Project Web site:
Growing up about one hour south east of the University of Idaho's Moscow campus, Erik's childhood home was the Clearwater River town of Orofino, ID. Erik's interest in computers developed early in high school, probably influenced by video games. "At some point I wrote a small modification to the game of the day, Quake 2, which met with some popularity. From that point on I was hooked. I did get to work with computers at Orofino High School which had a course that allowed me to pick up a CCNA , and CompTIA Network+ and A+ certifications." These certifications attest to Erik's demonstration of broad knowledge in hardware, networking and operating system concepts.
Unlike most of his classmates, after Erik received his B.S. degree in Computer Science in 2006, he headed east to begin graduate studies at Eastern Michigan University. He is currently working towards a M.S. in Computer Science.
While attending the University of Idaho Erik was active in the the student chapter of ACM, a member of the Residence Hall Association, and participated in the annual College of Engineering Scavenger Hunt. He continues to be involved in community-oriented activities. "I now go to Detroit with the World Medical Relief group to repair and sort donated medical equipment intended for third world countries. I get the most gratification working on projects that will benefit others. "
"Making social contributions both inside and outside your career field are important and rewarding."
Erik's research at EMU also continues his interest in being a socially responsibility member of society. "My master’s thesis is on automatic text summarization for special education students in secondary education. I’m investigating ways to make texts more accessible to students with special needs and implementing those methods into a (to be) open source web-based application that will be free to schools." A demonstration of the software, which is currently in its infancy, is available at
http://treads.emich.edu/. "There are a million ways to spend time, but creating something or doing something that will surely be utilized, and appreciated, is the best reward for the effort."
"If graduate studies are in your future, participating in research as an undergraduate can be invaluable."
Commenting on his experience at the University of Idaho, Erik had this to say, "I think the availability of the instructors was an important factor in my current success. I was actively helping with a research project while at the University of Idaho, which is probably the experience that encouraged me to peruse a graduate degree. I was given a solid educational base to work from."
"Some courses are more challenging than other, but the headaches often pay off in the long run."
"Speaking of a solid educational base, the compiler design course [CS 445] in particular is a gem. I suppose the structure of the course demanded some extra depth of study to really succeed. Many universities seem to no longer require a compilers course for graduation, but I appreciated the headaches that course brought. The techniques and tools developed have served me well."
About the transition from an undergraduate program to a graduate program, Erik remarks, "I did feel prepared for graduate studies and I didn't notice a big difference in the transition. For the first semester I didn't do any research work, so I just worked and did classes. Now the biggest difference is the constant work on one project [research] vs. a semester to semester variation in studies. Focusing in depth on a single topic, and a single large report, is a change, but a good change."
After he finishes his M.S. degree Erik would like to work in industry for a while before continuing his education. "I feel that I need to see more problems before I can really contribute in a way that feels PhD worthy. As for professional work, I'm still very undecided what I'd most like to do, but custom solutions as part of a small programming group sounds appealing."
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