Pre-registration for Spring 2018

Pre-registration for Spring 2018 concluded on Tuesday night. Our enrollments remain strong, with all sections except the senior capstone project nearly full or overfull:

Number Title Enrolled Women:Men Waitlist
CS 167-A,B Intro. Computational Problem Solving 59/60 1:3 16
CS 210 Computer Systems Fundamentals 24/24 1:4 4
CS 270 Data Structures 28/24 3:4 4
CS 300 ST: Software Engineering 23/24 ** 0
CS 301 / Math 373 ST: Cryptography 0 enrolled as a CS course
CS 320 Theory of Computation 15/20 1:4 0
CS 327 Algorithm Design & Analysis 18/20 1:3 0
CS 351 Artificial Intelligence 24/16 1:4 4
CS 496/7/8 Capstone Project 3/16 1:2

Some narrative on particular courses:

  • Based on recent history, we expected CS 167 to fill. The waitlist is too long to accommodate all students, but not long enough to justify another section even if we had the resources to add one. Neither section will be taught by regular CS faculty: Albert Schueller (Math) will teach one section as a result of negotiations this fall that let us add another section of Discrete Math; Robin Greene (Walla Walla Community College) will teach the other section due to my maternity leave. Inexplicably, the gender ratio is as unbalanced as Albert or I have ever seen it.
  • We anticipated CS 210 would be a problem, due to our class of 2020 bubble working its way through the system. We surveyed students in advance to learn their intentions and situations. This let us consent in seniors who had a compelling argument to take the course, as well as sophomores who need to take it this spring to progress in the major or to accommodate study abroad. Juniors we left to fend for themselves, and that worked out fine. The waiting list is mainly first-year students currently enrolled in CS 270.
  • We expected to overenroll CS 270 due to a large number of current CS 167 students interested in a CS major or minor. At the conclusion of pre-registration, the waiting list included three seniors, four first-year prospective majors, and one other student. It was easy to prioritize the first-year prospective majors, especially since they all happen to be women. We are happy about the gender balance in this class, which has been very male-dominated until now. Since it is the gateway to the CS major, I hope this will lead to greater balance in 300-level courses in the future.
  • CS 300, ST: Software Engineering, takes the place of CS 370, Software Design, which I ordinarily would have taught this spring. It will be taught by James Klein, recently retired from Walla Walla University. I’m pleased it filled, but unfortunately there is only one woman enrolled in the course right now. I’m thinking about how to best support her.
  • CS 301, ST: Cryptography, will be taught by Laura Schueller who is visiting in Math. Due to some administrative SNAFUs, the cross-listing in computer science wasn’t accomplished until the very last minute. It’s also at the same time as CS 351, Artificial Intelligence. There is space in the course section. Andy has tried to convince some of his AI students to switch to Cryptography, which would also count as elective credit for the CS major, but so far to no avail.
  • CS 320 and CS 327 are right where I would have expected. CS 320 will be offered again in the fall as we planned it to normally be a fall course. We are offering it this spring so that Andy didn’t need to teach all new courses this fall. We hope fall enrollments will be sufficient; I believe there will be seniors who need to take the course to graduate.
  • CS 351 is a very popular course. Andy decided to allow it to overenroll since he doesn’t have too many students overall. We may need more elective seats in general to support the major, or we may need to reconsider whether we require two electives for the major.

All in all, there are some challenges but no catastrophes.

Whitman CS Summer Experiences 2017

This post shares some of the diversity of our students’ summer experiences—a very important part of a computer science student’s education. I’ve gathered short reflections from a few students and linked to the blogs of a few more. This first draft represents two summer research experiences (one at Whitman and one at a large research university) and two internships (one closely associated with Whitman and one not). Continue reading

Guest Post: Code For Good 2017

During her visit to Whitman this spring, Terian Koscik (Grinnell ‘12) invited students to participate in Code for Good, “an annual event based out of the Portland area where Python programmers from all over the globe get together for a long weekend to build projects that help our communities.” Three Whitman students ultimately participated, including my summer research student Andrew Harvey ‘20, our new CS 167 mentor Missy Gerlach ‘19, and the very enthusiastic Nathaniel Larson ‘19. The three of them have agreed to contribute to a joint guest post about their experiences. First they will give an overview of the event, and then each will share their biggest highlights and takeaways. Continue reading

Hosting LACS 2017

Regular readers might remember that I am the newest member of the Liberal Arts Computer Science (LACS) Consortium. (An earlier post responded to the 2016 annual meeting.) As the newest member, I was invited to host this year’s meeting. Some joked with me that this is hazing, but more accurately it’s paying my dues to an organization that truly depends on the contributions of all its members. It is also the host’s privilege to invite guests of her choosing from both her own institution and others. Finally, I’ve also been invited to host other professional meetings at Whitman in years to come. My experience hosting LACS—a small group who I know fairly well—makes me more confident I can do so. Continue reading

On systems and breakdowns

David Allen’s Getting Things Done is no small part of what got me through my dissertation, and I’ve been using it ever since. I was introduced to the system and philosophy by the postdoc I shared my office with. (A.J. Brush, who has continued to get things done—if you are reading this, thanks again!)

However, I won’t say I apply it perfectly. I experience breakdowns pretty regularly, which means reflecting on my tools or routines to figure out what to change to make it work again. Continue reading

Visiting speakers

I was so busy this spring that I didn’t blog on our three wonderful visiting speakers! I did not post about them in the CS @ Whitman group on Facebook either—an oversight I will rectify in the future. In the meantime, here’s a brief summary of those three visits, with thanks to those who made them possible, and a glimpse at what may come in the fall.

Continue reading