2/17/11

Comp Sci Students Work on Groundbreaking Software

Moravian computer science students have their hands and heads on an important new software program designed for K-12 science educators. The program, jAmaseis, collects data about earthquakes as they occur and makes it available over the Internet. Users then can view the information in real time, then manipulate and analyze it without having to buy and maintain their own seismometer.

An improvement over the current standard program used to teach seismology, jAmaseis is specifically designed to enhance learning. Teachers and students can work with multiple streams of data simultaneously, produce visual representations, compare or combine records, and create educational displays. The National Science Foundation funded Moravian's work (through 2013) based on a prototype proposal written by students in a Spring 2008 senior capstone course taught by Ben Coleman (top), associate professor of computer science. (The final proposal was submitted the following year.) The concept builds upon previous work by Moravian emeritus geology professor Joseph Gerencher and his students.


"This type of hands-on experience is rarely found in undergraduate computer science programs," said Coleman. "Our students are already getting jobs as a result."


Since 2008, Moravian students have helped write jAmaseis's nearly 41,000 lines of Java code based on ongoing dialog with Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS), Moravian's collaborator in the project. Several Moravian students have presented peer-reviewed posters and papers about the project, too. Now in Beta testing, jAmaseis will be released later this year, and several thousand users are expected the first year.

Dr. Coleman will be working with IRIS to develop the accompanying curriculum for K-12 educators. "Moravian students benefit by having the opportunity to work directly with the client, IRIS. This type of hands-on experience is rarely found in undergraduate computer science programs. Our students already are getting jobs as a result—it's an example of hands-on learning at its best."