TechBytes (formerly CS/DS Tea) is a weekly department event where students and faculty gather to discuss computing related topics. Refreshments and (sometimes) pizza are served. Below is a list of the special events planned for the Spring 2024 semester! New attendees are always welcome! 

Unless otherwise noted, TechBytes events usually take place on Thursdays at 11:30am-12:30pm in Ford 102.

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Interested in presenting at TechBytes? Please contact Haiyan Cheng at To sign up for news about TechBytes events, or for other questions, contact Lizzi at

Spring 2024

January 25th

Anne Lapour, "How to find and apply for internships"

The internship search is exciting, yet tough at times. We can help with that!

Join Anne Lapour, Interim Executive Director of Career Initiatives, for an informative inside look at how to navigate the internship search as well as how to create a competitive internship application that highlights your unique skill set.

February 8th

Joseph Skudlarek, "Career Advice: A Dinosaur's Perspective"

What's it like to work in high tech, and what are some important career issues? What are good situations to seek out, and bad situations to avoid? What's some helpful advice, especially for those just starting out in their career? Get an insider's view, illustrated with war stories, from someone who's still riding the wave, from punch-cards to smart cards, from mainframes to microprocessors, from microcode to no code, and many things in-between.

Joseph P. SKUDLAREK is a 50-year software professional in industrial high tech, primarily as a CAD/EDA and OS developer. He has worked for startups and stalwarts, has a BSEE from Princeton and an MSCS from Stanford, 5 patents, and is a senior member of the ACM. He is a happily married husband and father who enjoys family, friends, music, kayaking, hiking, and baking sourdough bread.

February 22nd

Haiyan Cheng, Cindy Richards, and Shouvik Ahmed Antu, "Exploration of Large Language Models in Teaching"

Learning Circle Presentation: Recent advancement of highly accurate and scalable Large Language Models (LLMs) stormed the world by showing its power and popularity. The newly released GPT-4(Generative Pre-trained Transformer 4) provided both text and image input capability. Microsoft followed up by releasing a full-fledged copilot in their 365 suite. The impact of the LLMs to higher education and student learning is immediate and urgent.

About the speakers: Professor Haiyan Cheng, Professor Cindy Richards, and Shouvik Ahmed Antu '26, will be giving a talk about Large Language Models (LLMs) in Teaching. You can read more about their research in this Willamette article.

Although this talk may be more relevant to faculty, everyone is welcome to attend!

February 29th

Fred Agbo, "Should we care about adults' computing education? An explication study of broadening participation in computer science education"

Generation Z (Gen Z) are akin to computing and are known as digital natives, whereas many of them are naturally computer savvy. However, recent studies suggest that only 44% of Gen Z folks are computer literate, and 37% do not feel confident with the computing skills needed at the workplace. Consequently, the community of computer science educators has pursued a goal of broadening participation in computing for younger learners and those in colleges. These efforts have unconsciously but significantly left out an important demographic: the adults.

The big question is, why should we care about computing education for adults? This talk tries to provide answers to this important question and discusses findings from an initial study that investigates literature spanning over four decades to gain insights into computer science education in adults.

Fred Agbo is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Willamette University.

Monday, March 18th

FORD 202
Calvin Deutschbein, Fred Agbo, Sammy Basu, Erin McNicholas and Brandon Rodriguez-Hernandez '25, "Inquiry-Based Learning for Equity"

Learning Circle Presentation: College can be a powerful tool for social mobility, but there's a problem. In certain degree programs, there's a connection between how much money you can make after graduating and how many white students are enrolled. This is especially notable in newer fields like computer science and data science. These fields are still figuring out the best ways to teach. Sometimes, methods from subjects like physics or math are not used enough, creating gaps in access for some students. Our research talk will focus on a specific issue: Is a learning approach called inquiry-based learning far for everyone? And, does it help students in computer-related fields do better?

About the speakers: Calvin Deutschbein and Fred Agbo are Assistant Professors of Computer Science at Willamette University. Sammy Basu is a Professor of History and Public Health at Willamette University. Erin McNicholas is a Professor of Mathematics at Willamette University. Brandon Rodriguez-Hernandez '25 is a data science major.

Although this talk may be more relevant to faculty, all are welcome to attend!

April 4th

Info Session: Statistics and Data Science Courses Fall 2024
Interested in taking a data science or statistics course in fall 2024? Come learn about the courses that will be offered from data science professors Heather Kitada Smalley, Kristen Gore, and Hank Ibser. 
Cake and pizza will be provided.

