Student Spotlight - Antwane Mason (Class of 2013)
Author: Antwane Mason (Computer Science and Japanese)
I had the opportunity to participate in a curriculum development competition sponsored by the Center for Minorities and People with Disabilities in Information Technology, CMD-IT. My research partner, a fellow African American senior Computer Science major, and I received the honor of second place with the prize of $1500 and the opportunity to attend this year's SIGCSE Technical Symposium.
CMD-IT is a center whose mission is to ensure underrepresented groups are engaged in computing and information technology and to promote innovations that enrich, enhance, and enable underrepresented groups. In 2012, CMD-IT held a competition called "Introductory CS Course: It's All About Inclusion." The challenge was to design a two week project for an introductory computer science course that would excite and inspire students from underrepresented groups.
Our submission was a course project called URMAS, or UnderRepresented Minority Advancement Site. The concept of the URMAS project is to have students create a website targeting high school and undergraduate students, allowing them to contribute content on topics such as applying to schools, obtaining scholarships, or applying for U.S. citizenship. This project would provide students with an introduction to skills necessary to succeed in the field of computing and information technology as well as allowing underrepresented groups to uplift one another, pulling their knowledge and resources to succeed both individually and collectively.
I attended the SIGCSE Technical Symposium with my research partner Cedric Strickland, held in Denver, Colorado between March 6-9th, to present our project proposal and receive the award. The SIGCSE Symposium is a forum for the sharing of ideas concerning teaching and pedagogy in computer science education. Both Cedric and I were honored to present our project proposal at such a prestigious event.
I believe that the Reilly Dual Degree program has broadened my thinking, which has allowed me to look beyond simply writing code, but also into thinking about how to sustain the practice of computer science in the future, which I believe is tied to increasing diversity within the field. This desire led our group to think about how to get minority groups and people with disabilities excited about computer science in introductory CS coursework.