Tag: Computer Science

Bukralia to speak about data science to NEW startup group

Rajeev Bukralia will present a talk on data science and data strategy at the upcoming meeting of Digital Fertilizer — a community of high-tech startups and entrepreneurs in Northeast Wisconsin — at 6 p.m. next Monday (Sept. 14) at the Green Room Lounge in De Pere. The talk, “Data, Data, Everywhere: Harnessing Data for Competitive Advantage,” will discuss strategies for overcoming organizational barriers, managing data related risks, and catalyzing innovation through data analytics. The talk will investigate how some organizations are using data strategies to create competitive advantage.

“In an age of big data, organizations are able to collect and store a staggering amount of data,” Bukralia says. “Yet, the process of harnessing data is riddled with complex barriers related to organizational culture, business processes, and technology.”

Bukralia is director of data science outreach and computer science lecturer at UWGB. He is teaching in the new master’s degree program in data science. His research focuses on data analytics, machine learning, big data, and IT strategy.

UWGB students take to the tracks for real-life gaming experience

top-story-train-JamUniversity of Wisconsin-Green Bay students Alexander Jacob and Dave Sonnier embarked on a ride of a lifetime when they took part in Train Jam, a 52-hour train ride from Chicago to the Game Developer Conference (GDC) in San Francisco this spring.

They were accompanied by lecturer Ben Geisler of UWGB’s Computer Science academic unit. The 124 participants met in Chicago and split into groups. The groups were then given the theme “On Track” and tasked with creating a game that incorporated this theme in the time it took to travel to the conference.

Jacob and Sonnier joined forces with Jonathan Evraire, a programmer from Canada, to create their game, “Trivial Track.”

“It’s a top-down, Zelda style, game,” said Jacob, “You’re this hero, you have a sword, and there’s traps and dangers all over the level. You’re on a train trying to get to the front of the train where a mustachioed villain has control of the train and if you don’t stop him it runs over the damsel in distress.”

With a time limit of 52 hours, both Sonnier and Jacob focused on keeping the game simple. They had a working version of the game after 12 hours and a complete game finished after 40 hours.

“We were worried about going over scope because it’s easy to make a game were you have too many ideas and it always takes more time to make a game than you think it will,” said Sonnier, “We actually ended up having a complete game a day early. It didn’t look like much, so we actually had time to polish it up, make it look decent.”

in-story-train-jamThroughout the process, Jacob served as lead programmer, Sonnier was the artist and game designer, and Evraire served as a second programmer. All of the games were displayed at the Game Developer Conference and are now playable online.

“I now have a game that I made,” said Jacob, “Not only that but displaying it at the Game Developer Conference… being able to say that, it just feels amazing.”

Jacob and Sonnier were part of the Student Ambassador program on the Train Jam.

Through this experience, 40 students from universities across the United States were provided free transportation and a free ticket to the conference.

For both Jacob and Sonnier, a love of video games came early in life.

“I’ve always loved video games, but in middle school my cousin showed me this program called RPG maker,” said Jacob, “It wasn’t really programming per say. You just clicked buttons to make things happen. But, it was still making games and I put hours into that. It was so much fun, and ever since then I’ve had a desire to get into video game programming.”

For Sonnier, that love of gaming began with art.

“My dad bought the Super Nintendo when it came out in the early nineties and I kind of grew up with that,” said Sonnier, “I used to do a lot of drawing from video games. I was going to be an art major, but that wasn’t quite working out well for me. I didn’t want to do it as a career. So, I revisited that idea, started teaching myself programming, and now I’m almost done with a computer science degree.”

Both Jacob and Sonnier were able to gain experience at UW-Green Bay from lecturer Ben Geisler.

“He’s just been the greatest resource I’ve ever had in game development,“ said Jacob, “He is such a good guy and so fun to work with.”

With experiences such as these, Sonnier has been able to see an improvement in his programming skills.

“I can definitely tell that I was a terrible programmer before I came to Green Bay, having taught myself,” he said. “I’ve learned how to be better at it and become more readable for other people. I can’t even read the stuff that I used to write before.”

Looking to the future, Jacob, a May 2015 graduate, is hopeful that the experience will provide a solid base of networks to begin his career.

“The whole experience not only looks great on my resume, but you should see the stack of business cards I have,” he said, “I’ve started talking to an artist I met out there to make art for a game I’m currently working on. So, lots of contacts and just really good experience.”

His advice for future students? Get hands-on experience both in and out of the classroom.

