Start it up

Two engineering members holding their business brand mugs.

Photos by Karl Maasdam, Lucas Radostitz, Gale Sumida.

Every engineer spends countless hours learning their field inside and out, but only a relative few ever launch a company to bring their inventions to the world. Luckily, the Oregon State University Advantage Accelerator helps faculty, staff, students, and alumni take that critical step by shepherding new companies through all phases of the startup process.

“Part of Oregon State’s mission as a land-grant university is boosting the local as well as the global economy,” said Karl Mundorff, executive director of innovation and entrepreneurship at Oregon State and the Accelerator’s director. “You can do that by supporting existing businesses, but to really be competitive and grow stronger and more diverse living-wage jobs in Oregon, we need to layer entrepreneurship on top of that.”

The Accelerator offers a trio of programs to help would-be entrepreneurs take their idea from sketch pad to launch pad.

ITERATE consists of four workshops that help clients evaluate ideas from an entrepreneurial mindset. Clients in this stage work to identify a potential product, market, and industry for their idea.

The 10-week ACCELERATE program focuses on product-market fit. Clients develop a viable product, test their startup’s feasibility, and validate their business models. Faculty, students, staff, alumni, and the broader Oregon State community all participate in Iterate and Accelerate together.

LAUNCH is a five-month, immersive program designed to make each startup fully operational — from completing the team to developing a repeatable sales model. At this stage, clients seek to ramp up from an R&D company to a product manufacturing and marketing company.

The Accelerator also offers funding support, including access to the University Innovation Research Fund, the University Venture Development Fund, and small business development grants. When clients are ready, Accelerator staff make introductions to angel and venture capital investors.

Since its creation in 2013, the Accelerator has helped companies created by College of Engineering faculty, staff, students, and alumni — including inaugural Accelerate program member Onboard Dynamics, which received a $30 million investment from BP Energy in 2021. The stories that follow highlight three companies launched, both with and without Accelerator support, by College of Engineering students and alumni.

Adaptive Ascent

Josh Bamberger knew for certain that his invention would work after he used a single finger to effortlessly lift a duffel bag holding a 50-pound sack of concrete. He followed that with a one-finger pull-up.

“He’s pretty strong, but not strong enough to do one-arm pinkie pull-ups on his own,” said Nathan Jewell, Bamberger’s business partner and co-inventor of the MoonClimb adaptive climbing device, designed to help rock climbers ascend using less force, making the sport more accessible to climbers of varying ability and strength.

Nathan Jewell (left) and Josh Bamberger get ready to test the lifting capabilities of MoonClimb, a product they invented to provide assistance for rock climbers. With the help of the device, Bamberger easily hoisted a duffel bag containing 50 pounds of cement with his little finger.

Bamberger, B.S. mechanical engineering ’21, and Jewell, B.S. computer science ’21, were friends in preschool, but they didn’t cross paths again until Oregon State. By pure chance, they became dorm neighbors in West Hall and reestablished their friendship around backpacking, rock climbing, snowshoeing, and mountaineering. Their adventures included summiting some of the Pacific Northwest’s foremost glaciated peaks, like Rainier, Hood, and Baker.

The idea for MoonClimb emerged in the winter of 2020, when Bamberger was talking with some other members of the Adaptive Technology Engineering Network, or ATEN, a student group that aspires to provide solutions to problems encountered by people with disabilities. Its membership includes individuals with and without disabilities.

“We were thinking up ways to make rock climbing more accessible, and my friend at ATEN said he could probably make it to the top of a climbing wall if he didn’t have to support his entire weight,” Bamberger said.

After graduation, Bamberger and Jewell became roommates in Corvallis and founded Adaptive Ascent. They worked out of their garage, and Bamberger recalls many cold, late nights. “I have clear memories of Nathan with a blanket over his shoulders, hunched over a workstation, soldering circuits or writing code,” he said. Later, they moved into the Rogue Makers workspace just outside of town. Their first working prototype was ready in early 2022, even though both partners hold full-time jobs and run the company on the side.

