University of Colorado student uses Foundation support to solve computer science problems at local non-profit

Saturday, January 31st, 2015

By Ashley Jeanne Dernaley (WennersHerron)*

 

Zach Doyle

Zach Doyle

Zach Doyle can’t remember a time when he wasn’t interested in computer science.

“I spent most of my childhood summers attending and, later, working at, computer camp in my hometown of Bethesda, Maryland,” Zach said. “I’ve always liked the unambiguous nature of formal languages and the underlying logic they express.”

Thanks to The Casey Feldman Memorial Foundation, Zach, currently a junior at the University of Colorado Boulder, had the opportunity to expand and apply his programming skills in a big way. He was awarded a computer science scholarship to use his technological skills as an intern at the Boulder Food Rescue (BFR) non-profit organization.

Boulder Food Rescue aims to revitalize the food pantry system to get food that would otherwise be wasted to people who might otherwise go hungry. Local businesses load Boulder Food Rescue bins with soon-to-expire fresh produce. Volunteers hook the bins to their bicycles and deliver the payload to soup kitchens and other organizations able to distribute the food. The system works—if everything is tracked properly to make sure food isn’t wasted due to missed pick-ups or double deliveries. That’s where Zach came in.

 Boulder Food Rescue diverts thousands of pounds of fresh produce every day which otherwise would be disposed of


Boulder Food Rescue diverts thousands of pounds of fresh produce every day which otherwise would be disposed of

Zach had previously worked with a homeless shelter that was chronically under-supplied, and he was familiar with the problems of waste in food distribution systems. He was eager to help Boulder Food Rescue address those problems using his unique skill set.

“I worked with the Food Rescue Robot, which, misleadingly, is not a robot but a dynamic webpage,” Zach said. The webpage was designed with the help of Sean Wiese, the first University of Colorado student to receive a computer science stipend from the Casey Feldman Memorial Foundation. Sean graduated in 2013.

Under the mentorship of Caleb Phillips, the Food Rescue Robot’s original designer and an adjunct professor at the University of Colorado, Zach quickly learned how to improve the software needed for the food transfer process.

“Zach came into the project with very little experience directly applicable to the task. Nevertheless, he picked up concepts quickly,” Caleb said, also mentioning Zach’s kindness and thoughtfulness as a worker. “I enjoyed working with him.”

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Pick- ups and deliveries are made by bicycle to minimize the impact on the environment

Zach spent much of his internship updating the Food Rescue Robot to allow for a more efficient and useful delivery system. When he started, the Food Rescue Robot could track a donor location, a recipient location and the food items that could be transferred. Zach taught the system to track schedule chains, consisting of multiple stops to ensure that the foods available arrive promptly at the places that need them the most.

“Through this internship, I gleaned more skills while working on a real project with a real organization,” Zach said. “I found it immensely satisfying to work on a real project with real consequences, as opposed to writing the same code every Computer Science major before has written.”

Caleb said the code Zach wrote for the Food Rescue Robot is now an integral part of the tool, and it’s used by 22 cities internationally to track food recovery. The system has rescued 1.13 million pounds of food to date, with the help of 949 volunteers.

“I can confidently say that more food will get to more people who need it because of the computer code I wrote,” Zach said. “There is, as far as I’m concerned, no feeling that compares to applying one’s self—in a skilled capacity—for the greater good.”

Please consider donating to the Casey Feldman Foundation to aid not only students, but also local communities.

Related Links:

“Foundation Establishes Computer Science Student/Non-Profit Partnership; Recipient Helps the Hungry”, Casey Feldman Foundation, Nov. 2012

“Class project helps divert 170,000 pounds of food from the dumpster”,  University of Colorado – Boulder, Oct. 2012

“Sean Wiese Receives First Casey Feldman Award for his work with Boulder Food Rescue“,  Department of Computer Science, University of Colorado – Boulder

 

Ashley (L) & Casey, 2008

Ashley (L) & Casey, 2008

 

* Ashley and Casey were friends and editors on The Observer, the student newspaper at Fordham University’s Lincoln Center campus. Ashley currently works as a science writer in Roanoke, VA.

 

Foundation Scholarship Recipients Recognized at Fordham Awards Banquet

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

Brooke Burdge (left), Joel Feldman, Dianne Anderson and Ashley Wennersherron at the Senior Leadership Awards Banquet

Fordham University recognized Brooke Burdge  and Ashley Wennersherron at the Senior Leadership Awards banquet held on April 27, 2010  in the Atrium at  the Lincoln Center campus. Brooke and Ashley were recognized  as the first  recipients of the Casey A. Feldman Memorial Scholarship which was established at Fordham University, where Casey was a senior at the time of her death. Brooke and Ashley were both friends of Casey and had worked with her on the  Fordham student newspaper, The Observer. Rev. Michael Tueth, S.J., Associate Chair of the Department of Communications and Media recognized the recipients. In noting just a few of the many impressive undertakings of these  fine young women, Father Tueth  mentioned that both Brooke and Ashley made time in their schedule to do volunteer work with animals (something  also dear to Casey’s heart).

Both women received a $2,000 scholarship this semester from the Casey Feldman Memorial Foundation to assist with finances while performing unpaid internships. Brooke interned in the Sales and Marketing Department of the Ritz Carlton Hotel, Central Park. Ashley interned at CNN in the Medical News Department. Brooke hopes to secure full time employment with The Ritz upon graduation and Ashley will be attending Columbia University doing graduate work in journalism. [See the Foundation’s previous news article, “Congratulations Brooke and Ashley!” ,1-14-10, for more information.]

Ashley also received  the University’s  Journalism Award and Brooke, an award as nominee for a Senior Leadership Award.

[Note: Watch the video of Father Tueth recognizing Brooke and Ashley and see more photos from the awards banquet . Give other deserving young people opportunities and contribute to the Casey Feldman Memorial Foundation.

Congratulations Brooke and Ashley!

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

Brooke & Casey at a Fordham Alumni Event in June 2008

Congratulations are in order for Brooke Burdge and Ashley WennersHerron, both seniors at Fordham College at Lincoln Center, who are the first recipients of the Casey Feldman Award.

Both women are friends of Casey and are fellow Communication students who have worked with Casey on the Fordham Lincoln Center newspaper, The Observer. The award is funded by the Casey A. Feldman Memorial Endowed Fund, and will provide support for the recipients, who are each pursuing a degree in Communication and Media Studies. 

This year, as a tribute to Casey’s graduating class, the award was given to two students, who will each receive $2000. With the financial support of the fund, the recipients are able to take advantage of an unpaid internship in their area of interest in the Communications field.

In the upcoming spring semester, Brooke will be interning at The Ritz-Carlton Central Park as the marketing and sales assistant for the

Ashley & Casey at the ACP’s National College Journalism Convention Mar. 2008

entertainment division Her duties will include market research for upcoming events in NYC as well as research and analysis on other New York luxury hotels in the Ritz-Carlton competitive set. Brooke will also be providing customer service and sales assistance  for potential clients and current guests. 

Ashley will be interning for the second consecutive semester in the medical unit at CNN. She will continue contributing to Paging Dr. Gupta”, Sanjay Gupta’s CNN blog, and researching in the edit bay. Additionally, she will begin associate producing packages for broadcast and writing articles for cnn.com/health.