Denning programmed for a degree from Dartmouth


Jonathan Denning, wife Cindy and children Cora and Samuel, will be rolling to Hanover, N.H., where Jonathan will pursue a master?s at Dartmouth next fall.

Like most children of the digital age, Tabor College senior Jonathan Denning grew up playing all sorts of video games. But since he was a boy, Denning has been more excited about programming and creating his own video games than playing them.

?When I was growing up in Herington, I used to stay up late with a friend of mine, writing all sorts of programming code,? Denning said. ?I can?t count how many video games we wrote throughout the years.?

Today Denning is a 28-year-old, married, non-traditional student with two young children and third on the way. He will graduate from Tabor in May with a bachelor?s degree in computer science and in mathematics.

Next fall, he will join the prestigious graduate computer science program at Dartmouth College, to pursue a master?s degree.

Denning says Dartmouth, an Ivy League school in Hanover, N.H., is the perfect place for him to pursue a passion that was programmed into him at an early age.

?When I was 8, my cousin, who is five years older, introduced me to programming,? Denning said. ?It was simple programming back then, mostly involving copying code directly from programming books from the library, changing this variable or that loop, and then running it to see what changed.

?Ever since then, I?ve always been fascinated with making a ?dumb? computer do amazing things.?

Denning chose Dartmouth?s computer science department because it has a global reputation as a pioneer in digital-image forensics (image forgery detection).

?Dartmouth has some amazing, world-renowned professors that are working on cutting-edge, innovative projects,? he said. ?One professor is the leading expert in digital image forensics. He is developing a set of tools that can be used to detect image forgeries.?

The application relates to identifying fake or doctored photos in tabloid papers or news stories.

Denning?s research will focus on computer graphics and computer vision, and he plans to stay on to pursue a doctoral degree in a futuristic setting where the science fiction seen in movies, such as ?The Matrix,? is becoming a virtual reality.

?The Matrix has always been a favorite movie of mine, not because of its plot, actors, visual effects, or whatever, but because there was a computer program that simulated reality so well that people within the Matrix did not even know it,? Denning said.

?It's not science fiction to me; it?s motivation. I love tearing apart difficult problems into small, super-simple tasks, coding these tasks, and then plugging them all back together.?

Denning is married to Cindy (Harden) Denning, an alum and former employee of Tabor. They have two children, Cora and Samuel, and are expecting a third.

In the past few years, she worked in the Student Life Department as a resident director, and later as director of student success before ending her employment in January to devote more time to her children.

Meanwhile, Jonathan has juggled parenting responsibilities, being a student in advanced-level classes, working part-time, and teaching classes at the college. He was an adjunct instructor for computer literacy, administer of the computer competency exam, instructor for Microsoft Excel training for faculty and staff, a student mentor, and a peer tutor and teacher?s assistant for a variety of math and computer science classes.

Jonathan?s parents are Dan and Cheryl Denning of Hering?ton.

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