The College of New Jersey

Apply     Visit     Give     |     Alumni     Parents     Offices     TCNJ Today     Three Bar Menu

Author Archives: Elizabeth Davis

Conducting Robots

Conducting Robots

The National Science Foundation’s CreativeIT Program has awarded four TCNJ professors a $360,000 three-year grant to develop a new, research-based multidisciplinary course entitled “Conducting Robots.”

Conducting RobotsAndrea Salgian, assistant professor of computer science; Teresa Nakra, assistant professor of music; Christopher Ault, assistant professor of interactive multimedia; and Jennifer Wang, associate professor of mechanical engineering, collaborated on the proposal, called “RUI: Giving the Maestro a Human Heart—Fostering Creativity in a Multi-Disciplinary Undergraduate Environment.”

The resultant course is allowing students from each professor’s discipline to construct artificial systems capable of conducting an orchestra and visualizing feedback. In essence, the students will create a robotic “maestro” that mimics the arm movements and facial expressions of a human conductor at work.

Salgian contrasted her ideal conductor with Honda’s “Asimo” robot, programmed to conduct an orchestra in 2008. That robot merely conducted the beat—and lost it. “We want [TCNJ’s] system to have more information about the music,” she said. “Ideally it would also get some feedback and it would be able to use what it hears.”

“Asimo was very cute,” Salgian admitted, “but we want to introduce a different aspect to it.” She speculated on some design possibilities—a “face” represented by computer visualization, for example—but said that the product will ultimately depend on the students. Each of the four or five mixed-major student teams will turn out their own design.

Salgian stressed the focus on collaboration: “The entire system is not necessarily the goal of our research project, it’s more of a vehicle to use to teach students to work together. Our hope is that they will all become more creative by having to integrate knowledge from different fields,” she said.

Philip Tate, director of the TCNJ orchestra, will act as a consultant on the project. The first course will be offered this fall.

Modified from TCNJ Magazine, In Focus, September 2009. By Matt Huston ’12 • Aug 13th, 2009.

For More Information:

Women in Computing and Science

Women in Computing and Science

Advocates for Equal Opportunity

Women make up almost half of the total United States workforce, but only 25% of women are currently working in the computer and mathematics fields according to the National Girls Collaborative Project. At The College of New Jersey, wics profile 1the Women in Computing and Science (WICS) club has aimed to increase that number by raising awareness of sexism in the workplace and encouraging young women to realize that both men and women can be successful in computer science.

“It’s not enough for the women to be present; they have to be given an opportunity to speak,” says Dr. Monisha Pulimood, advisor to the WICS club. Here at TCNJ, Pulimood serves as Chair of the Department of Computer Science, which has an almost equal amount of men and women – an equilibrium that she would like to see expand into the future workforce her students will soon enter.

The WICS club brings together men and women to talk about gender issues in computer science and provide a safe space where they can talk openly about gender microaggressions in the field. President of WICS, sophomore computer science major Brittany Reedman, explains, “What our organization aims to do is to show women that are really interested in technology that they are not alone – we are there for them. We want to provide support when they go to their job and there are no other women there, or they are in a class and it seems like someone’s disrespecting them because of their gender or because someone isn’t listening to their ideas.”

Reedman believes that it is important to include men in the club because the main point of the organization is to promote gender equality in the workforce – and that can only occur if both genders are on the same team. Reedman says, “We want men to understand our mission. Change isn’t going to come by just letting women know that they are not alone. Change is going to come by getting men to understand that we are a presence in this field and having them as allies to support us and encourage us to be in this field.”

wics profile 4The all-inclusive club sparked the interest of junior computer science and interactive multimedia major Kevin Bohinski because he was able to hear how everyone had different challenges within the major. In February 2016, the club hosted TCNJ Hackathon, an event that challenges students to turn an idea into a workable app within 24 hours, and according to Bohinski, 25% of the participants who signed up were women. While he wishes to see that number increase at future events, he knows that the only way that will occur is if men and women in the department support one another. He believes that, “It’s the male’s role to not do anything that’s oppressive and to make sure that everyone feels included.”

