Category Archives: Computer Science

Ohio Soccer Alumni Weekend

Mollie Whitacre

Mollie Whitacre,
Senior, Computer Science

Athens, OH 25 September 2017

This past weekend was Alumni Weekend for all of the Ohio Women’s Soccer Alumni. The weekend consisted of two games from the current team and they were opening up their Mid-American Conference play, as well as getting to catch up with the alumni. I consider myself an Ohio Soccer Alumna because I no longer play on the team due to exhausted eligibility, but I am yet to graduate college.

Friday was the start to the weekend and that is when the first conference game was played. They took on Eastern Michigan on their home turf. Recently for our program, it has been difficult to beat both Eastern Michigan and Central Michigan, the opponent they played on Sunday.

On Friday, there was 36 seconds left in the match with Ohio tailing 1-0, when they scored and made it 1-1! The crowd erupted because now they got a chance to win in overtime. Well, overtime did not last long due to an Ohio goal by my roommate about thirty seconds in! Once, again the crowd erupted, except this time the game was over.

Sunday’s game was where they honored the alumni, so the crowd was larger than Friday. There was a special ceremony at halftime to honor the past players and coaches who were in attendance. The team ended on a high note this weekend with dominating Central Michigan 3-0. It was a very cool weekend to experience, both as a soccer alumna and also still a part of the team.

This is also the first time in a while that the program has started off with two wins! I am very excited to keep watching their progress as the season continues.

Home for Easter

Mollie Whitacre

Mollie Whitacre,
Senior, Computer Science

Athens, OH 16 April 2017

I went home this past weekend to visit my family in the great town of Toledo. I ended up with a very eventful trip, including going to the casino and the sprint car races.

My favorite part of the entire weekend was hands down seeing my dog! Roscoe is a 9-month old Aussie Doodle and he’s quite the thief! If you stop petting him for ten seconds, he will go find a sock or such to steal, then bring it to you for attention.

The casino was not the best trip in the world, to say the least. I did not go home with a million dollars in my pocket, but I did have fun! Isn’t that what casinos are there for?

Sprint car races are a weird hobby of me and my dad. When you go to these races, you usually bring home a pound of dirt because it sprays off the car’s tires into the bleachers, but this time was different. My dad wore a white t-shirt and it was still completely white when we left! We can thank the wind for that.

Overall, I had a blast going home this past weekend and seeing my family before the rush of finals!

Preparing for the Student Research and Creative Activity Expo

Quintin Fettes

Quintin Fettes,
Senior, Computer Science

Athens, OH 5 April 2017

For many students, research and creative activity goes on behind the scenes with the outside world largely unaware of their work. Students work on their scientific, artistic, musical and other pursuits in their free time as an extracurricular activity, developing their skills from composing and performing a new piece of music to trying to predict the onset of diabetes in mice using computers. However, the Student Research and Creativity Expo provides the opportunity to share all of their creations with the community and university.

This year, I’ll be co-presenting my senior design team’s work on Rufus, the RoboCat. As our senior design project, the Robocat has served as an introduction to engineering principles, mobile development for android devices, software development for robotics, Arduino programming, natural language processing, and image analysis.

Robocat

The improvements we’ve made have focused on the behavior and usability of the cat, ultimately producing a wider platform for the next team to begin developing and provide a flashy engineering project to get children interested in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM); in short, we’ve given the RoboCat a stronger brain.

Robocat

Ultimately, the Student Research Expo is giving hundreds of students, us included, the opportunity to present and feel pride in the result of hard work. Hundreds of our peers, professors, and high school students will come to admire the work of the college students and those that want will get the opportunity to be judged and ranked against our peers. The student research expo has given us all a great opportunity.

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!

Working on Robocat

Quintin Fettes

Quintin Fettes,
Senior, Computer Science

Athens, OH 16 January 2017

As it mechanically turns its head, the Robocat centers its gaze on me. “Hey Rufus,” I state, and quickly the cat meows to acknowledge I’ve spoken to it. These are just two of the newly added features for the robotic cat; however, for me, they are far from my favorite aspects of the cat.

Robocat

The RoboCat project began in 2011 as “A Biomimetic Cable Driven Quadruped Robot – The RoboCat.” Since then it’s provided computer science students with practical engineering experience by adding features to the android app it runs on, provided Electrical Engineering students with the opportunity to work with the electrical components of the cat, and Mechanical Engineering students the opportunity to work with building a functional, quadrupedal cat.

In my own experience, the freedom in reverse engineering a real animal, combined with the balance of importance of the work every engineering student has done upon the cat; it’s not hard to take pride in the work done to the RoboCat.

As an eye-catching project, the cat has served not only as a beacon of education for seniors in engineering programs, but also as a point of interest and potential entry in to STEM fields for children. Very recently, we presented the current version of the RoboCat to the faculty and friends of the EECS department’s staff. While many professors stopped and viewed the project briefly, it was the kids in attendance who couldn’t get enough. Very quickly they were laughing while testing the movement of the cat’s head and shouting out commands; in other words, the real value of this project is its ability to get young kids interested in Engineering projects on any level.