Two hundred computer science high school teachers attending the national Computer Science Teachers’ Association (CSTA) conference visited UT Dallas for an evening event. The UT Dallas Computer Science department hosted the teachers to show them the facilities and teaching resources, and to demonstrate the cutting-edge research that is taking place in the department.
The event started off with demonstrations from three CS department research groups. Dr. Ryan McMahan gave a presentation on what UT Dallas has been doing in the realm of Virtual Reality and Motion Capture. Dr. McMahan was joined in the presentation by his research assistants John Coleman Eubanks and PhD student Fei Tang, as well as recent graduate Addison Stiles. While Dr. McMahan explained the research being done at UT Dallas in Virtual Reality, John Coleman Eubanks showed off a portable full-body VR system and Fei Tang helped the teachers to test out the mobile VR headset. Somdeb Sarkhel, Dr. Vibhav Gogate’s Research Assistant and PhD student, gave an overview of the current research being done in Machine Learning as well as presenting a research demo. Ranran Feng, a UT Dallas PhD graduate and former student of Dr. B. Prabhakaran, presented the work that is ongoing in the Multimedia Systems Lab. Ranran Feng also gave a demo of the Multi-modal 3D Tele-Immersion project.
Following the demos, everyone went to dinner at the Student Union. Dr. Ivor Page, UT Dallas CS professor and director of the UT Dallas Computing Scholars Program, welcomed everyone to campus and went on to offer a thank you to the teachers “for being the ones who teach and dedicate their lives to the young lives of our future and making their lives count and making them matter.” Dr. Page went on to say: “We as professors rely on you, we wouldn’t be teaching if it wasn’t for the great efforts that you put into the lives of these young folks that eventually end up here.”
Dr. Page continued with an overview of the CS2 Honor Program, a rigorous invitation-only program that is taught by UT Dallas’s best Computer Science professors. He also spoke about programming competitions with which he and his teams have been involved, including going to the world finals for Computer Programming in Tokyo and getting 14th place.
Dr. Gopal Gupta, UT Dallas Computer Science Department Head, welcomed the teachers to campus and gave a brief history of the UT Dallas Computer Science department and gave an overview of current research programs. Dr. Gupta highlighted the benefits of attending the UT Dallas CS program, enumerating the various student-centered initiatives including the CS Computing scholars program, the Living Learning Community (LLC), UTDesign Capstone Project, the Discrete Math and Mentor Center (DMMC), the many CS/SE based student clubs, industry involvement in internships, and the importance of undergraduate research. Dr. Gupta went to inform the teachers about availability of scholarships, which constitutes a compelling reason for students to come to the UT Dallas Computer Science department. UT Dallas gives a large number of Academic Excellence Scholarships. 25% of all CS/SE majors have an AES scholarship. “It is a great reason to be here, our scholarships are one of the strongest reasons to apply to UT Dallas for Computer Science.”
Two CS students and Computing Scholars members, Amber Hasan and Alekhya Nandula, also attended the event to give the visiting teachers a student’s perspective on the UT Dallas Computer Science department and all that it provides. Both young women spoke about campus life and the value of student groups such as Women Who Compute (WWC) and the CodeBurners clubs. Amber Hasan, a junior in Computer Science and a 3rd year veteran of the Computing Scholars program and AES Scholarship holder, spoke of the “phenomenal” faculty and staff that make up the UT Dallas Computer Science department. “Our professors truly do care for their students and their futures by challenging the students in all areas of computer science.”
Sophomore computer science and finance student, Alekhya Nandula, a Computing Scholar from California, talked about how she adjusted to campus life. Alekhya came from California to attend UT Dallas and started her first year by living in the Living Learning Community for computer science and software engineering students. Living together with like-minded peers made for an easy adjustment to college. She spoke about the opportunities that UT Dallas’s Computer Science department provides, including undergraduate students being able to participate in groundbreaking research. Alekhya Nandula is also apart of UT Dallas’s award winning chess team.
Dr. Page closed out the evening by talking about research fellowships saying, “As students get to their final year, we look for the opportunities for research fellowships for the students. We expect some of these students to be awarded research fellowships across the nation. At UT Dallas, we care about the students before they get here, but we also care for them through all the stages that they go through. We really do care about these young people. They enrich our lives.”
To view the powerpoint on the Achievements of the UT Dallas Computer Science Department Click Here.
About the UT Dallas Computer Science Department
The UT Dallas Computer Science program is one of the largest Computer Science departments in the United States with, as of Fall 2015, over 1,600 bachelor’s-degree students, more than 1,100 master’s students, 160 PhD students, and 80 faculty members. With The University of Texas at Dallas’ unique history of starting as a graduate institution first, the CS Department is built on a legacy of valuing innovative research and providing advanced training for software engineers and computer scientists.