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C'est la Z

Tapia 2014

Spent the past few days at the Tapia Conference in Seattle.

The Tapia conference is billed as a “Celebration of Diversity in Computing.” The bulk of the attendees seemed to be students. Undergrads and grads. The undergrads were mostly juniors and seniors, but a bunch of freshmen and sophomores were there as well. Of course there were faculty members to join them as well as people from industry.

What was I doing there? Well, 20 high school teachers were given scholarships to attend a workshop run by Dan Garcia. Dan is the driving force behind one of the implementations of CS Principals course - a new course being rolled out by the College Board. As you’re all well aware, I’m not a fan of the College Board but I’m interested in Dan’s work as common friends speak well of him.

I’ll talk about his course next time, after I’ve gone through his workshop. For now, let’s talk about the conference.

I wasn’t sure what to expect but let me tell you, I was blown away. Many of the break out sessions didn’t “speak” to me as a high school teacher, but that’s fine - the conference was for the youngsters. I can’t say for sure, but it seemed to me that they really hit the breakout sessions on the head.

Then there were the plenaries. Great speakers and a great range of topics.

They had:

  • Cieko Asakawa talking about assistive technologies
  • Dan Garcia on CS Education
  • Latanya Sweeney - transparency and privacy
  • James McLurkin - robotics (and some computational geometry)
  • Kathryn McKinley - Systems
  • Marcus Mitchel - A general talk on hard problems, winding paths, and more

An incredible rage of topics. All the speakers were terrific - they all talked about their life and career paths and were all inspirational

They also presented a smorgasbord of computer science possibilities for the students.


I wish this could be bottled up and given to all aspiring technologists.

I only got to attend because I was on scholarship as a high school CS teacher. It was an amazing few days and I can’t recommend the Tapia conference highly enough for young computer scientists out there.

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