Rethinking the Introduction to Computing

NYU Community Event

Speaker: Tom Cortina, CMU


As a result of the extreme falloff in interest in computer science at the
college level in the past decade, many colleges and universities have taken
a hard look at how students are introduced to computer science in K-12 and
in their beginning courses at the college level. Despite the economic
recession, technology jobs requiring computational thinking skills are still
plentiful, yet many students outside of computer science see computing as
programming with complex syntax or the use of office applications. In this
talk, I will discuss a new course running at Carnegie Mellon University to
over 650 students a year that introduces computational thinking principles,
using programming as a vehicle to illustrate these ideas as appropriate. I
will also discuss a national effort to develop a new AP CS Principles course
that is accessible to a wider variety of students to expose them to
computational thinking principles and some elementary programming skills.


Dr. Thomas J. Cortina is an Associate Teaching Professor in the School of
Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University. He has taught undergraduate
computer science for 24 years and currently focuses on the introductory
sequence. Besides his teaching duties, he has focused in the last decade on
outreach to K-12 to help increase awareness and interest in computing as a
potential field of study and career path for more students. He launched the
popular CS4HS summer workshop program for high school teachers at Carnegie
Mellon University in 2006, now at more than 60 universities worldwide. He is
in the advisory group for the CS AP Principles project to create a new AP
course to introduce computing principles to a wider audience. He has co-chaired
SIGCSE 2011 and served as program co-chair for SIGCSE 2010.