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Georgia Tech Deans and Computer Science at UF April 22, 2012

Posted by lifealgo in Computing.
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Recently, University of Florida’s President revealed his plans to dissolve the school’s Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) department and merge it with other existing programs at UF.

Current College of Computing Dean Zvi Galil and CC founder and Dean Emeritus Peter A. Freeman wrote letters to the president voicing their concern about UF’s decision.

In the words of my friend Taylor W.: “It’s involvement like that, not just in the Tech community, but in the CS industry as a whole, that gains the College of Computing at Georgia Tech the respect it has developed over the last few years.”

Week in Review August 29, 2011

Posted by lifealgo in Class Madness, Extracurriculars, GT events.
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The first week of this semester is over!

I’m really excited about this semester.  Only half of my classes are CS, however

  1. They’re Media thread picks (yay, Media!)
  2. The classes are taught by professors I’ve wanted to have classes with
  3. These are classes I’ve been looking forward to since my first semester at Tech

I’ve always been interested in the Media thread, and when I looked at the 4-year plans and classes I was really interested in these ones.  Now I’m actually enrolled in them! 😀  Other than that, I’m taking one lab science (2 out of 3) and one People thread pick.

Aside from that, last week I got to meet 2 of my mentees (yay!) and a lot of freshmen at this year’s Boot Up! .   I realized afterwards that I talked to everyone that went since I was a facilitator for one of our events (had I been told I was going to end up doing that when I was a freshman, I’d have freaked out!).  My event involved groups of freshmen flipping over a bedsheet that was on the ground without stepping off said bedsheet.  Overall, it was a ton of fun and I think a lot of freshmen got to know each other pretty well.

Then came the excitement from the first week.  Turns out I have about half the CS population from the Barcelona 2010  group in one of my classes, and I’ve run into a bunch of other people from that group just walking around campus.  I’ve also caught up with all the peeps who were away this summer interning on the West Coast or who trailed off to Barcelona (hooray, BCN!).  On our first day a group of friends and I decided to check out the new Clough Undergraduate Learning Commons, also known as the CULC building!

That tree is boss

View from the top

They're really pretty!

Gardens at the top of the CULC

As a way to cap off our first week back, a group of us decided to climb Stone Mountain.  We had a little BBQ before trailing up and seeing the Atlanta skyline in the background.

If only Roca had been there...

We also got under a rock/cave!

This semester just got off to a great start!

Review: Tapia Conference May 29, 2011

Posted by lifealgo in Conferences.
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The 2011 Richard Tapia Conference for Minorities in Computing was pretty fantastic!

This year the event took place in San Francisco, California.  A group of about 20 students were sponsored by the CoC’s Office of Outreach, Enrollment, and Community, and we were really excited both about the conference and the city.

Cool peeps match their shirts!

Our group at the Tapia Conference

I actually wrote a small blurb about the conference over at the CoC’s Student Community page.

Always happy to report the student's POV!

This is what I wrote:

The 2011 Richard Tapia Conference for Minorities in Computer, held April 3-5 in San Francisco, was host to a well-represented group of students from the College of Computing. The event attracted over 500 attendees; Georgia Tech had one of the largest university group at the conference with around 20 individuals in attendance. Students were also invited to the pre-conference Empowering Leadership Alliance meeting, where they were able to personally converse with Doctor Tapia and attend additional talks by prominent minorities in the fields of science, technology, and math.

Highlights of the conference include presentations byBlaise Aguera y Arcas (Microsoft), co-creator of Photosynth, a favorite among computational photography students; Illya Hicks, associate professor in the Computational and Applied Mathematics Department at Rice University, who spoke of football and graph theory; and Patty Lopez (Intel), founding member of Latinas in Computing.

In addition to being one of the best represented universities at the conference, Georgia Tech was also a crowd favorite: a grad student’s research won the People’s Choice Award at the ELA poster showcase.

See photos from the event on the College’s Flickr site.

I was actually able to meet Dr. Tapia in person at the ELA event!  The talks and presentations were all inspiring, thought-provoking, and, in some cases, humbling.  They definitely sparked a lot of discussion among the group of students I traveled with, yet I can definitely say we all left with the same inspiration: no matter how underrepresented we are in the field of computing, this in no way undermines our ability to succeed.

Hooray for randomly awesome friendships!

Tech friends and me with some new friends from the University of Illinois - Chicago!

