Featured Student: Zoe Harrington

Featured Students


Course of Study: CS and Studio Art double major

Hometown: Berlin, Germany

What project or experience (in computing) are you most proud of?

In the summer of 2018, Max Levin and I started working with professor Peter Drake on a machine learning research project using a convolutional neural network to identify clouds in sky images. We got the chance to continue the project throughout our senior year, which I think has really helped me to get more comfortable working on larger projects, that multiple people have worked on and that already have a large codebase. The project has taught me the importance of documenting and writing comments. I have also become comfortable with using git. In general, I really value the experiences I could get in computer science research during my undergraduate education. I also interned at a Human Computer Interaction lab the previous summer and believe these experiences really helped me decide what area in computer science I am most interested in.

What’s some advice you have for other computationally minded students?

I love finding connections between concepts in different fields and find it motivating to be aware of the purpose of what I am doing. In that aspect, Lewis & Clark is a great place to study and explore computer science. I would suggest thinking of ways to use your computer science skills in other classes or in personal projects, and to explore other fields at Lewis & Clark that don’t necessarily have an obvious connection to computer science. I think in the tech world, it would be great if people asked themselves more often why they are creating a certain app or product and what influence it has on peoples lives. As liberal arts students, I think we can stand out through our ability to look at the big picture. I would also recommend applying to mentorship programs (for example PDXWIT in Portland) and other opportunities in Portland or wherever you are to get connections to people who can give you some insight into life after graduation.

What’s your favorite thing about CS (or math) at LC?

Definitely the community and also that the classes are pretty small and often include group projects. It feels reassuring to know that if I get stuck on a hard problem there is always someone to talk to or work with. Overall the atmosphere in the department feels very supportive and personal. There are also many great opportunities and engaged students who for example organize hackathons or teams for off-campus hackathons and competitions. Through the support of the department and professors at LC I was able to attend some exciting Tech conferences such as the Grace Hopper Celebration.

How do you foresee yourself using the CS skills you developed at LC in the future?

I am currently planning on getting more into computational neuroscience and CS/math skills are definitely super relevant in that field. I also think programming skills are useful for any kind of collaboration. I would like to continue working on artistic projects and think the CS skills I developed at LC can be really helpful to get into projects in pretty much any field.

What has been your favorite course at LC?

I think the Machine Learning & Artificial Intelligence course with Peter Drake has really changed my trajectory in the field and I liked that we discussed some ethical questions connected to AI. One of my favorite educational experiences at LC was the New York City study-abroad program and I would definitely recommend going on one. My favorite class during that program was actually an internship. I worked at Harvestworks, a space for artists who experiment with technology, which gave me a new perspective on what you can do with programming skills.

What’s your favorite programming language?

Python. It’s my language of choice for coding interviews and it’s great to know if you want to work on any Machine Learning projects.

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