Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Software Engineering Club teaches new skills, forms friendships in computer

In order to foster a love for technology and passion for computers, Plattsburgh State’s Software Engineering Club wants to spread awareness, increase its numbers and educate fellow students about job opportunities in the field after graduation.

Senior computer security major and club president Sam Coveney has been a member since his freshman year. Coveney said the club holds small presentations on software development topics for its members to learn something new about software engineering. 

Lam Nguyen, senior computer science major and former club secretary, has also been a member with Coveney since his freshman year. Nguyen said the club welcomes anyone interested in computer science or software engineering. 

“The idea of the club is for tech students to meet each other,” Nguyen said. “We aren’t a club only for computer science majors.”

While most of the club’s current members are computer science majors, Coveney and Nguyen understand the variations of experience between club members. 

 “Their programming experiences might be different, so that’s something we struggle with, but we’re really hoping people want to group up and put something together,” Nguyen said.  

During their last meeting before spring break, Coveney presented on computer security topics, such as acquiring security certificates before building computer software. After that, Career Counselor and Applied Learning Specialist at PSUC’s Career Development Center Morgan Pellerin gave a presentation on the services the CDC offers to students, certain job-finding websites and networking opportunities from alumni who might be willing to give advice about their experiences after college. 

Another PSUC senior computer science major, Hung Nguyen, is SEC’s vice president. Hung Nguyen said the club is a great opportunity to meet people and advocate for computer science awareness. 

“Saying computer science is technical does not mean we have to do everything alone,” Hung Nguyen said. “It is essential to know to work as a team, and we learn more when working with other people.”

As president, Coveney wants to make club members feel safe about their work and software abilities. 

“When I first came here, I was really nervous to join [SEC] because I thought I was going to be judged all the time,” Coveney said. “So I want to make people aware that it’s not about that. It’s about learning from each other and being accepted.” 

Lam Nguyen said members can also present during the club’s weekly meetings. 

“If someone wants to talk about a topic one week, they’re more than welcome to just come on stage and present slides about it,” Lam Nguyen said.

Because there are members with different levels of experience, the club had a hard time starting software engineering projects together. 

“When we did do those types of projects, there were some students who were falling behind,” Coveney said. “When we bring in people that can just talk about a subject, and everyone can follow along, it’s better.” 

Despite this, Coveney strongly encourages computer science majors to learn the skills they need to start their own projects. 

“If you have a project idea, we try to take other students who might know the skills and technical details on how to make that happen, and then we try to bring them together so they can present them in front of the club,” Coveney said. 

Hung Nguyen said SEC showed him the importance of building his technical skills when it came to computer science. 

“My first time going to the club, when I was just a member, was like a jet lag because I saw how little I am to the field of computer science,” Hung Nguyen said. “I thought that I just needed to study, do all of my homework, get the bachelor’s degree and graduate then I am good to go, but it is not true, at least for my major.”

In addition to preparing presentations for the future, SEC will be hosting PlattsHacks, the club’s first hackathon, the first weekend after spring break in Yokum Hall. With more than 50 students already registered to compete, Coveney hopes the event will give students a new computer programming experience.

Aside from PlattsHacks, future plans for the club include acquiring T-shirts and signing up for more hackathon workshops through student hackathon leagues like Major League Hacking.

Coveney said anyone interested is welcome to join the club, which meets Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m. in Beaumont 301. 

“If you have some interest in technology, you should come on down,” Coveney said. “We’re not just a bunch of computer science nerds doing our own thing. We try to appeal to a wide audience.”

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