Distinguished Students

Distinguished Students

Abdullah Almosalami

North Dakota State University Computer Science Sophomore Abdullah Almosalami had a number of options for his college education.  While he was accepted at and considered attending Purdue, The University of Texas at Austin, Texas A&M, the University of Wisconsin–Madison and the University of Minnesota–Twin Cities, he decided to come to NDSU so as to not increase the financial burden on his family.  What he found at NDSU was opportunity. 

“I love that I get so many opportunities to work on actual robots, because I hadn’t dreamed of anything even close to that before coming here,” said Almosalami.  “There’s way more things to do than even the most insane of us can take on, and that makes the learning experience outside of class just as valuable as the learning experience in class.  I love the overall enthusiasm and knowledge of the people I work with on a daily basis, and the incredible amount of resources available.”

Almosalami was recently recognized as a “student of distinction” by the NDSU Computer Science Department, an honor bestowed on only 12 of the department’s approximately 600 students.  He is pursuing a B.S. in Computer Science and recently added a second major in Electrical Engineering.  In addition to his coursework, Almosalami has helped with the development of self-driving vehicles and is participating in the National Cyber League competition.  He also recently led NDSU’s team to victory at the International Aerial Robotics Competition in Atlanta Georgia, winning the top award for technical design.

“Abdullah is exactly what you want in an undergraduate student,” noted Computer Science Asst. Professor Jeremy Straub, who employs Almosalami as a research assistant.  “He has tremendous passion for the areas he’s involved in and a drive to succeed.  It will be exciting to see what else he accomplishes while at NDSU and in his career.”

When he’s done with his bachelor’s degree, Almosalami plans to pursue additional education, leading to a Ph.D. with a robotics focus.  He hopes to work for a company that develops robotics technologies or systems or perhaps to pursue a career in academia.

“I honestly feel very blessed and I hope that I truly make the most out of my time here at NDSU,” said Almosalami.

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.

Wyly Andrews

Wyly Andrews is following the footsteps of his family in attending the North Dakota State University.  They had a great experience and so he decided to attend NDSU.  Graduating with a 4.0 GPA and as Salutatorian from the Dawson Boyd High School, the Milan, Minnesota native had numerous options as to where to attend college.

“My favorite part of NDSU has to be the people,” Andrews says.  “Plenty of people are willing to help, and I am meeting many people who share the same interests as me, here.”

One of those interests is in artificial intelligence.  Andrews hopes to graduate and become a computer game developer – an area where he can put artificial intelligence skills to use.

Andrews has been recently recognized as a “student of distinction” by the NDSU Computer Science Department, an honor bestowed on only 15 of the department’s approximately 600 students.  He is pursuing a B.S. in Computer Science.

“Students of distinction – like Wyly Andrews – are selected for going above and beyond typical students.  Wyly, in particular, was selected for his excellent performance in computing competitions,” commented NDSU Computer Science Assistant Professor Jeremy Straub, who manages the student awards program.  “They are recognized by their peers and instructors as student leaders – in a variety of areas – and this award serves to acknowledge their accomplishments.”

Andrews was on the first place-winning team at the MechMania competition.  He and his teammates also took third place at the regional competition for the ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest.

In addition to his academics and contest wins, Andrews also has demonstrated excellence in service.  He mentors elementary students in the basics of programming – preparing some of them to, perhaps, follow in his footsteps and pursue education and careers in computing.

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.

 

Joseph Billstrom

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. 

Chris Bernard

Chris Bernard didn’t have a difficult choice in deciding where to attend college.  He only applied to the North Dakota State University.  For Bernard, it was an easy decision because several of his other family members had previously attended NDSU.  Plus, NDSU is close to his hometown of Fergus Falls, Minnesota and has a good computer science program.  At NDSU, Bernard has excelled, winning the DigiKey programming competition, with his teammates, this year.

In recognition of his strong work ethic and accomplishments, Bernard 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.

At NDSU, Bernard has enjoyed the comradery of his fellow students as part of the school’s Association for Computer Machinery student chapter.  “It is a great place to hang out,” he notes.  “They are accepting of everybody, and it is the perfect environment to learn more about computer science.”

