Category Archives: Computer Science

Internet Engineering

Mollie Whitacre

Mollie Whitacre,
Junior, Computer Science

Athens, OH 22 September 2016

Coming down to the end of my college journey, the classes I need to take are slowly dwindling down. I’m able to pick electives that are outside of the normal Computer Science scope. One class I decided to take this semester is Internet Engineering. It isn’t too hard to guess what this class would be about…yes, how the internet works.

When I enrolled for it, I thought it was going to be such a cool class and sure enough it has already exceeded my expectations. With it being one of my hardest and most demanding classes, it is still definitely one of the most rewarding ones I’ve taken. It has actually showed me what I want to do with life after college.

An interesting topic we’ve covered so far is routing to different computers and setting up the internet using solely IP Addresses. At first, it was all over my head and I felt lost, but the more time I spend walking to and from classes, I find myself thinking about how those computers are all connected together on the same network. I’m excited to see what other random facts I learn and to cover more topics as the year progresses.

Athensworks

Zach Perrault

Zach Perrault,
Senior, Computer Science

Athens, OH 15 March 2016

Last semester I participated in the Athens StartUp Weekend and won second place. One of the prizes our team won were several seats at Athensworks.

Athensworks

Athensworks is a local coworking space up on East Carpenter (just across from Family Dollar). Coworking spaces provide desks, conference rooms, nice chairs, and other people to work with for the self-employed and remote workers who might not have those things at home.

I first heard about Athensworks through the proverbial grapevine. I posted on a job board on Hacker News. A couple days later, an Athens native who works at Mavenlink in San Francisco reached out to me and introduced me to Ben Lachman, the founder of Athensworks.

Ben invited me to come to one of their monthly Hack Nights. At a Hack Night, anyone is welcome to stop by for some free pizza and to help build a project. Past Hack Night projects have been the Ohio Brew Week App and a pizza topping picker for large groups.

Since then my involvement with Athensworks has only increased. I started out only coming to a few Hack Nights. After StartUp Weekend I would work from Athensworks a couple days a week. And for the past six weeks I have been teaching a code school on Tuesday evenings.

The Code School class teaches JavaScript and is open to anyone in the community. Most of our students are local middle schoolers. It is very rewarding to give back to the community and share my passion for computer science with others.

Being a part of Athensworks is something I will really miss when I graduate. I have met a lot of great people and worked on a lot of fun things here.

Time out for Bowling

Wilson Taylor

Wilson Taylor,
Senior, Computer Science

Athens, OH 22 February 2016

This past weekend I had the opportunity to experience something new in Athens, Ohio—bowling. Since first coming to Athens I’ve always wanted to go bowling, but I’ve never given myself time to adventure to the Rollerbowl, the local bowling lanes.

While I don’t bowl frequently, it’s something I often have fond memories of. After throwing my first ball this past weekend I started to doubt these memories, very quickly. All the way through my fourth toss was my interest with bowling challenged. Having thrown my first four balls as straight gutters I was beginning to realize bowling wasn’t something I wouldn’t ‘just remember.’

Regardless of my performance I was noticing something while throwing those first few balls: the bowling lanes in Athens, Ohio offered a unique environment. The environment in the bowling alley on a Saturday afternoon was purely energetic.

Nearly half of the lanes were rented out to two or three families throwing parties for their children. From there, the ages ranged from elderly families taking an afternoon out to other groups of college students looking to get off campus. The lanes offered a positive environment where various groups could gather together and enjoy bowling, regardless of skill level. Throughout the afternoon I gradually threw fewer and fewer gutter balls. While I never managed to break 100 I still found the afternoon to be a lot of fun.

Regional Future City Competition

Wilson Taylor

Wilson Taylor,
Senior, Computer Science

Athens, OH 19 January 2016

This past weekend I had to opportunity to spend time in Columbus, judging students from around the state of Ohio in the Future City competition. The competition requires middle school students to create a virtual city model based upon technologies they believe to be possible in 50 years. Using their virtual model participants then implemented a 3D physical ‘splice’ of their city.

When designing their city, participants have to meet certain requirements, such as zero waste, high recyclability, and clear distinct city zones (Industrial, residential.)

My role at the event was to judge model presentations. The model presentations required each team to prepare a 5-7 minute speech that addressed the year’s theme: “Waste not, want not.” During the speech, participants described what they learned about the engineering design and implementation process.

On top of this, I got to see what these younger children believed the technologies of the future would be like. The most trending technology was pneumatic tubes running from every house which would automatically sort trash when sent through the tubes.

Some of the most interesting innovations were those that leveraged current technology in new ways. Many cities developed vertical farms in residential skyscrapers to conserve space while also creating a group gardening area to foster community.

The future cities competition allowed me to see what younger minds are interested in; the extent to which they’ll dedicate their time and energy to completing something they care about.

Interactive Computer Graphics

Wilson Taylor

Wilson Taylor,
Senior, Computer Science

Athens, OH 24 November 2015

As the semester is winding down our final projects are beginning to ramp up. One class this is especially true for is my Interactive Computer Graphics course.

Throughout the semester we have been exposed to various concepts surrounding computer graphics. We have been given various small-scale projects that focus on learning one or two distinct ideas and implementing them. The final project for the course is to come up with my own interactive, graphical program that would showcase what we have learned throughout the semester.

At first, this seemed daunting to me because I had to come up with the idea myself. However, after spending some time trying to come up with a project idea I quickly found myself far more interested in the assignment as the idea would be my own and I’d have more investment in the final product.

The project I decided upon implementing was an explorable, open room environment with various objects decorating the walls. As a player, you would explore the room and flip the objects over by clicking on them. On the back of each of the objects would be a number or shape that would be matched with another object in the same room. The project allowed me to create an engaging game while challenging me to expand upon the concepts I learned throughout the semester.

Admittedly, I found the project difficult and even frustrating at times but I learned a great deal and ended up creating a fun game.

Hour of Code

Wilson Taylor

Wilson Taylor,
Senior, Computer Science

Athens, OH 8 November 2015

This past week I had the opportunity to volunteer with the university’s professional computer science organization. The organization brought local middle school students on campus to educate them on programming concepts.

The event was titled “Hour of Code” and was done in tandem with the national drive to teach computer programming to a wider audience. Participants programmed in a language called scratch that is essentially drag and drop building blocks that control a character on a screen.

At the event, students would navigate their characters through preset challenges while fellow students and myself would offer support to the students when they would get stuck.

The Hour of Code surprised me because students very quickly began asking for “advanced” features. These advanced features required more knowledge than the drag and drop blocks offered. When this arose, we found ourselves beginning to explain basic programming concepts to the students and helping them implement these advanced features.

Looking back at the event, I found it exciting to see younger students begin to get captivated by the ideas of programming. These younger students came in to play games with scratch and quickly began asking how to implement true programs. I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with the students while they were on campus.

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.