Braden McDorman – B.S. in Computer Science
Braden is from Norman, OK. In 5th, grade, he got his first taste of Computer Science when he decided to program a video game with his father who had an introductory course on BASIC. Braden’s life changed forever then. In 6th grade he discovered Botball, a regional and international competition involving robots that have to be programmed to autonomously perform given tasks, and started to program in C. The year after, his team placed second in the regional competition’s double elimination tournament, beating many well-known regional high schools. After 2 years at Norman North High School, Braden transferred to the Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics (OSSM) and started taking CS classes that are usually reserved for college freshmen or sophomores in our curriculum (CS 3113 Operating Systems, CS 2413 Data Structures). Saddened by OSSM’s lack of robotics extracurricular activities, he took initiative and reached out to the KISS Institute for Practical Robotics (KIPR), the organization that runs Botball, and its founder OU AME professor Dr. David Miller for an internship. By 12th grade, he was heavily involved in KIPR software development and was designing robot controller software for the very competition he competed in. He is still heavily involved in design and development for Botball to this day.
With a Regents Scholarship, many credits that would transfer, and great connections, OU was the obvious choice for Braden. He quickly made an impression on the program and took advantage of many opportunities offered to him. He became a teaching assistant for Dr. Page, a research assistant for Dr. Hougen’s REAL lab, and got a summer assistantship with Dr. Fagg and Dr. Miller to work on the DARPA Virtual Robotics Challenge. Braden has had many internships as well. He interned on Microsoft’s “Core OS” group in summer 2014. He also participated in the Google Summer of Code in 2013 where he worked on an open source project to run Java code in a web browser in partnership with the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He was also employed at Newspin 360 and worked on a 3D modeling point cloud visualization project. Braden is currently a founding member of Semio, a company trying to bridge academic research on social robotics to industry.
Braden’s involvement in the CS program can also be seen in the many clubs he joined. He is currently a Technical Director for the CS Interview Preparation Club and a SACM member. Before this he was the 2013-2014 president of the Open Source Development Club and the software lead for the OU Mars Rover Team in 2012-2013.
His preferred subfield of CS is Robotics, especially in the context of education and social interaction. Braden’s favorite class at OU was CS 2603 Applied Logic for Hardware and Software with Dr. Page. He found it fun to study functional proofs and mechanized logic as it was a side of the discipline he was not too familiar with. Braden will graduate in May 2015 with his B.S. in Computer Science. He was recently awarded the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship in the field of Comp/IS/Eng - Robotics and Computer Vision. After turning down full time offers from Microsoft and Google, he will use this fellowship to work on his Ph.D. at the University of Southern California and focus his research on assistive social robots. These robots promise to improve the emotional comprehension of children with autism and emotional state of adolescents, young adults, and seniors suffering from anxiety and depression. Once his Ph.D. program is finished, Braden would like to start his own robotics company that would focus on personal robots and education. He believes that our society is at the verge of a robot revolution and wants to make sure he is a part of it.
When this heavy schedule gives him the time, Braden enjoys relaxing on his hammock and riding his motorcycle.