Ken Anderson

Ken Anderson

Ken Anderson
Boulder, Colorado


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NCWIT Pacesetters University of Colorado - Ken Anderson ‘ Ken Anderson: I am Ken Anderson. I'm an associate professor, and the Associate Chair of the Department of Computer Science in the University of Colorado, Boulder. For the past couple of years we've been focused on trying to increase the number of women that participate in our Bachelor of Science degree program. We’ve made some changes to do that, including making our intro courses more relevant, showing students that they can make a positive impact on society through learning computer science skills. We’ve also established a "Women in Computing" group that helps to mentor female students and to give them support throughout the program. But, we’ve been suffering from low enrollments, so as we talked to students around the campus we found that many of them were interested in computer science, but didn't identify as engineers. Currently our department is in the College of Engineering and only about 15 students per year wanted to go from the College of Arts and Sciences, and take all of the courses that they would need, to transfer across to the College of Engineering. We felt we should go to them. As part of our work at NCWIT Pacesetters, we’ve been developing a Bachelor of Arts and Computer Science degree that would allow students in the Arts and Sciences to enroll, start taking computer science classes, but have enough room to also get a minor or a major in another discipline. Internally we called this CS+X, but that just means computer science plus anything. We’d like to have students that are interested in biology, start to do work in bio- informatics, or have people interested in the humanities do digital humanities, and the like. We started this process -- we were told it was going to be impossible, that it's very difficult to make a change at the university. As a part of Pacesetters, we wanted to accelerate organizational change, so we made the connections that we needed, we got all of our materials lined up and through the approval process and we're hoping to accept new students into this program by fall of 2012. Transcription by CastingWords

My Story...

In October, I sat in the red chair to share progress towards our goal. Our Department of Computer Science is situated within the College of Engineering. While we produce terrific graduates, not all students identify as engineers and our program has endured low enrollments since the dot-com crash and low percentages of female students since the mid-90s. This is in spite of interest in Computer Science by the more diverse students of the College of Arts and Sciences who, unfortunately, typically do not want to take the math and science classes required to transfer across. Our participation in Pacesetters motivated us to develop a new degree program---a Bachelor of Arts in Computer Science---taught by our department but housed in the College of Arts and Sciences. We have been told in the past that this would be an impossible task but we succeeded this time around. Our new degree program is designed to enable what we call "CS + X": the ability to major in computer science and then earn a degree or minor in a second area of study, such as biology or physics. Interest is strong and we anticipate accepting students into this new program by Fall 2012.