Michael Kiley awarded 2019 Computer Science Senior Prize

Michael Kiley is the 2019 recipient of the Computer Science Senior Prize, a book award given to the graduating senior deemed to be the outstanding student by the faculty of the Computer Science department.

Think back to when you were a kid – do you remember what you wanted to be when you grew up?  A firefighter, a professional athlete, a nurse, or perhaps a teacher?  Michael Kiley’s dream was to be an inventor, following in the footsteps of Thomas Edison or Alexander Graham Bell. Or like many young boys who admire their father, perhaps he would pursue becoming a medical doctor so that like his dad, he could use his work as a way to help other people.

Even though he didn’t have any computer-related experience coming into college, Michael chose to major in Computer Science since he saw that field as the home of present-day inventors, working to bring the latest technology to life.  Since he has always really enjoyed learning new things, he hoped that studying Computer Science would provide the atmosphere of exciting innovation that he was looking for.  That hope was fulfilled in numerous ways during his time studying Computer Science, both inside and outside of the classroom.

The most appealing part of computer science to me is that it allows you to create – create new software, create new solutions to complex and exciting problems, create new ways of interacting with others and with the world around you. And, once you have created something new, it is amazingly easy to distribute that creation to a huge audience. It is also very exciting due to the almost constant improvements and innovations that are being made within the field.

I wish people knew how much fun it is! If you like applying your creativity to solve new and exciting problems, CS is for you!

Michael spent two summers working on summer research projects and recalls those as being the best part of his student experience.  During these summers, his goal-orientation and persistence helped him grow his development skills and gain valuable experience that was very useful in subsequent internships and his search for a full time job.  The courses he took outside Computer Science as part of his liberal arts education also proved valuable, helping him develop the ability to think critically and learn effectively in areas beyond his technical focus.  For example, this past summer he interned at a company that creates software for several local court and jail systems in Michigan, and had to learn all sorts of things about the inner workings of these local governments in order to write the software.

In addition to his excellence in the classroom, Michael also excelled as a student-athlete.  He played varsity tennis throughout his time at Hope and was named a team captain in his senior year.  He was named to the all-MIAA team in each of his four years, twice as a first-team honoree and twice as a member of the second team. Recently he was named the 2019 recipient of the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association’s Dr. Allen B. Stowe Memorial sportsmanship award.

I hope my peers and mentors at Hope College remember me as someone who was kind and genuine. It’d be nice if they remembered me as someone who was good at CS but who cared more about being a good person than being a good student.

Michael will begin full time employment after graduation as a member of the Connected Products team at Open Systems Technologies in Grand Rapids. His  dream for his career is to start his own business. While he doesn’t know exactly what that will look like, he does know that in 10 years he would like to be using his CS skills to work for himself in some form, whether it be on some product he comes up with or in consulting.   The faculty of the Computer Science department are confident he will be successful in whatever he pursues!

Mark Powers named 2019 Boundy Award recipient

Mark Powers is the 2019 recipient of the Boundy Award in Computer Science, an annual financial award funded by David Boundy and given to the person in the graduating class who is deemed by the computer sicence faculty to have the greatest potential for making future contributions to the field of computer science

Mark Powers’ first experience with Computer Science came through learning to program his TI-84 calculator in the 9th grade; in particular by writing a program to solve the quadratic equation.  He became intrigued by the possibilities of computer programming, and spent hours in class learning how to program the calculator by creating games and equation solvers.  His exploration of computer science continued in the 11th and 12th grade as he took Java Programming.  After graduating from Jenison High School, Mark headed to Hope College to study Computer Science, deciding against a Physics major so that he could focus exclusively on Computer Science.

Sounds like your typical computer science student story, right?  Once you hear how Mark got introduced to Computer Science, you may have started thinking that Mark spends all of his time working on computers, probably in a dark room and most likely all by himself.  But Mark’s fascination with and passion for computer science is broader than you might expect.  He doesn’t keep up with new software or gadgets, nor does he know how to fix computers.  While he enjoys programming, he finds the most enjoyment in exploring the theoretical side of the discipline, where he is able to see how he can push the limits of what is possible for computers.  To Mark, programs lose their beauty when they are forced to be made practical, and so he is not particularly a fan of large software projects or the field of software engineering.

Instead, courses such as Discrete Structures & Algorithms and Programming Language Design & Implementation were some of his favorites at Hope.  The programming languages course opened Mark’s eyes to all of the interesting problems in the field, which he calls “a great mix of theory, algorithms, and programming.”  Learning how to think creatively using a variety of programming language paradigms and discovering how the processes of program compilation and interpretation work have inspired Mark to pursue a PhD in Computer Science at the University of Wisconsin at Madison in the field of programming languages.  The communication skills and different ways of thinking he has developed as part of his liberal arts education at Hope will play a major role in his success as a graduate student.

