Joseph Yaconelli

Hometown: Ashland, Oregon

High School: Ashland High School

Major: Computer and Information Science

Minor: Considering a minor in Digital Media

What is the University of Oregon doing well? In the CIS department, the university has created a close, creative, and driven community made equally from the students and faculty—full of opportunities that range from highly academic research to entrepreneurial ventures to all-night hackathons.

What are you proud of accomplishing at the UO so far? I am most proud of being on the winning team at the QuackHack hackathon.

What are some things you’ve been doing outside of the classroom since you’ve been at UO? I've gotten involved with a local tech start-up, ToneTip, where I currently do development and design for their website and app. I am a trip initiator with the UO outdoor program. I also love playing music, mainly mandolin.

Describe a mentor or professor who has positively influenced your experience at UO. There are three people I should mention here. First, Eric Wills, who I met with last spring when I was trying to decide which college to sign with. I spent an afternoon with him and attended his CIS 212 (Computer Science III) class. That afternoon is a big reason why I came to the UO.

Next is Kathleen Freeman. I met her first at IntroDucktion when creating my schedule for my incoming fall term. She helped me get overrides for the first two computer science classes, even though I had no formal education in computer science. She has continued to be a strong supporter and guide as I continue to pursue a non-traditional path of learning in college.

Finally, Hank Childs, who was my professor for CIS 330 (Unix and C/C++) this past term, feels like the first professor I've had who really knows me as an individual. Within the first week or so of the term, he had learned the names of everyone in his class. Every time I bump into him, he'll walk with me and ask me about my interests, school, and summer plans. Further, his class has been really the first class to challenge my programming skills so far, and has really boosted my excitement about my further education in the major.

Describe a couple of your favorite classes you’ve taken at UO?  CIS 330 (Unix and C/C++) was the first class to really challenge my programming skills. We spent most of the term working on a single 1,000 lines of code for a program that manipulated images. Coming out of that class, I feel much stronger as a programmer, and ready to take on larger and more complex problems.

Coming out of high school, I had really enjoyed my math classes, but I’d never felt especially challenged in any of them. So MATH 231 (Discrete Math I) was a bit of a shocker for me during my first term of college. While I love the world of higher level math and reasoning that this class opened up for me, my favorite parts actually happened outside of class in a study group with Stamps Scholar Edward Szczepanski and two other students from the computer science department. Together, we'd work through the lectures and homework. It was my first experience in getting to do real problem-solving and thinking with my peers.

CIS 313 (Intermediate Data Structures) was my first encounter with the more abstract or theoretical side of computer science. Coming to college, I thought I wanted to focus on programming, get my bachelor’s degree, and rush off to be a software engineer in industry. However, after taking this class, I found myself becoming more and more interested in the theoretical and research side of computer science. This class pushed me to think deeper and more critically about problems and consider the effects of the different ways I can solve problems and implement those solutions.

What are your plans with your major, for the rest of undergrad and for the future? I want to do research in artificial intelligence, specifically in teaching computers to perceive the world in a more human way.