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May 25, 2010
MARYVILLE, Mo. - Three groups of students in Northwest's department of computer science and information systems were rewarded for projects they presented at the recent Kansas City Power and Light Internship Competition and Banquet.
A $500 first-place prize was awarded to a group of students who presented a data conversion project for Nucor - LMP Inc. The data conversion tool will help users bridge Nucor-LMP's multiple databases and search for common vendors and products more quickly, while eliminating data redundancy.
Students who completed a project for the Ward Performing Arts Network earned a $300 second-place prize. A $200 third-place prize was given to students who presented an iPhone application called the "Bearcat Walking Tour."
Since the fall of 2008, KCP&L has sponsored an undergraduate research competition for students in Northwest's department of computer science and information systems. During the spring trimester, KCP&L initiated a pilot competition among teams of students who were completing their second trimester of the department's Graduate Directed Project course.
The presentations and judging were completed on April 30, with a reception afterward in the First Ladies Dining Room of the J.W. Jones Student Union, where winners were announced. Each participating team submitted an executive summary of their project and made a formal 20-minute presentation to a panel of five judges from KCP&L.
KCP&L's Yuvonise Thurmond-Randolph, who is a 1992 Northwest grad and was one of the judges, said the competition benefits both the students and the company. Thurmond-Randolph said KCP&L uses the competition to recruit interns and future employees.
"It's investing back into the community that we serve," she said. "We know that we are faced with an aging workforce so it's important for us to go to universities, specifically Northwest, to pick the cream of the crop of the talent that's there and have them join our workforce."
Five teams competed in the competition, which was voluntary and open to teams completing projects during the spring trimester. The two-trimester software development projects are required for students working toward master's degrees in applied computer science. Computer science and information systems faculty Dr. Dean Sanders, Dr. Carol Spradling and Dr. Michael Rogers served as faculty mentors on the projects.
"It's always valuable for the students to have to prepare material for presentation to a group of professionals who are not necessarily computer science experts and ones who are not their teachers," Sanders said. "It makes it more than a classroom assignment. I think that all five teams did an excellent job and represented the University extremely well."
The level and quality of the students' projects was impressive, Spradling said. She also noted the value of opportunities for students to present their projects to representatives of large companies.
"That's so important when they get out into the industry," Spradling said. "The fact that KCP&L gave them the opportunity to give them a presentation, that's wonderful. It's not the kind of opportunity we can recreate in the classroom."
Added Spradling, "I was extremely proud because these students have been working on these projects for two semesters. They're learning, and they maybe don't have all the professional skills when they start out, but throughout the process they really learn a lot. We take great pride in the fact that these students appeared so professional."
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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Northwest Missouri State University
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