This past August marked the beginning of a new 2016 academic year for the UT Dallas campus full of eager students ready to start their academic careers. The UT Dallas Computer Science Department was ready and waiting to welcome the incoming class of freshmen, undergraduate, graduate, and PhD students, with plenty of welcome activities and events. The department has over 2,100 bachelor’s-degree students, more than 1,000 MS master’s students, 150 PhD students, and 86 faculty members, as of Fall 2016.
The UT Dallas Computer Science Department offered new and current students numerous welcome activities and events during August and September. These events included Move-In Day, Graduate Student Orientation, Parent Orientation, Freshmen Orientation, First Year CS/SE Women’s Tea Party, introductory club meetings and parties, tech talks and networking mixers hosted by UT Dallas CS clubs, CS Freshmen Dinners, CS Women’s PhD Luncheon, the Grads of Computer Science (GCS) Appathon, Lunchtime Talk talks, PhD Mixers, the Fall 2016 Intern Fair, and more.
This year 126 CS and SE students moved into the Living Learning Community (LLC) dorms on campus. The Living Learning Communities (LLC) are for groups of freshman students who share academic goals and interests and live in designated residence halls, enroll in community-specific courses, and participate in group activities designed to enhance learning. LLC students typically develop peer relationships more quickly, enjoy increased faculty interaction outside the classroom, and maintain higher GPAs.
On August 18th, one of the move-in days, parents were asked to join together to hear Dr. Gopal Gupta, UT Dallas Computer Science Department head, welcome them to the UT Dallas campus in his annual CS Parents Orientation. The Parent Orientation was split into two sessions; in the first session, approximately 48 parents attended and 54 attended the second session. In his talk, Dr. Gupta told the audience of parents that the CS Department was in record territory when it came to student body size and faculty size. “The CS Department has been growing rapidly and the faculty is working hard to cope with this growth while maintaining excellence in research, teaching and service,” he noted. The parents were introduced to UT Dallas CS Professors to learn more about life at the UT Dallas CS department. Dr. Janell Straach spoke about CS 1200 introductory course with Professor Gordon Les Arnold. Prof Arnold also spoke about the CS 1200 course and the programming sequence books and software that students will be needing for their courses. Professors Jason Smith and Don Vogel spoke about Programming Sequence and their courses. Dr. Linda Morales informed the parents about the Computer Science Mentor Center, where students can get help in courses such as Discrete Math. Professor John Cole spoke about the clubs at the UT Dallas CS department, including the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), Women Who Compute (WWC), the Robotics club, Artificial Intelligence Society (AIS), Computer Security Group (CSG), Linux Users Group, Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), Society of Women Engineers (SWE), CodeWarmers, and the CodeBurners. The Director of the Living Learning Communities, Mary Jane Partain, provided additional information about the Living Learning Communities in which their children would be living for the next year, and Jerry Alexander, Director of Industrial Practice Programs (Intern and Co-op), spoke about the numerous internship opportunities that students are offered.
Dr. Gupta informed the parents of the many advantages that their students have by being part of the UT Dallas Computer Science department, including clubs, placement after graduation, and the sharing in the accomplishments of the department.
With the new academic year came 614 CS and SE freshmen students. As a way to introduce the new students to faculty members and student organizations, the CS department offered a series of Freshman Dinners during the first two weeks of school. There were four dinners with two sessions each night. The freshmen students were invited to learn about the department, talk to clubs, ask the faculty questions, and eat pizza! Each night there were a variety of different clubs represented and professors in attendance. Some of the clubs that attended the event included the Artificial Intelligence Society (AIS), Women Who Compute (WWC), Computer Security Group (CSG), the UT Dallas Association of Computing Machinery (ACM), the Linux Users Group, Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), and the Society of Women Engineers (SWE). Each night Professors who teach the CS 1200 course, an introductory course to computer science and software engineering, attended the dinners including Professors Richard Goodrum, Gordon ‘Les’ Arnold, John Cole, Jason Smith, Stephen Perkins, Cheryl Ledbetter, and Drs. James Willson, Michael Christiansen, Ivor Page, and Janell Straach, the organizer of the CS freshmen dinners.
