Jul 05, 2022

College of the Ozarks seniors participate in Celebration of Scholarship, local business leaders serve as judges

Tanner Maasen, 2022 graduate, participated in the Computer Science presentation section.
Tanner Maasen, 2022 graduate, participated in the Computer Science presentation section.

POINT LOOKOUT, MO. — At the culmination of the spring semester, College of the Ozarks allowed students from six departments to make presentations as part of the annual Celebration of Student Scholarship in the Silver Dollar City Parlor at The Keeter Center. Potential employers served as judges, elevating the experience for students.

Judges were from notable companies such as Abbot, NetSmart, JB Hunt, FedEx, ZeroSum, Boston Dynamics, Kyndryl (owned by IBM), BKD, Chick-fil-A Corporate, Classy Llama, and Big Cedar Lodge.

Several departments, including agriculture, biology, chemistry, computer science, engineering, and physical education and health, participated in the event. Eight senior computer science majors presented their final projects to a panel of 33 judges from a variety of businesses. Cheri Kembell, assistant professor of computer science, promotes this event to her students.

“This is the best real-world experience that our computer science students can participate in prior to graduation,” Kembell said. “Our industry judges ask difficult technical questions and provide honest feedback directly to each student on this day. This year, we had one student who was still actively interviewing as of presentation day. I’m thrilled to report that he was hired by one of the judges who attended. Our industry partners benefit from giving back to students on this day, and they look forward to participating each year.”

The computer science students developed mobile applications, websites, and games for a plethora of topics, including: an app that helps document and organize musical ideas, a gift exchange application, a website to ease chronic illness symptom tracking and pattern recognition, a recipe generator, and a nutritional app that tracks both nutritional and emotional well-being as it relates to food.

Students had one semester to prepare the application of their choice. Students created the apps utilizing various programing technology and programming languages. Tanner Maasen, 2022 graduate, created his app called “Swell” in hopes of helping individuals be more mindful about their nutrition choices, while also encouraging mental health.

“I care about others,” Maasen said. “Before researching this app, I had no idea these other popular calorie-counting and weight-loss apps were causing and/or worsening eating disorders or having other negative effects. Therefore, my priorities shifted at that point from simply wanting to make a more efficient and easier-to-use nutrition logging app.”

Each student prepared a slide show and gave a 20-minute verbal presentation to explain the premise and design of their app. After their presentations ended, the panel of judges asked the students questions about their projects. Each presenter also had a booth with a poster description, progress log, and trial devices so judges could interact more personally with the software.

Kembell is pleased with the outcomes from this event.

“Many of the students learned a new programming language or technology platform,” Kembell said. “It taught them the importance of meeting a deadline and being prepared. All seniors present their projects no matter what changes in scope had to be made along the 16-week project lifespan.

“They also learned how to communicate technical details professionally and effectively to an audience that is knowledgeable in the subject area. They learned how to communicate roadblocks that they encountered along the way. Judges like to hear the logic behind the strategy for working through a challenge.”