Computer Science Students Aid Community

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, computer science has career growth projections ranging from 9 percent to 31 percent in 2010-20. With the computer science industry skyrocketing, Weber State University’s computer science program is providing senior students with unique opportunities to receive real-world experience.

Professor Richard Fry is leading students in profit and nonprofit projects this year. Students will convert Recreation Outlet to an automated computer system, working in coordination with the Pioneer Adult Rehabilitation Center (PARC) to create a human resources system for the Clearfield organization. On Dec. 13, students will work for Century 21 in Thailand to create a billing and accounting management system for their 900 condos.

“We’re excited to take a major store like Recreation Outlet that’s been in business for 27 years and convert them all over to electronic cash registers,” Fry said. “We’re also excited about taking students to Thailand. We’ll have to worry about different language barriers and cultures. It’s for a profit endeavor and is giving students a lot of experience. I’m booking my elephant ride for Thailand as we speak.”
While Fry and students are excited about the many projects going on this year, their biggest project is also in coordination with the PARC. A team of students will create a unique computer system for the Hill Air Force Base restaurant Runway Ruby’s.
PARC works with Runway Ruby’s to employ people with special needs within the community.
“These people typically wouldn’t be able to get jobs at places like McDonald’s and Wendy’s, but they can work at Runway Ruby’s,” Fry said. “They work very well visually, so we’re designing some nice interfaces to work more efficiently.”
Runway Ruby’s received an $8,000 grant to receive all-new equipment. Students began working during the summer semester and will continue working on the project until they graduate in the spring.
“We’re trying to tailor-make this system for them, and I think it’s awesome because this is what I want to do with my life,” said computer science student Carlos Moreno. “This class is amazing. All the other classes I’ve taken are simulated and planned out in advance. We’re given an assignment to do and you know exactly what the goal is. Here we’re learning in the real world.”
The workload of this project is being split amongst group members, which is exactly what Fry wanted students to take from it. Many of these big projects are a lot of work, and having a team makes it easier. At the beginning of the semester, when the project started, not everyone was sure the workload would be distributed evenly.
“I wasn’t excited for this class at first,” said Matthew Roberts, a student in the class. “I like doing stuff on my own because I know it’ll get done. It’s been really good, though. So far everyone has shown up for the meetings and everyone is pulling their weight.”
While these projects are a good experience to have during college, the hope is that these projects will help students receive jobs after graduation.
“I’m currently not working in computer science, and this is going to be something that I look forward to putting on my resume,” said student Jake Stokes. “I imagine that it will look good because it’s real world and it’s exactly what we’ll be doing when we get into our careers. I’m really excited that the department provides a course that gives that real-world experience.”
Some students have already begun to see how this project could help them receive a job.
“I had an interview last week for a company that does architecture software,” said student Anthony Guertin. “I told them what we’re doing in this class with Runway Ruby’s and they were blown away. I think I sold them just on the fact that we’re doing with this project, and I got called in for a second interview, I think primarily because of what we’re doing in this class.”

Originally written by Caitlynn Kindall of WSU Signpost