“You will need to do side projects and make your own games on the side,” he said, “People are looking for that.”

(Photo at top — from left to right: Curtis Zuehls, Raven Software; Alexander Jacob, UWGB; Dave Sonnier, UWGB; Norm Nazaroff, Human Head; Ben Geisler, UWGB instructor; Mac Diedrich, Anvil Drop.)
Photos submitted by Ben Geisler. Story by Katelyn Staaben.

Bukralia is co-author of ‘Academic Analytics’ chapter, quoted in CIO

Rajeev Bukralia, director of data science outreach and a lecturer in computer science for UW-Green Bay, is co-author of a chapter in the book Reshaping Society Through Analytics, Collaboration, and Decision Support, which is volume 18 in the Annals of Information Systems series published by Springer. The title of the chapter is “Using Academic Analytics to Predict Dropout Risk in E-Learning Courses.” Bukralia and co-authors Amit Deokar and Surendra Sarnikar note both the rising enrollment in online courses nationally and the higher dropout rates, arguing that early identification of at-risk students is imperative. Their study develops a model to predict real-time dropout risk for each student while an online course is being taught. The model uses 10 variables from the Student Information Systems (SIS) software and seven Course Management System (CMS) variables to establish a “dynamic risk score” with 90 percent accuracy for predicting student dropout in online courses. A full abstract is available at http://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-319-11575-7_6

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‘Things CIOs Should Know About Prescriptive Analytics’ — Rajeev Bukralia was one of several industry sources interviewed earlier this year for an article published in CIO magazine. Titled “Five Things Chief Information Officers Should Know About Prescriptive Analytics,” the article emphasized the need for data integration, speed, and continuing balance between technology-driven information and human judgment. Bukralia told writer Mary K. Pratt that organizations need to be strategic in their approach to prescriptive analytics, with collaboration among senior executives. He also added, “Prescriptive analytics isn’t about technology.” Instead, it’s about people asking the right questions and knowing how to react to the findings. Read the article.

UW-Green Bay to reprise Open Online Course, on app and game development

The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay will again offer a Local Open Online Course (LOOC), titled “Beginning App & 2D Game Development.”

The course begins Wednesday, March 18, but participants are welcome to join as late as the second week of instruction. Units will be addressed each Wednesday in the 12-week course.

Offered as an offshoot of recently popularized Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), a LOOC provides a similar style of flexible, no-cost online instruction but on a more limited basis. While MOOCs may have thousands of students, this particular LOOC can accept 250 individuals.

“Beginning App & 2D Game Development” is open to any student, including those in high school, with at least high school-level algebra proficiency. The course focuses on entry-level app and game development, and is taught from a beginner’s perspective. It assumes no prior programming knowledge, although those with prior knowledge are welcome.

Taught by UW-Green Bay lecturer Ben Geisler, this LOOC is all about learning to program and develop video games and applications for mobile devices.

In addition to learning and enrichment, students who take “Beginning App & 2D Game Development” have the chance to earn college credit through successful completion of the course. Individuals who earn a passing grade will be waived past UW-Green Bay’s Computer Science 201, a three-credit course that is the first course in the University’s Computer Science curriculum.

For more information or to register for “Beginning App & 2D Game Development,” visit www.uwgb.edu/compsci/looc/.


LOOC here again: ‘Beginning App & 2D Game Development’

UW-Green Bay’s Computer Science program is once again offering a LOOC — a free local online course. The title is Beginning App & 2D Game Development, offered by faculty members Ben Geisler and Peter Breznay. The course begins March 18, but LOOCers can join up to the second week of the course. The course is meant for beginners and those who are ready to start exploring software development. Students who finish the LOOC with a passing grade, you will be waived past UW-Green Bay’s Computer Science 201, which is the first course in the Computer Science curriculum. The website is at www.uwgb.edu/compsci/looc.

UW-Green Bay student wins level in Army Reserve soldier competition

UW-Green Bay computer science student and part-time Web Services and Help Desk employee Jordan Stubblefield, a staff sergeant in the Army Reserve, is the winner of the ‘Best Warrior’ title in the 80th Training Command of the Army Reserve. Stubblefield spent Feb. 5-7 at Camp Bullis in Texas competing in a rigorous challenge for the annual title, designed to identify the best competitors from among the 6,800 soldiers within the command. The competition includes physical fitness, weapons handling, marksmanship, drill and ceremony, land navigation and a written test. Stubblefield beat out nine other non-commissioned officers to earn the title during the soldier competition. He moves on to compete in the overall U.S. Army Reserve Command’s 2015 Best Warrior Competition. See more.

