Campus & Community

"Computer and Data Science: They’re Not What You Think!": Student Panel to Present at Undergraduate Symposium

Computer and data science people are pack animals,” says computer science (CS) student Lila Crum ’21, one of four students presenting their research at the Undergraduate Symposium on April 22. “We really just flocked together on the basis that we're all doing projects based on computer and data science.”

The broad range of their research topics is at the crux of their panel, “Computer and Data Science: They’re Not What You Think!," moderated by Professor Nanette Veilleux. During this time, they plan to share different facets of these fields, while also exhibiting their individual areas of expertise.

“I'd like for people to see the industry as more than one giant, faceless monolith,” says Crum, who is researching the culture of indie game development. “My subject is on the cultural side of the industry, focused on the communities that spring up surrounding independent game developers, as well as those game developers and their interactions with the public.”

“CS and Data Science aren't just ones and zeros — there are a lot of applications that can go into these fields and no project is the same,” says data science student Rachel Beaulieu ’22, who is researching why women choose to enter the field through coding bootcamps rather than a bachelor’s degree. “In CS Bachelor’s degree programs, 17-19% of the graduates are women, while 41% of coding bootcamp graduates are women. I’m researching the underlying factors for this disparity.”

Data science major, Lauren Wagner ’21 wants to highlight the importance of creativity in the field. “There are so many opportunities to be creative while in a STEM field, and there are so many applications — data visualization, game design, and social justice — of CS and Data Science. It’s so much more than just looking at numbers all day!”

Wagner is researching the use of Augmented Reality for three-dimensional data visualization. “Two-dimensional projections of 3D data are really difficult for people to understand, so I wanted to explore if using a newer technology like Augmented Reality would be a viable avenue for this type of visualization,” says Wagner. “I’m currently writing an app to create the visualizations and will see if they are more effective than the 2D projections.”

Nicole Rasmussen '21 was also curious about the research of her peers. “We thought the Simmons community would benefit from learning that anything is possible within CS and Data Science,” says Rasmussen, who is researching the field of Computational Linguistics, specifically Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR). “Think of ASR as the basis of voice assistants like Amazon Alexa. It enables the translation of spoken word into text. There's a discrepancy between high resource languages and low resource languages. High resource languages have thousands of hours of validated speech. I trained a model for use with low resource languages, such as Vietnamese, that have significantly less corpi and less validated speech. This will be replicable by other students.”

Rasmussen also champions cooperative learning, regardless of your research topic. “Even if you're working on an entirely different project, you can reach out to your peers and get their feedback,” she says. “None of us exist in a vacuum by ourselves.”

Don't miss their panel "Computer and Data Science: They’re Not What You Think!" on Thursday, April 22 at 11 a.m. 

The 2021 Virtual Symposium of Undergraduate Research and Creative Works will feature presentations by undergraduates across all disciplines. Be sure to stop by and celebrate the works of our accomplished presenters!

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