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Senior Faculty Position Opening in Safety-Critical Systems

The College of Engineering and Computing at the University of South Carolina seeks to fill one tenure-track position at a senior rank in computer science and engineering. The position, in conjunction with corresponding positions in electrical engineering and mechanical engineering, is intended to establish a national center of excellence in safety critical systems, especially for aerospace applications. Particular areas of specialization include software engineering, computational modeling, sensing and control, and condition-based maintenance. Requirements include a Ph.D. in a relevant field and a record indicating exceptional accomplishments and potential for research. Support from the Computer Science and Engineering Department will include low teaching loads, competitive salary, and generous start-up funds. Responsibilities are to establish a research program of national and international prominence, with a dedication to graduate and undergraduate education. Persons joining the program will have significant opportunities and access to world-class university and industrial aerospace facilities and staff across the state of South Carolina. Safety-Critical Systems are those that manage the infrastructure and technological components of our society, including our transportation systems. They are the systems whose failure can lead to catastrophic events. Aerospace systems are an example of these, and ensuring their safety is a critical problem. It is also a difficult problem, in that aerospace systems are very complex with many interacting parts, all of which must operate correctly over lifetimes that might extend for decades. Solutions to the problem require means to assess the vulnerabilities of a system, determine its state, and decide on the appropriate actions to verify its safety and thus trustworthiness. The College of Engineering and Computing is being proactive by making strategic faculty hires to meet the needs of the aerospace industry. The expertise of the current faculty (i.e., in composite materials, thermo-fluids, structural health monitoring, and future fuels) can partially meet the emerging needs of the aerospace industry. The proposed cluster focusing on Safety-Critical Aerospace Systems complements the current strength while bridging a critical gap in our endeavor to establish USC in the area of aerospace engineering and computing. Software has become a key part of all complex societal systems on which we have come to rely. Reliance requires trustworthiness, and this can be established only by verifying the software that processes the sensor data obtained for monitoring and controlling societal systems. However, new software engineering techniques are needed for dealing with the complex, distributed, and heterogeneous systems being considered here. The verification of software for such systems is unsolved and amenable to significant innovation: it will be viable as an important research and education area for the foreseeable future. This position will contribute to and benefit from existing research programs in multiagent and service-oriented software within the Computer Science and Engineering Department. The proposed faculty member in software engineering would contribute substantially and creatively to the analysis, visualization, and automated understanding of the data that is produced by the distributed heterogeneous sensors used to assess the state of an aerospace or other safety-critical system. Software engineering would be synergistic with sensor signal processing and condition-based maintenance: the other proposed hiring areas in this cluster will contribute to ensuring trust and safety, resulting in a creative and transformative use of USC resources and leading to significant improvements to USC's teaching mission and research enterprise. The Department of Computer Science and Engineering is in the College of Engineering and Computing and offers bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees. The Department has 21 full-time faculty (nine of whom are NSF CAREER award recipients), an undergraduate enrollment of 424 students, a graduate enrollment of 88 students, and over $2 million in annual research expenditures. New leadership in the College has made growth of the Department a high priority. The University of South Carolina is located in Columbia, the capital and technology center of South Carolina, and is the comprehensive graduate institution in the state, with an enrollment of more than 25,000 students. For more information, see our homepage. Applications must include curriculum vitae, research and teaching plans, and contact information for at least three references. Applications should be submitted electronically to The screening of applicants will begin on May 1, 2011 and will continue until all three positions are filled. The University of South Carolina is an affirmative action, equal opportunity employer. Women and minorities are encouraged to apply. The University of South Carolina does not discriminate in educational or employment opportunities or decisions for qualified persons on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, sexual orientation, or veteran status.

Power Saving Software for High Performance Computing

As appeared in Campus Technology:
After trying out a new, free power saver utility on his laptop, a high performance computing administrator at the University of South Carolina has implemented an enterprise edition of the same software on a large set of computers and reaped dramatic energy savings. Paul Sagona, a member of the IT organization in the College of Engineering and Computing at the university, has deployed Granola Enterprise, a program from MiserWare, on 250 stand-alone computers.
"This is another facet of our energy leadership. The software was initially developed by Kirk Cameron while a faculty member in our department. He is now at Virginia Tech." added Dr. Huhns.

