Logo: University of Southern California

Viterbi Students Bring Home the Google Gadget Gold

Double winners top tough field in national collegiate competition

January 26, 2007 —

Gifted gadgeteers: Fox (left)  & Brown
Every year Google challenges the students to come up with “gadgets” - visual gizmos that users of the ubiquitous search service can use to personalize its home pages.

This year's competition had five winners, including Ryan Brown and Pamela Fox from the Viterbi School of Engineering. USC was the only school to have two separate winners (students from Stanford and Carnegie-Mellon 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.

Most useful: Gadget Maker
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, was 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.

WordHunter's creator is a member and former officer of Upsilon Pi Epsilon who will graduate in spring with an M.S degree and then

Most Addictive: WordHunter Xtreme

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,” she said.)

Her latest work? “I just created a gadget a few days ago that's relatively popular and based on the WordHunter code. It's called the Profane Game ---type as many obscenities as you can in one minute to get the highest score. It uses a special application that checks for profanity. It's fun.”