Bernard is most interested in software development and cybersecurity, two key areas of computer science.  When he graduates, he doesn’t plan to go far.  He hopes to get a full time job in Fargo.

“Students of distinction – like Chris Bernard – 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.”

In winning the DigiKey programming competition, Bernard and his teammates demonstrated their ability to break down problems and develop software to solve them.  They did this under time pressure and in a highly competitive environment. “It was an enjoyable experience and I learned a lot,” Bernard notes. 

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. 

Ajay Brown

Ajay Brown knew where he wanted to attend college.  He only applied to the North Dakota State University.  Fortunately, this choice paid off for the Bismarck, North Dakota native and Bismarck High School graduate.  Brown is currently a Junior at NDSU studying computer science.  He is also a student employee of Information Technology Services and very active in the school’s Association for Computing Machinery chapter.

“My favorite area of computer science is the problem solving aspects,” notes Brown, who is passionate about computing.  “I hope to get a career in software development.”

Brown has already demonstrated his readiness for a career in computing – in a lot of ways.  He is a big part of a winning streak that has cemented NDSU’s position as the predominate Computer Science program in the region.  Recently, Brown and his teammates took home first place at the regional contest of the ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest.  His team also took second place at the Digi-Key regional programming contest – part of a one-two win that saw NDSU taking both of the competition’s top spots.

“Students of distinction – like Ajay Brown – are selected for going above and beyond typical students.  In Ajay’s case, his competition performance demonstrates both his skills and significant interest in computing,” 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.”

Brown says that he was drawn to NDSU for its history and pedigree.  Due to his efforts, this reputation has grown even stronger.  Despite all this, it is the atmosphere that Brown likes the most.

“My favorite thing about NDSU is the small-town feel, in a growing city,” Brown says. 

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.

Aaron Buchholz

Aaron Buchholz didn’t have to shop for colleges – he knew where he wanted to go and only applied to the North Dakota State University.  The Colfax, North Dakota native and Richland 44 High School graduate has now become one of NDSU’s top students – and has been recognized for his accomplishments.

Buchholz was recently recognized as a “student of distinction” by the NDSU Computer Science Department, an honor bestowed on only 15 of the department’s approximately 600 students.  He is pursuing a B.S. in Computer Science.

“Students of distinction – like Aaron Buchholz – are selected for going above and beyond typical students,” commented NDSU Computer Science Assistant Professor Jeremy Straub, who manages the student awards program.  “They are recognized by their peers and instructors as student leaders – in a variety of areas – and this award serves to acknowledge their accomplishments.”

Buchholz’s accomplishments at NDSU are numerous.  He is a star student and his teams won first place at the DigiKey regional programming contest and at the local ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest competition.  His team also took third place at the MechMania competition in Illinois.  Buchholz also serves as an undergraduate learning assistant.  In this role, which he has held for six semesters – ever since he completed his first computer science courses, he helps other undergraduates learn their computer science course material.

Perhaps the biggest change that Buchholz has experienced during his three years at NDSU is a broadening of his horizons. “Growing up in a small town where everybody knew everybody led me to believe that I wanted to stay close to home for as long as possible,” he says.  “Now, I only want to travel – and figure out what area I want to start my career.”

Buchholz now knows his first destination.  He will be moving to Boston in February and working for FAST Enterprises.  He is particularly interested in software development, which is what he’ll be working on at FAST. 

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.

Riley Conlin

Despite being recruited by multiple schools – including Cornell – Riley Conlin only applied to the North Dakota State University.  He knew NDSU was where he wanted to attend due to its proximity to his hometown of Bismarck, North Dakota, its affordability and the NDSU computer science program’s reputation.

At NDSU, Conlin has excelled.  He, and his teammates, won the local ACM International Collegiate Programming Competition contest and took second place at the DigiKey regional programming competition.  In recognition of his strong work ethic and accomplishments, Conlin 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.

Conlin has been involved with NDSU’s student Association for Computing Machinery chapter.  “I’m very glad the ACM exists,” he says.  “It has been a big part of my day to day life here and my recent successes.”

