A computational science minor – part of the math and computer science department – gives students a foundation and experience in using computer models within a particular discipline. Relatively new at Wittenberg, the minor integrates facets of computer science, mathematics and natural science, and can be a beneficial complement to numerous majors.
"Over the years, we have continued to develop the minor in new ways that integrate the liberal arts and sciences focus into the minor," said Eric Stahlberg, director of computational science and computational scientist-in-residence at Wittenberg.
Within the medical field, computer models are increasingly being used for diagnosis and treatment of diseases. That is one reason Stahlberg worked to facilitate the internships and externships at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus. He has worked with Nationwide for several years.
Steven Bogaerts, assistant professor of computer science, was the first Wittenberg faculty member to participate in an externship with Nationwide Children's Hospital. The externship focused on projects related to digital pathology.
"What we were seeking to accomplish in setting up his externship was to bring real-world experience in software development for medical applications into the Wittenberg computer science department," Stahlberg said. "The partnership with Nationwide was a good first experience that provided a foundation for translating experience into the classroom."
Bogaerts' 10-week externship during the summer of 2008 was a tremendous opportunity for the first-year professor in computer science. While working at the hospital, he was exposed to new technologies that he said gave him an appreciation for challenges that occur in the real world.
"It was a great experience that gave me the opportunity to observe professional practice, which I was then able to transfer into the classroom, as well as into my own research," Bogaerts said.
Wittenberg's connection to Nationwide is creating opportunities for students as well. Molly Tingley, class of 2010 from Ostrander, Ohio, completed an internship at the hospital at the same time as Bogaerts. Bryce Reall, class of 2011 from Sunbury, Ohio, is interning there this summer.
In addition to providing valuable hands-on experience in the medical field, these internships can also open doors for students – a recent Wittenberg graduate and former hospital intern now works at Nationwide full-time.
The faculty externships and some of the student internships are sponsored by Future Jobs, a regional workforce development pilot project funded by the Ohio Board of Regents. Stahlberg described Future Jobs as a "state-funded pilot project that has joined employers with educators across multiple levels to develop and deliver a new context for instruction with a foundation that leads to regional employment in key areas."
Computational science faculty members are understandably excited about the relationship that has evolved between Wittenberg and Nationwide Children's Hospital through these internships and externships. The partnership and others like it figure to open up more opportunities for those wishing to enhance their education with concrete experience in the workplace.
"We are interested in maintaining ties with Nationwide, and we plan to foster more relationships with similar organizations in the area," Bogaerts said.
Stahlberg added that the hospital administrators have expressed enthusiasm about the relationship with Wittenberg.
"Nationwide is very appreciative of the opportunities to help shape students' experiences and guide their preparation for future careers in healthcare and knowledge-based medicine," he said.
Written by: Jenna Oliver '09 and Gabrielle Antoniadis
Photo by: Erin Pence
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