The club also hosts events and brings speakers to campus to provide connections and networking opportunities as well as to inform women and men about possible job opportunities and what they can be doing now to prepare for the future job market. This semester the club has brought to campus TCNJ alum Gloria Broeker, Class of ‘93 and Chief Operating Officer of Information Technology for the State of New Jersey, and Lauren Farese from the global wics profile 3computer technology corporation Oracle. The club recently attended a ‘women in computer science’ event hosted by the Google office in New York that, according to Reedman, resembled a “big playground” where WICS members got to meet more women in the computer science field. She believes that “All these top companies are realizing that they are going to be missing out if they don’t encourage these really smart people from both genders to enter the field.” The club has also implemented a “Lean In Circle” on campus, which, according to leanincircles.org, are “small groups who meet regularly to learn and grow together” and allow women and men “to talk openly about gender issues.”

WICS’ members also believe it is imperative to discuss relevant events or topics in the news and also practice interviewing skills to complement their computer coding experience. Reedman believes that presentations by speakers and events that WICS has hosted provide hope for women in the major, because these not only educates them on job opportunities in computer science, what skills they need to succeed, and how to combat sexism in the workplace, but also that the sky is the limit for what they can achieve.

For those interested in attending a WICS club meeting, meetings are typically held from 3:30-4:30 pm on Wednesdays.

– Kaitlyn Njoroge

For More Information:

Association for Computing Machinery

Association for Computing Machinery

ACMEventPhotoThe Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) is a student organization for those interested in computer science. Through different activities, ACM helps its members explore further what they have learned from their classes.  Senior and ACM President Brandon Gottlob says, “As a computer science major, there are many different skills to learn and ways to apply and expand upon the concepts from courses. This can take the form of research projects, personal projects, working with different programming languages, and devices to develop on.”

First-year computer science major Henry Shen says, “I wanted to join ACM because I wanted to immerse myself in the field that I probably will spend a lot of my adult life and career in. Any opportunity to gain more knowledge and experience is great.” Jabari Brown, another first-year computer science major, agrees. “I joined ACM to put myself around like-minded individuals. Since then, I have learned so much that can help me in the field.”

Gottlob adds, “The only way to gain awareness of so many topics is to learn about them from others. I saw taking a leadership position in ACM as a great way of creating a more collaborative community among TCNJ students interested in computing and creating a medium where people can be exposed to the wide range of things they can accomplish with computers and programming.”

During weekly meetings, ACM plans varied activities that are both engaging and fun.  Gottlob says, “Most of our meetings are discussions about specific topics in computing or tutorials on programming languages, platforms, and tools.”  Shen adds, “We do tutorials on important computer science topics such as how to use Github (a web-based software hosting service), what the compiler differences are between programming languages, and more.”  In addition, ACM also holds fun events throughout the year such as ice cream socials and game nights to encourage members to interact with each other outside of their primary area of interest.

TCNJHackGroupphoto2The annual Hackathon is an important part of ACM, which this year was held on February 26-28, 2016.  Gottlob explains, “The largest event we hold once per year is HackTCNJ, a 24-hour event known as a hackathon where students from schools all over the northeast come to develop their own software applications. At the end of the 24-hour period, students’ projects are judged and prizes are awarded. Because we are funded by sponsor companies, the event is completely free for all participants and food is provided throughout. We estimated that we hosted about 200 college and high school students with a very large majority from colleges in the tri-state area, like Rutgers, Temple, Drexel, Monmouth, Rowan, West Chester, and TCNJ of course. We had over 30 project submissions as well. It was by far our biggest HackTCNJ to date.”

There are many benefits from joining ACM.  For first-year and transfer students, it is a great way to get involved within the department and learn more about computer science.  Gottlob says, “Joining ACM will help new students gain exposure to a wide range of skills and perspectives that they won’t find in the classroom. This exposure could help them gain interests in specific topics and languages that distinguish them from the rest of their peers and that they could pursue in research and personal projects throughout their time at TCNJ.”

ACM also allows students to get to know the upper-level students on a more personal level.  “Many people transfer out of computer science because it can be very intimidating to beginners, and getting to know the ACM members can show new students that their struggles are actually common since many upper-level students have similar experiences,” adds Gottlob.  Brown agrees. “Freshmen and other students should get involved with ACM because it is a very good way to connect with students and faculty in the department. You share ideas and learn interesting topics related to computer science that will help develop your future.  It is a great way to explore your interests within computer science.”  Shen also hails the benefits of joining ACM.  “If you want to be in an environment that is supportive for new programmers and people with little computer science experience before becoming a CS major, this is a great place to learn and ask questions. In order to gain experience in computer science, taking the plunge is the first step.”