Dr. Buell receives NEH Grant.

Prof. Duncan Buell has been awared a research grant for his project "History Simulation for Teaching Early Modern British History," by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).

Discovery Day Winners

Several of our undergraduate Magellan scholarship students have also won special mentions for their Discovery Day presentations on their research. They are:

  • Matthew Zimmermann, Breland Miley, and Will Reade, who won first prize for their presentation of their project Personal Automated Scheduling System
  • Jason Isenhower, won second prize for his poster presentation Using Smartphones to Monitor Wireless Network Health

Dr. Buell in Voting Machines Forum

Our very own Duncan Buell, shown at center on the photo, appeared on this article on the Post and Courier about the voting machines used here in South Carolina. From the article:
Duncan Buell, University of South Carolina computer science and engineering professor (center), said South Carolina uses the identical voting system that has been discredited in Ohio. He joined Vic Rawl (left) and state Democratic Party Executive Committee member Kay Koonce in a panel discussion about voting machines Thursday at North Charleston City Hall.

Breakthrough in Understanding Human Evolution Due to Computational Genomics

The fragile regions in mammals’ genomes that are thought to play a key role in evolution go through a "birth and death" process, according to new work by University of South Carolina and University of California-San Diego researchers. The study, published in the journal Genome Biology, could help researchers identify the current fragile regions in the human genome – information that may reveal how the human genome will evolve in the future. “We made a step towards understanding the mechanism of genome rearrangements that ‘shuffle’ genomic architectures and represent one of the major driving forces behind evolutionary diversity. In contrast to previous studies, our results allow one not only to analyze the evolution in retrospect but also to predict the future changes in genomic architectures,” said Dr. Max Alekseyev, one of the study’s authors and a computer science and engineering professor in the College of Engineering and Computing at USC. Alekseyev worked with Dr. Pavel Pevzner from UC-San Diego. The two researchers study genomes and genome evolution from a computational perspective. An important question in evolutionary studies is whether there are "fragile" regions where genome rearrangements are happening over and over again. The fragile regions are prone to “genomic earthquakes” that can trigger genome rearrangements, disrupt genes, alter gene regulation and otherwise play an important role in the evolution and emergence of new species. For example, humans have 23 chromosomes while some apes have 24 chromosomes, a consequence of a genome rearrangement that fused two chromosomes in our ape ancestor into human chromosome 2. Although nearly all recent studies support the existence of these fragile regions, there have been some doubts about their existence, raised from a comparative analysis of multiple mammalian genomes. “Our findings imply that fragile regions migrate to different locations in different mammals, and it explains why there are only a few fragile regions shared between different lineages,” said Alekseyev. The research demonstrates that the fragile regions undergo a birth and death process over evolutionary timescales and provides a clue to where the fragile regions in the human genome are located. The researchers conclude that these regions in the human genome are likely to be affected by the coming genome rearrangements. “We hope that further analysis of the identified fragile regions in the human genome would provide insights into current trends in the human evolution”, said Alekseyev. The researchers are now working on confirmation of a conjecture that genomic fragility is promoted by matching segmental duplications. The researchers also hope that their approach may be useful for understanding genome rearrangements at the level of individuals, rather than entire species. In the future, they plan to apply similar analysis for the genome rearrangements that occur within the cells of individual cancer patients in order to develop new cancer diagnostics and drugs.

Organizational Meeting of the Computer Science Teachers Association

A meeting will be held on 7 December 2010 at USC with statewide participation via video or conference call to organize a South Carolina chapter of the Computer Science Teachers Association. All K-12 teachers of computer science and information technology especially, and other interested parties from the computing community, are encouraged to attend and/or participate. More details can be found at

BottleMI: Another Startup from our Students

Through a recent University of South Carolina project, students from the business and computer science and engineering schools have teamed up to develop a unique social networking website known as “”. This website, designed by your very own fellow classmates, could possibly be the next Facebook or Twitter. Currently it is exclusive to USC students and we want you to be a part of its development by actively participating on Your feedback is crucial and will dictate what the site ultimately becomes. As the dailygamecock mentions, the website was built by Jimmy Parker, Beattie Daniels and Josh Mabry. Go check it out We wish them luck!