MoonClimb, which is the size of a beefy briefcase and weighs about 25 pounds, is simple to use. Once the device is secured at the top of a climbing route with traditional gear, a rope is looped through it. One end attaches to the climber’s harness, while a climbing partner nearby serves as the belayer to take up slack and arrest falls. Power comes from a standard wall outlet.

With the rope pulled taut, the climber sits back until they’re suspended a foot or two above the ground so the machine can gauge their weight. MoonClimb’s assistance level is set through a smartphone app. With a 50% assist, for example, the climber needs to exert only half the total force required to ascend. Assistance can go up to 95% for climbers up to 310 pounds, and the level can be changed midclimb.

MoonClimb was initially developed for people with disabilities, but Jewell and Bamberger see the potential for a much larger market, such as novices who need a shot of confidence. They compare the device to e-bikes, which have become popular among people who know how to ride regular bicycles but just want a little more oomph.

There are about 500 climbing gyms in the U.S., and the number is growing. However, that market may not be big enough to attract major investors, Jewell says. The partners are exploring other channels, such as selling directly to adaptive sports groups. And market opportunities are bound to expand once a battery pack is integrated into the unit, allowing outdoor use. So far, the most effective marketing tactic has been letting people try MoonClimb.

“It’s been really cool to watch people who have never scaled a climbing wall reach the top,” Jewell said. “We’re excited that this technology can open up rock climbing to many more people.”


When fourth-year computer science student Harry Herzberg was in high school, his sister worked as a paraeducator who assisted students with learning disabilities by sitting with them in class, giving them one-on-one support. Her experiences, as well as his being diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, inspired Herzberg to develop Alerty, a mobile app to help students — especially those with ADHD — perform better in class.

Dubbed “a paraeducator in your pocket,” the Alerty app transcribes class lectures in real time to help students see what they might have just missed. Herzberg explains that students with ADHD may unintentionally lose focus in class and — because college courses are often fast-paced, with information that builds upon itself — quickly get left behind.

Dmytro Shabanov (left) and Harry Herzberg discuss Alerty, the mobile app they helped create to enable students to perform better in class.

“I’ve had many classes where I’ve missed the teacher talking about the homework assignment, or a key point,” Herzberg said. “Then I’m spending the entire day or even weeks trying to catch up, just because I missed that one important point.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, when classes were being taught asynchronously online, Herzberg liked that he was able to go back, replay the lectures, and absorb concepts he may have missed.

“I was able to get better grades and even made the dean’s list because I was able to go back and replay, slow down, and speed up the videos,” he said.

Alerty is designed to be used by instructors and students together. When the instructor makes an important point, they press a button on the app, which alerts students with a vibration on their phones or tablets. The app also highlights the corresponding part of the transcript in blue.

After class, students can review the lecture and, if necessary, select a portion of the transcript to ask for clarification. This feature also helps instructors to see where students are struggling over certain concepts. The app could prove helpful to students without ADHD, including those who have different learning styles, English language learners, and those who have difficulty hearing.

Herzberg and Dmytro Shabanov, a fourth-year student in finance and marketing, are joined on the Alerty team by their business partners Jade Zavsklavsky, Artemis Kearny, Nicholas Craycraft, Alexander Victoria Trujillo, and Freya Crowe.

The team, more than half of whom have ADHD or autism, recently won the TiE Oregon regional competition and the Social Entrepreneurship Award at The Indus Entrepreneurs’ University Global Pitch Competition and was one of 30 teams to advance to the semifinal round, out of some 1,400 accepted into the competition. Alerty also earned second place in the College of Business’s Launch Academy competition, and a grant from the 1517 Fund.

Mike Bailey, professor of computer science, beta-tested Alerty in one of his classes during spring term. “For those who have difficulty focusing and taking notes in class, I think this could be a game changer,” he said.