TCNJHackAs a whole, ACM reflects the important values within TCNJ’s computer science department.  As Brown says, “Everyone within the department is really friendly.”  Shen adds, “Everyone is super nice and really fun to be around.”  Gottlob concurs. “All of the CS professors are very approachable and encourage all students to participate. I try to cultivate the same attitude in ACM by establishing an open environment where the ideas and participation of any member is highly valued, no matter his/her level of experience.”

– Gabrielle Okun

For More Information:

Jake Voytko ’08

Jake Voytko ’08

Google Docs, the suite of web-based productivity tools available through the Internet search giant’s Drive service, is changing the way people work by allowing users anywhere in the world to collaborate in real time on the same spreadsheets, presentations, and word processor documents.

Jake Voytko ’08 is a software engineer at Google, Inc.One of the people making this new way of collaboration possible is 2008 computer science graduate Jake Voytko.

Working as part of a team of developers, Voytko’s primary responsibilities include coding and implementing new features into Google Docs’ word processor. He was part of the group responsible for adding offline-editing functionality, a feature that was incorporated last spring and heralded by tech writers and Docs users everywhere. Voytko said the project was “one of the most difficult” he has worked on at Google, since he was writing code for which the browser support was still in development.

Prior to being recruited by Google, Voytko was on the technical staff at the Sarnoff Corporation, where he had the opportunity to work alongside “a bunch of brilliant researchers” designing computer vision systems for the military. His coworkers in Google’s Manhattan offices are equally brilliant, he notes.

“It’s humbling to come into work each day and talk to people who have such clear focus, and clear thoughts, and who are able to break down problems so cleanly,” Voytko said.

He credits what he learned as a math minor at TCNJ with helping him think more clearly as a programmer.

“Mathematics requires such a degree of precision of thought that there is really no forgiveness there,” Voytko said. Other disciplines allow for some wiggle room in forming arguments, he said, “But in math, if your ultimate result is to get a working proof, then you actually have to prove it. You have to have that rational bridge from your starting point to your finishing point. If I had just gotten a computer science degree, I would have needed to learn that type of precision of thought while I was working, as opposed to having already been exposed to it as a math minor.”

By Tony Marchetti

William Moncrief ’68

William Moncrief ’68

William Moncrief ’68

When William Moncrief ’68 and his wife Nancy announced their plans to open a bed and breakfast at the Jersey Shore, no one was particularly shocked. Sure, it was a big change from their 9-to-5 careers in Washington, DC, but Bill’s family and friends already knew he was a man of many talents: Navy pilot, technology management expert—why not add innkeeper to the list?

His kids began buying him books on the B&B business as Christmas and birthday gifts, and before long, the Moncriefs had traded in the “rat race” (Bill’s words) of DC for the serenity of a North Wildwood, NJ, inn. And they’ve done so with great success; earlier this year, Bill and Nancy were named Innkeepers of the Year by Select Registry Distinguished Inns of North America.

While Bill says running the Candlelight Inn isn’t all glamour and glitz—he spends plenty of time unclogging toilets, replacing air conditioners, and servicing hot-water heaters—he also has some remarkable stories from over the last 12 years.

One of his favorites involves a couple who mentioned during check-in that their minister had made the reservation for them. The wife had suffered several consecutive miscarriages, and they’d been going to counseling to try lift the resulting cloud of depression. Bill offered up some extra TLC, and “sure enough,” he says, “nine months later, we got a letter with a photo of a baby that had been conceived while they were here.”

Back in the late 1960s, long before his career as an innkeeper began, Bill was on a very different path. A science major at TCNJ, he had signed a contract to teach in Hammonton, NJ, after graduation. Then, in January 1968, “my friendly neighborhood draft board told me that I wouldn’t be teaching—I would be in the Army,” he says.“The morning I graduated from college, I enlisted in the Navy, and a few days later, I got my draft notice. I’d beaten it by just three days.”

