Collaborative Project Promotes Undergraduate Research in Computer Science

Suneeta Ramaswami will lead a collaborative computer science research project at Rutgers-Camden.

Suneeta Ramaswami will lead a collaborative computer science research project at Rutgers-Camden.

Computer science majors at Rutgers University–Camden are participating in a research project with students from two other institutions thanks to a new grant that encourages collaborative research at the undergraduate level.

The National Science Foundation awarded funding to Rutgers–Camden, Bryn Mawr College, and St. Joseph’s University for the three-year collaboration, which involves computational geometry and the modeling of three-dimensional surfaces. Rutgers–Camden received $198,936.

“Our goal is to have students from all three institutions come together to create a larger community of undergraduate researchers working on one project,” says Suneeta Ramaswami, an associate professor of computer science at Rutgers–Camden and principal investigator for the project. “In addition to the research, the three universities will hold joint workshops involving students and faculty, as well as regular peer group meetings between undergraduates involved in the project, in order to create a larger network of students that enables collaboration beyond our individual campuses.”

Other important goals include encouraging students from underrepresented populations in computer science to gain research experience in the field, and promoting master’s and doctoral opportunities in computer science upon completion of a bachelor’s degree.

“The percentages of underrepresented populations in computer science — and of women in particular — have dropped nationwide,” Ramaswami says. “I think that when most people think of computer science, they think of computer programming, and that perception may not be attractive to everyone. But computer science has so many broad applications and programming is just a tool used to solve many different problems in a variety of fields.”

Students selected for the research project funded by the NSF grant are working on a project titled “Quadrilateral Surfaces meshes with Provable Quality Guarantees,” which involves creating three-dimensional geometric models that are used for medical imaging or manufacturing, for example, or for computer graphics that you might see in animated films.

“It presents a tremendous opportunity to do research at the undergraduate level,” Ramaswami says. “It’s an experience that can help students interested in computer science pursue advanced degrees and is an advantage for those who will seek work right away, when it comes time to look for a full-time job. Research broadens a student’s undergraduate experience and creates a well-rounded student.”

Rutgers–Camden computer science majors interested in participating in the research project can contact Ramaswami at rsuneeta@nullcamden.rutgers.edu.

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