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Students present final projects for 2022 +Programs

By Lesa Bressanelli, OIT Communications intern

More than 180 students participated in one of four programs offered by Duke University’s +Programs this summer, and presented their final projects at the end of July.

The +Programs encourage Duke undergraduate students to further their education through team-based projects that explore their interests, while attending lectures, panel discussions, social events and more. These programs require a full-time commitment and last ten weeks during the summer. Programs are available in environmental science (Climate+), coding (Code+), computer science (CS+) and data science (Data+).

“They are able to take the programming skills they've learned in classrooms and put them into action by delivering valuable insights,” said Paul Bendich, assistant director of curricular engagement of the Rhodes Information Initiative. “They build confidence in their abilities to learn new skills, manage software conflicts across teams and communicate technical findings at different rhetorical levels, all essential skills in the modern data science workplace."

Projects engage students’ creativity, resourcefulness and intuition as they are challenged to pursue creative solutions and outcomes to real-life problems.

“It provides space for undergraduate students to pursue authentic open-ended research projects in a supportive community context,” said Brandon Fain, assistant professor of the practice in the Department of Computer Science.

Students work deeply on their specific project and get a very broad picture of most of the skills needed for our changing landscape.

“These programs create a pipeline of diverse, curious, and savvy individuals who will be future leaders in technology,” said Jen Vizas, senior director of special programs in Duke’s Office of Information Technology.


The Climate+ Program, a new program based out of the Data+ Program, inspired students to deepen their understanding of climate change’s causes and effects while identifying strategies for mitigation and adaptation. Five projects were presented.

“It explicitly focuses on a key societal challenge of the decades to come: climate change, its causes, and its potential impacts,” said Kyle Bradbury, assistant research professor at the Pratt School of Engineering and managing director of the Energy Data Analytics Lab. “This program enables students to see how data science tools can contribute to developing greater understanding of and prospective solutions for climate change and its related societal challenges.”

One project, “Investigating wetland carbon emissions in the SE US under climate change,” used machine learning and pre-existing datasets to assess wetland carbon emissions across the Southeast United States. Creating regional-level emission maps, students predicted future wetland carbon emissions in correlation to a warming climate. This will assist in regional planning by determining what levels of carbon emissions would pose a threat to Southeast regions by an increase in effects through climate change. Students were led by researchers in the University’s Hydroclimatological Lab.

Visit the Climate+ website for more information:


The Code+ Program invited students to further investigate their interests in technology and develop their technical skills through a unique learning experience preparing them to pursue internships within this area. Seven projects were presented this summer.

One project, “Duke FixIt: An Issue Reporting App for Duke,” challenged students to build an app by outlining necessary features for reporting problems from poor Wi-Fi signal to icy pavement. By being able to report and track issues, the app can help create a more productive and safe campus environment for students, faculty and staff. Students were led by IT specialists in the University’s Office of Information Technology with guidance from Duke stakeholders, including the University’s Student Government.

Watch videos of the Code+ project presentations on OIT's YouTube channel: Visit the Code+ website for more information:


The CS+ Program encouraged students to enrich their experiences in computer science by working on projects with applications beyond the classroom. 10 projects were presented this summer.

One project, “Multi-Robot Motion Planning,” required students to redesign the pre-existing algorithms of robots to adjust their motion patterns along a predetermined path. Students needed to consider the length of the paths taken and the travel time to destinations on them, while also ensuring robots would not run into each other. As robotic systems are becoming more frequently used to perform tasks in industries such as civil engineering, agriculture and nature preservation, perfecting the performance of these robots is critical to success. Students were led by faculty of computer science.

Visit the CS+ website for more information:


The Data+ Program challenged students to address problems by exploring data-driven approaches involving marshaling, analyzing and visualizing data. 24 projects were presented this summer.

One project, “Community Safety in Durham,” had students observe trends in 911 call frequency while analyzing economic, social and health-related factors within geographic areas in Durham. Associations were made to assist future researchers in identifying connections between how law enforcement responded, such as an unarmed or joint police response, and how people associated with the call were affected, such as an arrest being made or hospitalization. Students were led by officials of Durham's Community Safety Department.

Visit the Data+ website for more information: