New Queens College-Google Partnership for Entering Freshmen Builds Tech and Career Skills

Computer Science Summer Institute Is Underway on Campus

QUEENS, NY, August 7, 2018 – For some fortunate students with a passion for technology, it’s a golden opportunity at the very start of their life at Queens College.

Thanks to a first-time collaboration between QC and Google, 26 incoming freshmen competitively selected by the college are spending three weeks in Google’s Computer Science Summer Institute Extension program on campus. Students learn not only software and programming fundamentals as a community, but also interact with Google engineers and computer science executives from Bloomberg L.P. and Magistek, Inc., a software training and consulting firm. This exposure is meant to help students gain insights about the field that can carry them through their educational and professional careers.

“I am very pleased to join with Google to offer students this rich opportunity,” says Félix V. Matos Rodriguez, president of Queens College, “and proud to be among the nine colleges nationwide selected to participate.”  Of the current summer cohort, 37 percent are female and 33 percent are from minority groups underrepresented in the computer science profession. That is no accident. “We are strongly committed to increasing the diversity of talent in the field,” says Matos Rodriguez. With more undergraduate computer science majors than any college in New York City, QC is well positioned to meet that goal.

“We’re excited about this program, and look forward to  building  confidence and community among students who have historically been underrepresented in STEM career fields,” says Ray Sawyer, Student Development Specialist at Google.

Says Eva Fernández, assistant provost and AVP for Excellence in Teaching and Experiential Education: “We want students—as early as possible—to get broad but direct exposure to industry leaders, and to see themselves as active participants in the tech community of New York City.”

Every day the students are taught relevant “soft skills” for academic and real world application. The curriculum, which provides students with the knowledge and tools to tackle CS problems, culminates in a team project—the development of an app—and presentation. They also hear from CS faculty researchers and meet recent QC grads working in computer science and current students doing tech-focused internships. One highlight is visiting Google’s office in Manhattan for an insiders’ view.

CSSI-Extension (https://sites.google.com/qc.cuny.edu/cssi) is inspired by Google’s longstanding CSSI program, which takes place at its  offices throughout the U.S. In contrast, the Extension program is independently run by university faculty on their college campuses in partnership with Google. The college adapts the curriculum for its needs. The lead instructor on campus is Edgardo Molina, who recently earned a PhD in computer science from the CUNY Graduate Center. Molina, trained at Google for the summer program, is also lead instructor for CUNY Tech Prep.

“When I received the email from QC saying that they are partnering with Google for the CSSI program, I was head-over-heels happy,” recalls Bibi Hassan, one of the student participants. “I applied because it’s just a really great opportunity to be part of a program offered by one of the big five tech companies in the world.” A native of Guyana and recent graduate of Bayside High School, Bibi says that she will “most definitely major in CS” but is unsure of her career plans at this early stage.

“Going in my first day, I was nervous, picturing the stereotypical Com Sci classroom environment much like in my high school, where the majority of the class are male and practically professional coders,” she says. “I was surprised to find there’s a good ratio between the sexes and over 50 percent of the class are beginners in coding.”

A key CSSI goal is to engage more students in tech and increase interest, enrollment and retention in computer science. Building a foundation in computer science in a friendly, supportive group environment before the start of freshman year can lead to success  later.

Hassan already has her eye on the future. “I found the soft skills workshops very helpful,” she says. “They have definitely given me insight on what aspects of my work in coding I should improve on, such as working within a group and building a portfolio. The CSSI program made me realize that getting good grades is a good thing, but to get a great job after graduating, I will need to do a lot more. Now I can set out the steps I need to follow throughout the next four years, starting as a freshman, to put me ahead of the game.”

“Research on student success in higher education shows that this kind of immersive experience builds confidence and helps students become more self-directed and motivated learners by helping them see that they are part of a larger community of practice,” says Fernández. “This program should directly influence interest in computer science, as well as enrollment and retention in CS, particularly for students underrepresented in this major.”

About Queens College
Queens College enjoys a national reputation for its liberal arts and sciences and pre-professional programs. With its graduate and undergraduate degrees, honors programs, and research and internship opportunities, Queens College helps its over 19,000 students realize their potential in countless ways, under the guidance of an accessible, award-winning faculty. The college was recently ranked tenth among U.S. public colleges by the Chronicle of Higher Education for upward social and economic mobility. The Center for World University Rankings placed Queens College in the top 3.5% of schools worldwide, based on the quality of its education and faculty, the number of its alumni who find employment, and other factors. Located on a beautiful, 80-acre campus in Flushing, the college is cited each year by the Princeton Review as one of the nation’s 100 “Best Value” colleges, and is routinely ranked a U.S. News & World Report Best College and Forbes Magazine Best Value College, thanks to its outstanding academics, generous financial aid packages, and relatively low costs. Visit qc.cuny.edu to learn more.

A leader in preparing future educators, Queens College graduates the most teachers, counselors, and principals in the New York metropolitan area. It also contributes to New York City’s talent pool as a powerful economic engine and a leader in tech education, with more undergraduate computer science majors than any city college. Students from across the country and around the world come to Queens College’s Aaron Copland School of Music. Its renowned faculty and alumni include nationally recognized composers, conductors, and performers who have received nearly 40 Grammy Awards and nominations over the past forty years.

For more about Queens college, visit http://www.qc.cuny.edu/Pages/home.aspx

Contact:
Maria Matteo
Office of Communications
Assistant Director, News Services
718-997-5593
maria.matteo@qc.cuny.edu