BOOM (Bits On Our Minds) is an annual showcase of student cutting-edge research in digital technology at Cornell University. It is in its 17th year of running and is organized by the Department of Computing and Information Science in collaboration with the College of Engineering. Cornell students present their projects which feature a variety of disciplines in digital technology such as games, robotics, autonomous vehicles, and smartphone apps. Prizes are awarded to the most creative and innovative projects, and some of the names of the categories are based of the corporate sponsors. BOOM originally started as a simple science fair that only featured Computer Science students. However, it is now an event that promotes large collaboration across many different departments at Cornell University.
According to Amy Fish, the BOOM 2008 coordinator, BOOM is a "chance to say, 'Congratulations, you've been working hard. We think your project is really fabulous; let's show it off!"
In addition to showcasing the creativity and talent of Cornell students, BOOM is also sponsored by well known and large corporations such as Google and Lockheed Martin who send representatives to the event for scouting and nurturing of talent.
Distinct Differences From Other Offerings
Constant Influx of Quality Projects
A large amount of projects at BOOM originated as class projects. There are many classes at Cornell University that involve the creation and the implementation of digital technologies. This is especially the case in the Information and Computer Science Department where there are classes on video game design and robotics. Cornell University and its faculty recognize the number of creative and exciting projects students work on in class or independently. These classes help continue the increase in the number of quality projects at BOOM.
The corporate sponsorship at BOOM plays a large role in attracting students to the event. Big and prestigious companies in different industries such as Google, Yahoo, Cisco Systems, Lockheed Martin, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, and Golman Sachs send representatives to recruit at BOOM. Most schools have fairs that showcase research and class projects but they do not provide powerful incentives and stakes to the extent that BOOM does. The corporate sponsorship adds extra incentive for students to continue their projects and build new inventions.
K-12 Outreach Program
BOOM is free and open to the public. Middle school and High school students and their teachers often attend BOOM. There are special pre-event presentation and showcase sneak peaks available to school groups where they have the opportunity to meet with the Cornell student presenters prior to the general public’s arrival. All BOOM attendees will be able to participate in demonstrations and vote on their favorite project. Last year in BOOM 2013, the Ithaca High School Robotics Club had the opportunity to demonstrate their work before the event. This outreach program gets students excitied about technological innovation even before they are in college.
Impact Achieved For Students and Campus
Bottom line: BOOM gets the Cornell campus excited about student innovation. Classmates have the chance to show each other the efforts of their hard work, to promote innovation by exciting younger students, and to land a job at a well known and prestigious company. For Cornell University as a whole, BOOM enhances its reputation as an innovative campus and through the outreach program, attract motivated and talented high school students.
Steps Required To Bring Resource to Campus
Here are the options for forming an event similar to BOOM on your campus:
- Talk to faculty about encouraging students to share class and capstone projects with the entire university. Host a fun competition that will showcase interdisciplinary work done by both undergraduate and graduate students.
- Provide large incentive for students to participate in the showcase. Collaborate with the faculty to attract representatives from local and large companies to make the showcase a recruiting event. A good strategy for this is to contact alumni who visit for career fairs to attend the event.