Category Archives: Computer Science

Startup Weekend Athens

Zach Perrault

Zach Perrault,
Senior, Computer Science

Athens, OH 29 October 2015

Last weekend I attended Startup Weekend Athens, a contest where groups work to start a company in 48 hours.

On Friday, I went to the Ohio University Innovation Center with no idea what I was getting myself into. After a bit of introduction from the event organizer, people lined up to make their 60 second pitches for their proposed business ideas. Once everyone had given their pitch we voted on which ones should be pursued. I decided to join Amy Miller and her idea to create a virtual reality system where martial arts students could apply their skills in mock scenarios. I really liked Amy’s enthusiasm and a virtual reality system sounded like a really fun technical challenge.

The first night was mostly fleshing out the idea some more. Wilson, my fellow computer science engineering ambassador, and I went to our houses to pick up our workstations, grab our Oculus Rift and a Microsoft Kinect from our friend and ACM president, Charlie Murphy. We also acquired important brain fuel in the form of gummy worms and La Croix.

Wilson and I worked non-stop all weekend to get as impressive a tech demo as we could. On Saturday, the event organizers also invited coaches from the Athens area to help us with our startups. Nathan from the Create_space and John Bowditch from the GRID Lab both help us a lot with how to approach our technical hurdles.

On Sunday, We presented our startup and performed a demo of what we had been working on. It went really well! After presenting the judges deliberated while we had another delicious, catered meal from the contest. Then it was time for the judges to announce the winners. My team took second place!

It was so exciting for our hard work to have paid off. I went into Startup Weekend just wanting to build something but I got so much more. I learned a lot about business plans and how product is just a portion of what makes a successful business.

Kayaking Class

Wilson Taylor

Wilson Taylor,
Senior, Computer Science

Athens, OH 26 October 2015

This semester I have a course load that consists of solely engineering classes, but I find it important to always include something fun in my schedule. This semester the solution was an introduction to kayaking class.

I didn’t have any expectations going into the experience other than learning some basic paddle strokes. This past week, the course has been drastically more difficult than I had originally expected–in a good way.

This past week we were introduced to a rescue maneuver called the “T-Rescue.” The T-Rescue is a way to flip back upright upon capsizing. To do so, you run your hands along the side of your kayak and wait until another kayaker bumps into the side of your kayak. At that point you grab the tip of their kayak with both of your hands and throw your kayak back under yourself. If executed properly, you will return to the upright position above water.

I have found the rescue to be most challenging because of the reliance you have upon another kayaker to reach the side of your boat quickly. The entire time you’re underwater you have to wonder if someone will make it to you before your lungs run out of air. Prior to the class I had never known any of the individuals I had been kayaking with. These rescue techniques required us to quickly grow to trust one another. I found the experience to be mentally challenging; it has also helped me forge new meaningful relationships.

Summer Internship in Chicago

Zach Perrault

Zach Perrault,
Senior, Computer Science

Athens, OH 2 September 2015

This Summer I was a software engineering intern at Trunk Club, a Chicago-based men’s (and now women’s) outfitter. Going into it, I assumed I would learn a lot about programming, but I did so much more than write code.

During my first week on the job, I was invited by a co-worker to join a Trunk Club beach volleyball team as part of the Chicago Sports and Social Club. I was no MVP but I still had a great time. Little did I know this was just the tip of the outside-of-work-activities iceberg.

My second week, we moved across the street to a new space, leaving behind the coffee shop and eighty-foot bar. Needless to say, we missed our amenities and decided to build a bar in the new space. One of my co-workers drafted a plan for a modular bar and proposed we build it. After several weekend trips to Home Depot and a rotating crew, we built ourselves a bar and stocked it with local coffee and brews.

One of the most fun parts was Trunk Club’s tech teams taking turns sponsoring themed parties every other Thursday. Parties this Summer included “Pokémon”, “Kentucky Derby”, and my favorite, “80s Wrestle Mania”. The 80s Wrestle Mania party consisted of 80s hair metal, Pabst Blue Ribbon, and a Rock’em Sock’em Robots tournament in which I took second place.

2nd Place

My trophy was a silver spray painted action figure screwed to the top of a piece of wood left over from the bar stuck in a plastic cup.

I had a great time during my internship and I am looking forward to returning as a full-time employee after I graduate next Spring.

Fundamentals of Rock Climbing

Wilson Taylor

Wilson Taylor,
Junior, Computer Science

Athens, OH 5 April 2015

Something I have learned to truly appreciate at Ohio University is the wide variety of classes available outside of the Russ College. Every semester I make a conscious effort to add something I both have a personal interest in and is outside of my major into my class schedule.