My favorite parts of being a Computer Science student at Hope College have been working with the professors in class and on research, and also the great memories I’ve had with friends in the lab.  I have cherished being part of the unique community in the Computer Science department.

In addition to course work, Mark also served as a help center associate and teaching assistant, as well as spending lots of time as a member of various research groups.  He plans to build on these experiences after completing graduate school by becoming a professor.  The Computer Science faculty are confident Mark will excel in this or anything else he takes on.

Sophomore Josie Crane receives Boren Scholarship for Study Abroad

Josie Crane, a sophomore from Mattawan, MI, has been awarded a Boren Scholarship from the National Security Education Program to fund a year of study in South Korea during the 2019-20 academic year.  The Boren Scholarships “provide unique funding opportunities for U.S. undergraduate students to study less commonly taught languages in world regions critical to U.S. interests, and underrepresented in study abroad, including Africa, Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, Eurasia, Latin America, and the Middle East.” (Boren Awards web site)

Josie plans to use her study abroad experience to integrate her love of language, her interest in both North and South Korea, her technical abilities gained through study of Computer Science,  and her desire to contribute to our national security.  Her eventual goal will be to serve as a Cyber Threat Analyst, Weapons Threat Analyst, or a similar position within the CIA.

Her interest in the Korean language and the logic and patterns in the Korean alphabet, Hangeul, are what led to her interest in studying Computer Science.  The flexibility of Hope’s Computer Science curriculum paid a big role in her decision to attend Hope.

I chose to attend Hope College partly because me studying abroad in Korea would be encouraged, even as a STEM major. Subsequently, I have been extremely diligent in planning when and where to take which classes for my computer science and international studies double major, as I have been eager to study Korean in South Korea since the 11th grade.

As part of her study abroad experience, Josie will study at Korea University, where she will work hard to become fluent in the Korean language, as well as expanding her knowledge of computer security and cyber defense at one of the most prestigious universities in the country.  She plans to supplement her time at the University by participating in the Lexis Korea language school between semesters, and will stay with a Korean family during that five week period, immersing herself in genuine Korean culture throughout her day.

Students and Faculty attend Michigan Celebration of Women in Computing

Hope College students and faculty from the Computer Science Department attended the Michigan Celebration of Women in Computing the weekend of March 29 and 30, where they learned about Data Science and gender-bias in Software Engineering.
Here are some of their comments:
“MICWIC was an emboldening experience! It was so inspirational to hear the stories of other women currently working in the field. The opportunities presented also gave me greater awareness of the diverse careers I could pursue with a CS degree.”
“MICWIC was a great opportunity to learn about the diverse careers in computer science, network, and hear personal experience from industry professionals. I especially appreciated talking to the amazing women who attended and hearing the great things they are doing in computer science.”
“Attending MICMIC was an empowering experience that allowed me to meet and connect with other passionate and successful women. Hearing their stories encouraged me to address issues like gender bias, racial discrimination, and cultural exclusion in technology and computing.”

Visiting lecturer’s talk inspires students

Dr. Valerie Taylor is the director of the Mathematics and Computer Science Division at Argonne National Laboratories Dr. Valerie Taylor, director of Argonne National Laboratory’s Mathematics and Computer Science Division, gave two lectures as part of the Gentile Interdisciplinary Lecture series on March 6 and 7. Her presentation highlighted the impact Argonne’s work on high performance computing is making on important problems in a variety of scientific disciplines.

In addition to inspiring the audience to consider pursuing computational approaches to problem solving, Dr. Taylor also inspired at least one student in other ways. Read the blog post below to learn how Heaven Silas was encouraged by Dr. Taylor’s talk.

Claiming My Education: Black Women in STEM–Knowledge and Inspiration

Developing More Than Just Techies …

One of the distinguishing features of a Hope College education is the effort our faculty and staff make to help ensure that students think about more than just the technical aspects of their computer science education.  One way we have been doing this recently is in our “Exploring Computer Science” course by having students read and discuss two books that examine the societal impacts of technology, both on those who use or are otherwise affected by it, and on those who design and create it.

The two books are Weapons of Math Destruction by Cathy O’Neil, and Technically Wrong: Sexist Apps, Biased Algorithms, and Other Threats of Toxic Tech by Sara Wachter-Boettcher.

Weapons of Math Destruction Web SiteLink to publisher web site for Technically Wrong

O’Neil’s book takes a look at how our increasing reliance on algorithms to make decisions has unintended impacts, particularly when those algorithms have biases encoded in them, either intentionally or unintentionally.  Wachter-Boettcher expands on the issues explored by O’Neil by looking at how the lack of diversity in the tech workforce might contribute to the problems caused by these algorithms.

Rather than tell you about these books myself, however, I’m going to let you hear from two students from the fall 2018 offering of “Exploring Computer Science,” Cy Balk and Kyle Ross.  In addition to reading one of the two books and writing a review, each student in the class was paired with a partner who had read the other book and tasked with creating a “podcast” episode where each played the role of their book’s author in a discussion about the two book’s content.

