The number of faculty members and students who have contributed
to the Watson Project over the years is truly amazing. Below,
I have attempted to provide a comprehensive list – along
with contact information where available – of those
who have made Watson possible. If any Watson alumni out there
are reading this page and notice that I have left someone
out, or have outdated contact information, please contact
The first person I would like to thank is Barry
Kurtz. Watson would not exist without him. Barry came
up with the original idea for a suite of labs to support a
breadth-first introduction to computing – and then proceeded
to convince me of both the value and feasibility of this approach.
Barry was also the driving force behind convincing the National
Science Foundation to initially fund the project.
During the first phase of the Watson project, Don
Garrett and Alex Ramos were key members of the team. Don
and Alex implemented the library of shared code that was central
to the original C / SUIT lab prototypes. Other individuals
who contributed to the development of this phase of Watson
include: Pat Bronson,
Lee Falta, Michael Gaudet, Dr. Gary Klein, Josh
Kleinpeter, Dr. Barry
Kurtz, Jeff Matocha, Unmesh S. Mayekar, Dr.
Mike O'Neal, Alex Ramos, Dr. Louis Roemer, Vinay Shivaiah,
Sameer Singh, Charlie Stear, and Mark Williamson.
During the second phase of Watson development, Josh
Kleinpeter was my "right hand man. He was the first
person to assist me with use of the labs in the classroom
setting. Plus, he did an excellent job keeping the C / SUIT
prototypes running well beyond the point at which they should
have been retired.
The developers for the second phase of Watson include:
• Chris Dickenson, Gene Rogers, Chris
Plock, and Dave Muse, Imperative
• Mike O'Neal,
Graphics and Watson-Java Toolkit
• Chris Plock,
Josh Kleinpeter, and Dave Muse, Database
• Heather Richards, Digital Logic
• Jeff Rugg, Spreadsheets and Data Structures
• Ben VanWagner,
• Kasoum Gioul, portions of the Spreadsheet code
J. Walker, mouse-oriented editor in Graphics
Jayson Calloway, Cai Hong, and Byren Vaughn helped prototype
a number of these Java-based labs.
My “right hand man” for the third phase of Watson
has been Cliff
Lemoine. Cliff was invaluable in helping me to restart
Watson development after a three-year lull resulting from
my spending time in industry. Cliff helped tutor students
in my CSC 100 classes, maintained the Phase II labs, and developed
the object-oriented lab for Phase III.
A special heart felt THANK YOU also goes out to my good friend
and former student Don Garrett
who, in addition to being a primary developer in Phase I of
Watson, returned to Louisiana Tech to pursue a Master’s
degree and in the process developed the Java Swing framework
for Watson Phase III. Don’s years in industry developing
object-oriented Java-based applications provided him with
the background to lay a solid foundation for the current set
of labs. Without Don’s efforts, Watson Phase III would
The primary developers for Watson Phase III include:
• Brandon George, Spreadsheet
• Jim Patterson, Database
• Chris Martin, Data Structures
• Don Garrett, Graphics and Overall Watson Framework
• Cliff Lemoine, Object-Oriented
• Clay Zuvich, Assembly
• Anthony Stonaker, Digital Logic
In addition to these developers, I’d like to thank
the entire spring 2004 CSC 404 “Senior Capstone”
class. This class did a spectacular job improving the look
and feel of the Phase III labs, including developing all of
the graphics, the user’s manual, brochure, CD case,
flash-based web site, flash tutorials, and multi-platform
(Windows, Mac, Linux) Watson CD. Additional efforts included:
testing, bug tracking, bug fixes, and numerous improvements
to the UI based on feedback collected from actual users. While
all of those who worked so hard on this project deserve a
BIG thank you, special recognition should be give to Jim Patterson
(the Project Director), and Chris Martin and Louis Landry
(who were jointly responsible for the “look” of
Watson Phase III).
To each and every one of you, “THANK YOU!”
Dr. Mike O'Neal
Director, Project Watson
Watson development has taken place in three distinct phases:
the first from 1993 through 1995, the second from 1996 to
1998, and the third phase from 2002 to 2004.
Phase I (1993-1995)
The first phase of Watson involved the conceptualization,
design, and initial implementation of nine lab environments.
During this time, Watson was support by a $100K grant from
the National Science Foundation.
A Watson Lab: Phase I (1993-1995)
Watson’s core concepts
of a unified graphical user interface, cross platform compatibility,
breadth of concept coverage through the use of a suite of
independent labs, and depth of coverage within individual
labs by careful attention to the pedagogical content of individual
lab activities, were established early on.
The original suite of labs included: a simple spreadsheet,
a relational database, a data structures lab, a graphics-based
programming environment, an imperative programming environment,
a functional programming environment, a Finite State Automata
lab, an assembly language and machine architecture lab, and
a digital logic lab. These labs were implemented in C and
used the SUIT (Simple User Interface Toolkit) libraries for
cross platform compatibility.
While these prototypes established the viability of the Watson
approach to introductory computer science education, they
were not robust enough to be used outside of a closed laboratory
environment with extensive student assistance provided by
instructors and lab monitors. In fact, the Project Director’s
candid assessment of the original implementation of Watson
would be “buggy as hell”. This should not be surprising,
given the goals of the project, its groundbreaking nature,
and limited funding. Additionally the interface provided by
the labs were not very attractive, nor intuitive.