While Bill says he wasn’t sure he’d even make it through flight training, “the next thing I knew, I was flying planes for the Navy. I liked it, so I ended up staying for 20 years.” In that time, he was deployed a handful of times—to Bermuda, Sicily, Iceland, Scotland, and Latin America. “They were paying me to go see all these places,” he says. “It was pretty incredible.”

During those 20 years, he also spent time teaching at the U.S. Naval Academy and earned a master’s degree in computer science at the Naval Postgraduate School. After Moncrief retired from the Navy in 1988, a contact from his military days called to see if he’d be interested in becoming network director at the Bicentennial Commission in Washington, D.C. And that’s how William Moncrief—a teacher-in-training turned naval officer turned technology expert—went to work for former Chief Justice Warren Burger.

“He was a very smart individual and a great listener,” Bill recalls of working under Burger. “He was different from any manager I’d ever had. We could be in an hour-and-a-half meeting, and he might say 20 words at the most.”

After a year with the commission, Bill went on to work at Georgetown University, an international law firm, and the Center for Science in the Public Interest. Along the way, he and his wife often traveled to California wine country, staying in—you guessed it—bed and breakfasts. After talking to a newly minted pair of innkeepers on one of their trips, owning a B&B started to sound more and more enticing to Bill and Nancy. In 1985, the Moncriefs purchased the Candlelight Inn, and have been living out their dream ever since.

Bill says his workdays couldn’t be more different from the ones he spent in the corporate world. “I didn’t have too many people calling me to say, ‘Thanks, my computer’s working well,’” he says. “They talked to me if there was a problem, and they usually didn’t talk nicely. Here [at the inn], people really appreciate what you do for them. They say, ‘Thank you’ all the time.”

Brian Wanner ’05

Brian Wanner ’05

The president’s cyber squad

Last night, someone tried to break into the White House. Again. It wasn’t the ski-mask-and-crowbar attempt you might be imagining, though. It was the type of attack that Brian Wanner ’05 spends his days fending off: a threat of the digital variety.

Brian Wanner ’05
Brian Wanner ’05 shields the Executive Office of the President’s computer network from all sorts of digital dangers. Photo (c) Tom O’Dell ’12

When we spoke in early April, Wanner said that a prominent group of hackers had launched a “distributed denial-of-service attack” on the White House’s website the night before, sending numerous requests to the site at the same time in an attempt to crash it. “They don’t like something the White House has commented on, so they’ll try to take down our website,” he says of such groups. “I don’t know the specific reason they were [attacking] last night, but we handled it fine. That kind of thing happens fairly often.”

As branch chief of security operations, Wanner spends his days shielding the Executive Office of the President’s 
computer network from all sorts of digital dangers. His charges include the president and vice president, along with about 3,500 White House employees. “We monitor the firewalls here, any traffic to the Internet, and e-mail traffic to make sure it’s legitimate and that nobody’s trying to 
attack us,” he adds. “And when they are, we try to defend ourselves.”

He offers this “typical” example: An attacker sets up a Gmail account and sends a malicious PDF to someone on the president’s staff. “They craft it a certain way to get past most of the normal virus scanners,” Wanner adds, “so if it gets through to the inbox and [a White House employee] opens it, [the attacker] could potentially compromise the computer and start looking for good data—things like trade negotiations or economic information or the White House’s stance on a piece of legislation. It’s our job to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

Wanner’s biggest moment on the job—or at least the most public one—came in early 2009. You may remember some of the headlines: Barack Obama to use BlackBerry as president; Obama to get spy-proof smartphone; President Obama’s super-secret BlackBerry cost $3,300! “The president wanted it,” Wanner says of the phone that launched a thousand news stories, “and we can’t tell him no.”

Still, there were concerns surrounding Obama’s insistence that a BlackBerry serve as his official work phone.

“You’re putting a smartphone on one of the most important people in the world,” Wanner notes, “and along with it comes all those capabilities—a microphone, possible location tracking; all the things you don’t want accessible. The challenge was making sure that all of those things were controlled in some way so we didn’t have to worry about someone tracking the location of the president, for example.”

Though he can’t get into specifics, consider this a testament to Wanner’s success in locking the phone down: Obama is still using it now, more than three years later. As for all the media buzz, “It’s actually pretty cool when you’re working on a project and then you see it in the news,” Wanner says.

