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Evergreen Instructors Awarded $14,250 for Computer Science Studies

Published: March 10, 2004

Evergreen Instructors Awarded $14,250 for Computer Science Studies

Dr. Judith Cushing and Dr. Sherri Shulman, faculty members in computer sciences at The Evergreen State College, have been awarded $14,250 by the Lemelson Foundation for their proposal "Team Building and Entrepreneurship Among Computer Science Students." The grant will enhance the ability of 25 students enrolled winter and spring quarters in the Evergreen program Student Originated Software to develop and market software. It also will allow the instructors to build curriculum in team skills, develop an effective evaluation strategy and to share materials with other computer science programs throughout the country.

The grant will also help Cushing and Shulman to collaborate with colleagues at the Evergreen Tacoma campus to explore strategies for recruiting women and members of underrepresented groups to computing, which remains a largely white male profession.

"With a successful 20-year track record in software engineering education, we find that projects work best when students have an entrepreneurial spirit and excellent team skills," Cushing says. "We hear from employers that Evergreen students have significant management and marketing potential as well as technical expertise and innovative spirit."

Cushing and Shulman's program Student Originated Software combines upper-division computer science learning with in-depth practical experiences in software engineering, including the planning, management, design, implementation and maintenance of software projects.

Students work in groups of two to four on a project for an identified real-world customer, or in pursuit of a marketable, intellectually or socially worthwhile idea. During winter quarter, students are working on software system design, doing market research and creating business plans. In the next quarter, they will complete their projects and demonstrate them on campus at a Software Fair.

Six projects are currently under development. One is eze-com, which would give small and computer-strapped businesses easy-to-install and -use software for commercial sites, making them more competitive. A second is Heart of Gold, an open source engine management system that lets users plug into a laptop and run automobile engine diagnostics. The software analyzes the problem, provides a short list of possible diagnoses-and then links to the same Internet-based repair manuals that the car shops use. A third software program-Legal XML-would make legal documents more understandable to the layperson by providing both a way to markup "legalese" into plain English, making it easier to read, and a navigation system that pinpoints sections of a document that match the reader's need or interest.

Cushing earned a bachelor of arts in math and philosophy from the College of William and Mary; master's in logic and philosophy of science from Brown University; and a doctorate in computer science from the OGI School of Science and Technology at Oregon Health and Science Institute.

Shulman has a bachelor of arts in natural science from Shimer College; master of science degree in computer science from Illinois Institute of Technology; and a doctorate in computer science from the OGI School of Science and Technology at Oregon Health and Science Institute.

The award was made through the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance, which facilitates grant requests from E-Team programs at colleges around the country. An E-Team is a group of students who train to go into business and develop products in the future while at school. The E stands for both excellence and entrepreneurship.

The Lemelson Foundation is a private philanthropy established by one of the most prolific U.S. inventors, Jerome Lemelson, and his family. The Lemelson Foundation uses its resources to inspire, encourage and recognize inventors, innovators and entrepreneurs, with a growing emphasis on those who harness invention for sustainable development where the needs are greatest.

Contact: Kate Lykins Brown, (360) 867-5213
Dr. Judith Cushing, (360) 867-6652

Contact

Todd Sprague Executive Director of Marketing, Communications and College Relations
The Evergreen State College
(360) 867-6042
spraguet@evergreen.edu