He is also proud of his technical accomplishments – even when no one is keeping score.  Conlin says that he considers his greatest accomplishment to-date to be getting two-hundred thousand visual elements displaying at forty frames per second using the JavaScript programming language in the Chrome web browser.

“Students of distinction – like Riley Conlin – 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.”

Conlin hasn’t figured out exactly what he wants to do when he graduates, but plans to in the next year or so.  He is particularly interested in the fields of artificial intelligence and machine learning.

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. 

Samantha Ingersoll

Samantha Ingersoll didn’t have to give much thought to where she wanted to go to college.  Having had multiple family members who attended the North Dakota State University, she already knew a lot about campus.

“I only applied to NDSU.  NDSU was the only place I wanted to go,” Ingersoll said.  “It has introduced me to so many new people and has opened many doors for me.”

Ingersoll, who plans to graduate in December 2018, is primarily interested in software engineering.  She’s also passionate about robotics and is involved in Bison Robotics, the student robotics club on campus, which she says has been a major contributor to her success.

In recognition of this success, Ingersoll 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.  

“Students of distinction – like Samantha Ingersoll – 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.”

Ingersoll’s academic success and intellectual capabilities have also been recognized by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, which selected her for an internship at the Armstrong Flight Research Center, located on the Edwards Air Force Base in California.  There, she was able to gain first-hand experience in aeronautics research.  NASA internships are – as one would expect – highly competitive and securing one can be a ‘foot in the door’ to future employment at the agency and other aerospace firms.

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. 

John McMillan

When John McMillan graduated from Mounds View High School in 2015, he had a lot of options.  He was sought after by several track and field programs in Minnesota and was also considering attending The University of Minnesota – Duluth.  When McMillan toured at NDSU, though, his mind was made up.

“I fell in love with Fargo and campus,” said McMillan.  “I also really liked the Computer Science Program and thought I would get a great education.”  While here, McMillan has enjoyed “the amount of opportunities that I have had to be involved in different research groups as well as groups and organizations on campus.”

McMillan was recently recognized as a “student of distinction” by the NDSU Computer Science Department, an honor bestowed on only 15 of the department’s approximately 600 students.  He is pursuing a B.S. in Computer Science.  In addition to his coursework, McMillan has helped with the development of self-driving vehicles.  He also participated in a NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory project to develop a new algorithm for 3D printing.

“John is an exceptional student,” noted Computer Science Asst. Professor Jeremy Straub, who has mentored several projects that John has been involved in.  “His dedication to the task at hand and ability to figure out challenging problems is readily apparent.”

McMillan recently completed an internship where he got to put some of his vehicle software development skills to the test.  He considers this internship – as well as the projects he’s worked on at NDSU – to be a demonstration of his skills as a programmer.  Once he graduates, McMillan plans to work in industry for a few years and then return to NDSU to pursue a masters with a focus in data analysis.

“The fact that so much of our personal identity and information is online is fascinating, and so data analysis is very interesting to me,” noted McMillan.  “Cybersecurity is also interesting because more and more systems are becoming tech based and interconnected.”  McMillan has had the opportunity to study both at NDSU.

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.

Eric Myers

Eric Myers is one of the youngest recipients of the North Dakota State University Computer Science Distinguished Student Award.  An Eden Prairie, Minnesota native and graduate of Eden Prairie High School, Myers is currently a sophomore majoring in Computer Science at NDSU.  He decided to attend NDSU over Iowa State University, because NDSU “hit the spot” for him in terms of size.

Myers was chosen for the Distinguished Student Award due to his wins at the MechMania programming contest and the regional competition of the ACM Intercollegiate Programming Contest.  His team won MechMania and took third place at the ACM competition.  Myers is also active in the student Association for Computing Machinery chapter and a regular participant in department events.  His commitment to service, though, is perhaps his most impressive trait.  It is embodied best by something he did long before attending NDSU: in 2012 and 2013, Myers biked 200 miles – 100 each year – to support fundraising for Diabetes Research as part of the JDRF Ride to Cure.

