Category Archives: Culture

Why computer scientists need to read literature

Yesterday, my beloved colleague Sharon Alker in English joined us for a CS Lunch discussion of how Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is relevant to computer scientists. In a nutshell, she argued that 1843 was a time of technological change in many ways like our own, and she had us closely read some short passages in that light.

But before we looked at A Christmas Carol, Sharon shared the following list with us. I have gained her permission to share that list with you, gentle readers. Continue reading

Responses to “5 ways to welcome women to computer science”

This Monday, my first essay appeared in the Chronicle of Higher Education: 5 Ways to Welcome Women to Computer Science. Today, Friday, seems like a good day to reflect on responses. In particular, I want to talk about social media responses from institutions and individuals, and an in-person conversation with Whitman CS students and faculty.

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The Pledge of the Computing Professional

Last Wednesday we celebrated the third annual Pledge of the Computing Professional at Whitman College, with our first two computer science majors, three computer science minors, and an independent major.

The Pledge is a rite-of-passage ceremony for computer science students and others who intend a career in computing. Inspired by the Order of the Engineer, a pin and a certificate serve to remind alumni of their moral and ethical responsibility as a skilled professional.
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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.

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Report: Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing

Last week I traveled to Austin, Texas with seven students for the Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing. My job was to moderate a panel on teaching-oriented faculty careers—my fifth such panel, but the first at Tapia. CS program funding allowed me to bring along several students. To maximize impact, I recruited from amongst this fall’s class mentors and the leadership of the CS@W student club. Students are expected to share or apply what they learn on campus.

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Whitman students and faculty at the Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing. You can tell we are in Texas by the steer made of license plates on the wall behind us.

I’ll start out with a diary of my experience, and conclude with my students’ reflections on their experiences. Continue reading

Designing a CS Commons

In August, Whitman’s computer science faculty moved into three adjacent offices recently vacated by Technology Services. It so happens that there is a common space outside the offices, separate from the hallway. We were permitted to use funds left over from creating the two lab classrooms for minor renovations and furnishings.

I didn’t ask for a CS Commons, and I’m not entirely sure that we deserve it when so few other departments and programs at Whitman have space for students outside of classrooms. I’m very grateful nonetheless. This post will address the design of that space. Continue reading

Academic honesty guidelines

Students often have difficulty understanding how principles of academic honesty applies to problems in computer science, and especially programming problems. In my nine years at Grinnell, I had all too many discussions with my colleagues about interpreting evidence of academic dishonesty.

While core values and principles are held in common, institutional policies and procedures differ. This is one of the things that made last year a lonely year for me professionally. I sorely missed having colleagues to consult with about potential academic honesty cases, colleagues familiar with institutional policies and the special problems of academic honesty in computer science.

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