Mentoring for another year! February 24, 2011

Posted by lifealgo in Mentors Program.
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I’ve been selected to be a CoC mentor for another year!!! 😀

The selection process was even more strict that last year’s – unfortunately the program had to be reduced to 25 mentors, yet the Office of Outreach, Enrollment, and Community got over 50 applications this year!

I spoke with a lot of the students that applied, and I’d estimate that roughly half of them were freshmen.  Although this makes sense since a lot of freshmen hang out near the OEC office and were told personally about the application (through OEC or their friends), it’s still kind of crazy that a group consisting of ~120 students – or 1/6th of the entire CoC – provided half the candidates.

Considering that the program has GPA and credit constraints (2.4ish GPA and 30+ credit hours), and that the application was rather lengthy, I’d say there was probably a significant amount of freshmen that wanted to apply but didn’t for various reasons.  Still, accounting only for those freshmen who did apply, that means that roughly 1 out of every 5 freshmen applied to be a mentor, about 10 times the application rate for other CoC students!

All in all, the most significant factor is that all the freshmen that applied (or wanted to) were all mentees in last year’s mentor program – and wanted to pay it forward by being mentors to future freshmen.  I’d say that makes last year’s program quite successful 🙂

As for myself and whether some of my mentees got into the program, all I’ll say is that the tree’s height has increased…

We while the hours working September 9, 2010

Posted by lifealgo in Company Visits, GT events.
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The past two days can only be described with one word: HECTIC!

Tuesday:

  • Rushed to finish first Combo homework
  • Attempted to study for first Graphics quiz
  • Attempted to meet with 2340 group
  • Rescheduled meeting with 2340 group
  • Ran to M@CC meeting
  • Went through CoC Career Fair training
  • Participated in Facebook birthday pranks (notice the plural)
  • Edited FIREWALL issue for September
  • Re-edited FIREWALL
  • Finished poster for FIREWALL
  • Revised edits for FIREWALL

Today wasn’t much different:

  • Rushed to work (late)
  • Went upstairs to a Google Lunch
  • Saw the release of Google Instant with Google employees
  • Prepared cotton candy machine
  • Handed out FIREWALL issues and cotton candy
  • Got covered with cotton candy – literally
  • Ran into half the Barcelona program CS majors
  • Rejoiced about mini-Barca reunions 😀
  • Went to class
  • Filled in timesheet
  • Went to Google Tech Talk
  • Ate something other than sugar
  • Cleaned out cotton candy machine
  • Clogged sink where we were cleaning the machine
  • Emptied out sink with Styrofoam cups
  • Randomly started singing  “Still Alive” in harmony with 3 guys
  • Reminded the boys of the lyrics to the song
  • Cleaned up the Orgs Room
  • Greeted my mother with Google shades on at 11PM
  • Realized I spent more than 12 hours in the same building
  • Realized I still like spending time in the College of Computing

Good days 🙂  Can’t wait for the Career Fair and company frenzies next week!

What about the CoC? February 25, 2010

Posted by lifealgo in Mentors Program, Personal.
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Looking at other student blogs I became aware of the fact that although I always talk about the College of Computing I have yet to mention how I feel about it.

I mentioned some of the reasons during my interview for the Mentors Program.  This is what I answered when asked why I wanted to be a mentor:

I think it’s great that you’re automatically putting all freshmen in the mentors program.  I wish I’d been in some sort of program like that in my first semester.  I know that the first year can be extremely hard on some people in terms of confidence in your ability to do well in here, whether you want to be a CS major or not, all the general uncertainties.  I know because I went through that during my first year, I was doubtful and insecure.  I live off campus and the transition from high school was really tough on me, and it was really hard for me to start to meet people.  I think the mentors program can help with some of that, and I want to be part of it.

That was the only answer I gave during which I wasn’t nervous at all.  I was simple, honest and jittery.  I keep on mentioning it to people. but the more I think about it the more surprised I am that I only started getting to know people this last October – when I started this blog.

Yet I always get to a part where I want to explain my gratitude and I have to attempt to pinpoint why I like the CoC so much: it might be the faculty, my peers, the sense of community among the students, maybe the TAs helping students helping other students in the commons, or the robotic dinosaur I walked by today, or the elevator doors opening to reveal a man carrying a disembodied car door through the third floor, or all the different organizations and the awesome people in them.

All those things make up the College of Computing for me – it’s my web, my motivation, where I bounce from when I stumble.

TechTopics: PHP February 20, 2010

Posted by lifealgo in Uncategorized.
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GTACM has been planning these for a while now, and this semester they were finally able to create “mini classes” to teach students (CS and non-CS alike) about stuff that is not normally offered in classes, such as PHP.

