Outstanding Graduates Computer Science
Those who have grown up around rivers understand the saying “Still waters run deep.” The river rapids are shallow and noisy, but like Trevor Kirkby '21, the deep bends are quiet. He is a bright, thoughtful and well-rounded student, yet his dominant posture is one of pondering truths. It is disarming when he then writes insightful commentary and powerful software because in those moments he loses his inhibitions and the urgency of clarity and analysis takes over. These exchanges are energizing to his collaborators and reflect a sharp mind. Ironically, in addition to his academic pursuits, he is an excellent singer, an area in which being quiet tends to be disadvantageous.
Tanner Leslie '20 is an intellectual explorer and has approached his Westmont education from that unique perspective. As a high-performing student, his peers know that he can build a web search engine and can analyze the mathematical efficiency of data structures. His faculty are confident that he can think and write well about the social impacts of the digital world and the technical underpinnings that enforce those relationships. But he also has a heart for his friends, as a tutor, RA, and as an encouraging presence. He dabbles in art and archery, speaks German and occasionally dances hip-hop. He has blazed a path that made the most of the talents with which God has graced him.
Kyle Hansen '19, who will attend UC Santa Barbara this fall to earn a doctorate in mathematics, is a double major in mathematics and computer science.
“He approaches computer science in a uniquely Westmont way,” says Don Patterson, professor of computer science. “He knows the technical details of manipulating bits on the processor, he can uncover the abstract efficiency of different data structures from a mathematical perspective, and he writes well about the social impacts of the digital world. But he also has a heart for his friends, whether he is organizing Spring Sing, encouraging his dorm, or writing an app for organizing potlucks in the Global Leadership Center.”
Hansen presented research in the field of complex analysis last January at the Joint Mathematics Meetings conference in Baltimore.
“His brilliance is matched only by his modesty, as he will downplay the tremendous help he has been to our department (as a grader, and helping with our mathematics contest) and Westmont (as a choir member, and Emmaus Road participant),” says Russ Howell, professor of mathematics.
Austin Zuidema '17 has been chosen to receive the Computer Science Senior Award because of a track record of excellent work. For example, in work that he conducted with Professor Knecht, he collected database donations to political campaigns in an effort to tease apart the relationship between money and political outcomes at different regional levels. Perhaps inspired by some of the issues that this work raised, in his senior project he examined a classic theoretical problem called the prisoner's dilemma and formulated a research project in which several people playing this mathematical game would be placed in competition with one another. His question centered on trying to identify social and game mechanic structures in which cooperation could be encouraged despite the tendency for the game to result in breaches of trust.
Dillon Montag '16, the Kim P. Kihlstrom Outstanding Graduate for 2016: In two short years, Dillon Montag has made a significant mark on our CS program. As a transfer double major in Mathematics and Computer Science, he arrived having already completed most of a mathematics major but not having started the CS curriculum. Dillon ripped through his CS classes, not only excelling in each but consistently raising the level of the entire class. He explains problems and solutions both clearly and concisely, and accurately discerns where confusion remains. These qualities will serve him extremely well if in the future he chooses to return to graduate school and academia. But first, Dillon will be serving a government agency with a three-letter name where we are confident he will be a sorely needed source of intellectual light and moral salt.
In addition to excelling in his computer science classes and mastering every programming language he encounters, Daniel Hakimian '15 exemplifies the best qualities of a liberally educated Christian. He has obtained a perspective on learning and life that is complimentary to his computer science training by stretching himself in classes outside his comfort zone, serving his peers as a volunteer in the Westmont gardens, and wrestling with the philosophy of technology and how technologies are both helping and hindering us in God's work. Daniel has been a faithful and engaged participant in the life of the computer science program, regularly attending department dinners and helping his peers with grace.