The department's problem of the week contest continues. The October and November winner was Mark Lotts! In February Randy Timmerman was the winner of the competition!
This past summer Victoria Cooper went to University of North Carolina at Charlotte for their Computer Science REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) program. She decided to do the REU program at UNCC because she was looking for a way to combine art and Computer Science and working in a gaming lab seemed to be the best fit. This specific lab that she worked in, the Games and Learning Lab, was headed by Dr. Tiffany Barnes and she was there for nine weeks. In this lab the students worked under Graduate Student advisors, Victoria's were Drew Hicks and Veronica Catete. There were seven other REU students in this lab working on different projects. Victoria worked with Javier Olaya on our project the Bug Bots game, or Bots for short. It’s a web based game and its purpose is to teach Computer Science concepts to younger groups of kids. Victoria essentially helped make the program pretty. She added wallpapers to the game which allowed you to change the background of the levels you created, which you can see on the actual website. The other work that she did is not on the website as of yet but she also created rating systems for the game. Finally both her partner and she worked on creating a 3D world for the bot to walk around in instead of using the GUI's.
Other than the work on their projects they had to do weekly presentations where they presented on a research paper as well as did a review of a game. They attended weekly hour long lectures on different aspects of graduate school such as how to give a good research presentation, the GRE, and other questions they had about graduate school. Their advisor also threw several parties which were fun. It was interesting because the parties were normally held during the week and they would protest the REU students leaving around 10:00PM but they were still expected to be in the lab working at 9AM. At the end of the program each student gave a ten minute presentation about their research. They made this into a contest for the Computer Science REU students. Victoria did not win.
Victoria met many interesting people while there. Many of the graduate students who were working in this lab were REU students from previous years. She made a lot of new friends who worked in different Computer Science labs over the summer and even a few Chemistry REU students. It was a great experience and she learned a lot.
Larry Balance is a senior computer science major and a mathematics minor; larry hails from chesapeake, VA. He comes from a pretty large family. Larry has a sister, a half-sister, three step-sisters, and a step-brother. His sister Lori, who is a recent graduate of Christopher Newport University with a bachelor's and a master's degree is now teaching in Chesapeake. Larry says she seriously enjoys giving him a hard time over just about everything.
Larry is a very active participant in campus life at Macon. He is or was a member of several organizations on campus, such as Student Government, Racquetball Club, the Board of Student Publications, Sigma Phi Epsilon, and the Resident Assistant staff. When he’s not working on homework or helping with one of those organizations he enjoys playing racquetball with friends and competing in different intramural sports. One of which is horseshoes; Larry teamed with Dr. Rabung and Dr. Foster to win the intramural championship; he predicts the team plans to do again in the coming weeks.
Last semester Larry studied abroad in Northern Ireland at Queen’s University of Belfast. While there, he met a ton of amazing people from all over the world - from places like Spain, Finland, and Germany just to name a few. He also had the opportunity to take some interesting and challenging Computer Science courses at Queen’s, the toughest of these was concurrent programming. Plus, after completing his work he travelled in Europe until the end of January. While traveling he got to see Paris, the Vatican on Christmas Day, Prague, and London on New Years.
Since Larry is graduating this year he's been trying to make up my mind between going to graduate school and getting a job. Unfortunately this decision is turning out to be a lot more difficult than he expected. At this point Larry waiting to see what his options are and intends to pick the best of them when the time comes.
It's been a busy start to 2012. I was in Haiti in January to review some farm projects as part of the Catholic Diocese of Richmond Sustainable Development Committee. One project our committee has been involved with is a cooperative effort between Caritas Hinche and Virginia Tech to build an experimental farm in Maissade that models best practices and is economically and environmentally sustainable. The projected is supported by a USAID grant and currently raises oxen (for meat), goats (a Heifer-like program), cows (for milk), and grows cash crops like beans and corn. Bees are used for pollination. On the next page are a couple of pictures of the storage depot/education center and the farm.