Adam Blank Meets Students Where They Are To Connect Across the Digital Divide


Long before the COVID-19 pandemic forced Caltech to shift to a model of remote learning, Adam Blank, Teaching Assistant Professor of Computing and Mathematical Sciences, focused their research on new technologies and techniques with the potential to improve student comprehension and the quality of education. Blank concentrated on making classes work remotely and helping students overcome the issues inherent in being away from campus. "The biggest thing is that I am unafraid to use a new tool, see it fail, and switch to another new tool," Blank says. "I adapted quickly—I think it's the way that I would put it—because I am used to trying new technologies all over the place and seeing what works and what doesn't." [Caltech story]

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Konstantin Zuev Receives Northrop Grumman Prize for Excellence in Teaching


Konstantin Zuev, Lecturer in Computing and Mathematical Sciences, is the recipient of the 2019 Northrop Grumman Prize for Excellence in Teaching. The Prize is awarded to an EAS professor or lecturer who demonstrates, in the broadest sense, unusual ability, creativity, and innovation in undergraduate and graduate classroom or laboratory teaching. A nomination for Konstantin Zuev read, "It is not just his major contributions in terms of teaching classes and designing new ones that set him apart and make him an ideal candidate for the Northrup Grumman teaching award. It is his rapport with the students, and the passionate love they show for his teaching and his classes."

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Teaching Coding in Elementary Schools


On Friday afternoons, Caltech computer science students visit public schools in Pasadena to help third-, fourth-, and fifth-graders learn to code. Their work is part of a recently introduced course in which Caltech undergrads study and practice strategies for teaching programming to children. “We start with basic concepts and, by the end, students have coded their own games in Scratch [a visual programming language developed for children],” says Caltech senior Anna Resnick, who helps lead the class as a teaching assistant. “A few have even told us they want to be programmers someday.” [Caltech story]

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New Major and Minor in Information and Data Sciences


Starting in fall 2018, EAS will offer students a new undergraduate degree option in a field that is at the forefront of computer science: information and data sciences (IDS). Mathematics will form the backbone of the new option. Students in IDS will take core courses focusing on machine learning, information theory, probability, statistics, linear algebra, and signal processing. After that, they will have the opportunity to branch out with electives that cover applications of data sciences to science and engineering. Professor Adam Wierman hopes the creation of this new option will prepare both students and Caltech for the future. "It almost doesn't matter what you're interested in. If you want to make discoveries and be on the cutting edge of your field, you're going to need the skills to analyze and manipulate large collections of information," he says.  [Caltech story] [Degree option details]

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Open Online Course on Quantum Cryptography


Thomas Vidick, Assistant Professor of Computing and Mathematical Sciences, is co-teaching a massive open online course (MOOC)—CS/Ph 120, Quantum Cryptography—focused on the ways in which quantum mechanics can be used to create secure lines of communication. "It's a hot topic, but there are very few resources for people wanting to go beyond just the basics. Very few schools will even have a quantum cryptography course," Vidick says. [Caltech story] [Vidick blog]

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