Graduates, Scholarships, Awards, and Prizes 2014

Congratulations to all our Computer Science majors and minors for their outstanding work and efforts this academic year. Graduate majors: Alexander K. Baca, Connor A. Hollenbeck, Jin Huang, Patrick J. Jennings, Garrett Koller,  Colin M. Mohnacs, Jean P. Mugabe, Anton D. Reed, Suraj Bajracharya, Andrew E. Kimberly, Richard J. Marmorstein and graduate minors: William M. Peaseley.

FELLOWSHIPS RECEIVED

The following students have won, since the last commencement, fellowships in national or international competitions which underwrite their continuing academic endeavors.

National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships- (three years of funding in support of graduate study): Camille Morgan Cobb ‘12

Venture for American Fellowship (two years of work and mentoring as an entrepreneur with American start-up companies): Alexander Kairo Anderson Baca ‘14

 SCHOLARSHIPS, AWARDS, AND PRIZES

Computer Science: The Computer Science Department Award: Richard J. Marmorstein

The Kim Family Prize in Economics: Richard J. Marmorstein

Johnson Scholars: Garrett Heath Koller     

Mathematics Department: The Taylor Scholarship in Mathematics: Onyebuchi Ekenta         

Student Affairs: The Douglas C. Halstead Memorial Scholarship: Jok Genga Asiyo

The Ring Tum Phi Awards: Anton D. Reed

Team Awards: Leigh Williams Memorial Award: Andrew E. Kimberly

Football: Dan Ray Justice Memorial Football Award: Connor Hollenbeck

 

Programming Teams Excel at Dickinson Contest

W&L Programming teams won 2nd and 6th place out of 20 at the annual Dickinson College Programming Contest on Saturday, April 5.  Team “Syntax Error to the Thrown Exception” placed 2nd with seniors Richard Marmorstein ’14 and Alex Baca ’14 and first year Lauren Revere ’17.  Team “Justice League” placed 6th with seniors Garrett Koller ’14 and Anton Reed ’14 and junior Samantha O’Dell ’15.

In such competitions, teams try to solve as many of the programming problems as possible in the least amount of time, fueled by pizza, snacks, and caffeine.  A solution consists of code that correctly executes for all possible correctly formatted inputs. The contest also included teams from Dickinson, Elizabethtown, Ursinus, Gettysburg, Lebanon Valley, and Messiah Colleges and Penn State – Harrisburg.  Team “F.R.O.G” from Messiah College won the competition.

The Programming Club and ACM Student Chapter at Washington and Lee is led by Alex Baca ’14.

 

Team Syntax Error to The Thrown Exception

Team Syntax Error to the Thrown Exception

Team Justice League

Team Justice League

Celebrating afterwards, Richard Marmorstein '14, Anton Reed '14, Lauren Revere '17, Alex Baca '14, Samantha O'Dell '15, and Garrett Koller '14.

Celebrating afterwards, Richard Marmorstein ’14, Anton Reed ’14, Lauren Revere ’17, Alex Baca ’14, Samantha O’Dell ’15, and Garrett Koller ’14.

 

Haley Archer-McClellan ’15′s IUI Conference Experience

Standing near the Baha’i Gardens in Haifa!

By Haley Archer-McClellan

Sooner or later, everything connects.

It’s the middle of finals week, and everyone is in their own headspace. As a student body, we’re over-caffeinated, we’ve had too little sleep, and I think it’s safe to say we aren’t busy thinking a lot about how beautiful the world around us is (although with the improved weather these past few days, that isn’t as true as it could be). However, all I can think about is this time a year ago. I was so excited to finish my second semester of Real Analysis, and little did I know I was about to get an email that would begin easily the best year of my life so far.

The night after finals ended, I got an email from a research lab offering me a position in their Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program for the summer. If you don’t know about the REU program, it’s a National Science Foundation-funded program aimed at, as the name implies, making research experience possible for undergraduate students who may be interested in graduate-level research. In particular, the program aims to provide opportunities for students from smaller liberal-arts colleges to experience research at larger research institutions. In my case, this was the Institute for Creative Technologies (ICT), an Army-funded University Affiliated Research Center (UARC) at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

A position in the Narrative Group at ICT seemed right up my alley – investigating how people experience, interpret, and narrate the events of their lives. I got to work with Andrew Gordon and Melissa Roemmele, two researchers in the Narrative Group, who are working on modeling behavior interpretation and narrative-generation. The program took about ten undergraduates and ICT also hosted many graduate interns and international research students. Over the ten weeks of the internship, I saw research more intimately than ever before, met some of the most intellectually passionate students I could imagine, and got to experience the bizarre transition from Lexington, Virginia to Los Angeles, California.

For some students who participate in REUs, the experience ends with the summer. However, I was lucky enough that Andrew and Melissa allowed me to help with a conference submission- a short paper describing the findings so far, as well as the methods we used in the first steps of generating narrative based on behavior. As an undergraduate still not really sure whether I was hoping to do research in the future, I wasn’t at all expecting the paper to be accepted into the conference. I had emailed my advisor, Professor Levy, about the possibility of department funding for conference travel, but I worked actively to keep my hopes down. When the date on which authors were supposed to be notified came and went, I was disappointed to be sure, but I figured it was for the best in the grand scheme of things.

