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UW CSE’s computer science summer day camps kick off!

DSCN0152This week marked the kickoff of UW CSE’s extensive set of computer science summer day camps for elementary, middle, and high school students.

We hosted a co-ed camp for students entering grades 3-5 for “Scratch Adventures,” and a co-ed camp for students entering grades 10-12 for “Physical Computing.”

During the week of July 7 we’ll again host “Physical Computing.”

During the weeks of July 21 and August 11 we’ll host students entering grades 7-9 for “Building Android Apps.”

DSCN0090During the weeks of July 27 and August 3 we’ll host girls camps using Processing for students entering grades 10-12.

And during the weeks of August 10 and August 17 we’ll host girls camps using Processing for students entering grades 7-9.

Learn more about our summer day camps here.

Learn more about Dawgbytes (“A Taste of CSE”), UW CSE’s broad-based K-12 outreach program, here.

 

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July 2, 2015

Washington State invests in Computer Science education!

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All-in-all, the Washington State legislature’s session that draws to a close this week (after its second overtime period – thank god they didn’t have to resort to penalty kicks) was a great one for Computer Science!

With extraordinary leadership from Reps. Drew Hansen and Chad Magendanz, and with strong backing from Code.org, Microsoft, the Washington Tech Industry Association, and many others, the Washington State Legislature passed HB 1813, establishing standards for learning and teaching computer science in K-12.

In the operating budget, Drew and Chad’s work and the backing of a strong coalition paid off once again, supported by Rep. Ross Hunter (Appropriations) and Sen. Andy Hill (Ways & Means), with funding for K-12 teacher preparation, expansion of AP Computer Science courses, a new computer science program at Bellevue College, a data analytics program at Washington State University’s Everett campus, a 4-year cybersecurity degree at Western Washington University’s Olympic Peninsula campus, and a significant expansion of UW Computer Science & Engineering. (Drew and Chad have a plan to increase UW CSE’s annual degree production to 600 from last year’s 300; 3/8ths of their goal was achieved in this session, with more hopefully to come in future biennia.) This is huge.

Here’s the bad news: Unfortunately and inexplicably, despite broad support and despite tireless efforts by Microsoft, WTIA and UW, funding for UW CSE’s building – essential to accommodating program growth – went off the tracks in the end-game of the session. UW had requested $40M from the state for what is anticipated to be a $110M project, with the rest to be raised privately. (Microsoft kicked off the private fundraising campaign in fine style several weeks ago – as they had done for our current building – with a $10M commitment.) The Governor supported this request. The House, in its preliminary budget, provided $6M. The Senate, in its preliminary budget, provided $32.5M. It appeared that we were on track to receive $32.5M in the final budget. In fact, it even appears that way in the budget document. But in the fine print, the Legislature provided $17.5M in funding, and directed UW to provide an additional $15M from something called the UW Building Fund – local funds derived largely from a “facilities” portion of student tuition and intended for essential maintenance of existing facilities, not for capital projects.

Tough to figger. UW CSE prepares Washington’s students for jobs at Washington’s leading-edge companies at a level that vastly exceeds that of any other program. Both student demand and employer demand are exploding. Washington’s students, and Washington’s leading-edge companies, badly need an expanded program. The overall capital budget was $2.2B, and the higher education portion was $540M, but somehow our project didn’t make the cut. Back to the drawing board – hopefully this can be redressed in the supplemental session.

Code.org has a nice post on the overall outcome of the session, here.

Thanks to all who continue to support increased investment in Computer Science education in Washington!

July 2, 2015

The fastest growing AP exam in the past 5 years: Computer Science!

apGranted, we had (and still have) a pretty deep hole to climb out of, but between 2010 and 2015, Computer Science AP exams are up by 150% – from 20,000/year to 50,000/year.

This is particularly remarkable since only 5% of schools offer AP Computer Science. Let’s fix that!

Visit the Code.org website here; check out their blog post on AP growth here.

July 2, 2015

What does the founder of a tech startup look like?

02UP-Startups-superJumboWhat does the founder of a tech startup look like? Not like the photo to on the right!

Claire Cain Miller reports in the New York Times on a study by researchers at Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. The average founder is 38, with a master’s degree and 16 years of work experience.

And while only 12 percent of current founders are women, when the researchers searched for potential founders based on matches with other characteristics of successful founders, 20 percent of the people they found were women. “If you look at just the professional histories of the people who got funded, then it suggests people who share those histories are much more diverse than the people who get funded.”

“It’s true that start-up investing will never be a science. It depends too much on timing, luck and human judgment. But a more diverse set of founders might be financed by doing more than waiting for a kid in a hoodie to show up at the door.”

Read more here.

July 2, 2015

Happy retirement, Scott Rose!

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Scott grimaces as UW CSE Director of Computing Aaron Timss reads a tribute

UW CSE M.S. alum Scott Rose has been CSE’s extraordinary webmaster-in-exile for more than 20 years – working first from Madison WI and then from Vancouver BC as he accommodated the career of his academic superstar wife, UW CSE Ph.D. alum Anne Condon.

