Come to UMCS…play with blocks?

Freshman spent the morning building structures with Keva planks last week. While it seems a stretch, Professor Johnson says – “This has all the hallmarks of programming. A clear problem to solve (highest tower), a small vocabulary (orientation of blocks), a need for repetition that can be expressed as an algorithm (the building’s structure), and limited resources (students only get 100 blocks).”

“And, it’s social. The greatest predictor of success for our students is the peer networks they establish. Exercises like this help them build those networks.” Johnson concluded. It does look like a good time.

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UMCS Freshman, building towers with Keva planks.

A Look Around the Department

Jesse LaFlesch is a UM CS student that helps out around the department. He recently put together a short video showing some of the great ways our student interact. Check it out by clicking here!

 

 

Silicon Valley Supporting UM CS Climate Research

UM’s CS department is in the news!  Assistant Professor Doug Brinkerhoff is providing a machine learning approach to understanding the complexities of tidewater glaciers in Greenland as part of a brand-new collaboration with researchers from across the globe.  The project, which is funded by the Silicon Valley-based Heising-Simons Foundation, seeks to inform advanced glacier models with an unprecedented collection of atmospheric, oceanic, and glaciological measurements.  The effort recently made the cover of Science Magazine.  Check out the article here: https://vis.sciencemag.org/greenlands-dying-ice/.

 

Fall 2019 Potluck

Thanks to Trish Duce’s organizing department members and their families enjoyed fried chicken, an assortment of potluck dishes, and a few rousing games of cornhole. The weather was cool and cloudy, with occasional glimpses of sunlight.

Study here, see world

One appealing aspect of the University of Montana is its study abroad programs. Students can spend a semester or year abroad, taking courses at a partner institution, and UM awards credit towards a degree for courses taken at these institutions.

UM-CS student Betta Lyon-Delsordo is doing exactly this. After some discussions with CS department advisers, Betta identified a set of classes that she could take in Spain that would be equivalent to computer science classes taken here. As they say, the trip is often better than the destination. This summer, Betta has been en route to Universidad de Vigo, in the North West of Spain. She’s been providing short updates to the department, and we’re sharing some of them here. What an experience she is having! In her own words:

I’m Betta, a rising sophomore studying Computer Science and Spanish, and this summer I’m working as a remote intern for GatherBoard.  I work part time on projects for GatherBoard (a local tech start-up that creates event calendars), while traveling and working part time in exchange for room and board.  My internship projects range from creating marketing campaigns for email and social media, to updating websites and the management portal, to Spanish translation work.  When I’m not on my computer, I’m staying with host families through WorkAway, an organization that connects travelers with hosts to work a few hours a day for food and housing.  This summer I’m traveling to Chile, California, Spain and other European countries yet to be determined.  So far I’ve taught English, worked in hostels, and helped put on a Buddhist retreat, all while meeting incredible people and their families.  My travels will end in Spain, where I will spend the next year at the Universidad de Vigo.  This has been an wonderful experience, and I feel very lucky to be able to travel almost for free and further my tech skills at the same time. 

High Performance Computing at UMCS

Thanks to the efforts of UM-CS Assistant Professor Travis Wheeler, our campus will be receiving $395,000 in grant money from the National Science Foundation. This money will be for a high-performance computing cluster for UM researchers and students in support of scientific discovery. More details about the grant can be found here.

UM CS Students Use Raspberry PIs to Learn Programming

Students in UM CS instructor Trish Duce’s “Introduction to Computer Science” class got more than they bargained for this summer. While the were expecting to learn the fundamentals of programming and some computational theory, assignments were made more lively by structuring them around the computing platform called Raspberry PI. These inexpensive computers can be programmed in a variety of languages, and be used to control circuits. In this case students programmed a sequence of small LED lights to register the amount of light in the room. UM CS student Andrew Ammons developed the new assignments that use the PIs and Trish reports that all students really enjoyed working on the assignment.

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Introduction to CS students see the LEDs light up according to the room’s brightness.