A TransitScreen for Harvard University's CS50 Course

Posted by Matt Caywood, CEO on 7/27/15 12:11 AM

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In college at Harvard, I was a computer science (CS) major. At the time, CS was a fairly sleepy field of study, with only 50 majors each year. CS50, the rigorous introductory course to my field, had 200 students. Not many compared to the college’s largest course, an easy intro to Biblical criticism that drew 1000 students.

Times have changed. A major business magazine just ran a whole issue explaining computer code to the layperson. And my undergrad classmate David Malan took over CS50 and turned it into a college-wide juggernaut, attracting 1000 students a year to learn and practice computer science. And, in another change, 577,765 students are participating remotely through Harvard’s EdX platform.

Knowing that, I was thrilled to get an email from David asking whether TransitScreen might donate a display for CS50’s new lab space at the edge of campus. We would be helping college students get around a far-flung but urban campus using sustainable transportation like buses, campus shuttles, bikeshare, the T subway, as well as shared Uber vehicles.

The new TransitScreen will also demonstrate how apps can combine multiple real-time information sources (or as David put it, “inspire students to develop their own API-based apps”). It turns out that in the new CS50, the web technologies we use at TransitScreen are a major part of the curriculum: week 7 is layout (HTML/CSS), week 8 is our backend (PHP and databases), week 9 is our frontend (JavaScript).

So, if you’re a CS50 graduate (local or remote) with a passion for web development and information visualization, drop us a line! And here’s hoping that someday I’ll be invited to give a CS50 guest lecture like some other well-known alumni!

P.S. This is going to be our second screen at Harvard -- there’s also one at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, where our Boston Area City Manager Marcus Goodwin is currently enrolled. And earlier this year, we were a finalist in the Harvard Real Estate Venture Competition.

Topics: Company News, Universities