Daylight Savings Time has returned, the spring equinox has come and gone, and outside of Halligan the birds have returned to trees that promise to bud soon. Inside Halligan, both students and faculty have returned from spring break looking refreshed and rested.
With spring comes construction! Through our windows last week we watched the demolition of the old, cinderblock facilities shed along the train tracks. For the next couple of months, project engineers will be assessing gas lines, foundations, and everything else necessary for a late-May start on the Cummings Building, which will be the computer science department’s new home. We’re excited at the prospect of housing the entire department in a single building for the first time in nearly two decades! However, first we have to live through the construction process. With the loss of the Halligan extension necessary for the new construction, along with an expected increase in faculty, we’re going to have to temporarily move some faculty and graduate students to 196 Boston Ave. When you come to visit these next two years, be sure to confirm where you’re going: faculty office locations may shift during the transition!
Our External Advisory Board is going very well. The Board has decided to focus on three issues of importance: Alumni Relations, Industry Relations, and Diversity and Inclusion. Board members have already helped us with finding instructors for courses in Reverse Engineering and Cryptography, PR for our Human Robotic Interaction programs, and internships for our students. We’re all excited about the time, energy and thoughtfulness that the Board is bringing to bear.
One of the thorniest problems the department faces is one that faces schools all across the country: how to make every member of our diverse student population feel that Halligan hosts a community where each is welcome and valued. To this end we have a number of initiatives in place. Comp 11, the gateway into computer science, lets student self-select into lectures and sections based on their previous exposure to computer science. WiCS, the Women in Computer Science student group, advertises Study Buddies, a group for any and all students in Comps 11 and 15 to spend a couple of Saturday afternoon hours together socializing, working on homework, and generally creating a peer group within the department. We are also excited about the recent creation of our department’s newest student group: the Black Students in CS (BSCS) which officially launched this spring.
In a brief round-up of good news from Halligan, doctoral student Nate Bragg recently won a Draper fellowship, BS/MS student Daniel Berman – our first MS student in Data Science – has been selected as the DISC/MITRE Summer Intern for 2019; Ben Janis ‘19 got accepted into the technologist fellowship at the National Security Institute at George Mason’s Antonin Scalia Law School. Alex Ratzan ’21 was a member of the national championship winning soccer team. Undergraduate Faizan Muhammad just returned from presenting a poster at the Human Robotics Interaction Conference in South Korea. Faculty member Fahad Dogar is a recipient of a VMware Early Career Faculty Award, meaning that he’s been identified as someone whose research interests and accomplishments seem poised to have significant impact within the industry and academia.
We hope you’ll browse through the rest of our newsletter where we’ve highlighted some of the other exciting things going on in the department.
Kathleen Fisher, Professor and Chair
Department of Computer Science