The Consortium for Computing Sciences in Colleges - Southwestern Region (CCSC-SW) is a regional organization for computer science education research, undergraduate research, and local collaborations. The consortium’s major activity is an annual conference every spring, and the 10th CCSC Southwestern regional conference took place March 24-25, 2017, in the Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) department at UC San Diego.
More than 50 faculty, researchers, and students attended the meeting. “What I love about this conference is that it gives students and faculty interested in computer science education an opportunity to discuss research, explore new ideas and create future collaborations,” said CSE Assistant Teaching Professor Leo Porter, who chaired the conference. “I was delighted to have the opportunity to host it here at UC San Diego.”
Keynote speeches are traditionally among the strongest features of CCSC-SW conferences. This year’s keynote speakers included CSE Associate Professor Scott Klemmer, who spoke about “Design at Large: Real World, Large Scale, and Sometimes Disruptive.” Another keynote was provided by the Program Director for the Division of Undergraduate Research at the National Science Foundation (NSF), Stephanie August, whose delivered a presentation about “NSF’s Big Ideas and Implications for Research.”
Also delivering a keynote to the conference was three-time UC San Diego computer-science alumna Sarah Esper Guthals (BS, MS, PhD ’10, ’12, ’14) presented her work on “Developing Educational Software and Coding Curriculum for Underserved Kids Under 13”. Guthals was the co-founder of ThoughtSTEM and currently, as an independent contractor on GitHub’s Social Impact team, she is testing a new GitHub product to engage young children online in novel way. In January 2017, she also founded We Can, LLC, a nonprofit company to promote kids coding, making, creating and collaborating.
According to Conference Chair Porter, undergraduate research presentations and posters were at the heart of the conference. Students attended from a number of schools in the region (including Harvey Mudd College, Pomona College, and others), and some of the participating students came from the Early Research Scholars Program (ERSP) organized by CSE Associate Teaching Professor Christine Alvarado.
“The CCSC conference was a perfect venue for the ERSP students to learn more about research life, and in some cases, to present their work,” said Alvarado. “The students got a lot out of the conference, and several sent me emails telling me how valuable attending the conference was for them.”
In connection with the Student Research Poster Session, CCSC-SW honored the teams with the best posters for graduate and undergraduate students. In the undergraduate category, UC San Diego student Kevin Thai (advised by Soohyun Liao, William Griswold and Leo Porter) took the prize for first place for his poster on “Exploring the Relationship between Reading Quiz Completion and Final Exam Grades.” Among graduate students with posters on display, Narjes Tahaei from UC Merced took the top spot, with a poster on “Analyzing Submission History to Detect Plagiarism in Programming Exercises.”
Site Chair Soohyun Liao, a UC San Diego Ph.D. student, and CSE staff member Joyce Bernardo played key roles in organizing and managing conference logistics, contributing to the meeting’s overall success. Next year’s conference returns to Harvey Mudd College and will be hosted by Colleen Lewis, Regional Chair of CCSC-SW.