Category Archives: Computer Science

Spring Break in NC

Mollie Whitacre

Mollie Whitacre,
Senior, Computer Science

Athens, OH 14 March 2017

I went to Asheville, North Carolina for four days to visit my aunt and uncle in the mountains. My expectations were pretty low because it isn’t a town I’ve heard many people talk about. The drive was lengthy, but it was surrounded with mountain tops and gorgeous scenery.

North Carolina

I arrived to find that Asheville was a larger version of Athens. It was very laid back and most of the food was locally grown and organic. The best meal I had was locally made French toast stuffed with sausage and cheese. My mouth is watering just thinking about it! I learned very quickly that Asheville is also known for its craft beer because you cannot drive a mile in that town without seeing a brewery!

My hands down, favorite part of the whole trip was zip lining. I was scared to death looking down and thinking that I’m trusting my life with a cable and a few clips, but it was the best feeling in the whole world. It felt like I was a bird flying in the wind, looking down 300 feet at trees, and trying to spot something below me. Once I relaxed in my harness, I enjoyed the wind in my face and the adrenaline rushing through my body.

My spring break wasn’t on a beach, but it was a very enjoyable couple of days.

Making Computer Science a Hobby

Quintin Fettes

Quintin Fettes,
Senior, Computer Science

Athens, OH 5 March 2017

Admittedly, I’d always had interest in tech-related hobbies that one might consider cliché for a computer science major. These might include things like video games, installing a wide variety of free programs to perform obscure tasks like deleting file directories without access right to the directory, accidentally ruining my dad’s computer with freeware (sorry dad), and experimenting with my computer in any ways which I could.

However, up until my sophomore or junior year of college, I’d never really spent any times explicitly practicing computer science as a hobby. Sure, I’d been learning programming and basic algorithm design starting at my senior year of high school, but once class was over and my assignment was finished, I was off to other hobbies. This all changed as my knowledge and skill within the field grew.

Particularly, I started inquiring to professors and older students about machine learning. In layman’s terms, these are methods of problem solving for computers. After studying with a professor for a semester, I found myself finishing my homework and reading “Machine Learning: The Art and Science of Algorithms that Make Sense of Data” by Peter Flach outside of class to satisfy my curiosity. I didn’t make much of it at the time, but I was essentially taking a course on Machine Learning, for fun. From there, my interest in computer science only spilled further into my personal life.

The next step came when I took the Interactive Computer Graphics course here at Ohio University. I’d always liked video games, so learning to build graphics from scratch seemed like a natural choice for an enjoyable elective. Soon after the conclusion of the class, I found myself researching graphics APIs and implementing various graphics projects as a hobby. I’ve no plans to make a career out of computer graphics, but designing the algorithms and engineering the graphics projects from scratch has been a vastly enjoyable and occasionally challenging hobby.

While these were just 2 examples, I’ve found that my academic life and hobbies have become very closely intertwined. Hobbies in machine learning, computer graphics, reinforcement learning, parallel computing, and other topics in computer science are really enjoyable to explore in my free time; and now I’m able to appreciate how lucky I am to have grown so fond of my major. My advice to anyone would be to find a hobby in your field; it can make learning that much more exciting.

Winter Wonders

Mollie Whitacre

Mollie Whitacre,
Senior, Computer Science

Athens, OH 6 February 2017

Winter is a season that people either hate or love–there usually isn’t an in-between. I am one of those people that love winter for the sole reason that I love snow. With that said, Athens has been lacking the amount of snow which is a bit depressing. Luckily, I was able to go skiing over our winter break in Michigan at a ski resort called Caberfae Peaks.

I started skiing way back in sixth grade, after I was fed up of falling down every thirty seconds on a snowboard. I was amazed the first time I went down a trail on skis, that I had control of myself and didn’t fall! Every since that moment, I never looked back at snowboarding for the sole fact that my body was aching after a day out in the snow.

My favorite thing to do while skiing is meander through the trees. There have been a few instances where I start going really fast and the path is so narrow that you can’t slow down, so you find yourself face first with a tree. Thankfully for me, it has only happened a couple of times.

My favorite skiing story of all time is when my dad was bragging to my sister and I about how fast he could go down a hill. So we waited at the bottom to watch him come flying down, but ten minutes passed and we still couldn’t see him. Eventually, he comes down the hill very slowly to tell us that at the top of the hill he fell and he forgot that he had a golf ball in his pocket. Every since that day, we check our pockets before we go skiing so we don’t almost break our ribs from falling on a golf ball!

EECS Advisory Board Retreat

Mollie Whitacre

Mollie Whitacre,
Senior, Computer Science

Athens, OH 29 November 2016

Earlier this month, I had the honor of attending the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Advisory Board Retreat. This is where the faculty EECS meet with a selected advisory board to go over the objectives and plans for the departments.


