From designing a smarter planet to big-data, to information assurance and cyber-security, the fields of computer science and information technology form the basis of much media reports and conversation today. And, April 4-5, 2014, student, professor, and industry leaders from around the region will gather here at Westminster College for the 20th Consortium for Computing Sciences in Colleges, Central Plains (CCSC-CP) Regional Conference. This is the first time the CCSC-CP conference has been held at Westminster.
The CCSC is a national consortium comprised of colleges and universities from ten different geographic regions with an academic mission of promoting quality computer-oriented curricula and sharing expertise, effective curricula, and effective technological applications with the use of computers in the liberal arts and sciences. The regional conferences are places where students, professors, and industry professionals gather to realize this mission.
The CCSC-CP conference this year is furthering its mission with significant outreach to K-12 faculty and two-year colleges in order to build new relationships and strengthen existing ones. In fact, the Cerner Corporation is once again providing scholarships to promote K-12 teacher attendance. Click here for registration info. (Watch this video to see how Lewis McKenzie, Class of 2002, benefitted from Cerner training to help his Computer Science and Software Engineering class in Ruskin High School, Kansas City.)
Like most professional and academic conferences, there are multiple sessions where presentations and workshops are delivered meeting the varied interests of participants. A pre-conference workshop focusing on security issues in programming and an opening keynote from Michael Robison from IBM start the conference. Some unique and interesting presentations include “WU-Bots – A Robot Simulator for Students,” “Essentials of Software Engineering: What to Teach When You Can’t Teach Everything,” “A Tutorial on Storyboarding,” and “Strategically Recruiting Diverse Students into Your Undergraduate Major.”
In addition, the following feature events draw significant interest from students:
Programming Challenge Competition
The programming competition is an event of interest to all academic intuitions and particularly students. Student teams compete to successfully solve the most programming problems in the shortest amount of time. The awards for such accomplishments are cash prizes for student teams and a trophy and significant bragging rights for the school. This is an extremely popular event with as many as 40 three-person teams participating annually.
Research Poster Competition
Another great student-oriented aspect of the conference is the research poster competition. Students present the results of their computer science research during the conference and top poster presentations are awarded prizes. Last year, Sarah Gloe, Westminster College Class of 2013, received a third place award for her web application research.
We are also, for the first time, holding a career-fair for student attendees. Several employers will visit Westminster’s campus during the conference to visit with students and recruit for their organizations.
The CCSC Central Plains region has great people to work with for planning and coordinating these conferences. As the chair of the conference this year and a member of the conference steering committee for the past several years, I know that having a good team makes all the difference in delivering quality professional conference. For me, the conference is more than just attending presentations and workshops, it is a place and time to have great conversations about teaching and learning, and muse about the possible and impossible characteristics of computer science.
For more information, visit the conference web site: http://www.ccsc.org/centralplains/.
By Dr. Ed Mirielli, Professor and Chair of Computer Sciences at Westminster College