Stephen Smart – B.S. in Computer Science
Stephen is from Ardmore, OK. Like many of our students, the first contact he had with computer science was through his passion for video games growing up. But he did not know much about what goes on "behind the scenes." His high school did not offer CS classes so until he became a freshman at OU, he had very little idea of what programming was. He did not think it could lead to create anything meaningful. His two brothers are also graduates from the College of Engineering and his father is a chemist. His road to CS had many turns but Stephen claims proudly he has always been a nerd and has always wanted to become an engineer.
Stephen first attended Southeastern Oklahoma State University in Durant, OK. He really enjoyed playing golf for this institution but it did not have an engineering program. He then transferred to OU and chose AME as a major during his first semester. One of the requirements of this bachelor’s is to take an introductory class on programming, so Stephen took CS 1313 Intro to Programming for Non-Majors. At the beginning, he felt a bit overwhelmed but at some point, something just clicked with him and he started really enjoying the class. The idea of creating something with no resources other than his imagination was incredible for him. Soon, programming became a hobby. It actually took such an important part of his life that he decided to switch his major to CS. Stephen qualifies this redirection as the best academic decision he has ever made.
Now in his senior year, Stephen has been accepted in our Accelerated Degree Program and will be able to graduate with a B.S. and an M.S. through a faster track. His academic accomplishments are numerous and he has been on the President’s Honor Roll and the Dean’s Honor Roll. Stephen is very active in CS extracurricular activities. He is a member of The Student Association for Computer Machinery, the Game Development Association, and the CS Interview Prep Club. Stephen has been a Teaching Assistant for CS 1323 for 3 semesters and loves it. He describes Dr. Trytten as a professional mentor and is delighted to have had the opportunity to develop a professional relationship with her. What he likes the most about his job is the interaction with the students. He enjoys office hours and helping students reach what Dr. Lakshmivarahan calls their "Aha moments." During the summer, he also completed an internship with the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation doing .net development geared towards helping research scientists. He describes it as a great experience. Stephen’s favorite CS class has been CS 2334 Programming Structures and Abstractions with Dr. Hougen. For the first time, he got to build larger programs with graphical user interfaces.
Stephen entertains a very interesting point of view on Computer Science, trying to relate it to the scientific bigger picture. Relating it to other disciplines like Biology, Physics, Mathematics, and Chemistry is fascinating to him. Stephen particularly enjoys programs like "Cosmos" and the Feynman lectures on Physics. He is mesmerized by the power of electrons and what we can do with them. Stephen particularly praises faculty’s willingness to push students to get involved, to learn more, even outside the classroom, especially Drs. Trytten and Hougen.
After completing his program, Stephen hesitates between a career in an academic research setting to apply new ideas and starting a company with his 2 engineer brothers. Research is still a little intimidating to him. When he finds the time, his hobbies are playing the piano, playing video games and golf, philosophy, and metaphysics.