June 3, 2020

2018 summer scholars discuss the successes of their projects

2018’s summer scholars had high expectations for their summer projects, and a couple students definitely exceeded them.

Andrew Decker, junior, worked with Dr. Feng over the summer designing AI algorithms for Tic Tac Toe and Connect Four. Their desire was to make the games people play against the computer harder.

“Over the summer, I learned more about time management and what it is like working on a large project primarily by yourself,” Decker said.
“I obviously learned a lot about the AI algorithms I was working with and found out which ones are more efficient and effective in my circumstances.”

These games were programmed to “never lose” so the person playing wouldn’t always win. Decker explained that the Tic Tac Toe game always wins and the Connect Four isn’t “perfect” but is slightly more challenging. Both of these games used a graphical user interface (GUI)  and different AI algorithms so the player could play against the computer.

Erin Brown, senior, said her project went well and that she learned a lot about how to research and write about free speech. She also learned about persistence and self-motivation during this process.

Photo courtesy of Erin Brown


During this project, Brown was determined to learn more about free speech. “I feel as though I was able to answer the question I had set out to and learned quite a lot during that process,” she said.

“In the end, I do believe my project was effective at advancing the conversation surrounding the limits of free speech and the reasonability of political correctness. I also believe it was effective in the sense that I advanced my skills in this area of academic scholarship,” she said.

These two summer scholars both really enjoyed their summer projects and recommend them to fellow students. Decker thinks that it’s better to work on the project in the summer because then the student isn’t stressed out with school in addition, and that it’s overall a great program. “would absolutely recommend the Summer Scholars to more people. It gives you the chance to dive into any subject that really interests you,” he said.

For future summer scholars, Brown feels like setting a clear goal is crucial. “For future students interested in the Summer Scholars program, I would encourage them to do as much work as possible up front in creating a clear topic idea and a way to pursue it,” she said.

There’s also a lot of great benefits to getting involved in the summer scholars program. As a scholar you get paid for your work, get free housing over the summer and it’s a great addition to one’s resume.

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