help students reach international science fair
high school students has paid off for UNM School of Engineering
professors. Three students will compete in the international
science fair in Cleveland, Ohio, May 10-17 after placing first
in the team category at the regional science fair and second
place at the state championships.
from various high schools in the Albuquerque Public School (APS)
system, were mentored by Computer Science (CS) Chair and Professor
Deepak Kapur and Computer Science Professors Stephanie Forrest,
Darko Stefanovic and Lance Williams, and Electrical and Computer
Engineering Professors David Bader and Chris Smith. The students
also received assistance from Ben Andrews, CS master student;
and John Burge, CS Ph.D. student.
of students are Charles Brock from Manzano High School; Dietrich
Bachman from Cibola High School and Noah Shepard, from Albuquerque
High School. Their project, Clash of the algorithms: Complex
gaming strategies simulated with artificial intelligence,
came about after the students met with the CS mentors. The students
are part of the APS Career Enrichment Center.
the faculty interacted with five students from Albuquerque high
schools each week throughout the fall semester. Williams gave
the students a crash introduction to the Scheme programming
language. Scheme is an integral part of the undergraduate curriculum
at MIT and other top computer science departments nationwide.
It is also the subject of a required one semester course for
sophomores majoring in computer science at UNM. The five high
schoolers were exposed to the same concepts and did the same
homework UNM sophomores majoring in computer science complete.
think it was a positive experience for me and the students,
Williams said. It was extremely rewarding interacting
with high school students who are as motivated as these guys
are. We want to get the message out to all talented high school
students that UNM is the place to study computer science in
Bachman to doing geometry proofs by induction of identities
and showed him how program computers mimic them. Kapur taught
him basic combinatorics, permutations and combinations, principle
of exclusion and inclusion. For the past few months, Kapur aided
in search techniques in artificial intelligence, particularly
minimum-maximum tree pruning, evaluation heuristics for games
and alpha-beta pruning for search.
said these techniques have been particularly helpful for doing
his part of the project for the science fair, Kapur said.
Shepard was mentored by Forrest.
believe that the most difficult and interesting part of science
is identifying and formulating appropriate questions to study,
so my emphasis with Noah was on exposing him to this side of
science and giving him a few tips on how to find interesting
and tractable questions to study, Forrest said. Once
he had narrowed down his interests, John (Burge) did almost
all of the hands on project mentoring and I oversaw progress
from a distance.
Smith co-mentored Brock. Bader said that mentoring is crucial
to encourage high school students to explore options in undergraduate
programs in engineering.
School of Engineering plans to continue the mentoring project.