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CS Awards

December 06, 2004 —

Nels Beckman
Lior Elazary
Two computer science undergraduates — Nels Beckman and Lior Elazary — have received honorable mentions in the national Computing Research Association's (CRA) 2005 Outstanding Undergraduate Awards competition.

The Viterbi School of Engineering students were among 85 undergraduate computer science students across the nation cited for their outstanding research potential in an area of computing research, according to the association.  

“This is the first time USC’s Viterbi School of Engineering has received two awards in one year from CRA,” said Gérard Medioni, chairman of the Computer Science Department.  “We are very proud of these students’ accomplishments and the potential they have demonstrated for continued success in their fields.”

Beckman, a senior majoring in computer science, worked with his faculty adviser, Nenad Medvidovic, to create a software program for developers of distributed systems who must identify the best deployment options for maximum performance in a software system. 

“Developers have found it challenging to determine which software components should be located on which computers in a distributed system,” Beckman said. “My software program allows them to explore many different options fairly easily.”

Elazary, also a senior computer science major, worked with his faculty adviser, Michael Crowley, to design a program that enables a robotic arm and camera eye to recognize objects and touch them.

“The robot was first able to learn how to generate a saccade movement, or rapid eye movement, in order to center its eye on an object,” Elazary explained. “Then it had to manipulate its arm to touch the object. 

“We didn’t use any implicit programming to achieve this task, but instead, designed a  Self-Organizing Feature Map’ to have the robot learn everything on its own,” he said.  “The end result was a robotic arm that is adaptive to its environment.”

Students will be presented with their awards at a suitable research conference yet to be determined. An announcement and list of the winners will appear in the January 2005 issue of Computing Research News and be posted on CRA's website at http://www.cra.org/.

Microsoft Research and Mitsubishi Electric Research Labs sponsor the annual Outstanding Undergraduate Awards Program in alternate years. Microsoft Research is sponsoring the 2005 awards.