Published: April 29, 2024

On Friday, April 26th, 30 computer science alumni judged current students' senior capstone projects at the Engineering Projects Expo. 

Spending half an hour with three different groups, the judges provided insight as professionals into the students' presentations, their demos and their underlying code architecture. 

Ryan Dowell (CompSci'11), who works for industrial textile machine company Melco, said he was impressed by the scale and variety of projects created by the students in partnership with their capstone clients. 

"When I took the capstone course," Dowell said, "the biggest benefit was understanding the difference between something academic and something commercially-focused. The capstone meant a lot to me and helped me understand a lot. I hope it helps them understand where things go from here." 

For Erika Bailon (CompSci'20) the event brought nostalgia.

"I remember the days I was working on this," she said. "It's amazing to see how everything is evolving and how the students are working together in a really good way." 

Bailon, who works at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said she hoped that by being a judge, she could help show that women have a voice in computer science. 

"I remember so many times when I wanted to give up on this, and I didn't do it because I knew that there were people like me who made it, so I could do it too," she said. 

Derek Rieger (CompSci'99), who works for Accelerate Learning, said it was an enjoyable experience on several levels. He said he was inspired by the students and their passion.

"It's easy to say, 'oh, I don't have time to judge' but it's worthwhile to be able to do stuff like this. I know not everyone can, but if you can create the margin for it, I would absolutely encourage you to do so," he said.