Cloud Computing certification training open to the public at CSUCI

This year I am teaching (online) a sequence of 4 courses in Cloud Computing, in conjunction with the AWS Academy. Students receive AWS accounts, explore AWS services with hands-on labs, and prepare for certification (if they wish to). All classes are open to the public, and can be joined independently of each other (or all taken in sequence!). Please contact to book an information session meeting on Zoom.

Computer Science selected for an AWS Pilot program in Machine Learning

We are very happy to have been selected for an SageMaker Pilot for AWS Educate Classrooms! Machine Learning (ML) is a top hard skill for graduates, and it is also becoming a premier tool for research in all areas. SageMaker Studio is a complete development environment for ML.

The theory of ML can always be taught, but in order to have hands on experience with ML, a computing infrastructure is required that is beyond the means of most educational institutions. Our students will have access to AWS Educate accounts with credits to use the SageMaker Studio environment, and access to to powerful CPU/GPU resources (ml.m5.xlarge, ml.c5.xlarge, and ml.g4dn.xlarge) for training ML models.

ML use cases include SPAM filtering for emails, recommender systems, e.g., Netflix show recommendations, and uncovering credit card fraud. There are three types of ML: supervised, where the data is labeled and the expected outputs are well understood (is an, is this email SPAM or not); unsupervised, where the ML algorithm has to discover the salient properties of the data; and, reinforcement, where some agent (e.g., RoboMaker) interacts with an environment and learns to navigate it through a system of rewards.

SageMaker supports many leading deep learning frameworks, including: TensorFlow, PyTorch, Apache MXNet, Chainer, Keras, Gluon, Horovod, Scikit-learn, and Deep Graph Library.

We applied last July to be part of the AWS pilot program to make SageMaker available to our students, and we were approved to start this fall 2020. We have a group of about 10 students who are going to be learning to use under my supervision.

We are building on our growing expertise in Artificial Intelligence. This fall term, professor Reza Abdolee is teaching a graduate class in AI (COMP569) and professor Bahareh Abbasi is teaching both an undergraduate course in AI (COMP469) and a graduate class in Neural Networks (COMP572).

ML is one of the areas of AWS certification.

Students will learn a variety of auxiliary tools; as you will see from this list, the Python programming language is central to Data Analytics:

  • Jupyter Notebook and Jupyter Lab: an open-source web application that allows the creation and sharing of documents that contain live code, equations, visualizations and narrative text. Uses include: data cleaning and transformation, numerical simulation, statistical modeling, data visualization, machine learning, etc.
  • Pandas: a software library written for the Python programming language for data manipulation and analysis. In particular, it offers data structures and operations for manipulating numerical tables and time series.
  • Seaborn: a library for making statistical graphics in Python. It is built on top of Matplotlib and closely integrated with Pandas data structures.
  • Scikit-learn: a free software machine learning library for the Python programming language. It features various classification, regression and clustering algorithms.
  • Matplotlib: a comprehensive library for creating static, animated, and interactive visualizations in Python.
  • NumPy: a library for the Python programming language, adding support for large, multi-dimensional arrays and matrices, along with a large collection of high-level mathematical functions to operate on these arrays.
  • PyTorch (AWS testimonials): an open source machine learning library based on the Torch library, used for applications such as computer vision and natural language processing, primarily developed by Facebook’s AI Research lab.

In the words of Jose Cahue:

One of the major hurdles to learn ML as a student is having access to a machine optimized for model training. Cloud computing can be one practical solution to provide the computation resources needed to learn ML.

Jose Cahue

CI master students’ research accepted at the KES2020 international conference in Verona

KES 2020 in Verona but virtual

CSUCI Master of Computer Science students were successful in submitting two papers to KES 2020, the 24rd International Conference on Knowledge-Based and Intelligent Information & Engineering Systems, which this year is taking place in Verona, Italy, in September 2020. However, due to the COVID pandemic, the conference will be held virtually. The papers are the following:

  • Malware Persistence Mechanisms, co-authored by Zane Gittins and Michael Soltys. Zane Gittins is a masters student in Computer Science at CSUCI, and this paper is the result of his masters thesis. Zane Gittins has worked as a Cybersecurity experts at HAAS, and currently is working at Meissner Filtration. (This paper will be presented in the General Track session G3b: Cybersecurity.)
  • Voyager: Tracking with a Click, co-authored by Samuel Decanio, Kimo Hildreth and Michael Soltys. Sam Decanio is a masters student in Computer Science at CSUCI, and this paper is the result of his masters thesis and a fruitful collaboration between Computer Science at CI and the SoCal High Technology Task Force. Sam Decanio is currently working at the Navy. (This paper will be presented in the General Track session G3b: Cybersecurity.)

