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Computer Science Students Participate in Software Engineering Research

July 28, 2017
Elvis C. Foster, associate professor of Computer Science
Elvis C. Foster, associate professor of Computer Science

Professor of Computer Science Dr. Elvis Foster has recently launched a Software Engineering Research Initiative (SERI), involving several Keene State Computer Science students on four projects this summer. The projects involve the design, construction, testing, and refinement of software systems for issues ranging from electoral management to facilitating more effective and efficient software design. Each project team includes two or three students, one of whom is a senior team member who understands the required software engineering methodologies to be applied.

First is the Electoral Management System (EMS) — a project to design and construct a fully electronic voting system. The project is intended to create a platform to implement electronic voting free of bias, fraud, and tampering. Recent graduate Sean Stinehour fulfills the role of lead software engineer on this initiative; other participants are Joe Sansone and Cam Skarritt. “The skills we are using in this project come directly from the core classes,“ said Sansone, a senior in the program. “We create and manage a database and servers, which we learned from our database systems course. We also are using agile software development methods, which are taught in the Software Engineering course. There are also aspects of java programming that are learned from the most basic Computer Science courses, and used in almost every course afterwards.”

The second project involves developing and testing an expert system, the Cognitive Leadership Analysis System (CLAS), which will facilitate the evaluation of employees or candidates of their leadership skills for any given organization. “The real-world applications for this system will help to evaluate employees looking to fill roles based on their leadership skills,” said Ian Moffett ’18. “It will also help to assess weaknesses of employees or divisions in the organization to determine which course of action to take to fix the problem.” Other participants are Dylan Rychlik and Joshua Smith.

The third project is captioned Three Innovative Software Engineering Methodologies (TISEM); this involves the construction, testing, and refinement a software engineering tool that will simplify the design process of an entire software system to simple data entry. This project is being completed by two people, Ryan Collins ’19 and Kurt Harrison ’18, who both plan to do similar work in the field of software engineering after graduating from Keene State. “This research is giving me a chance to get some real-world experience and get hands-on experience with the development workflow involved with creating a software system,” said Collins. Kurt fulfills the role of lead software engineer on this initiative, but he also provides useful insights on the other three projects.

The fourth project involves the development and testing of a Disease Recognition System (DRS) — an expert software system to facilitate efficient diagnosis and treatment of various diseases. This project initially focuses on sexual, viral, and respiratory diseases; however, the design is generic enough to be expanded to other disease categories. Brandon Hansen and Daniel Dubicki are the student participants on this project.

Each developer relies on their teammates for assistance in reaching milestones. Dr. Foster meets with the entire group twice every week to ensure that the projects stay on track, and provide clarification on resolving any challenge the students may face; he also interacts daily via email and/or telephone whenever necessary. “We have a fair amount of autonomy when working on this project. While we interact daily with Dr. Foster for structuring the pace of the research, much of the work is done on our own with Dr. Foster being available to contact as needed, whether in person or by email,” said Collins.