Presidents Shine at OurCS Workshop

Created: March 15, 2016  |  Last Updated: August 8, 2020  |  Category:   |  Tagged:

WASHINGTON, PA (March 15, 2016) — Washington & Jefferson College (W&J) students Rebecca Wilkes ’16 and Kadie Clancy ’17 participated in the OurCS workshop at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), a unique experience that allowed them to showcase their work and interact with women in the field of technology.

The three-day-long workshop provided undergraduate women around the world the opportunity to gain research experience in computing-related domains. While working in teams, they were able to gain hands-on experience with researchers, as well as present a poster on the research they had completed.

Wilkes, from Deep Creek Lake, Md. is a biology major and computing and information studies minor. At the workshop, her team researched robotics in image processing for plant phenotyping and focused on leaf area index. Using a robotic arm positioned at different angles, Wilkes learned how to take still images of plants and use them to create 3-dimensional images.

While this opportunity gave Wilkes experience in both the biology and computer science fields, it also gave she and Clancy the chance to work with people from a variety of different backgrounds.

“This opportunity was cool because there were people at the workshop from all over the world,” Wilkes said. “It was nice to meet people from different schools and hear about their computer science programs and their experiences there.”

Although they came from different backgrounds, the attendees all had the same basic computer science skill set and were new to using the program Matrix Laboratory (MATLAB).

MATLAB is a high-performance language for technical computing. It integrates computation, visualization, and programming in an easy-to-use environment where problems and solutions are expressed in familiar mathematical notation. After completing the imaging process, Wilkes used MATLAB to successfully find the different mathematical areas of the leaf.

After graduation, Wilkes plans to focus on biology and is looking at graduate schools where she can obtain her doctorate in that area. She plans to apply her experience from both the OurCS workshop and the CIS Department at W&J.

“With all the research experiences I have had, I found you use so much computer science to analyze data,” Wilkes said. “I know computer science is important for everything and having that experience has set me apart.”

About Washington & Jefferson College

Washington & Jefferson College, located in Washington, Pa., is a selective liberal arts college founded in 1781. Committed to providing each of its students with the highest-quality undergraduate education available, W&J offers a traditional arts and sciences curriculum emphasizing interdisciplinary study and independent study work. For more information about W&J, visit, or call 888-W-AND-JAY.

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