A digest of Illinois Computer Science faculty, alumni, and students who are featured in the media.
PrairieFarmer -- A lab at the University of Illinois, led by Assistant Professor Girish Chowdhary, is building 3-D-printed robots to collect data on individual crops. Over years of prototyping, these robots have gotten skilled at using code and sensors to differentiate individual crops from background noise and weeds.
The News-Gazette -- Early applications at the University of Illinois' flagship campus jumped 24 percent this fall to a record high, and the new "CS+X" programs, degrees that combine computer science with other disciplines, were among the factors generating interest among applicants.
Alphr -- The technology industry has long been known, lampooned and lamented as a man’s world. A growing number of women are challenging the stereotype. That includes Illinois CS graduate and Passion Capital Founding Partner Eileen Burbidge.
BBC -- Songwriters are starting to turn to machines to help them come up with chords and even pen lyrics. The first computer music was the “Illiac Suite,” composed at the University of Illinois. The piece caused “confusion bordering on hysteria” among music aficionados, one of whom likened it to the sounds of a barnyard.
MorristownGreen -- Jim Kutsch (PhD ’76) is retiring as CEO of The Seeing Eye, an advocacy group and education group for the blind in New Jersey. That follows working as a vice president at Convergys Labs, Vice President of Computing and Network Services at AT&T Universal Card Services, and a professor of computer science at West Virginia University.
TechCrunch -- New cloud-computing startup PlanetScale raised a $3 million seed round, in part from a who’s who of engineering luminaries. They include Illinois CS alums such as YouTube co-founder and CTO Steve Chen, PayPal and Affirm co-founder Max Levchin, and Google director of engineering Parisa Tabriz.
ChicagoInno -- Violin-teaching app Trala, which was founded in 2017, has raised $1.29 million in seed funding. CTO and co-founder Vishnu Indukuri is an Illinois CS alum (CS CS '16).
Quartz -- A new report on the progress of artificial intelligence, the AI Index, details the number of women faculty members at what it bills as the top seven worldwide AI universities, among them the University of Illinois.
UC Merced News -- In recognition of his contributions to object tracking and facial recognition research, UC-Merced Professor and Illinois CS alum Ming-Hsuan Yang has been named a Fellow in the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.
The News-Gazette -- The paper's regular "Big 10" feature focuses on faculty experiences as students and includes Illinois CS Professors Bill Gropp and Tandy Warnow. "During one exam as an undergrad at Berkeley, I walked in, sat down at my desk, looked at the exam, and completely froze," Warnow said.
Crain's Chicago Business -- After a shift from pre-med, Ann Yeung graduated with a degree in math and computer science in 2001. That led to tech roles at major U.S. companies, including IBM. Now she is head of technology for Morningstar’s global retirement and workplace solutions division, and part of Crain's 40 Under 40. Also covered by the campus.
The Daily Dot -- Illinois CS alum Chris Lai is a serial tech entrepreneur. MassVR is his most recent venture. It's a 6,000-square foot warehouse on the northwest side of Chicago. While based on some of the same technology as VR releases from Oculus and HTC, MassVR has a different vision for the future of VR. Think multiplayer VR meets laser tag arena.
Harvest Public Media -- As the number of farm and ranch managers shrinks, there are still more students graduating from ag colleges. Some, like Omkar Manoj Haridas, plan to pursue the kinds of careers that are open to them with new degrees such as the University of Illinois' CS + Crop Science.
The News-Gazette -- "The Drive" is a new movie project from Jewel Ifeguni, a University of Illinois computer science minor, and her startup, YouMatter Studios.
The Daily Illini -- “I personally think that the literacy of the 21st century is going to be able to do meaningful things with data,” Teaching Assistant Professor Wade Fagen-Ulmschneider said. “So I think what we are starting right now will be something that you look back on in 10 years and think, ‘Yeah, everyone needs to know data science, almost like math and reading.’ And that’s the foundation we are setting.”
HPCWire -- National Center For Supercomputing Applications Director and Thomas M. Siebel Chair in Computer Science William Gropp has been named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Also covered in The Daily Illini.
The Daily Illini -- “I’m really excited. It’s a big honor,” incoming Illinois CS Department Head Nancy Amato said. “It’s also a little bit odd to come back to a place where you (were a) student and then join as the faculty member. It never occurred to me that I’d be able to do that.”
Chicago Tribune -- A story on cybersecurity badges and other efforts by the Girl Scouts to promote STEM fields to girls mentions increases in female enrollment at Illinois Computer Science as a bright spot in the region's technology ecosystem.
WIRED -- “In December 1994, a 23-year-old University of Illinois grad named Marc Andreessen released Netscape 1.0. The web browser featured a protocol called Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), which let both sides of a transaction encrypt personal information. From there, e-commerce began to take off.”
The News-Gazette -- A new teaching facility for the University of Illinois College of Engineering would accommodate 10 to 15 percent enrollment growth in high-demand engineering programs such as computer science, said Mike Devocelle, associate engineering dean for finance and administration. The college turns down thousands of qualified computer science students each year, he said.