In Fifth Year, CS50 Fair Features More Mobile Apps

Anna Y Zhong

Jilan Shimberg '16 (left) and Lucia Millham '16 (center) discover the website created by Zoe Rosenthal '16 (right) and two other classmates. The website, which allows Harvard students to create and find study groups online, was one of the many innovative final projects presented at the annual CS50 Fair held yesterday.

Rows of laptops displaying programs ranging from a website tracking the exact location of the Harvard shuttle to a dating site just for Harvard undergraduates can only mean one thing: This is CS50—the fair.

Students, faculty, and members of the Cambridge community filled Northwest Labs on Monday afternoon to test out the final projects of the 714 students enrolled in Computer Science 50: “Introduction to Computer Science I.” Attendees munched on cupcakes and played with stress balls with the CS50 logo while trying out student projects like “HUDS Creations,” a website displaying user-submitted recipes made from ingredients found in Harvard dining halls.

Monday’s CS50 fair marked the fifth year the event has taken place. David J. Malan ’99, the computer science lecturer who teaches the course, said that while the format of the fair has remained relatively unchanged since it started, the platforms and applications used by students in their final projects have become more “mobile and web-based.”

“We’re seeing that it’s increasingly possible to do amazing things,” Malan said of the work produced by his students.

Sprinkled among the laptops were mobile phones boasting student-created applications, including an alarm clock for BlackBerry devices that encourages users to stay awake by forcing them to solve a mental puzzle instead of just hitting snooze.

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Ryan Lee ’15, a teaching fellow for the course, said the fair captures the essence of a class as innovative as CS50.

“If you learn something in a class and you never apply it, you really get stuck in that ivory tower, and you never learn how everything you did applies to the outside world,” Lee said.

Jessica T. Reese ’16 used the final project as an opportunity to transform her book review blog into a streamlined website.

Reese said although she was entirely unexposed to computer science before this semester, she gained much from the course.

And, she said, the lessons she learned from CS50 are applicable far beyond the course. Reese said she feels that “anything is possible” after creating her website: “You just have to keep trying and persevere,” she said.

—Staff writer Zohra D. Yaqhubi can be reached at zyaqhubi@college.harvard.edu.

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