LSU computer science junior Jazmine Staten was a technology enthusiast but had never written a line of code when she opted to pursue programming as a freshman. The Monroe native says she studied programming on her own that year, diving into YouTube tutorials and educational websites like Codecademy while she completed her basic courses at LSU.
“A lot people learn programming on their own,” she says. “There was more learning on my end outside of the classroom, but I liked the idea of learning new things every day. One of the reasons I wanted to go into the technology industry is that technology is always changing.”
By the time her computer science courses began in earnest her sophomore year, Staten had a solid base of understanding that only grew. Today she’s a thriving computer science major with a minor in IT management and a summer internship in New York City under her belt. Staten, who is on track to graduate in May 2018, is also part of a student team using machine learning technologies to filter YouTube comments.
“I’ve enjoyed my experience in LSU,” she says. “I feel at home. The engineering and computer science departments are very supportive.”
Big Apple internship
In the summer of 2016, Staten worked at Bank of America in Manhattan as a software developer intern, focusing on one of the bank’s websites. It was her first time in New York and she says she enjoyed experiencing the melting pot of people and cultures there. But it was the corporate culture that was the real learning experience.
“That was the first major corporation I ever worked for,” she says. “It was really big and I had to ask a lot of questions because corporations like that are constantly moving and sometimes the interns can get lost. You have to learn really quickly; you only get two months in the summertime.”
Staten is part of a team of students who are analyzing comments on coding-oriented YouTube videos under a project led by LSU assistant professor Anas “Nash” Mahmoud.
The team used a machine learning tool that sorts through the comments left by viewers, with the most useful ones prioritized and those with less substance weeded out. The students then used the tool to summarize the comments and present them to the original video creator in hopes of helping them make higher-quality videos in the future.
“We wanted to see how we could sort the miscellaneous or unnecessary comments from the important comments to help computer science students learn from [them],” she says. “Because a lot of times you try to figure out how to solve a problem from the comments.”
Staten praised Mahmoud for working with students to help them understand what to expect with internships, how to interview for jobs and other non-coding workplace skills. “He teaches us things beyond the classroom,” she says.
Heading to Austin
Staten has booked an internship this summer with Dell in Round Rock, Texas, near Austin, where she will work as a database intern. “Instead of the hard-core programming side I’m looking at data and finding ways to solve problems, so it’s more on the research side,” she says.
Beyond graduation, Staten says she plans to pursue LSU’s Master of Science in Analytics, a degree offered by the Stephenson Department of Entrepreneurship & Information Systems in collaboration with the departments of experimental statistics and marketing. The curriculum emphasizes the use of business analytics, business intelligence and information technology to solve problems, reduce costs, increase revenues, streamline processes and improve decision-making.
“You get to work on companies’ real-world problems, and that interests me,” she says.