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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

Multiple Open-Rank, Tenured or Tenure-Track Faculty Positions

Applicants from all traditional as well as non-traditional and interdisciplinary areas of Computer Science and Engineering are urged to apply. See below for details:

Applicants are expected to:

  • Possess a Ph.D. in computer science, computer engineering, or a closely-related field, by the beginning date of employment and a demonstrated record of research accomplishments.
  • Demonstrate evidence of commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion through research, teaching, and/or service efforts.
  • Develop internationally-recognized, externally-funded research programs that:
    • Complement existing departmental strengths
    • Leverage exceptional interdisciplinary collaboration opportunities
    • Align with vital cross-cutting research themes identified by the college, including smart & connected communities, transformative computing, healthcare transformations, and agile manufacturing

Dates & Details

Review of applications will begin on December 1, 2018 and continue until positions are filled. Expected start date is August 16, 2019.

Application Requirements

Interested applicants should apply online at:
  • Letter of intent
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Concise description of research plans
  • Teaching plan
  • Names & contact information of 3-5 references.

Our Department

The Department of Computer Science and Engineering offers B.S. degrees in Computer Science, Computer Information Systems, and Computer Engineering; M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Computer Science and Computer Engineering; M.S. degrees in Software Engineering and Information Security; and a Graduate Certificate in Cyber Security Studies. The department has 23 full-time faculty members (10 of whom are NSF CAREER Award recipients), an undergraduate enrollment of 935 students, and a graduate enrollment of 161 students. The University of South Carolina does not discriminate in educational or employment opportunities on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender, age, disability, protected veteran status or genetics.

Research areas of special interest include:

  • Human in the loop or knowledge-enhanced AI, deep learning, natural language processing, question-answering/conversational AI, brain-inspired computing, semantic/cognitive/perceptual computing
  • Big data, including social, sensor, biological and health and scalable computing/ analysis of big data
  • Computer vision, robotics, and human computer interaction, including personal digital/assistive technology
  • Cyber-physical systems and Internet of Things
  • Software analysis and testing, adaptive and autonomous systems, and search-based software engineering
  • Next-generation networking, cybersecurity, and privacy

Dr. Zeng Receives NSF Grant Award

We are happy to announce that Dr. Qiang Zeng has received a research award from the National Science Foundation for his research project "Collaborative: Enabling Precise and Automated Insecurity Analysis of Middleware on Mobile Platforms". This project aims to develop new architectural designs, algorithms, and techniques for analyzing the security of mobile platforms such as Android phones and tablets. Project abstract:
During the past decade, middleware on mobile platforms (such as the Application Framework in Android and the Core Services layer in iOS) has been flourishing, but the insecurity analysis of such middleware has been lagging behind. For example, while comprehensive studies have been conducted at the application layer of the Android system, there is very limited work analyzing the Android Application Framework (Android Framework, for short), a middleware layer in the Android system. The two billion Android mobile devices and the many Android Things devices all rely on the system services provided by Android Framework. Recently, many vulnerabilities of Android Framework are exposed, showing that Android Framework is vulnerable and exploitable. Given the critical role of Android Framework, a vulnerability in the framework can be exploited to launch large-scale cyber attacks and cause serious harms to user security and privacy. However, the insecurity analysis of Android Framework has been rather ad hoc, imprecise, and requires much manual effort, mainly because there is a severe lack of techniques and tools developed for insecurity analysis of such middleware on mobile platforms (MoMP). This research project seeks to fill the gap by developing new techniques and tools for insecurity analysis of MoMP like Android Framework and consequently lead to more secure and trustworthy computing environments for the huge number of smartphone and Internet-of-Things (IoT) device users. Educational resources developed in this project, including course modules on mobile computing security and vulnerability discovery, will be disseminated through a dedicated web site. Collaborations with the industry will be sought to transfer the technology to interested software companies and government entities that perform insecurity analysis of MoMP.
The project will develop new architectural designs, algorithms and techniques for precise and automated insecurity analysis of MoMP. To make the research concrete, demonstrations will be created for the Android Framework for mobile smartphones, tablets and IoT devices, and the first platform for precise and automated insecurity analysis of Android Framework will be built, combining current software analysis techniques, such as symbolic execution, hybrid dynamic/static analysis, and cross-process and cross-layer software analysis, to make them capable of analyzing complex and large-sized MoMP like Android Framework. The platform will be evaluated and applied to discovering various types of zero-day vulnerabilities and generating proof-of-concept exploits.

Dr. Nelakuditi named ACM Distinguished Member

We are proud to announce that Dr. Srihari Nelakuditi has been named an ACM Distinguished Member by the Association for Computing Machinery. The award recognizes ACM members who have achieved significant accomplishments or have made a significant impact on the computing field. The 2018 ACM Distinguished Members are exemplars for their peers, and represent ACM’s worldwide geographic reach, as well as the exciting range of subdisciplines that constitute today’s technology landscape.