Posted: November 20, 2009
By Madgalena Georgieva '10
This summer Mount Holyoke's Cleo Schneider '11 got a taste of graduate school when she spent ten weeks working on a video fingerprinting project for the Women of Engineering program at the University of Maryland.
"You don't really know what you want until you have done it," Schneider said of the opportunity to pursue serious research.
As a computer science major, she entered the Women in Engineering program with the goal of examining what graduate school is all about. She jumped into the field of video fingerprinting, a technique that allows companies like YouTube and Google to maintain video databases and recognize copyrighted content.
"The coolest part of the project was when we got our demo working, because we had spent so much time looking at those zeros and ones," Schneider said, referring to her computer coding work. "At that point, the magnitude of what we had accomplished really hit me."
Schneider worked on testing an algorithm that could recognize movies according to specific characteristics. She used the movie's timing information and pixel information to create a unique identifier. Because users can now easily edit video, Schneider had to test the efficacy of existing algorithms against certain types of distorted video.
Her graduate mentor, University of Maryland doctoral candidate Avinash Varna, guided her in the coding-intensive project. He shared valuable insights with Schneider about his graduate school experience and research work. She remembers feeling especially inspired by the passion with which Varna and his graduate colleagues discussed their projects.
Schneider not only got a taste of graduate school, but she now also better understands her role in college. She realizes the importance of cross-disciplinary research.
"The internship made me examine what I am doing here at Mount Holyoke. And when I am doing my work, what is it about it that I enjoy doing," she said.