Home Town: Riverside, CT
Current Degree Program: BS Computer Science (Arts and Sciences)
Research Group/Focus: CS Education
Why did you pick this particular area: As a sophomore, I somehow ended up as a teaching assistant for the department's most challenging class in the core curriculum, COMP 40. As a teaching assistant, I was responsible for providing assistance to students in the class whenever they came across a problem or question that they couldn't answer themselves. I found myself developing a stronger understanding of the material purely by teaching it, and by the end of my first semester as a TA I found that the projects I once found intimidating were suddenly second nature. As a junior, I took a class with Ben Shapiro, a professor in both CS and Education. In this course, we studied methods for teaching CS in elementary, middle, and high school by working on projects that might be found in an introductory CS curriculum for various age groups, and exploring the flaws we found in these approaches. I was fascinated by the links between CS Education and my personal projects, and by continuing to work as a TA I had the chance to apply the ideas from class in my professional work.
Why did you choose Tufts CS: knew I wanted to study CS in college, and being in or near Boston was very appealing. I went to an Engineering School event for potential students and was blown away by the computer science demonstration (led by Ben Hescott). After being accepted, I attended Jumbo Days and happened to be in the right place at the right time to abandon my tour group and sit in on one of Professor Hescott's lectures. In that 75-minute event, my eyes were opened to an entire field of study that I never knew existed, and I knew that I had to come back and learn more.
What's the best thing about Tufts CS Department: Tufts CS deliberately fosters collaboration between students. Classes in the core curriculum place an emphasis on programming with partners, and theoretical classes in the department explicitly encourage group collaboration. Coupled with the comfortable and friendly collaborative spaces in the computer science building, this emphasis on approaching projects together helps Tufts CS students support each other, no matter how challenging the coursework becomes.
Advice for those considering enrolling: Don't be afraid to learn on your own! Tufts CS provides some immensely challenging, productive, and enlightening options for development within the curriculum, but limiting your CS work to the assignments in your classes means you miss the opportunities for growth outside your requirements. Attending the frequent workshops, guest lectures, faculty speeches, and collaborative events outside of class will help you apply the knowledge gained from class.
What do you hope to do after graduation: My goal is to help build software to make human lives easier. That might mean designing new ways for humans to interact with computers, creating machines that can learn to anticipate needs and work proactively, making computer games to help people reduce stress and build communities, or improving existing technology to keep it on the cutting edge of what humans expect from their machines.