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School of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science Victoria Sandmeyer

Student club night deemed a success

By Victoria Sandmeyer, School of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science

bright_facesNearly 200 students packed into a lecture hall in Sloan Hall on September 3rd for “Student Club Night” where faculty, staff and student club leaders provided both pizza and food for thought to new EECS students. The atmosphere was lively and all faces were engaged as the new students were called to get involved in a hands-on way with their future.

Clinical associate professor Andy O’Fallon laid out how vital it is for the success of engineering and computer science students to be involved in studies outside of the classroom. “You have to do the academics; you have to go to class; but you also have to do more. Joining a student club is a perfect example of that.” Assistant professor Matt Taylor also stressed the importance of extra-curricular learning, saying: “Figure out what you’re passionate about and do it. If there’s not a club that does what you want to do, get a group of friends together and build something.” Sounding more like a football coach than a “tech guy,” systems administrator and 30 year staff member of EECS, John Yates had the students on the edge of their seats. He related how awesome it was to see so many undergraduate students taking personal responsibility of their education and future by participating in student club night. EECS director, Behrooz Shirazi summed up the evening, charging the students to “Be curious.”
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The purpose of the evening was to highlight the EECS student clubs and make new students aware of the resources available to them outside the classroom. Following the fast paced presentations, students were given a map of all the student club locations and turned loose for the open house where club leaders waited to answer questions.

Assistant director Sakire Arslan AY and undergraduate advisor Alli Guyer, who headed up the event, were pleased with the attendance and the positive tone of the evening. Sakire explained, “This was an event that was encouraging to both students and faculty. All the people here are interested in doing cool stuff and this was an opportunity to bring them all together in a different format.” She commented on the inspiring effect of taking faculty and students out of the classroom in order to understand each other in a new way. Alli commented from an advisor’s perspective, “We find that students who are involved with clubs do better in school; these students are the cream of the crop. Joining a club reinforces the concepts students are learning in class, and makes them more immersed in the information.” She went on to say,“Especially when it comes to computer science if you want to be successful you need to create a posse. It is so collaborative.”


Andy O’Fallon, Alli Guyer & Sakire Arslan AY drawing the names of the door prize winners from the evening

Vic’s Picks

Sarah Belter’s checklist

By Victoria Sandmeyer, School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

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Sarah Belter graduates with a degree in Computer Science from The School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science on May 10th. Two weeks later she starts her first job at Microsoft as a test developer. “Are you just a born winner; how does this happen?” I ask. As I spoke more with Sarah it became apparent that coupling a good education with social skills will take you far in this field.

Sarah first became interested in computer science after taking an introductory web development class in high school. “I found HTML code mystifying but cool, and I wanted to know more,” she says. As a child Sarah enjoyed solving puzzles and working on projects with her dad. “My Dad is a big Do it Yourselfer and we always had home improvement projects going on. I always wanted to help him, even if it was just holding tools for him when I was young. As I got older he let me help him do the planning and the math for the project. For example, when we moved to our new house, we were installing a sprinkler system and he let me help design the layout and had me do some of the measurements for pipe lengths and a number of joints. Although it wasn’t always a complicated project, him letting me do the real work and trusting me to get it right made me work that much harder, as well as made me double and triple check my own work.”

Sarah talks about her experience as a student being positive. She mentions the “atmosphere” and the “college community”. She mentions two teachers specifically: John Schneider and Andy O’Fallon, describing them as “excited, easy to understand, and available.” How did your education here at EECS help you through the interview process at Microsoft? I ask. “My internship interview at Microsoft as well as other companies seemed frightening, but most of the time it came down to the basics that we learned in our first few computer science courses. I had John Schneider and Andy O’Fallon back and forth my first three semesters. Their teaching abilities and passion for computer science helped me learn some of the most fundamental but invaluable information that led to my internship, and which ultimately led to my first job.”

Sarah is easy to talk to. She seems like the type of person who makes a goal, works hard, and does not make a big fuss about it. I ask her about computer science in general. “There are so many jobs out there for Computer Science majors,” she tells me. “Computers are widely integrated into our everyday lives and it has become beyond important that technology become a topic across all fields of study. Even if it is just advanced word processing, everyone can benefit from not just learning about computers but understanding what (and why) things happen the way they do. Ultimately, computer software is still written by people, and those people have to make decisions on how programs work and what they will do, so understanding the process that occurs to create computer programs could help reduce the frustration of many people.”

Throughout my interview with Sarah it becomes more and more apparent that her study of computer science has been more than just job training. There is a contagious passion for discovery that is evident in all of her explanations. The exciting thing about computer science is, in her words is: “[That] it’s never going to stop, it will always progress.”

Team Gleason takes 1st place in the EECS Senior Design Poster Contest

By Victoria Sandmeyer, School of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science

winning_gleason-1Fifteen competing senior design teams from EECS displayed their posters in the halls of the department on April 24th. The judging was administered by five industry representatives specializing in areas such as: microelectronics, power systems, electrical engineering and software development. The winning team, Team Gleason, was chosen based on their poster, their project as a whole, and their presentation.

Team Gleason was inspired by former WSU football star, Steve Gleason who suffers from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). ALS is a terminal disease that attacks motor neurons, causing the loss of muscle function. This makes communication very difficult, especially in the late stages of the disease. Because patients are able to control their eyes and eyelids up until the end, this becomes their only potential means of communication. Eye-tracking software has been develpoed to help patients communicate; unfortunately, it is very expensive. The goal of Team Gleason, a non-profit organization, is to raise awareness about ALS, while at the same time providing a more affordable means of communication for those suffering from it.

cropped_gleason-1Team Gleason has been developing a reliable predictive-typing software program which runs on a generic Android or Windows-8 tablet; and uses two hardware platforms for eye tracking: The Eye Tribe and The Pupil. Steve Gleason’s mother, Gail Gleason(pictured below at the Open House) is very supportive of  the Team Gleason project and has attended most of their weekly meetings. “He (Steve Gleason) liked our software way better than his expensive system in some key ways, including predictive typing,” says team mentor, David Bakken.