Schmidt ’14 Builds Weather Data Device – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Schmidt ’14 Builds Weather Data Device

Blending his interests in computer science and environmental studies, Nick Schmidt ’14 is working on an Honors project that has the potential to shape how weather information is gathered.

Under the guidance of his Honors adviser, Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science John Vaughn, Schmidt is developing a sensory station that measures weather profile features such as humidity and barometric pressure, and relays that information back to a corresponding mobile app. The cube-shaped sensory station is intended to be placed next to user’s property where it collects information about the surroundings.

“The best part about this project is that it does combine my two fields of study,” says Schmidt, who is captain of the Statesmen cross country team. “I have always been interested in environmental issues and how we can solve them. I think computer science can be a huge factor in helping to solve some of these issues and I am hoping to use my background to just that.”

Along the way, Vaughn has provided Schmidt with expertise and insights on how to plan and complete the project. He says Schmidt took the initiative to devise the basic idea.

“I have provided guidance on the electronics part of the project and acted as sounding board for his design ideas and provide a number of technical resources for him to pursue to learn more about these kinds of sensor projects,” says Vaughn, who is the chair of the Committee on Honors.

Vaughn says there are two parts to Nick’s project. The first part, he says, involves designing, prototyping, and building the actual sensor cube. The second phase is for Nick to design and code an iOS app that would allow a user to share locally-collected data via a website and database.

One of the major underlying goals of the project is to work on linking the hardware and software components together, Schmidt says. Despite the technical intricacies of the project, Schmidt says that an additional project goal is to develop a device that could be used by those who don’t have a background in computer science or the like.

In light of his efforts, Schmidt says he’s learned an enormous amount about planning projects of this caliber. “One of the tough parts about doing these projects is that you can’t just start creating the device,” he says. “It takes a lot of thought and planning.”

While his Honors project is underway, Schmidt remains actively engaged on campus. Currently, he serves as both president of the Kappa Alpha Society and captain of the Hobart cross country team.

Looking to the future, Schmidt hopes to use the skills he’s developing at HWS as a springboard for professional pursuits after graduation.

“My goal since day one has to been to try and use my skill set to help people look at the world in a different way,” Schmidt says. “My hope is to continue to work on projects like this one that make important issues relevant to our society and to help solve those issues.”