Spotlight – Stacie Waleyko

Stacie WaleykoStacie Waleyko is a junior working towards a double major in computer science and mathematics from Middletown, RI. She has an extensive experience in virtual 3D simulations through her work as an intern at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center. Building more than her programming skills, she has also worked on her design skills which gives her an advantage in 3D development.

Starting off as an intern at NUWC, working in web development, Stacie knew early on that she wanted to work with computers. She has since moved away from web design and into 3D development after a project she did in the virtual world, Second Life, for use in NUWC’s simulations. These simulations are for research and training purposes. Her biggest piece in the project was her recreation of the Newport cliffwalk, found in the virtual NUWC campus. “Everyone can see it. The campus incorporates Newport landmarks and I’m glad I was able to add to it.” The cliffwalk presented Stacie with many challenges, the biggest of which was trying to work within the limitations given by Second Life. “I had to learn how to think outside the box.” She used her graphics knowledge and real-life experience with the landmark to  create the cliffwalk. It was a fun project for her because it involved more than writing code – it required more creative thinking and it was rewarding to be working on something close to home.

At URI, she is taking advantage of the various 3D classes offered by the computer science department which include a 3D graphics gaming class and various opportunities for independent study.  “I like the computer science department. They offer many opportunities with various different minors so you can have your own specialty.”  Knowing that computer science is more than just programming, Stacie did more graphics work. She began the program with CSC 211, a fundamental programming class taught in Java where the creative labs and projects sparked her interest in visual simulation. “It was a challenge, working with populations and simulating growth. It was great to see what you can accomplish.” She used the problem solving skills she learned in the class and incorporated her own interests in design to use 3D creation programs like Blender, and game development software like Unity. Her latest project will involve real-time image processing and motion capture to recreate movement in different scenarios. She will be doing this as part of an independent study project. “One of the great things with the CS department is the access I have to faculty members. Classes aren’t taught by TAs and there are always opportunities to work with professors.”

Stacie also enjoyed taking other classes like CSC 320, Social Issues in Computing. “It’s interesting to see the effects of technology across the board and I have learned about such a wide array of topics this semester.” As a math major, she anticipates enjoying one of the more challenging courses of the department – CSC 340, which deals with discrete mathematics.

Outside of her classes, Stacie also competed for the Miss Rhode Island  USA 2010 pageant, earning the Miss Photogenic award. She is also a member of the πμε Math Honor Society.