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UW CSE’s Krittika D’Silva: “I signed up for an intro CS class, and couldn’t stop taking classes after that”

Krittika D'SilvaUW’s Undergraduate Academic Affairs office recently published a great article on CSE undergrad Krittika D’Silva, who decided to double-major in computer science and bioengineering after taking one of our introductory courses. The article, “Undergrad sees change in the palm of her hand,” describes how Krittika arrived at the intersection of the two fields, which earned her a 2014-2015 Levinson Emerging Scholars Award.

After being accepted to CSE, Krittika worked with the late professor Gaetano Borriello on the development of hands-free smart phone technology for use by health care providers in low-resource environments to aid diagnosis and prevent the spread of infection. She currently works in bioengineering professor Paul Yager‘s lab on the development of portable kits that diagnose the bacterial infection MRSA at the point of care with the help of an Android app – an approach that could be used to improve diagnosis and care of patients with other diseases.

Read more about Krittika and her research here.

Check out previous coverage of Krittika’s work on the CSE blog here.

May 27, 2015

UW CSE’s time-lapse video project featured on PBS NewsHour

PBS time-lapse video imageThe new method for creating time-lapse videos developed by UW CSE’s GRAIL Group and Google was featured on a recent segment of the PBS NewsHour. As part of “NewsHour Shares,” its series of eye-catching stories from around the Web, PBS highlighted the videos created by graduate student Ricardo Martin Brualla, professor Steve Seitz and Google’s David Gallup of famous locations such as the Vatican and the Las Vegas strip – all from photos posted online.

As PBS anchor Judy Woodruff noted, “Where it once took months or years to create these videos, they can now do it almost instantly in an effort to help document our ever-changing world.”

Watch the video and read the transcript here.

Read our earlier blog post and media coverage featuring the time-lapse video project here.

May 27, 2015

What is Programming Language research and how is it useful?

CSElogo2text_1000We love being used to make a point! The University of Maryland’s Mike Hicks writes in “The Programming Languages Enthusiast” blog:

“If you are in the world of programming languages research, the announcement that UW had hired Ras Bodik away from Berkeley was big news. Quoting UW’s announcement:

“Ras’s arrival creates a truly world-class programming languages group in UW CSE that crosses into systems, databases, security, architecture, and other areas. Ras joins recent hires Emina Torlak, Alvin Cheung, Xi Wang, and Zach Tatlock, and senior faculty members Dan Grossman and Mike Ernst.

“And there’s also Luis Ceze, a regular publisher at PLDI, who ought to be considered as part of this group. With him, UW CSE has 8 out of 54 faculty with strong ties to PL. Hiring five PL-oriented faculty in three years, thus making PL a significant fraction of the faculty’s expertise, is (highly) atypical. What motivated UW CSE in its decision-making? I don’t know for sure, but I suspect they see that PL-oriented researchers are making huge inroads on important problems, bringing a useful perspective to unlock new results.”

Read more here!

May 27, 2015

KIRO Radio on UW CSE’s gender diversity initiatives

kiroKIRO Radio did a terrific 8-minute segment on UW CSE’s gender diversity initiatives and our recognition by the National Center for Women & Information Technology with NCWIT’s inaugural Excellence in Promoting Women in Undergraduate Computing Award.

“There’s also a very diverse pool of teacher’s assistants. Nearly 50 percent are female. That’s part of what made a difference to student Siena Dumas-Ang, who didn’t intend on being a Computer Science anything during her time at the university. She now plans to get her PhD in the field.

“‘I found women who were like me. I think there was also a stereotype of the type of women who did computer science on top of the male-saturated environment. I found women who were incredibly intelligent and driven and also like me. I didn’t realize it was a social environment,’ Dumas-Ang said …

“‘I think the diversity programs that work the best are the programs that help everybody. It may help some people differentially but the goal is to help everybody succeed and make everybody feel like they belong. Nobody can complain about that,’ [UW CSE professor Ed] Lazowska said.

“You can’t say that’s just feel-good lip service because now 30 percent of college students graduating with a major in Computer Science at the UW are women, which is double the national statistic.”

Listen here. (There are two glitches in this otherwise-excellent story: the headline (which implies that we are where we need to be), and the attribution of UW CSE’s success – a total team effort – to Lazowska. Ignore those please! It’s a terrific piece!) And see coverage in the New York Times, the Seattle Times, Xconomy, GeekWire, and UW Today.

May 26, 2015

Broadening Participation: The Why and the How

Untitled-1We’re thrilled to have been recognized by the National Center for Women & Information Technology with NCWIT’s inaugural Excellence in Promoting Women in Undergraduate Computing Award, and with the coverage this received in the New York Times, the Seattle Times, Xconomy, GeekWire, UW Today, and KIRO Radio.

Two bits of followup:

First, here’s an article from a couple of years ago describing “the why and the how” of our focus on gender diversity.

Second, the attached graphic shows the results of this focus. It compares the % of Bachelors degrees in Computer Science that UW CSE grants to women, with the % granted by all CS programs (the data reported by the National Science Foundation) and the % granted by those programs that also grant the Ph.D. (the data reported by the Computing Research Association).

The bad news: We all have a long way to go.

The good news: Programs that focus on it (CMU, Harvey Mudd, MIT, UW, many others) are making progress.

The best email we received in response to the award: “The recognition is a great tribute to you and your colleagues in UW Computer Science & Engineering for doing the hard work necessary to deliver results. Everyone talks about it; it’s terrific when the UW can demonstrate it has done something about it.”

