President’s Letter – December 31, 2015
Dear Academy Member,
In this update, I would like to share the successes we have had this year as an organization making a difference in computing for the State of Arkansas.
If you have not already made your contribution to our general scholarship fund or to your public college/university in the state this year, please do so today. Your contributions are a vital part of our mission and tax deductible. To contribute, please visit www.araoc.org/donate.
In 2015, the Academy granted 44 scholarships to students in computer science or related programs. Here’s the allocation:
* U of A, Computer Science Computer Engineering (12)
* U of A, Walton College of Business (10)
* U of A, Little Rock (8)
* U of Central Arkansas (5)
* Arkansas Tech (3)
* Arkansas State (2)
* U of A, Monticello (1)
* U of A, Pine Bluff (1)
* SAU Tech (1)
* Henderson State (1)
Thanks for your contribution and to our endowments (FIS/Alltel/Systematics, Acxiom & Arkansas Systems) for making a positive impact on the students. You can see some of the recipient profiles on our website at www.araoc.org/2015-2016-scholarship-recipients/.
Arkansas becomes first state with Computer Science requirement
In February of this year, the Arkansas Legislature passed and the Governor signed Act 187 requiring each public high school and charter public high school in the state to offer a computer science class. The effort, led by Governor Asa Hutchison, places Arkansas as a national leader in computer science education.
Check out the article in Wired magazine: http://www.wired.com/2015/03/arkansas-computer-science/.
As part of the new law, the Arkansas Academy of Computing was explicitly named as a member of a new task force to make short- and long-term recommendations to the Governor on topics such as computer science standards and frameworks, technology and training needs and other aspects to ensure success of the initiative. The task force currently has 14 members – five members from State functions, six members representing business and three representing teachers. The Academy has four members on this task force! Dr. James Hendren is the task force chair. Carl Frank represents the Computer Science Teachers Association. Dr. John James, former CEO of Acumen Brands, is a member at-large. And, Gary Dowdy represents your Academy.
Computer Science Task Force Recommendations
After six months of work by the task force and its sub-committees, Dr. Hendren presented to Governor Hutchinson the first set of recommendations in November. The six recommendations: 1) the need to appropriate and continue communication and awareness programs about computer science education and the benefits; 2) the need for a comprehensive K-16 (not just High School) focus; 3) define and measure success criteria; 4) increase the quantity and quality of CS teachers; 5) identity resources critical to success of the initiative; and 6) engage Arkansas-based industries to provide guidance and support for their workforce needs.
Acting almost immediately on the task force recommendations, Governor Hutchinson announced on December 4 the Computer Science Initiative would expand to include grades K-8. This was an early and well supported discussion by the task force as we need to reach kids well before high school about STEM pathways. The Governor, the Department of Education and the task force recognizes the teacher training and teaching approach is quite different at the lower grades such as K-5 than that of high school and college. However, a holistic approach to K-16 creates continuity to ensure all students at all levels have access to computer science and STEM related education to gain better jobs and help build the workforce of the future for our state.
Here’s the news coverage of the K-8 announcement: http://arkansasnews.com/news/arkansas/hutchinson-initiative-expand-computer-science-education-grades-k-8.
As part of Act 187, the task force remains in effect until the end of 2016. As such we will continue to review, revise and make recommendations to help shape computer science education in the State of Arkansas. With all the attention on the Computer Science Initiative, I am confident we will be sharing more news and progress very soon.
To put the progress into prospective thus far – for this school year, we have more than 4,000 students enrolled in a Computer Science course compared to a few hundred in the prior school year. I believe we are on our way to making a difference in computing!
Annual Banquet, Induction and Business Meeting
If you were unable to attend our first Annual Banquet and Business Meeting in Central Arkansas, we missed you and you missed a great event! This was our 10th Banquet and Business Meeting.
The Banquet and Induction occurred at Pleasant Valley County Club in Little Rock on October 9th with our Business Meeting on the UALR campus October 10th. We inducted eleven new members! As has been the case since the founding of our Academy, you will find the below inductees highly worthy of the honor and we welcome them to our organization.
You can view photos of the events at: www.araoc.org/2015meeting/.
Nominations for the 2016 class will begin in the spring. Until such time, please send any candidates to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Arkansas Academy of Computing
2015/2016 Executive Committee
The Academy is led by volunteers. Here are your Executive Committee members for the next year. The start/end dates represent executive committee status. Please thank your fellow members for their service to our organization.
Tracy Black, Scholarship
Gary Dowdy, President
Bob Crisp, Secretary/Treasurer
John Chamberlin, President-Elect
ex officio former Presidents
Collins Andrews, History
U of A
Frank Liu, CSCE Dept Head
Susan Huskey, Dept Asst
Larry Whitman, EIT Dean
Cathy Shank, Dean Asst
Rex Eads, Membership
As always it is my pleasure to serve as your president of the Academy. Thoughts/Feedback appreciated.
Happy New Year!