Friday, April 5th

"Size and shape analysis of silica (SiO2) and gold (Au) nanoparticles"

In the field of nanotechnology, precise control over the size and morphology of nanoparticles is crucial, as their properties are intricately linked to their physical characteristics. Researchers strive to ensure uniformity in particle size and shape to maintain consistency in their behavior, particularly concerning electrical, optical, and magnetic properties. However, accurately determining the dimensions and morphology of nanoparticles poses a significant challenge.

Traditionally, scientists employ UV-vis spectrometry to assess size distribution, although this method may yield inaccurate results, particularly when particles aggregate. Consequently, there is a growing inclination towards utilizing transmission electron microscopy (TEM) to capture individual particle images for a more comprehensive analysis.

This study employs sophisticated mathematical techniques to analyze TEM images of nanoparticles, aiming to discern their size and shape distributions. Additionally, researchers investigate the similarities among particles and examine any potential shape variations.

In summary, this research endeavors to deepen the understanding of nanoparticle characteristics, thereby contributing to the advancement of nanotechnological applications.

April 11th

Maryam Majedi, "Understanding Privacy Policies"

Organizations use privacy policies to communicate their data collection practices to their clients. A privacy policy is a set of statements that specifies how an organization gathers, uses, discloses, and maintains clients' data. However, most privacy policies lack a clear, complete explanation of how data providers' information is used. In this talk, Dr. Majedi will present a modeling methodology called the Privacy Policy Permission Model (PPPM), which provides a uniform, easy-to-understand representation of privacy policies that can show how data is used within an organization's practice. Using this methodology, a privacy policy is captured as a diagram. The diagram is capable of highlighting inconsistencies and inaccuracies in the privacy policy.

Dr. Maryam Majedi is an Assistant Teaching Professor at UC Santa Barbara. She holds an M.Sc. in High-Performance Scientific Computing from the University of New Brunswick, a Ph.D. in Data Privacy from the University of Calgary, and a Fellowship in Medical Innovation from Western University. She also completed a Teaching Stream Postdoc at the University of Toronto in the Department of Computer Science, where she developed the first ethics modules for the Embedded Ethics Education Initiative (E3I) program. She was also a faculty member at the University of Southern California, Viterbi School of Engineering, before joining UCSB. Dr. Majedi's research contributions are in Data Privacy and Embedded Ethics. 

April 18th

Zechariah Meunier, "Detecting and predicting regime shifts in marine ecosystems"

Coastal marine ecosystems are facing unprecedented levels of environmental change including marine heatwaves, disease outbreaks, and nutrient pollution. Changing conditions can lower ecosystem resilience and even exceed tipping points, leading to regime shifts where ecosystems abruptly transition from one alternative state to another. Regime shifts often have undesirable consequences for both biodiversity and human livelihoods. Leveraging data science techniques such as scientific machine learning and multivariate statistics, Dr. Meunier investigates regime shifts in rocky intertidal and coral reef ecosystems. This research integrates theoretical models with time series data to detect alternative states and predict their long-term dynamics. Dr. Meunier will also touch on his collaborative efforts to develop cyberinfrastructure for scientific machine learning, including R and Julia packages.

Dr. Zechariah Meunier is a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the College of Earth, Ocean,
and Atmospheric Sciences at Oregon State University. Meunier earned his PhD in integrative biology with a PhD minor in statistics at Oregon State University. With fellowship support from OSU and the National Science Foundation, he studied rocky intertidal ecosystems of Oregon, California, and Nova Scotia for his dissertation. Prior to his doctoral studies, Meunier worked for two years as a Technical Services Analyst at Epic Systems, the nation’s largest provider of electronic medical records. He completed his BA in biology and environmental studies at Lawrence University, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and graduated summa cum laude. While at Lawrence, Meunier was awarded the Gilman Scholarship to study abroad in Madagascar and the Udall Scholarship in recognition of his commitment to environmental issues.

April 25th

"Creating an R Package and Hosting it on Github"

By Spencer Veatch '24 and Indi Esneault '26.

Experience with R recommended.


Lucas Cordova, "The Future of Learning: AI, Gamification, Social Media, and Inquiry-Based Learning"

Imagine a world where learning something feels like conquering a quest, and mastering
the skills is as engaging as your favorite game. This talk explores the cutting-edge
intersection of artificial intelligence, gamification, social media, and inquiry-based
learning. We'll delve into how these elements are being woven into powerful
pedagogical tools that cater to diverse learning styles and keep students actively
engaged. In this talk, we’ll explore how education is evolving to be more dynamic,
personalized, and, yes, even fun!

Lucas Cordova is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Willamette University.

Willamette University

Computer Science

Ford Hall
900 State Street
Salem Oregon 97301 U.S.A.

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