Due to the lovely layer of snow that covered campus last week, the first TechTopics class focusing on PHP and MySQL was postponed for this week.  I left work at 4 and headed towards Bunger-Henry where I discovered two things:

  • I need to read room number signs more carefully so as to avoid wandering around looking for a classroom *cough*
  • The acoustics of Bunger-Henry’s staircases outdo the (former) creepiness of the third floor of the CCB holy crap

There were certainly a lot more people in the class than I expected, at least 30 students.  I’m assuming most of them are CS, but I believe this class is open to all majors.  Everyone simply walked in – it was quiet, organized, and students helped themselves out when one couldn’t figure out something.

Since it’s pretty much an “Intro to PHP”, this first class centered on setting up the tools to code in PHP (Apache, MySQL) and the syntax of PHP and other basics: variable declaration, if statements, loops, associative arrays, print statements, among others.

I made my first PHP file along with the class and, as it’s happened every single time I code in a new language, my computer decides to hand me challenges because the file is still not showing up on my localhost projects!

Hurdles aside (for now!) TechTopics has set its path on a very good beginning.

AFLAAAAAC! February 18, 2010

Posted by lifealgo in Company Visits.
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Aflac visited the College of Computing yesterday evening.

Of course, I believe the CoC community might have been aware of it judging by all the hand sanitizers, bottle holders, duck-shaped stress balls, and fluffy, screaming ducks scattered around the Commons, States Lab, and undergraduate lounge.  Also, the abundance of ducks may or may not have led to duck-throwing in CS2110 Lecitation.

Swag aside, I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised by them; it was really cool to learn about all the different departments and divisions they have for CS.

I PROMISE! Also, I'm assuming you read xkcd.

I promise this is NOT how I pictured Aflac's computers

I got a splitting headache halfway through the presentation and still had it when it ended.  Still, I was able to talk with Tony Huey and Miranda Azzam (college recruiter) after the presentation, but had to leave before I could talk with Ben McMillan, the last representative and Georgia Tech CS graduate.

Because there’s always a Tech graduate at these recruitment events!

I guess Aflac made me realize I have yet to fully assimilate the versatility of Computer Science 😀

I promise this isn’t how I pictured Aflac’s computers

College of Computing Mentors Program! February 3, 2010

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I GOT IN!!! 😀

The College of Computing interviewed 40 applicants to participate in the second year of the Mentors Program and I was one of the lucky 30 that were selected*!

The behavioral interview was definitely nerve-wracking.  Even then, it’s good practice for future interviews.

I almost didn’t apply because I thought I couldn’t, since I would technically “get hired” by the College of Computing for another job.  It turns out I can be a mentor AND keep my work-study job (yay!).

Our first meeting was yesterday.  It was wonderful to meet the rest of the mentors and rearrange chairs and potato chip bags and avoid rogue sharpies and pens to make enough space to create posters about ourselves (with SHARPIES!).  I’m absolutely ecstatic about working with them this next year and definitely looking forward to meeting my mentees in August 🙂

* My mother mocked my odds when she read this.  Sure, 30/40 sounds pretty good, but there was still a 25% chance that I would not be picked!

Making Time for Time January 29, 2010

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I’m taking 17 credits, got involved in 3 more organizations this semester, and had only slept about 4 hours the night before, and still I found myself sitting in a Google event – for the second time that day.

The idea that some students (not just in CS) go to events for “dine and dashes” and freebie-hoarding sprees baffles me about as much as when I go to those same events and have the opportunity to converse with representatives from companies like Lockheed Martin and Yahoo! and Google.

To explain part of my amazement about “big companies” visiting Georgia Tech, I’ll put it in perspective: I know somebody who saw one of his favorite bands play live 4 times just last year.  When I was young I was obsessed with the Backstreet Boys (oh, the shame!) throughout their most prolific era, yet not once did they visit Venezuela in the 4-5 years I listened to them.

Yahoo! and Google just don’t recruit in Venezuela.  I understand it’s illogical to recruit people from every single country in our world, but it is definitely demotivating to live in a place without opportunities.

It can be assumed that if someone is “good enough” that they’ll eventually be “noticed” and obtain their dream job; naturally, this is bitterly unrealistic and doesn’t take into consideration outside factors.  One example is an excellent fellow programmer and good friend of mine, Freddy P., who has been in a visa-requesting process for the past three years – hence, he is unable to move to another country where he could have the opportunity to be interviewed with Google.

I might eventually get used to their visits, but I won’t take them for granted.

good friend and