Software’s Fralick ’82 a role model, mentor for students

top-story-fralickMark Fralick, a 1982 graduate of UW-Green Bay in Business Administration, is a force to be reckoned with in the high-flying world of business software.

His company, GetUsROI LLC, with offices in the Houston Metro Area and Brookfield Wis., just made its debut in the Inc. magazine 500/5000 list of the nation’s fastest-growing companies. It claimed the No. 7 spot among all software companies in the entrepreneur-rich state of Texas.

GetUsROI designs the systems that drive the conveyors, robotics and database tracking that make contemporary warehouse management a modern marvel.

“I’m not a guy who likes to spend all my time doing budgets, but I’m a developer, a coder,” Fralick told a UW-Green Bay computer science class during one recent visit. “I can code well. And, as we all know, it’s hard to do… and harder to do well.”

Along with his occasional guest lectures on campus, Fralick is a consultant to Computer Science Chair Peter Breznay on curriculum matters. He also has placed UW-Green Bay students in challenging, advanced-level internships serving major accounts including Georgia-Pacific, Panasonic and Crown Bolt.

“Mark hired three interns,” Breznay notes, “and paid them a pretty good rate. Each of them got their own projects and were sent as a group to visit warehouse sites where GetUsROI technology is used.”

Another four or five interns were set to follow in their footsteps in a Green Bay “pod.” All students get credits and grades for their internships — the class number is COMP SCI 497, Internship in Computer Science.

Fralick made his first big splash in the industry in 1990. He co-founded Software Architects Inc., offering proprietary supply-chain solutions to companies including Compaq, Panasonic, Delta Faucet and Timex. He eventually sold the rights to that software to industry giant RedPrairie, in 1998.

In his rare spare time (during plane rides and down time on business trips), Fralick writes. His first novel, Opa’s Rhyme, is targeted at the young adult market.

Alumni rising: Distinguished and outstanding UW-Green Bay graduates

top-story-awardsCiting exceptional faculty and staff — many who went out of their way to help them through difficulty, pulled them aside for a bit of encouragement, or asked them questions that would lead to new paths — five UW-Green Bay alumni humbly and graciously accepted Distinguished (Bob Pyle, Constance Downs, Craig Dickman) and Outstanding Recent (JoAnn Miller, Crystal Osman) Alumni Awards Thursday evening, May 1.

The event, held on the stage of the Weidner Center for the Performing Arts, showcased UW-Green Bay’s most honored alumni as industry leaders, dynamic motivators and committed citizens.

JoAnn Miller ’01, Wisconsin’s 2013 State Teacher of the Year, expressed her appreciation for those professors who were “caring, questioning and driving.” She credited Prof. Emeritus Robert Wenger with consistent support, and the question during her undergraduate experience, “Have you ever thought about becoming a teacher?” The Kohl Teaching Fellow is a biology teacher at Oconto Falls High School, teaching college prep biology, Advanced Placement biology and is an adviser to the school’s STEM club. She is credited with using unique and wide-ranging strategies to help each student to exceed their expected potential.

When Crystal Osman ’08 was asked to select a faculty or staff member who influenced her the most, she sent the alumni office a list of 13, eventually singling-out Prof. John Katers, who presented her with her award. At UWGB, she quickly became active in student government and sustainability issues. She was a force behind the U-Pass (subsidized bus rider program) and continues with a number of volunteer causes related to sustainability and preservation. Although trying out a number of majors, it was Prof. Laurel Phoenix’s class, Environment and Society that moved her to questioning herself, “How can I make a difference?” and “How can I help change our outcome.” The program director for the nonprofit business improvement districts, Downtown Green Bay, Inc. and Old Main Street, Inc., is still working toward those answers. Crystal also recognized her partner and UWGB alumnus, Andy Rosendahl ’07, her initial reason, she said, for attending UWGB.

Craig Dickman ’82, founder, CEO and Chief Innovative Officer at Breakthrough Fuel recalled a “Business and It’s Environment” class with Prof. Michael Troyer and “Decision Making” with Prof. John Harris as just two of the formidable classes that made a lasting impression. Prof.’s Dan Spielmann, David Littig, Martin Greenburg, Jarrell Yarborough, all provided valuable lessons to the business executive that is now a partner to some of American industry’s leading brands — helping them to analyze fuel costs using advanced metrics and software and advising on ways to reduce shipping costs and cut expenses and admissions. Dickman thanked his wife, Karen Thomson-Dickman, who helped him through a difficult accounting class in his early years, and has partnered with him through 31 years of marriage.

