Outside the Classroom: 3 Great Extracurricular Activities for Comp Science Students

by Morgan Kastner

LSU is overflowing with organizations and activities that can help you expand your computer science knowledge outside the classroom. Joining an organization lets you network with others in your field, uncover more computer science opportunities and enhance your knowledge with real-world experience.  

Here are a few on-campus organizations making waves for computer science majors.

Association for Computing Machinery

Samantha Fadrigalan, chairman of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) at LSU, believes that computer science is different from other STEM disciplines: It requires only a computer and your creativity. That can be daunting for many new computer science majors, she says, but ACM can help students make the transition more comfortably.

The organization has weekly meetings at which students (of any major) can ask for homework help, network or just talk tech. Professors or industry professionals are invited to speak and network with members in an informal setting a few times each semester.

But ACM is more than just a place to meet. The group is involved with the Baton Rouge and New Orleans Maker Faires, which give makers from all over the state a chance to show off their creative tech innovations. “So much of computer science is getting excited about something you have no idea how to start, but it’s much easier when you have people to share that with,” Fadrigalan says.

Women in Computer Science

Women in Computer Science (WICS) is an organization dedicated to improving gender diversity in computer science at LSU. Computer science is a male-dominated major, and it’s often easier for male students to make connections or know others in their classes than it is for female students. WICS is bridging the gap by creating a space for women pursuing computer science degrees to meet, form connections and mentor each other.

WICS offers its members tutoring sessions, a “big sister-little sister” program, professional workshops and more. Game Jam, a WICS event, is a high-energy, 48-hour competition in which teams of all ages create video games. The goal is to teach people more about game development and help them gain project experience.

By establishing a fun, welcoming community among female students pursuing engineering degrees, especially computer science majors, WICS hopes to improve retention rates for women in STEM fields.

Society of Peer Mentors

The Society of Peer Mentors (SPM) is the College of Engineering’s major organization for leadership and mentoring. Its mission is to smooth new students’ transition into the College of Engineering.

Once you’ve applied and been accepted as a mentor, you can meet other engineering-minded students, take part in networking opportunities, and volunteer your knowledge outside the classroom. SPM’s programs include STEM outreach to local grade schools, robotics mentoring, and Supplemental Instruction (SI) for classes with high drop/fail rates.

The organization seeks to inspire current LSU students and the next generation of STEM students through their outreach events and robotics mentoring. SPM members gain leadership skills they can use to create new initiatives within the organization or bring with them to leadership positions in other groups — on or off campus.  

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