Profile: Byron Wallace

Computer Science alum Byron C. Wallace began his computing experience in the UMass RIPPLES (Research in Presentation Production for Learning Electronically) lab following his sophomore year in high school. He continued to work for RIPPLES and several other labs through high school and his undergraduate program at UMass, culminating with his selection for the outstanding systems student award at graduation in 2006.

"Working in a lab gave me first-hand experience with software development as well as an academic research environment which you just can't get from classes," said Wallace. "Understanding what the research environment is like has spurred me to want to attend grad school. I think solely taking classes could be wearing."

While still in high school he took computer programming courses at Greenfield Community College. He believes these courses gave him a leg up when he began freshman year at UMass. He feels that the introductory GCC courses were extremely valuable and helped him succeed at UMass. He also credits the opportunity to bounce questions off RIPPLES senior software engineer, Ken Watts, as well as his father, Gary, a longtime technical staff person in Computer Science who now works for the Astronomy Department.

Wallace started with RIPPLES encoding multimedia content for the UMass distance education program. Over his six years (four as an undergrad) at UMass, Wallace worked on a number of projects including multimedia encoding, graphics creation, flash animation, programming customized multimedia authoring tools, an application for web-based collaboration and a java based version of the lab's MANIC courseware (jMANIC). He developed an innovative Web-based archive/lab notebook for CMPSCI 496a, a wireless networks course. Wallace participated in the class as a student, and also used a video camera to capture class presentations and projects. He uses the RIPPLES authoring tools to post the classes on the Web. Wallace presented his undergraduate research at several national conferences. "Presenting a scholarly paper in front of a room full of people you don't know is a great experience," said Wallace. "It also gave me the chance to see what other research groups are doing in this area."

Wallace began graduate school in fall 2006 at Tufts to explore bioinformatics research where he is involved in a joint Tufts CS/Chemistry project on "talking bacteria."