Maryville Grad/Northwest Students Win Cash Prizes From KCP&L

In the front row, left to right: Benjamin Wolff, Jesse Alford, Jeremiah White, KCP&L’s Yuvonise Thurmond, Dylan Eckstein, Adam Nelson, (second row) KCP&L’s Seth Waltz, KCP&L’s Tyler Mattoon, Ian Spradling and KCP&L’s Jory Galloway. (Northwest Missouri State University photo)

From Northwest Missouri State News Services

MARYVILLE, Mo. – Six Northwest Missouri State University students earned cash prizes and valuable presentation experience Dec. 5 during the 10th annual CS/IS Research Paper Competition, sponsored by Kansas City Power and Light.

Benjamin Wolff, a senior computer science major from Kansas City, Missouri, earned first place and $340 for his presentation ““The Benefits and Challenges of Test-Driven Development: A Core Agile Framework,” which explored the benefits of running tests prior to writing computer code and ways to better equip college students with testing skills – a topic he wanted to explore after completing multiple internships at Cerner Corporation in Kansas City.

“This is something that would love to continue to learn and use in my own development so I can grow my testing skills,” Wolff said. “I’m really glad that they gave us this opportunity because without that I never would have been prompted to research and find it.”

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.

“As much as some of the students who are going through this process find it to be a little painful at times, the opportunities for our students to present their information in front of professionals is invaluable,” Dr. Carol Spradling, the dean of the School of Information Systems said. “We’re really thankful because I know they grow from these experiences.”

Wolff echoed Spradling, saying he saw the importance in the research and presentation experience to enhance his career readiness.

“I saw this as a huge opportunity to take it seriously and really grow,” Wolff said. “I was thinking, ‘This is worth putting the time in for not only the reward but the résumé building experience I could get from it would be worthwhile.’ So I did put a lot of work into it and preparing for the presentation.”

Second place in the competition went to Jeremiah White, junior computer science major from Maryville, who received $220 for his presentation, “Microservices Architecture” Jesse Alford, a senior computer science major from Huntsville, Missouri, was awarded third place and $140 for his presentation, “Feasibility of Widespread Public Use of Cryptocurrencies.”

The judging panel also awarded honorable mentions and $100 each to Dylan Eckstein, a senior computer science major from Kearney, Missouri, for his presentation, “What is the role of AI in Education;” Adam Nelson, a senior management information systems major from Omaha, Nebraska, for his presentation, “Protecting Mobile Application Data: The Big Picture;” and Ian Spradling, a senior management information systems major from Maryville, for his presentation, “Examining Hybrid Approaches To Scrum.”

This year’s KCP&L judging panel included two Northwest alumni, Yuvonise Thurmond, an information technology supervisor at the company, and Jory Galloway, a web application programmer.

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