Emil Kallina, a parent of one current Taylor CSE student and a member of the Parents’ Cabinet, is an attorney from Maryland who is one of the staff leaders of Charitable Planning, a Web site designed to maximize the ability of philanthropic donors to give to various organizations by providing people a simple education in the intricacies of charitable donations.
Kallina hired Luke Ehresman, a 2004 Taylor CSE graduate, as the Chief Technical Officer for charitableplanning.com. Kallina and Ehresman used their Taylor connections to involve CSE professors and students with the project over the past several years.
“We have always wanted to involve Taylor students and professors in the project for our mutual benefit,” Ehresman said. “It is a great opportunity for Taylor students to work on a real-life project, and we also gain from having fresh perspectives on the problems we are trying to solve.”
Last summer, the group finished the majority of the work on the Web site. CSE senior Spencer Creasey and sophomores David Colgan and Jesse Denardo worked with Ehresman on the project.
Colgan worked on optical character recognition technologies that allow the legal documents that make up the database of charitableplanning.com to be scanned, which gives users a chance to search for documents based on words in the text.
Colgan said this is the first major coding project he had worked on. “It was a unique experience writing code for a job rather than for a class,” he said.
“There is more pressure to make sure that the code really worked, because it is code someone would actually use, and people would be paying for it,” Colgan said.
Denardo worked with Colgan on the OCR coding and did other work for the Web site, including writing scripts to crawl the Web looking for updates about relevant charitable donation news and working with cross-linking the documents. After the school year started, Denardo continued working with Ehresman by adding a research folder feature to organize documents, enhancing the search page and improving the automatic e-mail system.
Denardo said that working for a real employer taught him about focusing on that employer’s requirements.
“As a programmer, I feel that I grew quite a bit . . . along the lines of learning how to write things that are actually going to be used by customers, so every aspect of the project had to work with no margin for error,” Denardo said.
Work is still being done on the project, which is one of many ongoing, real-world coding projects CSE majors at Taylor University are exposed to.
(Article written by Andrew Neel ’09)
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