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Performance shows scientific excellence

msuela.advocate@gmail.com

Published: Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Updated: Tuesday, June 11, 2013 23:06

Technical instruction

Christian Urrutia / The Advocate

Computer science department Chairperson Tom Murphy discusses an assignment with computer science major Anthony Wood in CTC-127 on Monday. Murphy decides which students will go to conferences and helps students get better before attending them.

While individuals think highly of four-year institutions, the credibility of being enrolled at a community college remains unnoticed to many.

For Contra Costa College’s computer science students, however, they continue to break the stereotype as their knowledge proves their excellence.

The computer sciences students have had a busy 2012-13 year as they traveled to different cities, attending conferences, participating in hackathons, and acting as facilitators teaching professors and students alike about different forms of programming.

“I bring my students to these events to be surrounded by professionals so they can believe that achieving such a career can actually happen,” computer sciences department Chairperson Tom Murphy said. “You shouldn’t feel reserved just because you’re a community college student.”

Computer sciences student Michial Green had the opportunity to host a parallel programming and supercomputing workshop for four-year university professors in August 2012 at the University of Oklahoma.

Green said he found out he was to do the workshop two days prior, while not knowing what supercomputing even was. He then spent those days studying profusely for his lecture and even shocked one of the professors as he found out Green was a community college student.

“It was a moment that made a lot of my struggle justified,” he said. “I spent countless hours trying to figure this supercomputing stuff out and it can be daunting when you encounter a wealth of information. But I managed to get a handle on it.”

Computer sciences student Michael Smith understands what it means to learn under pressure.

He was one of several students who underwent a week of learning parallel programming for the first time before teaching it at the 2013 Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing Conference in Washington, D.C.

The Tapia conference invites the computer sciences community to come and share their experiences from around the world.

“We crash-coursed (the material) a week before we left. Some people didn’t even know how to do parallel programming,” Smith said. “We ran a workshop, teaching people how to do a Message Passing Interface.”

Conferences and workshops, however, are not the only places for the computer sciences students to be constantly put to test with their learning skills.

Beginning with the first hackathon in June 2012, a coding session held for 32 hours straight, students learned HTML5 for the first time and had to produce a game with the material.

Lagasca said if a person is really determined, things can be learned.

“It’s not just about the title. It’s about the individual and what they can do with what they learn,” she said.

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