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Computer science students work with Google engineers and the visually impaired to create applications

Release Date: 05-16-2007

Author: Dawn Marie Densmore
Email: Dawn.Densmore@uvm.edu
Phone: Array Fax: 802-656-8802

This past semester saw the creation of two important applications by UVM Computer Science (CS) students. Working with clients as part of their coursework, students created a clinical scheduling application and an adaptive crossword puzzle program.

Clinical scheduler for labs

Steve Whaley, Chris McGinty and Matt Beers — all UVM undergraduate CS students — have used knowledge gained from their CS14 class wisely. The course, taught by CS lecturer Alison Pechenick, provided students with the opportunity to create a clinical scheduling application that handles the range of laboratory training required of students in the health professions.

Whaley, McGinty and Beers collaborated with Christine Griffin, lecturer in Medical Laboratory & Radiation Sciences, to create a Visual Basic application that can schedule a wide range of clinical lab experiences. The project required Whaley to interface directly with Google engineers. "I was the first software engineer in the country to link the Google Calendar API with Visual Basic .Net," said Whaley. "It was incredible to work with those engineers to create the program."

McGinty, a senior undergraduate in Computer Science, created the algorithm for the project. Matt Beers worked on the user interface. "The project was complex," Beers explained, "because each lab accommodates a different number of students with different rotation periods." It was impossible for a subset of students to simply travel as a cohort. Further complicating the development of this application was the need for information to be easily accessible and available to all students — anytime, anywhere.

"I was pleased and impressed with the professionalism of this team and their relationship with the client," said Griffin. The students met weekly with Griffin to discuss specifications, review progress, make modifications, and test the application. According to Griffin, the students exhibited "all the skill sets of well-trained, professional software engineers."

For more information, contact CS Lecturer Alison Pechenick (apecheni@cems.uvm.edu; 802-656-2547).

Crosswords for the blind

Marti Woodman, lecturer for the UVM School of Business Administration, became blind five years ago. As part of his human-computer interaction class, CS professor Josh Bongard invited Woodman to exhibit software designed for the blind to his students. During Woodman's presentation, she remarked that one of the activities she missed most since going blind was doing crossword puzzles — not yet adapted for the blind.

Chris McGinty and Matt Bologna, senior undergraduate Computer Science students in the class, were amazed. After class, they talked about how cool would it be to design an adaptive crossword puzzle program for the blind, which is exactly what they've done.

Woodman is thrilled. "It will be wonderful to be able to do a crossword puzzle again," she said.

For more information, contact CS Professor Josh Bongard (Josh.Bongard@uvm.edu; 802-656-4665).

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