Report on Undergraduate Forum of March 24, 2016

The CSE Undergraduate Studies Committee (UGSC) organized the annual undergraduate forum on March 24, 2016 in CL 120. The forum started at about 5:30 pm and continued till about 7:00 pm, with most students staying on till near the end. The summary below tries to describe the main points that were made during the discussions. The summary is based on notes made by Paolo Bucci and Jeremy Morris; many thanks to both for taking detailed notes.

Glen Gainer, senior
Reid Fu, junior
John Feerick, junior
Zach Schuller, senior
Michael Abbott, junior
Sandeep Battula, senior
Anshu Kumar, sophomore
William Conlon, sophomore
Erik Thiem, senior
Max Buck, senior
Michael Schulz, senior
Evan Danish, senior
Lucas Miller, senior
Shadman Sakib, sophomore
Kevin Freeman, freshman
Sean Zhang, freshman
Dalton Flanagan, junior
Winnie Li, junior
Haonan Wang, freshman
Yihand Du, sophomore
Sam Litowitz, senior

Faculty: Matthew Boggus, Paolo Bucci, Doreen Close, Michael Green, Wayne Heym, Jeremy Morris, Neelam Soundarajan, Paolo Sivilotti, Radu Teodorescu, Annatala Wolf, Xiaodong Zhang.

Advising staff: Leslie Dowler, Nikki Strader, CA Wade

Systems staff: Pat Jacobs


  1. Neelam briefly welcomed everyone to the forum, explained the purpose of the forum, and explained the activities of the Undergrad Studies Committee. Following that, everyone in the room introduced themselves.

  2. Neelam talked briefly about the continuing popularity of CSE and CIS and how this (severely) impacts enrollment in classes as well as admission to the majors.

  3. Changes to undergrad programs: Neelam summarized three sets of changes that have been made recently:

  4. Comment from a student: How about a career services office for just CS students?
    Nikki responded that we tried to do this at one time but were overruled. It was also noted that there are various other issues, such as turf questions, the requirement of special certification to be a career counselor etc., that prevent a departmental career services office.

  5. Suggestion from a student: How about an online bulletin board for items of interest to undergrad students, instead of sending out tons of email that get lost? For example, posts about startup career fairs that the Business Builders Club hosts or various hackathons etc. would be suitable candidates for posting on such a bulletin board.
    Nikki and Leslie agreed this would be a good idea and we will try to work on it.
    On a tangential note, some students noted that participation in events such as hackathons brought excitement to classes after the event. Moreover, many employers look for evidence of such participation in future employees. It is also worth noting that there are numerous start-ups in the Central Ohio area and students should consider those opportunities as well.

  6. Comment from a student: The standardization in Software I, II seems really helpful. Such standardization is missing in Fnds I, II, and in Systems I, II.
    Neelam agreed that this was a good point and will bring it up to the appropriate faculty. Doreen Close noted that standardization might be especially important for Fnds I and Sys I since Fnds II and Sys II build directly on those courses. A number of students felt that this was much more the case with Fnds I/II (than with Sys I/II) so standardization is really important for Fnds I. We will discuss this in the Curriculum Committee and see if we can find a sensible way to address this.

  7. A student suggested that Apple development environment should be available for student use. Pat Jacobs noted that the Macs in CL 112 are specifically for use by a capstone class; to expand to other courses, faculty should make appropriate requests. The Systems Committee (chair: Jim Davis, jwdavis@cse) would be a good place to bring up such questions, suggestions, etc.

  8. A student asked about grader positions and who was in charge of it.
    Anna noted that, at least for SW I, II, recommendations from recent instructors count for a lot. Paolo suggested that students considering grading position should not do it for the money but rather because they want to help other students. It is also a true learning experience since looking at material from a course that the grader completed a while ago through the eyes of other students currently taking the course really helps solidify the grader's grasp of that material and related material. A student suggested that it is a bit intimidating to apply for a grading position and that recruiting would help ... there seem to be a general feeling that the grading situation should be improved although it was not clear what the most effective approaches might be. One suggestion was to prominently advertise the need for graders for specific courses on the undergrad web site. We will discuss this in the Undergrad Studies Committee.