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 here:, and it was mentioned in this blog post.

A Head in the Cloud – Channel Magazine

While we know Amazon as the world’s online marketplace, millions of international companies know it for its cloud computing services. They use Amazon Web Services (AWS) to store and access data over the internet, allowing us to easily stream our favorite shows, store files and shop online. As more and more companies turn to AWS for technology needs, computer science students will need to quickly learn how to use the platform so they can market themselves post-graduation.

Source: A Head in the Cloud – Channel Magazine – CSU Channel Islands

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 Developer certification – Associate level

The Developer certification exam is interesting, in that it covers in detail the AWS best practices for CI/CD, Continuous Integration / Continuous Delivery and Deployment, which is very nicely covered in the following white paper: Practicing Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery on AWS, with the subtitle: Accelerating Software Delivery with DevOps. (I am referencing the June 2017 version of this white paper.) This document is well written, of especial interest to Software Engineers. While Development is the principal component of this certification (30%), there are altogether five domains:

  1. Deployment (22%)
  2. Security (26%)
  3. Development with AWS Services (30%)
  4. Refactoring (10%)
  5. Monitoring and Troubleshooting (12%)

Some of these domains overlap with other certifications. For instance, the 2nd domain, Security, is covered in detail in the Security Specialty exam, which I passed in December 2019 (and described in this post from Dec 3, 2019), and all the domains refer to the knowledge contained in the Solutions Architect certification (which I passed in the spring of 2019; see this post). However, I had to acquire a lot of new knowledge. For instance, the certification assumes advanced knowledge of some programming language, and since the Python3 SDK is one of the best developed AWS SDKs, I studied to become familiar with boto3, the AWS SDK for Python3; see here.

Of course reading manuals to understand boto3 is boring; I suggest to find a project that you always wanted to implement, and work on that. The excitement of building an application helps with the learning of a new tool. I worked, topically, on a pandemic simulator and an url shortener (which I called Tout Court) as I always wanted to have my own application.

In order to develop both applications, I used a set of AWS tools that are covered in depth in the Deployment and Development domains: Cloud9 for writing the code (I was happy to find out that Cloud9 has a “Vi Editor” mode), I used GitHub instead of CodeCommit, but GitHub can be integrated into the AWS development environment, CodeDeploy in order to automate the deployment of the applications, and CodePipeline to bind it all together. X-Ray is an important tool for the exam, and helps to isolate “bottle-necks” in your application.

Refactoring is an interesting concept. It means to re-architect or re-imagine an existing solution but leveraging cloud-native capabilities. I learned quite a bit about it from Ahead in the Cloud: Best practices for navigating the future of enterprise IT, by Stephen Orban from AWS.

As AWS certification requires a significant investment of time (for me at least), it is important to understand why one does it. In my case, as a Computer Scientist, I believe it is important to systematically acquire new knowledge, as ours is a fast developing field. I also find the AWS curriculum very well designed, interesting, in-depth, and I have become fascinated by the new paradigm of Cloud Computing. Finally, the most important reason for me is to be able to bring this expertise back to campus, and share with students, and given them an edge in the job market upon graduation.

Working from home may be new normal

SETTLING IN—According to a 2020 Gallup poll, the percentage of Americans working remotely doubled, from 31% in mid-March to 62% by April.

Every weekday, Ricky Kreitman rolls out of bed and heads to his garage office with his morning yogurt to start the workday.

It’s been his daily routine since the stay-at-home orders were announced in March. The television producer and editor said his company had just finished filming a show before the shutdown, so he’s been able to edit it from his home office.

“(I’m) enjoying working at home,” the Thousand Oaks resident said. “Grateful for the distraction of work and glad to not be commuting.”

According to a 2020 Gallup poll, the percentage of Americans working remotely doubled, from 31% in mid-March to 62% by April.

Michael Soltys, chair of the computer science department at CSU Channel Islands, thinks telecommuting is here to stay.

“COVID-19 has accelerated a trend that was already there,” said Soltys, who specializes in cloud computing and algorithms and has spent the last 19 years teaching computer science. “People have been moving to remote work for at least a decade.”

Clare Briglio, communications and business disruption resources director at the Camarillo-based Economic Development Collaborative, has already seen this shift in the businesses owners the nonprofit advises.

Government contractors, fieldbased contractors and medical providers are just a few types of businesses that have started using cloud-based services like Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Slack and WhatsApp since the pandemic began. Briglio said she expects the trend to continue.

“They have figured out how to use technology to accommodate their need,” she said.

With so many workers trying their hand at a work-from-home lifestyle, some are finding they like it more than going to the office.

Tejas Sachdeva, a computer science student at CSU Channel Islands, said he’s been more productive since his job at the university’s career services department became remote in March.

Source: Working from home may be new normal | Camarillo Acorn

Developers say Google’s Go is ‘most sought after’ programming language of 2020

Lots of developers really want to learn Go, a programming language for large systems created by Google, meanwhile most developers are sick of attending meetings, and most of those working at multinational corporations aren’t happy there.

That’s according to the results of a survey of over 16,655 developers from 76 countries carried out by HackerEarth, a company with offices in India and San Francisco that provides tools for recruiters to remotely assess developer coding skills.

Source: Developers say Google’s Go is ‘most sought after’ programming language of 2020 | ZDNet