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Computer Science Students Join with NCSOSE in Interdisciplinary Problem Solving Partnership
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
It started six years ago with a friendship between new Old Dominion University researchers.
Kevin Adams had been hired as a project scientist at the National Center for System of Systems Engineering (NCSOSE). Janet Brunelle was a new lecturer in computer science.
Through their friendship, they began discussing possible collaborations. "She asked me one time, 'Do you have any projects?'" Adams said. "Do we have projects!"
The result of that interdisciplinary partnership was on display at NCSOSE on Wednesday, May 8.
Throughout the school year, 11 students from Brunelle's Computer-based Productivity Courses (CS 410 and 411) have been working to help solve problems facing NCSOSE while it performs complex engineering systems tasks for military, government and private-sector agencies.
CS 410 is a semester-long course that plans a solution to a real-world problem, encompassing problem analysis, identification and evaluation of major issues, social impact analysis, development of management plans, and integration of business constraints into the generation of a formal set of project specifications. The project continues in the second semester by refining the specifications developed in CS 410, including system hardware and software analysis, cost benefit analysis and prototype development.
For Brunelle's students, it also meant real-world experience. "We found through these computer science projects they really got to know each other. It was just a tremendous experience," she said.
For his part, Adams said: "We are proud to have met 11 really, really sharp computer science students."
The students were divided into two teams. The first team, working under the direction of Adams, built a database to organize the various training modules developed by NCSOSE to teach system of systems engineering skills to engineers and technologists in organizations such as the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Navy.
To continue reading, visit: http://odu.edu/news/2013/5/system_of_systems_en
Book by ODU’s Wittkower Encourages Readers to Apply Philosophical Framework to Everyday Questions
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
In his teaching and writing, Old Dominion University's D.E. Wittkower strives to bring philosophy, his chosen academic discipline, back into the public dialogue. To do that, he has given us all homework.
The assignment does not involve in-depth analysis of the writings of Nietzsche, Kierkegaard or the other great philosophers, however. Instead, in his new book "The Philosopher's Book of Questions and Answers," Wittkower encourages readers to think about everyday questions - like "Could your work life be scheduled to give you more freedom?" and "Why is God telling you how to act?" - through a theoretical philosophy framework.
For each of the questions, the book includes worksheets where readers are encouraged to write the answers that best reflect their thoughts about each of the questions posed. Then, referencing the scholarly work of philosophers like Epicurus (on the subject of wealth) and Plato (for whether religious texts are God telling us how to act), Wittkower explains how theories of the famous philosophers are applicable to everyday dilemmas and entertaining questions.
The book addresses a wide range of topics, sometimes pressing and sometimes quirky, including why evil exists, whether we can tell if we're actually computer simulations, what technology has done to family "quality time," how "intelligent design" is different from science and how we are able to hear a series of notes as a "melody." It also takes up such subjects as gun control, genetic engineering, taxation and economic justice, justifications of the Iraq Wars and the meaning of death (and life).
"The Philosopher's Book of Questions and Answers" strives to help readers come one step closer to solving the uncertainties of life by encouraging them to dig deeper into the philosophical reasoning behind their everyday actions.
"I want to show here how the wisdom of the ancients and the speculation of contemporary philosophers can support your own engagement with the kinds of questions uniquely proper to philosophy: questions for which there are no clear and unambiguous answers, but which are of such great importance that we cannot attempt to answer them anyhow," Wittkower writes in the book's introduction.
To continue reading, visit: http://odu.edu/news/2013/5/philosophy_book
Berlin-born Researcher Hans-Peter Plag Hired for ODU Climate Change/Sea Level Rise Initiative
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Berlin-born researcher Hans-Peter Plag will join the Old Dominion University Climate Change and Sea Level Rise Initiative (CCSLRI) in June as a senior faculty member, Provost Carol Simpson announced Tuesday.
Plag is currently the Exxaro chair on Global Change and Sustainability and director of the Global Change and Sustainability Research Institute at the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa. He also serves as a visiting professor at the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, N.J., and as a research professor, jointly at the Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology and the Nevada Seismological Laboratory at the University of Nevada, Reno.
Old Dominion's CCSLRI facilitates research and education in all aspects of climate change and sea level rise. Due to Norfolk's location, there is special emphasis on adaptation to increased flooding because of sea level rise. The initiative also addresses many other aspects of climate change affecting coastal cities, such as public health and disaster preparedness.
"Dr. Plag has extensive academic and international experience in developing cross-disciplinary approaches to addressing climate change and sea level rise issues, and brings considerable energy and enthusiasm for research, education and public outreach regarding these important topics," said Simpson.
Larry Atkinson, ODU's Slover Professor of Oceanography, said Plag will be helpful in providing the strategic planning necessary to take the initiative to the next level.
"In the past two years, the ODU Climate Change and Sea Level Rise Initiative has come a long way, but we always needed a senior person with international connections and Professor Plag comes with those connections," Atkinson said.
Plag's areas of expertise include: sea level and climate change; disaster risk reduction; a wide range of aspects related to sustainability; and other topics involving Earth's system dynamics.
To continue reading, visit: http://odu.edu/news/2013/5/hans_peter_plag
Speakers Share Inspiring Messages and Words of Advice at May Commencement Ceremonies
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
A Virginia congressman, an international economic expert and a veteran military chaplain delivered words of advice and inspiration to graduates at Old Dominion's 118th commencement exercises on Friday, May 10, and Saturday, May 11.
For the second straight year, spring commencement was split into three ceremonies over two days to accommodate the more than 2,600 undergraduate, master's and doctoral students taking part in the programs at the Ted Constant Convocation Center.
At the first ceremony, which took place Friday evening, graduates of ODU's largest college, the College of Arts and Letters, heard from Inés Bustillo, director of the Washington office of the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC). A national of Uruguay, Bustillo has served in the position since 1999.
Bustillo told the graduates that while their own life has undergone tremendous changes in their years at the university, the world around them has changed dramatically, too.
"Many of these changes have made our world a better place. For example, during your lifetime and for the first time in history, a majority of the world's population is living under democratic systems," Bustillo said.
Despite many other positive advances for the world, Bustillo noted, 2.5 billion people still live in poverty. "New ideas and more action are now necessary."
To the graduates, Bustillo issued the challenge of a "take home" final exam. "There are no easy answers nor a fixed deadline, and a final grade will not be given, but I hope you would consider this to be your ultimate honors thesis."
Bustillo challenged graduates to come up with ideas that build societies that are more inclusive, where everyone has a fair chance; to propose actions so the world can meet the needs of the present without compromising capacity to sustain life in the future; and to contribute to improved cooperation among people, communities and countries, toward the common global good.
To continue reading and to see photos, visit: http://odu.edu/news/2013/5/speakers_share_inspi