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Connecting Kingston teens with computer science

By Andrew Stokes, Communications Officer

Brandon Turner leans over his keyboard and with a few key strokes shows what he’s spent this summer working on. A digital rendering of an enormous vertebra fossil appears on his computer screen, followed by a chipped femur and then the hulking skull of a haudrosaur, the duck-billed dinosaur of the Cretaceous period.

Brandon Turner is working this summer as an intern at the Queen's School of Computing.

As part of the Queen’s School of Computing’s (QSC) high school internship program, Mr. Turner is working during his summer break to create a digital catalogue of a collection of dinosaur bones. Under the supervision of Dr. David Rappaport, he’s made a system that links together 3D renderings of bones and display pieces with their provenance information to be used when staging museum exhibits.

A native of Kingston’s west end and a student at Frontenac High School, 17-year-old Turner has been working full-time at the QSC since July. “Everyone’s been really helpful and welcoming at Queen’s,” he says. “They’ve gone out of their way to make me feel comfortable. I’m so glad I applied and would suggest it to anyone.”

Interested in computer science from a young age, Mr. Turner first formally studied the subject when he was in tenth grade. Because of his aptitude for the subject, his teacher suggested he apply for an internship. “It’s taught me a bunch of new skills and given me job experience, which is great,” he says. “I’ve also had to learn a new programming language, which was tough at first, but I’ve gotten better at it.”

The QSC has been hosting high school internships since 2009, when they took on a single student. Now in its fifth year of operation, they host seven students, who have their computing interests matched to a professor’s project.

“The high school internships program is wonderful both for the students and for us,” says Dr. Selim Akl, Director of the QSC. “Getting to work with a variety of people in a university setting is a great opportunity for the interns and we love the chance to reach out to the community.”

Paid for by the QSC, the internships focus on a variety of different topics such as biomedical computing, cognitive science, software design and others.

When asked what his plans are for the future, Mr. Turner proudly stated he hopes to study computer science. “Queen’s is at the top of my list,” he says.

More information on the Queen’s University Internship in Computing (QUIC) can be found on their website.