March 8, 2011
Computer science professor and students develop software for state agencies
Since the fall 2010, students working under Dr. Dana Steil, assistant professor of computer science at Harding University, have been given the opportunity to contribute to developing software that goes directly into professional use, a task rarely offered to undergraduate students.
The program — Harding University Branch of the Center for Advanced Public Safety, or HUB-CAPS — employs the skills of eight upper-level Harding computer science students to develop software used by Alabama state and federal agencies, such as the department of transportation and state law enforcement agencies, to facilitate traffic and officer safety. Students are paid for 20 hours of work per week and are able to contribute to the advancements being made in traffic safety.
“Working for CAPS has been a fantastic experience,” senior computer science major Paul Sherrod of Alpharetta, Ga., said. “I have learned a lot about what it is like to work for a software company, gained various practical programming skills and also gained confidence in knowing that I can succeed in the software industry. It has been great to gain this valuable experience while still in school and will greatly assist in finding a job after graduation.”
The projects, including software that allows law enforcement to analyze crash, citation and crime records and view real-time and historical locations of other officers, are funded by sub-grants through the University of Alabama with the Center for Advanced Public Safety, where Steil did his Ph.D. work.
“The students get great experience developing software that people use within weeks of their efforts,” Steil said. “The work we are doing has a direct benefit to society, and I hope they get a sense of fulfillment from that.”
HUB-CAPS currently completes several projects each month for Alabama’s programs, and Steil said he hopes the projects continue indefinitely and will soon aid Arkansas agencies as well.