CofC WIC Members Represent at Grace Hopper Conference

The Grace Hopper Conference is a three-day conference designed to bring together women in computing to discuss research and career interests.  The conference includes presentations on a variety of topics, professional development activities, an open source day and features speakers like Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube, and Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and Founder of LeanIn.

Leaving later this week, members of CofC’s Women in Computing, Lily Evans (2015 Grace Hopper Scholarship recipient), Sarah Mackey, and Sarah Wiegreffe,  will attend the conference by means of scholarship and donations.  “We would like to thank SGA, American Express and the Anita Borg Institute for funding our trip and making it possible for us to expand our education and interest so greatly” stated Sarah Wiegreffe.

Lily Evans, Sarah Mackey, and Sarah Wiegreffe

Lily Evans, Sarah Mackey, and Sarah Wiegreffe

As last year’s Grace Hopper Scholarship recipient and attendee, Sarah Mackey, President of WIC, boasted about the conference and encouraged her fellow students to attend.  “We’re excited to represent the College at the conference.  There will be so many incredibly inspiring women at this conference, who have an influence on women in tech, but also a major influence on technology as a whole.  We are hoping to meet them and bring back some of their influential ideas to campus.”

Can’t attend the Grace Hopper Conference?  Follow the ladies of WIC as they takeover the department twitter feed during the conference from October 14-16! Follow us, here!


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Congrats ACM Club Programming Competition Winners

Congratulations to Porter Gaud students, Max Harley, Tillson Galloway and Mark Anastos for winning the ACM Club Programming Competition.

Ten teams of current CofC students and Porter Gaud students taking CSCI 221 participated in the competition held on September 25, 2015.  The event was sponsored by ACM and host by the Department of Computer Science at Harbor Walk.  The competition goal is to improve necessary skills to solve problems by writing computer programs.

Winning team, Porter Gaud students, Max Haley, Gillson Gallway and Mark Anastos

Winning team, Porter Gaud students, Max Haley, Gillson Gallway and Mark Anastos

Check out additional photos from the competition, here!

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Alumni Spotlight – Brian Muller, ’05


Brian Muller, ’05

Brian Muller has had a progressive career path since graduating from the Department of Computer Science and receiving a Master’s in bioinformatics at MUSC.  He worked at John Hopkins applying machine learning to cancer data at the Center for Computational Genomics, Web Director for Foreign Policy Magazine under the Slate Group, to Chief Data Scientist at LivingSocial.  As Muller’s next big move, backed by notable financial companies like The New York Times and The Washington Post, he co-founded a company that provided content optimization for online publishers!  The company grew a product that served hundreds of millions of optimized webpage views per month for publishers in six countries.  Recently acquired by Vox Media, Muller is currently the Director of Data Science, where he oversees the data infrastructure and efforts that help grow and maintain an actively engaged audience.  

How did your time at CofC prepare you for the professional world?

There were a number of classes that tried to simulate the experience of working on a software development team, which I later found to have been quite useful.  I think the classes where the emphasis was on higher level concepts (and the students were left to decide on their own language, platform, etc for implementation) provided a great foundation for later experiences in the professional world.

What are some of your biggest challenges?

I think that the explosion of Data Science as a professional field is fantastic – even as many organizations are trying to figure out exactly what is meant by those two words.  I think one of the biggest challenges is not just applying statistics / machine learning / etc to the vast quantities of data that are now collected, but then trying to tie those insights back to real business value.  For instance, I think sometimes it can be hard to not only answer hard questions, model data, and find interesting patterns – but then to show the applicability of that work to the core mission of whatever organization you’re working in can be the toughest part.

What are you most proud of?

I’m most proud that I took the risk of starting a company.  Leaving behind a salary, benefits, and all of the consistency and security of an established company was tough – but I’m glad that I made the leap.  Having that company grow into a success based on a solid product and great relationships with publishers all over the world was something I’m immensely proud of as well.

Who has been a mentor to you, and what was the biggest lesson you learned from him/her?

Dr. Manaris was my mentor at The College, and I learned an incredible amount from him.  He had a view of aesthetics that applied to all of his work, whether that was appreciating the fractal nature of music or spending what seemed like an eternity discussing the perfect name for a variable.  He inculcated esteem for the artistic side of creation, imbuing an admiration for form along with function.  I’d like to think that the projects I work on today, whether they’re high level designs or low level code, contain more order and clarity from his influence.

What new trends are you seeing in your field?

There has certainly been an explosion of new terms (or reemergence of old ones) for using data to inform decisions (“big data”, “data science”, “business intelligence”, “data warehousing”, “data mining”, “informatics”, etc).  Unfortunately, these terms can mean very different things depending on the context.  There are clearly new things that can be done (and some old things in new ways) by combining available storage and processing power with statistics/computer science/etc, but I think there is a long way to go to reach agreement on terminology and what work different roles entail.  My hope is that over time a common vocabulary will emerge with consensus-based definitions to help reduce the confusion, and certain professional fields will become more clearly defined.

 How do you like to spend your time outside of the office?

With close proximity between so many great cities here in the NE, I travel quite a bit between Baltimore, DC, NYC, and Philly – whether that’s to visit friends or just getting to know the cities.


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Two Honors Freshmen Students Are Part of Winning Team at Charleston Startup Weekend!

Congratulations to our first freshmen students, Noah Albertson and Eliza Starr to win 1st place (together with 6 other team members) at Charleston Startup Weekend for their mobile app concept: Queue.

Eight Honors Freshmen students participated in the 54 hour Startup Weekend that was co-sponsored by the College of Charleston Department of Computer Science and the School of Business ICAT Accelerator and hosted at the School of Science and Mathematics building from  Friday, September 18 –Sunday, September 20, 2015:

1. Noah Albertsen
2. Eliza Starr
3. Elizabeth Hagen
4. William Blanchet
5. Orion Polkowski
6. Alexander Mallett
7. Maddison Francis
8. Helen Helfgott

IMG_20150920_203100_106Noah and Eliza are pictured on the left in the picture above taken after the Awards Ceremony on Sunday night.

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Need to Know for Prospective Students and Family!

The faculty and staff hope you had a great summer and start to the 2015-2016 school year! The following are a few “Need to Know” tips about the Department of Computer Science:

  • Follow us on social media!  We will be on the road participating in college fairs this fall and will let you know where you can meet us!  Also, we share upcoming events and opportunities like scholarships, so don’t miss out!
  • Department of Computer Science Leading Edge Scholarship 2016-2017 opens NOVEMBER 1st, 2015!  Make sure to check out the details here or learn more from one of our scholar recipients, here.
  • Come visit us at Harbor Walk East!  Check out our new facility overlooking the Charleston Harbor, meet the department chair, have lunch with a CS student ambassador, and/or observe a CS course.  We can schedule a virtual hangout!  To schedule a visit, contact Marilee Smith at or 843.953.6905.
  • To learn more about the boundless opportunities that the Department of Computer Science offers, please visit our website!

Thanks for stopping by and if you have any questions, feel free to contact us at or at 843.953.6905.

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