Eva Snyder Gets Creative with Computer Code

Friday, March 14, 2014 - 5:30pm
Eva Snyder ’17 holds a prototype of her invention, Music Touch.

Eva Snyder '17 had never done computer coding before arriving at Mount Holyoke in September.  But just one semester later, she is teaching others how to build computer circuits, has created her own computer-aided product, and is presenting at computer science gatherings.

“I love computer science because it’s all about solving puzzles,” she says. “I also enjoy inventing, and computer science is a perfect way to be creative. You can design websites and create apps. And you can turn something as simple as making an LED blink into something much more sophisticated in only a few tiny steps.”

Snyder’s first tech-enhanced creation is Music Touch, a tool to help people learn to read music and sight-sing. Her prototype is a canvas painted with standard musical notes. When the user touches a note, conductive sensors trigger a recording of Snyder’s voice singing and naming that note. “Seeing and hearing the note will help engrave the information in your brain,” she explains. It’s simple, but that’s the point.

The first-year seminar Snyder took, iDesign Studio, was built to show students how little technological background they need to build useable electronic products. Music Touch was her final project for the course, and now she’s presenting it at the New England Undergraduate Computing Symposium.

Snyder also demonstrated Music Touch to students at last month’s “MakerJam,” in which students take a project from idea, through development, to a prototype in a single day. She co-organized the creative blitz event, giving participants a crash course in building computer circuits so they could start their own computerized projects.

Snyder also has a deep interest in music, her probable minor. She started violin at age three, and later taught herself guitar. Now she continues classical guitar lessons, plays violin in the Mount Holyoke Symphony Orchestra, and has just joined the V-8s a cappella group.

Looking ahead, Snyder sees computer science as “the perfect way to turn my interest in music into a career. When I graduate, I want to join a company using computer science with music to produce something like [the musical composition software program] Sibelius.”

Such a career path would harmonize Snyder’s technological and artistic interests nicely.

—By Emily Harrison Weir