Sixteen students worked in data engineering lab during the 2015-16 academic year. I like to think of my efforts in the data engineering lab in three subcategories:
a.) Student Mentorship – I received funding from three different private organizations to pay students to build cloud-based software. I do not think of these software engineering projects as research, but they are an opportunity to mentor the student through the challenges faces when developing large-scale software projects. Overall, I am pleased with mentorship results. A lesson learned is that I need to fund more graduate students to help in supervisory responsibilities. The undergraduate students need someone to sit in the lab with them, so when they run into an issue, they have focused guidance. Next year, I will put more money into the grants to fund some of our graduate students.
b.) Student Research – When mentoring the students the one tangible skill I want them to walk away from is when faced with a software engineering challenge, focus on how to solve the problem not why you can not keep working. This simple idea is the essence of software engineering research; study how others have solved this problem, hypothesis a good solution, test this solution, document the results and disseminate the findings in a conference presentation. This academic year, I had ten different students submit work in progress papers academic conferences as first authors. One student presented a full Computer Science conference paper where they were first author and two students had published Computer Science journal articles where they were the first author. In numbers, our lab produced twenty-two research papers this year. Twelve of these papers have been published, and one paper won the best paper award at a rank A computer science conference.
c.) Lab Outreach – In addition to the conference presentations of the research papers, I delivered two keynote talks at international computer science conferences and participated in two international computer science conference panels. The students also competed in two regional cyber-security competitions. Next year, I hope to increase the visibility of the data engineering lab through hosting a workshop, chairing a cyber-security conference and starting a secure software development student competition.