YSU CSIS Runs Jackson-Milton Coding Camp

From July 31 to August 4, 2017, the Computer Science and Information Systems Department at YSU conducted a week-long coding camp at Jackson-Milton High School. The camp was created to introduce Jackson-Milton high school and middle school students to various aspects of the computer science field.

With the help of Dr. Bonita Sharif, recent Computer Science and Mathematics graduate Benjamin Clark coordinated several activities that allowed students to experiment with coding and programming. Together, Sharif and Clark created activities that taught the students about computer science topics like binary numbers, error checking, graph coloring, and learning how to give computers commands.

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Throughout the entire camp, students could work individually while focusing their efforts toward a similar goal. Almost every student walked into the camp without any knowledge about coding or programming.

To start off the first part of the camp, each student was introduced to the Raspberry Pi. Through this system, they all learned about programming, basic circuitry, and interacting with their prototype circuits using C++. Shortly after learning these skills, they were then able to use the Raspberry Pi to control the motors on their robots. On their last day, they were introduced to a programmed eye tracker system that allowed the students to play a video game with only their tracked eye movements, nothing else.

All equipment provided in the camp came specifically from the NSF outreach funds presented to Dr. Sharif. The NSF grant was awarded to Dr. Sharif in 2016. To read more about the grant click here.

When speaking to each of the students, it was obvious that they truly loved the aspects of the camp. A high school student, Mackenzie Martin (junior), entirely enjoyed her time in the camp.

“I really loved how easily everyone was able to catch me up with missing the first few days of the camp,” said Martin. “They broke everything down really well even though I was behind everyone else.”

Another high school student, Garrik Cataina (freshman), commented that “the entire camp was so well rounded. I enjoyed all of it: the socializing at lunch time, talking with the volunteers, and learning how to code.”

Dr. Sharif also spoke very highly of her experience at Jackson-Milton, saying “we are very thankful to Mr. Vega, Jackson Milton High School’s principal, for the venue to conduct the camp.”

She would also like to give credit to the YSU SERESL volunteers that assisted with the program throughout the week: Alex Bonnette, Alexandra Fountaine, Devin Patrick, Christopher Hardaway, Mark DeGenova, Bob Collins, Natalie Halavick, and Nick Iovino.

“My favorite part about the camp was getting the students to understand what computer science is about,” said Dr. Sharif. “I enjoyed being able to provide them with hands-on experiences where they could troubleshoot and debug issues what popped up.”

This was the first coding camp YSU has done at Jackson-Milton, but they intend to continue doing them annually. For more information about the camp, or future computer-related camps, contact Dr. Sharif at bsharif@ysu.edu.

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CSIS Professor and Student Participate In Summer Research Project

Dr. Lazar and Zackary Harnett at Lawrence Berkeley National LaboratoryDr. Alina Lazar, Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Information Systems, and her student Zackary Harnett traveled to the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab this summer.

They joined efforts with the lab as part of the Scientific Data Management Group. Dr. Lazar and her student, Zack, were sponsored by the Department of Energy through the Visiting Faculty Program. They worked closely with the Energy Technology Area on a research project titled “Sequence Cluster Analysis for Identifying Long-term Lifecycle Trajectory Patterns.”

This research project was performed to further study the relationship between life-cycle patterns and decisions or choices (such as the choices of purchasing a home, owning a car, or investing in new technologies). Dr. Lazar and Harnett assisted the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab to show the wide availability of mobile devices and sensors that are connected to the internet. They collected research in data sets to model long-term user behavior of both test variables.

The research Dr. Lazar and Harnett assisted with observed sequence data representations, as well as several methods designed to test similarity algorithms. Methods to test these algorithms can range from classical approaches to a system called Optimal Matching. The methods used can then display what it would take to overcome the issues present between life-cycle patterns and decisions. It can also use strategies to model real sequence data to identify life-long behavior and produce descriptive self-explanatory visualizations even in the presence of disturbances and missing values.

Dr. Alina Lazar is a Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Information Systems. She completed her PhD in Computer Science in 2002 from Wayne State University. She specializes in several areas like data analysis, algorithms, and data mining.