Over the years, the University of Texas at Dallas Student Chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) has grown by leaps and bounds, especially in the last decade. Starting with just one division (ACM Industry) several years ago, ACM has since expanded rapidly with the launch of HackUTD, ACM Projects, ACM Labs, ACM Education, ACM Ignite, and most recently, ACM Research. ACM UTD is focused on giving back to the computing community here at UT Dallas and beyond through events, projects, and much more. We spoke to Ryan Wu, the ACM Director of Research, about ACM Research and the Research Symposium, which took place last fall.
What is ACM Research?
ACM Research is a 10-week research initiative and the newest division at the ACM UTD. ACM Research aims to promote a structured research environment for all undergraduate students by providing semester-long computer-science-focused research projects. ACM Research is also designed to provide undergraduate students with a way to be able to connect with UTD faculty researchers. We hope by the end of the program, participants will consider pursuing research as a career!
How does ACM Research work?
We open applications for the program at the start of each semester. Students who are interested in trying research are encouraged to apply. After an extensive application and interview process, the students are welcomed into the program. Participants are then grouped into teams of 4-5 members and tackle a research project created by our research leads. Within a period of 10 weeks, the teams will meet one or more times a week with their research lead and faculty advisor to complete their research project. At the end of the 10 weeks, each team will showcase their research to a panel of judges at the Research Symposium.
What is the Research Symposium?
The Research Symposium is the opportunity the teams will have to showcase their research project to a panel of UTD faculty and an audience. We had four teams compete for first place this semester. With a one-point difference, the winner for the Fall 2020 Research Symposium was the “Analyzing Phishing Attacks” team.
Who was involved in the program?
Our organizing team has four officers, each of whom is responsible for creating a positive experience for the participants. Our team has done an incredible job helping to carry out the foundations of ACM Research, and I couldn’t be more grateful. This semester we had 20 participants, 5 participants per team, for a total of four teams. Each participant has worked hard since the start of the program, and in the end, they did a fantastic job showcasing their research at the Research Symposium. Although we were limited in faculty involvement by the ongoing pandemic, we were nonetheless supported by Dr. Ravi Prakash as a faculty advisor for one of the teams (Salient Features in VR Viewports Prediction). We are very thankful for him taking time outside of his busy schedule to help guide this team.
What kind of projects were presented at the Research Symposium?
Each team presented their research projects at the symposium. The teams were:
- Analyzing the Targeted Nature of Phishing Attacks
- NLP Text Summarizer
- Salient Features in VR Viewports Prediction
- CNN for Retinal OCT Classification
You can find each team’s online research poster in the ACM Research GitHub found here
What is next for ACM research? What are your plans for this semester?
Over the winter break, our team has worked tirelessly to prepare for our second iteration of ACM Research. This semester, we intend to branch out to different academic disciplines and explore how we can integrate them with computer science. Consequently, some of the research projects on which our teams will be working may include some aspect of history, quantitative finance, biology, and even music. We have just closed applications for this semester, and our team is working on selecting participants. Overall, we are very excited to get started with this semester and can’t wait to show everyone how the projects come out in the end.
Are there any future ACM events or projects coming up?
At ACM, we are always looking for new ways to empower the ECS Community. We strive to give our members the skills and experience to succeed in all areas of life, from industry to academia to leadership. Our most impactful programs include ACM Projects, which are for rising engineers who want to build something large scale while working with a team where mentors and industry professionals will guide them, and ACM Research, which is a semester-long program where they get to work on research projects in a team format, with research officers and a UTD Faculty Member who will be advising the team. We also have a mentorship program to pair underclassmen with juniors and seniors to give them advice and guidance on how to succeed in this field. Participants also get access to a plethora of online courses so they can learn about material that is not typically taught in the classroom setting.
Here at ACM, we are passionate about innovation and providing all the material necessary for our members to succeed. Our newest program, Technical Interview Prep (TIP), aims to teach students basic and advanced topics, and concepts for acing the technical and behavioral portions of interviews so that our members can succeed with these interviews with flying colors in order to get into the companies they want.
Finally, every year we host the biggest hackathon in North Texas, HackUTD, with over 700 participants and up to $30,000 worth of prizes. HackUTD will be happening on February 27th-28th with numerous recruiting and networking opportunities with a variety of companies. We will be providing mentors, workshops, games, and events over 24 hours for participants to learn, innovate, and have fun! We will also be distributing free swag to everyone who submits a project at the end of the event. This event will be entirely virtual and, better yet, completely free! To Register or learn more about the event, check out 2021.hackutd.co!
ABOUT THE UT DALLAS COMPUTER SCIENCE DEPARTMENT
The UT Dallas Computer Science program is one of the largest Computer Science departments in the United States with over 3,600 bachelors-degree students, more than 800 master’s students, 160Ph.D. students, 51 tenure-track faculty members, and 44 full-time senior lecturers, as of Fall 2020. With the University of Texas at Dallas’ unique history of starting as a graduate institution first, the CS Department is built on a legacy of valuing innovative research and providing advanced training for software engineers and computer scientists.