Constance Downs ’96, said she came to UW-Green Bay in the most circuitous way, entering UW-Green Bay as an Adult Degree student, finding her path, in part, through Prof. Michael Kraft’s influence. She joined the EPA in 1999 and is the associate director of the agency’s Toxics Release Inventory Program Division — a position that brings her into contact with researchers including UWGB faculty members, and with a philosophy — in effect that public information, opinion and pressure, is the best form of regulation — that she recalls discussing in Kraft’s classes. “I have no regrets,” she said. “I loved every minute of it.”

Bob Pyle ’83, now the President and CEO of Pioneer Metal Finishing, said he never forgot what Computer Science Prof. Bill Shay did for him. Pyle recalls taking a Computer Science class, because “computers were the future.” He didn’t realize how difficult “Pascal” programing language could be. Shay committed to helping Pyle achieve an acceptable level of success. “That’s what I remember from my time, people here are unique and very special.” Pyle says he carries that lesson with him, making sure he takes the time when people are struggling, to lend a helping hand. Pyle also recognized instructor Bob Srenaski, who not only impacted him in a marketing research class at UWGB, but gave him is first job out of college and, at 24-years of age, his first exposure to boardrooms and business strategies. Pyle looks to Srenaski for advice as he leads a company of more than 1,400 employees in 14 locations throughout the Midwest and Mexico. Pyle also acknowledged his wife Jean (Wichlacz) ‘84, who he met in that difficult computer class and has remained at his side throughout his career; and his lifelong Phoenix golf team teammates.

“I could have never have dreamt this big,” Pyle said.

For complete biographies on each award winner see the full press release.

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Photos by Eric Miller, Marketing and University Communication

Techies Aboard! UW-Green Bay Instructor Geisler takes to the tracks for Train Jam experience

Ben Geisler, Train Jam experienceUW-Green Bay Computer Science lecturer Ben Geisler boarded a train in Chicago March 13, bound for the largest-ever game developer conference of its kind in San Francisco 53 hours later.

But in this case, it wasn’t the destination, but the journey that was noteworthy.

“This was no ordinary train,” Geisler said. “It was the site of the first annual Train Jam — an event in which 58 professional and independent game developers came together to create games over the course of a long train trip.”

Each team had specialists, with Geisler’s comprised of two programmers (Geisler and one other), a 3D artist, a 2D UI artist, a visual effects (FX) artist and a level designer.

Ben Geisler and team

“Team work was crucial,” said Geisler (third from the left, above). “From station to station we would work on our game. We took over the lounge car with our laptops, mice, and Cheetos: coding until the early hours of the morning each day, often only stopping for food. The entire game was created on the train from inception to design to implementation. It was an exercise in clever project scheduling, quick thinking and intense implementation.”

Given the choice, Geisler said he would definitely do it again.

“It was an exhilarating experience to finish our game and along the way I made bonds with other developers which will remain for years to come.

Ben Geisler team board train

You can play the games at www.trainjam.com/. Check out the Geisler team creation called WarCry3.

Aside from teaching college courses, Geisler is also one of two instructors teaching UW-Green Bay’s first-ever LOOC — a no-cost Local Open Online Course. The course offers Beginning App & 2D Game Development, and students can receive college credit for completion.

Geisler has worked at four AAA game development houses and on more than six best-selling games, in addition to having past involvement with publisher relations. His past credits include Soldier of Fortune 2, X-Men Legends, Jedi Knight 2, Quake 4, The Incredible Hulk: UD, Prey 2, Prototype, and others. Geisler has also created business applications for Android and iOS devices, and has published book articles on Artificial Intelligence and papers in trade journals. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

More on partnership with Aver software, and student training in ‘Big Data’

Aver Informatics, a Green Bay startup company with national clients in the fast-developing field of health care analytics, has agreed to provide the University a free, three-year license for the company’s Big Data Analytics Platform. Along with free remote access to the software and databases, Aver will train students in use of the platform and make company server space available for student work on faculty-supervised course assignments. The data will be identity-stripped health care industry data accessible through remote networks and “the cloud,” with no data housed on UW-Green Bay servers. “The partnership with Aver allows our students to work with a current, state-of-the-art product and dynamic databases, and to test existing algorithms and experiment with new ones,” says Associate Prof. Peter Breznay, chair of Computer Science. For more about this emerging, in-demand field of data science, and UW-Green Bay’s partnership with Aver, see the full press release.