The First Day of CSE 91

April 8, 2012

Last Wednesday was the first class meeting of CSE 91, “Perspectives in Computer Science”, which I blogged about in my previous post. I have a confession: this was the first time I had taught students in a lower-division class, not to mention designed for first-year students. I was filled with trepidation. Having taught mostly CSE 131 (Compilers) and CSE 118 (Ubiquitous Computing) in the past, I had primarily seen students close to graduation. These students are nearly complete computer scientists. They are easy to talk to at a high level, if a bit jaded about whether there is anything left for them to learn from a computer science professor.

But, the first meeting was a thrill! The students were curious, as well as responsive to the many “raise your hands if” polls that I ran to learn the ┬ácomposition and interests of the class. Moreover, many raised their hands to ask questions about the content of the course. This will be really helpful in customizing the content of the course in the coming weeks. For example, one student asked about preparing for graduate school. Another asked about tutoring in our CSE classes. We’ll be sure to cover both, starting this coming Wednesday, when I have a visiting panel discuss careers in computer science.

One surprise in the polling was that a large minority of the class had never met with our our excellent advising staff, Pat Raczka and Viera Kair. They are veritable warehouses of knowledge, available several hours a day, five days a week. You can learn more at the CSE advising page. We’ll get a full dose of Pat and Viera 4th week, when a panel of seniors presents what they learned through extensive interviews with them. Pat and Viera will be invited to take questions. As a bonus, the seniors will also develop an advising FAQ for our undergrads based on the interviews, making many of Pat and Viera’s insights available 24-7.