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‘It’s extremely important for future students to picture themselves in computing’: Allen School celebrates Computer Science Education Week

Five people, four of whom are wearing Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering t-shirts, pose with 2D props in a photo booth, including a sign shaped like a crown, a thought cloud with the text CS Ed Week 2022, a comic book-style graphic with stars and the text WOW!, an online map-style location pin with a heart in the center and the Allen School logo underneath, a cut-out of the word YAY!, and a sign shaped like a hand with index finger pointing up in a “#1” gesture.

Each December, the Allen School invites prospective students and families to join us for a week-long celebration of Computer Science Education Week, a nationwide event that aims to inspire students, advance equity, and honor those who are contributing to the field and to society. After being compelled to go fully virtual due to the pandemic in 2020 and 2021, the school’s Diversity & Access Team was thrilled to offer a hybrid celebration this year. 

Throughout the week, prospective students and families joined Allen School researchers, staff and students for virtual sessions devoted to a range of topics, from “a day in the life” of an Allen School major, to exploratory discussions of computing’s impact on society, to research talks and demos spanning artificial intelligence, computer security, robotics, accessibility, and more.

“CS Education Week is our largest outreach event of the year,” said Assistant Director for Diversity & Access Chloe Dolese Mandeville. “We know that it’s extremely important for future students to picture themselves in computing and the Allen School before they even step foot on campus as an undergraduate. This week is an opportunity for us to provide that picture for high school students — especially those who don’t have access to computing opportunities in their schools or communities.”

To that end, in addition to offering an overview of what it’s like to be an Allen School student, the team also organized sessions devoted specifically to highlighting the experience of students from underrepresented communities and those who are the first generation in their families to pursue a bachelor’s degree. The celebration culminated in a virtual Hour of Code followed by an in-person open house in the Allen Center and Gates Center on the University of Washington’s Seattle campus, where an estimated 250 people spent the day touring the labs, participating in interactive demos, talking to current students and researchers, and experiencing firsthand what it means to be part of the Allen School and the field of computing.

“It was an incredible experience to host students and their families on campus again after three years,” said Dolese Mandeville. “We loved the energy that students and their families brought to campus — taking photos with each other, getting to know our undergraduate students, and engaging in hands-on activities. This celebration is really about welcoming more students into the computing community and the Allen School community, too.”

Group photo of 18 people, some of whom are wearing Allen School-branded clothing, framed by a purple, silver and white balloon arch in front of glass doors inside the Gates Center atrium. Two people are holding round white stuffed animals resembling white blobs with black eyes and felt hats, and two people are holding individual balloons.
Members of the Diversity & Access Team, including our student ambassadors and Changemakers in Computing mentors, were ready to welcome 250 students, family members and friends to the Allen School’s first open house since 2019.
A crowd of people, a mix of teenagers and adults, in casual dress seated in rows in an auditorium viewing a presentation that appears out of frame.
Visitors assembled in the auditorium for an Allen School information session to learn about the student experience and the application process.
A conference room with tables and signage around the perimeter. People are spread out around the tables, conversing and laughing or looking at displays. A teenager wearing a black mask, purple Allen School t-shirt, grey sweatpants trimmed with three white stripes, and rain boots is walking across the room in the foreground, followed by a man wearing a black and white baseball cap, glasses, black and white plaid flannel shirt and jeans, carrying multiple coats.
Students and their families explore the Gates Center.
Two people that appear to be mother and son stop to ask a question of a third person wearing a black Allen School shirt and jeans and black mask. The woman is wearing a black puffer coat and jeans; the teenager is wearing a maroon sweatshirt and blue jeans. Two people who appear to be students dressed in sweatshirts, baggy pants and sneakers, are visible in the background. There is a sign with text “Machine Learning Lab Tour, a list of tour start times and specification that tours are limited to 20 people each, a graphic representation of computer science themes, and “Computer Science Education Week 2022”
Next stop: the Machine Learning Lab.
A person wearing glasses, a grey and white striped sweater, and red trousers is holding a small item, possibly a LEGO piece, in his hands and talking to a person who is positioned with their back to camera, mostly out of frame. Next to the person talking is a poster with colorful images and diagrams of various Lego building projects, with a partially visible title text: “Make: Interactive Structural Understanding Using LEGO Bricks.” The poster is in front of a large glass window overlooking the exterior of Husky Stadium in the rain.
Speaking of learning, visitors learned about a LEGO simulator that is teaching machines to reason about structures the way kids do — by taking things apart and putting them back together again. (Bonus: The bricks are virtual, so there’s no danger of accidentally stepping on one!)
Five people stand around a demo table with a laptop and assorted wires attached to a small square device off to the side. Three people are running the demo from one side of the table; one of the two guests on the opposite side, facing the laptop, is reaching out towards the device. The laptop screen displays simple graphics suggesting some kind of video game. There are little piles of purple tubes of chapstick and stickers branded with the Allen School logo.
Tired: Viewing museum exhibits from a distance. Wired: Interacting with the exhibits at CS Education Week. Inspired: Experiencing what it’s like to be part of the Allen School community!
Three people, one of whom is wearing glasses, a purple Allen School t-shirt and a mask and the others wearing light grey sweatshirts, one with a North Face puffer vest on top, standing behind a table making snapping gestures with their fingers and smiling at the camera. Part of the “Changemakers in Computing” sign with a graphic of a Husky and laptop with three avatars in brackets onscreen is visible. There are piles of purple rubber balls and chapstick tubes, a selection of purple and white stickers with Allen School and Changemakers in Computing’s Husky logo, and a pile of candy behind a multi-colored game wheel that people can spin to win items on the table. A QR code in a plastic sheath is also on the table. Evergreen branches and a brick building are visible through the window in the background.
Changemakers in Computing mentors came prepared, because everyone loves swag (and candy)!
A teenage girl with long straight hair and wearing a black sweatshirt with partially visible words “The Gymnastics Connection in purple and green” stands in a line of people carrying a white coat draped over her arm, looking off to the side and smiling. The people lined up behind her are blurred and appear to be looking at the contents of display cases along the wall as they wait. There is a stanchion and ropes to indicate where the line is.
Taylor Swift concert? Nah — not to be “Mean,” but these students and their families are having “The Best Day” at CS Education Week! After finding some “Blank Space” in line at the Allen Center, they waited patiently to tour our UbiComp Lab and be “Enchanted” by some amazing research.
Five smiling people, one of whom is holding a dog with curly white hair and pink and brown nose, pose in a photo booth. Two of the people are wearing t-shirts with UW and Allen School logos visible. The four people without the dog are holding up 2D props, including a graphic of a Husky with pink tongue and paw pads, an online map-style location pin with a heart in the center and the Allen School logo underneath, an open laptop with the Allen School logo onscreen, and a purple dog paw with a gold “W” on the paw pad.
New album, just dropped! (Just kidding — these are members of the Allen School’s Diversity & Access Team taking over the CS Education Week photo booth. But they’re definitely rock stars in our book!)

Thanks to all of our presenters, students and visitors for making CS Education Week a tremendous success! See you next year!

Photos: Emmy Ngo