Tag Archives: computer science

DevTalks: Bridging the gap between student and developer

As my fifth semester cruises along at what feels like mach speed, I find myself neck-deep in finite state machines, language grammars, parse trees, and wave optics. Despite putting in more hours than any previous semester (I started tracking out-of-class work hours with Klok2), I feel more prepared to handle it than would have thought possible. But, why do I feel so ready to tackle mountains of homework with countless hours spent at the whiteboard? I think the primary reason is that over the past couple summers I’ve had two amazing internships that allowed me, pushed me even, to use the concepts I learned at school in the real world. This has given me a much deeper understanding and appreciation for school. I can recall the first two semesters and how pointless what I was learning felt at times. Without my practical experience from internships and personal projects would I still feel that way? Probably.

This brings me to a problem I have noticed among my peers; they have a severe lack of motivation. More often than not, I watch people with glazed over eyes in my classes who at worst just do the minimum to pass and at best do the minimum to earn an A. What are they missing? They don’t have the drive they need. But, I’m trying an experiment this semester to see if I, with the help of some very smart people, can change this.

Introducing Developer Talks (DevTalks for short). From the DevTalks frontpage:

Would you like to learn something new, meet like-minded individuals, or give back to the developer community? If so, you’re in the right spot. DevTalks is a developer driven community whose goals are to promote the sharing of knowledge and encourage collaboration among developers regardless of their background or level of expertise.

My plan is to round up some of the more motivated students and local developers in the area and throughout the semester, shake out a couple engaging 1-2 hour talks that can be followed by 1-2 hour small breakout sessions where attendees will work together to improve upon or re-implement what they’ve learned together. I believe that once students see their peers leading talks and working with local developers they will become more inclined to participate.

There are two primary benefits I see coming from this. First, students have a lot to gain from learning from and working with developers. Many questions that simply can’t be answered in the class room can be resolved on the spot. And, let’s not forget, there is just no replacement for real experience. Second, local developers and managers can use these meetings to spot potential interns and employees, locally. Anyone can submit a resume. However, leading one of these talks can demonstrate a much deeper level of understanding and leadership potential than can ever be conveyed on a sheet of paper.

So far, I have received very positive feedback from my peers as well as local developers. Several people wanting to give talks have already reached out and a local coworker space, Studioboro, has offered to host our first talk on October 1st.

If you would like more information please visit the landing page. If you would like to attend a talk, give a talk, donate (if you feed them they will come), or just share your insights please feel free to email me!

“Be the change you wish to see.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi


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Software Engineering Project Take One:

This semester I will be participating in my first group software project. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun, a lot of work, and a great learning experience. My team, PBR Code, consists of two close friends I have worked with extensively over the past three semester and another peer who seems to have a solid work ethic.

After a few weeks analyzing and digesting various software development life cycles we were given a mission: Come up with a need for a specific application. After confirming that I had free creative reign, I came up with The Story of Bob.

  • From: S.M.D. Industries:
    To: PBR Code
  • Gentlemen, we have an issue with one of our employees, Bob, that we were hoping you would be able to help us with. Bob is a likeable character. He has a good work ethic, he is innovative, and is fun to talk to. In short, everyone likes Bob. However, Bob has one problem; he always arrives late to work in the morning.After several such occurrences we asked Bob why this was. “I just can’t seem to stop hitting my snooze button.” replied Bob. Of course each of was able to relate. The snooze button is about as tempting as a late night pizza and PBR. Regardless, this is an issue. We can’t just allow our employees to show up whenever they see fit to do so, right?As previously stated, we all like Bob very much. Therefore, we have decided to send out a request for a new alarm clock application that will help alleviate the issue. We believe that if Bob was required to complete some mental challenge in order to disable or snooze his alarm he would be alert enough to make the right decision and G.O.O.B. (get out of bed). We need this challenge to be something quick enough to not leave Bob irritated and upset before work but at the same time awake enough to make clear decisions.

    The ideal alarm clock would be able to be installed on Bob’s android phone so he can take with him on business trips. Additionally, making this alarm able to run on various versions of the android operating system would be nice. You see, we like Bob but he’s also our guinea pig. If the alarm clock application proves successful with Bob, we will be issuing it to the rest of our employees.

    PBR Code, can you help us with this? We would love to hear your thoughts and ideas on possible solutions. Be creative!


    Joseph Dirte
    CEO, S.M.D. Industries

Nothing is better than when you can mix a little humor into your work, right? The team as well as my professor had a good laugh when they read it. From this we will be building our requirements and specifications document for the alarm application. But, that will have to wait until Take Two.

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” – Confucius


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Hold on — I need to check my phone

While preparing for the final debate in my Computer Science ethics class today, I was unnerved by a personal revelation. But, let me start from the beginning.

It was case study #24, or ‘Brain’ as dubbed by my professor. In the synopsis there was an odd set of instructions. He gave  the link to a New York Times article,  directions to write down each time and by what I was distracted, and wrote a little blurb about how he had his teenage daughter conduct the same experiment.

To my surprise, it was the most interesting case study I had read in the class. It discussed the decreasing ability of students to focus because of the mass of electronics and information at their fingertips. As instructed I kept a brief journal of each time I was distracted. I noticed something intriguing while reading the article. Like clockwork, I had glanced at my phone every five minutes to see if I had received a text or an email. Similar to how we train ourselves to wake up at a given time each morning this seemed more automated than anything. And what’s worse? I’m still doing it while writing this review even though I’m now aware of it.

On numerous occasions, I have heard it takes 21 times to make an action habitual. I wonder how many times I told myself to glance at my phone for updates before I stopped realizing I was doing it. I also wonder how I ‘glance’ at various things to check for something. More importantly, I wonder how much time I have lost as a result of losing my focus throughout each day. Oh, and remember my professor’s daughter? She sent 337 texts while ‘reading’ the article.

Time to turn off the phone.


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