This semester I completed our project-based Java course “Software Design” and learned a ton. Over the course of the semester, we were given a grid of assignments for completion, and I thought I’d post some of the highlights. I completed 13 short programs that covered topics like GUI using Swing, Multithreading, Networking, and entry-level database work.
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At TigerHacks this year at the University of Missouri, Olivia Sandvold, Ben Weinberg and I, worked together to build “Playground News”: A web app for elementary/adolescent aged kids to read and interact with curated news, and motivate family conversation.

Our goal was to help kids increase their literary ability, learn relevant topics through current news, and then encourage dialog over those concepts with parents through provided parental controls and data-driven tooling with insight reports.
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This fall I’ll be taking on the role of President for the Computer Comfort executive board, and I couldn’t be more excited. I’ve been with the org for two years now, and immediately after my first semester of volunteering, I applied for a position on the board. I knew right away that the club was something I wanted to participate in throughout my four years at Iowa, and I’ve held leadership roles within the club ever since. In that time we’ve grown a ton, so I wanted to share a bit about what we’ve done for the community, and how we’ve grown as a student org on campus.

Our Mission Statement:

Computer Comfort strives to bridge the age gap in Iowa City by educating seniors on today’s technology while building strong relationships in the process.

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⚡ Laserphonic

For a course in Digital Arts this semester, two friends and I grouped together to create a multichannel audio circuit for displaying “Chladni Figures” in a project we called “Laserphonic”.

Chladni Plate ( Plate (

You may have seen these formations on plates such as the one shown above. We set out to recreate the resonant frequency effects visually using lasers, as a way for listeners and artists to see a real-time visualization of harmony and dissonance. We were inspired by Nathan J. Wall, who demoed a similar idea for an acoustics project at USF Music Tech in 2012.
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During local hack day this December, I developed an Alexa skill for students to check bus times through campus transportation. It was a solo project I set out to complete in 10 hours, and as of January of 2019, over 30 students are still actively invoking the skill every week.
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Author's picture

Ben Mitchinson

President of Computer Comfort, Mentorship chair of HackIowa, Engineering Community Resident Assistant, Hackathon + Game Jams participant, and open source contributor.

University of Iowa Engineering

Iowa City, IA