Yesterday I was back on campus for an early orientation session for Hunter's incoming Daedalus CS honors students. It was the first time all of us got to meet face to face. The students I met with will be my third cohort. I got to thinking how far we've come in under three years.
Hunter's had a strong but little known undergraduate CS program for as long as I've known. Much like any program, we've got our strengths and weaknesses but you go through our program and academically you'll be as well prepared as from anywhere else. We have some challenges being a commuter school, a liberal arts school and a school not commonly thought of for CS but the core has always been there.
Hunter has been making a concerted effort to up its computer science game and my joining the team has been part of that. The Daedalus program is an honors scholarship program. It's similar to the well known CUNY Macaulay program but it's specific to Hunter and specific to CS. Our kids get scholarships, laptops, special classes (with me), activities and events and more. Our first cohort had 12. This past year we had 23 but a funny thing happened right after we started. Hunter's Macaulay CS students heard about what was going on and wanted in. The end result was that last years cohort had a total of 27 students as we invited the incoming Hunter Macaulay CS students into the fold. This year, we're up to about 50 total and it looks to be a very strong group. To be honest I'm a little scared of growing this quickly. The kids will be great but it will be a challenge building the community across multiple classes.
I'm really pleased with the first two cohorts performance both in class and out. They're progressing well through the academic program and are ahead of schedule in terms of internships and outside activities but I'm even happier that they've been working to level up Hunter CS as a whole. They started a once a week Dojo last year where all Hunter CS students could hang out and work on tech projects and have a speaker series on tap for this coming year. For my part, I've got a couple of new ideas up my sleeve but I'm going to keep them under wraps for now.
Three years ago Hunter wasn't so much on the map for CS inclined high school students and while there's much work to be done, many of our incoming cohort members chose us over other programs that have traditionally been considered CS strongholds.
At the same time, our efforts to connect Hunter CS to the NY Tech community have begun to raise our profile on the other end of the pipeline.
There's still a long rode ahead but I thought I'd give myself a day to look back on how far we've come in a short time. Having a great public college option for CS education is critical for NYC. This was one of the things I left Stuy to accomplish and we're well on our way.