Report on Undergraduate Forum of March 29, 2018
The CSE Undergraduate Studies Committee (UGSC) organized the annual
undergraduate forum on March 29, 2018 in Knowlton 190. The forum started at
about 5:30 pm and continued till about 6:45 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
The forum was attended by a number of faculty, staff advisors, members of the
computing staff, and about 15 students from pre-majors to seniors.
Faculty: Matt Boggus, Paolo Bucci, Mike Green, Jeffrey Jones, Jeremy Morris, Paul Sivilotti, Neelam Soundarajan, Rafe Wenger.
Advisors: LaNorris Alexander, Leslie Dowler, Nikki Strader, CA Wade, Serena Davis.
Computing staff: Dave Kneisly, Josh Davis.
Summary of discussion:
- Neelam briefly welcomed everyone to the forum, explained the purpose of
the forum, and explained the activities of the Undergrad Studies Committee
and the Curriculum Committee.
Following that, everyone in the room introduced themselves (and then it was time to
get the pizza and pop!).
- One of the key activities during the year was the regular accreditation
evaluation of the BS-CSE program by ABET (the accreditation Board for engineering and technology programs). Neelam summarized the changes we made following the evaluation,
based on the findings of the evaluation team.
- Curricular change: The core-choice pairs will be changed from 4 to 3. Currently,
students are required to take either CSE 3341 (principles of programming languages)
or CSE 3321 (formal languages and automata theory) and may take the other course
as a technical elective. The accreditation evaluation team noted that the
accreditation criteria required all students to take a course on principles/concepts
of programming languages. Hence, the curriculum is being revised so that
CSE 3341 will be required of all
students; and students may CSE 3321 as a technical elective. This change will
go into effect for students entering OSU in Au '18 or beyond; it is highly recommended
for current students as well. The change will apply to both BS-CSE and BS-CIS since
our goal has been to keep the CS portion of the curricula for the two programs in
- Prerequisites are now being enforced by the Registrar's online registration system: Until recently, students were expected to complete, before registering for a course,
all published prerequisites for the course. But, in the case of some courses,
students who had not done so could
still register for the course although it was highly inadvisable since, due to the
lack of necessary background, they were likely to do poorly in the course they were
registering for. The accreditation evaluation team felt that this was unacceptable
and that, in order to ensure both the success of the student in question as well
as the quality of the course overall, prerequisites must be enforced for all
courses. Hence, starting
with Spring '18 registration, the registration system will not allow students who
do not satisfy one or more prerequisites for any course will not be able to register
(or waitlist) for that course.
In some very rare instances, a student may have obtained the knowledge and
skills taught in a particular prerequisite course via suitable internships and/or
courses he/she may have taken at another university (but for which the student had
not received transfer credit). In such cases, the student may approach the faculty
course coordinator to see if the prerequisite may be waived in that student's case;
should be noted, however, that such waivers will be rarely granted and only in cases
where the student is able to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the course
coordinator that he/she does indeed possess, to a sufficient extent, the knowledge
and skills that are included in the prerequisite course.
It was also noted that the encoding of prerequisistes in the Registrar's database, in
the case of a handful of courses, is inaccurate; these are being corrected as
quickly as possible. If any student finds such an inaccuracy, it should be promptly
reported to the one of the advisors in the CSE Advising Office.
One question that came up had to do with the procedure for switching sections after
registering for a course. Any student who wants to switch sections should go to
the Advising Office for help.
Another question had to do with being closed out of a course. Nikki noted that
as long as a student registers for a course when his/her registration window opens,
it is extremely likely that the student will be able to register for the course.
In some cases, students may be added to the waitlist until additional sections
of the course are opened.
- Advising office: The accreditation team also felt that the number of advisors
in the Advising Office was, given the large number of majors and pre-majors in
the department, in sufficient. This was, of course, not at all news to the
students or faculty or advising staff! In any case, following the evaluation,
the College of Engineering agreed to allow us to hire two additional full-time
advisors; these two advisors have now been hired and recently joined the dept.
The new advisors are LaNorris Alexander and Kami Westoff.
The Advising Office is also being remodeled and expanded to accommodate Kami and
There was a question about how long the accreditation evaluation takes; Neelam
provided a brief description of the process and noted that ABET's final decision
won't be received until some time in August.
The rest of the session was devoted to questions/comments/suggestions from
students and responses/follow-ups by faculty and staff.
- Comment: The two Fundamentals of Engineering courses are not really useful for
prospective BS-CSE majors (except as far as the focus on technical writing and
collaboration skills are concerned) ... a course/courses tailored to computing
would be more useful ...
Comment: The FE program is more intended to give students a broad idea of
engineering as a whole, rather than as an intro to CSE or other areas ...
Response: The College of Engineering would not be happy with tailored courses for
individual disciplines since the college has been pushing the idea of engineering
as a unified field ...
Follow-up: Would there be interest in an intro class tailored for (pre-)majors?
Student comment: Yes! CSE 1223 can be a turn-off!
Follow-up: Currently, about 30-40\% of students place out of the intro course but
the rest still need an intro course.
Follow-up: No data about any correlation between the performance of students in
SW I/II and whether or not they took CSE 1223.
- Comment/question: We get to see Git rather late ... introducing it
earlier would encourage students to get involved in side projects.
Follow-up: Teaching version control to beginning students is not practical since
there are significant technical issues involved ...
- Changes in computing services etc.: During the last year, the College of
Engineering has been embarked on some major changes in the computing facilities
and services provided to students, faculty and staff ... these include consolidating
Windows Active Directory structure, all storage being on CoE servers, Windows and
Linux systems being completely separate etc. Any students encountering problems
with their computer accounts, including access etc., should stop by the Help Desk
in Dreese 895.
- Comment/question: Some courses (Real-time rendering, Advanced algorithms, others?)
don't seem to be offered ...?
Follow-up: The course on real-time rendering should be offering in '18-'19.
More generally, given our faculty size etc., courses with low demand have a low
priority when deciding which courses (and how many sections of each) to offer.
But if there is a particular course that you and other students are interested in
that may not be offered, let Nikki and the Advising Office know; that might improve
its chances of being offered.
Comment/question: Is there a plan to restructure the AI course sequence?
Response: There is some high-level discussion going on but nothing definite yet.
Comment: Career services support in ASC is quite different from that in Eng. Career Services (ECS).
Follow-up: This is true but ASC Career Services is better than it used to be. But let
the Advising Office if there are some specific issues.
- Scholarships: This year's scholarships have already been decided ... but look for
announcements in mid-January and make sure to apply if you think you qualify.
- Comment: Is there an ACM student chapter? Also, many schools have a faculty
mentor/coach to help students participate effectively in programming competitions
such as ACM-ICPC ... why don't we have any?
Follow-up: We do have active Hackathon's etc. ... will look into the idea of a
mentor for programming competitions.
- Comment: Support for student research?
Follow-up: Jeremy Morris collects possible projects from faculty who may have
opportunites for undergrads in their labs ... currently not too many options in
CS; but let Jeremy know of your interest.
- Question: What is the best way for students to make suggestions?
Follow-up: The dept. has two key committees, the Undergrad Studies Committee and
the Curriculum Committee. Both have student representatives on them. If you
would like to serve on either or both, let the Advising Office know.
If you have any comments or questions on this report, please email