AWS training at CI in the Fall 2020

For questions please contact: (805-437-2653). To register for an information session, or to register for the classes:

These classes are open to the public, and they are given in partnership with the AWS Academy.

  1. Cloud Foundations: online from August 24 to October 5:
  2. Cloud Architecting: online from October 19 to December 14:

We are following exactly the AWS curriculum, and students will be provided AWS Educate cloud accounts with credits for the duration of the classes, as well as vouchers for writing the corresponding certification exams.

New paper on setting up WordPress in the AWS cloud

This new paper was just posted as a technical report at Cornell’s arXiv (, but it will be submitted for publication in the future. PDF of the paper.

From the abstract: Every organization needs to communicate with its audience, and social media is an attractive and inexpensive way to maintain dialogic communication. About 1/3 of the Internet web pages are powered by WordPress, and about a million companies have moved their IT infrastructure to the AWS cloud. Together, AWS and WordPress offer an attractive, effective and inexpensive way for companies, both large and small, to maintain their presence on the web.

This paper starts from the following premise:

you have been hired by a company with a small Communication budget, but ambitious plans. You have been tasked with setting up an effective web presence; in this role you have to combine both your CS/IT skills, as well as your Communication savvy. The decision has been made to deploy the web page as WordPress hosted on Amazon Web Services (AWS), integrated with social media, as well as robust Analytics to measure the effectiveness of your communication campaigns.

From introduction to WordPress on AWS: a Communication Framework

This paper is a third paper in a sequence on cloudification with AWS; the first one, Cloudifying the Curriculum with AWS, can be found here:, and it was mentioned in this blog post, the second on Cybersecurity in the Cloud here:, and it was mentioned in this blog post.

Computer Science and Information Technology Graduating class 2020

A message from the Chair of Computer Science and Information Technology to our graduating class 2020!

Computer Science and Information Technology Graduating class of 2020: 

Over the last years you have worked very hard, and with your resolve and commitment you have obtained one of the “best” most viable degrees: Computer Science and Information Technology.

Along the way you have acquired hard technical skills, but also very important so called “soft” skills, although there is nothing “soft” about them, such as persuasion, empathy, work discipline, the ability to see things through.

Now you are going to start a new chapter, one that is even more exciting than university: work in your field. I am going to borrow from Frank Hanna’s great book, A Graduate’s Guide to Life, with subtitle Three things they don’t teach you in College that could make all the difference, and give you 3 secrets to success:

  1. A quote form Josef Jungmann “education is the process of introducing a person to reality”. Continue to strive to see things as they really are; not as you wish them to be, not in a way that makes you feel better, but in a way that they truly are. Let your decisions and plans be measured by reality.
  2. Watch any nature show and you will see the animals competing. They compete for food, water, pawer, respect. And we human beings belong to the animal kingdom, but we are also civilized (the word means not acting like animals). Most scientists concur that over the past 10 thousand years we have built an increasingly prosperous and sophisticated civilization via cooperation, not competition. So the second piece of advice is that you chose collaboration over competition. 
  3. Is Bill Gates wealthy? What if I told you that Bill Gates just found out that he has one day to live (Steve Jobs, founder of Apple was in that place). Is he still wealthy? How much do you think he would pay for 10 more years? The proper understanding of wealth is that it is a measure of our well-being, most accurately measured in the quality of our human capital (you just made a huge investment in your human capital by obtaining a degree) and relationships (not talking about shallow networking here), and the hope and expectations of those relationships. The secret of life, and indeed the secret of wealth, is to enter into good relationships with others!

Let me summarize; as you leave our campus and start your career:

  1. Let your decisions and plans be measured by reality
  2. Choose collaboration over competition
  3. The secret of life (and wealth) is to enter into good relationships with others

In light of the 3rd piece of advice, please stay connected, with each other and with your professors. LinkedIn estimates that 80% of jobs are found through one’s network. But more importantly, it is crucial to stay in touch with those with whom you share an important part of your past → your school friends. Please stay connected with your instructors, especially with those you grew closer with, and with the university through its alumni program. As a young university we have a small alumni group, but it is such an important group, especially for the new students, so they can witness that at the end of all the work and dedication there is a better life for them, their families, and their communities.

Computer Science 6th Advisory Board Meeting

The Computer Science 6th Advisory Board meeting on Zoom on May 18, 2020.

most Important: CaPstone Showcase

Please help us make our students’ Virtual Capstone Showcase a special occasion by visiting the sites of their projects, and leaving a comment. Our students have worked hard to meet the demands of a senior capstone project, in difficult circumstances, and they are facing a challenging job market (although Computer Science is doing relatively well even in the COVID19 economy). It will encourage them to have your feedback, as industry leaders.

