Fred Morstatter, president of the Women in Computer Science, says the student organization is dedicated to getting more women involved in the computer science field, but he is certainly proof that the group caters to all students in the field.
WCS events are varied. The group meets regularly and the agenda may be anything from corporate speakers introducing new products or discussing employment opportunities to helping a fellow member. For example, at a recent meeting, everyone pitched in to make a video for a member’s application to the Microsoft Student Partners program.
Microsoft is also one of the many high-profile sponsors of WCS’s largest event, the annual computer programming competition. The event continues to grow, drawing 63 participants on 30 teams this year. Morstatter says that the event has grown to the point where they really no longer need to advertise, but still do. Sponsoring companies also send engineering professionals to serve as judges for the event. Students participating have the opportunity to show off skills not just for the competition, but also to potential employers.
About five times a year, members will go to high schools, targeting math and science classes to talk about computer science. They also go to regular events at the Arizona Science Center to talk to the general public.
Morstatter says they hope to include graduate students at future events to speak to the group about educational opportunities.
WCS provides numerous resources for its members. Devin Bulyer, a freshman, credits WCS with helping her transition to college and life away from home. She says the group was a great way to meet friends, find tutors and get to know faculty. Plus, she says it’s fun and she still feels like she is doing something important.
Like Morstatter, she would like to see more women involved in computer science. Growing up, she was always interested in math, computers and video games. She learned programming by building a website with her father.
But, she says that she is not typical. She thinks that many girls don’t feel like they can pursue an engineering degree—not just computer science, but any engineering degree–unless they have straight A’s. She hopes to help change that perception by helping with WCS outreach efforts with high schools as well as reaching out to other engineering students.
Faculty advisors to the group are Mutsumi Nakamura and Faye Navabi. The organization’s website can be found at: http://wcs.asu.edu.