Anne has a sabbatical coming up (Caltech, New Zealand, and Ireland are on the agenda), and Scott took the opportunity to pull the ripcord.

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Da man!

Thanks, Scott, for your decades of superb work!

(Additional Bruce Hemingway photos here.)

June 30, 2015

UW CSE Leadership Seminar Series

LSSEach year, UW CSE’s Leadership Seminar Series brings alumni and friends back to campus to impart career success lessons from the school of hard knocks to upper-division undergraduates. This evening we thanked Bay Area participants in 2015’s Leadership Seminar Series at a dinner in San Francisco. Left-to-right: Erin Walker, Ed Lazowska, Ph.D. alum Brian Pinkerton (A9), Bachelors alum Mohamed El-Zohairy (NileTap -> CloudPress -> News Corp), Dan Grossman, Bachelors alum Brandon Ballinger (Google -> Sift Science -> healthcare.gov).

Thanks for giving back!

June 26, 2015

UW CSE @ Sift Science

JasonOn Friday, Dan Grossman and Ed Lazowska visited UW CSE alum Jason Tan, co-founder and CEO of Bay Area startup Sift Science – bringing machine-learning-powered fraud detection to online merchants of all sizes.Jason & Ed

June 26, 2015

Eric Lander: “The Miracle Machine”

eric-lander-lab_6c81d9eb5d51We had missed this stupendous talk that Eric Lander (Broad Institute) gave in April at the National Math Festival gala dinner at the Library of Congress:

“There are bills in Congress to ensure the accountability of taxpayer dollars invested in science, to ensure that dollars are stretched efficiently and effectively – I quote from websites here – to ensure ‘accountability’ and ‘transparency.’ There are proposals that the National Science Foundation be required to publish a justification of each and every grant’s scientific merits and relevance to the broad national interest – that is, to the economy or defense.

“Now, how could you possible disagree with such prudent investing of American dollars? How could you possibly disagree with accountability, transparency? If I’m investing in real estate, I want to see a clear path to a return on my investment. If I’m investing in a start-up company, I might be willing to wait for a few years before I get my return, but I want to see a clear business plan. If I’m investing in building roads and bridges for a country, I’d like a clear connection between social investment and social return. So what can possibly be wrong with wanting to have a clear case for precisely how investments in basic research will pay off?

“The answer is: absolutely everything! Everything is wrong with it. Applying this kind of filter to basic research is a terrible strategy. It’ll guarantee that you will have ordinary returns – projects that pay off, at an ordinary rate. In the short term, you’ll get outputs. But you will miss the extraordinary returns. Fundamental research is fundamentally different than any other kind of investment. We’re all still struggling to understand it, but it is a remarkable thing: because time and time again, we’ve found that basic research can pay huge, out-of-proportion returns.”

Read the whole thing! It’s here.

June 26, 2015

UW CSE @ Apple

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Clockwise from lower left: Owen Anderson, Susumu Harada, Dan Grossman, Lara Littlefield, Dave Richardson, Peter Stackle, Rob Bedichek, Caitlin Bonnar, Ed Lazowska, Josh Scotland, Erik Turnquist, and Jean Wu. Behind the camera: Erin Walker.

UW CSE professors Dan Grossman and Ed Lazowska plus UW CSE outreach staff Lara Littlefield and Erin Walker engaged in a lunchtime discussion on Friday with some of UW CSE’s alums at Apple: Owen Anderson, Rob Bedichek, Caitlin Bonnar (grad student and summer intern), Susumu Harada, Dave Richardson, Josh Scotland, Peter Stackle, Erik Turnquist, and Jean Wu.

Many thanks to Rob Bedichek for hosting!

June 26, 2015

UW’s Josh Smith and wireless robot recharging featured in The Economist

Josh SmithThe latest issue of The Economist asks, “Electronics has already cut the data cord. Can it now cut the power cord as well?” Based in part on the work of CSE and EE professor Joshua Smith, the answer may soon be “yes.” Josh, who heads the UW Sensor Systems Lab, has developed a system for dynamic wireless charging of robots – and started a company, Wibotic, to commercialize the new technology. From the article:

“Drones may one day transform the way parcels are delivered, crops monitored and suspects apprehended. Those who talk up these possibilities, though, often neglect to mention the drawbacks of such robot aircraft – one of which is that most cannot fly for more than a quarter of an hour before they need to find a human being to swap their batteries for them or plug them into an electrical socket.

“Joshua Smith, a computer scientist at the University of Washington, in Seattle, hopes to change that. In May he started a company called Wibotic that plans to recharge drones (and also earthbound robots) without them having to establish an awkward physical connection with a plug.”

The article goes on to explain how the system Josh developed, which employs circuits that are tuned to the same resonant frequency, is a more efficient and flexible alternative to traditional induction systems that rely on simple transmitting and receiving coils. While the basic idea behind resonant induction is not new, Josh’s approach – which works over greater distances and can be tuned to different conditions – represents a significant step forward for wireless power transmission.

Read the full article here.

June 26, 2015

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