Here is the list of all the Capstone projects:


Summary of the Meeting

A welcome from the chair of the board, Chris Meissner (Meissner Filtration), who asked that everyone write their names on the Zoom chat, as the meeting was brief (half an hour). We are all meeting online due to the COVID19 circumstances.

Virtual Instruction – in mid March the campus did an emergency move to finish the term through virtual instruction; some classes fit very well on line, but many, especially those that require hands on labs are more difficult to deliver virtually. Most students are coping very well, some – surprisingly few – have disengaged as a result.

This summer we need to redo the fall 2020 course planning, in a more deliberate way, to be virtual, now that we have more time to plan. It is important work but unfortunate because we need to spend summers doing research and projects – faculty are on a 9 month contract so summer is critical to stay current in our field. We are lobbying for stipends for all our instructors to be able to work in the summer on virtual delivery.

Silver lining: virtual instruction has been creeping up on everyone, and some students, especially those working (they are becoming a bigger segment of the student population) who come back to school to acquire new skills, prefer online. As instructors we prefer face-to-face in most cases. But the current emergency gave us an opportunity to prepare an online curriculum, which we might deploy in other emergencies, and more positively in a degree completion program that we are exploring. 

ABET Update: Our application for ABET Accreditation is on schedule. Prof Brian Thoms is on sabbatical (he has just been selected our new graduate director), and Reza Abdolee has been kind enough to continually remind everyone of the need to submit teaching assessments.

Further Items:

  • Eric Kaltman: building an intranet for departmental communication, and revamping our Games offering; it is great to finally have a faculty expert in game development, a topic that brings many students into Computer Science.
  • Bahareh Abbasi taught Machine Learning, and worked on Human Robot Interaction, focusing on assistive robots, and is publishing in IEEE.
  • Vida Vakilian submitted NSF grant for Machine Learning for Wireless Networking Systems, developed new labs for Mechatronics.
  • Jason Isaacs, Vida Vakilian, Bahareh Abbasi are working hard to build Mechatronics Engineering, and they are preparing for the first junior cohort in 2020/21.
  • Jason Isaacs with EMEC sophomore students participated in the DARPA subterranean challenge, and finished #6 overall and 2nd among unfunded teams. 
  • Jason Isaacs and Michael Soltys, working with Health Sciences (Sonsoles de Lacalle and Kristen Linton) and Eric Slack from Ventura Health, are helping Ventura Health with COVID19 Data Analytics (e.g., or our pandemic simulation:
  • Reza Abdolee established a “Cybersecurity and Wireless Lab”, and developed an ethical hacking course, as well as submitted NSF grants.
  • Scarlet Relle: is delivering our materials engineering class, and deploying our new furnace, tensile tester, hardness tester, microscope, grinder; all purchased with a gift from Bob and Susan Brown. Scarlet has used data from past labs to give students virtual lab assignments.
  • Scott Feister:  was awarded time on supercomputers to design numerical simulations of scientific problems. He is applying for grants to do “big data” acquisition with custom-designed scientific hardware at scientific laboratories. Scott also incorporated AWS cloud computing, machine learning, and GPU computing into COMP 262: Computer Organization & Architecture.
  • Prof AJ Bieszczad has retired, we are grateful for his contribution over last 15 years to Computer Science at CI, and for staying on for another 5 years as a FERPing faculty and helping to deliver our undergraduate curriculum.
  • Houman Dallali has not come back from his 2019-20 leave of absence.
  • Michael Soltys: teaching AWS – Cloud Architecting class with scholarships: Michael just passed the Software Developing certification, and is negotiating the 4th edition of my algorithms book. Michael has recently been selected to the AWS council, and has written 5 papers this term, two of which in cybersecurity and accepted at a conference that he is helping to put together, and 3 on cloudifying the curriculum.

AWS Cloud Architecting class, online and open to the public – we offer 10 full scholarships

I would like to let you know about an opportunity on our campus – open to the public. From June 1 to July 20, I will be teaching online an advanced AWS Cloud Architecting class. It is of interest to any business considering to move IT operations (fully or partially) to the cloud.

This class is taught in partnership with AWS Academy, and students will have access to AWS resources, labs, materials and will be ready at the end to take the AWS Solutions Architect certification.

More information about the class can be found here:

10 scholarships available

CSUCI, in response to the COVID 19 crisis, has generously offered 10 full scholarships for this class, and for everyone else lowered the cost to $1,100. Everyone is welcome to apply for the scholarships – the application is short and available at this link:

Please do not hesitate to contact me or Jeff Ziskin <> if you have any questions.

Some data points about the Cloud

The following is why we at CSUCI have invested heavily in offering Cloud expertise: