Spotlight – Jason Stedman

Erica HansonJason Stedman is a Westerly native working towards his BA in computer science. Programming since age 6, he turned his hobby into a career, with plans of continuing his education after he graduates. He found his calling within the CS field, enjoying both the creativity and structured planning it requires to finish a project.

Jason came to URI with an associate’s degree in general studies. He explored various paths of study and finally decided on computer science. “I never saw myself studying computer in college. It was always more of a hobby.” However, he found the nature within the CS department to be exactly what he was looking for. “It offers a welcoming environment as long as you’re interested. People are more accommodating and I have the freedom to be involved in the projects that fascinates me the most.”

Starting at age 6, Jason has been immersed in computers. “We had a TI computer at home and we always had new gadgets to play with.” He started learning how to program then and read DOS books to sleep. His father’s interest in computers and technology sparked his own.

Today, Jason’s interests lie in cryptography, encryption and the mathematics behind them. He enjoys the classes he is in and thrives on the challenges they present. “It’s never always easy, because if it was, everyone would be doing it.” When asked what he enjoys the most about computer science, he answered that on top of the challenge, he enjoys the control he has on what he’s making. “You can make a program however you want it. You just have to make it run right. You have the responsibility over it. It’s not just about solving a problem; it’s about finding the most elegant solution.”

He has taken numerous computer classes to fulfill the requirements for graduation but the ones in which he felt he learned the most were CSC 211, Introductory Programming and Design, and CSC 492, Advanced C++ for Java Programmers. In CSC 211, he learned the basics of programming. For most people without a background in programming, this class bridges that gap and allows for an intensive learning session where you’ll learn the most in a semester. In CSC 492, Jason felt he understood the concepts and practices of programming so much better. So far, however, he mentions CSC 481, an Artificial Intelligence class, to be his favorite. “I’m considering grad school and AI could possibly be my thesis work.” On top of these technical classes, Jason also took CSC 320, Social Issues in Computing where he learned of the different implications of technology – technology he is helping to create now and in the future.

Jason has worked on a number of projects but one that stood out was his work building a survey application to track tick-borne diseases. “It was a cool project and I learned a lot. I got to use the skills I’ve learned to make something useful.” To complete this project, Jason had to learn how to integrate databases, set up socket communication as well as a server, create a client for users, and transfer graphics through the web server.

Aside from his classes, Jason keeps busy managing the graphics lab of the department under the supervision of Dr. Hervé. He is also a member of the Computer Science Interest group which meets at 5pm every Monday in the CS department lounge. The group is open to everyone and meetings comprise of various presentations and discussions regarding web security, virus protection, projects, and any other topic you may be interested in. “It’s a casual club with a free form type of discussion. It’s open to everyone and we encourage people from other departments to come and share their knowledge.” Computer science is now integrated in almost everyone’s work and lives. We interact with computers everyday and they find it rewarding to learn of the problems present and work towards a solution that impacts other walks of life.