Tonsil Tech

Confronting an embarrassing problem was the first step for two bioengineering alumni who invented an oral health care solution. The idea sparked in their senior design class, when they were asked to come up with 10 health care issues they wanted to improve. At the top of both of their lists was tonsil stones.

Even though Sydney Forbes, ’17, and Jessy Imdieke, ’17, were friends, they were shocked to find out they had tonsil stones in common. The condition occurs when substances like mucus and tiny bits of food collect in pits on the tonsils and harden into stones that harbor odor-causing bacteria.

“It’s a huge source of embarrassment and frustration, because it causes extreme bad breath,” Forbes said. For their project, Forbes and Imdieke designed a tool to allow people to remove their own tonsil stones at home.

After graduation, both got full-time jobs with biomedical startups in the San Francisco Bay Area. Then the pandemic hit, and they saw an opportunity to return to their passion to create a new solution for tonsil stones.

In early 2020, they launched Tonsil Tech in Bend, with a third co-founder, Daniel Forbes. Sydney Forbes contacted Oregon State’s Advantage Accelerator, which was conducting programs online. After completing the Iterate and Launch programs, the team further refined their plan with the help of programs at University of Washington, the Washington Innovation Network, and the Oregon Bioscience Incubator. Their mentors at the Accelerator continue to support them, and they also get advice from Adam Krynicki, executive director in the Innovation Co-Lab at OSU-Cascades.

“Oregon State University was critical for the development of our company. The Accelerator programs gave us the mentorship, structure, and resources we needed to move forward,” Imdieke said.

Sydney Forbes (left) and Jessy Imdieke discuss their products — individual stone removal tools and TonsiFIX basic and premium kits.

In July 2021, Tonsil Tech brought to market the first tool specifically designed to remove tonsil stones. The tool, TonsiFIX (patent pending), features a teardrop-shaped loop at the end of a handle with an attached wrist strap, with details of its construction optimized for removing tonsil stones. The company sells the tool alone or in a kit that includes a travel pouch and a bright LED mirror light. Customers can purchase directly from, and the company plans to expand into retail and health care settings.

Tonsil Tech has raised $160,000 from various sources and competitions, including $60,000 through the Accelerator’s University Venture Development Fund. The Accelerator funding will allow the company to scale up production and lower costs by moving from 3D printing to injection molding, Imdieke said.

Success for the Tonsil Tech team is more than their business achievements. They can see that they are changing people’s lives.

“Customers continuously tell us that they have never told anyone about the problem, and yet it affects about 10% of the population,” Imdieke said. “Something that you could think of as a nuisance has a big impact on people’s self-esteem.”

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Dec. 7, 2022

Till We Meet Again

Engineering student focused on lab material.

Student Clubs Go Remote

Nothing tests a budding engineer’s problem-solving abilities like a real-life challenge, and the COVID-19 pandemic has offered just that for student clubs. Many have risen to the occasion. Some have flourished. But none would deny that it’s been difficult.  

Lauren Lippman, a chemical engineering senior and member of the student chapter of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, led a team last spring to compete in AIChE’s Chem-E-Car competition. The team was planning to travel to regionals in Washington in April. They had spent a year of development on their shoebox-sized car, which starts and stops using carefully timed chemical reactions.  

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Students explain why clubs and research experience enriched their experience at Oregon State.

Students explain why clubs and research experience enriched their experience at Oregon State.
Then, the competition was put off indefinitely. 

“For spring term, the challenge was that we did not know what was happening,” Lippman said. “We were stagnant, because why take the risk? It was just too difficult to get back into the lab for a competition that we weren’t sure was going to happen.” 

When the regional and national competitions were rescheduled for October, the team had a goal to work toward. The College of Engineering approved them to return to the lab with additional precautions, including limitations on the number of people who could be together in a room.  

Lauren Lippman working on lab materials

Led by Lauren Lippman, the AIChE Chem-E-Car team works on campus for activities that cannot be performed remotely.

“The struggle is that it conflicts with our goal as a club — to be as diverse and inclusive as possible — to minimize the number of people who get hands-on experience,” Lippman said. “It was a difficult balance.” 