A double major in computer science and mathematics, Wanner discovered computer security through a part-time student job at Skyline Security Consulting. After earning a Master’s degree in Information Security and Assurance at George Mason University, he went to work for the White House—first as a subcontractor, then as a prime 
contractor, and eventually as a federal employee. “It’s got some sexy parts to it,” he says of cyber security. “I guess I like the whole adversarial nature where the attacker does something and you have to try to respond and close it out. Then they’ll change tactics and you just keep going back and forth. That whole thing just interests me.”

By

Siobhan Sabino ’12

Siobhan Sabino ’12

Siobhan Sabino is a jack of all trades — writer, photographer, Harry Potter aficionada, web designer, French linguist, and history buff. But it was love at first Google the day her family home hooked into the Internet, thus commencing her love affair with computers.

Siobhan Sabino '12These days the sophomore computer science major balances a twenty-credit course load with graduate-level research developing a content management system called Collaboration and Facilitation Environment (CAFÉ). Designed to provide a “collaborative environment” for web publishing, the project is funded by two grant programs of the National Science Foundation (Collaborative Research Experience for Undergraduates- CREU, and Broadening Participation in Computing- BPC), and the project consists of three female undergraduates working under the direction of Drs. Monisha Pulimood, Kim Pearson and Ursula Wolz. Throughout the 2009-2010 academic year, Sabino has spearheaded the stabilization and security aspect of the program.

“My job is to get a stable, cleaned-up version that can be packaged and implemented by teachers in the classroom,” said Sabino. “This means combing through the code for mistakes and redundancies, so in the end it will not only work, but will be stable, safe, and difficult to crack.” At the moment, the technology of CAFÉ is designed to manage the content and workflow of the Interactive Journalism Institute for Middle Schoolers (IJIMS) at Fisher Middle School here in Ewing. However, the ultimate goal is for the program to be distributed throughout the country as a new tool of online journalism and creative writing in a digital setting.

Sabino describes CAFÉ as a shared user account database, to which students upload articles and then the teacher edits by means of a color-coded proofreading tool. After completing the suggested revisions, the student resubmits the article and it appears on the front page of the website. “As a writer working on a system for writers, I’m able to put myself in their place to anticipate uploading issues or decide what type of feedback would be most helpful,” noted Sabino. One of the most rewarding aspects of the project, she added, is seeing students, those who might never have had the chance to learn how to write well, create really engaging multimedia story packages.

“In high school, I was fortunate enough to have been given the tools to see how writing is not just about the words on the page but how they look, how to use them to create an image, and how to draw a picture around it,” she said. “I love the creative part of coding, of looking at things in a different way and thinking outside the box.”

Unsurprisingly, this mindset has been indispensable throughout the course of the project. At one point a dilemma arose of how to identify minors on the public website given that parents wanted to view their child’s articles. The creative solution was Sabino’s suggestion: parents would be provided general usernames and passwords to access the site.

When asked the most exciting part of research, Sabino described the sweet satisfaction of solving a problem. “Sometimes you’ll be working on the program, holed up in the lab for hours. The sun may have gone down and though its dark, you just don’t want to stand up and flick on the lights. But then, when you run the program, it miraculously works and you scream ‘YES!’ That pure exhilaration of success is unparalleled.”

Though she is taking things one step at a time, Sabino says an internship or, even better, a career with Google would be a dream come true. “Anything Google I cannot live without,” she exclaimed. “I would be lost without my Google calendar, I absolutely love Gmail, and Google Wave is the most amazing tool I’ve ever seen.” It is in precisely the sort of creative job environment Google boasts that Sabino hopes to work someday, crafting technology that helps people, “a new pay it forward,” she added.

In the meantime, the French and History minor plans to continue working with Dr. Pulimood over the summer as well as into next year, and Sabino is looking forward to attending the fall Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing Conference, funded by the CREU grant.

“The emphasis on involving only women and minorities in the CREU program is purposeful, it recognizes that other grants might be unknowingly prejudiced and compensates by giving us the opportunity,” she noted. “With CAFÉ, we are doing something similar: giving minority students the chance to be involved in computer science. It’s absolutely rewarding.”

