College computer science major wins $1,000 scholarship

Mike Massimi, senior computer science major, was one of 10 recipients nationwide to win a $1,000 scholarship from Upsilon Pi Epsilon (UPE) and Microsoft.

Deborah Knox, faculty advisor of UPE, encouraged Massimi to apply. Massimi, who applied for the scholarship last May, was informed that he had won this September.

Scholarship applicants were evaluated by the Executive Council of UPE this summer. They were judged through a review of their college transcripts, post-graduate plans, campus involvement, UPE advisor recommendation and personal statements about applicants’ contributions to their UPE chapter.

Massimi has excelled in the arenas of both academics and campus involvement, but his extensive work with UPE could have been a deciding factor during the evaluation.

During his junior year, Massimi served as co-vice president of UPE from Fall 2003 to Spring 2004. Although no longer on the executive board due to the demands of applying to graduate school, Massimi has made several lasting impressions on UPE and the College.

“UPE is in a unique position within the campus community because we are a coalition of students who understand the power of information and knowledge,” Massimi said.

During his time with the organization, Massimi fostered the continuation of UPE’s Friday Afternoon Computer Technology Seminars (FACTS) program. The FACTS program was started two years prior to Massimi’s term as vice president.

“We saw that many students were interested in learning new technologies that employers value, but there simply wasn’t time to teach these things in a formal 4-credit class,” Massimi said. “As a result, the FACTS series served to fill that role by inviting faculty and students in the computer science department to deliver lectures about emerging technologies.”

Massimi said there were several lectures over the course of the year that were successful.

“Among the tenets of UPE is service, and we found that FACTS was an appropriate way to serve the campus community by sharing our individual skills,” Massimi said.

This year, Massimi co-chaired the annual high school girls’ outreach program as part of UPE’s mission of service.

“Women are drastically underrepresented in the computing and information sciences,” Massimi said. The outreach program encourages young women to consider computer science as a future.

Massimi also proposed transforming an old office into a student lounge. Textbooks and magazines were collected as part of a small-lending library for students.

However, Massimi said the project has “rapidly deteriorated as it was instituted late in the school year and lost momentum over the summer.”

Massimi displays the same drive in his academics as he does within his community.

During the summer of 2003 he conducted research with John Carroll, professor at Penn State University, at Virginia Tech’s Center for Human-Computer Interaction.

“It was then that I saw the potential for great growth in this subfield of computer science,” Massimi said. “I also enjoy the interdisciplinary nature of the field, because in addition to computer science, it relies heavily on cognitive psychology.”

For this reason, he is minoring in psychology at the College.

After graduation, Massimi intends to pursue graduate study in human-computer interaction. He wants to obtain his doctorate and hopes to conduct full-time research either commercially or within the academic realm.

Currently, Massimi is interested in applying to the University of Washington for graduate school because of a project being conducted there that uses computerized aids to help Alzheimer’s patients.