Coming to the North Dakota State University wasn’t a foregone conclusion for Joseph Billstrom, even though his father and brother had previously attended it. He was also accepted to attend Iowa State University and the University of North Dakota. However, Billstrom chose NDSU due to the opportunity that it provided to also pursue his musical interests, despite not being a music major, as well as his familiarity with the university and the area.
In recognition of his strong work ethic and accomplishments, Billstrom has been selected as a “student of distinction” by the NDSU Computer Science Department. This is an honor bestowed on only 15 of the department’s approximately 600 students.
“I’ve made some of my best friends here and met some incredibly smart people who’ve helped steer me towards my interests and strengths,” says Billstrom, who wants to work as part of a software engineer when he graduates. “The specific purpose or type of product I’d be developing for isn’t super important, I’d just want the work I do to be both interesting and meaningful to its respective field.”
Billstrom has enjoyed his software development experiences and being part of a team. In particular, he likes the start-to-finish involvement in developing an application and watching it go from an idea to a functioning program.
“Students of distinction – like Joseph Billstrom – are selected for going above and beyond typical students,” commented NDSU Computer Science Assistant Professor Jeremy Straub, who manages the student awards program. “Distinguished students are recognized by their peers and instructors as student leaders – in a variety of areas – and this award serves to acknowledge their accomplishments.”
One accomplishment that he is particularly proud of is building a ‘magic mirror’ during the summer. Billstrom used a Raspberry Pi, a computer monitor and a two-way mirror to make this device, which can provide weather forecasts, display tweets and phone messages and play Spotify music and videos.
“It’s something I can point at and say ‘I made that myself’ rather than ‘I bought that’,” Billstrom notes. “Building it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be, but it sure looks impressive.”
Whether on his own or as part of a team, Billstrom has demonstrated the capability to make – what may seem like magic to some – the software development process a success.
The NDSU Computer Science Department was founded in 1988 (though computer science courses were offered as part of Mathematical Sciences since 1973). It offers Ph.D. degrees in computer science and software engineering, three master’s degrees and two bachelor’s degree programs. It occupies 7,460 square feet in NDSU’s Quentin Burdick Building and has approximately 600 graduate and undergraduate student majors.