W&L Computer Science Blog

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W&L at Grace Hopper: Are We There Yet?

Six students and one faculty member represented Washington and Lee at this year’s Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing in Baltimore, MD.   The student-focused conference features both technical and professional development sessions.

Haley, Sam, Cory, and Deirdre at the entryway for the conference

Alicia Bargar ’13, Samantha O’Dell ’15, and Cory Walker ’15 were awarded ultra-competitive scholarships to attend.  Having three scholarship winners from W&L–out of 300 scholarships awarded and many, many more applicants–is quite impressive!  Haley Archer-McClellan ’15, Deirdre Tobin ’15, and Wenda Tu ’14 were generously supported by the Provost’s Office.

All students agreed the conference was an inspiring and motivating experience and the career fair opened their eyes to a lot of opportunities.

Some highlights:

  • Cory won a Ninja Coder t-shirt from Amazon for programming the Fibonacci sequence in Python
  • Wenda met an executive from GE and had an enlightening conversation that covered some diverse topics, including material for Wenda’s Feminist Social and Political Philosophy course.
Haley, Alicia, and Deirdre at the Inner Harbor. The RockIT Science and Systers 25th Anniversary Celebration was held at the Maryland Science Center.

Professor Sprenkle attended the conference as a representative of the GHC Academic Advisory Board, helped lead the Faculty Speed Networking session, helped organize the Faculty Lightning Talks, and served as a judge of the undergraduate student research competition.

The theme of this year’s conference was “Are We There Yet?”  While the answer seems to clearly be “no”, W&L is definitely making strides in the right direction.

Class of 2012

Most of our class of 2012 (from left to right): Camille Cobb, David Margolies, Charles Gould, Joey Brown, Anna Pobletts, and Mike White.

We are quite proud of the class of 2012 graduates from computer science!

A picture of the class of 2012 on graduation day. Back, left to right: Andrew Bennett, Joey Brown, David Margolies, Charles Gould, Mike White Front (left to right): Camille Cobb, Anna Pobletts
A picture of the class of 2012 on graduation day.
Back, left to right: Andrew Bennett, Joey Brown, David Margolies, Charles Gould, Mike White
Front (left to right): Camille Cobb, Anna Pobletts

W&L Computer Science Featured on WVTF

Sandy Hausman from WVTF reported a story about women in computer science at Washington and Lee.  The story features Professor Sara Sprenkle and students Camille Cobb ’12 and Cory Walker ’15.

CS Major Lee Davis Represents TN in MockCon Parade

Lee Davis '13 (yellow hat) waves from Tennessee's float in the MockCon parade. Photo courtesy of Kevin Remington.

W&L Women in Computer Science Continue to Buck National Trend

Link to the W&L news article

Spring-Term CSCI ‘bots invade Leyburn Library

This year’s W&L Spring-Term Festival took place in Leyburn Library, and the Computer Science Department was there in force: the twelve students enrolled in CSCI 250: Introduction to Robotics demonstrated robots that flew over obstacles, followed their creators around like a pet, played a game of Tron, and obeyed commands issued from an XBox Kinect sensor.  There was even some cross-project interference, as the Kinect-driven bot tried to steal the Rovipet’s beloved green ball.

CSCI 250 also featured a field trip to the Areva Nuclear Power facility in Lynchburg, where we got to see some bigger robots in action.


What Is IBM Jeopardy! Challenge?

W&L Computer Science students watched the first episode of the IBM Jeopardy! Challenge in the cozy Hillel House conference room, with large TV.  The CS department provided snacks, while the students provided the conversation and analysis of the game.  At the end of the episode, only the first round of Jeopardy! was played.  Brad Rutter and Watson were tied at $5k, while Ken Jennings had $2K.

Picture taken at the Viewing Party, using Apple's Photo Booth.

An Algorithm for Fun!

In Wednesday’s CSCI111: Fundamental of Programming I class, the students wrote an algorithm for making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.   Fellow student Jean Paul Mugabe ’14 then attempted to make a PB&J sandwich using their algorithm.  The students could not make any assumptions about what Jean Paul knew, and Jean Paul did exactly what they told him to do in the algorithm.

Jean Paul Mugabe '14 follows the class's PB&J algorithm, while Professor Sara Sprenkle asks questions. As you can see, the class did not tell Jean Paul to remove the peanut butter jar's safety seal, so he stuck the knife through the safety seal.

This exercise illustrates the importance of having unambiguous programming languages because computers cannot infer what we’re telling it to do.  The exercise also motivates some important properties of algorithms, such as what data and operations we have available, naming, ordering steps, handling special cases, looping, and subroutines.

CSCI Flies High at the Spring Term Fair

W&L Computer Science presented results from two new spring-term courses at the Spring Term Fair on 21 May 2010. Professor Sara Sprenkle’s CSCI 335: Software Engineering through Web Applications featured a much-needed revision to W&L’s daily Campus Notices, and Prof Simon Levy’s CSCI 251: iPhone Application Development debuted some student-authored apps.  This video, courtesy of Professor Ken Lambert, shows senior Sam Reed ’10 flying a prototype AR.Drone quad-rotor helicopter from an iPad.  Sam’s work enabled flying the drone to from this new tablet device, and projecting the image from the drone’s camera to a video screen via the iPad.

Winning T-Shirt Design

Designed by Senior Anne Van Devender:

We’re getting the t-shirts from The Graphic Cow Company.