Section: Features

Enterprising sophomore brings Silicon Valley to Ohio

Enterprising sophomore brings Silicon Valley to Ohio

While Kenyon is less well-known for its technology than for its English programs, Sam Troper ’18 wants to change the perception of tech on campus, in part through his new role as a Microsoft Student Partner (MSP).

The MSPs are part of a worldwide program in which college-level students are sponsored — both financially and with contacts — to share their love of technology at their campus. They are expected to master the latest Microsoft technologies as well as be leaders in their communities, usually by directing workshops or initiating tech-focused projects.

Troper, a mathematics and economics major with a concentration in scientific computing, was a perfect candidate. He is the president of Kenyon’s Computing Club and conducted Python programming research with Assistant Professor of Economics PJ Glandon this past summer. Additionally, for the past two summers, he’s worked at a science and technology camp teaching computer science and programming.

He applied last summer but was not accepted during the first round. When the program expanded in December, Troper was admitted for this semester and intends to continue in this program until he graduates as long as he is accepted each year.

“Microsoft wants to reach out to students,” Troper said. “I wanted to apply because it will help me do things that I’m already doing, especially with Computing Club.” The program provides him with resources such as money for projects, but Troper was most interested in what MSP could do for his club and Kenyon’s student body, which is why the majority of his attention is still directed at the Computing Club.

The Computing Club — more popularly known in their emails as “Hack the Hill” — is currently working on an app to replace Safe Rides, a former Kenyon Greek-run service that provided free transportation to students on weekend nights, that, according to Troper, is “nearly done.”  The idea was conceived at the beginning of the fall semester and development picked up in November.

The app will allow one to submit a pick-up and drop-off location and number of passengers and will send a confirmation code to provide a safer way to get ride. Additionally, the app sends a text when the vehicle is at the pick-up location.

Troper’s obligation as an MSP requires him to run events “where I teach something about programming or using Cloud computing,” Troper said. “The only requirements that Microsoft gives me is that it has to be computing-related and I have to get certain attendance to those events.”

On Sunday, Troper, cosponsored by Computing Club and Microsoft, hosted his first workshop, teaching students how to pitch tech products. Troper gave an example pitch before splitting the students into groups. They then worked on their pitches and presented them to a panel of judges, including Troper.

The winners of the pitch contest were awarded prizes: first and second place received $20 and $10 gift cards, respectively.

Troper’s ongoing projects include finalizing the Safe Rides-inspired app.

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