By Shehtaz Huq ’14
Long before Christopher Jones ’13 (Macungie, Pa.) began programming for Lafayette’s Information Technology Services, he was coding and releasing a dozen or so video games for his own website—in middle school.
“Knowing code gives you a skill set that has almost limitless possibilities,” he says. “I can configure my computer to control the lights in my dorm room one day and be running a virtualized phone system the next day. There are endless ways to explore.”
Jones’ passion for programming did not go unnoticed by Jeff Pfaffman, associate professor of computer science. The pair enjoyed two summers of collaboration through Lafayette’s EXCEL Scholars undergraduate research program, which, along with his courses, helped prepare him to make significant contributions on a project with John Fulton, director of network and systems.
“I learned a lot about communication and project management from the CS department,” says Jones. “That has helped me a lot with making sure that everyone involved with the project knows what is going on and is on the same page. One class in particular, Computer Networks, was particularly relevant to this project, as computer-based phone systems rely heavily on IP-based networking techniques. “
“[Information Technology Services] is implementing a new telecommunications platform with advanced collaborative features including voice and video calls as well as integration with the campus directory and other enterprise applications,” Fulton says. “Through this effort ITS will strengthen the College’s commitment to enhance communication, facilitate collaborations, and build community.”
The portion of the project that Jones is actively involved in will allow people at Lafayette to easily use the OpenUC telecommunications platform with a mobile device such as an iPhone or Android.
“Without Chris’s contribution, configuring Bria for mobile would be more difficult for people and both ITS and members of the Lafayette community would have to spend extra time to configure it,” Fulton says. “Chris automated that task so that the server could configure the software for the end user, saving time for each user of the software.”
Jones’ strong grasp of coding has enabled the senior computer science major to excel.
“Students need to read and understand real programs that people really use,” he says. “ITS hires many students interested in information technology; however, what’s truly special about this project is that all parties involved won. Lafayette Information Technology Services got a new feature that it needed, and the student gained valuable experience writing code on a real production system that people will use every day at Lafayette and beyond.”
After graduation, Jones will work at Lutron Electronics, a local company based in Coopersburg, Pa., doing software design for lighting-control products.