Instead of traveling, the team competed in Graf Hall. A team from Montana State University attended remotely. Both teams had judges in attendance, and the cars’ runs were captured on video. Oregon State’s team won with the most powerful start that Lippman has seen in her four years with the club.  

Although Lippman missed the opportunity to travel, she says the less intense schedule allowed the team to focus on research and development. 

“We have a much more solid jumping off point for our next car than I think we’ve ever had before,” she said. 

Meanwhile, competitions for the OSU Robotics Club were canceled, but members are continuing to work, mostly from home, taking advantage of the slower pace to refine projects such as a Mars rover and an underwater remote-operated vehicle.  

The OSU Security Club has had fewer difficulties.  

“The club is doing its usual thing almost unimpacted by COVID,” said Lyell Read, vice president for the club and undergraduate in computer science.  

The team participated in competitions remotely and, for the first time, hosted a public capture the flag competition called DamCTF. Over 1,000 teams registered from all over the world.  

Computer science undergraduate Zander Work, who led DamCTF, said the number of participants was higher than expected, and he was most excited about the many first-timers — 14% had never participated in a CTF competition before. The club also initiated weekly CTF learning sessions, in which veteran competitors helped less experienced team members through the security challenges to prepare for competition.  

“Despite being all remote, and probably facilitated by being all remote, we were able to succeed at a completely new format of learning for the club, which I think has gone awesomely,” Read said. 

Another benefit: Computer science students in the Ecampus program have been able to participate. The OSU Robotics Club has opened up as well, and both clubs hope that will continue once on-campus activities resume. 

But many clubs are struggling with recruitment and retention, according to Faaiq Waqar, president of the Engineering Student Council and undergraduate in computer science. The council oversees funding for clubs and has instigated one-on-one meetings with club leaders during the pandemic. Waqar is especially impressed with clubs that launched during the pandemic, such as the Girls’ Empowerment, Engineering, and Outreach Club.  

“It’s unusual, because they’ve never existed in a setting that wasn’t remote, and they’ve just really chased those opportunities,” Waqar said. “It’s amazing to see how well they have done in a matter of months.” 

The GEEO club hosts events to engage K-12 students in STEM fields. Amy Zhen, co-president of the club and undergraduate in bioengineering, says being remote helped them to reach beyond Corvallis, including girls across Oregon and in Hawaii.  

“At the end of an outreach event, a girl told us, ‘I want to be an engineer when I grow up!’” Zhen said. “It was encouraging for our club to hear that we are inspiring young girls. This is exactly why we started the club.” 

Zoom fatigue is a complaint for all the clubs. And there is at least one other thing missing.  

“Pizza,” Read said. “And much more specifically, the social dynamic around having pizza and getting a lot of people together who are interested in cybersecurity — hanging out and solving challenges.” 

Zander Work agrees.  

“A lot of crazy ideas came up while eating pizza.”  

March 25, 2021

It’s business as usual for online Hackathon club

A computer screen with code.
Photo of Jordan Bartos.
Jordan Bartos, president of
the OSU Hackathon club.

The coronavirus pandemic didn’t stop the OSU Hackathon Club from holding BeaverHacks Spring 2020 on March 27-29. Seventy-four participants formed 17 teams to develop a website, app, or API on the theme of community building.

It was held online — the usual venue for the club’s events, since the organizers are computer science students in the online baccalaureate program. However, the global health emergency still had an influence on the event.  

“We had a lot of submissions that somehow tied to the pandemic,” said Jordan Bartos, postbaccalaureate student in computer science and president of the club.

Teams were judged by a panel of instructors and industry representatives. The club distributed $400 in prizes to the following winners:

  • First place: The Reading Room by Mae LaPresta, Elizabeth Tackett, Manda Jensen.
  • Second place: Where the Heck by Zach Tindell, Jeremy Binder, Chia-Tse Weng.
  • Third place: barterNow by Lifang Yan, Cameron Grover, Felipe Teixeira Groberio
  • New student category: Community Request Board by Jung Min (Judy) Lee, Wei Yu Tang, Angela Dimon.