The day started with the chair of the department, Dr. Juedes, presenting an overview of the college and how it expanded to where it is today. Throughout the day there were different discussions with groups of students and faculty about what is going well within classes and the college overall and what improvements could be made.

My favorite part of the retreat was getting the chance to communicate feedback from my classmates to the professors. This was a chance for students to convey their opinions on the development of classes and how to keep improving them for a better future. The professors cared so much about what everyone had to say which is a big reason why it was such a distinct experience.

Students don’t usually see what is happening behind the scenes and the decisions that are made about the program. Sometimes we think that changes can happen overnight, but in reality there are major steps that have to happen in order for that change to occur. I loved going to the retreat and having the chance to share the feedback from my peers!

Theta Tau: Professional Engineering Fraternity

Quintin Fettes

Quintin Fettes,
Senior, Computer Science

Athens, OH 6 November 2016

My tie was 3 inches too short, I noticed as I looked down to re-button my shirt. I rushed into the front of the room and sat down with 3 other candidates for our group interview for Theta Tau: The Co-ed Professional Engineering fraternity. That was nearly 2 years ago, and today my continued involvement with the group has impacted my undergraduate career more than I ever could’ve hoped.

This semester, I’m serving my last term as an executive member of Theta Tau; as a result, the nostalgia of my journey with my fellow engineers has set in.

From day 1, I knew that I had joined a special group. I wasn’t suffering over long homework assignments alone in my dorm anymore, I was suffering with my friends. I wasn’t wasting all of my free time, sitting around and complaining of boredom, I was organizing and participating in community service, fundraisers, professional development, and social events. The whole time, I was making lifelong friends.

Theta Tau

As my love for the group grew, I chose to help by taking leadership positions. Believe me, there is no group more difficult to lead than your friends. None of them will be afraid to tell you that the idea you pitched was terrible; on the other hand, no group will ever be more enthusiastic, and willing to take risks on good ideas.

Considering every triumph and every headache of leadership, if I could go back I wouldn’t change a single thing; the experience was priceless. It was in this group that I began to realize the rewards of being involved, and improving myself within student organizations on campus. Any Engineer looking for a home on campus would benefit by checking Theta Tau first.

New Beginnings

Mollie Whitacre

Mollie Whitacre,
Senior, Computer Science

Athens, OH 30 October 2016

I’ve had soccer to look forward to nearly every weekend of my life since I was five years old. That all changed after this past weekend.

The soccer team had to win the last three games of the season to make it to the tournament and we won all, but the last. It was a heartbreaking way to finish a career: losing in overtime with five seconds left.

Soccer was my identity up until two days ago. My new task moving forward is to surround myself with activities and people that will help create my new identity. I have free time for the first time in my four years here at Ohio University.

I am excited to search for more clubs and services that I find interesting. One thing that I came across is the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). I am also interested in learning more about the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM). Both of these organizations are in fields that I enjoy learning more about and hopefully one day can contribute to them.

A chapter of my life may have been closed, but I am ready to turn the page and step foot into something bigger and better.

SCOPE Laboratory

Quintin Fettes

Quintin Fettes,
Senior, Computer Science

Athens, OH 2 October 2016

Another research opportunity at Ohio University has brought me closer to the goals and aspirations I once had as a kid. I’d always wanted to be a doctor, so that I could help sick people get better; I’d always wanted to make the first true Artificial Intelligence, like Arnold in the second Terminator movie; and I’d always wanted to be a professional Athlete.

My research in Artificial Intelligence started during Spring Semester of my Sophomore year. I reached out to one of my professors at Ohio University to study machine learning, a sub-field of Artificial Intelligence. The next semester, I was offered a research position in the Smarthealth Laboratory working with Dr. Marling and Dr. Bunescu, where we write AI programs to help patients with Type 1 Diabetes manage their condition. Ultimately the work will help these patients live more comfortably and safely.

It was here that I realized OU had given me the opportunity to apply my unique skills as a Computer Science major to help people. I’m not a physician, but I still have the feeling that my 8-year-old self is proud.

My latest research project was awarded to me by the Russ College Undergraduate Research Fund. I’m now able to research with Dr. Vigo in the SCOPE laboratory. Here, we work on the mathematical modeling of human conceptual behavior. In other words, my job is to help apply mathematics to computers to help them form concepts in the same way that a human would. It’s a long way from the science fiction AI, but I don’t think I’ve disappointed my younger self.

In short, Ohio University has taken what I thought was a decision to only be a computer scientist, and it’s opened my eyes to the cross-disciplinary work that will help me contribute to almost all of the fields I had once intended. Now, I just have to make a smart robot that can hit a 450ft homerun. I couldn’t be more thankful for the opportunity, and I hope this isn’t the last time you read about my research.