May 24, 2015

UW CSE Ph.D. alum Jeff Dean is WIRED Magazine’s May cover boy!

dean_cover-796x1024UW CSE Ph.D. alum and Google Senior Fellow Jeff Dean made the cover of May’s WIRED Magazine as first among twenty “unsung geniuses who are about to reshape the business world.”

Jeff, who with his MIT Ph.D. alum Google colleague Sanjay Ghemawat is responsible for much of Google’s game-changing scalable infrastructure, is now focused on deep learning as a way to truly make computer systems “smart.”

Read the Wired article here.

May 24, 2015

UW CSE’s Raj Rao’s research profiled in Washington Post

iStock_000060183988_LargeThe Washington Post has picked up Smithsonian magazine’s coverage of UW CSE professor Raj Rao’s research:

“Of course, the story starts with the Vulcan mind meld.

“Since Spock first demonstrated on the original ‘Star Trek’ how Vulcans could absorb the thoughts of another being, the mind meld has been the go-to image for mental telepathy. So that’s how Jerry Adler begins his story ‘Why Brain-to-Brain Communication Is No Longer Unthinkable’ in the May Smithsonian magazine: He compares it with the mind meld and says that some researchers have gone Spock one better: A Vulcan was usually in physical contact with the person whose mind he was accessing, but modern science has managed to transfer some thoughts between two people who aren’t even on the same continent.

“What follows is highly technical and incremental but also very intriguing. We meet researcher Rajesh Rao, who describes an experiment in which a person looking at a Space Invaders screen picks a moment to fire; his brain, linked to a computer via a magnetic field, sends an impulse to another person, similarly linked, who, without conscious effort, finds himself pressing the right button to fire the shot.”

Read more here.

May 24, 2015

“Myth and Reality in the Crisis of College Affordability”

Pulling Up the Higher Ed Ladder Fig 5A careful analysis of national data that cuts through the bull concerning escalating tuition at public research-intensive universities:

“The Real Culprit: Cuts in State Support

“If neither rising spending nor increased aid is primarily driving tuition increases, what is? If we turn to the revenue side of the balance sheet, the answer becomes clear: declining state support.”

Read it and weep … here.

May 24, 2015

Seattle Times: “UW recognized for recruiting women to computer science”

TAsThe Seattle Times captures the essence of why UW CSE was recognized by the National Center for Women & Information Technology with the inaugural Excellence in Promoting Women in Undergraduate Computing Award. (Thank you Katherine Long!)

“UW CSE’s Siena Dumas Ang never thought she would come to love computer science.

“What she loved was dance – ballet and, later, modern – as well as math, and she was planning to major in both at the University of Washington. But then she took a few computer science classes as electives, and found a new subject to embrace …

“When she graduates this spring, the Seattle resident will have three majors: math, dance and computer science …

“Student Jasmine Singh always planned to major in computer science, and when she entered the UW, the computer science department paired her with a female upperclassman majoring in the field. Her mentor helped Singh adjust to college and gave her advice on classes to take. Singh, who grew up in Washington, is a senior double-majoring in computer science and electrical engineering.

“‘There are female professors, tech talks performed by successful and intelligent women, coding competitions with plenty of female participants and hosts, and sports teams (such as CSE Frisbee) that encourage women to join,’ Singh said by email.

“Dumas Ang said she thinks too few women go into computer science because of the perception that the field is a ‘combative, aggressive, male-dominated environment.’ But at least at the UW, that’s not what she found.

“‘Here, there’s much more open discussion about the way women are treated,’ she said. ‘There are always going to be people who have a gender bias, but overall the experience in this department is really pleasant.’

“[UW CSE professor Ed] Lazowska said he’s pleased by one statistic in particular: Of the UW women who enroll in an introductory computer science course, and later decide to major in the field, 58 percent said they were not initially interested in majoring in computer science.

“In other words, the introductory course changed their minds. The women who took the class ‘discovered they loved computer science and were great at it,’ he said by email.”

Read more here.

Learn more about our NCWIT Excellence in Promoting Women in Undergraduate Computing Award – the Grand Prize in the organization’s inaugural NEXT Awards – here. And see additional coverage in the New York Times, Xconomy, GeekWire, UW Today, and KIRO Radio.

May 22, 2015

NY Times: “Making Computer Science More Inviting: A Look at What Works”


CSE senior Sonja Khan – New York Times photo

A phenomenal article by Claire Cain Miller in the New York Times, stimulated by UW CSE’s receipt today of the NCWIT Excellence in Promoting Women in Undergraduate Computing Award – the Grand Prize in the organization’s inaugural NEXT Awards:

“When Sonja Khan started college, she’d never thought of studying computer science. But when she heard from friends that the intro class was good, she decided to give it a try – and then ended up majoring in it.

“Four years later, she has just graduated with a computer science degree, is pursuing a master’s degree and is headed to a summer internship at Facebook.

“‘I didn’t even know anything about the field before; I had never considered it,’ she said. ‘I signed up for it pretty much on a whim and really enjoyed it.’

“Ms. Khan’s story reads like a dream for universities and technology companies – where only about 15 percent of computer science graduates and technical workers are women. The industry has been under pressure to recruit more. The difficult question, though, is how to encourage more women on paths like Ms. Khan’s.

“Some colleges have made significant strides, including the University of Washington, where Ms. Khan is a student. Their methods offer lessons for other colleges and companies hoping to increase the number of women in fields where they remain underrepresented.”

Read more in the New York Times here.

Learn more about our NCWIT Excellence in Promoting Women in Undergraduate Computing Award – the Grand Prize in the organization’s inaugural NEXT Awards – here. And see additional coverage in the Seattle Times, Xconomy, GeekWire, UW Today, and KIRO Radio.

May 21, 2015

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