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CISE Distinguished Education Fellow Award Ceremony Remarks

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Remarks by CISE Assistant Director Jeannette Wing:

I am delighted to be able welcome all of you to this CISE Distinguished Education Fellow Award Ceremony.

CISE fully supports the efforts of revitalizing undergraduate computer science curricula through programs like CPATH.  Through CPATH we can begin to achieve these grander goals:

  • To show that computing is more than just programming, is more than just the machine, and is relevant to everything we do. More profoundly, it is Computational Thinking that computer science offers to humanity.
    The methods, models, languages, and tools--in short, the abstractions--of computer science are our long-lasting contributions to knowledge.
    Moreover, it is our ability and audacity to automate those abstractions--to make our abstractions come alive—that  make computer science unique and enable us to scale in what we can do and what reach we can have.
  • To change the image of computing for the general public. Computing touches our daily lives, without our realizing it.
  • To inspire the best and brightest to go into computing. There remain in computer science many deep, challenging problems to solve:
    • What is computable? What is computable when one thinks about the Internet as a computer? What is computable when one thinks about the machine and human working together as a  computer?
    •  What is intelligence?
    • How can we build complex systems simply?
  • To inspire everyone to learn computational thinking because it is a fundamental skill everyone will need to know to function in modern society, to enhance whatever profession they enter, be it computer science or not.

CPATH is just a beginning.  To truly transform the way we teach computer science, the way students learn computer science, and more subtly the way we think about teaching and learning computer science, it needs to be a collective effort.  Through NSF, for example, through these CPATH awards, we can begin to change these ways at many campuses nationally and even internationally.

Looking ahead, more ambitiously, I would like to see corresponding changes at the K-12 level, in industry, and even in post-graduate education.  CPATH is just a beginning and it off to a terrific start.

Now, I would like to introduce to you our two CISE Distinguished Education Fellows.  I will be brief in describing their background since you have the write-ups in your program.  I will say a few words about their CDEF grant.

First, is Professor Owen Astrachan from Duke University.  He is a distinguished and recognized teacher and author and coach—of the ACM programming contest.  His project will explore the use of case-based and problem-based learning for computer science.  The inspiration comes from how business schools and medical schools teach—through cases.  This kind of teaching has the advantage of immediately making it clear to students the relevance of what they are learning.

Second, is Professor Peter Denning from the Naval Postgraduate School.  He is a distinguished researcher, one of the inventors of core principles in operating systems and computer system design.  He has had an illustrious career not just as a researcher but as an educator and through service to the computer science community.  His project focuses on going back to basics: defining the principles of computer science, distilling them into modules for curriculum innovation for all to use.