Student Team Earns Second in
Computer Science Research
Posted March 6, 2001
HOLLAND -- A team of researchers consisting of
undergraduate students from Hope College and Xavier
University of Ohio recently placed second in the ACM
International Student Research Contest, held Thursday-
Friday, Feb. 22-23, in Charlotte, N.C.
The students were Prakash Ojha from Dhangadhi
Nepal; Abigail Walker from Louisville, Ky.; and Jennifer
Wanner from Marion, Ohio. Their project compared methods of
using the computer to handle institutional course
Ojha is a junior at Hope, while Walker and Wanner
are students at Xavier University. The students were
advised by Dr. Gary Lewandowski, visiting associate
professor of computer science at Hope College, who is
presently on leave from Xavier University.
"Course scheduling is known to be among the
hardest computer science problems to solve optimally,"
Lewandowski said. "Many variations of the problem and
approximations that work well on a particular instance of
data have been demonstrated in the past, but this research
project presented the first comparison of scheduling methods
on a uniform problem formulation and on common sets of
According to Lewandowski, the students implemented
several methods for course scheduling and also designed a
model for generating random sets of data to do the empirical
The project originated at Xavier University during
the 1999-2000 academic year with the support of a
"Collaborative Research Experience for Women" grant from the
Computing Research Association which funded Ms. Wanner. Ms.
Walker and Mr. Ojha joined the project during the summer of
2000, when they participated in the Summer Research
Experience for Undergraduates at Hope College, funded by the
National Science Foundation and Hope College. Lewandowski
served as an advisor in the program while on sabbatical from
Xavier, through an NSF-sponsored visiting professor program
The ACM International Student Research contest is
sponsored by the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM),
the primary professional organization of computing
professionals in the world. The contest takes place
annually at the ACM Special Interest Group on Computer
Science Education (SIGCSE) Technical Symposium.
Students present their work in poster form,
allowing for informal discussion with the contest judges,
who are professional computer scientists attending the
conference activities. Poster presentations are evaluated
on the quality and significance of the work, and the quality
and clarity of both the oral and visual presentation.
The judges' evaluations determine the group of
semifinalists, who then make a formal conference
presentation. The top three winners in each category are
determined by the judges' evaluation of the presentations.
At the same conference, other Hope researchers
presented a paper titled "Using Handheld Computers in the
Classroom: Laboratories and Collaboration on Handheld
Machines." The paper concerns research by Dr. Mike Jipping,
associate professor of computer science, and junior Sarah
Dieter of Colorado Springs, Colo.; senior Joshua Krikke of
Hudsonville; and junior Samantha Sandro of Scottville.
Jipping and Krikke presented the research group's results to
more than 100 computer science educators from all over the
The paper documented the case for using handheld
computing devices in the classroom to aid in teaching
computer science. During their presentation and in their
paper, which appears in the conference proceedings, they
showcased two applications that the team developed that are
presently being used in classes at Hope.
The work on the project was done with support from
two grants from the National Science Foundation. The
students performed their work under Jipping's supervision
during the summer of 2000 on the Hope campus.