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Bemidji State senior wants to harness the power of data to predict the future


Oct. 13, 2015 — Hannah Hell, a computer science major at Bemidji State University, wants to harness the power of big data to predict the future.

To support her pursuit of this visionary goal, the Littlefork, Minn., senior has won a $1,500 Women@Microsoft Hoppers Scholarship from the Fargo-Moorhead Area Foundation.

The scholarships support women in computer science-related majors who are enrolled at or have been accepted to a college or university in Minnesota, North Dakota or South Dakota.

“At any time there are only three girls in the classes,” Hell said of her computer science coursework at BSU. “We are definitely a minority in the program, so it struck a chord with me that the scholarship was targeting women and supporting them in the computer science field.”

Dr. Marty J. Wolf, professor of mathematics and computer science at BSU, recommended Hell for the scholarship.

“In the first class Hannah took from me, she demonstrated a high level of responsibility and determination to learn and understand,” he said. “She regularly seeks out insight into material that she does not understand, but only after study

and research on her own. She works hard to develop deep understanding.”

Although her decision to become a computer science major didn’t happen until after she was already a student at Bemidji State, technology has been part of Hell’s life since childhood.

“My stepdad had a laptop and I was always taking it apart,” she said. “I looked into the program and it really interested me, and I knew right away from my first class that it was what I wanted to do.”

Looking ahead to her May 2016 graduation, Hell wants to pursue work with medical devices and help guide the development of technology that can be used to save lives.

“If your phone could take the temperature of your skin, then depending on how many instances of the flu were recorded in your area, it could possibly tell you ‘hey, you might want to go get checked out,’” she said. “Data can archive things that have happened to help predict things that might happen again.”

She pointed to an older step-sister, who is a biomedical engineer, and her step-father’s Pacemaker as influences on her decision to pursue biotech.

“Seeing the way technology can save and better people’s lives made a really big impact on me,” she said. “So hopefully that’s where I will end up.”


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