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Virtual Humans among exhibits at computer science eventVirtual Humans, 3-D Face Scanning Await Students, Public at UH event Oct. 20 Open House includes contests for cash, scholarships, a laptop and iPod prizes

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Hand-held video games that help shed pounds, virtual humans and a 3-D face recognition program are among 22 interactive displays and demonstrations that will be showcased at an open house at the University of Houston.

The event is open to the public and will be held from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 20 on the third floor of the Philip G. Hoffman Building at Entrance 14, off Cullen Boulevard at UH. Hosted by the computer science department, the open house is being held to let students in on what has largely been a well-kept secret: computer science degrees are back and in demand.

With starting salaries for new graduates averaging $53,000, and the demand for computer science degrees increasing, the UH department encourages all high school, community college and UH students to come and see what it has to offer.

“The Department of Computer Science at the University of Houston was founded in 1967 and was one of the first in the country,” said Marc Garbey, professor and computer science department chair. “Computer science education and research has evolved dramatically in the last 40 years. A recent New York Times article claimed that these days ‘all science is computer science.’ The goal of the department is to graduate talented professionals for business and industry and to be a champion in interdisciplinary and innovative research.”

Thomas Nguyen graduated from the UH computer science department in fall 2005 and is working for JP Morgan Chase, a company that recruited Nguyen while he was still in college.

“It’s very easy to find a job right now with a computer science degree,” Nguyen said. “The whole shift toward making a computer do everything has a lot of companies looking for fresh ideas. Google started off with a couple of people, and look at the size it is now.”

A computer science degree can lead to jobs in artificial intelligence, security, healthcare, computer design and engineering, architecture, information technology or software.

Some of the scheduled demonstrations perfectly illustrate the type of work computer science students can do while in school and out of school, and include software that can non-invasively identify someone who is more at risk for a heart attack, as well as facial-recognition software that can protect against identity theft.

Other demonstrations include modeling animation to create more realistic virtual humans with highly expressive talking faces, and a program that can create a 3-D model of an on-site-designed windmill and then test in it a wind tunnel to determine its efficiency.

Along with displays and demonstrations, the open house also will feature several contests, including a group programming competition that offers $2,400 in cash prizes, in addition to $1000 tuition scholarships for first-and second-place winners. A Science in Action quiz is as simple as writing down answers about each demonstration, with the help of professors and graduate students, and has a Microsoft laptop computer and two video iPods as the prizes to three lucky winners.

More than a dozen faculty members and graduate students will be on hand to demonstrate and answer questions about the following research:

  • “A Journey Through Your Arteries”– Professor and Chair Marc Garbey
  • “NEAT-o Games: Life is a Game.. Play it!” – Eckhard Pfeiffer Professor Ioannis Pavlidis
  • “Look Into Your Heart!” – Eckhard Pfeiffer Professor Ioannis Kakadiaris
  • “Need Clean Electricity” – Professor and Chair Marc Garbey
  • “Vision Beyond Sight” – Assistant Professor Shishir Shah
  • “Motion Capture, Character and Facial Animation” – Assistant Professor Zhigang Deng
  • “Your Face is Your Password” – Eckhard Pfeiffer Professor Ioannis Kakadiaris
  • “Safe and On-Time” – Associate Professor Albert Cheng
  • “Programming Without Tears” – Professor Rakesh Verma
  • “Learning What Makes Us Learn” – Eckhard Pfeiffer Professor Ioannis Kakadiaris
  • “Crowd Counting” – Assistant Professor Shishir Shah
  • “Stress-Cam” – Eckhard Pfeiffer Professor Ioannis Pavlidis
  • “Wireless Civil Structure Monitoring” – Assistant Professor Rong Zeng
  • “A Bayesian Classifier Programmed in SQL” – Assistant Professor Carlos Ordonez
  • “Data Mining: Transforming Tons of Data into Knowledge” – Associate Professor Christoph Eick
  • “Bioinformatics” – Associate Professor Yuriy Fofanov
  • “Exploration of OLAP Cubes with Statistical Tests” – Assistant Professor Carlos Ordonez
  • “Interactive Game Development Demonstration” – Professor Olin Johnson
  • “A Learning Program System (ALPS)” – Associate Professor Kam-Hoi Cheng
  • “HPC Demonstrations, Applications and Tools” – Professor Barbara Chapman and Assistant Professor Edgar Gabriel

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About the University of Houston
The University of Houston, Texas’ premier metropolitan research and teaching institution, is home to more than 40 research centers and institutes and sponsors more than 300 partnerships with corporate, civic and governmental entities. UH, the most diverse research university in the country, stands at the forefront of education, research and service with more than 35,000 students.

About the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics
The UH College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, with nearly 400 faculty members and approximately 4,000 students, offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in the natural sciences, computational sciences and mathematics. Faculty members in the departments of biology and biochemistry, chemistry, computer science, geosciences, mathematics and physics have internationally recognized collaborative research programs in association with UH interdisciplinary research centers, Texas Medical Center institutions and national laboratories.

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