Phase II (1996-1998)
By the mid-1990’s it became apparent that Watson needed
a total rewrite in order to become a viable teaching tool.
After several years of continuous classroom use, resulting
in feedback from hundreds of students, the Project Director
had a very clear idea of what worked and what didn’t.
Furthermore, the emergence of Java and explosion of web technologies
offered the hope of a stable cross-platform environment for
Given that NSF funding had expired at this point, the Project
Director, set about the bold task of designing and implementing
Watson in Java. Since very few Java-based tools or libraries
existed at the time (combined with the fact that Java itself
was rapidly evolving), the Project Director began by building
up a “Watson Java Toolkit” of common components,
such as choice selectors, numeric entry pads, and even low-level
primitives such as “Watson Buttons”. Once these
were in place he redesigned the graphics lab based on student
feedback from the Phase I version. He then coded the lab and
thoroughly debugged it. The graphics lab thus served as a
“template” for all Watson Phase II labs.
Given this template students were offered independent study
classes in which they would “re-implement” a Phase
I lab using the toolkit and graphics lab as a guide. Some
of the labs such as spreadsheet, database, assembly, and digital
logic incorporated few pedagogical changes in their port to
Java. Other labs, such as data structures, graphics, and imperative
programming were completely rethought. Still other labs, such
as the functional programming lab and finite state automata
lab, were abandoned.
A Watson Lab: Phase II (1996-1998)
The result of Phase II was a collection of stable, albeit
somewhat plain-looking labs, that could be accessed via web
browsers. These labs were used successfully in Louisiana Tech’s
CSC 100 courses for a number of years.
By 1998, the project had reached the point where national
dissemination appeared imminent. In addition to Watson, its
companion textbook (drafts of which have been student tested
since the mid-1990’s) was nearing completion. Despite
Watson’s promise, the Project Director had to reluctantly
shelve Watson for several years. The continued lack of external
funding for Watson, combined with allure of the dot com boom,
enticed the Project Director into a two-year sabbatical in
industry where we became the Chief Technology Officer for
OneNetNow.com. After OneNetNow was sold to Earthlink in 2001,
the Project Director elected to return to academia rather
than accept a permanent position with EarthLink.
Phase III (2002-2004)
Upon return to academia in the Fall of 2001, four things
became apparent (1) Since the labs had been written in the
very early days of Java, they were no longer stable on modern
Java environments, (2) The look of the labs had become outdated
since they were not built with Swing components, (3) The pedagogical
content embodied in the Imperative lab was no longer as appropriate
as it had been in the mid-1990’s, and (4) The fact that
Watson contained zero coverage of object-oriented programming
concepts had become a serious omission.
Additionally, the uncompleted textbook could not simply be
finished, as sections of it needed to be rewritten to reflect
the changes in the field from the mid-late 1990’s to
the early 2000’s. Furthermore, since the textbook and
the labs are interrelated, any changes to the labs required
similar changes to the text.
The Project Director began restarting Watson development in
2002. He recruited a graduate student, Cliff Lemoine, to help
maintain the Phase II labs and to design and develop an object-oriented
programming lab. In the Summer of 2002, he made some inroads
into updating the textbook. During the Spring of 2003, he
applied to the National Science foundation for funding to
fully launch Phase III. Though the proposal reviews were generally
strong, the NSF ultimately declined the application. (Oh well…
Watson is not so easily killed.)
So, in the tradition of Watson, the Project Director embarked
on Phase III. He recruited a bright team of undergraduates
and with nothing but Independent Study credit in his pocket
and pushed forward with Phase III.
The Phase III team was able to build on a Swing-based Watson
platform implemented in 1999 by a former graduate student,
Don Garrett, together with a nearly complete implementation
of the graphics lab Don wrote. The Phase III team made rapid
progress re-implementing several of the labs. From December
2003 through February 2004, database, assembly, and digital
From March 2004 to May 2004, the spreadsheet lab was successfully
ported. During this time, the data structures rewrite was
completed, and the initial implementation of the object-oriented
lab was finished.
lab. Unfortunately, from a pedagogical standpoint, this is
one of the most important Watson labs.
A Watson Lab: Phase III (2003-2004)
During the spring of 2004, the Project
Director had the good fortune of teaching CSC 404 “Senior
Capstone”. In the spirit of “use every resource
at your disposal”, the Project Director selected Watson
as the topic for Senior Capstone. In addition to providing
desperately needed manpower for the Watson project, this choice
enabled the class to gain near-real-world experience with
a large project on the back end of the software design process.
The CSC 404 class devoted tremendous effort to testing, documentation,
and code maintenance. They tested the Phase III software with
actual students and incorporated UI changes based on the student’s
feedback. Furthermore the class refined the graphical “look”
of the labs and incorporated this look into the web and printed
documentation they developed.
As of May 2004, the Project Director is once again in the
process of applying to the National Science Foundation for
funds. These funds are needed to complete development of the
software maintenance, and to help finish the companion textbook.