SFSD/CMU Flashcards Application

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Reflections by Ben Kenawell ……… April 3, 2013

Looking back at how this all started, I’m amazed at how far we have come.  If someone had told me at the beginning that we could do anything close to this, I would have laughed at them.  I don’t mean that I thought we couldn’t do it, but now that a prototype is done, it looks like such a bigger project than it did when we were coding it.  Although, without the help and guidance of Ms. Aileen Owens, Prof. Ananda Gunawardena, and Mr. Shad Watcher, I know this project would not have even been started.  I would like to thank them for helping us accomplish so much in our short high school careers.

Students and teachers alike look at our application and are amazed that three high school students created it.  The beginning of this project found three unprepared high school students thrust into a field they were only starting to understand.  Luckily, teachers like Mrs. Sharon Perry had helped us with the building blocks of programming.  Throughout the project, weekly meetings with Prof. Gunawardena kept the three of us on track although sometimes the pace was fast.  Dedication and dreams kept us working much more than the sixteen hours a week we were at the school over the summer.  We enjoyed working through it, breaking what we had just coded, fixing it, then moving on to the next step of our project.  As the program got bigger and bigger, Prof. Gunawardena thought it was a good idea to alpha test and try to get accepted into WIPTTE, a national conference focused on pen and touch based computing, and our application fit into that criteria.

Before high school, I had never even been exposed to programming, through the generosity of South Fayette’s administration and its board, we were able to attend the conference in Los Angeles, California and present in front of an international crowd.  The most exciting part of the project I thought would have been coding it. I have a lot of fun programming, but I found the most rewarding experience came with our alpha test, watching how the students interacted with our software and how they loved using it, even though it isn’t even close to being finished.

Reflections by Radhir Kothuri…..April 4, 2013

When reflecting upon the work that we completed over the past year, I stand amazed at the progress that we have made over the past year. Beginning as novice programmers who were barely capable of printing a simple “Hello World” to an android device, the growth in ourselves as computer programmers as well as innovators is an aspect that I take pride in. The Flashcards project has been near and dear to my heart for the past year.

Receiving the initial project file from Dr. Ananda Gunawardena, I was bewildered and unsettled about the changes that we wished to make. I constantly questioned myself if the updates and revisions that we wanted to make was within the scope of our skills. Could we possibly add a seemingly complicated feature that was beyond our expertise? However, after completing an entire summer’s worth of coding and an additional school year’s worth of testing and revising, I am glad to say that I am elated at the work that we have accomplished. Being able to personally see the Flashcards project impact my school and specifically the students themselves was perhaps the most rewarding aspect. It was touching to see their enthusiasm to use our application.
However, the accomplishment of this project would not have been possible at all without the help of some key individuals. First of all, Ms. Aileen Owens was instrumental throughout our entire project. She helped  guide the project in a manner that we as students would not have been able to see. Her continued support for our project is a driving motivation as we look to build on. Additionally, special thanks to Dr. Ananda Gunawardena for this opportunity. Without his guidance and expertise, it would have been impossible to accomplish the revisions of the software. He had a vision for our project by summer’s end and we are glad to say that we were able to meet those expectations. Lastly, I would like to thank the entire South Fayette Administration for their continued support for our project. Their generosity and encouragement of our efforts is greatly valued and appreciated.
Reflections by Varun Thangavelu…..April 5, 2013

A lot of work has been put into our Flashcards project over the past year or so. However, it is still quite unbelievable and simply exciting to see the new heights our team has reached. Our journeys and adventures could not have been possible without a few very important people. I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to CMU Professor of Computer Science, Dr. Ananda Gunawardena, for believing that three high-school students were capable of completing such a monumental project. Without Dr. Guna pushing us to the limits, I doubt we could have achieved and accomplished what we did with the same potency. I would also like to thanks Ms. Owens, who played an instrumental role in bringing this project to South Fayette. Not many schools have this great of an opportunity to perform work with some of the leading figures in the industry, and it is a testament of Ms. Owen’s perseverance and vision. I can’t wait to see some of the new and innovative projects that she brings forth.

I would also like to thank the school and community and general. Although South Fayette is a rather small community, it is receptive to change and advancement. This provided a perfect platform to complete our alpha-testing phase. We have more teachers on board from numerous grade levels and we are excited to continue. I would also like to thank the board for their commitment to the program and overall generosity and support. South Fayette has truly become one of the greatest schools in the area mainly due to these programs. Looking back, I know many high-schoolers will not be as lucky as I was to have such an opportunity, and this is quite a privilege. I am honored to have been part of such a project and collaborative team, and I am forever indebted to the people who have made this possible.


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