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Devising Gadgets for Google

Fox is the author of WordHunter Xtreme. Brown is a freshman computer science major from Tigard, Ore.

Photo/Eric Mankin

Each year Google challenges students to come up with “gadgets” � visual gizmos that users of the popular search service can deploy to personalize its home pages.

This year’s competition featured five winners, including Ryan Brown and Pamela Fox from the USC Viterbi School of Engineering. USC was the only school to have two separate winners (students from Stanford and Carnegie-Mellon universities received awards for the same gadget).

USC Viterbi was also the top school for gadget submission, “beating out Carnegie Mellon and Stanford,” as Trevor Johns, president of Upsilon Pi Epsilon, the USC Computer Science Honor Society, put it in an announcement.

Brown, a freshman computer science major from Tigard, Ore., created the most useful gadget (as judged by Wired Magazine editor-in-chief Chris Anderson): the “Gadget Maker,” which allows a user to make their own gadget out of any Web page. With three more years of computer science ahead of him, Brown expects to enter again � he’s now working on a “financial gadget.”

Fox, from upstate New York, is the author of WordHunter Xtreme, which Randy Bryant, dean of the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University, judged to be the “most addictive” gadget in the competition. The game challenges users to find words in a matrix, with points for hits, deductions for misses.

Fox, a member and former officer of Upsilon Pi Epsilon, will graduate in the spring with an M.S. degree and then go to work full-time for Google, where she already works part-time.

“I entered the contest before I interviewed and won before I accepted [the job],” she said.

Devising Gadgets for Google

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