Nadya Pena ’16

Nadya Pena ’16

Senior computer science major Nadya Pena has always felt like the newbie. She started at the College as a mathematics major and then switched to engineering, interactive multimedia, and English. She finally decided on computer science in her junior year.Nadya Pena 1_2

It was during her time as a mathematics major that she discovered her true passion through a required computer science class. “I went in there not understanding computers. I was a technophobe,” she says, remembering how she never once considered herself tech-savvy. However, computer science soon clicked with her. “It was interesting and fun and something that I could do,” she says.  Fast forward to the end of her senior year and this accomplished computer science major says, “I’m really lucky I fell in love with something so in demand.  You can really do anything with it:  healthcare, financial software, even Sephora has microchip makeup.”

With many students in her major having taken computer science courses in high school, Pena felt that she started a step behind among her peers. But despite having a late start in the field, she has accomplished so much during her college career. Currently, she is the president of the Association of Computing Machinery and the treasurer of Women in Computer Science (having previously served as president).  She is also a member of the Sigma Sigma Sigma sorority and works for TCNJ’s Residential Networking Services.

Nadya has overcome her natural shyness to take on leadership roles, explains Dr. Monisha Pulimood, chair of the Computer Science Department and Pena’s academic advisor.  “I attribute her ‘detours’ to a prior lack of awareness of the field due to insufficient exposure and a scarcity of role models in high school.”  With this in mind, Pena has worked to increase awareness of computer science to younger students.  She teaches children in grades K-12 how to program and also helps girls and minorities learn coding to help them become better represented in the field.  Professor Pulimood adds, “Nadya exemplifies the ‘growth mindset’ and stands out as a role model for young people, particularly those from groups that are underrepresented in computer science and who may be on their own journeys to discover their passions.”

Nadya Pena 3_1Pena is also a first-generation college student, owing a lot to her mother, a single parent who went above and beyond to make sure her children received a college education.  “My mother is perseverant and beat the odds while keeping a positive attitude in the face of adversity,” says Pena, whose family emigrated from the Dominican Republic. “We’ve done well for ourselves, and I’m very grateful for my mom.”

A member of the Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF) program at the College, Pena is also part of the iPics Scholarship Program (a math and computer science joint program) and won a scholarship at the national Grace Hopper conference held in Texas. In addition to her leadership positions and stellar work ethic, Pena has created numerous projects illustrating her adroitness in the computer science field.

Nadya developed a program in which a television viewer can text the name of a show and receive information on whether the episode currently being aired advances the plot of the series or if it was a “stand-alone” episode.  While it started as a class project, Pena has continued with it independently and the program has now become her passion project. Another program she has worked on is a system to monitor the number of spaces in a parking lot by using tiny credit-card sized computers.

Pena has done three internships in software development: Prudential Financial, Wiley and Sons, Publishing Company, and Credit Suisse, where she also landed a summer job writing software for stock traders.

As to what her dream job would be, Pena hasn’t decided yet. She wants to teach a computer science class but also considers freelancing as a possible option. “I definitely want to work on interesting problems and solve them with computers,” she says. “Any job that allows me to do that, I’m okay with.”

– Kelly Corbett

For More Information:

Kylie Gorman ’16

Kylie Gorman ’16

As Kylie Gorman went through the maddening college application process four years ago, she pictured her first year in college and saw herself in the laboratory with a beaker in hand, safety goggles, and a white lab coat. She had applied to several schools as a chemistry major, but to her dismay, TCNJ’s chemistry program was full at the time, requiring her to choose another major. But what exactly would she choose?

Kylie Gorman 1Fortunately, she was given the chance to sit in on a couple classes at TCNJ while deciding which school to attend. Gorman says she fell in love with the small class sizes, which helped the professors know all their students by name.

Fast forward to present day and Gorman is now a senior computer science major with an interactive multimedia minor.  She is the President of Upsilon Pi Epsilon (the computer science honor society) and is a member of both the College’s chapter of Women in Computer Science (WICS) and the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM). She also serves as a computer science tutor at the Tutoring Center, and is a part of the New Jersey Christian Fellowship chapter on campus.

Inspired by her father, who has a background in programming, Gorman took her first computer science course at the College in her first year and instantly fell in love with the field.  Although computer science being a mostly male-dominated field might have been a little frightening for a newbie female student, Gorman remembers how intimidating it was at first, but was relieved to see that the College had a more gender-balanced and welcoming department than most other schools. “I was really fortunate to be in a department where I never felt uncomfortable.”

