SIGHPC’s Computing4Change Student Profiles – #3 of 3 in a Series

As we are just days away from SC18, SIGHPC wanted you to learn a little bit more about the students who will be participating in the Computing4Change (C4C) competition.

In the final installment, we are sharing short bios of the students (and the student mentors), so that we can all catch a glimpse of the incredible talent and diversity that this program attracts.

Once the competition starts, they will be deeply absorbed in their projects, but you may see them on the Exhibit floor when they come up for air. We wish them all the best in the competition, and in their studies. Look out SC!


Edgar Chavez

Edgar Chavez is a Senior studying Civil Engineering at California State University Los Angeles. He chose CE because he can use math and science to analyze physical objects. By applying these skills, he could help his father’s construction company reach new heights. He’s always had an interest the technical, like machines and electronics (which he would be able to do a lot more with if he could actually be Batman!). Living in LA, it’s hard to get away to spend time in nature, but Edgar does his best to find peace and quiet, unless he’s playing the guitar or the saxophone, and recording music. Our C4C students have so many interests and skills. They have what it takes to change the world!



Shanelle Roman

Shanelle Roman is a Senior studying Computer Science at Yale University. She loves the problem-solving aspect of CS – breaking a problem down into smaller components, and then putting them back together to create something amazing. Turns out she can also create amazing things out of sticks and yarn – she’s an avid knitter. (Maybe she can make socks for Skye and Clara! [see profiles in part 1 and 2] ) CS is a little bit different than her early dreams of being a ballerina, but we know that Shanelle’s upcoming job at Google will keep her on her toes!



Claire Fiorino

Claire Fiorino is a Junior studying Computer Science at San Diego State University. She started college wanting to be an Aerospace Engineer, but switched to CS after her first hackathon. Like Shanelle, Claire wanted to be a ballerina, and still dances in her free time. She also has a collection of souvenir spoons, and she’s sure to scoop up another one in Dallas – when she can take a break from the C4C competition. With hackathon experience already, Claire is ready to go!



Lodewijk (Lou) Brand

Lodewijk (Lou) Brand is another of our student mentors. He is studying for his PhD in Machine Learning/Optimization at Colorado School of Mines. He wants to apply ML to problems in the bioinformatics domain, like diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease. After spending time in Colorado, it’s no surprise that he’s an avid rock-climber. Lou still hasn’t figured out what he wants to be ‘when he grows up,’ but he already has plans for the future – when he finishes his degree, he’ll be working with the Navy in South Carolina. He also enjoys mentoring undergrads, so he’ll be right at home working with the C4C teams.



Madelyn Reyes

Madelyn Reyes is a Senior studying Computer Science at Lipscomb University. She fell into CS after working in a computer repair shop over the summer before she started college. Programming is a little different, but luckily, she took to that right away. She still plays guitar and writes songs, so maybe CS is just a small detour from her mega-hit music career? Madelyn swears she has the most boring phone in the world – she only does things that bring direct benefit to her life, so farewell social media! An impressive choice, and one that we’re sure will help her focus during the C4C competition.



Nicholas Sarkauskas

Nicholas Sarkauskas is a Senior studying Computer Engineering at the Ohio State University. He started young, exploring new concepts and experimenting with his father’s computer. He’s an adventurer, exploring old, abandoned buildings with friends (we hope legally). Like so many of our other C4C students, Nick wanted to play guitar in a band. When he’s not staring at a computer screen, he’s looking to the skies, checking out the planes flying overhead. There will be plenty to do and explore at SC18, when the C4C competition is through!




Bethel Tessema

Bethel Tessema, another program mentor, is a Senior studying Computer Science at Colorado School of Mines. She sees her degree as a tool that she can use to integrate technical solutions into some of the world’s most pressing issues – which is exactly what C4C is all about! Instead of being a reporter, digging for information, Bethel will be using her investigative skills in data science and algorithm design. Away from the computer, she can be found reading fantasy or dystopian novels, or dancing. We hope she finds time to take a twirl around the Exhibit Hall at SC18.



Sophia Riffo-Jenson

Sophia Riffo-Jenson is a Sophomore studying Environmental Studies at Chaminade University of Honolulu. She chose this major because she wants to change the world – to ensure that humanity has a greater connection to the Earth, and teach people more sustainable practices. Traveling internationally has always been her dream, so maybe Sophia will use her environmental activism to see the world. She’s certainly likely to find some exciting soccer (aka ‘football’) matches out there. Sophia is also fascinated by crystals, and we’re sure she will rock the C4C Competition.




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