Electrical engineering student gets a charge out of URI

KINGSTON, R.I. — March 31, 1999 — “Just when I think things can’t get any better, something happens to raise the level,” says 20-year-old Mike Smith, a junior studying electrical engineering, of his experiences at the University of Rhode Island. Smith is the creative Web page designer for Dr. Dean Clark’s “puzzling” math pages on the Internet. (See accompanying story). “It’s the first time I did anything interactive. It’s pretty simple, but no one else is doing interactive mathematics this original on the Net,” says Smith. The URI student smiles and mentions there’s an expression that says it takes a stroke of genius to make something look simple. “It just takes someone to do it for the first time,” says Smith. Professor Clark, a resident of Westerly, comments: “World 108 at www.uri.edu/artsci/mth/w108 is a site that Mike and I created as a team with perfect division of labor. It features downloadable courseware, an extensive gallery (including photo-animations), and the interactive mathematics section that Mike referred to. With Mike’s expert help, we have our hands on a new prototype for exposing elementary and interesting mathematics to all students connected to the net. And we’re just at the beginning.” Smith came to URI as a Centennial Scholar from Highland, N.Y., which is near Poughkeepsie. A URI recruiter visited Marlboro School where Smith’s father teaches ninth grade social studies. The recruiter thought URI could offer Mike a Centennial Scholarship and suggested he apply to the University. He received a full scholarship and couldn’t be happier. He has had paid jobs since he was a second-semester freshman. He has been a teaching assistant for the Physics Department, completely redesigned the International Engineering Program Web page, and is currently overhauling the Mathematics Department’s Web Page. As a member of the International Engineering Program, he has traveled to Germany and will spend the next academic year (September through August) at URI’s partner university, The Technische Universitat in Braunschweig. Smith enjoys his Web page work, although he focuses on hardware rather than software in his engineering studies. “I’m basically self-taught on the computers. It’s like a hobby of mine. I’ve been playing with computers for at least 10 years.” When he’s not clicking a mouse, Smith can be found tossing a Frisbee around on campus. He’s an active member of URI’s Ultimate Frisbee Team. “I love it here at URI,” he says. “I really do.” For More Information: Jan Sawyer, 401-874-2116