This post shares some of the diversity of our students’ summer experiences—a very important part of a computer science student’s education. I’ve gathered short reflections from a few students and linked to the blogs of a few more. This first draft represents two summer research experiences (one at Whitman and one at a large research university) and two internships (one closely associated with Whitman and one not).
My sincere thanks to Andrew and Melissa for responding to my call for contributions, and to Camille and Raj for blogging all summer long. Students: I know many more of you did interesting things this summer. Please let me know if you would like to be included!
Andrew Harvey ‘20
Organization: Whitman College, Computer Science
Location: Walla Walla, WA
This summer I was able to do research with Computer Science Professor Janet Davis. Her academic research has focused primarily on computers as persuasive machines, and how they can be used in humans everyday life as such. Our goal was to create an app with motivations that aligned with persuasive technology interests, that people could use to help them improve their public speaking abilities. We quickly realized that this was slightly to ambitious to finish completely in only one summer, but were able to make excellent headway into the project, and put ourselves in a position to finish it off nicely in the near future.
I was very pleased with how much I accomplished this summer, from reading persuasive technology papers, to designing the app and user studies to test its usability. I was able to see what it might be like to pursue a career in the computer science field; working on a project for weeks at a time, and I really enjoyed it. I was very proud with all that we accomplished, and hope to see the project completed soon!
Camile Anderson ’18
Organization: North Carolina State University
Location: Raleigh, North Carolina
Camile applied to the Computing Research Association’s Distributed Research Experiences for Undergraduates program, which “matches students with a faculty mentor for a summer research experience at the faculty mentor’s home institution.” Camile was matched with Tiffany Barnes, whose research includes “serious games for education, health, and energy.” She describes her project with Dr. Barnes and grad student Yihuan Dong as follows:
Snag’ Em is a social networking game designed specifically for the academic community, especially at conferences and community colleges. Certain social dynamics offer uneven advantages to those that are especially extroverted or articulate. Snag’ Em offers a way for less outgoing people to comfortably network and build a sense of community, as well as lower social boundaries created by language barriers and culture differences. Since a sense of community is correlated with involvement and retention, Snag’ Em aims to collaterally improve these for users as well.
Camile kept a weekly journal during the 10-week fellowship, beginning with week 1 and culminating with presenting her work at the NCSU undergraduate conference.
Melissa Kohl ‘19
Organization: Booz Allen Hamilton
Location: San Diego, USA
This summer I worked as a software engineering intern at Booz Allen Hamilton, an international consulting firm. I was part of an group of 7 interns (5 programmers, 1 business, 1 engineer) tasked with creating software to send data between dissimilar military training simulations for the Marine Corps. In 10 weeks, my team and I built a Java software package with a graphical user interface that could send data between the simulations, and in the final week, we presented what we accomplished to senior leadership within the company. From the beginning of the summer to the end, I learned Java, became experienced in Agile methodologies, gained knowledge about networking, and learned to work in a group with both people I liked and people I disliked.
As a woman in a field dominated by men, my first couple weeks were difficult in the sense that I felt I needed to be extra good at whatever we were doing to feel validated for being there. I was also the youngest intern and had much less programming experience. One of my proudest accomplishments early on in the summer was realizing I did not need to be validated for being there and knowing that I could bring a lot to the team. An example of this was when the non-programmers in our intern group recognized that I was the best programmer to speak about the technical side of our project in a way that other people can understand, which was essential for our presentations. By the end of the summer, I had made major contributions to our final project and was entrusted to present some of our most important slides for our final presentation. Overall, I had a really good experience and became a lot more confident in myself and my abilities to solve problems through this internship.
Rajesh Narayan ’19
Location: Bellevue, WA
StockCharts.com is owned by Chip Anderson, parent of a current Whitman student. Chip has been building up a really thoughtful and supportive internship program over the last several years—and he’s also been hiring Whitman graduates.
Raj told me he had an amazing experience at StockCharts this summer. He kept a blog of his experiences during the summer, starting with Week 1—(Pseudo)random number generators. Although the summer started with learning projects, by the end discovered a passion for refactoring, took over running the daily data build, and developed new tools for the team.