Inspiring Student Receives Top CSU Honor

Photo courtesy of CSU Chancellor's Office

Photo courtesy of CSU Chancellor’s Office

SJSU Media Relations contacts:
Pat Harris, 408-924-1748, pat.harris@sjsu.edu
Robin McElhatton, 408-924-1789, robin.mcelhatton@sjsu.edu

SAN JOSE, CA – Melissa Ortiz, ’17 Computer Engineering, has faced more adversity in her young life than most people do in a lifetime. After her father died, she became homeless, lived in extreme poverty, and dealt with physical and mental abuse.

Overcoming Odds

But Ortiz managed to overcome those obstacles. She started her own company and secured an internship at Intel to support herself so she could go to college. She is the first in her family to do so.

That’s why Ortiz has been named a recipient of the 2015 CSU Trustees’ Awards for Outstanding Achievement. The awards are given to 23 students who overcome adversity and demonstrate superior academic performance, personal accomplishments, community service and financial need. She will fly to the Chancellor’s Office in Long Beach on Sept. 8 to pick up her award.

Love of Engineering

Ortiz is majoring in computer engineering with an emphasis on embedded systems. She maintains a 3.3 GPA. She’s also a member of several campus organizations, but it’s computer engineering that intrigues her the most.

 “Engineering brings out the kid in me, I feel like a kid in a candy store every time I work on a project,” Ortiz says.

 

Photo courtesy of CSU Chancellor's Office

Photo courtesy of CSU Chancellor’s Office

After completing her undergraduate degree, Ortiz plans to earn a master’s degree in computer science and business administration, with the hopes of one day, running her own engineering firm. She also wants to inspire young women to be independent and take an interest in STEM fields.

Ortiz was named the William Hauck scholar. The Hauck endowment will provide $6,000 to this year’s CSU Trustee Award recipient. The late William Hauck, ’63 Social Studies, served as deputy chief of staff to Governor Pete Wilson and chief of staff to Assembly speakers Bob Morretti and Willie L. Brown, Jr.

About San Jose State

The founding campus of the 23-campus California State University system, San Jose State provides a comprehensive university education, granting bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in 134 areas of study with 110 concentrations – offered through its eight colleges.

With more than 33,000 students and nearly 4,370 employees, San Jose State continues to be an essential partner in the economic, cultural and social development of Silicon Valley and the state, annually contributing more than 7,000 graduates to the workforce.

The university is immensely proud of the accomplishments of its more than 220,000 alumni, 60 percent of whom live and work in the Bay Area.

 

students on computers

SJSU Appoints Director of the Cybersecurity and Big Data Initiative

Professor Sigurd Meldal (photo by Robert Bain)

Professor Sigurd Meldal (photo by Robert Bain)

Professor of Computer Engineering Sigurd Meldal has been appointed director of the San Jose State University Cybersecurity and Big Data Initiative.

SJSU’s goal is to develop a premiere, interdisciplinary institute in the heart of Silicon Valley focusing on the challenges of cybersecurity and big data.

Meldal is the first full-time director of this two-year-old effort, composed of academic and pre-professional work for students, teaching and research by SJSU faculty members, and outreach to industry leaders.

In alignment with all of these efforts, SJSU has hosted and organized events, symposia and summer schools such as the annual Symposium on Curriculum Development in Security and Information Assurance (CDSIA) for the past six years and the U.S. Cyber Challenge for the past two years.

Interdisciplinary programs

Meldal’s work will include coordinating the efforts of five SJSU colleges and over 30 faculty members contributing to this endeavor. This will involve nurturing the development of new courses and certificates for SJSU students, academic enrichment opportunities for K-12 students and educators, and government and corporate partnerships including an advisory council.

Meldal received a doctorate from the University of Oslo, and taught at the University of Bergen, Stanford University and California Polytechnic State University before joining San Jose State in 2002 to serve as chair of the then new Department of Computer Engineering. Meldal also serves as a co-director at the National Science and Technology Center for Ubiquitous Secure Technology at the University of California, Berkeley.

Security, privacy, and public policy

He describes his research interests to include “the many aspects of concurrent processing, with an emphasis on its formalization by means of programming, prototyping and specification formalisms with supporting tools such as language frameworks for prototyping of distributed architectures and the abstraction mechanisms necessary for large-scale conformance checking.”

Professor Meldal has long been interested in the interplay of security and computing, contributing to the design of support systems for the surveillance of nuclear arms treaty compliance. In particular, he is interested in the security aspects of ubiquitous computing and mobile devices, as well as the interplay of security with privacy and public policy.

KTVU: NSA Accused of Breaking into Yahoo, Google Data Centers

KTVU: NSA Accused of Breaking into Yahoo, Google Data Centers

KTVU: NSA Accused of Breaking into Yahoo, Google Data Centers

KTVU interviews Professor Meldal about reports that the NSA has broken into Yahoo and Google data centers.

