Spotlight – Kristina Hatch
Kristina Hatch is Bourne, MA resident working towards a degree in computer science with a minor in digital forensics. She has worked extensively on research projects within the University of Rhode Island’s Department of Computer Science and Statistics, some of which were funded by the National Science Foundation – Research for Undergraduate Experiences. Next semester, she will be working with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service in Connecticut.
Kristina started her time at URI as a journalism and business double major. One of the requirements she had to complete was CSC 101, Computing Concepts. While she dreaded the idea of the class, thinking it would be one of the most boring classes she’d have to take, she quickly changed her mind. She thoroughly enjoyed the class, so much so that she decided to switch majors based on that class alone. So far, she’s found that she enjoys the field and has learned so much in the past three years that she’s been with the department. Having no computer science or programming background beforehand, she found that the first classes she took provided a great way to transition into the more complex concepts and classes offered.
“The introductory classes gave me a good background. I then also took CSC 201 [Introduction to Computer Programming] which was a good stepping stone for my first programming and design classes.” Kristina found the professors very supportive within and out of the introductory classes. “They were extremely helpful not only with the work aspect, but even with the process of switching my major. Everyone was extremely encouraging and willing to help in any way possible.”
Seeking a specialty, she decided to start taking Digital Forensics classes and is now working towards a minor which has expanded her learning experience. This past summer, she applied her classroom knowledge in a special project funded by the NSF through the REU internship program. After finding out about the program through one of her professors, Dr. Fay-Wolfe, she filled out the application and she was well on her way. This past summer, she worked on a segment of the program for human image detection. “I learned a lot about computer vision and vector machines. The project was to use computer vision to detect child pornography on suspect machines.” On top of the research she conducted, she found she also learned important skills along the way including working in teams and with other professionals, conducting meetings as wells as presenting data and information to others. “It definitely differed from my coffee shop experience from before, and gave me a lot of valuable experience.”
This upcoming semester, she’ll be taking part in an NCIS internship. “I’m very excited to start… I’ve wanted to take part in it ever since I started and am really excited that I actually do get that opportunity.” Starting in February, she hopes to work a few nights a week, gaining even more valuable job experience.
“All of my teachers have been significant in one way or the other. Dr. Fay-Wolfe has definitely been the most involved professor in my academic career.” She worked with Dr. Fay-Wolfe on her REU project, and he introduced her to the NCIS internship. Currently, Kristina also works as a teaching assistant for his CSC 101 class. “Other professors have also given me a lot of guidance and support. I’ve decided to focus on computer forensics with heavy influence in computer science. I really love that whole process of finding information, and I think everything to do with digital forensics is extremely interesting.”
After graduation, Kristina is aiming for a career in digital forensics. “It is something I really love and can’t wait to do more with it and learn more in that field. I love that it is constantly changing and there’s so much evolving in that area.”
“If I had any advice for incoming freshman it would be don’t afraid to change majors to figure out what you really want. You need to find out what makes you happy, and if it’s not what you initially thought, then there’s nothing wrong with it. I feel like there’s a lot of fear when it comes to changing everything because it’s a huge life decision, but I think it’s definitely worth it. Also, don’t be afraid of a challenge. Computer science is tough, but it’s an awesome major and you gain so much from doing it.”