First off, I passed my classes last semester! Yes! I covered the whole spectrum to with an A, B, and C, so I feel very well rounded. :) The C is utter bullshit though; I wish students had more power to hold their professors accountable ... oh well. Also, I got hired to be the lead developer in Neil Heffernan's Artificial Intelligence lab ... yes, we all actually aren't that smart, we just know how to fake it. Totally kidding. Anyway, this is very cool since my tuition is completely paid for, I get some play money of my own, and I get to work on a project that I so desperately wanted to save since I heard about it.
So, AI Lab? A bit of background first. When I was looking for funding in September, the only option I found was working in the AI Lab with Neil Heffernan. This lab isn't a traditional lab, they actually make a product! It's called ASSISTments, and exists at http://www.assistment.org. It's an intelligent tutoring system that's being used in MA schools today. Pretty cool! Or so you think ...
Anyway, I take this job to do a complete UI redesign and some work on a tool the system has. I was redesigning the new tool in Ruby on Rails ... but trying to sell the lab on converting the existing system to Rails! Long story short, now I'm the lead developer in the lab on the Rails conversion, which will take 4 months with 2-3 developers, compared to there 3 years of development. I love you Rails.
So I drove back up to school, only to work on the Assistment project all night long. So from very basic code I made a prototype of the system in 8 hours ... great feeling. Then I demoed it for the team, on no sleep, and talked about it for the whole day with them. Yay for day at work #1. Anyway, since then we have reached the first beta, and will be releasing a beta every week until we are finished. Check out the blog at http://assistment.blogspot.com
and be sure to test it out!
I still have to graduate, so I need a thesis to come out of this. After thinking about the project it seems pretty obvious; how to productize a research project! Companies spend lots of time doing this, and there needs to be a way to do it efficiently (aka 4 months compared to 4 years).