All submissions are posted on the Hackathon website.

“It was incredibly gratifying to win, because the focus of our project was something all of us felt very passionately about,” said Mae La Presta, postbaccalaureate student in computer science. She was part of the winning team that created the Reading Room app to help foster a sense of community when social distancing has become the new norm.

Although the club was started by students from the online program, they welcome all Oregon State students. Bartos says his priority as president is to grow the membership of the club and raise awareness of their events. Future events could include collaborations with other clubs on campus.

“I feel pretty strongly about the benefits of the Hackathon club because when I competed in the first one, it really ignited something in me for coding in general,” Bartos said.

Participants say that learning new technical skills, building relationships with other students, and having the reward of creating something new were the main benefits of the experience.

“I was impressed by what everyone was able to accomplish by the end of the weekend. The presentations were incredible, and it was so cool to see what everyone’s ideas were,” said Manda Jensen, postbaccalaureate student in computer science.

May 14, 2020

Oregon State Security Club team brings home another win

The 2019 Oregon State University Cyberforce Competition team.

For the third consecutive year, a team of Oregon State University computer science students placed first regionally in the Cyberforce Competition hosted by the Department of Energy on November 15-16, 2019. They competed against 17 teams at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) in Richland, Washington. The team placed sixth in the nationwide competition, which included over 100 teams.

The team included members from the Oregon State Security Club: Cody Holliday, Ryan Kennedy, Matt Jansen, Khuong Luu, Zach Rogers, and Zander Work. Yeongjin Jang, assistant professor of computer science, advised the team.

“This competition is a highlight of the year for me,” said Zander Work, president of the OSU Security Club. “I really enjoy getting to test out my defensive skills in a live environment against a skilled red team. I also enjoy the added twist of securing some real-world industrial infrastructure, rather than a typical IT environment.”

Jan. 8, 2020

Global Formula Racing says auf wiedersehen to combustion car, and willkommen to driverless

Three cars at the competition.

For the first (and last) time, Global Formula Racing brought three cars to competition.

Global Formula Racing — the partnership between Oregon State University and German university DHBW Ravensburg— has a storied and stellar track record. Since 2010, the team has racked up multiple top-10 finishes in race cars designed and built from the ground up.

So when the team took second place at Formula Student Germany earlier this month, it was no surprise. But when the car rolled across the finish line in Hockenheim, it was more than the end of the race, it was the end of an era.

Race car.

This was the last time the team would race a car reliant on fossil fuels. For much of the last decade, GFR has raced both a traditional gas powered formula car alongside a fully electric version. Beginning next year, they will only be building battery powered ones.

In addition to being electric, GFR’s future is also autonomous. While FS Germany marked the end of the combustion car, it was also the debut of the team’s new driverless car.

GFR's newest driver.

GFR’s newest “driver”.

“Market forces are pushing automobile manufacturers towards driverless tech,” said Kyle O’Brien, a graduate student in robotics who is the team’s lead for integrating the driverless system. “We want to remain on the cutting edge by embracing new technologies as they are developed.”

Additionally, several Formula Student competitions are moving toward integrating driverless and driven races. In 2021, Formula Student Germany will require hybrid cars that have a driver for some events and are driven autonomously in others. “To remain competitive we have chosen to begin developing our autonomous systems now,” O’Brien said.

“I like that it introduces new challenges to Formula Student,” said Amy Nye (’19 B.S, mechanical engineering), the team lead for chassis and composites. “Often, Formula Student teams get stuck within the boundaries of their current design, and this shift to driverless has provided an opportunity to really explore more.”

Driverless also brings a greater need for an interdisciplinary approach beyond mechanical engineering. The team is meeting that need by bringing in students from computer science, electrical engineering, and robotics, as well as others from disciplines outside the College of Engineering like business.

