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Computer Science Symposium Attracts More Than 75 Participants

RIC student Travis Quantmeyer discusses a mobile app he developed that provides a map and weather conditions at RIC.

RIC student Travis Quantmeyer discusses a mobile app he developed that provides a map and weather conditions at RIC.

More than 75 students and faculty members from a half dozen colleges and universities in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut attended a computer science symposium sponsored by students at Rhode Island College this past Saturday (March 2).

RIC students Jose Fuentes, Shaylin Gruslin, Nathan Heng and Travis Quantmeyer organized the Rhode Island College Computing Undergraduate Research Symposium, which was designed to foster greater undergraduate interest and scholarship in computing and to bring computer science students together to share their work.

It was the first student-organized computer science conference ever hosted by Rhode Island College, said Kathryn Sanders, RIC professor of computer science, who assisted in the planning and invited the keynote speaker, Andries van Dam, founder of the Computer Science Department at Brown University.

In his address, “Reflections on 50 Years of Working with CS Undergraduates,” van Dam explained the importance of curiosity in research. He said research requires a desire to know more about a particular field, and to go beyond just doing what is assigned. He also spoke of the substantial contributions students have made to computer science research, including a recent project of his own students – an art gallery that allows users to see and explore very large two-dimensional objects on an innovative touchscreen interface.

Following the keynote, students took the helm during the symposium, presenting their research and posters to their peers.

RIC student Michael Blais presented a project on flowcharts, depicting how a computer program functions. RIC student Levbert Leger’s project was called ITAP, an interactive teacher assessment program, which allows students to use their Android devices to instantly respond to questions sent from their professors.


Matt St. Jarre and Adam Stankiewicz from the University of Hartford.

Bridgewater State University students Matthew Ahrens, Chis Gracia and Andrew Seremetis  designed a tutorial method called PAL to help students better grasp the concepts they are learning. Adam Stankiewicz and Matt St. Jarre from the University of Hartford developed a new system called TrACE that allows students to watch and discuss online lectures with each other without interrupting the lecture.

Quantmeyer, who was both organizer of the symposium and a presenter, created an application for a mobile device that gives a map of the RIC campus, weather and directions to the campus. Another RIC student, Dan Langston, described 3-D printing as “the new face of printmaking" and presented products he created using this method. Other presentations were given by students from the University of Rhode Island and the University of Hartford.

The symposium also included a panel discussion about graduate school, in which students were able to learn about the graduate school application process and eligibility requirements, as well as ask questions about financial aid, GPAs, GRE scores and exams.

“The symposium was a huge success,” said Sanders. “The goal was to bring in 40 to 50 people. I was surprised and delighted to have more than 75 people registered from seven different colleges and universities.”

Everyone who completed exit surveys after the program agreed that RIC should hold another computer symposium next year, Sanders said. “Students also reported a new understanding of what research is all about and excitement about the cool things you can do through research,” she said. 

Given such strong demand, and the overwhelmingly positive exit survey, Sanders and her students have already begun discussions about organizing a similar event for next year.