Class of 2013
BS Applied Computer Science, BS Mathematics
When Dan Garant graduates from Keene State College, he will have earned two degrees; a BS in Computer Science and one in Mathematics.
Why two degrees? Because, as Dan says, “Almost every business and organization has some need that computer software satisfies. Computers have been transformed from number crunchers and master memorizers to inference engines that are capable of doing things once thought to require human intelligence, such as diagnosing disease and winning Jeopardy tournaments. With the help of careful mathematical definitions, we will see more and more game-changing behaviors exhibited by computers, and I want to be a part of that movement.”
With the support of his professors, Dan is making all the right moves. Computer Science professor, Dr. Elvis Foster, encouraged him to add a major in mathematics. “Originally, I was skeptical, thinking the work load would be too intense,” says Dan. “Instead, I found that the connecting math and CS leads to a number of highly interesting possibilities.”
Interesting possibilities are everywhere on the Keene State campus. Small class sizes and high professor availability, for example, enable students like Dan to work on extended research projects which span multiple semesters. “My professors have been very encouraging in terms of research work,” Dan explains. “For Professor Joe Witkowski’s Number Theory class, I developed a set of algorithms for factoring integers. Joe encouraged me to continue refining it for the annual Hudson River Undergraduate Mathematics Conference. I presented at the conference and became hooked on the research process.”
That summer, Dan worked on a project to simulate an emerging internet threat known as a “botnet.” The paper was accepted to an international conference, and with the support of the Student Conference Fund, Dan traveled to Barcelona, Spain to present his paper at a conference primarily attended by professors and PhD students.
In the fall, Dan will be attending UMass Amherst graduate school, ultimately in pursuit of his own PhD in computer science. “The encouragement and assistance I’ve received from my professors in pursuing my research interests has been paramount in the graduate school application process. Further, the generous support of the Student Conference Fund has given me a leg up on other graduate school applicants.”
Outside the classroom, Dan is vice president of KSC’s Computer Science Club and the CS honor society, Upsilon Pi Epsilon, and he’s is putting his computer expertise into practice. “We are working on a number of projects which will hopefully connect these clubs with the campus community and forge relationships with other departments. The first project is a mobile app designed to present a map of the campus displaying events occurring in each building and other pertinent information such as cancellations and menus for the Dining Commons.”
Campus size undoubtedly enables connectivity. “I think one of the best things about this campus is that it’s relatively small,” says Dan. “This leads to many excellent collaborative efforts between departments and organizations. In essence, no one person or department is an island. In order to get something really impressive done we need to work together, and that is very common at KSC.”