“Science is what we understand well enough to explain to a computer. Art is everything else we do.”
“I've always been more interested in the future than in the past.”
ACM Programming Contest
For the past three years I've co-coached Centre's programming contest team. We meet weekly during fall term to practice, and each November we attend the regional programming contest. Teams have five hours and only one computer (without internet) to solve as many challenging algorithmic problems as they can. During practice, we munch on snacks and discuss techniques like greedy algorithms, graph search algorithms, backtracking, computational geometry, and dynamic programming.
Each year Centre does quite well, but in 2011, one of our teams took 6th place out of 143 teams in the region! (We were so close to a trip to Poland for the World Finals...)
Here's a featured Centre news article about it.
Computer Science Club @ Centre
I'm the faculty sponsor of the student computing club at Centre College, which hosts a number of events throughout the year, including ``coding parties'', robot building, visiting lectures, watching TED talks about computing and society, and retro video-game nights.
The biggest event of the year is probably the ``Olin 500'' robot race, wherein students spend weeks build and programming robots to autonomously circumnavigate the first floor of Olin Hall (the academic building that houses computer science). Here's a Centre Sights & Sounds feature about it.
Contestants lined up for the
Olin 500 robot race.
Younger students & community outreach
Northwestern's Take Our Daughters To Work Day
I also enjoy teaching about computers, technology, and math to younger audiences.
I was a volunteer for several years either leading or assisting with computer programming tutorials (using NetLogo) for Northwestern's Take Our Daughters To Work Day (mostly elementary/middle school), and the McCormick Engineering School's Career Day For Girls (middle/high school). In addition to basic computer programming, we also discuss the use of computers for scientific modeling and simulation.
I was also a member of the Construction For Learning (CFL) club, which is an interdisciplinary organization of graduate students across Northwestern University who are interested in building tools for learning. Through CFL, I was involved in several community outreach events that expose underprivileged children to technologies such as computers, robotics, and electronics.
I was also an instructor/coach for a group of local home-schooled students in the Math Olympiad and MATHCOUNTS programs over the past 4 years. I have always enjoyed mathematical problem solving, and coming up with interesting puzzles. Moreover, I enjoy teaching computer science and math at all levels.
Construction For Learning club outreach event