March 10, 2005

BOOM Exhibits Student Projects

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Yesterday afternoon, Duffield Hall’s atrium was transformed into an arena for technological advancement as the annual Bits On Our Mind (BOOM) science fair exhibited an impressive 52 student projects in such fields as computer science, engineering, and information science.

Prof. Hod Lipson, mechanical and aerospace engineering and computing and information science, this year’s faculty advisor for BOOM, said that the fair’s goal is for “students, undergraduate mostly, to become engaged in issues and share ideas.” He said that this year’s fair included the “most diverse set of projects yet.”

“The fair used to be comprised of computer science projects but is now expanding out of traditional computer science with lots of engineering projects,” he said. He expects this trend to continue as the fair gains in popularity.

According to a computing and information science press release, this year’s fair featured 132 students from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Engineering, and the Johnson School of Management. The fair, open to the public, was also expected to draw between 500 and 600 Cornell students and faculty, along with members of the Ithaca community.

The fair, started in 1998 by the computing and information science department, also includes an annual student spotlight, a student who is recognized for his or her outstanding contributions to the field of digital technology.

Eugene Medynskiy ’06, a computer science major and information science minor, was this year’s student spotlight winner for his project on the link structure of LiveJournal, an online community. Medynskiy’s study included researching the online groups members were involved in, and how members were linked together through these different groups. Medynskiy said that his work shows “how people dynamically use the space,” allowing future web designers to better create webpages based on how users interact with them.

The project Lie-M, completed by Tucker Barrett ’06, also explored online interactions, but focused on the medium of instant messaging. Asking whether we can detect deception in instant messaging, Barrett is working to create a program to discern whether an individual is being truthful in his or her messages by focusing on speech patterns typically used when people lie. Having already completed a study where users rated their own deception, Barrett hopes his new computer program will be more reliable than self reported data and have the capacity to analyze a million messages.

Another project, the Cornell Robocup, focused on creating autonomous robots, or robots that could think and move without human intervention. Team member Homan Lee ’08 said that the robots were designed to engage in table soccer, and will compete against other robot teams in Japan this coming July.

Other autonomous robots included the Cornell Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (CUAUV) and the DARPA Grand Challenge. According to Bryan Silverthorn ’06, the CUAUV is a submersible designed to complete underwater tasks in an annual competition sponsored by the Department of Naval Research. The CUAUV team has placed either first or second for the past three years, and hopes to maintain this excellence in the upcoming competition in San Diego. Conversely, this year will be Cornell’s first year in the DARPA Grand Challenge, a competition sponsored by the Defense Department. According to team member Michael Brown ’05, Cornell’s DARPA team will create an autonomous vehicle the size of an SUV to complete a timed 175 mile course this October.

Response to the science fair was positive, with student Kevin Moore ’07 commenting that the projects were “really interesting.” Prof. Andrew Myers, computer science, said that the fair was “terrific.”

Archived article by Jackie Nastri
Sun Contributor