Saturday, March 3, 2012
When kids are knee deep in nlog(n) algorithms and working on recursion, it's easy to lose track of the amazingly neat things that are right around the corner for them.
I've recently been working on organizing our Stuyvesant Computer Science alumni network and am putting together a page with some of the places our graduates work here.
It can be hard to see how one goes from sorting and searching in Java to working at places like Google, or FourSqurare or creating your own startup like DigitalOcean, Usable Health, TimeHop, or PropHop.
We try to show how close they are to doing really cool things, like the other day when we developed some solutions that lead to seam carving, but there's still a large enough gap between what they are learning and where they will be that it's hard for them to see how close they are.
With this in mind, yesterday, we took a field trip.
Being an NYU Alum myself (BA '89, MS '95?), the CS people at Courant and I have periodically tried to form a partnership but there were internal problems at NYU that prevented us. Over the past few years, however, things have changed and we're well on our way.
Thanks to the efforts of the always amazing Evan Korth, Michael Overton, Rosemary D'Amico, Romeo Kumar, Shawn Abbot, and others, we were able to bring about 100 Stuyvesant juniors to NYU for a day of computer science.
We had four amazing presenters.
Ken Perlin batted leadoff talking to the kids about a variety of his interests. Basically a smorgasbord of places one can go to with CS. Ken touched on things ranging from expressing emotions from an animated avatar composed of five polygons to paradigm shifts relating to ebooks.
Rob Fergus then gave a talk on image deblurring. Where Ken's talk provided a range of topics, Rob focussed in on one. The kids were really able to see how what they're doing now is just one step from solving some really neat problems.
JinYang Li was next. Her talk focused on systems touching on infrastructure issues and parallel processing. This provided an overview of one specific field in computer science.
Batting cleanup was Nathan Hull. Nathan talked about IOS developement. The most hands on topic of the day. Nathan really emphasized the fact that the kids could just download the tools to do either IOS or Android development and with online resources, they could teach it to themselves.
All this was followed by a great lunch.
It was a great range of talks and the kids left having a much better idea of what CS will be like in college and the range of things they'll be able to do.
Right now, I'm working on another event which will bring our students together with Stuy graduates working in the industry to give our kids more exposure to the step after college but more on that in a few weeks.