“I hope to apply to and start working at a business local to whatever city I end up in and continue expanding my knowledge and skills while providing a valuable service,” commented Myers.  “My biggest interest is cybersecurity.”

Myers’ selection as a “student of distinction” by the NDSU Computer Science Department places him in good company – it is an honor bestowed on only 15 of the department’s approximately 600 students. 

“Students of distinction – like Eric Myers – are selected for going above and beyond typical students.  In Eric’s case, he was selected due to his programming competition wins; however, as we learned more about him, it became clear that he was a true student leader in many areas,” 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.”

Myers is enjoying his time so far at NDSU.  He has found the campus as being big enough to provide the resources that he needs, but also small enough to allow him to meet and make friends with other students his age. 

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.

Emma Schreifels

Emma Schreifels came to the North Dakota State University seeking a respectable degree with affordable tuition and the opportunity to work on Robotics.  The Becker, Minnesota native and Becker High School graduate only applied to NDSU and it looks like her choice has paid off.

In recognition of her strong work ethic and accomplishments, Schreifels 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. 

What is the secret to her success – and also her greatest accomplishment?  “Building a strong network of individuals who continuously support and motivate me in all areas of my life,” Schreifels says.

Schreifels says that her favorite thing – so far – at NDSU has been her involvement in robotics.  She has had this opportunity as part of a student robotics organization on campus.

 “Students of distinction – like Emma Schreifels – 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.”

Schreifels interests center around software engineering and development, as well as user interface and user experience design.  When she graduates, she plans to pursue a career as a software developer.

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. 

Peter Wells

For Peter Wells, the choice of where to attend college was between Notre Dame and NDSU.  His older brother was enrolled at NDSU and he liked the distance from his family home in Brainerd, Minnesota, so he went with NDSU. At NDSU, he’s bonded with his friends and roommates who he enjoys playing video games, hanging out, watching TV and just relaxing with, after a long day.

But recreation is not Wells driving passion.  He is interested in mobile software development – specifically for the Android operating system.  In the summer, between his sophomore and junior years, he was selected for an internship at a local software development company in Fargo making Android applications.  He did so well that now he’s a full-time Android Software Engineer, while continuing to attend classes at NDSU. 

“I plan to work in mobile development when I graduate,” said Wells.  “With the Kotlin programming language becoming more prevalent, I feel the market for Android developers will continue growing for a while.”

Wells was recently recognized as a “student of distinction” by the NDSU Computer Science Department, an honor bestowed on only 15 of the department’s approximately 600 students.  He is pursuing a B.S. in Computer Science.

“Students of distinction – like Peter Wells – are selected for going above and beyond typical students,” commented NDSU Computer Science Assistant Professor Jeremy Straub, who manages the student awards program.  “They are recognized by their peers and instructors as student leaders – in a variety of areas – and this award serves to acknowledge their accomplishments.”

Wells finds enjoyment in the work: “I really enjoy mobile development,” he said. “Specifically Android development.”

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.

Lance Willet

Lance Willet was considering studying at the University of Minnesota and Minnesota State University campuses at Mankato and Moorhead, but decided to come to NDSU because he liked the campus’s vibe. 

“I have met hundreds of interesting people and learned countless lessons since I came to NDSU,” Willet said.  He considers his greatest accomplishment to be becoming “a disciplined and focused individual who accomplishes what he puts his mind to.”

Willet was recently recognized as a “student of distinction” by the NDSU Computer Science Department, an honor bestowed on only 15 of the department’s approximately 600 students.  He is pursuing a B.S. in Computer Science.

“Students of distinction – like Lance Willet – are selected for going above and beyond typical students,” commented NDSU Computer Science Assistant Professor Jeremy Straub, who manages the student awards program.  “They are recognized by their peers and instructors as student leaders – in a variety of areas – and this award serves to acknowledge their accomplishments.”

Willet is interested in data analytics.  This is a broad field that can have applications ranging from optimizing industrial decision making to screening job applicants.

“I hope to continue learning the skills I need to start a consulting business,” Willet says, of his plans after graduating from NDSU.  He wants to put his skills to use to “travel the world, especially Europe.”

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.

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