Projects

Opportunities for Students

I sometimes have opportunities for students to work on projects with me, but when I do I advertise broadly.  Keep an eye on the CSE mailing list and the CSE Facebook page for these opportunities.  You're welcome to contact me to talk more about my work at any time, though.

The CSE Early Research Scholars Program

In Spring 2014 I launched a new project to get early-career undergraduates engaged in ongoing research in computer science.  You can find out more about the project by clicking on the link above.

CS Curriculum Development

My colleagues and I at Harvey Mudd College developed a breadth-first introductory computer science course designed for all students.  The goal of this course is to expose students to the true nature of computer science, including several styles of programming and computational thinking, some of the core challenges and ideas in computer science, and some of computer science's influences on other disciplines.  More information about this course, including instructor resources and a draft of our textbook, can be found on the following page:

Modular CS1 from the Inside Out

Pen-Based Interfaces

The video below showcases a sketch-based tool for creating digital logic circuits that my students and I have developed while I was at Harvey Mudd College.  The software as well as many more details of the project and other downloads are all available on the LogiSketch project page or try the newer version of this page.

LogiSketch Video


Women in Computing

I am actively involved in many projects in Women in Computing.  During my time at HMC I helped increase the percentage of women in the computer science major from around 12% in 2005 and before to around 3540% where it has held steady for at least 6 years (and counting). 

At HMC we made three changes to our program that led to the increase in women in our major:

  • The new introductory courses, described above;
  • Trips for first-year women students to the Grace Hopper Celebration Women in Computing; and
  • Research experiences for women students after their first year.

These changes are described in more detail in the paper Women in CS: An Evaluation of Three Promising Practices. Christine Alvarado and Zachary Dodds.  In Proceedings of SIGCSE 2010. March 10–13, 2010, Milwaukee, Wisconsin as well as in a forthcoming paper in ACM Inroads, to be published in late 2012.

If you prefer to see a talk on these changes, you can watch the Google Tech Talk I gave in 2011:

Women in CS at Harvey Mudd College


For more information about the trips for first-year students to GHC, including logistics that might help you offer these trips to your students, please see my Trips to Grace Hopper page.

In addition to the above efforts, I currently serve at co-chair of the National Center for Women & IT's Academic Alliance and I am the faculty adviser for the UCSD Women in Computing (WIC) group. 

Older Projects

I did my doctoral work as part of the Design Rationale Group in the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) at MIT.

My PhD research was involved in building a sketch recognition system that combines shape and contextual information in a given domain to provide robust recognition within that domain. this recognition engine enables the construction of a fundamentally new kind of interface which we call SkRUIs (sketch recognition user interfaces). I have begun to explore the human computer interaction challenges in developing SkRUIs for larger systems that involve diagram creation as one component of their interface.

I previously worked on creating a sketch-based interface for mechanical engineers. My master's thesis is a sketching program which recognizes simple mechanical sketches.   I explored how to build a system which would work with the user to provide an interface which is both intuitive and powerful.

Thanks to some publicity on YouTube, this work has become quite widely known, even though it is now 12 years old!