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Computer Science After Hours...

It's 6 pm on a typical Wednesday in the Fall 2008 semester. Dinnertime? Perhaps. But here in Votey, the hallways are energized with groups of bright, engaged students.

In the Computer Science study area, a cluster of seniors intently discuss the flow diagrams they've just drawn on a white board in preparation for an upcoming exam. Alison Pechenick's Matlab students are gathered, a half hour after class, comparing notes and talking shop. While a Geology student uses Matlab to reveal spatial correlations inherent in her data, her classmate from Natural Resources is adapting a statistical machine-learning algorithm to tease patterns from hyperspectral measurements for a particular species of conifer.

Meanwhile, a number of Chris Danforth's Numerical Methods students enthusiastically describe their efforts to "deblur" the compressed image he has supplied, using Matlab's matrix functions. The course, in its second year, is specifically designed for juniors, seniors, and graduate students across the disciplines. As an alternative or supplement to assigned exercises, students are encouraged to create portfolios of work related to their computational courses and research.

Student work using Matlab

Next door in the Computer Science lab and in the nearby hallway, twenty students are actively engaged in Jackie Redmond's "Hands-On Robotics" course. Visitors captivated by the energy peek their heads in the doorway to take a look; the students are so engrossed in their work, they don't even look up.

Offered for the first time this semester, the course provides students a project-based introduction to robotics. Each project required the teams to design and implement the hardware and software required to complete a given task, often a competition among the teams. Topics such as sensors, gear ratios, and Bluetooth communication protocol were explored.

For their final projects, teams of four students were asked to apply the skills they had acquired in a design of their choice. Check out the videos below to see their creativity.

Baldur, the
BiPed Robot

Baldur, the BiPed Robot
The Barista
The Barista
Guitar Hero: 2.0
Guitar Hero: 2.0
 
Robo Pup
Robo Pup
Wii Control
Wii Control