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Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

Fokum Participates in Google Forum

Published on February 1st, 2010 by Michelle Ward

EECS doctoral student Daniel Fokum was one-of-75 students selected to participate in Google’s inaugural Graduate Researchers in Academia of Diverse backgrounds (GRAD) Computer Science Forum, held Jan. 21-23 in Mountain View, CA. Designed to build and strengthen networks among emerging computer scientists, the event featured round table discussions along with technical talks from Google researchers and those within academia.

"Coming from a group that is typically underrepresented in computer science, I was inspired to see this diverse group of researchers," says Fokum who is from Cameroon, West Africa. "I exchanged business cards with a number of participants and have already received a few e-mails. While an important networking event, the forum also highlighted the importance of diversity."

Fokum underscores this point with the story of T.V. Raman, a Google engineer who is blind. As traditional buttons on telephones are replaced by virtual buttons on touchscreens, blind people lose the ability to locate buttons through standard placement. Raman developed software for the new Android phone that enables the first point touched on a screen to become the "5" key. From there, a swish to the right would get a "6" or a down and left movement would access a "7'key. The system resets when users take their finger off the screen.

Google engineers selected Fokum and other participants for their academic excellence and leadership in computing. As part of his dissertation research at KU’s Information and Telecommunication Technology Center (ITTC), Fokum has helped develop the Transportation Security SensorNet (TSSN). TSSN integrates hardware, software and sensors to enable real-time monitoring of goods en route and alerts authorized individuals of tampering. Victor Frost, Dan F. Servey Distinguished Professor of EECS, serves as the principal investigator on the collaborative project. In addition to his research, Fokum teaches the Introduction to Digital Logic Design lab, EECS 140, this spring.

Fokum earned his M.S. in Computer Science with an emphasis in Networking at the University of Missouri - Kansas City in 2005 and B.A. in Computer Science from Park University in 2000.