“Watching the new team develop and finally getting to see the car drive at competition is exciting,” O’Brien said. “Racing is an iterative design, and for the driverless vehicle, we started at a blank slate.  We had to figure out which algorithms we should and shouldn’t use, the best way to brake or steer by actuation, and how to integrate our controls with an already built high-voltage drivetrain.”

“Initially, I was hesitant about the shift to driverless,” said Nathan Rust (’18 B.S, mechanical engineering), the manufacturing technical lead for the team. “Typical racing is a contest of engineering and personal skill, while driverless racing does not include the latter.” He said his hesitance went away at FS Germany in 2018 when he was amazed by seeing a driverless Formula Student car in action.

“Now, I think that the transition is exciting,” he said. “But I would still like to see a strong support for both traditional driven combustion and electric powertrain Formula Student cars, because I think that they both draw a lot of passion and emotion that can get more people involved with Formula Student.”

Ultimately, technical issues kept the driverless car from competing in a number of dynamic events at FS Germany and later at FS Spain. However, the car did well enough in static events to earn eighth and sixth place respectively.

“The biggest challenge was figuring out what we didn’t know,” O’Brien said. “Racing is an iterative design, and for the driverless vehicle we started at a blank slate. Looking back we definitely made some things harder on ourselves, but they will be fixed in the next iteration for the 2020 season.”

Both Nye and Rust, who are staying at Oregon State to pursue graduate degrees in mechanical engineering, plan to help meet that challenge by mentoring new undergraduates on the team.

“I actually chose Oregon State because of GFR,” Nye said. “I wanted to move to a school that had really good extracurricular engineering clubs, and while doing research, I stumbled across GFR and Oregon State. After watching the team’s videos, I got hooked. Since then, this team is my life and I’ve become a much better engineer because of it.”

Bob Paasch, professor of mechanical engineering and team advisor, echoed this sentiment. “Formula Student is not just about race cars; it’s about developing engineers,” he said. “It’s about figuring out what the problem is, coming up with a good solution to that problem, and then executing that solution.”

GFR's 2019 Results 
  • Combustion car
    • 2nd FS Germany
    • 5th Formula SAE Michigan
    • 12th FS Austria and Siemens Mentor Chairs Award
  • Electric car
    • 31st FS Germany
  • Driverless car
    • 6th FS Spain
    • 8th FS Germany 
Aug. 27, 2019

Building connections by pushing limits

Liquid nitrogen.

Frost forms on a liquid nitrogen pot, which is used in place of a typical PC heat sink.

Seeing frost form on your computer parts would usually be cause for alarm – but not for the members of OSU Overclockers. Frost is to be expected when the key ingredient of your cooling system is liquid nitrogen.

Overclocking, or pushing a computer’s processor past the manufacturer’s designed limits to achieve greater performance, introduces many challenges that cover various engineering disciplines. Key among them, not turning expensive components into melted junk.

Across the world, overclockers compete to build and run the fastest and coolest (literally) machines.

At Oregon State, this challenge has brought students from various major across the College of Engineering.

 “I’ve always wanted an interdisciplinary competition that highlighted extreme thermal management,” said Josh Gess, Welty Faculty Fellow and assistant professor of mechanical engineering. “High-performance computer overclocking is the perfect marriage between electrical, computer science, and thermal engineering.”

Gess and one of his advisees, Matt Harrison, a doctoral candidate in mechanical engineering started the group in 2018. In their first competition, they placed 10th out of 465 worldwide competitors. Since then, their success has continued. And that success has been noticed.

Last spring, they were invited to demonstrate their liquid nitrogen and dry ice cooled systems at IEEE’s Intersociety Conference on Thermal and Thermomechanical Phenomena in Electronic Systems, where representatives from companies like Intel, Microsoft, and Google were in attendance.

Alec Nordlund uses liquid nitrogen.

Mechanical engineering student Alec Nordlund uses liquid nitrogen to cool a CPU.

“It was amazing and a little intimidating,” said Alec Nordlund, a mechanical engineering student and the group’s vice chair. “There was so much interest from industry professionals.”