One of the most enjoyable classes I have taken was on the fundamentals of rock climbing. The class covered basic climbing techniques, safety, and general practices. We learned how to tie key climbing knots and set up tethers for varying situations one might encounter at different climbing locations. One thing I really valued about the class was the truly hands on element it offered.

After four in-class meetings learning about the proper techniques and knots used on climb sites we had three days dedicated to applying what we learned. Our instructor took us to two different climbing locations and one nifty bouldering location in areas surrounding Athens. We had the opportunity to climb natural rocks using equipment we set up as a class. Additionally, we were responsible for each other’s safety as we each took turns belaying while other classmates climbed.

I enjoy exploring Athens and taking advantage of the many recreational activities the surrounding area has to offer. The rock-climbing course enabled me to do this and more. I continue to search for recreational classes as I find them to be a great way to just relax and enjoy myself.

Fun Times at the Fun Barn

Wilson Taylor

Wilson Taylor,
Junior, Computer Science

Athens, OH 8 March 2015

Finding things to do other than stay in your house or room when the weather gets cold often proves to be a challenge. I find this to hold true for myself on occasion, even as a self-proclaimed winter weather dresser professional, meaning I can get out and about whenever I please.

I found my first winter in Athens to be particularly challenging because I was unaware of many off-campus activities that were both affordable and more importantly reachable. While I have since learned of many local digs I have recently been playing favorites with the Fun Barn.

While the Fun Barn is not within walking distance of the university it is still within a fifteen minute drive. The Fun Barn has many of the newest releases at a reasonable price of $4, which is often the bait for myself and anyone else I am going with.

The real hook, though,is the environment. The Fun Barn reminds me of a Chuck-E-Cheese. Before entering the movies there is a food bar and arcade. The arcade has some of my most memorable childhood games: Skeeball and ticket roulette. There are also modern games such as a ticketed form of Deal or No Deal and Fruit Ninja.

While the Fun Barn has a lot to offer the best reason to go is to have the chance to ride one of their three coin operated kiddie rides. You can see me below riding with Dr. Seuss in his slick silver car.

Dr. Seuss's Car

Graduation Around the Corner

Rachel Fryan

Rachel Fryan,
Senior, Computer Science

Athens, OH 17 February 2015

With graduation right around the corner, the reality of the real world is starting to set in. I am finishing my victory lap with a double major in computer science and visual communications, and I am excited to get into the industry and use this dual skill set.

The technology world is in a high demand and I am finding the Bobcat alumni are equally willing to help fill these spots. Most of my contacts can be attributed to a very successful, distinguished California alumnus, Mr. David Pidwell. Mr. Pidwell graduated from the Russ College with a bachelor’s in electrical engineering, and has since become a CEO, earned his doctorate, become a successful investor, and has been a lecturer at Stanford University focusing on entrepreneurship. He is very determined on giving back, and well connected in the Silicon Valley area which is the hub of all technology.

It never ceases to amaze me how much Bobcat alumni are willing to help, in both my VisCom school, but especially within the Russ College. If you’re willing to put in the work, there will always be someone there to help you or connect you where you’re trying to get to. Once a bobcat, always a bobcat!

On the Ice at Bird Arena

Wilson Taylor

Wilson Taylor,
Junior, Computer Science

Athens, OH 1 December 2014

Ohio University has a nearly year-round winter wonderland, Bird Arena. Bird Arena is Ohio University’s ice rink and it serves as a much needed getaway location. When the semester picks up and I find myself bogged down with work I often turn to physical activity to free myself. While at school ice skating is my go-to physical activity. When I first found out about Bird Arena I was hesitant; however, after going a couple of times and learning how to properly balance, I immediately felt at home in the rink.

My interest in Bird arena goes beyond my desire to free-skate. I’m also into cheering on the Bobcat’s ice hockey team. I’ll admit I am not an avid sports fan. That being said, I have grown to develop a deep passion for Bobcats ice hockey.

The first OU ice hockey game I went to was a complete accident–confusing the free-skate time for a game time. After sitting through the first period of the game I found myself immersed in the atmosphere. Waiting for the shrill siren that marks a Bobcat goal with the fans around me was like nothing I had ever experienced before. The Ohio University ice hockey team is a Division 1 team in the ACHA with 16 wins, 2 ties, and 2 losses currently recorded for the 2014-2015 year. I’m looking forward to seeing what they do the rest of the season.