Friday, September 4, 2009

Reaching Out and Outreach
Ambassador: Mary Anne Egan, United States

There are several projects keeping me busy this year. First, the Student IMPACT alternative programming contest continues ( The template of a full day program for mathematically talented high school juniors (16 year olds) introducing them to various areas of computer science and using their new found knowledge to compete against other schools has been used across the country. Locally, it was held again at Siena College, Loudonville, NY, in January 2009 during a snow storm. Despite the weather, many schools participated and learned a lot about computer science. The topics this year included database integrity, geographic information systems, programming, computer security and problem solving. The chaperones accompanying each team include a faculty advisor and guidance counselor. Based on pre and post surveys of the adults that accompany their teams, we know we have made a difference. Before attending IMPACT, a majority of the adults were “not very likely to recommend” a computer related major to their talented math students. After attending IMPACT, the responses were “likely to recommend” and that the program made them “more aware of what a college student does as a CS or IS major”. We have already had schools request the date of the next IMPACT day to ensure funding for transportation and substitute teacher costs for the day.

Another project that I have been involved with is a service-learning initiative supported by Siena College and various national grants. The Campus/Community Consortium of the Capital Region (4CR) is an academic service learning network which aims to create and sustain strong community partnerships, integrate the academic service learning pedagogy into the classroom and community, and work towards community development. 4CR is guided by the principles of community voice, student engagement, faculty commitment and social responsibility. With the integration of service to the community into traditional course work, we hope to widen the students’ perspective without sacrificing academic rigor. This semester, I will be teaching Introduction to Computer Science (CS1) and will require students to create animations and interactive games for a local agency working with children. It is my goal to expand this service learning initiative beyond the local community and into the global community with several projects in the planning stages for future semesters.

Work has begun on an international initiative with ambassadors from Australia, Great Britain, United States and Turkey. Several of us will be presenting at Grace Hopper in October on “Multi-level International programs working to change perceptions about IT courses and careers”. More to come on this at a later time.

Finally, the local Women in CS community has grown. The ACM-W student chapter has been officially accepted and now appears in all college listings of clubs and activities for students. Funding through alums and Grace Hopper has provided the ability to bring four undergraduate students and a high school student to the Grace Hopper Conference this year. And, the club is active with local high schools, even providing mentoring and support during the FIRST Robotics build season