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Computer science student Prashant Timalsina uses skills in regional coding contest

By Cait Kemp

Known for its renowned health science and sports medicine related majors, Springfield College has attracted thousands of students for its Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, and Athletic Training programs — just to name a few.

However, there are many lesser-known majors at this school that are still doing impressive work and giving students a well-rounded education on Alden St. One of these underdog programs is the computer science department.

Prashant Timalsina, a sophomore in the computer science and multimedia design programs, recently competed in a computer coding competition called “Hack Holyoke.” This program is a 24 hour “hackathon” run by Mount Holyoke College students, who invite college students of all levels to virtually join them in the competition.

According to its website, “Hack Holyoke” strives for and achieves a 1:1 gender ratio, and looks to “shatter misconceptions about STEM fields and to celebrate diversity in these fields through creating an inclusive environment for anyone regardless of gender, racial, or academic background.”

The program also included workshops that students could attend to learn more about different topics such as LinkedIn, Web Development, Intro to Robotics, and more. They had a schedule of events so participants were able to find what they were interested in and attend the sessions they wanted.

Tinalsina was joined by Nadia Salett, a senior in the multimedia design program, for the hackathon and together they created a Covid-related facts card matching game that was fully functional and created by scratch through coding.

“We were there, scratching our heads trying to come up with an idea…we basically didn’t take any breaks in between. We were there doing our thing and we are so happy that we actually made it,” said Timalsina.

Salett designed all the graphics for the cards, sketched digitally by hand. Timalsina generated all of the codes for the game, in order for the cards to flip over, match with their pairs, and even include background music and sound effects.

“We did make it from scratch… It was so hard. We did it all by ourselves,” he said. He noted that many people may use graphics found on the internet, but they used Salett’s designs that she created herself.

As only a sophomore, Timalsina has not progressed far into his academic program yet, only taking the basic courses thus far. Much of his knowledge is self-taught, and he has been able to advance far past the level that a student of his age would be expected to be at.

Aside from the Hack Holyoke event, Timalsina has been in the process of creating a website for his father’s business that is in its start-up phase. Through his work outside of school, he has gained offers for internships from Amazon, an opportunity he recognizes as an honor.

Although the computer science program is small, Timalsina hopes to see it grow in the near future. He was able to be a part of the process of hiring a new staff member, and looks forward to working with his peers more in person soon, now that classes are back to a normal-looking schedule.

Computer science is a fascinating field, and Springfield College is helping to create the next generation of these intelligent professionals.

Photo Courtesy Prashant Timalsina

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