Every April hundreds of Harvard students present final projects in front of critical viewers. But this semester only one presentation involved an audience that was — for the most part — heavily armed. Making that presentation were 11 undergraduates, all juniors — students in one section of ES 96/CS 96, a one-semester course that challenges undergraduates at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) with real-world problems. For the past four months the section has immersed itself in the real world of crime analysis in Springfield, Mass. According to federal data, Springfield’s 2010 crime rates made it the 12th most violent city in the nation. The city recorded 1,354 violent crimes per 100,000 residents that year; the national average is 404. The students were tasked with finding a way to measure the effectiveness of the Counter Criminal Continuum (C3), used to track and counter gang violence. “It’s a policing strategy based...
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