To combat the decline of female and minority graduates in computer science, UW-Madison’s Department of Computer Sciences is offering the Wisconsin Emerging Scholars-Computer Sciences program to recruit a broader cross section of students to the field.
The program enhances the department’s introductory programming course with small-group, peer-led learning. Participants have an opportunity to earn one credit through weekly meetings with small teams that will do classroom work and visits to various companies, according to a university release.
Tracy Lewis-Williams, faculty associate in the Department of Computer Sciences, believes the program builds confidence and a sense of community among the students.
“There’s an infectious energy in WES-CS. I love bringing students into a program, exposing them to new ways of thinking and seeing the growth in students,” Lewis-Williams said in the release.
The National Science Foundation provided original funding for WES-CS, but corporate sponsors, including Google, helped it continue. Future plans to broaden the program include computer science courses 301 and 367.
Lewis-Williams said he sees WES-CS as a way to foster diversity among computer science students, which would be beneficial for both the students and society.
“Computing is about creativity, and if you limit the diversity, you’re going to get minds that think alike,” Lewis-Williams said in release. “By drawing new people into the fold, that’s how we come up with innovative new technologies that keep the U.S. globally competitive.”