At Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, students in computer science and software engineering expressed interest in learning more technologies in context and application, beginning very early in their major. In 2010 we revised our first-year course selections, so that now students can choose a flavor from a menu of an introductory computing course. Current flavors include: Game Design, Mobile App Development, Robotics, Music Composition, and Computational Art. We are working on adding: Cybersecurity and Data Analytics. These courses reflect the evolution of computing instruction by giving students choices in their introductory class, teaching "algorithmic thinking," using context to draw students in and keep their interest, and implementing project-based learning in a group environment. Initial results show that this approach has been especially popular and effective with female students.
Cal Poly also has emphasized opportunities for women in computing to develop visibility for themselves and the field. Our Computer Science Department promotes the women in computing student club, runs a speaker series, and established a mentoring mechanism for female students. The department provides outstanding support to female students for attending and participating the annual Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing conference (32 female students attended and Grace Hopper conference in Oct 2013; a record number for a public University). The department has successfully hosted three “NCWIT Awards for Aspirations in Computing” for high school girls and will continue this commitment. Our recruitment efforts have been substantially enhanced with the dedicated efforts of our female majors who are visiting their former high schools, using NCWIT road show materials, to ignite the passion of prospective female students.
Hear Ignatios share the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Pacesetters story: http://sitwithme.org/your-story/?story=1294.