Google makes an impact at NMSU

Computer science majors search for new experiences during Google internships

By Kristie Garcia ‘07

New Mexico State University computer science majors Elena Davidson and Nicole Price got the opportunity of a lifetime when they interned at Google this summer.

Davidson was an engineering practicum intern at the Mountain View, California, location. She worked on an open-source technical interview preparation tool for college students created by Google’s EngEDU team.

“Interning at Google was an incredible experience, and I am so grateful I had this opportunity,” Davidson says. “It definitely gave me the knowledge and skills necessary to participate in more internships and to pursue a career in the tech industry.”

Price was an information technology intern at the Ann Arbor, Michigan, and New York City offices, where she maintained, monitored and fixed Google’s corporate computer systems and networks. She worked on many other projects, including one for which she designed multiple break-and-fix networking labs to help employees learn about networking and to enhance their troubleshooting skills in preparation for various certification exams.

“The experience I gained has prepared me and further inspired me to pursue a career in technology,” Price says. “In fact, the internship led to an interview for a full-time position after graduation in December.”

Elena Davidson, top, and Nicole Price, bottom, New Mexico State University computer science majors, spent their summer interning at Google. Davidson, an engineering practicum intern, worked on a interview preparation tool for college students, while Price, an information technology intern, focused on Google’s corporate computer systems and networks.

Educators bring computational thinking to other disciplines through Google grant

A grant from Google allowed high school teachers to receive innovative trainings and helped undergraduate students provide after-school educational activities for K-12 students. 

Google awarded $25,000 to the computer science department in NMSU’s College of Arts and Sciences to continue the Computer Science for High School (CS4HS) program. NMSU CompThink! – through the Google CS4HS program – infuses computational thinking into non-computer science courses and allows computer science education experts to provide professional development opportunities for up to 25 high school teachers. 

Raena Cota, a program specialist in the computer science department, coordinates NMSU CompThink!. The original 2016 grant proposal was a collaboration among Cota, College of Arts and Sciences Dean Enrico Pontelli and Elisa Cundiff, a local high school computer science teacher. 

“We are big into what Google refers to as ‘creating a community of practice’: bringing high school teachers together from Las Cruces Public Schools and Gadsden Independent School District to start talking about using computational thinking and computer science in their classrooms,” Cota says. “There is definitely excitement all around this program, and we see the greatest level of excitement with our humanities teachers. 

“The teachers begin to think about what they are teaching in their English, literature or Spanish classes more as a sequence of steps, which is an algorithm. When students are asked to take a paragraph and write an essay based on that text, that’s abstraction, which is a concept of computational thinking. When chemistry teachers explain how to balance a chemical equation, they’re teaching an algorithm.” 

Training includes an online course created by program leaders through Google Classroom. 

Cota says technology used in the classrooms features some type of programming element. For example, Ozobots – small programmable robots that may be coded using colored markers and block-based programming – have been used in many of the classrooms. 

This is the second consecutive year Google has funded a CS4HS program at NMSU. 

Google also supported two undergraduate computer science programs last spring. Young Women in Computing and Discover Science through Computational Thinking received more than $8,000 from the igniteCS Google program to lead after school activities for 85 students in grades K-12. 

 

Kristie Garcia ’07