Students gain real-world web development experience through the OHIO Computer Science program

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As a result of Brad Golski’s involvement in the student software engineering program, he gained hands-on experience in web application development and secured two summer internships.

Golski, a junior computer science student, has been working with the Office of Information Technology (OIT) program since September 2019. The Student Software Engineering program provides computer science students with work experience that benefits both their careers and the University of ‘Ohio. The hands-on program has served dozens of OHIO students like Golski for nearly a decade.

Through the program, Golski is currently rewriting a web application for Ohio’s Intensive English program.

“Honestly, it has been invaluable; it’s so helpful,” Golski said of the experience. “There are a lot of things we learn in the ILO that complement the things we learn in IT classes. I would say the majority of the things we do in the ILO are things we wouldn’t have not experienced in our courses otherwise.

Last summer, Golski interned at Cleveland Key Bank. He will be working at JP Morgan-Chase in Columbus as a software engineering intern this summer.

The work done by students like Golski in the Student Software Engineering program turns them into live web applications used by Ohio University students, faculty, and staff. Examples include the web-based online course authorization system, Upperclass Scholarship Application and Ohio University course offerings.

Student programmers also worked on updating the Career Exploration Assistance Program (PACE) student and employer portals. The project has been running for almost two years and has been supported exclusively by students as the main project.

“One of the real benefits is the ability for students to work on real-world applications while they’re students here at university before entering the workforce,” said Robert Foreman, head of OIT’s software engineering team and who oversees the software engineering student program.

By employing students, the program is a cost-effective method of improving University web applications used by students, administrators, and staff.

Nasseef Abukamail, professor of computer science education, teaches senior design computer science classes and works with Foreman to recruit potential students for the program.

Each fall, the program welcomes three to four new students who average 10 to 15 hours of work per week to improve web application technology and security.

By the time computer science students reach their graduate program, where they are divided into cohorts, they are well versed in the technology needed.

Program participants must follow the same procedures and processes as full-time ILO professionals. Students learn to use:

  • Source code versioning tools like git
  • Project management and time tracking tools like Jira
  • Agile development processes like sprints
  • Technologies including Angular, TypeScript, NodeJS, Kubernetes, Java, Python and relational databases

“Students work with tools and programming languages ​​commonly used in industry,” Abukamail said. “Not only that, but it prepares students to work in groups. Creating that team dynamic and learning how to deal with others is extremely beneficial for them.

Karl Francis is a software engineer and mentor for the student software engineering program. Francis mainly supervises senior students by assigning tasks and giving technical advice.

“Student mentoring allows me to learn. Students are always finding new and interesting ways to break things we thought worked well. They also ask tough questions that, when answered, allow the student and myself to grow,” Francis said.

Daniel Jacques is a computer science graduate who has been part of the program since his first year. He is currently working on a project for Ohio State through a partnership with Ohio University.

“A lot of the technology tools we use at OIT are relevant to the real world,” Jacques said. “The languages ​​and the workflow we go through are not always taught in the classroom.”

Jacques recently accepted a position with Nationwide in Columbus which he will begin upon graduation.

Foreman ultimately hopes to formalize the relationship between the student software engineering program and the Russ College of Engineering and Technology and use it as a way to attract future computer science students.

“I work to try and expand opportunities like this within the ILO. I have encouraged other managers to find similar opportunities and structure job and internship opportunities for students,” Foreman said.

Students working to maintain the University’s web applications are increasingly needed to help the OHIO community teach, learn, and work in the digital age, enabling Ohio University to continue to succeed while preparing students for careers in information technology.

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