Two Students Explore Computer Science Research Topics

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Two Students Explore Computer Science Research Topics at OurCS Conference

Published: December 8, 2015.

Melanie Harrison, a senior dual-major in Computer Science and Mathematics from Tinley Park and Betsy Langland, mathematics major from Downers Grove, attended the annual OurCS Conference held at Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Penn.

OurCS stands for Opportunities for Undergraduate Research in Computer Science.

The OurCS Conference gives young women a chance to explore research topics in computer science in a very hands-on kind of way. This yearís event included 83 students from around the world working on small-group projects. They focused on exploring an application or theory of computer science and then presented their work.

Harrison's group worked on a project called "Does this Post Make Me Look Good?" The project applied machine learning techniques to help predict whether a Facebook post would be positively or negatively received by a person's Facebook friends. Harrisonís research for the National Science Foundationís Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program, which she participated in the summer, also focused on machine learning.

Langlandís project, ďThe Golden Years,Ē was the creation of a computer system prototype. It could be helpful to people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. COPD is a respiratory disease that affects many Americans, particularly the elderly. Langland and her group developed a prototype for a wearable device that would help a person afflicted with COPD identify when he or she started having difficulty breathing. Their product demonstrated how technology could improve the lives of elderly people by using data sharing to present useful and potentially life-saving information.

Harrison and Langland also presented original research of their own at the conference. Harrisonís project was based on her summer REU experience. Her poster, "Image Processing in Python using the Otsu Method," explored the use of machine learning to process images. Langland presented her work, "Determining the Success of a Mathematics Major." It is an application of data mining and clustering techniques to identify the likelihood that a mathematics major will successfully complete their course of study and to suggest potential reinforcements for helping them succeed. Langland also presented the research in the summer as part of Lewis' Summer Undergraduate Research Experience.

Lewis University offers a bachelorís degree in Computer Science and Computer Engineering, with concentrations in Cyber Security, Web and Mobile Development, Data Science, and Video Game Development. It also offers minors in Computer Science, Cyber Security Science, Data Science, and Web and Mobile Application Development. At the graduate level, it offers a nationally recognized for a Master of Science in Information Security program, which includes an innovative fast-track that enables students to earn both a bachelorís and a masterís degree in five years. A master's degree in Data Science is also available for students who wish to learn more about Big Data. A new Master of Science in Computer Science will start in August 2016.

Lewis University is a Catholic university in the Lasallian tradition offering distinctive undergraduate and graduate programs to nearly 7,000 traditional and adult students. Lewis offers multiple campus locations, online degree programs, and a variety of formats that provide accessibility and convenience to a growing student population. Sponsored by the De La Salle Christian Brothers, Lewis prepares intellectually engaged, ethically grounded, globally connected, and socially responsible graduates. The seventh largest private not-for-profit university in Illinois, Lewis has been nationally recognized by The Princeton Review and U.S. News & World Report. Visit for further information.

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