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Northwest Missouri State University


Student Spotlight

Six students presented their computer science research Wednesday to a panel of KCP&L judges as part of an annual competition sponsored by the company. Left to right in the first row are Caroline Pickett and Tiffany McBride. In the back row are Matt Woolery, Hunter Hawthorne, Caleb Bertels and Jamie Ford. (Northwest Missouri State University photo)

Six students presented their computer science research Wednesday to a panel of KCP&L judges as part of an annual competition sponsored by the company. Left to right in the first row are Caroline Pickett and Tiffany McBride. In the back row are Matt Woolery, Hunter Hawthorne, Caleb Bertels and Jamie Ford. (Northwest Missouri State University photo)

Dec. 7, 2016

Students net cash awards from KCP&L for technology research

Six Northwest Missouri State University students earned cash prizes and valuable presentation experience Wednesday during the ninth annual CS/IS Research Paper Competition, sponsored by Kansas City Power and Light.

Jamie Ford, a senior computer science major from Rosendale, Missouri, earned first place and $360 for his presentation “Microservices Architecture,” which explored how Netflix, Amazon and other content delivery networks use a series of small applications offer their services, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of the architecture.

“It was very apparent that Jamie had gone in and done a lot of research, including the fact that he also had an internship that helped him,” said Yuvonise Thurmond, a KCP&L employee who led the judging panel. “So he was exposed to a lot of the information that he presented to us. He was able to field the questions and presented very good in-depth information.

Each year, finalists for the contest are selected by a panel of faculty in the School of Computer Science and Information Systems, who conduct a blind review of research papers submitted by students in software engineering principles and systems analysis and design courses.

During the final round, a panel of KCP&L employees judge the context of the students’ presentations as well as their presentation skills and abilities to exhibit knowledge of their topic and respond to questions from the panel about their research. The contest also is an opportunity for KCP&L staff members to network with and recruit Northwest students. 

“I knew since I wasn’t just presenting for a class or I wasn’t doing this for a grade, I was actually doing it for an opportunity to get in front of people and present my ideas and my research, it made me ratchet up my skill level and presentation quality,” Ford said. “So I spent another three or four hours editing this than I would a traditional paper. It was just a really good opportunity to get more practice speaking in front of people.”

Second place went to Tiffany McBride, senior management information systems major from Millstadt, Illinois, who received $240 for her presentation, “Software Testing Methodologies.” Caleb Bertels, a senior computer science major from Laddonia, Missouri, was awarded third place and $160 for his presentation, “Self-Writing Software.”

The judging panel also awarded honorable mentions and $80 each to Hunter Hawthorne, a junior computer science major from Maryville, for his presentation, “Ethics and Morality of A.I.;” Caroline Pickett, a junior computer science major from Omaha, Nebraska, for her presentation, “Green Computing in SE;” and Matt Woolery, a senior computer science major from Maryville, for his presentation, “Big Data: BI.”

This year’s KCP&L judging panel included two Northwest alumni. In addition to Thurmond, supervisor of KCP&L’s outage management system, Jory Galloway, a web application programmer, joined the panel.

“Today was, in the last eight years, I think, probably the most diverse set of topics that we’ve had the opportunity to judge,” Thurmond said. “They were all very good, and it’s always very challenging as we deliberate about placement for the contest.”

Northwest Provost Dr. Timothy Mottet thanked KCP&L for its continued partnership with Northwest and emphasized the University’s renewed focus on providing opportunities for students to interface with professionals and gain profession-based experiences.

“A student’s journey has a lot of different turning points and what we’re trying to build into the curriculum at Northwest Missouri State is to have more of our corporate and our organizational partners be part of those students’ turning points in their career,” Mottet said.

“The more touchpoints that our students can have with a working professional during the middle of their education program – we’re trying to increase that. In addition, we are listening to our corporate partners and revising curriculum and making sure we’re responsive to the needs of employers so that when our students leave us, they feel prepared and confident to make a significant contribution not only to the workplace, but to their communities and families as well.”


For more information, please contact:

Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
mhorn@nwmissouri.edu | 660.562.1704 | Fax: 660.562.1900

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