Professor Rebecca Wright speaks about the CSC's Computing Fellows Program in Barnard Magazine's Spring 2021 issue. In it, three Barnard alumnae are profiled about their careers in computer science. Here's an excerpt:

Barnard’s computer science program launched only in January 2019, but the burgeoning offering — which brought the major on-campus for the first time — is firing on all cylinders. It’s one of the College’s most popular majors, graduating more than 30 students in 2020 and on track to see an even higher number graduate in 2021.

Much of that rapid scaling is thanks to Rebecca Wright, the program director and Druckenmiller Professor of Computer Science. After adding a second full-time faculty member and a couple of faculty fellows, she is pushing to integrate the discipline more broadly on the campus. That includes courses, like one on privacy, that are geared toward both computer science majors and non-CS majors: The final project can be technical, such as coding-based, but it can also be theoretical, like a research paper. Completed projects have ranged from looking at surveillance in humanitarian protections to a deep dive into the Patriot Act. More coding-minded students have built programs that simplify privacy terms and conditions or dissect data breaches.

Students also have the opportunity to be Computing Fellows, who attach to specific courses to assist students and professors, lead computational projects, and teach workshops. For example, Wright says, embedding Computing Fellows in an intro-level neuroscience lecture allows the students in the class to learn about the power of computation tools to analyze data more efficiently.

“They’ll learn a little bit of coding if they’re not familiar,” Wright says of the students with access to Computing Fellows, who are based in the Vagelos Computational Science Center. “But it’s mostly to show them in a meaningful way, in a fun way, in an accessible way that computing is valuable and useful, and it’s something they could learn to do.”

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