Gorman spends approximately seven hours a week tutoring other students in computer science and says that she absolutely loves it. While she does not have a set career plan yet, being a computer science teacher is definitely at the top of her list.  Furthermore, Gorman attends the School of Science Student Advisory Board and always tries to represent her department. Also, when prospective high school students come to campus to learn more about the computer science department, Gorman often gives the tours and is always willing to sit down with students to talk to them about the major.

Although computer science was not Gorman’s first choice, she has thrived in her chosen field of study.  In one recent project in her Database Systems class, Gorman collaborated with Students Organized Against Pollution (SOAP) and looked at research to see how chemical levels fluctuated since certain pollution legislation was enacted.  Gorman also participated in a Research Undergraduate Experience (REU) at the University of Central Florida where she worked on a computer vision project in which project color descriptors are used with shape descriptors for better image description.  She earned a speech recognition award for her Python coding both semesters of her junior year and was an intern in the computer vision department at SRI International in Princeton.  She also performed research at the College with Nao, a two-foot tall humanoid robot, playing rock paper and scissors with it. (Nao beat her dad in the game, she says with a laugh.)  She was also inducted into the Phi Kappa Phi national honor society and has received computer science awards from her professors the past three years of her college career.

Kylie Gorman 2Two professors at the College, in particular, have really inspired Gorman. She conducted a majority of her research with Dr. Andrea Salgian, who was the professor of Gorman’s first computer science course. Dr. Deborah Knox, whom Gorman had for earlier computer science seminars, also had a huge impact on Gorman.  “Her level of confidence as a computer scientist has increased during her career at TCNJ, improving with each challenge she tackled,” says Knox. “Motivated to learn, Kylie is detail-oriented and willing to share her strong technical skills with others, both in a collaborative environment as well as through her role as a tutor of computer science.”

Kylie also exerts a strong work ethic outside the computer science field. As a heavily-involved member of the New Jersey Christian Fellowship, Gorman co-leads the weekly life group and during the semester meets up with her mentee Theresa Pham, a sophomore computer engineering major. Despite her stressful schedule, “Kylie is always smiling and willing to help with anything when she can,” says Pham, who is thankful that she has a mentor that is always there for her whenever she has a question or needs help with something. “She’s a sweet, caring, and intelligent person whom I look up to.  I feel very lucky to have her as a mentor.”

In addition, Gorman also attends Encounter, a weekly youth group on campus and helps out with the Vacation Bible School at her church during the summer.

As President of Upsilon Pi Epsilon (UPE), Gorman conducts all the meetings, organizes the society’s events throughout the semester, and is always encouraging participation. Just recently, UPE co-sponsored a game night with the Association of Computing Machinery featuring video games such as Super Smash Bros and Magic. UPE has also sponsored other events such as an ice cream social, a de-stressing, and a “sweets” event that allows students to take a break from all of their hard work.

But what’s next on Gorman’s agenda? She recently just scored a job at Lockheed Martin Tech Center in Atlantic City and is also hoping to complete their Master’s Program.

“I’m going to miss the community the most. Every time I go up to Forcina (the computer science building) I always know someone,” she says.

When she’s not coding or programming, Gorman loves playing soccer, having played for fourteen years before attending TCNJ.  She also enjoys playing Ultimate Frisbee as well as drawing cartoons after taking an animations class at the College as part of her IMM minor.

As Gorman gets ready to embark on the next chapter of her life, leaving behind her beloved tutoring job, computer science family, and Salmon Fridays at Eickhoff Hall, the College is welcoming another Gorman to its population – Gorman’s sister, Ally will be entering the College as part of the five-year Special Education program and will also be playing for the lacrosse team.

“I’m going to miss it here, but I’m excited for the future,” says Gorman.

– Kelly Corbett

For More Information:

Brandon Gottlob ’16

Brandon Gottlob ’16

Brandon GottlobMeet Brandon Gottlob, computer science major and one of the creators of the College’s popular mobile application, TCNJ Connect. The application provides the essentials for navigating TCNJ life as a student, allowing its users to stay updated on vital campus information such as dining hours, resources, calendars, media, and emergency and healthcare options.

