Students explore computer science through independent projects

Stella Roberts, Creative Director

Writing code is not a common skill, much less programming a robot or developing a complex computer program. But five students certainly can, using the skills that they learned in AP Computer Science to tackle ambitious projects.

Formally called Advanced Topics and Projects in Computer Science, this class was created to allow students who have taken APCS in the past to pursue other aspects of the subject. The students are free to choose their own projects, but with that comes a greater responsibility as the class is almost completely student-run.

“This isn’t a typical class where you sit down, listen to a lecture, and take a test,” senior Katie Moon said. “I have to sit down and work. I come across various problems, and then I have to learn how to solve them myself.”

Moon is currently working on coding a robotic arm to follow her interest in a career concerning prosthetic design and engineering. In the future, she is hoping to combine her project with senior Patrick Quam, who is working on developing vision processing software.

Other students are focusing on more independent work such as senior Christina Tuttle, who is currently coding artificial neurons that she hopes in the future will be able to read variations of handwriting. Junior Johnny Cao, on the other hand, is building a Java debugger which reads through code and identifies its errors, making the code writing process much smoother.

Senior Will Wick differs from the other students through his interest in computational biology, focusing his project on investigating the coupling of transcription and translation in bacteria. A summer internship at the Institute for Systems Biology sparked the inspiration for this project. Despite the challenge of finding appropriate data and getting up to speed with current research methods, the class has overall been a positive experience for him and his classmates as they continue to work on their projects.

“I would say the class is one that provides students the ability to express their creativity through computer science,” Wick said. “Computer science is a tool to make your ideas a reality.”