Faculty Receive Awards for Mentoring and Curricular Engagement

Several Harvey Mudd College computer science faculty members have been recognized for achievements in mentoring and curricular engagement by the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT), a nonprofit community of more than 600 universities, companies, nonprofits and government organizations working to increase women’s participation in computing and technology.

Mentoring

Assistant Professor of Computer Science Colleen Lewis received the NCWIT 2015 Undergraduate Research Mentoring Award for a junior faculty member at a B.S.- or M.S.-granting university. The annual award recognizes NCWIT Academic Alliance representatives at nonprofit U.S. institutions for their outstanding mentorship, high-quality research opportunities, recruitment of women and minority students and efforts to encourage and advance undergraduates in computing-related fields.

Lewis undertook her first mentorship experience as a graduate student, hiring and working side by side with undergraduate researchers on a project funded by the National Science Foundation. Now in her third year as assistant professor at Harvey Mudd, she has mentored a total of 47 undergraduates, including 32 women. Nineteen of her research students have co-authored published papers with her. An additional 10 have presented conference posters.

“I mentor undergraduate researchers as a way of increasing the participation of, and integrating the perspectives of, underrepresented groups in computer science research,” says Lewis. “To accomplish these goals, I work to build relationships with my students and motivate them through early engagement with the research process.” Lewis stresses the importance of fostering these relationships to find out about their interests, career goals, strengths and weaknesses so that she can customize mentoring.

Harvey Mudd College will receive $5,000, sponsored by AT&T, to hire an additional research student this summer, says Lewis.

Engagement

Several Harvey Mudd professors have been selected as recipients of the 2015 NCWIT Engagement Excellence Award, sponsored by Google. The annual award recognizes faculty whose curricular materials not only demonstrate excellence in computer science content and pedagogy, but utilize research-based engagement practices to make computer science relevant and meaningful for students.

Former Harvey Mudd computer science professor Christine Alvarado (UC San Diego) and current CS professors Zachary Dodds, Geoff Kuenning and Ran Libeskind-Hadas each received the award for materials developed for the Introduction to Computer Science (CS5) course. Materials include an interactive online textbook and other course materials that are available to all.

The course and materials have been adopted by a number of other schools, including Bucknell University, Northwestern University and the Stevens Institute of Technology, among others. Harvey Mudd is also creating a free massive open online course (MOOC) based on the CS5 course. The MOOC will be called “CS For All” and will launch on the edX platform in early June, with registration starting in April.

In addition to a $5,000 gift to the College, award recipients received an invitation, including paid travel expenses, to attend the 2015 NCWIT Summit.

Harvey Mudd College’s computer science department is working diligently to increase enrollment of female and minority students in undergraduate courses. Today, Harvey Mudd’s computer science undergraduate majors are roughly 40 percent women.