A day or two later, I got an email from Andrew – the paper had been accepted. I was simultaneously stunned and excited, and emailed Professor Levy once again as a shot in the dark. “Professor Levy, is there any possibility that funding would still be possible for the conference? The paper was accepted.” With both department support and a scholarship for travel from the Association of Computer Machinery, I registered for the International Conference on Intelligent User Interfaces and booked my first international plane ticket, trying to figure out how I would make it from Lexington, Virginia all the way to Haifa, Israel during a school week.

Triangle Charades.1

Melissa and I acted out a quick game of Charades to convey the idea of interpreting behavior automatically.

The conference on Intelligent User Interfaces is focused on the intersection of Artificial Intelligence and Human-Computer Interaction. This takes a host of different meanings, from recommendation systems and intuitive map interfaces to multitouch typing, layered stereoscopic displays, and interface adaptation for users with impaired dexterity. If technology is becoming ubiquitous, how do we make it as intuitive as possible? Can we simulate the way we already think about and interact with the world?

Before this February, the farthest that I’d ever been from my hometown of Austin, Texas was the ski town of Whistler, British Columbia in 2003. The most indispensable part of this conference for me was the experience of being so far from home, meeting people from around the world who have written in the same field as me, and scheduling my time out of the conference so I could see as much as possible of Israel.

Standing in front of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem!

Because neither of us had ever been to Israel, Melissa Roemmele and I travelled together. We arrived in Tel Aviv a day early and, over the course of our time there, managed to see what we could of Jerusalem, Haifa, Akko, and Tel Aviv. The entire duration of the conference, I felt for the first time in quite a while that I truly knew what I was doing. Everything I had done up until then led me to a demo session meeting a graduate student whose father and sister both went to W&L; to sitting across from a graduate student from Japan who that night won Best Paper at the conference; to hearing about the potential of the Heider-Simmel Interactive Theater project from Wolfgang Wahlster, that day’s keynote speaker. I have never felt so continuously starstruck as I did talking over lunch to people I had earlier that day heard speak eloquently, hopefully about the future of intelligent interface design. I don’t know that I’ve ever felt as hopeful or as inspired as I did that week, and in the time following the conference.
In under a week I managed to see more of the world than in my twenty years combined. While it was a sharp change coming back to Lexington, back to classwork and short writing assignments and club meetings, I’ve never before felt like I know what I’m doing, like anything is possible and the future is right ahead of me. I’m not a sentimental person, but I can’t help but muse on how beautiful a year it’s been, on how far I’ve come and how much further there is to go.

As I go into my first final of the term today, for Women’s and Gender Studies, so many perspectives we’ve discussed this term revolve around the necessity of narrative. Everything we experience in life comes down to how we frame it. How we narrate the events in our lives says a lot about those events, but it also determines how we interpret those events. Sooner or later, everything connects. What a year and what a world.

 

Alumni News: Camille Cobb ’12 Receives NSF Research Fellowship

Congratulations to Camille Cobb ’12, who is a recipient of an NSF (National Science Foundation)graduate Research Fellowship. Camille Cobb is a University of Washington, Computer Science and Engineering Ph.D. student. Research Fellowships are among the most prestigious awards available to graduate students in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) field.

For more information:

Computer Science majors and minor to be inducted into Phi Beta Kappa

phibetakappaComputer Science majors Richard Marmorstein ’14 and Bipeen Acharya ’15, and Scott Gould ’15, a computer science minor, will be inducted into the prestigious academic honor society at the Phi Beta Kappa/Society of the Cincinnati Convocation on Thursday, March 13, at 11:45 a.m. in Lee Chapel. The convocation, will recognize and honor 49 members of the junior and senior classes and eight graduates from the class of 2013, all of whom were accepted into Phi Beta Kappa based on their exceptional academic achievements.
Read more: http://news.blogs.wlu.edu/2014/03/07/wl-phi-beta-kappa-chapter-welcomes-poet-professor-and-novelist-lucinda-roy/

Valerie Barr of Union College to Speak Dec 11

Valerie Barr, Professor of Computer Science at Union College, will be speaking at the Winter 2013 Fall Academy (Wed, Dec 11 at 12:30 p.m. in the IQ Center) about her experience encouraging faculty across discipines to pursue computing topics in their courses.  Her talk is entitled “Blake, Biofuel, and Bribery: Interdisciplinary Applications of Computing”.

Programming Teams Win at Longwood Competition

Six members of the W&L Programming Club excelled at the annual Longwood Programming Competition, held October 19.  The two teams of three placed second and third out of 10 teams competing.

Team ArrayList, which placed second, included senior Richard Marmorstein ’14 and two first-years, Lauren Revere ’17 and Jamie White ’17.  Team UnlimitedCodeWorks placed third and included senior Garrett Koller ’14 and third-years Onye Ekenta ’15 and Samantha O’Dell ’15.

Plugging away: from left, Richard Marmorstein '14, Lauren Revere '17, Jamie White '17.

Plugging away: from left, Richard Marmorstein ’14,
Lauren Revere ’17, Jamie White ’17.

In such competitions, teams try to solve as many of the programming problems as possible in the least amount of time, fuelled by doughnuts and caffeine.  A solution consists of code that correctly executes for all possible correctly formatted inputs.  Both teams solved five of the seven possible problems. Longwood seniors Nick Pastore, Richie Noble, and first-year Andrew Brogan placed first in the contest.

The Programming Club at Washington and Lee is led by Alex Baca ’14.  The Club is now preparing for the imminent ACM Regionals competition, which will be held nationally at many sites on November 2. Go Generals!