Jayci Wimmer is a senior computer technology major with a minor in business administration for computer technology. She is from Peru, Indiana, and found her passion after taking advantage of the technology centered classes that were offered at her school.
At Ball State, she found a mentor in Dr. Chris Davison, a professor in the Center for Information and Communication Sciences. He encouraged her to get involved with research early and apply for the prestigious Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship in the Internet of Things (SURF-IoT).
Just before the fall 2023 semester started, Wimmer was wrapping up with the fellowship and soaking up as much of the California sun as she could before returning to campus. And, thanks to her experiences with SURF-IoT, she feels even more passionate about the future she is pursuing through CCIM’s Computer Information and Technology program.
What made you choose Ball State?
I didn’t want to be too far from home, and also some of my favorite teachers at my high school graduated from Ball State.
And I think I require some one-on-one time to really get the information drilled into my brain. I know at Purdue and IU, it probably would be really hard to get that one-on-one time with my professors, but here at Ball State, my classes are like 15-23 people, so it’s not very hard to just pull my professor over and just ask him a question and have him explain it to me easily and clearly.
What initially sparked your passion in the field you’re pursuing?
I took a web design class in, I think, my sophomore year of high school and it was a lot of fun … I took a networking class my senior year — it was at a college level — and I was like one of two females in that class, and I was at a table with like all guys. They always came to me for help studying. It’s like I just knew it, like it just came to me very easily. And I took a PC hardware and software class that I thought were a lot of fun and not too challenging.
What are some of the projects you’ve worked on while at Ball State?
In my sophomore year, I stared working with Dr. Chris Davison in the Applied Technology Building. I was writing a research paper with him, and then he pulled me in to work on this overall project that he was working on with people back at the University of California Irvine (UCI) — it’s called Care-DEX.
Care-DEX is a smart platform that will be used in nursing homes and senior living facilities so that paramedics and EMTs, police officers — if there is a disaster and the nursing home needs evacuated, they can just hop on the Care-DEX platform and see where each resident is located, their status, if they have like a dog that also needs evacuated, and information like that.
I was mainly assigned to work on the portal which is like a website that the senior living facilities use to put in their own residential data and then run these drills. Like out in California, they have to worry about earthquakes, so they can hop on there and run an earthquake drill … so everyone is up to date on how to properly evacuate the seniors.
Are there any other projects or milestones you’re particularly proud of from your time in CCIM so far?
The first time I met Dr. Davison was when I was a sophomore, and I had a systems administration class with him. One of our assignments was to write a research paper over a topic of our choice, so I just chose to write about systems administration as a whole and what the career is, what you need to do to get into the career, and the pay and the benefits of it. Dr. Davison decided to take that paper and expand it into a bigger paper, so he, his G.A. Erin Boomershine, and I just expanded that paper … and sent it in to a journal and it got accepted.
Can you tell us a little bit more about the fellowship you had this summer?
I think they call it a fellowship; I just keep calling it a research internship, but it was called the Internet of Things for Smart Communities (IoT-SITY) under the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) umbrella. I pretty much just did research with a really good professor at UC Irvine.
How did you learn about the fellowship you had this summer?
Dr. Davison’s G.A. last year — Erin Boomershine — did this program online and she was a mentor for me throughout my junior year and this year. She did it and told me I should do it, and Dr. Davison really pushed me to do it.
Why do you think you were chosen for this fellowship?
Being connected to Dr. Davison and already having written a research paper as a sophomore and just doing a lot of work with him already, … it really pushed me through the door, and it motivated me to do more.
What did you do during the fellowship?
There were only seven of us and each of us were assigned to a different mentor … and we were all on different kinds of tasks. There was only me and one other girl that was assigned to work on Care-DEX. At the beginning of the program, we did more of the SURF material where we would go to workshops and we would learn how to write a proper statement of purpose or a personal history statement … for a research paper. SURF was more to get us prepared for grad school, and then IoT-SITY was more like our own little group and that’s when I worked on Care-DEX. We would have like two workshops a week with SURF and then we would go to lunch, and then we would go to our labs and just work for five hours — our day-to-day was 9-5.
Then, after 5 o’clock we would go eat dinner and … then just go explore California. A lot of us are from the East Coast or Midwest, so California was a new adventure to us and we just did as much traveling as we possibly could.
What was the best part about this opportunity for you?
Definitely meeting the people that I’ve met. I’ve met a lot of friends that like, just this weekend a few of my friends from California flew into Kentucky and we went to a four-day music festival together. So just making those connections with people from all across the United States is really cool. And we did a lot of traveling. I’ve never been to the west coast, and so every chance we had we went to the beach, we went to Universal Studios, we went to L.A., Santa Monica — it was a lot of fun. I made a lot of memories.
What was the hardest part of the fellowship?
I had to code a website, and I had to learn a whole new (programming) language. I am not a coder, I am not a computer science major, I’m a computer technology major, so coding is not my thing, and it was kind of difficult to force myself to learn how to code in just five or six weeks. I was just telling them “I might need help with this because I don’t know how to like connect my website to a server or how to make a proper login page for the senior living facilities or how to keep their data stored,” and security is a big issue.
And I had to do a lot of speaking … and I had to get over that fear because I had to do it like four times a week. Every Thursday, IoT-SITY came together as a whole and we would have to make PowerPoints to a room full of professors and other students updating people on what we’re doing. And then, at the very end of the program, we had a big symposium and so I had to make a poster and they printed it out on a piece of really good cloth and hung it up on an easel. I was in a room with like 30 other students and people would just come in, come up to our easel, and we would just have to give them like a 5–7-minute spiel of what we were doing.
How will this experience impact your future?
It definitely gave me some connections with some really high-up people. It just fueled my motivation to continue doing this because it was a lot of fun and I learned a lot.
What advice do you have for underclassmen or people looking to pursue the same fellowship?
Don’t be afraid to make those connections with your professors and get on good terms with them. Don’t be afraid to ask questions even if you ask a fellow student in your class, be like “Hey, do you want to meet up and study together or something?” That’s very helpful. Just put yourself out there, don’t just stay in your bubble.