CS students participate in the first New England Undergraduate Computing Symposium

The first New England Undergraduate Computing Symposium (NEUCS), held at Wellesley College in Wellesley, Massachusetts, brought together nearly 100 students and faculty from the region, and set a high bar for subsequent events, according to Tim Hickey of Brandeis University. Hickey, the Computer Science Department Chair at Brandeis and the general chair for the event, said, "We had high expectations for student and faculty participation, and we were delighted with the results. The students that participated as speakers and poster presenters covered a wide range of computing research and applications, and the faculty involved were inspired by the efforts of the students."

Two UMass Amherst CS undergraduates participated in the event. Matthew Laquidara presented "OPENPKMN: Lessons learned from an eight-year software project, " and John McDowell presented "Codename: Vargach - A Game."

The symposium was conceived by the New England Computer Science Department Chairs (NECSC) and the New England Area Empowering Leadership: Computing Scholars of Tomorrow Alliance (NE ELA), which is funded by the National Science Foundation. Students, faculty, and staff attended from Boston College, Boston University, Brandeis University, Hampshire College, Mount Holyoke College, Olin College of Engineering, Tufts University, University of Connecticut Health Center, University of Massachusetts Amherst, University of Massachusetts Boston, University of Massachusetts Lowell, Wellesley College, and Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

Roscoe Giles of Boston University, a leader in the NE ELA, gave the keynote address at the April 18, 2009 event on "Empowering Excellence, Diversity, and Leadership in Computing." Giles commended the students for their work, and pointed out the diversity of participants as well as their areas of interests, including software improvements, gaming, robotics, networks of all kinds, Website development, mathematics, societal applications, art, music, and finance. More than 40 posters were presented throughout the day, and awards were given in at the close of the day.  Six students were also selected to give plenary talks, many of whom were giving their first professional presentation.

According to Randy Schull, Computer Science Department Chair at Wellesley, "all of the computer science faculty members present were impressed with the students' work. More important, the students were able to network with their peers and learn more about research in a range of fields." The symposium is being planned as an annual event, with an expanded range of participants, including graduate students and possibly K-12 teachers and students. For more information on future events, contact Tim Hickey, tjhickey@brandeis.edu.


About the New England Computer Science Chairs (NECSC): http://www.neucs.org

Computer Science Department Chairs in the New England area from nearly two dozen leading institutions formed NECSC, and they are committed to providing opportunities for students in the region through joint symposia and other offerings. Key to the success of NECSC is the opportunity for students to network with their colleagues in the area and to share experiences.


About the Empowering Leadership: Computing Scholars of Tomorrow (EL Alliance): http://empoweringleadership.org

The EL Alliance is National Science Foundation Broadening Participation in Computing (BPC) alliance of dedicated students, faculty, and staff that provides experiences and programs that aim to ensure the success of minority scholars in computing at research institutions. Students are encouraged to join at http://empoweringleadership.org/join.html to receive information about mentoring, summer research, conference travel support, and more.