The key to success, says WSU computer science professor Gina Sprint, is knowing what success means to you.
Gina, what do you do at WSU?
I teach introductory computer science classes and research sensor data mining for healthcare applications.
Why do you like teaching?
Teaching is fun! Every day I have the opportunity to interact with my students. In my UCORE Computer Science 111 (CptS 111) class, my students learn how to solve a variety of interesting problems by writing computer programs.
My favorite part of teaching is being a part of a student’s “AHA!” moment. Programming can sometimes be difficult to learn, but it is quite rewarding. When a programming concept “clicks” for a student, or when a student is able to fix a bug in their program, I can see their excitement and that is rewarding for both the student and for me.
What does your research consist of?
I design and implement algorithms to mine useful information about human behavior changes from sensor-collected data. For example, a wearable fitness device, such as a Fitbit, collects minute-by-minute data about the wearer’s physical activity. My algorithms take this minute-by-minute physical activity data as input and outputs information related to the wearer’s daily, weekly, and monthly routines, as well as the changes in these routines.
My research aims to track changes in physical activity and behavior routines over time in order to detect major health events, such as progress towards a health goal, or age, injury, or disease-related impairments.
What other things are you involved in at WSU?
I am a part of WSU’s Scale-up Initiative to increase active learning and student engagement in the classroom and I have an active role in WSU’s efforts to increase diversity in computing. For the latter, I co-founded the Broadening Participation in Computing Club, I have hosted high school girls who visit WSU to learn more about computer science, and I have instructed summer coding workshops for middle-school-aged students.
What advice do you give to students who are just starting?
The main keys to success in college are managing your time well, working hard, and planning for your future. I think the last one is of increasing importance. I would advise students to ask themselves these critical questions:
- “Where do I want to be in 1, 5, and 10 years?”
- “What steps do I need to take to set up for the life I want to live?”
- “What motivates me to work hard toward taking the steps needed to reach my goals?”
Inevitably, there will be times challenging times during a student’s college career. Knowing the answers to these questions will help students make it through the difficult times, graduate, and make a positive contribution to the world.
What hobbies do you enjoy outside of teaching?
I enjoy traveling, attending conferences, exercising with my dog, and skiing/snowboarding.