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Robotics program leads senior to computer science degree

Feb 9, 2023
A man poses with a robot.
A man poses with a robot.

KOKOMO, Ind. — Building LEGO robots introduced Wesley Grove to his future career.

Now a senior at Indiana University Kokomo, he graduates in May with a degree in computer science, and plans to first become a software engineer, and eventually a professor — both inspired by his experience with FIRST Robotics competition and his research experience at IU Kokomo.

“The first program I wrote was in fifth grade for FIRST Lego Robotics, and I’ve been doing it ever since,” he said. “Research is really rewarding. All the jobs I’ve been happiest with have been helping other people grow and develop. Being able to extend that with my passion for programming, computer science, and research, and being able to get that nice mix of all three is appealing.”

As an IU Kokomo student, Grove researched with Awny Alnusair, associate professor of informatics, developing a library of anti-patterns developers could use to find mistakes in their own code base. An anti-pattern is a commonly used process, structure, or pattern that at first seems to solve a problem, but has more bad consequences than good.

“The library flags something you might want to do differently,” Grove said. “It’s a program that can read someone else’s code to tell them they might be using an anti-pattern. It’s not always apparent that you are.”

Alnusair said Groves has distinguished himself as a committed, self-motivated, and talented student.

“He consistently demonstrates his willingness to go beyond the course requirements to further his own knowledge,” Alnusair said. “During our collaboration on a software engineering research project, Wes demonstrated remarkable abilities to function independently and in a group setting with great creativity and enthusiasm. As the president of the computing club, Wes showed an outgoing personality, strong self-confidence, and excellent social and leadership skills.”

Grove and another student presented the work at the IU Kokomo Undergraduate Symposium in spring 2022, and at the IU Undergraduate Research Conference in Indianapolis during the fall 2022 semester. It was also accepted by the National Conference for Undergraduate Research.

In addition to his studies at IU Kokomo, Grove works at AndyMark, a Kokomo business that develops, manufactures, and distributes mechanical and electrical parts for the mobile and competitive robotics market, and mentors the Kokomo High School TechnoKats robotics team, which he was a member of in high school.

“I’m helping to educate the students about the software side, teaching about different aspects of software, and helping on the mechanical side, because I’ve done that before,” he said. “They’re learning about problem-solving techniques, and I’m helping them understand some of the more advanced math processes they’re coming up against when they’re trying to design their robot, and how they can get past their problems and find solutions.”

Grove appreciates the chance to give back to the team, and to work with people who mentored him in high school.

“A lot of them were mentors when I was on the team, and it’s strange to be considered an equal with them,” he said.

Education is KEY at Indiana University Kokomo.

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