Though both Cy and Kyle are male students playing the role of two female authors in this podcast, the lessons they learned from this project transcend gender. They did an excellent job exploring the ideas in the two books and discussing them in an engaging way.  Take a listen!

Students celebrate women in technology at Grace Hopper Conference

On October 4-6, the department sent eight Hope Computer Science students and one faculty member to this year’s Grace Hopper Celebration in Orlando, Florida. The annual conference is the largest gathering of women in technology and is a great way for attendees to build their networks and celebrate the accomplishments of women in computing. This year, around 18,000 people attended the conference and were able to hear from inspiring women, such as keynote speaker Melinda Gates.

Melissa Bazany, a senior from Howell, MI, majoring in communications and minoring in computer science, was first drawn to computer science by web design, which provided a way to combine her communication design skills with logical thinking.  When asked to reflect on her experience and what she felt was most valuable about the conference, Bazany said, “Meeting new people led to learning new perspectives and takes on topics to help me learn more; with that, the willingness the people had to help students learn more there.”

“It’s really inspiring to see so many women coming together from an industry where you don’t actually see that many women in a single group. It’s a great place to begin networking and start searching for job opportunities while learning more about the industry,” said Joanie Davis, a senior from Caledonia, MI, majoring in computer science.

Amber Carnahan, a senior from Howell, MI, double majoring in English and computer science, commented on the wide array of speakers and attendees. “I loved hearing the multitude of ways that women used their computer science experience and the various careers they pursued. It showed how flexible computer science is and that the future can hold many possibilities.”

Attending the conference helped the students gain confidence in their abilities in Computer Science, and all of them came back with encouraging words for other young women who might be considering Computer Science.

“If you’re interested in CS, study it! Even if you eventually decide it’s not for you, you’ll gain skills that could prove invaluable to you, just in basic understanding of how technology works. And if it does click for you, then you’ve found your passion in an amazing field!” — Joanie Davis

“It sometimes can seem difficult and there’s a lot of men,” Bazany said, “but learning how to ask good questions and ‘holding your own’ in a traditionally male-dominant environment will prove to you that it’s just another area of study.”

Jori Gelbaugh, a sophomore Computer Science and International Studies double major from Galesburg, adds, “You are capable of learning computer science, regardless of your perceptions of what it is, and there is a large support network at Hope available in your process of learning.”

The CS department at Hope is committed to sending our young women to this conference each year, and to doing everything possible to provide a welcoming and supportive environment to everyone who is interested in learning more about what this exciting field has to offer.

Hope Computer Science students win best poster competition at conference

Students Amber Carnahan and Jori Gelbaugh won the best poster award at the 2017 Consortium for Computing Sciences in Colleges (CCSC) Midwest annual conference, held on September 26-27 at Calvin College.

Students Jori Gelbaugh (left) & Amber Carnahan (right) with their poster about their Articulus project at CCSC MW 2017.

Amber and Jori’s poster summarized their work on Articulus.  On their page at the Google Chrome Web store, Amber and Jori describe purpose of Articulus:

Articulus is a Google Chrome extension that improves the readability of online articles. 

... In plain English, Articulus makes reading online easier!

For students with reading or learning disabilities, reading online articles can often be challenging because of online distractions and difficult words. Articulus was created to give these students (and other readers) the freedom to easily read the articles they want.

Work on Articulus was completed during the summer of 2017, and was supervised by Dr. Mike Jipping.  Congratulations to the students and Dr. Jipping for their outstanding work!

Hope Computer Science student team create app to help people find each other on Hope’s campus

Student Grace DuMez presented the Pallist application to a group of students, faculty, and local industry professionals on August 2, 2017.  DuMez and her partner Michael Kiley (studying abroad in Mexico for Fall 2017) developed Pallist as part of the Summer 2017 Hope Software Institute under the supervision of Dr. Michael Jipping.  Pallist is an application that helps people find friends located in the same building on Hope College’s campus.

The students presented their work to a group of software developers from Atomic ObjectOpen Systems TechnologiesBluJay Solutions, and SpinDance.  After the presentation, the students, faculty, and professionals enjoyed getting to know each other over lunch.

Here’s a video of the students’ presentation:

Students in the Hope Software Institute create app to adjust reading level of web pages

On Wednesday, August 2, the team of Amber Carnahan and Jori Gelbaugh presented their work on Articulus, a Chrome extension whose goal is allow readers of a web page to adjust the reading level required to understand the page’s content.  Amber and Jori worked under the direction of Dr. Mike Jipping as part of the Hope Software Institute.

The students presented their work to a group of software developers from Atomic ObjectOpen Systems Technologies, BluJay Solutions, and SpinDance.  After the presentation, the students, faculty, and professionals enjoyed getting to know each other over lunch.

Here’s a video of the students’ presentation: