Jun 30, 2021
College of the Ozarks hosts annual Celebration of Student Scholarship, Research, and Creative Work
POINT LOOKOUT, MO. — College of the Ozarks hosted its annual Celebration of Student Scholarship, Research, and Creative Work during the semester, featuring projects from 12 areas of study in the Howell W. Keeter Athletic Complex. Select departments held an award ceremony, recognizing students for their academic excellence and personal achievement.
Around 100 students with various majors presented personal research accumulated throughout their college careers. Departments that participated included the following: chemistry, computer science, allied health science, biology, nutrition and dietetics, and engineering.
Dr. Kenneth Garrison, professor of chemistry, and his environmental chemistry class conducted a group study of water quality of the Jack's Fork River. General chemistry students worked in groups to analyze phosphate pollution in local waters.
“With my personal experience in undergraduate research, I can attest; it is great experience for students,” said Dr. Jerry Easdon, professor emeritus of chemistry. “It builds confidence, motivation, and interest in their field.”
CS Senior Project Showcase
The CS Senior Project Showcase is the best way to provide real-world feedback to students outside of what they hear from professors in the classroom. It gives students the opportunity to experience what it feels like to be questioned on their problem-solving and thought processes. In addition, it allows them to improve their written and verbal technical communication skills. Eight students participated in this year’s showcase, presenting their senior capstone projects for peers, professors, and industry partners.
Cheri Kembell, assistant professor of computer science, is the director of this annual event.
Before students leave College of the Ozarks, they have experience with the entire software development life cycle at a professional level and can deliver and present their solution to a room of industry professionals.
“The ability to effectively communicate technical information at an appropriate level will set them apart from their peers in their careers,” Kembell said. “This day prepares them for day one in industry in a way that no other 16-week class can.”
Kembell expressed her thankfulness to the program’s industry partners for their dedication to the program and for their willingness to give their time and expertise year after year.
Off-campus guests are individuals that the CS program calls their “industry partners.” Some of them are alumni of the program, others are IT professionals that work for organizations that hire students for internships and full-time employment. This year the showcase had judges that came from IBM, Boston Dynamics, Classy Llama, American National Insurance, American Century Investments, VanderNet Technology Services, and FedEx.
“These industry partner relationships have grown to be invaluable to our students and to the program,” Kembell said. “They help provide input to ensure that our curriculum is preparing students to easily transition.”
The chemistry department started with student poster presentations over 30 years ago. It soon grew to include biology along with the gradual participation of other departments. 2021 marks the first year that the Celebration of Student Research event has combined with the Computer Science Senior Project Showcase to make it a campus-wide celebration. Jim Buchan, professor emeritus of computer science, and Andrew Staugaard, professor emeritus of computer science, started inviting industry partners to senior project presentations 21 years ago because they believed that it was more valuable for the students to present to individuals that were actively working in the industry. Industry professionals provided real-world feedback and relationships were formed between the industry partners, the professors and the students.
“I feel very fortunate to have inherited this event that is a tradition for our department that our industry partners look forward to almost as much as we do,” Kembell said. “This event is my second favorite day of the year on campus next to graduation.”
When asked about the feedback from industry partners, Kembell said, “Today I was talking with the CIO of a regional eCommerce development company that has clients in every segment of the industry. He said that he was surprised and impressed by the modern tech stacks that the students were utilizing for their projects. His comments are validation that what we are teaching in our courses is in line with what students will experience in industry. It’s a win-win for the students and for the organizations that hire them.”