Dr. Cannon Named Fellow of ABET

Dr. Robert Cannon, distinguished professor emeritus, has been named a Fellow of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), an award bestowed upon him "for his leadership in the orderly transition of computing accreditation into ABET operations; and for his commitment to diversity through the development of ABET's Policy Statement on Diversity." More information can be found on the ABET press release. Bob’s work with accreditation began when the Computing Sciences Accreditation Board – now CSAB – was founded in 1985. He served on CSAB’s Board of Directors, and as the organization’s President in 1999, he led the team that worked with ABET to merge the two organizations’ services. His leadership enabled the Computing Science Accreditation Commission to integrate into the new Computing Accreditation Commission with minimal disruption to accreditation processes. Bob went on to represent CSAB on the ABET Board of Directors from 2000 to 2005, the first five years after CSAB became a participating body of ABET. In addition, he chaired the committee that created ABET’s first policy statement on diversity, in 2002.

Bob is a Senior Member of IEEE and of the Association for Computing Machinery, and he is a CSAB Fellow.

Three CSE Graduate Students win Travel Grants

Three of our graduate students have won university grants to travel to conferences to present their research! The result will be great experience for them, increased visibility for USC by their presence at these conferences, increased visibility for their advisors, and recognition locally for their research. Congratulations to:
  • Mr. Achraf El Allali and his advisor Dr. John Rose for "International Conference on Bioinformatics and Computational Biology"
  • Ms. Laura Boccanfuso and her advisor Dr. Jason O'Kane for "International Conference on Social Robotics"
  • Mr. Yiwei Zhang and his advisor Dr. Jijun Tang for "IEEE International Conference on Bioinformatics & Biomedicine"

CSE Students Help South Carolina Fix its Computers

The ACM Student Chapter at USC held its first Fix-IT Day on Sunday the 25th where student volunteers helped to fix computers brought in by anyone who wanted to attend. The event received wide publicity, with articles written about it in The State newspaper and a news segment on WISTV. “The event was a great success. We helped an estimated 200 or more number of people,” recalled Dr. Valafar, a Computer Science professor who coordinated the event. “We are still receiving phone calls from the community inquiring whether we will have any more events like this. We received participant from as far as Charlotte and several of smaller rural communities in SC that do not have extensive computer shops,” he added. The event was held from noon to 6pm. Attendees were given tickets when they arrived and told how long they would be expected to wait. The computer problems were then separated intro either hardware or software problems. Two large conference rooms in the Swearingen building were used: one to handle hardware problems and the other for software problems. Each room had about a dozen USC computer students diligently working to fix the problems with the computers. Attendees were very grateful for the free service, some saying that they could not afford to get their computer fixed, other stating that they had paid to get it fixed but the fix did not work. Some attendees even left messages of encouragement on the poster board. It is clear that if the ACM student group held the event again that even more people would show up. The ACM student chapter has shown their sincere commitment to helping the community, and this commitment was appreciated by the community. The students are now in the process of compiling their experience and data, revising their protocol, and planning for the next event. If you are interested in more information, or you are a Computer student interested in joining the ACM student chapter the just send them an email. You can also take a look at the photos taken at the event.

Dr. Valafar Receives NIH Grant

Dr. Valafar has received a grant from the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR)/NIH for his project "South Carolina IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE) - Bioinformatics Core." This is part of the umbrella INBRE grant of $17M.


This article in the Charleston Post and Courier explains how we are among a pool of seven schools selected to compete for $30 million over the next six years from the U.S. Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center.

Dr. Wang Receives NSF Award

Dr. Song Wang has received an NSF grant to support his project titled "3D Nonrigid Object Reconstruction from Large-Scale Unorganized 2D Images".

Cybersecurity at Deere & Co

Swearingen, Room 2A15/17

CSE Research Symposium

550 Assembly St, Room 2277

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