That exposure is just what Gess and Harrison were hoping for.

“The students on the team are learning fundamental thermodynamic principles years before they would typically see them in their coursework,” Gess said. “Industry partners love that we are preparing our students for more impactful experiences at their internships.”

The students overclocking experience has fed directly into their academic work, with many using it as the basis for their senior capstone projects.

“These are undergraduate projects with undergraduates doing the heavy lifting,” Harrison said. “They are coming up with these ideas, they’re coming up with the designs, and they’re coming up with the solutions.”

“The computers we’re working are like Ferrari’s,” said Rachel McAfee, a junior in mechanical engineering and the group’s president. “If I can solve a thermal problem on the equivalent of a sports car, I can solve anything.”

A league of their own… for now
The OSU Overclocker team.

The OSU Overclocker team.

So far, overclocking in the United States has largely been the realm of hobbyists and industry professionals. There are no intercollegiate completions. The Oregon State team is trying to change that.

Harrison has been heading an effort to form a new university league where schools can compete against each other on a level playing field. He and Gess are talking with a core group of universities and sharing best practices for how to apply overclocking in an academic setting. They hope to launch the league this coming academic year.

“We’re on the forefront of this,” Harrison said. “It will be interesting to see how this develops as it expands because I think each group at each university is going to be unique and they’re not going to be cookie cutters.”

Gess is also up for the competitive challenge and looking toward a future of collegiate rivalries. “I am so excited to see where this goes, especially when we start beating other universities,” said Gess. “Since we are the first, we will have the leg up, but we know the competition will be fierce once other universities figure out what we have going on here at Oregon State University.”

If you would like to learn more about OSU Overclockers or how to join the league, email Matt Harrison,

Aug. 26, 2019

Two undergraduates spearhead scholarships to Grace Hopper Celebration

Scholarship recipients at the Grace Hopper Celebration: (left to right) Elisabeth Mansfield, Stephanie Hughes, Sharlena Luyen, Sumegha Aryal, Clair Cahill, and Kaitlin Hill.

Attending the world’s largest gathering of women technologists was transformational for Stephanie Hughes, a computer science undergraduate. But it wasn’t enough for her.

“I was just one person and I wanted to make sure other women at Oregon State had that experience,” said Hughes who is the president of Oregon State’s women’s chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM-W OSU).

She teamed up with Sharlena Luyen who was similarly motivated to help women attend the Grace Hopper Celebration.

“I have huge passion for helping women expand their career paths in STEM and when I found out that OSU doesn’t offer any type of funding to send women to go to this conference, I thought something had to be done,” said Luyen a computer science undergraduate who is the outreach coordinator for Leadership Academy and an ambassador for College of Engineering.

Hughes and Luyen worked with staff in the College of Engineering to make the scholarship a reality. The funding was made possible through a joint effort of the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, the College of Engineering, the OSU Women’s Giving Circle, and the Association for Computing Machinery—Women’s Chapter.

Seven undergraduates in computer science, including one Ecampus student from New York, received scholarships to attend the Grace Hopper Celebration which was held in Houston, Texas this year.

“I loved all the opportunity it provided through internships and professional development, but also meeting other women in computer science and seeing what they are up to was really interesting to me,” said Katlin Hill, a computer science student who received one of the scholarships. At the conference, Hill had nine interviews and received internship offers from Macy’s, Nike, and Juniper Networks.

There were over 500 exhibitors and 20,000 attendees at this year’s conference.

“It was valuable because not all of these companies come to Oregon State’s campus. And not only that, but they were looking specifically for women in computing,” said Luyen who had over 30 interviews with companies including Apple, Facebook, Google, Sonos, Purview Solution, and Northwestern Mutual.

All of the scholarship recipients will be sharing their experiences at an awardee presentation on November 14, 2018 3:00 – 4:00 p.m. People can show their support for promoting and retaining women in computer science by attending the presentation or filling out a Google form.

Nov. 14, 2018
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