Posted by KTVU Oct. 30, 2013.

KTVU interviewed SJSU Department of Computer Engineering Chair Sigurd Meldal in response to reports that the National Security Agency has secretly broken into the main communications links that connect Yahoo and Google data centers around the world. Meldal is interim director of the SJSU Cybersecurity Cluster and co-director of the National Science Foundation-funded Team for Research in Ubiquitous Secure Technology (TRUST). 

View the full story. 

4 young men hold up metal parts of motorcycle frame.

Students Re-Invent the Wheel for Electric Motorcycle

By Sarah Kyo, Public Affairs Assistant
4 young men hold up metal parts of motorcycle frame.

Spherical Drive System team members Eamonn Clerkin, Henry Li, Max Ratner and Andrew Parmar (left to right) hold up parts of the frame for their motorcycle (Sarah Kyo photo).

Will Smith’s character drives a sleek car with spherical wheels in the sci-fi movie “I, Robot.” While this futuristic film is a fantasy, a team of Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering students is making a very similar vehicle a reality.

From conception to fruition, this group has spent more than a year on this ambitious senior project called Spherical Drive System: a self-balancing, electric motorcycle that uses spheres as wheels.

The team includes team manager Max Ratner, financial officer/mechanical designer Henry Li, and lead mechanical designer Andrew Parmar.

While brainstorming project ideas, the team came across a YouTube video of a robot that balances on a ball. Parmar said they combined other inspirations, such as the Segway Personal Transporter and the “I, Robot” car, for their final concept.

Sphere’s benefits

Riding a motorcycle involves balance and some level of instability. They said a sphere has benefits over a typical wheel.

“It has an inherent safety factor,” Li said. “It’s able to help you balance on the bike.”

Computer rendering of silver, black and green futuristic motorcycle with spherical wheels. (Courtesy of Spherical Drive System)

This computer rendering showcases the final design for Spherical Drive System (Image courtesy of Spherical Drive System).

Ball transfer units, which are small ball bearings, keep the spheres moving. Spheres allow omnidirectional movement, meaning that this motorcycle could move in any direction, including backwards and sideways.

Li said they decided to build a motorcycle because “it captures people’s imagination.”  The team can imagine similar, spherical technology used in other areas, including wheelchairs, forklifts and amusement park rides.

Professor Winncy Du, who is Spherical Drive System’s faculty adviser, said she has never seen a senior project like this one.

“It’s very different,” Du said. “They’re going to change the world of the bicycle.”

The team has assertively gained sponsorships, including monetary donations and parts for their vehicle. They have even attended job fairs, not for finding a job but to gain support for their project. Li said at the moment, they could use help in manufacturing molds for the spheres, which are a composite of carbon fibers, fiberglass and synthetic rubber.

Team building

Ratner said their senior project has been a lesson in communication and team building, in addition to gaining technical experience. He encourages students to take initiative with their project ideas.

Parmar added, “We hope students do more unique projects.”

Last March, Ratner and Parmar represented Spherical Drive System in the American Society of Mechanical Engineering’s regional district student competition. Parmar earned first place in the oral competition, and Ratner earned second place in the poster presentation. Parmar will advance to the national competition in Houston this November.

The team devotes hours to this project. Ratner, Li and Parmar estimate they each put in 20 to 30 hours per week on top of school, work and other commitments. Their project deadline is May 16, but they plan to continue working on the motorcycle this summer to get it ready for test riding.

Follow along with Spherical Drive System’s updates at its Facebook page. For more information, visit the project’s website.

Students Re-Invent the Wheel

By Sarah Kyo, Public Affairs Assistant
4 young men hold up metal parts of motorcycle frame.

Spherical Drive System team members Eamonn Clerkin, Henry Li, Max Ratner and Andrew Parmar (left to right) hold up parts of the frame for their motorcycle (Sarah Kyo photo).

Will Smith’s character drives a sleek car with spherical wheels in the sci-fi movie “I, Robot.” While this futuristic film is a fantasy, a team of Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering students is making a very similar vehicle a reality.

From conception to fruition, this group has spent more than a year on this ambitious senior project called Spherical Drive System: a self-balancing, electric motorcycle that uses spheres as wheels.

The team includes team manager Max Ratner, financial officer/mechanical designer Henry Li, and lead mechanical designer Andrew Parmar.

While brainstorming project ideas, the team came across a YouTube video of a robot that balances on a ball. Parmar said they combined other inspirations, such as the Segway Personal Transporter and the “I, Robot” car, for their final concept.

Sphere’s benefits

Riding a motorcycle involves balance and some level of instability. They said a sphere has benefits over a typical wheel.

“It has an inherent safety factor,” Li said. “It’s able to help you balance on the bike.”

