The various assignments and projects that I have completed during my time at the University of Mary Washington have tremendously expanded my knowledge and capability as a programmer. I am very passionate about gaining new skills and knowledge, especially when it comes to programming. Looking back at my time at UMW, there were five key projects that I would like to highlight, as I feel each one has contributed in a major way to my education.
The first project I would like to discuss is a program that was created in collaboration with my brother, who, at the time, was a Biology major at James Madison University. The program simulates the female selection of a mate from a chorus of male barking tree frogs. I feel I have gained an invaluable amount of experience by undertaking this project. It has helped me to see how programming can relate to the “real world” and has also allowed me to see firsthand the power of programming, since it is too difficult to do this type of research in the field, therefore making a computer model necessary to gain insight into the subject. This project has allowed me to gain experience with the C# programming language, ASP and .NET. While working on this program my brother and I were in different locations, making it necessary to be able to communicate complex ideas in a non-face-to-face setting.
Another project that I completed during my time at UMW is an application for the iPhone. The work was done while I was a scholar in UMW’s Summer Science Institute. During this time, I learned Objective-C and gained experience with the Cocoa Touch framework and the XCode IDE. Additionally, I became familiar with XML file parsing and the overall design principles incorporated in iPhone/iPod development. The app I designed, called iConcert, provides users with a simple, quick way to keep track of their favorite artists’ upcoming concerts in their area, as well as other preferred areas.
The third project I would like to discuss is the Online PRCA-24 Test, which was developed in collaboration with several other UMW students. It allows students to take the test, which determines the student’s level of speaking apprehension. While working on this project, I strengthened my HTML and PHP skills, as well as my ability to be a productive member of a software development team. I also gained a more concrete understanding of the software development process by participating in requirements gathering, design, and implementation. Additionally, I gained experience in client relations – understanding the client’s needs, developing a product that will meet those needs, and expanding and improving the product to meet new needs.
Another project that I created in collaboration with three fellow students is a restaurant recommendation website, called Find Food Quick. Users can search for a restaurant and receive recommendations for other restaurants to try. Additionally, users can create an account, log into the system, and fill out a survey so the system can recommend restaurants by comparing the users’ answers to both the restaurant attributes and other users’ answers. During my time spent on this project, I continued to strengthen my HTML, PHP, and database skills. I was also able to use the data mining techniques learned in the classroom to implement an effective user recommendation system. I became more familiar with the Github versioning system, as my team utilized it for source control. This project also allowed me to strengthen my leadership and organization skills since I was the team manager. I was responsible for leading team meetings and assuring that all work was completed according to a set schedule.
In addition to the programs that I have developed during my time at UMW, I also wrote several papers, including a system design document for the iTouch Education Community Portal. This paper was written in collaboration with two other UMW students and serves as a guide to the architecture, components, data and interfaces relevant to the iTouch Education Community Portal. A large portion of the document is focused on describing the functions of the system and how they interact. The paper was meant to be consulted by the team responsible for the implementation of the project. Included in the paper are data flow, system level context, and entity-relationship diagrams. Writing this paper allowed me to analyze system requirements in order to formulate a plan for the implementation of the system.
After graduating in the spring, I hope to get a job that will not only utilize my current knowledge, but also allow me to learn even more. At this point I don’t have a specific area that I know I want to go into, I want to keep myself open to many different possibilities in order to find out what area is best suited to my abilities and interests. The knowledge that I have gained during my time at UMW has prepared me for whatever challenges and opportunities lie ahead.