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Campus Life

Stony Brook University President Samuel Stanley, second from left, joins other honored guests to cut the ribbon unveiling the new Computer Science building. Photo by Rachel Siford

By Rachel Siford

There’s a new big building on the Stony Brook University campus.

Stony Brook’s new 70,000-square-foot Computer Science building had its grand opening ceremony on Wednesday, July 1, and North Shore leaders had a lot of hope for the future within those walls. The new facility cost $41 million and has 18 research labs along with classrooms and offices for professors.

Stony Brook’s computer science program is currently ranked eighth in the country for graduate programs. It was a ranking that several leaders said should improve with help from the new facility.

“The computer science department deserves a place to really showcase our facilities and to match the great people inside them,” said Samuel L. Stanley Jr., Stony Brook University president at the ceremony.

The new building is located next to Roth Pond and will start holding classes in the fall. Speakers, including Senator Kenneth P. LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) and Chairman of the Computer Science Department of 17 years Arie Kaufman, participated in the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

“Today is a very happy day for computer science,” Kaufman said. “This might be the happiest day in the 46 years of the computer science department.”

Various demos were set up around the three-story building. The Immersive Head Monitoring Displays demo allowed attendees to put on virtual reality goggles to tour the building virtually.

The virtual colonoscopy — invented by Kaufman — was also showcased to show how it could identify with 100 percent accuracy if a patient has a tumor without going through the invasive procedure. It has been licensed, FDA approved and commercialized.

LaValle added that his goal was to get the program from eighth to first place, and the way to do that was to have state-of-the-art equipment for students to use.

“As the country and the world evolve into a high-tech economy and lifestyle, this state-of-the-art facility will ensure that Stony Brook University students and researchers have access to the newest technologies while reaffirming the university’s leadership role as a nationally ranked computer sciences center,” said LaValle.

The newest building has five centers: National Security Institute, Center for Mobile Computing, Center for Smart Energy, Center for Dynamic Data Analysis and Center for Visual Computing. Another demo shown at the opening was the Internet of Things, which predicted that by 2020 everyone would have at least five smart devices on them, like cell phones, watches and tablets.

The Department of Computer Science at Stony Brook is even starting to research how to protect people if someone’s smart device is stolen and how to limit how much information can be extracted from it.

Looking ahead, Stanley said the university would explore ways to establish a five-year capital plan to seek more ways to fund new buildings on campus.

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It was sink or swim for scores of Stony Brook students as they broke from studying to blow off steam.

Roth Pond, a 200-yard body of water in the middle of campus, is usually nothing more than a scenic spot to pass between classes. But on Friday, it became a hotbed of activity for the 26th annual Roth Pond Regatta, where students floated themselves along in makeshift boats constructed of nothing more than cardboard, duct tape and paint.

The event started in 1989 on the campus as a means for the students to break from the stress of finals season. Each year since, students have built boats to float anywhere from one to four people across the pond in the high-spirited and festive competition before exams engulf the campus.

This year’s theme was mainstream fantasy, and the floats reflected just that. The floating vessels were made of simple everyday products, but the end products ranged anywhere from nostalgic shout-outs, to mock creatures plucked out of fantasyland. Students crafted boats like the Pirates of the Caribbean’s Black Pearl, the genie from Aladdin and even a Space Jam float with a cardboard Michael Jordan reaching for a long dunk at the watercraft’s front side.

Senior Kareem Ibrahem joined his classmates as he got ready to launch his own sleek ship — a mishmash of duct tape and cardboard with a giraffe’s head dangling atop a long cardboard neck. Friends were asking him the name of his vessel.

“Don’t sink about it,” he said with an ear-to-ear grin.

The event was hosted by the Undergraduate Student Government and included students from various student organizations, administrative departments and alumni.

This version corrects a typo in the description of the Space Jam boat.