Outside of Class
When you are looking for a school, part of what you are looking for is the curriculum and you should certainly lay our curricula next to national standards and those of other schools you are considering. However, a lot of the learning that happens in college happens outside of the class room, so you are also looking for an engaged community of students and faculty who are exploring things outside of class. We have a number of strategies for creating a rich community in our department because that encourages our students to be involved in a wide variety of activities.
A few years ago, our students decided they needed a student government to oversee the things we do outside of class and to be a liaison between our faculty and our students. With officers and representatives from each program, eleven students are elected annually to serve in these leadership positions. They do everything from planning social activities to helping with new student recruitment to helping review curricular changes. This is a great opportunity to develop leadership skills and impact the quality of everything we do.
Since we have students across four years and four programs, we think it is important that we provide a structure that connects everyone. There is a lot of value to our freshmen knowing our seniors and to students in one programming knowing students in the other programs. Therefore, we created three Crews. These are like houses at Hogwarts: everyone gets assigned to a crew when they arrive and they earn points for their crew all year long. At the end of the year, the crew with the most points gets a party. Students earn points by participating in extra curricular activities, helping the faculty, doing work beyond what their courses require, and through regular crew competitions. About every month, the crews compete in anything from designing software for race cars to capture the flag. The competitions are designed so that everyone can participate - freshmen through seniors. In addition to the competitions, crews also run individual social gatherings like game or movie nights to build team spirit.
Persisting in challenging disciplines like ours is easier when you feel like you belong.
Our alumni have recognized this and generously donate to support giving every student two T-shirts: one for the department when they are freshmen and one for the program they are pursuing when they are juniors. Every Wednesday is T-shirt day so the whole campus knows who we are. In addition, our students have T-shirts for extra-curricular activities, crews, and accomplishments (like gaining 1000 points on Hackerrank.com).
We also have series of key chains that students earn for participating in extra curricular activities, being an officer, doing well in a class, making the Dean's list, or doing something that impresses a faculty member. These get hung on students' backpacks to celebrate their successes.
- Programming Team: A fun way to improve your programming skills is to participate in programming competitions.
- WICS-E: Women in Computer Science & Engineering is a club dedicated to bringing women together in order to assist them in furthering their skills and knowledge.
- Software Engineering Club: A group of students who pick out a project to work on each semester. Then they plan and execute the project during that semester. Past projects have been entered into (and won) D2L’s national competition.
- Game Dev Club: A student organization that allows students of all majors to participate in the design and development process of video game creation. Has taken students to video game conventions on multiple occasions to present their games as an indie game studio.
- Networking Club: Our networking club plays with a variety of networking topics. They play with our software controlled radios and networking protocols. This year, they are working on activities targeted at passing Cisco's CCENT certification.
- Anime Club: A cultural art and animation appreciation club for Japanese serialized entertainment. Meets weekly to watch modern anime series in a theatre-like setting on campus.
- Upsilon Pi Epsilon Honor Society: The premiere international honor society for computer sciences. Students need to have a 3.5 or higher GPA and 60 credits to be eligible.