Phillip Igoe: Research in software engineering

Phillip Igoe

Phillip Igoe '17—‌who's majoring in computer science with an option in software engineering—spent the summer interning with the Global Aquaculture Alliance (GAA) on an aquaculture data science project sponsored by Preferred Freezer and advised by Prof. David Koop. The Andover resident has also worked with Prof. Ramprasad Balasubramanian on a web application project for the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).

A growing interest in software engineering

My interest in software engineering began during high school when I took a class in Java. From there on, I began to work on my own software projects such as web applications and mobile games. In my early years of software development, I made several different applications which made me interested in what I could make and learn next.

The GAA aquaculture data science project's goal was to utilize data scraping methods in order to collect as many facilities and companies which were involved with aquaculture farming. The resulting database will be a valuable asset for the GAA in their goal of retaining a global index of all these aquaculture facilities.

I worked with three graduate students on the project. I was the team lead for the project, due to my existing knowledge and experience with data science projects and applications. We were able to produce a database with over 6,500 facilities from around the world, along with a web application to explore these facilities in a graphical manner.

One of the big things I learned from this project was how to effectively lead a team in order to accomplish a goal. By establishing a routine, along with good communication, I was able to ensure the project's successful delivery along with the rest of the team. I also learned a lot about aquaculture and its importance. ­Due to the fact that aquaculture is such an efficient way to produce consumable food, it will play a key part in sustaining the growing global population.

Research with the U.S. Department of Transportation

The spring load restriction project is a web application that deals with the creation of an automated weather data collection system that measures temperature from locations across New Hampshire and Maine. Algorithms are written to process this weather data. DOT officials use the results of these data calculations when deciding when to close roads during the seasonal transition from winter to spring.

I took an active role in the project my freshman year by maintaining and adding new features to the web application, while working with another student. During my sophomore year, I became the project lead. I redesigned and reimplemented the entire application to a more scalable, commercial ready application.

By working on this project, I solidified my understanding of both the back-end PHP framework Symfony2, along with the database ORM Doctrine. I also gained a deeper understanding of the front-end JavaScript MVC framework EmberJS and how to write web applications to visual large datasets. In addition, I also became very good at maintaining and writing automated commands to import and process large quantities of data, for the system currently retains over half a million individual sensor readings.

Benefits of research 

I've had a very positive experience working with both Dr. Bala and Dr. Koop on research projects. They challenge me to produce the best work I can and help me expand my knowledge of different problems impacting our world. Working with both these faculty members has been a very beneficial experience overall—one that has helped me grow as an individual. 

Research enriches my education, as it provides an outlet for me to apply my abilities to create useful applications. The application of my skills in research yields invaluable experience with working individuals of different education departments and fields of study. I'm able to show prospective employers functional applications, which demonstrates the level and scope of my abilities. Participating in research definitely makes me consider pursuing a master's degree.

The secret to achieving an impressive 3.95 GPA

I always read what is important in the book and study for exams. There is no secret—just put in the work, and you can do well academically.

More information

News: Students to build a global aquaculture facilities database

Academic program: Software engineering


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