Ignatios Vakalis

Ignatios Vakalis

Ignatios Vakalis
San Luis Obispo, California


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NCWIT Pacesetters Cal Poly San Luis Obispo - Ignatios Vakalis [background music] Ignatios Vakalis: I'm Ignatios Vakalis. I'm the Chair of the Computer Science Department at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo. Women in computing are a focal point of the Computer Science Department at Cal Poly. To that effect, the department, starting last year, has made a major change in the introductory course in computing by using game design, mobile art development, robotics, music composition, or art. The idea of the incoming freshman having a choice coupled with our methodological approach, which is project based learning, empowers the young women to be attracted to the field of computing and also be retained within the curriculum. Also, the department has made substantial efforts in spotlighting the student club which empowers women in computing, supporting the young women to attend the annual conference which is called the Grace Hopper Conference, and also empowering the young women to visit their respective high schools by attracting respective students and showing the magic of computing to the high school students. [music] Transcription by CastingWords

My Story...

In October 2011, I sat in the red chair to share progress towards our goal. Our students in computer science and software engineering expressed interest in learning more technologies in context and application, beginning very early in their major. In 2010 we revised our first-year course selections, so that now students can choose from introductory computing courses such as Game Design, Mobile App Development, Robotics, Music Composition, and Computational Art. These new courses reflect the evolution of computing instruction by giving students choices in their introductory class, teaching "algorithmic thinking", using context to draw students in and keep their interest, and implementing project-based learning in a group environment. Our evaluators are looking at recruitment, retention, and learning outcomes but initial results show that this approach has been especially popular and effective with female students. Cal Poly also has emphasized opportunities for women in computing to develop visibility for themselves and the field. Our Computer Science Department promotes the women in computing student club, runs a speaker series, and established a mentoring mechanism for female students. The department supports female students attending the annual Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing conference, and will be hosting an NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing affiliate for high school girls. Women in computing majors are visiting their former high schools, using NCWIT road show materials to ignite the passion of prospective students. Cal Poly's Computer Science Department put a major emphasis on our women in computing student club, developed a speaker series and established a mentoring mechanism for our female students. We support the participation of female students to the annual Grace Hopper Women in Computing conference. The department hosted an NCWIT Awards for Aspirations in Computing recognizing the technical accomplishments of high school girls. In addition, a number of our female majors are visiting their respective high schools using NCWIT road show materials, igniting the passion of prospective students by demonstrating the “magic of computing”.