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W&L Senior Camille Cobb Finalist in National Computer Science Competition

At the recent Special Interest Group on Computer Science Education (SIGCSE) conference in Raleigh, N.C., Washington and Lee senior Camille Cobb from Huntersville, N.C., was one of five finalists in the student undergraduate research competition.

Cobb, a computer science and physics double major, presented her research Exploring Text-Based Analysis of Test Case Dependencies of Web Applications and was one of five finalists out of 13 undergraduate competitors.

“This is huge,” said Sara Sprenkle, assistant professor of computer science at W&L. “We’ve never had a student who participated in a research competition at a national level before. It was a tough competition, and the finalists were all very strong. I was so proud of Camille.”

Cobb presented her research, the basis for her senior thesis, in a four-hour poster session and then two days later in a 12-minute power point presentation.

“My research is on how to automatically generate test cases for web applications,” said Cobb. “They are really hard and expensive to test to see if they are working correctly, mostly because they are always changing and there are a lot of things users can do, such as linking to other pages. A group I’m part of in the Computer Science Department at Washington and Lee is using user-session-based testing, which involves letting people use a version of an application, recording what they do and then recycling that information into new test cases.”

Sprenkle explained that the group realized that the model they currently have to generate the test cases does not ensure that the test cases are in a certain order. For example, in an application where professors make quizzes online and students take those quizzes, the model is not taking into consideration that the professor needs to create something before the students can use it. “That’s what Camille is trying to correct,” said Sprenkle.

Cobb plans to attend a Ph.D. program for computer science at the University of Washington after graduation and perhaps pursue a career in academia.

The Special Interest Group on Computer Science Education provides a forum for educators to discuss issues related to the development, implementation and/or evaluation of computing programs, curricula and courses, syllabi, laboratories and other elements of teaching and pedagogy.

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Sarah Tschiggfrie
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