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Julia Steed, Catherine Schuman, Alex Shanafield, Amelie Nagle, and Julianna Gallup

Schuman Mentors Female High School Students in Neuromorphic Computing

This summer, Assistant Professor of Computer Science Catherine Schuman mentored two recent high school graduates and a current high school student as they worked on neuromorphic computing projects together. Amelie Nagle graduated from Oak Ridge High School in the spring and started as a freshman at MIT this fall, majoring in computer science. Alex Shanafield also graduated from Oak Ridge in the spring and started as a freshman at MIT this fall, majoring in mechanical engineering. Julianna Gallup started her junior year at Gatlinburg-Pittman High School this fall.

Nagle and Shanafield worked on their senior thesis project with Schuman throughout their senior year at Oak Ridge. Their project applied neuromorphic computing to the domain of autonomous driving of small-scale race cars. They were co-authors as high school students on a journal paper from earlier this year, “Evolutionary vs imitation learning for neuromorphic control at the edge.” They continued this work through the summer, and Gallup joined the team during the summer as well.

Schuman met all three girls through Oak Ridge CS Girls, a non-profit whose goal is to teach computer science topics to middle school girls.

“I met Alex and Amelie because they were volunteers for the program, for which I also serve as a volunteer,” Schuman said. “Specifically, I co-developed and teach the Machine Learning class for ORCS Girls. I met Julianna when she was in middle school when I was teaching machine learning; she was, and continues to be, very interested in the topic and pursued her own projects in machine learning and deep learning from the time she was in seventh grade.”

Schuman, Shanafield and Nagle, together with Julia Steed, a computer science junior, created a poster about their work for the International Conference on Neuromorphic Systems (ICONS). They presented this poster at ICONS in July and won the award for Best In-Person Poster. Steed also worked with Schuman at Oak Ridge National Laboratory when she was a high school student.