In September, the Department of Computer Science and Information System’s club, Numbers & Bytes, ventured to Charleston, South Carolina for the amazing opportunity of attending an entrepreneurship conference. “Startup Weekend” is a conference sponsored by Google that focuses on bringing passionate developers and entrepreneurs together to create projects in hopes of launching the next big million dollar idea. Eight lucky Coastal students from the technology focused organization Numbers & Bytes attended, including students from a wide range of majors: from Computer Science and Graphic Design all the way to Marine Science.

“The Charleston Startup Weekend was an educational, inspirational, and overall great experience full of opportunities,” says Mary Best, a Senior Graphic Design major.

At the beginning of the weekend, Developers and Programmers lined up to pitch their ideas for mobile and web-based applications to the crowd, in hopes that other like-minded people would help them in the creation of that idea. Even a few Coastal students took the opportunity to pitch their own ideas. Kyle Anderson, a student majoring in Business, pitched his idea for a mobile app. “Check Please,” says Anderson, “would let a user order food from a restaurant using their phone, then pay from their phone, and be able to have their table and meal ready when they get to the restaurant.”

Another application was pitched by Information Systems major Hali Gallagher. “Even though I only made it through the first round of voting, I am still glad I pitched my idea. I knew it probably wouldn’t make it to the finals since it would require individuals skilled in hardware, but I went up there anyway because I saw it as an opportunity for networking and feedback on my idea,” explains Gallagher. “During voting, a programmer approached me about my idea saying that he liked it and continued telling me about a similar idea that had been done in cities with bike rentals. Slide your debit card and the bike rack would unlock giving you access to the bike, then your card would be charged until the return of the bike. It’s kind of similar to the way Redbox movie rentals work.”

After idea pitching ended, the voting phase began. Each idea pitcher was instructed to write their idea and what they needed to make that idea happen on a giant sheet of paper, and hang it on the wall for others to vote on. Everyone was given three sticky notes and instructed to place them on the idea they believed to be best. Anderson’s app idea of Check Please made it through three rounds of voting.

After voting, teams were formed. Unfortunately, the students found that the ideas that were voted to the finals required skills that they did not yet have. Bille Le, another Computer Science major, noted that, “Maybe after the Software Development course we would be more prepared to attend such an event.” The students still found Startup Weekend to be a useful and educational experience despite this setback. Christopher Williford, a Computer Science major, stated, “Going on this trip, I got to see firsthand how big app development was.”

Startup Weekend helped students see firsthand which skills would be extremely marketable in their future careers. “I always encourage members of Numbers & Bytes to network, as it is a vital skill to have in the real world, says Ebon Moore, a Computer Science Major and Numbers & Bytes club officer. “However, I was surprised when I found club members in deep conversation and networking on their own without any push from me. I’m glad our members were able to network with people within their field of study. It just shows how self-driven and motivated Coastal students are.” The students from Numbers & Bytes are grateful to have had the opportunity to attend Startup Weekend and hope to continue having the support to pursue more such opportunities in the future.

Acknowledgements: The Numbers & Bytes club would like to thank the Dean of the College of Science, Dr. Mike Roberts, as well as the Department of Computer Science and Information Systems for sponsoring this trip.

Dr. William M. Jones has received a research grant from Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Ultra Scale Research Center, part of the New Mexico Consortium, where he is currently recognized as a University collaborator. This $13,000 grant will be used to fund one undergraduate for a little over one year to work on algorithm-based fault tolerant algorithm analysis using F-SEFI, a soft error fault injector currently in production at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL).

Dr. Jones was approached by Clemson University computer science student, Claude “Rusty” Davis, during the summer of 2014 to work on "something fun". What started out as an unfunded extracurricular endeavor for Rusty has turned into much more. Rusty travelled with Dr. Jones to LANL during the summer to present their initial findings, and while on-site, they were offered the opportunity to continue this research in an official capacity through Coastal Carolina University as part of a grant-funded research project. Rusty will also be travelling with Dr. Jones to the 2014 Supercomputing Conference in November to present their work at the Clemson University Booth. This work has furthermore been integrated into a Creative Inquiry course at Clemson University, where Rusty is enrolled in Dr. Jones’ Fall 2014 Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) 3990 independent study course on algorithm-based fault tolerance.

Three students, Kirby Dill, Maria Peters, and Chrissie Kline, accompanied Dr. William M. Jones on a recent trip to Clemson University to attend an Intel PHI workshop (hosted here ). This overnight trip involved a day-long hands-on seminar on programming and evaluating the performance of the Intel PHI processor, also known as the "MIC". The Intel PHI coprocessor is a 60+ core fully functional parallel computer. The group accessed the PHI processors via an XSEDE allocation on the Stampede Supercomputer, managed by TACC, in Texas. “I had never written or executed any code on a PHI processor before, so this workshop was an amazing opportunity for me, and also the students enrolled in CSCI 473, Introduction to Parallel Systems, where high-performance parallel computing is the central focus.” said Dr. Jones of this experience. Although the CCU College of Science offered to pay for the trip, ultimately Clemson University offered to cover all the expenses.

The Numbers and Bytes Club selected 11 motivated students to travel to Clemson, SC to learn more about the Graduate Programs at Clemson University. The students, supervised by CSIS faculty members Dr. Jones and Dr. Murphy, were able to learn what Clemson’s Graduate Program has to offer, and also take a tour of the 3rd fastest academic supercomputer in the world.

The first day of the trip was spent learning about the Digital Productions Arts program. This program is focused on producing technically savvy and talented graduate students who will be able to work in the entertainment/commercial video, film, and gaming industries.

On the second day, each student was able to speak one-on-one with one or more Graduate professors in the student’s area(s) of interest. These faculty members are working on research in such varied fields as Big Data, Parallel Computing Systems, Computer Science Engineering, and many others. Additionally, students were able to talk to Professors who are offering research programs during the summer.

Following the visit, two students were selected from Numbers and Bytes to participate in Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU’s) at Clemson University this summer. This is in addition to two other CCU students who have also been invited to participate in Clemson REU’s this summer, for a total of 4 students from our department. The REU’s relate to Data-Intensive Computing and Collaborative Data Vizualization Applications

Students also met with current Ph.D. students Yvon Feaster, Toni Bloodworth and Lauren Dukes (pictured above). Numbers and Bytes students were able to ask questions about applying to graduate school, life at graduate school, their personal research, and about Clemson University.

Next, the students took a private tour of the Data Center at Clemson University’s Information Technology Center (ITC). This data center serves Clemson University and affiliates by powering the Academic and Administrative Systems, as well as the major High Performance Computing (HPC) Systems on campus. Students were able to see all the components required to run a fully functional data center and the Palmetto Cluster (Clemson University's primary HPC resource). This visit allowed students to understand where their undergraduate degree here at Coastal Carolina University can take them.

Numbers and Bytes would like to thank Clemson University’s School of Computing for this opportunity. Specifically, thanks to Chair of the Computer Science Division Dr. Amy Apon, and Assistant Professor Dr. Sekou Remy for their help in organizing the visit. Additionally, thank you to all of the Clemson University professors and Ph.D. students who were involved with the visit, and who offered such valuable information and experiences to our students.

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