursue multidisciplinary research work, software-based innovations, and provide an opportunity for supported graduate students to work. The process is still ongoing and is expected to be ready in 6 to 8 months.

IP Disclosures and Patent Applications: Faculty members have significantly increased the number of IP disclosures to the Technology Management Office. Here is a list of recent submissions. These technologies all have great impact potential in their respective industry areas.

• Geolocating Social Media, Naphtali Rishe, US Provisional Patent Application #61-767,036 filed February 20, 2013

• Streaming Representation of Moving Objects and Shapes in a Geographic Information Service, Naphtali Rishe, US Provisional Patent Application #61-792,985 filed March 15, 2013

• Informed Traveler Program and Application, Naphtali Rishe, US Patent Application #13-847,024 filed March 19, 2013

• A Cross Street Transit and Multimodal Multi-level Station and Pedestrian-Oriented Interchange, Naphtali Rishe, US Patent Application #13-907,085 filed May 31, 2013

• Video Motion Classifications, S.S. Iyengar, US Patent Application filed

• Load Balancing Algorithms for Data Center Networks, Deng Pan, US Provisional Patent Application #61-832,458 filed June 7, 2013


There are additional disclosures which are in the final preparation stages for submission including:

• Context based Algorithmic Framework for Identifying and Classifying Embedded Images of Follicle Units, S.S. Iyengar

• Method for Integrating Between a Human and Robot Fishes Through Augmented Reality for an Air Aquarium, Jong-Hoon Kim

• Method for Eliminating Blocking of Writes to Out-of-core Memory Pages, Raju Rangaswami

• Method for Automatically Detecting and Persisting an Application’s Memory Data, Raju Rangaswami

FIU Discovery Lab: Law Enforcement/Telebot Project: The School’s Discovery Lab ( has begun a project that will help to bring disabled law enforcement officers back to the force. This Telebot project combines telepresence and robotic technologies to allow disabled police and military vets to serve as patrol officers. The project, funded by Jeremy Robins, a Lt. Cmdr. In the US Navy Reserves, and with the loan of robotic hardware from the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC), has been featured on CNET, Yahoo! News, SourceFed, and many other news outlets. Several IP disclosures based on the techniques they are perfecting will be made in the coming year.

FIU HealthCare Innovation Project: SCIS has partnered with the FIU Technology Management Office to promote its HealthCare Innovation Grant, where students from College of Engineering and Computing, College of Business Administration, and College of Medicine are competing for seed funds to develop business-model-driven proof-of-concepts that impact the healthcare industry. Several SCIS students have developed concepts and will submit their efforts later this month.

Supporting Student App and Web Innovations: To further stimulate students to pursue innovations The School has created a community of app and web developers call AppDojo. The community meets weekly and has developed several student led teams to explore hardware and software systems. Students and alumni of The School’s mobile application development class participate in the community and have apps in the Apple App Store (see One such system, “Shout”, a social network based on short audio clips was further developed as part of a senior project and is being evaluated for wider commercial release (see and

Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce, “Miami’s Got Tech”: SCIS partnered with Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce and co-led the event The School initiated called “Miami’s Got Tech.” The event is an opportunity to showcase student developed technologies and local company innovations with the intent of changing the perception that Miami lacks talent/innovation. Several FIU students displayed innovative mobile and cloud-based systems apps. The event attracted over 120 chamber and local tech community members and is considered one of the Technology Committees best networking events. An SCIS Ph.D. student won the best-in-show award for his mobile app (see

Student Participation on Hackathon Project: The School continually encourages students to attend local area Hackathons where they can collaborate with professional developers, meet entrepreneurs, and demonstrate their development skills. SCIS students/alumni won the Fall AT&T Mobility Hackathon which was considered the best attended area hackathon in the last year (over 200). Here are just a few of the hackathons SCIS students engaged in:




FIU Pino Center Collaboration: The School has worked with the Pino Center extensively to promote collaboration with local tech companies and the community. The Pino Center has sponsored two innovation awards in support of SCIS students in the areas of Gaming and Web technologies.

The Game Developers Guild, a community of FIU student game developers have developed over 40 games in the last year. With many of the games available in the Android and BlackBerry App Stores. The community has hosted several hackathons including the 2013 International Game Developers Association Game Jam site for Miami. Five teams developed games in 48 hours which included original graphic assets, music and unique game play features.




Fall Term Enrollment



Degrees Awarded



Sponsored Research Awards and Expenditures

SCIS Five Year Award and Expenditures History

SCIS Five Year Award and Expenditures History

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