Chaos typically tends to overwhelm people, not excite them.

But this is a different type of chaos, and Vanessa Myhaver ‘20 is a different type of person. A CEMS student who’s already dedicated most of her life to the magic of mathematics, Myhaver is now applying her passion toward the study of black holes, and the chaos within them. She recently earned an internship at NASA Goddard, where she’ll bring a unique perspective on problems.

“Complex systems are a huge field of study that’s very, very new for the world,” says Myhaver. “And our school is one of the only ones to offer the right setting for it.”

Growing up in New Hampshire, Myhaver once stood in the space-enamored shadow of her older brother, who adored Star Wars and space documentaries. But when Myhaver arrived at UVM, she discovered complex systems, eventually earning a coveted spot in NASA’s L’SPACE program.

Myhaver gives a massive amount of credit to Professor Jim Eddy for the trajectory of her studies and career. As she writes in a letter to Computer Science Professor and Chair Christian Skalka, Eddy and the course CS121, Computer Organization, “have changed my future career and the technical skills I have added to my skillset. I absolutely believe this has been the most beneficial course I have taken at UVM. I learned more in this course than I have in any course I have taken thus far.”

Vanessa wrote a letter of appreciation to Dr. Christian Skalka, chair of the COmputer Science Department. In it, she highligthed how valuable her UVM work has been in her growth as a scientist:

Dear Dr. Skalka,
My name is Vanessa Myhaver, I am a senior Mathematical Sciences major with a minor in Computer Science. I am writing to you in regard to Professor James Eddy and his course CS121: Computer Organization. My motivation for writing to you today is due to the incredible direct applications of this said course and how much it has helped me in my future career development.... I hope to get across just how important I find the skills I have learned through this course to be and how much I would like to support others in taking it... This course teaches students about the real-world applications of computer science and brings project development to the minds of students.
I am currently enrolled in the Accelerated Masters for Applied Mathematics with a concentration in Complex Systems here at UVM. I have developed great interest in the aerospace industry and applications of mathematics in astrophysics and aerospace engineering. I have been involved in a course called the NASA L’SPACE Academy for the past three semesters in which I have been taught various Mission and Project Proposal concepts while working with a team of students on an applicable project to the course. From my experience with this course I received an incredible NASA Lucy Mission Internship at KinetX Aerospace, Inc. in Simi Valley, California.
This internship is the first application of Professor James Eddy’s course that has shown me the incredible real-world applications of his course. My internship involved implementing a very large star dataset from online for the purpose of mission navigation support. My task involved creating a database and writing an algorithm to query this made database using any of my preferred languages as long as SQL was the main source of use. I had never learned of any of these concepts before taking CS121. In fact, I had been hired under this position without including my learned skills using SQL, but no other applicant had any SQL experience on their resume either. I was chosen because I appeared to be the student they trusted most to learn this language and be able to attack a problem without fear of my missing technical skills.
To say the least, you cannot image the excitement they had knowing that I did have this said experience and had previously learned all of these skills from one course I had taken that previous semester, that being, CS121. Their greatest excitement was truly held in the fact that they had hired someone that would be able to explain these SQL skills to the entire team there. The group of engineers I was working alongside of had no SQL programming experience which led me to lead a SQL session in which I taught everyone the basic skills of SQL and how they were used in application to my project. It was truly incredible to see that one class could change my entire internship experience so much so that it led me to teach others from NASA these technical skills.

I had no prior experience with Linux before taking Computer Organization. I spent the entire summer using Linux and even provided help to the other interns and engineers using Linux. Not only did this Linux experience come in assistance here, but in every computer science application I have been involved in since this course. This is the number one technical skill that people have noticed on my resume and I cannot describe how thankful I am to have this skill now. Which brings me to my next direct application of the benefits I have received from CS121.

I recently attended the Grace Hopper Conference in which I have received an extensive amount of full-time and internship opportunities from, which I am still trying to make decisions towards today. Like I said previously, my number one most asked about and praised technical skill in interviews is my Linux experience. In every technical interview I had, the majority of questions were in regard to Linux commands and explanations of them. The rest of the technical skills asked were in regard to defining computer organization terms such as RAM, Virtual Memory, Interrupts, etc. I had not learned these terms before James Eddy’s course, but now that I have been exposed to them, I was able to ace every technical interview I had during my Grace Hopper experience. Since then I have received an offer from every company that asked me these technical skills, so to say the least, I am very thankful I have been taught these terms.

Lastly, I would like to mention two recent projects I have been recruited for. As I have mentioned before I am involved in the NASA L’SPACE Academy. In this current semester’s session, this being the last of my sessions, I have been chosen to be a primary reviewer for one of the submitted proposals from this course. This involves a rigorous hour-long review of the team’s proposal that I will be leading. The project I am reviewing is related to the use of sensors and data collection which I have received all these skills from James Eddy’s course and my recent internship enhancing and applying these skills. From the skills I gained in this course, I have now been recognized as the most skilled student in this course when working with sensors, data collection, and Linux. I truly believe I would not have been chosen for this project if it were not for the extensive knowledge I have gained from CS121 and the mass amount of applications of this course.
I have also been recruited as the Software Lead for the UVM RockSat-C Team in which I am to implement the sensors used to collect data in regard to the project they wish to learn from. Although there is an Electrical Engineer on the team to determine which sensors they wish to use and how to set these up in their payload, I had been recruited by their advisor to write the code that implements these sensors. I also will be creating a database to store the data collected by these sensors and then go on to analyze this collected data for the team. If it were not for the extensive experience I have had since taking CS121 I do not think I would have been noted as a skilled individual in regard to these concepts and applications.

I cannot begin to explain to you just how much James Eddy and his course CS121: Computer Organization have changed my future career and the technical skills I have added to my skillset. I absolutely believe this has been the most beneficial course I have taken at UVM. I learned more in this course then I have in any course I have taken thus far. I cannot stress enough just how much I believe this professor deserves recognition for his contribution to my academic career and the hard work that he puts in to help his students succeed.

Thank you for your time,
Vanessa Myhaver


Sarah Tuff Dunn
Vanessa Myhaver with some of her research