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Northwest Missouri State University

News Release

Drew Butler, Stephen Hinkle, James Knobbe, and Shan Lynn of KCP&L

Drew Butler, a computer science major at Northwest, presents his research project "GPS & Personal Navigation" to a panel of judges from KCP&L as part of the company's annual CS/IS Research Paper Competition. In the right photo, contest winners Stephen Hinkle (left) and James Knobbe (right) are pictured with Shan Lynn of KCP&L. (Photos by Darren Whitley/University Advancement)

Dec. 9, 2010

KCP&L awards students for computer technology research

MARYVILLE, Mo. - Four Northwest Missouri State University students earned cash prizes and some valuable presentation experience during the third annual CS/IS Research Paper Competition, sponsored by Kansas City Power and Light.

James Knobbe, of West Point, Neb., and Stephen Hinkle, of Kansas City, took the $500 first-place prize for their presentation titled, "Gesture/Tracking: Tomorrow's Implementation." Both students are senior management information systems majors.

Drew Butler, a senior computer science major from Topeka, Kan., earned the $300 second-place prize for his presentation, "GPS & Personal Navigation." Matt Gipson, a senior computer science and interactive digital media major from Lee's Summit, took the $200 third-place prize for his presentation, "Circumstances Regarding RFID for Personal Identification."  

The winners were announced today during a reception at Northwest.  

The competition was open to students in the University's software engineering class and systems analysis and design class. Students were assigned a research paper and given the option of submitting it for the annual research contest. A panel of faculty members in Northwest's Department of Computer Science and Information Systems conducted a blind review of the papers. Three finalists were then selected to present their papers to a panel of judges from KCP&L.

Shan Lynn, manager of enterprise system support for KCP&L, said the panel was impressed by the topic Knobbe and Hinkle chose as well as the creativity of their presentation. The presenters demonstrated the future of gesture technology by acting out a scene in which a man opened his window blinds with a wave of his arm and poured a specialized cup of coffee with a simple touch of his coffee maker.

Lynn said the contest is a win-win partnership that helps KCP&L recruit employees and helps the students gain real-world presentation experience.

"We want to have a presence at Northwest," Lynn said. "We've hired students from Northwest in the past and they've worked out really well for us. We want to stay connected to the University and feel that helps us when it's time to recruit.

"For the students to get exposure to giving a presentation to somebody in the business world, that's going to be very helpful to them when they get out of school. The questions we ask them give a better sense of the types of things their audience is looking for."

Dr. Dean Sanders, professor of computer science and information systems, said the contest helps students gain visibility in front of a potential employer.

"It gives them visibility, but also they really have to extend a little bit beyond the level of what they would normally do for a classroom assignment," Sanders said. "It puts them in a different environment."

The students said the research contest was a rewarding experience that helped them develop their presentation skills.

"It's a learning tool for students who are going out and trying to find jobs," Butler said. "Being able to present in front of people is definitely a great asset. It's a little more intimidating being in front of panel of judges as opposed to a classroom setting where it's just your peers."

For more information, please contact:

Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager | 660.562.1704 | Fax: 660.562.1900

Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468