April 27, 2011
Graduate students present software development projects, compete for cash in annual KCP&L contest
MARYVILLE, Mo. - Months of work for four groups of graduate students in Northwest's department of computer science and information systems culminated last week when the students presented software development projects to representatives of Kansas City Power and Light.
Prize money totaling $500 was divided among the 18 participants of the annual Kansas City Power and Light Internship Competition. The winning team - consisting of Keri Crowley, Swapna Gouri Kalanidhi, Madhuri Pati, Benjamin Shinyambala and Sireesha Tammina - earned $400 for its "Portfolio Project." The team members developed a database management system where students and faculty in Northwest's Department of Education may store electronic files that include portfolio items such as course syllabi and lesson plans developed by an individual student.
Students presented their projects to judges April 21, and winners were announced at a reception afterward. Each participating team submitted an executive summary of their project and made a formal 20-minute presentation to a panel of judges from KCP&L.
To be successful with their projects, students had to meet regularly with the professional clients they were serving. The teams also learned varied software and tools they were previously unfamiliar with in order to ensure their projects' usefulness.
Judges praised the teams for taking on the challenging projects and noted the students had to leverage each other's skills to bring all of the pieces together. Students had to incorporate not only their software development skills, but their project management skills as well.
"All of them had a fairly complex set of requirements and learning they had to do along the way," said Kim Asbury, an IT project manager at KCP&L.
A second-place prize of $300 was awarded to students who developed applications for iPhone, Android and Blackberry phones to assist Alyoop, a tenant at Northwest's Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, with its coupon distribution service. Team members were Vijaya Bollaram, Tyler Griesbach, Abhimanyu Gullapalli and Rakesh Gundapaneni.
Third place and $200 was awarded to students who developed a software tool for calculating rations of food ingredients for livestock. The team consisted of Dantuluri Vijay Mohan, Dodda Ashok Kumar, Gaikwad Srikanth, Pulli Gyaneshwar Sri Vidya and Surapaneni Chandu.
Fourth place and $100 was awarded to students who developed an iPhone app that simulates drunken driving and subsequent field sobriety tests. Team members were Dinesh Boinpally, Suman Ankampally, Gopi Krishna Kondabolu and Sumalatha Devaki.
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. In spring 2010, KCP&L initiated a pilot competition among teams of students who were completing their second trimester of the department's graduate directed project course.
By participating in the competition students also received face-to-face time with computing professionals who are recruiting interns and future employees.
"We're looking forward to continuing this partnership (with Northwest) because we've had some people, even in this tough economic time, that we've been able to find some positions for," Asbury said. "The economy's not going to be like this forever, so it's good to have these relationships and partnerships because it lets us know that Northwest is staying on top of the technology, the development and things that we know we're going to be needing."
The competition is 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.
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