Former student developing useful libraries

A former I.B. Computer Science student of Mr. Wachs’ currently working on a doctorate in Computer Science developed a code library for use called SIGIL. He describes it: SIGIL stands for Sound, Input, and Graphics Integration Library. It is meant to be a mind-bogglingly simple alternative to other, more complex libraries when all you want is to make a small game, teach basic 2D graphics, or otherwise remove the complexities of media programming from your C or C++ code. It’s also cross-platform! It’s designed to be really easy to use.

What platforms does SIGIL support? At the moment, SIGIL supports MinGW32, MSVC 10 2010 (32- and 64-bit), MSVC 11 2012 (32- and 64-bit), MSVC 12 2013 (32- and 64-bit), MSVC 14 2015 (32- and 64-bit), Linux GCC, and the Raspberry Pi. Plans are underway to make SIGIL increasingly cross-platform. Read more about it here


All-female team to lead Association for Computing Machinery

Against a backdrop of an IT industry pushing hard to more fairly represent women in leadership positions, the Association for Computing Machinery has announced that an all-female board has been elected to head up the society. Leading the new team is incoming President Vicki Hanson, a Distinguished Professor of Computing at Rochester Institute of Technology, and Professor and Chair of Inclusive Technologies at University of Dundee. Hanson, an IBMer from the mid-1980s until 2009, is currently Vice President of the ACM. She replaces Alexander Wolf as ACM President. The new Vice President will be Cherri Pancake, Professor Emeritus and Intel Faculty Fellow in the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Oregon State University. Rounding out the board is new Secretary/Treasurer Elizabeth Churchill, Director of User Experience at Google.   They each will serve two-year terms beginning on July 1. In addition, Members-at-Large elected to four-year terms are Gabriele Anderst-Kotsis, Professor and Head of the Department of Telecooperation at Johannes Kepler University Linz; Susan Dumais, Distinguished Scientist and Deputy Managing Director at Microsoft Research; Elizabeth Mynatt, Professor of Interactive Computing in the College of Computing at Georgia Institute of Technology; Pam Samuelson, Richard M. Sherman Distinguished Professor of Law and Information at University of California, Berkeley’s School of Law; and the sole male representative, Eugene Spafford, Professor and Executive Director at Purdue University’s Center for Education and Research in Information Security and Assurance (CERIAS). Hanson, commenting on the board’s new make-up, says in a statement that “This is an opportunity to highlight the contributions that women have made to computing and to inspire young women to view computing as a career.” Among Hanson’s goals is to reach out to young IT professionals and get them involved with the 100,000-strong educational and scientific society via a special advisory board. The ACM is known for, among other things, doling out the annual A.M. Turing Award, also dubbed the Nobel Prize of Computing. Read more here

Report Says Computer Science Should Be Treated Like Core Science Subjects in K-12 Classrooms

A recently released report from the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation found that computer science is only offered in a fraction of U.S. schools, and most lack the ability to teach students the core principles of the subject. Why Students Need Quality Computer Science Instruction – The report recommends significant changes to how computer science is taught in K-12 in order to optimize student success, notable because President Obama has made computer science a national priority this past year. “To maintain the field’s current momentum, the perception of computer science needs to shift from its being considered a fringe, elective offering or a skills-based course designed to teach basic computer literacy or coding alone,” the report says.

“Instead, it is time for computer science to be seen as a core science on par with more traditional high school offerings such as biology, chemistry and physics, which have been the focus since the 1890s.”

The report points out how in-demand computer science majors are and will be in the future:

“In 2011, projected that the economy would add 1.4 million computing jobs by 2020, but educate just 400,000 computer science students by then.”

Computer Science Classes Lack Instruction of Core Principles – Current computer science classes that focus on teaching coding, the report says, teach students only one coding language and neglect to teach them core principles behind the subject. “Unfortunately, curriculum and standards still focus on using, rather than understanding, technology. In fact, only 37 percent of states’ CS standards include a focus on computing concepts, while 73 percent of state CS standards include a focus on computer skills.” Most Educators Lack Necessary Training, Resources – Further, the report makes mention of an educator workforce that is largely untrained in the subject and without needed resources. “Because many schools offer only a single CS course, teachers for these courses commonly have their main focus in another field. These teachers may not have the deep expertise or time to focus on creating an enriching curriculum and stimulating class environment,” the report says. “The class can only go as deep as the teacher’s bank of knowledge. As a result, only a very narrow group of high school students ever take computer science classes that provide a solid ground in computer science principles and practices.” How Computer Science Can Improve Moving Forward: First and foremost, the report recommends that the U.S. develop and train 10,000 additional teachers to teach computer science. “…the United States needs to train and certify 10,000 additional CS teachers. The CS10K non-profit initiative, seeks to do just that—train instructors to teach in-depth computer science courses using rigorous curricula.” It also suggests a focus on creating innovative education policy that favors teaching computer science principles in both K-12 and university classrooms. The report highlights the work of Israel in improving computer science access in its classrooms, and recognizes it for developing a curriculum that goes beyond teaching just coding. “On a per-capita basis, Israel has 16.2 times as many students as the United States taking rigorous computer science in high school.120 Its groundbreaking curriculum emphasized making CS a science instead of teaching only coding. Students should be taught programming, proponents argue, as a means to reinforce deeper and more important knowledge in creating and understanding algorithms, and to create a subject that would be as respected by tertiary institutions as traditional biology, chemistry, and physics courses.” The report recommends this same kind of respect for the subject in U.S. classrooms, as well. Read the full report here