Computer rendering of silver, black and green futuristic motorcycle with spherical wheels. (Courtesy of Spherical Drive System)

This computer rendering showcases the final design for Spherical Drive System (Image courtesy of Spherical Drive System).

Ball transfer units, which are small ball bearings, keep the spheres moving. Spheres allow omnidirectional movement, meaning that this motorcycle could move in any direction, including backwards and sideways.

Li said they decided to build a motorcycle because “it captures people’s imagination.”  The team can imagine similar, spherical technology used in other areas, including wheelchairs, forklifts and amusement park rides.

Professor Winncy Du, who is Spherical Drive System’s faculty adviser, said she has never seen a senior project like this one.

“It’s very different,” Du said. “They’re going to change the world of the bicycle.”

The team has assertively gained sponsorships, including monetary donations and parts for their vehicle. They have even attended job fairs, not for finding a job but to gain support for their project. Li said at the moment, they could use help in manufacturing molds for the spheres, which are a composite of carbon fibers, fiberglass and synthetic rubber.

Team building

Ratner said their senior project has been a lesson in communication and team building, in addition to gaining technical experience. He encourages students to take initiative with their project ideas.

Parmar added, “We hope students do more unique projects.”

Last March, Ratner and Parmar represented Spherical Drive System in the American Society of Mechanical Engineering’s regional district student competition. Parmar earned first place in the oral competition, and Ratner earned second place in the poster presentation. Parmar will advance to the national competition in Houston this November.

The team devotes hours to this project. Ratner, Li and Parmar estimate they each put in 20 to 30 hours per week on top of school, work and other commitments. Their project deadline is May 16, but they plan to continue working on the motorcycle this summer to get it ready for test riding.

Follow along with Spherical Drive System’s updates at its Facebook page. For more information, visit the project’s website.

Passengers boarding VTA light rail.

Recent Grad Wins VTA Mobile App Contest

Passengers boarding VTA light rail.

Vashishtha Jogi, who recently graduated with a master's in computer engineering, won with "San Jose Transit."

By Pat Lopes Harris, Media Relations Director

In June, the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority launched a contest challenging professional developers and hobbyists to create a mobile app to enhance the VTA travel experience.  Members of the public submitted a variety of apps that are supported by Apple’s operating system, Google’s Android platform, or both. After carefully evaluating all contest submittals, “San Jose Transit” designed by Vashishtha Jogi was declared the winner! When asked why he entered the VTA contest, Jogi cited his interest in public transit and desire to make it easier for the public to navigate the system. “I love learning new technology, and this industry plays a huge role in my desired career path,” said Jogi.  “I aspire to be someone who builds something useful for other people and not done by anybody else.” Jogi recently completed his master’s in software engineering at San Jose State in August. The app offers schedules for light rail, bus and train service. Read more.

Gordon Bell typing on the keyboard of a computer the size of a refrigerator.

New Speaker Series Highlights Tremendous Impact of Leading Computing Pioneers

Gordon Bell typing on the keyboard of a computer the size of a refrigerator.

Gordon Bell, pictured here in the 1960s, helped develop small, general purpose computers programmed to do specific jobs, such as controlling the news display in New York’s Times Square. Bell is up first in a new History of Computing Speaker Series at SJSU (photo courtesy of the Computer History Museum).

The recent news about Steve Jobs stepping down as CEO of Apple reminds us all of the tremendous impact the leading computing pioneers have on our daily lives. His technological vision and the geniuses he employed at Apple have changed the way we work with computers and use telephones, and how we can download and listen to music. Jobs has created a new tablet computer industry unlike anything we’ve seen before.

The History of Computing Speaker Series, sponsored by IBM and jointly coordinated by the Department of Computer Science and the Department of Computer Engineering, brings to SJSU a stellar group of computer pioneers to speak about their past and current achievements. Students can learn the lessons of how architects and designers overcame the technological, economic, and societal constraints of their day, and thereby making students better architects and designers in the present day. These talks are open to the public.

The speakers include such computing luminaries as Don Knuth, James Gosling, Allan Alcorn, Don Chamberlin, and Alan Kay. Gordon Bell will start the series from 6-7 p.m. Aug. 31 in the Engineering Auditorium (ENG 189). View current schedule, abstracts, and speaker bios.

Adjunct Professor Ron Mak is arranging these speakers in conjunction with his History of Computing class for undergraduate and graduate students. His students work on research projects related to computing history. Some of the speakers and many other computing pioneers inside and outside of Silicon Valley are generously donating their time and expertise to serve as project advisers.

Mak’s “day job” is working as a research staff member at the IBM Almaden Research Center, where he is helping to design and develop SPLASH, a platform for integrating heterogeneous simulation models and data sets in order to solve complex problems such as obesity.