Computer Science Research Seminar

11:30 am - 12:30 pm, Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Dr. Leenkiat Soh

University of Nebraska, Lincoln

Title: Renaissance Computing: An Initiative for Promoting Student Participation in Computing


In the narrowest sense, "computational thinking" is the mindset that students need to acquire in order to work effectively with computational systems. More broadly, however, it is a way of understanding the world - one that transcends mere methodology and which is likewise transportable across a wide variety of human endeavors. In our view, computer science curricula that do not address this broadening do not address the ways in which computational thinking pervades life in the modern world. We propose what we consider a radical re-thinking not only of our core curriculum in computer science, but of the role of computer science at the university level. In our conception, "computational thinking" is neither easily separated from other endeavors nor easily balkanized into a single department. We thus imagine a CS program that is inextricably linked to other domains in engineering, sciences, arts, and humanities.

In this talk, we describe our renaissance computing effort at the University of Nebraska. It has involved a campus-wide workshop held in Fall 2008, subsequent information gathering discussions, and design and implementation of the first two renaissance computing CS1 courses for students in engineering and sciences. We present preliminary findings on CS1 Engineering, offered in Fall 2009, and also outline our next steps in this effort.


Dr. Leekiat Soh is an Associate Professor at the Department of Computer Science and Enginering of the University of Nebraska. His research interests are in multi-agent systems, computer-aided education, and computer science education. He is the PI of the NSF-funded Renaissance Computing project, which aims at improving CS curriculum for CS majors and non-majors, particularly addressing CS1 courses and revitalized CS minor programs. He has published his work in conferences such as AAAI, IAAI, AAMAS, SIGCSE, and ITiCSE, and in journals such as the Journal of Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems, Computer Science Education, International Journal of AI in Education, and IEEE Transactions. Dr. Soh received his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering with Honors from the University of Kansas.