Gottlob became involved in the project during the spring semester of his freshman year. “Another student who was doing research for credit had initially come up with the idea for TCNJ Connect.  I kind of hopped on the project with him and helped him build it from the ground up,” he says.  Gottlob spent most of his sophomore year working on the app for the iPhone while another student worked on the Android version.

Since then, Gottlob has been completing project after project.  In his junior year, he worked on the Room Occupancy Detection System, a program allowing users to stay updated on when study rooms are available or occupied in the TCNJ Library. He proposed using a common motion detector attached to a small self-contained computer to collect data on movement in the study rooms. While the project could not be implemented due to its cost, Dr. Deborah Knox, associate professor of computer science and mentor for the project, believes Gottlob’s vision and contributions were logistically innovative.  Gottlob was able to present that research at a computer science conference in Kansas City.  During his senior year, he again partnered with Dr. Knox, using a Monte Carlo program that would simulate stock portfolio performance. Gottlob hopes to continue with this project after graduation.

During TCNJ’s Welcome Week, it was fortuitous that freshman Gottlob sat down next to Dr. Knox at the annual computer science faculty luncheon.  Gottlob spoke to her about his previous experience creating iPhone applications and inquired if there was anyone doing that at TCNJ. “The rest was history, I guess!” said Gottlob.  “If I didn’t interact with any faculty my first year, then I would probably have only had one half-year long research experience under my resume instead of three projects,” says Gottlob as he reflects on those first few days on campus which were followed by four years of research at the College.

Brandon Gottlob TCNJ Connect“What surprised me about Brandon was his ability to work with a senior designer as his peer,” says Dr. Knox. “As a freshman, Brandon had a lot to learn, but he wanted to engage at a very high level. He was motivated to learn and did a good amount of self-study to put himself at a level where he could make contributions. His level of commitment and contributions were essential to the success of the completion of TCNJ Connect.”

During his senior year, Gottlob was able to balance working on research project after research project, serving as president for two campus organizations and maintaining websites as part of his internships.

As President of both the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and the Mobile Application Development Club at TCNJ, he gets to enjoy a more social side to computing by building a community for those interested in software development.  “Coming to college I thought, ‘Okay, I’ll do computer science and sit behind my computer and make things and never have to talk to anyone.’  But getting involved in that whole social side was a lot more than what I bargained for – but in a good way.”

Brandon Gottlob 4ACM provides the opportunity for members to attend tutorials on a new programming language or platform just introduced in class. In spring 2016, the club hosted HackTCNJ, a 24-hour coding extravaganza known as a hackathon, with prizes going out for the best user experience or the funniest hack. “It’s mayhem,” says Gottlob. “It’s like 200 people hunting for food for 24 hours.”

During the summer of 2014, he interned at AmeriHealth Caritas, creating a website for the Enterprise Information Management (EIM) department. He designed and created the site independently, but says that the experience was really about learning how to gauge what EIM employees envisioned their site to look like and how to communicate with other divisions in the company in order to complete that vision.

The hard work has been followed by many accolades.  In the fall of 2014, Gottlob was one of two science majors selected as inaugural scholars for the New Jersey Governor’s STEM Scholars Program.  In spring 2015, Gottlob was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, the oldest honor society for liberal arts and sciences in the United States, which only accepts ten percent of its candidates.  Brandon Gottlob 2In his final semester, Gottlob received a Senior Award from the computer science department.  Dr. Knox, who presented the award, was sad to see her longtime student go. “It has been my privilege to work with Brandon these past four years, both in the classroom and in the research lab,” says Dr. Knox. “It was a special opportunity –-perhaps a once-in-my-career type of opportunity – to mentor an undergraduate for that span of time.”

Gottlob has officially accepted a job offer from CareKinesis in Moorestown, New Jersey, a medication management and distribution pharmacy, where he will be making software that deals with medicine prescriptions.

Brandon Gottlob 3Looking back on his four years at TCNJ, Gottlob hopes that first-year students will not be discouraged from sticking with the major because of its challenges. He can relate to the feeling of dejection when something goes wrong with a program, but he believes that problem solving is one of the most important skills for a computer science major.  His advice: “Instead of just thinking, ‘If I put this code in, my program works,’ focus on why that program works.  It will give you an understanding of the big picture and also help you become more comfortable with programming and building your own solutions.”

– Kaitlyn Njoroge

For More Information:

Top