Doane Holds Coding Boot Camp to Kick Off Summer

Mark Meysenburg leads a coding workshop

The first week of summer is in the books for Doane University students, but that doesn't mean the learning has completely stopped for everyone.

A group of nearly 20 students participated in a week-long coding workshop on Doane's campus, orchestrated by the DIVAS (Digital Imaging and Vision Applications in Science) project, a three-year grant Doane received from the National Science Foundation. The grant is originated by the IUSE (Improving Undergraduate STEM Education) program, in which faculty members find innovative ways to teach science and encourage students to use computing in their science work.

The coding boot camp, which is believed to be the first coding workshop for undergraduates of its kind in the nation, introduced science students the basic tools and skills necessarry for learning how to code, while analyzng two different data imaging sets.

Five undergraduate students at Doane and one undergraduate student at St. Edward's University in Austin, Texas make up the DIVAS scholars. Doane sophomore Ben Zwiener of Silver Creek, NE is one of those students.

"I wanted to do research after my freshman year and I thought this boot camp would be great to get coding experience," Zwiener said. "As I continue to learn more about the DIVAS program, it's a pretty big deal. It's really neat to be a part of this."

Doane faculty members Tessa Durham Brooks, Biology Department Chair, Mark Meysenburg, Information Science professor, and Erin Doyle, Assistant Professor of Biology, have helped spearhead the DIVAS project. Their hope is that students studying science will have an in-depth knowledge of the process of coding, to help collaborations with computer science experts in the future. Durham Brooks considers this boot camp, in addition to other work the DIVAS scholars will participate in, to be graduate-level work for Natural Science students.

Christopher Azaldegui, a DIVAS scholar from St. Edward's University in Austin, Texas, came to Doane with professor Raychelle Burks to participate in the coding workshops.

"As a chemistry major, getting this coding experience is going to be a great kick start for me to apply skills that will be useful in the future," Azaldegui said. "It's clear this is where science is going in the future."

"There's going to be a lot more mass data that will need to be processed and having that processed through the computer is the fastest way to do it," Zwiener said. "As opposed to having a computer scientist work with a scientist, if the scientists have more practice and experience with coding it will make the communication and workflow a lot smoother."

DIVAS scholars will continue to participate in cohort-based learning activities and natural science research experiences using their computuational skills. The belief is the career exposure and professional training DIVAS scholars will receive through boot camps, seminars, and research experiences will prepare the students to be successful in the workforce.

The students making up the first-ever group of DIVAS scholars include: AdreAnna Ernest, Marisa Foster, Keeliann Mark, Anais Quossi, Michael Tross, Ben Zwiener, and Chris Azaldegui.