Senior Computer Science Majors Design Apps for Community
While most students spent finals week toiling over essays and studying for tests, the class of 2019’s computer science majors finalized and presented the digital applications they had worked on during the fall term.
For their senior projects, the majors were split into five groups and asked to create an assigned app. Each app was based on a request from someone in the community, typically a faculty member. Within the assigned groups, the students then split up the tasks needed to complete the app. Over the span of a few months, the students coded and designed what would be the culmination of their computer science career at Hamilton. These are three of the apps they ultimately built:
Rob Haberbusch, Hamilton’s head men’s hockey coach, recognized that using analytics and statistics was becoming more popular in sports, but manually putting each player’s statistics into Excel proved too time-consuming. He knew that there had to be a way for recorded data to automatically transmit to a database, and so he came to the computer science department for help.
Though a previous group of students had partially completed the app, 2018’s majors decided to start their own project from scratch so they could better use their own original vision. After meeting with Haberbusch, learning more about hockey, and eventually coding the project, the students produced an app that enabled the user to track each player’s activity on the ice and receive a final email summary of what had happened. The comp sci students altogether felt that they had accomplished what they had set out to achieve and concluded if they had more time, they would have liked to add a hockey career stats feature.
David Bailey, the chair of the geosciences department, similarly wanted an app to help him collect and process data. While working on rock and mineral analysis, Bailey had developed a new way to chemically manage rocks. Unfortunately, the processing he did using Excel sheets often took him over twenty hours to go through, and he desired something more interactive and responsive.
The students who designed the app, HALite, focused on making data easy to manipulate and preserve. HALite automatically applied information collected from rock and mineral samples to built-in equations, allowing the user to work without having to continually adjust the background math. The students also added a feature that let users give feedback on the app’s functionality and design.
Bailey, happy with the students’ creation, noted that the app “allows for a great deal of interaction and customization of the user.” He said that HALite, which has already helped him make his work more efficient, has been highly effective and has the potential for public distribution and use of the software.
Using a collaborative idea, David Perkins, visiting assistant professor of computer science, and Xi Chen, visiting instructor of East Asian Languages and Literature, thought that students new to studying the Chinese language could use an app to help them learn to write words.
And so began Hanzi. The majors who worked on the project learned about the process of writing words in modern Chinese, which comprise characters that are dependent upon stroke order. Likewise, taking inspiration from apps like Duolingo and Quizlet, the students created various levels and hints that would remind users of correct strokes and challenge them to memorize words’ correct steps. The students focused on making an app that could introduce users to words and help them think about the logistics of words they already know. The group hoped to create a simple, accessible app that users would be able to access in their spare time.
The students assigned to the project said that they wished they had more time to fix bugs and add features. They said that the app’s stroke recognition did not yet function as well as they had expected, they wanted the app to give users personal statistics, and they thought the app would benefit from more words. Overall, they expressed the hope that, with more time and attention, the app would wholly fulfill its initial goals.