At the end of each dinner session, Dr. Gopal Gupta, UT Dallas CS department head, described the research being done in the UT Dallas CS department, what students will learn through the courses offered by the CS department, what opportunities are offered to them inside and outside the classrooms, and some valuable advice on how to succeed in the program.
The Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and the UT Dallas Computer Science both strive to promote a sense of community amongst the women studying CS. The department and the Women Who Compete (WWC) Club at UT Dallas hosted a variety of activities for the women studying CS at UT Dallas including first year female student tea party, the WWC Dolby Labs information tech talk, the WWC Cisco Systems Tech Talk and Networking Mixer, a Google: WWC Breakfast session, as well as bi-weekly club meetings.
On September 23rd, women who are currently pursuing their PhD’s through the UT Dallas Computer Science department as well as other programs offered by the Erik Jonsson School were invited to the PhD Female Luncheon. The event itself allowed the young women to get to know each other by having an afternoon of lunch and socializing amongst each other, with the hope that they will stay in contact with each other while they pursue their PhDs and beyond.
As part of the department’s year-long commitment to student outreach the Center for Computer Science Education & Outreach (CCSEO), directed by Dr. Jey Veerasamy, supports numerous events, lunches. Students can look forward to the CS Tech Lunch Series featuring UT Dallas CS department alumni such as Shrinath Parikh of AT&T who came and spoke to students about the importance of Big Data, and Amir Rajan creator of the iOS app, Dark Room, who talked about the theory and practice of game design. Other talks featured workshops and invited speakers and included a ACM Webinar Python Tutorial with the author of the book “Fluent Python,” Luciano Ramalho, as well as Harini Jagadeesan of Netflix whose talk titled “Netflix Video Streaming – A Peek inside,” gave an introduction on how Netflix Video streaming works. With the help of Jerry Alexander, Director of Industrial Practice Programs (Intern and Co-op), the tech talks also included informational workshops focusing on internships and career paths.
The Grads of Computer Science (GCS) organized an Appathon for incoming Fall 2016 CS graduate students on Sunday, September 11th. Twenty-Five students attended the event and formed teams to compete and create apps for the competition. The GCS is a student organization dedicated to the cause of representing interests of graduate students of the Department of Computer Science at UT Dallas, promoting interaction among students and faculty of the department, organizing academic and social events, and providing information pertaining to departmental activities and policies.
During the last week of September, State Farm and the city of Richardson held the First Annual Richardson Community Hack Week at the UT Dallas campus hosted by the UT Dallas CS department. The event was offered only to UT Dallas students. State Farm, one of the event sponsors, generously offered $25,000 to the City of Richardson to fund a solution to one of the City’s most difficult tasks and better the City of Richardson. Students were offered cash prizes to solve specific problems.
Students are also able to connect with their community by joining such clubs as UT Dallas Association for Computer Machinery (ACM), Women Who Compute (WWC), UT Dallas Computer Security Group (UTD CSG), MakerSpace, the Artificial Intelligence Society (AIS), UX group, the Codeburners, Codewarmers, the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), and Linux Users Group (LUG). Every club hosts numerous activities and meetings every week, the UT Dallas ACM regularly holds workshops, tech talks, and the ACM Industry Series.
The UT Dallas CS department holds regular activities and events throughout the year in order to serve and build a strong community amongst UT Dallas CS/SE and the CS Department faculty and staff.
Don’t forget to check out and enjoy the food trucks every Monday through Thursday from 11am-2pm!
Click here to view photos from the Fall 2016 Intern Fair.
Click here to view photos from the CS Freshmen Dinners.
Click here to view photos from the 2016 PhD Women’s Luncheon.
Click here to view photos from the Dolby Labs Tech Talk and the Cisco Systems Networking Mixer & Tech talk, both hosted by the WWC.
Click here to view photos from the WWC Google Breakfast
Click here to view all the CS Event Photo Albums